One of the less-heralded position battles this spring was the competition for the utility infielder spot between Jonathan Herrera and Brock Holt. Herrera won the spring battle, but with starting third baseman Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list, both players are currently on the 25-man roster in a second version of that original battle (Brock Holt was just called up after Ryan Roberts was designated for assignment) and in the early going, it seems that Holt has the edge.
Holt’s sample size this season is minuscule but he has provided a spark at the bottom of the Red Sox lineup en route to a .429/.438/.571 slash line with a triple and three RBIs in 16 plate appearances. Herrera, on the other hand, has slashed a meager .214/.313/.214 in 33 plate appearances.
Sixteen hot plate appearances may not be enough to push Holt ahead of Herrera, but a bit more sustained success until Middlebrooks returns at the end of the week could be enough to do just that. Herrera won the job in spring training based primarily on his ability to play shortstop, and the 29-year old still has that edge. However, if Holt continues to double Herrera’s production (or really come anywhere near doubling it), then his play could make a compelling argument towards him sticking on the team even after Middlebrooks returns.
The lack of a legitimate shortstop on the bench could be an issue for the Red Sox if Xander Bogaerts is forced to miss time, or even take a day off. However, Holt is younger and has a considerably higher offensive ceiling (he is probably better than Herrera even now) which could be enough to outweigh his questionable shortstop defense. Of course, the biggest question is whether Holt can keep up his production at the plate. If he can, however, he should make a compelling case to stick on the team in the next week or so.