Evaluating the 2019 season of Boston Red Sox utility player Brock Holt and assigning a grade based on how his production lived up to expectations.
Brock Holt is a fan favorite in Boston, the proverbial lunch bucket hockey player. For the Red Sox, he’s the ultimate utility man, the ultimate team hype man. Everything from his playing style to his dugout presence, to his interviews which are entertaining and fun to watch.
Holt exceeded what you would map out as a perfect last season before entering free agency. In 2019, Holt slashed, high-sticked and elbowed his way to a .297 BA, .369 OBP, and .402 SLG. Over 259 at-bats, he accumulated 77 hits and 31 RBI.
This was the second time that Holt has produced over .770 OPS. He had a 1.1 offensive WAR and a 0 defensive WAR. His fielding percentage at second base was .991 which stacks up well against the league fielding percentage of .981.
Holt was 5th in the AL for total zone runs as a second baseman. He only played in 87 games this season due to injuries (career-high being in 2015 when he played in 129 games).
Over 8 years spent in the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox, 2019 marked career highs for Holt’s batting average (his second-highest was a .292 BA in 2012 and a low of .200 in 2017) and on-base percentage (second highest being in 2018 when he had a .362 OBP, and lowest of .275 in 2013). His SLG saw a slight drop from 2018 when it was .411.
The Red Sox mainly played Holt at second base this season due to the injury to Dustin Pedroia. He played 60 games at second base, 11 games at first base, 6 games in right field and shortstop, and 4 games in left field and third base.
More from Red Sox News
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Why Red Sox fans should be rooting for Carlos Correa’s Mets deal to go through
Holt spent the most time at second base, however, he shared his duties with other Red Sox players. Marco Hernandez played 48 games, Michael Chavis played 45 games, and Eduardo Nunez played 31 games at second before being hightailed out of the team. Holt missed considerable time in April and May.
Brock was underutilized in his position at second base. In comparison to his teammates, he produced the best numbers. Chavis produced the second-best numbers but his OPS, offensive and defensive WAR were all lower than Holt’s.
He started red hot upon his return and then slowly we saw a decline in offensive performance. In June, he had a .397 BA, .444 OBP, and .524 SLG. In September with only a .236 BA, .304 OBP, and .264 SLG he had 17 hits and 4 RBIs.
Holt becomes a free agent in 2020. Unfortunately (for Red Sox fans), it seems that Holt has out-performed his chances of staying in Boston. With the Red Sox payroll issues, it is very unlikely (not impossible, just unlikely) that we will see him again in 2020 repping the Red Sox logo.
Boston needs to rejig their farm system. We’re going to be entering a rebuilding phase. Holt provides options for the Red Sox since he is a great veteran to keep around for the young guys to learn from. After his incredible performance this year, Holt may well be offered contracts that Boston can’t or will not offer.
Even though he missed considerable time, Holt had a career year with his spanking out of this world socks. He did tail off towards the end of the year. I would have preferred that he had more playing time at second base (the result of injury, playing other players, and giving the younger guys a chance to play).
Holt earned $3.58 million for 2019. Boston has never considered Brock to be one of the main starters, regardless of his performance or fan opinions of him. He has always produced on both sides of the ball. In comparison to the other starters in Boston, they got Brock for a steal.
The Red Sox have no clear answers for the hole at second base and first base. A lot is up in the air for the 2020 season. The Red Sox may move Chavis to first base. If they make this move, they will need to consider keeping Holt.
Holt has played a major role in Boston, especially with his off-the-field community work. Given the salary problems for the Red Sox, they would only sign Holt if he agrees to a short-term deal. However, this could do more harm than good for Holt as his playing time may again be shared with younger players who in the future will be looking to replace him.
It’s projected that with a bit of luck in free agency, Holt could be looking at a three-year deal worth $27-30 million. Holt did have a decline in performance towards the end of the season. And we know (after watching Craig Kimbrel) that the free agency market isn’t always fair to players. The prediction might be slightly steeper than what Holt is likely to get.
Regardless, Holt caught the eye of the league in his performance this season. I have no doubt that other teams are interested in a player of his caliber and that they’re ready and willing to offer more than the Red Sox will.
Personally, considering the very good year that Brock has had I think there will be better options out there for him. It’s too bad Brock doesn’t know how to skate. Boston has been a good place for him. But at the end of the day, it is all a business. Holt should go where the best monetary and playing offer resides. And I doubt that place is Boston.