The Boston Red Sox may have a decision down the baseball road on Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers. Who plays third? Where does the odd man out play?
The Red Sox have had a perpetual hunt since Tom Yawkey “purchased” Jimmie Foxx from the Philadelphia Athletics. Foxx had an appropriate nickname “The Beast” since he was right-handed power personified. Foxx had held the Red Sox single-season home run record (50) until David Ortiz knocked out 54.
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Fenway Park’s attractive left field has long created a thirst for acquiring right-handed sluggers who could take full advantage of the “short porch.” Sometimes it was a rousing success such as Manny Ramirez and other times a total bust such as getting Ron Jackson (who?) from the White Sox. Will Michael Chavis be the latest success or failure?
Chavis accomplishes the very task that sets him apart and that is hitting home runs. Chavis is far from a rangy slugger such as J.D. Martinez (6’3”) since he is just 5’10’ but a muscular 216 lbs. Chavis will not hit for average with just a .257 career minor league average. Chavis’ glove work is best defined as average at third base and that may be a bit of generosity.
Chavis is at second base since that is where the need has developed with Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, and Dustin Pedroia all in various stages of rehabilitation. But what happens when one or more return? Will Chavis be sent back to Pawtucket (AAA) or will he stay? The stay part is simple – Chavis hits home runs – a lot of home runs – and he’ll stay, but where?
The obvious resting place for Chavis is third base and that means Rafael Devers just may be vulnerable. Devers’ fielding is atrocious and it is also multi-purpose as Devers is capable of throwing a ball away or simply treating a ground ball to a karate chop. If anything Devers’ fielding has actually gone further into a metric black hole.
The lifeline for Devers is similar to Chavis and that is hitting, but so far Devers’s hitting has been inconsistent. Last season the power was there with 21 home runs, but the average was a disappointing .240. This season the early results show the average up, but the power is gone. Devers and Chavis present a pleasant dilemma since both are young and have an apparent upside.
The next few weeks will be the determining factor for both of their immediate futures. With my prognosticator hat firmly on my head, I will take the prediction risk and say Chavis will be sent packing. At Pawtucket, this season Chavis moved around the infield including first base and may do just that again. If Pedroia proves himself sturdy enough for second Chavis just may get a few more reps at first base.
With Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce on one-year deals and not exactly in their spry baseball youth you could see the potential for Chavis as your first baseman in 2020. And with Pearce slumping just maybe that timetable could be moved up? Never know with Dave Dombrowski.
For Devers, it is just about putting it all together offensively – average and power. Devers showed a tantalizing glimpse of that in 2017 with a .284 average and 10 home runs in a mere 240 PA’s. The downside is his abominable glove work that shows no signs of improving. I can certainly envision Devers at first base or designated hitter if Martinez opts-out and (heaven forbid) goes elsewhere with his exceptional ability to produce runs and solidify a lineup.
In the meantime, the fun will be to watch Chavis and see if he is the real deal with power. I expect a mountain of possible fan frustration when the K totals mount only to be erased with a 440’ bomb. Chavis and Devers should have a long future with the Red Sox. Both are young and hopefully will get their game in gear.