Just what type of hitter will Michael Chavis be for the Boston Red Sox? There is one present-day example in Texas and that is Joey Gallo.
Right now, Chavis (33.3%) is in a bitter struggle with fellow rookie Brandon Lowe (33.9%) of the Rays. This should add some excitement to individual battles for K supremacy as the two teams square off. And don’t forget Rougned Odor (33%) of the Texas Rangers.
Chavis is just symptomatic of baseball circa 2019 – at least the hitting or lack of hitting part. The free-swinging style has resulted in extensive home run exodus during the season. Prodigious distances, exit velocities, launch angles, and a myriad of other minutiae circulating around the long ball.
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Rarely a broadcast is done with the mention of Chavis’s accomplishments regarding the distance of his blasts, but buried within that is a burgeoning strikeout total. The only positional player close to Chavis is Steve Pearce (31.3%) and Pearce has not been seen since June.
In 2018, Chris Davis (36.8%) was the AL infamous leader, but Davis has been a baseball known factor since the O’s dished out a seven-year deal to Davis at $23 MM per year. Not bad for strolling back to the dugout every third at-bat. The next two on the list for 2018 is Joey Gallo (35.9%) and Yoan Moncada (33.4%). I’m pegging Chavis to be Gallo, but the Gallo of this season.
In 2017-18 Gallo slammed a bundle of home runs (81) and hit a pathetic .207. This season, Gallo is hitting a far more respectable .267 and still going yard with 22 home runs. What is the difference for the right-handed slugger? The answer is BABIP, or Batting Average Balls In Play, which is .367 despite his 36.7 K%. The previous two seasons, Gallo averaged .250 BABIP. The statistic, like all statistics, is open to interpretation. Is the current BABIP an anomaly?
Chavis is where Gallo is now – a high strikeout rate, but a very comfortable .355 BABIP and a batting average that fluctuates in the .250’s to low .260’s. If Chavis continues his excellent BABIP you will have our version of Gallo of 2019. That is more than acceptable since Chavis has never demonstrated the ability to hit for a high average, hitting just .257 in the minor leagues.
A last note is the race for the team lead in total whiffs is fast approaching the lock category with Chavis at 108 for the season. Jackie Bradley Jr.(92) and Andrew Benintendi (90) will duke it out for second place. But Chavis is certainly in play for Mike Napoli’s team record of 187 set in 2013. Napoli also garnered a 32.4K% that is also a qualified team record. Chavis keeps up his pace I expect two team whiff records and a ROY.
The Red Sox are quite fortunate with their hitters of production. J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts have demonstrated the capability in recent years to combine batting average and power – home run and extra-base power. Rafael Devers may surpass the trio in that category this season and the future. A significant plus is to avoid a lineup that may have long ball tendencies that are accompanied by well under .300 batting averages. Does Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez come to mind?
A Chavis with a high K rate and a .250 average is easily absorbed in the Red Sox ultra-productive offense. Chavis is what he is and certainly can produce massive distance and consistently approach the 30+ home run range per season.