Projecting the possible Red Sox future of Michael Chavis
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox may have a gem in rookie slugger Michael Chavis. Just what are the possible short and long-range career possibilities for Chavis?
Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis is a hot topic for the simple reason is he is hot. The hotness quality is apparently two-fold with adoring female fans, but the real hotness is baseball’s flying hither and yon and that has certainly attracted noteworthy attention. The long ball is nothing new since the right-handed Chavis has had that as his career calling card.
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Chavis is a first round pick (2014) out of high school and has incrementally progressed in the Red Sox farm system with home runs galore at every way station. Chavis also had one far less noteworthy accomplishment and that is getting an 80 game ban for getting bagged for testing positive for PED’s.
The one item that stands out in examining Chavis’s minor league statistics is a .257 batting average. This season at Pawtucket (AAA) Chavis was hitting .250, but the calling card was in full display with four home runs in just 12 games. Based on that and Chavis’s propensity for strikeouts the natural assumption is to expect a regression.
There are dueling schools of thought on adjustment to MLB regime and especially for young pitchers and hitters. In Chavis’s case it is the hitters and invariably the numbers – at least in the beginning stages – deteriorate.
The pitching is further refined and far more consistent especially with bullpens. The slippage between starter and reliever was once a significant gap. Now it is often the other way around. Maybe Chavis is different?
Occasionally a player seamlessly goes from one level to another such as Mookie Betts, but Betts is an exceptional talent. In the case of Chavis, he may just respond to that consistency of pitching, the better playing conditions, and the lifestyle itself. That said I simply cannot see Chavis as a .300 hitter. I can see Chavis as a 30+ home run contributor.
Just what should one expect from Chavis? Is the potential there to be an Aaron Judge? Judge is one example of a player who simply has responded to MLB playing compared to minors. A career .278 in the minors and .274 in the majors. Judge has also homered at an increased rate in the majors and Chavis may actually do the same. Rare? It certainly is, but still, it does happen.
Chavis could also become Joey Gallo with monstrous home runs, low batting average, and strikeout prone. My comfort zone would be somewhere between Judge and Gallo or even former Red Sox slugger Jason Bay or possibly Will Middlebrooks if he had stayed healthy. And Middlebrooks? He just gave some sage advice to Chavis.
Chavis has another item that makes him valuable and that is what the Red Sox stress – versatility. Chavis was brought up to play second base and has experience at first base and his more natural third base position. Chavis even played a few games at short early in his career and could probably handle the outfield. Despite his blocky stature (5’10”, 216) Chavis does have some very respectable fluidity. Long-term Chavis has a variety of defensive options and not just a one position player.
Chavis offers options to the Red Sox especially with the continuing defensive deficiencies of Rafael Devers. Devers can and will hit, but may end up at first or DH. Chavis also could be the second baseman of note depending upon the status of Dustin Pedroia. Chavis is also becoming another of a rather long list of farm system offensive successes. Can he pitch?
The rest of the season could be quite enjoyable if Chavis continues to blast away. A spark needed for a lineup that appears lethargic to the run amok offensive machine of 2018. Already Rookie of the Year talk has surfaced, but that is a long way off since Chavis will most certainly slump and how he responds will be of interest. Everyone enjoys good times but often the bad times are equally important to career development.