Boston Red Sox: Who’s on third?

Oct 1, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Travis Shaw (47) singles to left center during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Travis Shaw (47) singles to left center during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox may need a third baseman and just who will it be?

The Boston Red Sox are in a tenuous situation at third base with the current condition of Pablo Sandoval. Panda certainly has shown no improvement in his physical appearance in the long winter months and has returned to spring training much as he had left Boston at the end of the 2015 season.

Abbott and Costello had a famous routine “Who’s on First?” That can now be changed to “Who’s on Third?” since first is now being occupied by Gold Glove in waiting Hanley Ramirez. I will ignore the routines “I don’t know” as playing third.

Sandoval was a statistical disaster in 2015 on offense and defense – pick a stat: Traditional, metric or eyeball and the result were always the same – a dead last in virtually every conceivable category. So what are the options if the rotund Panda continues his abysmal performance?

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BSI’s Samatha Riley touched on the future of Sandoval with an article on predictions. Now a bit deeper into potential options.

Travis Shaw can play third and compared to how Panda performed Stevie Wonder would be an upgrade. Shaw hits with power as shown by 13 home runs. Young Mr. Shaw happens to be particularly fond of Fenway Park where he hit .319 versus .224 on the road. But within that statistic is an interesting note: Shaw hit eight home runs at Fenway and five on the road.

Shaw, a left-handed hitter, also had a quirky .329 against his fellow lefties and .243 against righties. His home run totals also showed no discernible difference as he hammered six against lefties and seven against righties. Shaw had limited duty at third base with only 54.2 innings but did manage to go error-free in a meager 19 chances.

Slashing .280/.349/.379 and making the All-Star team is certainly a plus that Brock Holt brings as a potential possibility. The downside for the gritty Holt is a lack of power for a position that generally has some clout as part of the job description. Defensively Holt will be steady and smart and acceptable. Do not expect any dreams of a Gold Glove to surface.

If this was spring training of 2014 Allen Craig would be sitting at third, while Panda attempted to get in shape. Unfortunately, it is 2016 and Craig’s former talent has somehow fallen into an alternate universe. Craig’s exposure to third is also severely limited with only three MLB starts. Despite that, it will be interesting to see how many reps Craig snags at third.

Josh Rutledge certainly gave an impressive account of himself in 2015 and that earned him a trip to Pawtucket in the off season. Rutledge demonstrates some similar qualities as Holt, but sometimes on a regular basis one clearly sees why the “utility player” term is assigned.

The glove is not the question with Deven Marrero. So let’s all give a rendition of “If he could only hit.” Marrero seemed overmatched with MLB pitching and with some Triple-A pitching. The former first round pick can, well – pick ‘em in the field. If it was pure defense Marrero would be a lock.

Sitting at Pawtucket is little known Chris Dominguez a 29-year-old right-hand power hitter. When you look at his career slash of .175/.195/.400 it does not take a statistical genius to understand why Dominguez is simply roster filler at Pawtucket, but, hey – never dismiss anyone.

I can’t help betting on the occasional long shot and the ultimate one in the third base derby is Rusney Castillo. Castillo’s credentials are non-existent at third, but in his first few seasons in Cuba, he did play second base. Stranger things have happened and Castillo being at third would be pure Twilight Zone.

A real potential long-shot is former PTBNL Marco Hernandez, who is primarily a middle infielder. Hernandez hit .305 in two leagues in 2015, but beware – walks are about as rare as astatine with Hernandez.

For the futurist, the real gem is sweet-swinging Rafael Devers who will be brought along very slowly as will the other noted system hot shot Yoan Moncada. A player to watch for is former first-round pick Michael Chavis who certainly has the power, but alas, the consistent contact is as rare as a Hernandez walk.

Next: Red Sox Travis Shaw Starts Well

The Red Sox will have a month to see just what transpires at third, so hope for the best but expect the worst.

Is Will Middlebrooks still available?