Boston Red Sox infielder Travis Shaw is absolutely pounding the ball, now that he has been made a starter over big-name money.
After becoming the starter over Pablo Sandoval, Shaw has been ripping apart the competition like a long-toothed beast. Last night, he destroyed Atlanta Braves pitching by going 2-for-5 with five RBIs, making his batting average .324 for the season, thus far. His three-run homer in the top of the first inning was only his second time going yard this April but his two-run double was his eighth already.
Shaw’s 6’4″, 230-pound frame has been intimidating opposing pitchers, looming over the plate in the batter’s box, swinging that lefty stick for 23 hits and 14 RBIs in 71 at-bats. Not bad for a guy making $515 thousand this year. He’s signed through this season with earliest arbitration in 2019 and free agency in 2022. Sandoval, the man Shaw replaced to start the season, is signed through 2019, making $17.6 million this season, $95 million in total.
And Shaw’s not just doing it with the bat, either. At third base, Shaw’s 2.73 range factor for nine innings is better than the league average of 2.62 in 16 games. Three errors may keep him from possibly being a Gold Glove candidate, but it’s still early and it’s not brutal when you consider that this is only going to be his first full season in the big leagues.
Shaw only played 65 games last season, being called up when Sandoval started to falter and other players were injured. When Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia went out due to injury, All-Star utility player Brock Holt had to spend much of his time filling in for that defensive position, making way for Shaw’s tryout.
Shaw didn’t disappoint, going .270 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs. Considering that he was brought in for securing the defense while the veterans healed or found their game, the added offense was a bonus that only helped Shaw’s cause, especially with the fans. Sandoval was signed to big money to fill the hole that Red Sox Nation witnessed watching Will Middlebrooks flop around at third base in 2014. He was supposed to be the home-grown talent to take over third, as it has been a sore spot even before Middlebrooks was called up. Boston found him to be less than stellar with the bat as well as the glove, hence the knee-jerk reaction to find a solution quickly in Sandoval. The Venezuelan proved to be arguably worse, more like floundering than just flopping with the bat and the glove.
Shaw being a prospect called up to the majors, along with other prospects recently made starters in the last two years, vindicates the Red Sox minor league system. In the last seven games, Shaw has hit .333/.375/.533, with a homer and seven RBIs. He even has two stolen bases for the season. Pitchers can’t even get him out on low-and-away pitches, as BrooksBaseball.net has Shaw hitting .316 if the pitch hits the corner and between .500 – .364 if the pitch is just a bit low or outside of the plate.
His one weakness is above the letters. Shaw whiffs on the pitches just above the strikezone, trying to be aggressive when it comes near one of his hot spots for hitting. However, as far as third basemen go, Shaw’s 18 strikeouts is a far cry from New York Mets David Wright, who leads the majors at the position with 28 strikeouts. In case you’re wondering, Justin Upton of the Detroit Tigers leads all players with 32 strikeouts. Lots of players making more money than Shaw who apparently do not have as keen an eye for the ball lately as he does.
Shaw is not just the future of the Red Sox, he is the present. At the money that the Red Sox are paying for his services, Shaw is an absolute steal. That is, if Boston wasn’t already paying a ton of cash for the man who was supposed to be the present-day third baseman. With Shaw playing this well, Sandoval can take all of the time that he needs to heal from his present injury because Shaw’s beast-like bat and stable glove will be starting for the foreseeable future.