Brock Holt has been an unexpected source of power in the Boston Red Sox lineup lately, far surpassing his usual home run output.
Where did this power surge from Brock Holt come from? The super-utility player is best known for his ability to fill almost any position on the field for the Boston Red Sox, not for his ability to crush the ball out of the park. We may need to reassess that evaluation if he keeps up what he’s been doing this month.
Holt only has six home runs this year, one shy of the career-high he set back in 2016. You certainly wouldn’t consider him a slugger based on this meager total but Holt has been hitting homers in bunches lately.
The 30-year old has three home runs in his last 22 at-bats and five in his last 30 games. Five homers over the span of about a month’s worth of games would be a solid stretch for anyone, a pace for about 30 homers over the course of a full season. It’s particularly noteworthy when it comes from Holt, who hit only five home runs over his previous 206 games between May 10, 2016 – August 9, 2018.
They may not come all that often yet Holt typically makes his homers count. The Red Sox have won each of their last 12 games in which Holt has hit a home run.
Some home runs mean more than others and Holt has shown a flare for the dramatic with clutch hits. Holt delivered a game-winning home run as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning in Philadelphia last month. A few weeks later he came through again as a pinch-hitter to give Boston the lead with a three-run blast in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays. That made Holt the first player in franchise history to hit multiple-go ahead home runs as a pinch-hitter in a single season.
Home runs aren’t the only way to showcase power. Holt’s 16 doubles and two triples won’t place him anywhere near the league leaders but keep in mind that has come in only 302 at-bats. Extrapolate that over the number of at-bats afforded to a typical everyday starter and Holt’s production in those categories would be above-average.
A .397 slugging percentage is nothing to get excited about, falling short of the top-50 AL hitters if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. That figure still represents a career-high for Holt, indicating he’s making progress with improved extra-base hit production. He combines that with a knack for getting on base to provide a respectable .754 OPS. That’s easily another career-high and well above Holt’s career .701 OPS.
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Perhaps Holt could take his home run production to another level with the help of J.D. Martinez. Holt has made a habit of greeting his new teammate with a celebratory hug every time he blasts a home run. It’s clear they have become close this season yet Holt hasn’t come close to emulating Martinez’ swing.
Boston’s prized free agent slugger broke out a few years ago as one of the faces of the launch angle movement sweeping the league. Holt takes a different approach with a 6.5 degree average launch angle that is about half the league average, per MLB.com’s Statcast data. His 87.9 average exit velocity also falls below average. Holt clearly has the power to hit the ball over the fence but his swing isn’t designed to hit home runs on a regular bases. He steps to the plate looking to make solid contact and drive the ball.
This uptick in home runs isn’t sustainable for Holt yet proving he’s capable of this sort of stretch may mean we can expect a bit more power than we would typically expect from him.
Holt has always been a valuable bench asset who can be plugged in anywhere when needed yet wasn’t someone you wanted to count on for an everyday spot. If this late-season surge is a sign of improved power production then Holt will force his way into the lineup more often.