Don’t let Sunday’s hitless day fool you. The Red Sox top prospect, Michael Chavis, has been a machine since making his Major League debut back on April 20th where he made an instant impact with a clutch double late in the game during his first at-bat.
Following an impressive spring where his devastating power was put on full display, it became apparent that it was only a matter of time before the 23-year-old got the call to the bigs. It was obvious that at least offensively, he appeared ready to face big league pitching.
But there was a problem that was preventing him from getting to the top. His primary positioning revolves around the corners of the infield at first and third base. The Red Sox have those positions covered with the young buck Rafael Devers holding down third and the seasoned vet in Mitch Moreland manning first with the occasional sighting of the 2018 World Series MVP, Steve Pearce, also rotating into that position.
With that, we got word that Chavis was beginning to see some time over at second base in Triple-A Pawtucket. A position that he wasn’t too familiar with at that level. But with the recent developments at the major league level with Dustin Pedroia’s ailing knee, Eduardo Nunez’s back strain and Brock Holt’s eye issue, the spot was there for the taking.
With five starts at second that seemed to be a relatively solid success, things appeared like they were shaking out well for Chavis’ path to the majors. But on April 18th, manager Alex Cora told WEEI that the prospect wasn’t ready.
Well, that notion seemed to change as he got the call the following day in response to the aforementioned injuries the team was facing. It was his time to give it a go at the top level of his profession.
Chavis has been a monster and a spark plug for a team that was still trying to find their way through the infant 2019 season.
Frankly, you never know how one of your prospects will react at the big league level. You can watch them produce well through their time in the minors, but, while this goes without saying, the major leagues aren’t for everybody. However, since day one, there’s been something different about Chavis. He doesn’t act like a rookie. He doesn’t act like a kid who is in awe of the bright lights and is shaken when he sees some of the world’s best pitching. Instead, the approach he takes is like a veteran who has seen it all. He steps into the batter’s box in a calm and cool manner and does what he’s trained his entire life to do; produce for his team.
As previously stated, Chavis made an impact during his first at-bat. With a man on first and one out, Chavis moved the go-ahead run to third base with a line drive that spun around Rays centerfielder, Kevin Kiermier. If his first time to plate in the majors signified anything, it’s that this kid is prepared to prove to Red Sox upper management that he’s ready, and he’s not going anywhere.
WELCOME TO THE BIGS, MICHAEL CHAVIS! pic.twitter.com/38UxndpWTG
— Red Sox on CLNS (@RedSoxCLNS) April 21, 2019
Or at least, he shouldn’t go anywhere. The converted second baseman–who has been dubbed the nickname “Ice Horse”–has now appeared in 15 games for Boston with 51 trips to the plate. He’s belted six home runs (tied for second on the team), has a batting average of .333, and has an OPS of .1186. So in layman’s terms, the kid is going to force the Red Sox to stick him in the everyday lineup by any means necessary.
During the team’s choppy start to the season, they seemed to lack that one spark that would get them going. It’s no secret that they’re littered with talent up and down the roster. I mean, one of the club’s most glaring problems that a lot of fans are taking the “if we don’t talk about it, it won’t happen” approach to, is that contracts are running up. And this team has so much talent that you’ll probably be losing a handful of these guys just due to the simple notion that you won’t be able to afford them all.
But even with that, they couldn’t seem to figure out how to get going. And Chavis’ insertion into the lineup appeared to be that spark. It seemed to light a fire under the offense and right now, they resemble the 2018 World Series Champions a lot more than they resemble the team we saw on Opening Day in Seattle.
Will the team be able to keep him in the lineup on a daily basis though? Aren’t there essentially too many mouths to feed? Despite his rocket of a start to his career, does he take precedence over the returns over longtime fan favorite–unless you talk to some people–Dustin Pedroia? And what about Brock Holt? He’ll be taking up a roster spot again soon too. Is it possible for Chavis to suit up every day?
I’ll keep this discussion frank. Alex Cora, while he’s enamored with his analytics and statistics, there’s one thing that he can’t look past. And that’s the production level that Chavis has been at since his arrival. Cora’s not an idiot. He’s seeing what we all see and that’s what Chavis has done for this lineup since his arrival.
One of the most valuable assets that the 23-year-old brings is his newfound versatility in the infield. If Dustin Pedroia makes his return back into the Red Sox lineup–and that’s a big if–it’s become clear at this point that his knee can’t handle playing anymore on an everyday basis. But if Pedroia does play more often at second base and becomes a productive member of the lineup, Chavis can be slid into first base, third base, and on nights where J.D. Martinez is sent to play the outfield, he can DH.
Let’s not act like Chavis has been an all-world second baseman either. What’s caused Red Sox fans infatuation with him is what he does with the bat in his hand. So just having his name there in the lineup, even if it’s at the designated hitter spot, that’ll do just fine.
Michael Chavis has made his impact early on. I like to make this point known though. Don’t fall in love too quickly. While I do think he will be a successful major leaguer and we’ll be watching this guy do his thing with Boston for many years to come, it’s always smart to be cautious. Remember, we once fell in love with a rookie named Will Middlebrooks too.
Chavis has forced the Red Sox hand already. Unless we see a drastic, and I mean a drastic drop off in production at any point in the season, he’s essentially strong-armed management into keeping him at the big league level. Whether it’s first, second, third or designated hitter, Chavis will be there in the lineup. Michael Chavis is the new surprise–if you want to call it that–of the season that’s made the future that much brighter for the 2018 World Champs.
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