Red Sox rookie Bobby Dalbec is a lefty-masher at the plate
Bobby Dalbec is off to a fairly lackluster start to his first full season with the Boston Red Sox. We expected his propensity for strikeouts to keep his batting average at a middling level but this concern was supposed to be offset by his massive power potential.
We waited over three weeks for that power to surface but Dalbec finally treated us to the first Bobby Bomb of the season during Tuesday’s win against the New York Mets. The 390-foot blast to center traveled with an exit velocity of 105.2 mph into the bullpen to tie the game in the third inning.
Naturally, the homer came against a left-handed pitcher, Mets starter David Peterson.
As underwhelming as his overall production has been, Dalbec has been otherworldly when facing lefties this season. His .458 batting average in 24 at-bats against lefties ranks fifth in the majors third in the American League.
Despite only having one home run, Dalbec has displayed plenty of power when facing southpaws. His .750 SLG and 1.230 OPS rank third in the AL against lefties. Dalbec is eighth in the majors with a 245 wRC+ and tenth with a .523 wOBA.
As dominant as he’s been against lefties, Dalbec has been equally inept against right-handed pitching. He’s a mere 4-for-37 (.108) with a .357 OPS against right-handers this season.
The results have been discouraging but we should note this is still a small sample size from a rookie adjusting to his first full season in the big leagues. It’s far too soon to give up on Dalbec as an everyday player by locking him into a platoon.
Dalbec has always fared better against lefties but he’s typically been able to hold his own against right-handed pitching. In his brief 23-game debut last year, Dalbec slashed a respectable .245/.375/.528 against right-handers. The production didn’t match his spectacular .296/.321/.741 line against lefties but he did tally five of his eight home runs against right-handed pitchers. Drawing nine walks, compared to only one against lefties, was more than enough to make up for the batting average differential.
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Glancing back to his last season in the minors in 2019, Dalbec was a mediocre .236/.337/.447 against right-handers compared to .250/.410/.500 against lefties. The platoon splits were evident but he blasted 20 of his 27 homers against right-handed pitchers. His power still plays against right-handed pitching.
Dalbec needs to be in the lineup on a regular basis to continue his development. He’s always going to be better against lefties but he’s not necessarily going to be a liability against right-handers. Trust the track record that shows the power will come.
It’s not as if the Red Sox have appealing alternatives anyway. The switching-hitting Marwin Gonzalez would be the logical platoon partner but he’s struggling to keep his batting average above the Mendoza Line from both sides of the plate.
There’s little reason for concern about Dalbec’s ability to hit home runs. Now that he finally has the first of the season out of the way, it could open the floodgates for a power surge. His production against right-handed pitching should eventually balance out to a reasonable level. While he might not stay quite this hot against southpaws, Dablec is undoubtedly among the most dangerous hitters in this lineup against lefties.