Now the we’re two months into the 2014 season, it’s clear that the Boston Red Sox haven’t lived up to the expectations they earned last October. The reigning World Champions are just 27-29 and sit in 4th place in the AL East, six games back from the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays.
After relying mainly on their offense to win games last year, the Red Sox’ bats have been noticeably silent all year long. On their unlikely road to lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy last season, the Red Sox led the American League in runs, doubles, and on-base percentage, and were second in the league in batting average.
The first third of the 2014 season has been a completely different story for the The Olde Town Team. The Red Sox currently rank 9th in the American League in runs, and, while they have the 3rd highest on-base percentage in the AL, have just the 11th-best batting average.
Yesterday afternoon, Brock Holt attempted to revitalize the Red Sox’ offense with the best game of his young career.
The Boston Red Sox won their seventh game in a row yesterday thanks to the arm of Jon Lester and the bat of Brock Holt. While Lester was spectacular in his own right (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 K), it was the 25 year-old Holt that stole the show for the Boston faithful at Fenway and gave the Nation a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Holt managed to reach base in all five of his plate appearances, which included four doubles and a walk. He drove in two runs in the Red Sox’ three-run fourth inning and scored a run in the seventh to increase the Red Sox lead to four. Holt also stole his 3rd base of the year in that seventh inning.
Brock Holt became the first Red Sox player to hit four doubles in a game since Victor Martinez four years ago. With his performance, he increased his batting average to .337, the highest on the team for anybody with more than two at-bats. Although his 86 at-bats don’t qualify him for the lead-league in batting average, if he can continue this impressive pace, his .337 mark would rank 1st in the American League and 3rd in all of baseball.
Even more encouraging for Holt, his incredible four-hit performance comes just the day after he collected his first Major League home run. During the Red Sox improbable run of seven consecutive wins (after losing nine in a row), Holt has 12 hits in 32 at-bats (.375) with six runs scored and five RBIs.
And what exactly is Brock Holt’s reward for getting the Red Sox back to two games below .500? Less playing time.
With the Red Sox calling up Stephen Drew to play shortstop on a regular basis, Xander Bogaerts will be moving over to 3rd base, where Holt has made 21 of his 22 starts this season. His lone start away from the hot corner this year was at first base yesterday afternoon against the Rays. The Red Sox plan to play Holt at 1st base until Mike Napoli comes off the disabled list, which will most likely be June 8, the first day he is eligible.
The Red Sox also called up prospect Garin Cecchini, who registered his first Major League hit in Sunday afternoon’s contest, a seventh-inning double that drove in Holt. Cecchini has played 48 games at 3rd base for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2014. Unfortunately for Holt, his prize for playing extremely well is getting challenged for playing time.
It will be interesting to see how Brock Holt responds once his playing time is diminished. After playing in fifteen consecutive games dating back to May 17, Holt will likely come off the bench more often than not after Napoli returns. If he doesn’t have the right disposition, it may be difficult to produce in that role.
Like Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.”