Red Sox rookie Bobby Dalbec will prove the doubters wrong
Spring training is well underway and up to this point, the Red Sox have had some success with plenty of it coming from their young core of talent. One of those players who is excelling in Fort Myers is rookie Bobby Dalbec. Though the first baseman got a taste of the major league life in 2020, this will be his first full campaign at Fenway Park. Since he didn’t exceed the number of games needed to lose his rookie tag he’ll be eligible for the 2021 Rookie of the Year Award.
As it stands right now, he’s not considered one of the favorites. Actually, it’s more of the opposite. VegasInsider.com currently has him listed as a 20/1 favorite with +2000 odds, not great. To put it into perspective, Tampa Bay rookie Randy Arozarena is the runaway favorite at 4/1 odds. Baseball fans got to know Arozarena during the 2020 postseason where the rookie got white-hot and was a driving force for the Rays.
Dalbec may not have gotten to taste October baseball, but he definitely made plenty of noise on the scene when he got called up at the trade deadline. At one point, he hit a streak of five straight games with a homer, and talk of him creeping up on Ken Griffey Jr.’s record of eight became a thing. He wouldn’t get past that mark but it was still pretty exciting to have something to talk about in a season that was lost before it began.
Bobby D finished last season with a .263/.359/.600/.959 line with 8 homers and 16 RBI through 80 at-bats. Granted he also struck out 39 times in that same span but he’s got the promise and potential to work through that issue. He hit a cold-spell during his time with the Red Sox last year but was able to break it relatively quickly and got back to smashing baseballs. Much like Michael Chavis a year before, once the league figured him out he was in some trouble, but Dalbec surpassed Chavis in being able to solve the equation.
Baseball-Reference has the young first baseman projected to hit .249/.336/.470/.807 with 16 dingers and 45 RBI in 2021 but his spring training performance to this point would suggest otherwise. Through five games in Fort Myers, Dalbec is lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of .400/.500/1.300/1.800 with 3 homers and 5 RBI. Obviously, he can’t keep that pace and momentum for a full 162 game season but he sure as hell can do a lot better than what’s projected.
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Back in September MLB.com posted an article where they named their Top-5 RotY candidates for each league and they placed Dalbec third for the AL. Granted, this was before Big Randy lit Tampa Bay on fire but I don’t think that’d knock Bobby out of the Top-5. There are plenty of big names on the board that will be vying for the title this year but sleeping on Dalbec in that race would be foolish. He’s already proven what he can do with an opportunity and now that he’s likely to be the everyday first baseman for the Red Sox, that opportunity just got bigger.
"“Dalbec is the rookie most likely to go Pete Alonso in 2021. After slugging 59 homers in the Minors in 2018-19, he went deep eight times in 80 at-bats with Boston (albeit with 39 strikeouts). He comes with swing-and-miss concerns, but he draws walks and plays a quality third base.”"
While spring training is going very well for Bobby Dalbec the real test will begin when the calendar says April 1st. If he can maintain this momentum through a good portion of the regular season then we may have ourselves the first Red Sox Rookie of the Year since Dustin Pedroia in 2007. Dalbec has the tools and work ethic to get it done and has shown that he’s more than ready to do work on the major league level. With the betting world not even considering him as one of the favorites, nothing would be better than proving Vegas wrong and bringing that trophy to Fenway Park.