Boston Red Sox Top-5 breakout performances of 2015

6 of 6

Sep 30, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Travis Shaw (47) rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Shaw

2015 Stats: .274/.331/.491, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 31 Runs

Shaw was never expected to be a significant part of the team’s future, but the rookie may have forced the Red Sox to reconsider with his surprisingly strong debut.

Once Mike Napoli was shipped out of town before the deadline it opened up a spot at first base for Shaw. After playing sparingly before the deadline, Shaw became essentially an everyday player after August 1. Given how well he was hitting, the Red Sox couldn’t afford to take him out of the lineup.

Despite not having much of a track record for power in his minor-league career, Shaw blasted 13 home runs and 10 doubles in only 226 at-bats. His .822 OPS was the third best on the team among hitters with 200+ plate appearances and would have tied him with Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer for 19th in the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Shaw’s future remains a mystery. With the Red Sox expected to shift Hanley Ramirez to first base next season there doesn’t appear to be a clear starting spot for Shaw. He can still be a useful bat off the bench, while the lefty’s .329 average against left-handed pitching may make the Red Sox consider platooning him with Pablo Sandoval at third base if the Panda continues to struggle against lefties.

A strong rookie season may also have turned Shaw into a valuable trade chip. If the Red Sox are looking to put together a package to acquire a top of the rotation starter, Shaw could become a key piece of that deal if he’s deemed expendable on this roster.