The Detroit Tigers fans have a new favorite in Akil Baddoo after he started his MLB career in grand style. Baddoo gives the fans a reason to be positive for the future.
Baddoo’s remarkable start certainly caught everyone by surprise. In his opening at-bat on April 4, he homered against the Cleveland Indians. That home run came on the first pitch of his MLB career. He followed that up by hitting his first career grand slam against his former team, the Minnesota Twins. The next day, he followed those performances up with a walk-off home run to beat the Twins.
History Made Early in the Season
Akil Baddoo made Tiger history when he became the first player to homer in each of his first two MLB games. He is also the first player in franchise history to post four homers and 10 RBI within his first eight games. He also became the first Tigers player since 1931—and only the sixth player in MLB history—to drive in a run in at least six of his first eight career games. Baddoo also made MLB history. He’s the first player in MLB history to homer out of the ninth spot of the batting order in his first two career games.
Drafted in 2016
Badoo was drafted out of high school by the Twins in the second round of the 2016 Major League draft. He spent two years in the Twins rookie leagues before being promoted to Cedar Rapids in 2018. Ranked as high as the number 13 Twins prospect, he had 22 doubles, 11 triples, and 11 home runs.
His 2019 season abruptly ended in May after only 23 games when an elbow injury he had been dealing with turned out to be serious, and he needed Tommy John surgery.
As March 2020 rolled around, Akil Baddoo was healthy nearly a year after his surgery. While in Fort Myers, FL, waiting to see where he would play the 2020 season, he was ready to get back in action and get in baseball shape. Then the pandemic hit and everything stopped. Baddoo went home to Georgia to wait to see when and where he would get to play baseball. MLB started in July, but minor league baseball was shut down for the year. Baddoo was not invited to the Twins’ alternate site and he would have to work out on his own.
In a surprise move, after spending more than four years with the Twins, Baddoo was removed from their 40-man roster. In December 2020, he was drafted in the Rule five draft by the Tigers with an invitation to spring training.
Spring Training 2021 for Akil Baddoo
At the start of Spring Training 2021, Baddoo had not seen live pitching in almost two years—let alone pitching at the major league level—yet he had an outstanding camp. He hit .310 with five home runs, 11 RBIs, and 10 walks. Defensively, he worked on his speed and long-range arm in all three outfield positions. On March 28, Manager AJ Hinch informed Baddoo he had made the big-league team.
We know it is a long season, especially for a rookie. There will be ups like we saw to start the season, but there will also be downs, which we are seeing now. Baddoo’s last 15 games he is hitting .111 with 23 strikeouts, his overall average is down to .197, and he has not hit a home run since April 13.
Much Needed Excitement
Yes, the Tigers are in a rebuilding phase and fans know it will be a long season. However, Akil Baddoo has brought some much-needed excitement to the team. It has been a while since the Tigers have had a player like him. He is exactly the kind of player they have been looking for. He is young, exciting, has a positive attitude, and has style. Most notably, he has become a fan favorite in his short time with the team. This is what the Tigers—and their fans—need, someone to spark the team not just for the season, but for seasons to come.