The Boston Red Sox should trust Bobby Dalbec at first base
Bobby Dalbec has given Alex Cora and Boston Red Sox management every reason to grant him ownership of first base for at least the start of the 2022 season. That we know. But, Dalbec could serve more of a long-term role despite several threatening variables. It’s just a matter of letting him naturally prosper—but how much time do the Red Sox have to give Dalbec in their circumstance?
The Red Sox must thoroughly examine what they have in Dalbec given the performance he provided in the final third of last season. In the months of August and September, the 6’4” sophomore batted .288 and evolved into one of the league’s most dangerous plate presences—having cranked 14 home runs in that span.
With the uncertainty of a Kyle Schwarber return, leaning on Dalbec at first could be the only option anyway—that is until elite prospect Triston Casas is called up. The Red Sox minor league hot slugger has dominated every level of play he’s faced and it’s inevitable he’ll be in the lineup at some point this season.
If that narrative continues on course, Dalbec’s role will become precarious and his evaluation will become expedited regardless of his play—even if Cora opts to deploy both of them in a platoon. After having completed only his first full-length major league season, there needs to be a bigger sample size to assess what long-term contributions Dalbec could be capable of providing in Boston.
Getting on base at any cost will be the 26-year-old Seattle native’s top priority, as he’s been generally inconsistent doing so in his short tenure. The second checkbox on Dalbec’s to-do list is to mitigate strikeouts, as Dalbec was sat down 156 times last season.
That could’ve been a rookie growing pain amidst evidence of great promise. However, the minor caveat to consider is that Dalbec wasn’t able to float in his limited playoff role. He had went 0-for-12 in the six games in which he appeared, leaving an unstable impression after his first taste of postseason baseball.
Should Schwarber return, Cora should use him elsewhere and let first base stay with someone who can man it for the long haul, whether that be Dalbec or Casas. The Red Sox lost offensive upside in the outfield after parting with Hunter Renfroe. Schwarber could be just what the doctor ordered to maintain three offensive threats in the outfield.
If Dalbec can’t pull his weight by the time Casas is recalled or maintain trustworthy consistency, then Chaim Bloom’s hand will likely be forced to pursue a trade at the deadline. Dealing Dalbec away this early could prove a hasty solution to a premature problem and would leave the Red Sox with insecurity on Dalbec’s potential.
Having multiple options of young talented players at a position isn’t a bad problem to have, especially at first base. But hindering the growth of a possible high-potential player by putting all of your marbles on another could be disastrous, and it isn’t a mistake Bloom is about to make. Between Dalbec and Casas, both fit the homegrown Bloom formula, so the Red Sox must find a way to utilize both in a Dalbec-thriving world.
Let Dalbec prove his worth as a possible franchise cornerstone. Worry about Casas and how to use him when it’s time.