The real test for Boston Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis has begun. Just how will Chavis respond to adversity?
The game was an unremarkable blowout on May 4th against the Chicago White Sox as the Red Sox eventually won 15-2. In the seventh inning, Michael Chavis hit a double – Chavis’s fourth hit of the game. Later in the contest, Chavis popped out and since then has been hitless.
The initial reverie over Chavis’s impressive first few weeks at the MLB level will certainly dissipate as his batting average and Chavis’s proclivity for home runs begins to wane. This is not being critical, but inevitable since Chavis is a career .257 hitter in the minors. Chavis will hit home runs and Chavis will strike out. The home runs will decrease and the strikeouts will increase, but when a mistake is made do expect a prodigious tape measure result.
With any player and special emphasis on young players tossed into the maelstrom of MLB responsibility, the true test becomes how they handle the bad times. Will Chavis simply find a convenient hole to bury himself in? I doubt that since Chavis gives the impression of being a baseball realist. Five years of minor league toil will do that. Observation of the delicacy of careers that fold and unfold are known to all.
The survival tool that exists in MLB today is the reliance on the home run at the expense of contact. Strikeouts have now migrated into the realm of an inconvenience and not a career killer. On the Red Sox, Mitch Moreland has more home runs than singles. No longer is a warning flag raised when a hitter approaches a hundred failures as that new boundary touches two-hundred.
There is, however, the real downside potential of a Jackie Bradley Jr.type slump – a slump highlighted by a pitiful and dejected march back to the dugout. Enough marches to wear a trench in the elegant landscaping of ballparks. Chavis undoubtedly would have his options used and summarily sent to Pawtucket.
Chavis’s vulnerability may also be dependent on the seemingly never-ending rehab of Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is owed a boatload of money into the next decade and recouping that would be advantageous to Boston. Also, the depth of Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez can factor in, but all is dependent upon Chavis. If he continues to hit home runs at a reasonable pace he’ll stay put.
Sometimes the brightest flames burn bright, then flicker, and then simply extinguish. We have seen this in baseball where vulnerabilities are exposed, but in this instance, I feel comfortable saying Chavis will be a cog for the Red Sox this season and if not in future seasons.