On April 18th, 2019, the Red Sox sat at 6-13 and were in the midst of a horrific stretch. A day later, their savior arrived. Since being called up on April 19th, Michael Chavis has been the best thing to happen to the Boston Red Sox.
Since joining the club, Chavis has hit .283 with 30 hits in 106 AB. Not crazy numbers by any means, but it’s been the quality of his hits or the timeliness of them that have provided this Sox team a much-needed spark. Of his 30 hits, 2 have been doubles and 10 were round-trippers. While pitchers have tried adjusting to him, he’s drawn 15 walks. He’s driven in 25 runs and scored 18 times himself. With an OBP of .382, the Red Sox found themselves a homegrown talent that would help erase the negative run differential that had them stuck at the bottom of the AL East division. This stretch of 28 games alone has propelled his name into the Rookie of the Year conversation; especially when the guy favored to win in Vlad Guerrero Jr. says that Chavis is his best competition right now to receive that honor.
Just last night alone, Chavis homered in the top of the 13th to give the Red Sox the lead over Toronto, this coming after Mookie Betts belted a solo shot in the top of the 12th only for Heath Hembree to blow the lead in the bottom half of the inning giving up a demoralizing home run to Rowdy Telez. Chavis’ blast wound up being the final blow and the game-winning run when the Red Sox desperately needed a win after a horrific loss to Toronto on Tuesday night prior to a weekend series with the Astros in Houston.
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Where things get interesting is the Red Sox injured list. Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia are set to return to action within the next week barring any setbacks. Both of those two men are primarily second basemen, though Holt is more of a utility man whereas Pedroia strictly plays 2nd base. The problem? Chavis has been playing 2nd for the Sox in the absence of the two middle infielders. Though his primary position is 3rd base, Rafael Devers has the hottest bat in the lineup aside from Chavis himself. The next question to ask would be whether you DH Devers and slide Chavis to 3rd when the combination of Holt/Pedroia returns healthy? Or do you DH Holt/Pedroia and keep Chavis at 2nd? OR do you send Chavis back down to Pawtucket and go with the combination of Pedroia/Holt/Nunez at 2nd again?
Personally, I feel these questions need not even be asked.
As far as Devers, I do agree his defense at times can be frustrating; but at age 22, he still has so much time to work at playing on that side of the ball. From last season to this season alone, he has made improvements with his glove and agility, and I do not expect his progress to slow down, especially if his bat continues producing at the rate it is now.
When it comes to the Brockstar, Holt has been a reliable utility man over the years for the Sox and has been a great asset to the team. However, he too has had some recent troubles with injuries and staying on the field. And even when he is healthy, he’s not an everyday player given the lineup on this Red Sox team. Plus, his batting average since joining Boston is just .264 over 7 seasons.
Where things get tricky is with Pedey. Dustin is a legend in Boston and will likely never suit up for another team. However, since the end of the 2017 season, Pedey has appeared in just 9 games for the Sox, with only 3 hits in 34 plate appearances during that two-year stretch. Even after he returns from his most recent IL stint, his long-term health is far from guaranteed.
Though more and more people by the day are starting to come to light on the topic, many will still disagree with me when I say that Pedroia’s playing days are behind him. Can he come back and be the DH and still be productive while mixing in at 2nd some days? Sure. But when he’s running up the line and his knee doesn’t feel right, are we going to just keep placing him on the 10-day IL or give him rehab games in the minors? He is taking a spot on this roster that can be given to a guy like Chavis. From what we saw this spring, it appears Bobby Dalbec is not far from getting his first call to the Show either. But if Pedroia is still seated on the Sox bench, guys like Dalbec will never get that call.
Am I saying Pedroia should be cut or forced into retirement? No. BUT he should not be playing on this Red Sox team. Not now. Not when this team needs a jolt of energy from younger and hungrier guys like Chavis to help put this below average start to the season behind them. I think Pedroia would be great in a coaching or team advisor position similar to ones Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek have taken on. His expertise and knowledge of the game would be remarkable to have around the club for guys like Devers and Chavis and Dalbec eventually. It won’t ever be an easy decision to make or an easy conversation for the club to have with Pedey, but it needs to happen.
So, the answer to all those questions? The Red Sox simply cannot take Michael Chavis out of this lineup. In a new era in baseball where we argue to ‘Let the Kids Play,’ it’s time to do just that. When Holt returns to the team will his left-handed bat and versatility be great to have back? Absolutely. But if you asked me right now to pick a starting second baseman for the rest of the season between Pedroia, Holt, Nunez, or Chavis, WITHOUT A DOUBT the answer is Michael Chavis 10 times out of 10.
Photo: NY Post