Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis stealing Rookie of the Year from Vlad Guerrero Jr.
By Sean Penney
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was supposed to run away with the Rookie of the Year award but Boston Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis is going to take it from him.
The AL East was expected to feature a young phenom that would capture the attention of the fan base and bring an exciting element to the division. That’s exactly what has happened, only it’s not Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lighting it up in his major league debut season, as many projected. Boston Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis is the rookie grabbing headlines with his stellar performance.
The top prospect in baseball appeared major league ready since spring training but the Toronto Blue Jays held Guerrero back in Triple-A when the season opened, much to the chagrin of those outside the organization who saw a promising talent toiling away in the minors for financial reasons.
A strained oblique that cost him time in camp this spring was used as an excuse to keep Guerrero in the minors long enough to manipulate his service time. A few weeks in Buffalo to begin the season was enough to ensure Guerrero’s free agency would be delayed until 2025. Regardless of if the player is ready to be called up, a team that isn’t ready to contend this season locking in an extra year of control in the future is simply smart business.
He may have needed a bit more time to prepare for his call up after all. Guerrero stumbled out of the gate in his first taste of the big leagues, hitting .235 with a .766 OPS through 19 games. His prestigious power has been on display with four home runs but too many of the hard hit balls off his bat have turned into loud outs.
Guerrero started in a 6-for-41 slump, dropping his batting average to .146 through 11 games. It would take a few more games before he finally connected for his first home run – he actually tallied his first two in the same game. He’s starting to turn his slow start around since that multi-homer game but the deep hole he put himself in has him lagging behind in the Rookie of the Year race.
The same can’t be said for Chavis, who has been on a blistering pace since the Red Sox called him up last month. The 23-year old is hitting .290/.389/.570 with eight home runs and 22 RBI through 25 games.
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Chavis leads American League rookies who have played a minimum of five games with a .959 OPS. Only Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe stands ahead of Chavis with his 10 homers and 27 RBI, although the Rays infielder has accumulated those totals in 15 more games. Chavis also ranks third among AL rookies in batting average.
The Ice Horse has become an instant fan favorite in Boston and his arrival helped pull the team out of a dreadful 6-13 start to the season. Chavis was called up on April 19, the same day that the Red Sox kicked off a three-game sweep of the Rays. The rookie debuted the next day with a pinch-hit double in the 9th inning that put the winning run in position to score on a sac fly.
The Red Sox are 18-9 since Chavis was called up, vaulting them back into the mix for the division title. Team success isn’t a significant factor in Rookie of the Year voting but it’s hard to ignore how involved Chavis has been in Boston breaking out of their early season funk.
Guerrero will pull out of his own slump soon enough. He may eventually put up numbers similar to his Hall of Fame father but his ascension to superstar status hasn’t happened as quickly as many anticipated.
As the Red Sox open a series against the Blue Jays in Toronto, it’s fitting that Guerrero is out of the lineup. With the scorching start to Chavis’ debut season, Guerrero may already be out of the Rookie of the Year race.