Boston Red Sox: Why Brock Holt has been the biggest surprise

When the Boston Red Sox were trying to address who would hit leadoff before the season began, there were a lot of candidates that immediately came to the forefront. Brock Holt was certainly not on the guest list.

In fact, the generously listed 5-foot-10 Holt was hardly even considered to be player who could make an impact for the club in 2014.

But baseball is a game of seizing opportunities, and since May 17, there’s been nobody better at doing so than Brock Holt.

Boston Red Sox

Brock Holt has excelled in his time in Boston hitting .344 in 30 games.

Filling in for a banged up infield, Holt has earned every single game he’s spent in the bigs this year, hitting his way into the lineup, and away from a bus trip to Pawtucket. In a small sample-size of 118 at-bats this season, Holts offensive numbers are impressive: .347 average, .386 OBP, 40 hits, including nine doubles, a pair of triples, and 13 RBIs. He’s currently riding a 10-game hitting streak, and perhaps most importantly, has been a productive leadoff man for John Farrell to turn to.

From the top spot in the lineup, Holt has an OPS of .865 in 83 at-bats. When you compare that to Dustin Pedroia’s .765 OPS in 112 at-bats hitting first, Grady Sizemore’s .292 OPS in 43 at-bats, and Daniel Nava’s .461 OPS in 20 at-bats, Holt has simply beaten out every other member of the Red Sox for the role. Even if it isn’t to start the game, Holt excels at leading off in any inning, going 14-for-44 when batting to begin a frame.

And then, of course, there is the Red Sox’ Achilles’ heel: hitting with runners in scoring position.

Brock Holt continues the surprises by excelling in that category as well.

He’s collected 10 RBIs in just 19 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and four  of those runs have come with two outs in the inning. His ability to hit both righties (.304 average) and lefties (.388 average) allow Holt to play almost everyday as he continues to make a positive impact on the ballclub.

The defensive versatility he possesses doesn’t hurt either. Holt’s willingness to move from third base, to first, and now left field, has been a contributing factor into his elongated stay with Boston. He isn’t the most sure-handed fielder, but learning to adequately play multiple positions for a team that lacks much depth is a welcoming sign that this is an unselfish kid dedicated to the betterment of the team.

For Holt to emerge out of the crowd of talent throughout the Red Sox’ farm system is surprising in its own right. But to then become a productive player and force Farrell’s hand into penciling him into the lineup each and everyday is a whole ‘nother world of surprise.

Nobody is really sure how long Brock Holt will stick around or what kind of player he will really be over the course of a full season. I know fans, including myself, like to inflate expectations once a young player starts hitting. ( I once believed Will Middlebrooks to be the next Ryan Braun). But there isn’t enough there to make any type of accurate prediction.

Holt has caught everyone off guard to this point in the season. Now, it’s just a matter of whether he can continue to play now that the surprise is over.

 

Visit the Boston Red Sox team page for more content and opinions and check out my colleague Mark Gallant’s piece on what Brock Holt really means to the Red Sox.