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Season Preview: Mike Brosseau

He hits, he plays 5 positions, he’s even the emergency catcher

Rays Baseball - Will Vragovic

A person would be hard pressed to find a better example of revenge in baseball lore than Mike Brosseau’s Count of Monte Cristo like exploits against Aroldis Chapman and the New York Yankees last season.

The bad blood between the two teams had been brewing for nearly half a decade with the two sides exchanging beanballs and trash talk. This culminated in Mike Brosseau belting a go-ahead homerun off of Aroldis Chapman, the pitcher that nearly decapitated Brosseau a month earlier, to eliminate the Yankees from the playoffs and propel the Rays to their first American League Pennant since 2008.

Most baseball fans had likely never heard of Brosseau before that moment. However, he has always been a player capable of mashing whatever lefty the opposition throws at him, even one throwing 101mph.

Brosseau, who just turned 27 on March 15th, was signed by the Rays with a bonus of just $1,000 as an undrafted free agent back in June of 2016. He made his debut as a 22 year old in the Gulf Coast League later that year and dominated the much younger competition. The next season, Brosseau raked again, then again, then again, until he finally found himself on the cusp of the big leagues during the 2019 season.

Despite being a career 139 wRC+ hitter in the minor leagues, Brosseau never garnered much attention as a prospect. So it’s fair to say that he has exceeded most expectations as he’s stuck with the big league club and slashed .273/.319/.462 over 142 plate appearances for the Rays during the 2019 season. He followed that up with a .302/.378/558 campaign in 2020.

Although he has experience across two big league seasons, Brosseau’s sample sizes are still quite small as he possesses just 120 career plate appearances each against lefties and righties. Brosseau’s current role with the team is that of a platoon infielder, starting against left-handed pitchers, against whom he has hit .313/.350/.589 (151 wRC+) over those 120 plate appearances, compared to a 106 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers.

For the upcoming campaign, PECOTA projects Brosseau to hit .250/.324/.429 with 7 HR , registering 106 dRC+ over 202 plate appearances.

Defense isn’t Brosseau’s strongest tool, but he can hold his own at several positions. The Rays have asked him to play first base, second base, third base, left field, and right field. They have even called on him to pitch four times, and Kevin Cash has named Brosseau as the team’s emergency catcher for the 2021 campaign. The majority of his playing time has come up the middle at second base, but he primarily played third base during the abbreviated 2020 season.

In 2020, Brosseau accrued 2 DRS at fist base, 1 DRS at second base, and then 2 DRS at third base, showcasing that he is a competent defender no matter where he is placed in the infield.

For the 2021 season, Brosseau will continue to be the guy who needs to travel with a suitcase full of gloves, ready to do whatever is asked of him, including possible stints at shortstop. As a player who owns what many now consider to be one of the top five moments in Rays history, he has certainly established himself as a cornerstone of the Tampa Bay Rays.