On Wednesday night, the Boston Red Sox sat Brock Holt for the first time since May 15th. Holt had just snapped a seven game hit streak the night before and with Shane Victorino back on the team, Holt isn’t going to be a guarantee in the lineup every night.
Holt usually takes everybody else’s days off, filling in where he is needed, so it makes sense he played in so many games in a row. Not to mention the fact that Holt continues to be the team’s best hitter with his .321 average. “Brockstar” has become a fan favorite since being called up and has been a steady leadoff hitter for the Sox. In a year of unpleasant surprises, Holt has been one of the few bright spots on the team. His ability to play any position on the field has allowed his hot bat to stay in the lineup and made things easier for manager John Farrell.
With Victorino back and ready to take his spot in right field, Holt’s playing time could go down, especially if he doesn’t continue to hit. Holt had been playing right field primarily before Victorino returned from his rehab stint. Before the Stephen Drew signing, he had been playing third base. Now, Holt may be in a tight spot. However, depending on who is traded at the trade deadline, Holt could see a steady spot open up again. If Drew is dealt, Xander Bogaerts could be shifted back to shortstop, while Holt moves back to third. Will Middlebrooks could get starts against lefties, while Holt could continue to see starts in the outfield if Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Daniel Nava need days off. Surprisingly, Holt has actually hit lefties better (.330) than righties (.315), so there’s a good chance Bradley Jr. or Nava could see the bench on those days. Jonny Gomes frequently gets the start in left field against lefties due to Nava’s poor performance against southpaws (.111), but Gomes could be out the door as well. It was rumored last week that the Kansas City Royals were interested in the 33 year old outfielder and the Sox may lean towards letting the young guys play out the rest of the year.
Holt seems to find the holes in the infield on a regular basis, which could explain his high BABIP (batting average of balls in play) of .387. The typical BABIP is around .300, so it is likely that Holt’s luck may start to run out. For example, in 2012, Daniel Nava batted .243 with a .295 BABIP. In 2013, his BABIP rose to .352, which resulted in a .303 average. On the other hand, Will Middlebrooks’ average in 2012 was .288 and his BABIP was .335. Last season, his BABIP fell to .264, resulting in a .227 average. Depending on whether or not a hitter is finding the gaps could result in a big swing in that hitter’s average. That’s not to say Holt is just getting lucky because better hitters will have better a BABIP. Tony Gwynn‘s career BABIP over 20 years was .341 and his batting average was .338 and that was no coincidence.
I have no doubt that John Farrell will continue to find a spot for Brock Holt in the lineup, even if it is at someone else’s expense. Holt has been the steadiest position player on the team despite having the least steady spot in the field. Bogaerts’ average has plummeted since moving over one position in the field. Imagine what would happen in Farrell threw him in center field. Not much was expected from Holt at the beginning, but expect Brockstar to continue to be an important part of the team for the rest of the season.