The Boston Red Sox are the hottest team in baseball at the moment, and it’s hard to find fault with any club riding a seven-game winning streak in the middle of a packed pennant race.
But no team is perfect, and the Red Sox certainly are no exception. And as they eye a return to the postseason for the first time since 2013, the Sox have a big question mark at third base.
Entering Thursday, third base has been Boston’s least productive offensive position, with nine players, led by Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill, combining to hit just .250. Shaw, the Red Sox’s Opening Day starter at third, has driven in 71 runs and hit 16 home runs, but his inconsistent play — he had a .167 average batting average in August — has raised concerns.
Those concerns were solidified when the Red Sox called up prospect Yoan Moncada to try to jump-start the team’s production at third base. Yet manager John Farrell pulled the plug on the 21-year-old rookie after a brutal stretch of eight consecutive strikeouts, meaning the Red Sox are back to square one. Judging by Farrell’s comments Thursday, that means third base is anyone’s ballgame.
“We were very candid, that’s why Moncada came here,” Farrell said, before Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, via the Providence Journal. “We’re looking for production at third base to continue to climb. Guys are here that have done it. It’s a spot that can further be grabbed. We don’t ever want to just hand a spot just because you hit right-handed or left-handed.”
The Sox also acquired Hill with the hopes of improving offensively at third base, and while he’s hit well in September, the 34-year-old veteran still is batting just .222 in a Boston uniform. So, who would play the position if not for Shaw or Hill? Farrell isn’t ruling out Brock Holt, who has played just eight games at third this season but logged 27 games at the hot corner in 2015.
“Because of his flexibility on the defensive side, he could find himself there if he’s swinging the bat with some consistency there,” Farrell added. “I don’t want to rule anything out at this point.”
Farrell and the Red Sox have just 10 regular season games remaining to decide whether they want to stick with Shaw at third base, go with Hill or Holt instead or employ a rotation of all three if they reach the postseason. Either way, third base will be an intriguing position to watch down the stretch.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images