Boston Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis explains his uncertainty about what role he’d be asked to take when he stepped to the plate before his walk-off hit.
Michael Chavis isn’t here to drop down a bunt. The rookie infielder for the Boston Red Sox knows he’s capable of coming through in the clutch. He was less certain that his coaching staff shared that same confidence but that should no longer be the case following his thrilling walk-off base hit.
Xander Bogaerts led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a double, followed by an intentional walk to Rafael Devers. That brought Chavis to the plate with two on and nobody out. In that situation, when you’re playing for one run to win the game, moving the runners over is the priority. Get Bogaerts to third base with one out so that he can find his way home without necessarily needing a base hit. Don’t try to be a hero, just play your part by utilizing solid baseball fundamentals.
That’s the mentality that Chavis took with him to the plate. After all, he’s a rookie buried in the bottom third of the order. He glanced down the line to third base coach Carlos Febles expecting to see a bunt sign that never came.
"“It’s just that I don’t know who I am, dude. I’m new here,” Chavis told reporters after the game. “I know I can hit. I know I have power. I don’t know if I’m hitting like Michael or if I’m your seven-hole hitter. I’m just trying to do my part.”"
Given the green light to swing away, Chavis didn’t wait around to see if the coaches would change their minds. He hammered the first pitch he saw straight up the middle for a base hit that drove in Bogaerts, giving Chavis his first career walk-off hit.
Bunting the runners over may be a sound strategy with your No. 7 hitter at the plate in this spot but Chavis is no ordinary seven-hole hitter. His spot in the batting order is as much a testament to the depth of this Red Sox lineup as it is a desire to relieve some of the pressure on a 23-year old rookie.
The Red Sox trusted Chavis to put the ball in play, which goes to show the confidence they have in him already. Many young players would have been swinging for the fences when given the chance to win the game. We know Chavis is capable of going deep – he already has seven home runs in his first 22 career games – yet he recognized that a base hit was all he needed. This maturity at the plate is a part of why he’s earned the trust of the coaching staff to swing away in that situation.
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Chavis is off to an incredible start to his career, slashing .296/.406/.580 in 81 at-bats. The Red Sox chose to ride his hot bat with the game on the line and the gamble paid off. Chavis delivered, sending Boston to a 14-7 record when he’s in the lineup. It’s a small sample yet it’s hard to ignore that the team’s winning percentage with Chavis matches last year’s and would lead the majors if they won at this pace all season.
His postgame comments signal that Chavis is still trying to figure out how he fits on this team. He knows what he’s capable of but what part is he expected to play on a team loaded with superstars?
Chavis may be on his way to becoming one of those superstars some day. He’s not there yet but it’s clear the team is willing to ride the wave while his bat remains one of the hottest in the league.