The Boston Red Sox have some big names playing for them. Not all of them are playing to their potential, this season. With some success and much failure throughout the first few months of the year, it has been frustrating to watch. What’s even more frustrating, however, is seeing one of their best players continue to be an afterthought in the turmoil that the media continues to stir around the team.
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Brock Holt is not just a utility player. A simple replacement should not lead the team in regular-season batting average (.311) and on-base percentage (.402). A replacement should not be slugging .457, second only to big off-season signing Hanley Ramirez. A replacement should not be hitting first or second in the lineup, when your team was expected to be one of the most potent offenses in the majors.
Does that sound like a replacement player to you?
In the last seven games, the 27-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas has a home run and two RBIs, tied with third baseman Pablo Sandoval, another big-name signing. Yet, Holt still is talked about like he is a great asset off of the bench, instead of one of the best players on the team.
In an article discussing how Rusney Castillo‘s lack of production has people questioning his status with the Red Sox, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com commented, “[Alejandro] De Aza isn’t the only one standing between Castillo and more playing time. Brock Holt has hit .408 in the last 13 games, though this past week, Holt has filled in more at second base for the ailing Dustin Pedroia.”
This citation is not meant to throw McAdam under the proverbial bus, as his intention is not to slight Holt as much as it is to draw concern over Castillo. His words are, in fact, praising how well Holt has filled in for Pedroia, recently. That’s the point; look how valuable a player Holt is for Boston. If you check the headlines in the media about the Red Sox, Holt’s accomplishments have been highlighted, but often as a side note to the terrible play or strenuous injuries that the bigger names have suffered.
It was nice to see Zack Cox‘s article for NESN mentioning just that sentiment, yesterday: “He’s been the epitome of a utility man — catcher and pitcher are the only positions he’s yet to play this season — but his production at the plate has far surpassed what’s usually expected from a player in that role.” Cox goes on to state, “Holt’s 1.016 OPS this month ranks 12th among all major leaguers with 50 or more at-bats (he trails a who’s who of All-Star sluggers: Stanton, Harper, Pujols, Goldschmidt, Cabrera, Trout, etc.), and he’s become indispensable to the point that manager John Farrell simply can’t afford to leave him on the bench.”
If nothing else will convince you that Holt is under-appreciated, consider the following: Holt is making $530 500 this season, with earliest arbitration in 2017, and free agency in 2020. Castillo is making over $11 million this season, and he will make $60.4 million from Boston for the next five years after 2015. One man is leading the team at the plate, while the other is being questioned about whether he should go back to Triple-A to work on his game. Sandoval is being paid $17.6 million to, apparently, like women’s pictures on Instagram during games, this season, in between some questionable defensive moves on the field. Ramirez is being paid $19.75 million to make a mockery of defense in left field, while having bursts of offensive might bookended by bouts of poor production. If you were Holt, wouldn’t you be wondering what he has to do to get some respect?
Cox further mentioned that Farrell told reporters, “He’s almost become an invaluable guy to us.” Almost? Maybe Farrell would like another chance to rephrase his comment, as he is still giving a compliment to the Brockstar, the bolt of energy that the Red Sox have found so invaluable. Holt isn’t making headlines for social media usage or giant home run bashes, like a Sandoval or a Ramirez; Holt just goes to work, like every other blue-collar Bostonian, getting the job done, when given the opportunity. His flash is what he means to the scoreboard, on defense as well as offense.
Holt filling in for Pedroia could very well be the omen that Red Sox Nation better respect. He’s stepping in for the four-time All-Star and 2008 American League MVP, with excellent results. Flashy actions and words are great in the moment, but production speaks volumes. Maybe some of the big-name players could learn from Pedroia on how to become a beloved player in Boston. It has nothing to do with making big splashes, because, let’s face it, who wants to be in the pool with the splasher? It’s fun for a bit, but the smiles quickly fade after a while. Holt looks more like he’s in his career for the long haul, taking a page from Pedroia’s book.
When will everyone start focusing on what it takes to be a winner, instead of the antics of highly-talented, highly-paid, delinquents of the diamond?
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