Brock Holt is an awesome enigma. He was an All Star on a last place team, averaged .255 or lower in half his seasons, and had the only Cycle in the long history of the MLB playoffs.
Holt’s story is one of perseverance, major highs, and frustrating lows. What can we look forward to in 2019?
A Parade Of Obsticles & Injuries
Here is a list of names that the Red Sox have put in Brock Holt’s way since he came over in 2013 from the Pirates: Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks, Brandon Snyder, Jonathan Herrera, Ryan Roberts, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Carp, Daniel Nava, Grady Sizemore, Kelly Johnson, Allen Craig, Carlos Rivera, Jemile Weeks, Josh Rutledge, Deven Marrero, Chris Young, Ian Kinsler.
And why so many, with only Iglesias as a true everyday player on the way up or in his prime? The dreaded DL. In August of 2014 Holt got a concussion. This injury would lead to another concussion in May of 2016, and essentially losing all of 2017 with Vertigo as a result. He had knee tightness in 2015, a hamstring strain in April of 2018, and was spiked in the knee in July of 2018.
The bottom line is he can’t be hit in the head again, but the chances are slim. Pitching inside is a lost art these days, and playing with consistent teammates reduces the chances of a fielding collision. Holt’s other injuries are garden variety MLB injuries that have shown no ill effects.
When Brock was called up in 2013, the book on him was spot on:
“Maximizes tools with instincts and all out effort. Focuses on making contact with a short, simple stroke. Knows how to run the bases and can steal a bag from time to time.”Baseball HQ minor league analysis
Here are the types of things Brock Holt can do when he is maximizing his tools:
- Hit .281 with a .331 OBP in 2014, including 12 steals and finishing 8th in Rookie of the Year voting. He played 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, and OF that year.
- Despite the team paying Pablo Sandoval and being overlooked, Holt had a .886 OPS by early July, hit for the cycle in June, and was an All Star. Tightness in his knee, and the emergence of Travis Shaw, led to a lost end of that year.
- After coming back from his concussion in 2016 he had a 1.389 OPS vs right handers before losing time to Andrew Benintendi’s rookie year.
- 2018 saw him start hot before injuring his hamstring, then he had a 14% walk rate (that’s elite) by July before getting spiked and losing time to Rafael Devers.
- In August of 2018 he had a .348 OBP as he was still seeing the ball well, and a .917 OPS in August and September as his power returned.
- In the World Series run he had the Cycle against the Yankees, and threw in another double and a stolen base along the way.
- He’s hitting .313 with .917 OPS in spring training.
In summary, he walks, has good pop, steals a bag now and then, and makes good contact.
Give Him A Chance
There is much consternation in Red Sox Nation about the state of the minor league system. When players like Shaw, Benny and Devers matriculate in consecutive years that will happen. While Brock will never hit 30 home runs, like Shaw has and Devers should, his all around power more than plays. Players don’t hit for more than one Cycle in their career without legit power. He might never have the ceiling of Andrew Benintendi’s future multiple batting champ skills, but he’s not far behind with the contact to hit .280 or higher. And his ability to take a walk will always keep him on the bases and scoring runs.
This is the skill-set of a very talented major leaguer. The Red Sox should not feel the need to backfill in case of Dustin Pedroia’s rehab going awry.
Give him a chance at 500 at bats and this is the year he puts it all together. Think Bill Mueller in the 9 hole in 2004, or Nunez on his best days.
Plus, we all need more joy in our lives right?
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