Red Sox: Bobby Dalbec, beware the Clyde Vollmer, Lou Clinton trap
Will Red Sox rookie Bobby Dalbec match Vollmer or Clinton?
The Red Sox now have Roy Hobbs; only he is in the body of Bobby Dalbec. Dalbec is on a torrid hot streak that is dramatically opposite of the Dalbec of the season’s first four months. Gone is the flaying away at mystical offspeed curves and sliders. Dalbec is focused, selective, and simply killing baseballs.
There is nothing in his minor league or major league history that one could extrapolate into such a resounding turnaround. Is it real or an illusion? Will Dalbec suddenly revert to the almost automatic out status?
Clyde Vollmer was a right-handed hitter like Dalbec but had significant service time before he had a streak of all streaks in 1951. The then 29-year-old went on a 21-game tear that still reverberates in Red Sox history. Just how good?
From July 6th to the 24th, Vollmer slammed 13 home runs, had 31 hits, and accounted for 40 RBI. Volmer finished off the streak with a three-home run game and then reverted to what Vollmer had always been, finishing the season with a .251 batting average.
Lou Clinton had that prospect tag of great potential. A right-hand hitter of significant power potential who arrived in Boston in 1960. Clinton had a 19.8 K% that was an important negative back in that baseball age. Few walks and a lot of K’s. Sound familiar?
In 1962, that potential was finally achieved, sparked by a momentous hitting streak. In May and June, Clinton had combined for a total of just one hit. On June 29th, Clinton was hitting .100 when manager Pinky Higgins, to our dismay in attendance, inserted Clinton into the lineup. That started it.
Clinton slammed a grand slam and later a two-run shot as the streak began. Over the next 17 games, Clinton hit .527 with nine home runs before finally returning to normalcy. For that season, Clinton hit .294 and was the future for right field. A future that soon crashed.
In 1963, Clinton hit 22 home runs and had 77 RBI, but hit just .232 with 118 strikeouts. In 1964, Clinton became a mid-season casualty and was traded to the Angels. A few seasons later, Clinton was gone from MLB.
Dalbec could also be another Jackie Bradley Jr. blowing hot and cold with prodigious slumps followed by lengthy periods of virtually automatic out status. Or it is possible that Dalbec could be one of the rare players who exceed his minor league numbers.
With the Yankees coming to town, they have a right-hand slugger who never slammed more than 20 home runs in a minor league season. Then Aaron Judge powdered 52 in 2017.
For now, this is just a sit back and enjoy the moment. As with Clinton, I look forward to a Dalbec at-bat, whereas a few months ago, it would be time for a bathroom or refreshment break.