While Wally is the the official mascot of the Boston Red Sox, the do-it-all utility man Brock Holt is unquestionably the team’s unofficial mascot. From his excellent flowing locks to his $2.05 million dollar smile, the camera always seems to find his face during the NESN broadcast. His presence on the team delights the casual fan. Holt is the most recent in a long string of Red Sox “dirt dogs”, of which Trot Nixon is the greatest example. Holt’s scrappy and versatile characteristics have caused many a fan on Yawkey Way to buy his jersey shirt despite never really having stellar numbers.
This past season was certainly a difficult one for Holt on and off the field. The beloved bench bat, who has dealt with concussion issues over the years, missed time from late April until mid-July dealing with vertigo. There were times last year when I remember wondering if he would ever even play baseball again. As scary as that thought was for us fans, I imagine it was devastating for him. When Holt did return, he played his usual myriad of positions, but did so at the lowest level of his career. As we look to the 2018 season, there is a real argument to be made that the team would be better off without Holt.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
After getting back to the field on July 16th Holt didn’t miss any time for the remainder of the season. Just being able to stick with the team and not have to leave due to recurring vertigo was a victory for the player and the team. Oh, and the hair and smile were good all year.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Let’s begin with his batting line for the season. Over 64 games and 164 PA, Holt slashed .200/.305/.243 with zero home runs and just seven RBI. He was completely inept at the plate the entire season in a way that he had never shown us before. His .214 TAv was by far the lowest mark of his career, and overall, Holt was a detriment to the team offensively. Though he was once one of the strangest All-Stars in recent memory, Holt has never really created plus value with his bat. His offense has always been predicated on making contact.
The fact that John Farrell could trust Holt to play nearly every position on the field has always been his most valuable attribute. You knew you were going to get league average or worse offense, but there was little chance he would make a play that would kill you in the field. Holt wasn’t great, but simply solid all around the infield and in the corners of the outfield. After providing 6.7 FRAA in 2016 that number slipped to just 1.1 in 2017. The overall result was a player that was worth -0.2 WARP or -0.9 fWAR depending on which calculation you like best. Either way, negative WAR is not a good look.
WHAT TO EXPECT
I mentioned at the beginning how much his smile was worth and the Red Sox would be smart to move on from Brock Holt if they can find a trade partner. As the team looks at its potential bench for 2018, there are several more appealing options. Devin Marrero is a far superior defender in the infield and is out of options. Bryce Brentz, who was recently added to the 40-man roster, is a much better offensive player than Holt and is also out of options. Since the Red Sox have three guys who can play center field Brentz’s poor defense is no issue here. Sandy Leon, as long as he remains with the team, will take up a bench spot.
Perhaps the most interesting player who could replace Holt is Blake Swihart, who had .997 OPS in Dominican winter league ball. He is out of options and could surely be used all around the infield and in the outfield, although if I see him in the outfield again I might cry. The team could decide to try and shop one of the other players mentioned in order to get Sam Travis on the team. Travis, who mashes lefties, could make for an intriguing platoon partner for Mitch Moreland. All of this is to say that Holt might be too expensive and not good enough with either the glove or bat to warrant a spot on the team in 2018. It’s been a fun ride, but for the club and player, it’s probably time to get off.
Photo by Patrick McDermott — USA TODAY Sports