Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas
First base was an obvious position of need entering the season but the Red Sox didn’t invest heavily in an upgrade for one clear reason – Triston Casas was coming. One of the top prospects in their farm system, he’d made his way to Triple-A and was knocking on the door to his big league debut. While Casas needed a bit more seasoning in Worcester, the Red Sox felt that they could rely on internal options to hold down the fort until the hulking young prospect was ready.
The plan backfired when Casas injured his ankle in May, putting him on the shelf for nearly two months. He returned to the WooSox lineup near the end of July, but needed time to regain his rhythm at the plate.
When it reached the point in the season at which Casas was eligible to be called up while still retaining his rookie status for 2023, the Sox still kept him in Triple-A. Rosters expanded at the beginning of September; still no Casas. He finally made his major league debut on September 4, by which point the Red Sox weren’t technically eliminated, but realistically, long out of the playoff race.
While waiting for his arrival, the Red Sox relied primarily on the platoon of Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero to cover first base. The duo was a disastrous pairing that any team with playoff aspirations never should have settled on for as long as Boston did.
Red Sox first basemen are dead-last in the majors with a collective .204 batting average, per FanGraphs. Their 78 wRC+ is tied for the third-worst at the position and their .283 wOBA ranks 27th.
As poorly as they performed at the plate, Red Sox first basemen have been just as much of a liability in the field. Dalbec is near the bottom of the league with -5 defensive runs saved with Cordero right behind him with -4 DRS. That’s horrific when you consider that they’ve been splitting time. If you combined them into one full-time first baseman, their -9 DRS would be the worst in the majors at the position.
Acquiring Eric Hosmer at the trade deadline was supposed to shore up the position. Naturally, he lasted only 12 games before landing on the injured list. At this point, it’s pretty clear that he is done for the year, even if the Sox haven’t made that official yet.
Casas hasn’t exactly taken the league by storm since his debut, hitting a meager .115 with a .579 OPS. It’s only been nine games though! Most prospects struggle to adjust in their first taste of the big leagues. Casas has flashed signs of his power potential with a pair of home runs. He has shown a keen eye for the batting zone. The batting average is ugly but Casas isn’t chasing bad pitches and he’s making solid contact. There’s no doubt that he’ll make the proper adjustments and become the hitter scouts raved about.
Casas was swinging the bat well at the time that he hurt his ankle and was on the verge of being called up. An early June debut would have allowed Casas to acclimate to the major league level by about the midpoint of the season, giving the Red Sox a more reliable bat at his position. We’ve only seen a small sample so far, but Casas has fielded his position admirably.
First base has been a dumpster fire for the Red Sox this season but if Casas hadn’t had an injury setback that delayed his debut, they would have received a significant upgrade at the plate and on the field at a point in the season when it still would have mattered.