Brock Holt is the archetype of a utility man, one who doesn’t quite fit anywhere perfectly but fits pretty much everywhere well. So, one of the big questions of this season for Alex Cora is where he fits in for 2018?
After posting solid numbers in 2014 and 2015, injuries derailed his 2016, and especially his 2017, seasons, respectively. The stats look like this:
2014: 492 plate appearances, .281/.331/4 HR, 23 doubles, 5 triples and 29 RBI with a WAR of 2.1.
2015: 509 PA, .280/.349/2/27/6/45 with a WAR of 2.6.
Then the injury bug bit him.
2016: 324 PA, .255/.302/7/0/16/34 with a WAR of 1.2. Not horrible, but definitely not up to the standards he had set in previous seasons.
2017: 164 PA, .200/.305/0/6/0/7. With a WAR of 0. That’s a huge drop off.
What these numbers tell us is that Holt’s productivity and value go up in correlation with his PA. Now, Holt is not the first choice at any position on this roster. Each position has at least one guy ahead of him on the depth chart, but given his versatility, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for him to be an everyday or every other day starter.
Brock has the ability to play 2nd and 3rd base, shortstop, and all 3 outfield positions. He doesn’t quite have the desired range to cover CF or SS, so for the sake of argument we’ll just limit him to the two corner outfield spots and 2nd and 3rd base. Cora could platoon him in all 4 of those spots.
When one of the 3 B’s in the outfield need a day off, Holt can fill in. If it happens to be JBJ’s day on the bench, Cora can move either Betts or Benintendi to CF. If each of the 3 B’s gets 15-20 days off, that’s 45-60 games and roughly 160-220 PA.
In the infield, the same method is applied for both 2nd and 3rd, where I think Holt will be the #2 or 3 guy at both spots. Using the same formula as the outfield spots, that would be 30-40 games and 110-150 PA. What also needs to be considered is Dustin Pedroia, who will start the season injured. Add another 10 games to account for that, plus sprinkle in 25 more to account for an inevitable injury mid-season.
Adding all of that up, we’re left with 110-135 games and 385-470 PA. That’s right in the middle of the two “eras” of Holt’s career, and it should allow him to get into and stay in a nice little groove without risking overuse and, hopefully, produce at his 2014/2015 level for this year’s Sox.
I’ll be keeping an eye on it and will update as the season starts rolling.