Michael Chavis played a mere five games at second base for Triple-A Pawtucket and was much more comfortable at first or third base.
Following their dominant 2018 season and World Series title, the Boston Red Sox had several questions to answer. Who would start at second base was not one of them.
After his 2017 season was abbreviated due to injury, Dustin Pedroia went on to miss nearly the entire 2018 season with a knee injury. Manager Alex Cora declared that the former American League MVP would bat leadoff to begin the 2019 season, but after a series of setbacks, Pedroia still remains on Boston’s Injured List. Through 66 games, Pedroia has appeared in just six contests and returned to the IL on April 19.
With Brock Holt already on the Injured List, there was a vacancy at second base that needed to be filled. Following the dismal start to the 2019 season, the pressure to fill it only mounted. And once Pedroia went back down, the Red Sox called up Tzu-Wei Lin and Michael Chavis to reinforce their infield.
Lin appeared in 37 games in 2018, and he played shortstop in 23 of them. In 73 plate appearances, Lin managed a .246 batting average. While he was serviceable in the field, he did not have the pop in his bat that the struggling Boston Red Sox so desperately needed.
Chavis, on the other hand, led the Red Sox in home runs (4) and RBIs (10) in just 22at-bats during 2019 Spring Training. The 23-year-old, drafted 26th overall in the 2014 MLB draft, provided a boost to the Red Sox offense immediately. It could not have come at a better time.
On May 14, Chavis went 2-for-5 with a home run in Boston’s extra-inning loss to the Colorado Rockies. The loss snapped a four-game win streak, and it was just their second loss in their last nine games. The Red Sox found themselves in extra-innings again the following day. With a weekend series against the Astros looming, Boston craved a victory. Chavis stepped up in the bottom of the 10th with no outs and runners on first and second. And he delivered. He drove the first pitch he saw up the middle, walking it off for the first time in his young career. Boston was 8-2 in their last 10 games and climbing the AL East standings.
In 22 games featuring Michael Chavis, the Red Sox are 16-7. Since his debut, the Red Sox have won 16 of their last 20, and are 12-2 in their last 14 contests. Chavis, who has acquired the nickname “Ice Horse”, is batting .296 in 22 appearances with seven home runs and 21 RBI. Over the last month, he’s tied with Mitch Moreland for most home runs (7), leads the team in RBI (21), and his batting average ranks fourth behind Christian Vazquez, Rafael Devers, and Mookie Betts.
As for his defense, Chavis has already played more than double the games at 2B as he did with Pawtucket. With just two errors in 64 chances and a .969 fielding percentage, Chavis is developing into a steady second baseman before our eyes.
He added his eighth home run in Boston’s 4-3 win over the Astros on Sunday, and his ninth on Monday afternoon against the Blue Jays. He now sits tied for second in home runs with J.D. Martinez with nine, behind only Mitch Moreland. Chavis has proven to be not only a reliable option in the infield but a bona fide threat in the Red Sox lineup. World Series hangover or not, the Red Sox offense needed a jolt, a spark, a savior. Michael Chavis has assumed these roles in stride, and he must be kept in Beantown at all costs.
P.S. Did someone say American League Rookie of the Year?