Travis Shaw - what must he do to play three games in a row?

Rovin Romine

Johnny Rico
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
10,603
Miami (oh, Miami!)
Travis Shaw - 1B/3B.  http://www.soxprospects.com/stats/batter.php?player=543768
 
Prospect thread - http://sonsofsamhorn.net/topic/73240-travis-shaw/
 
He's had a relatively high K rate in the minors, but has always shown power.   Other than that I can't figure him out.  Looking at his ML stats, even just to the extent of L/R splits don't show much of a pattern.  He hits well at home one year, then better away the next.  He hits lefties better than righties, until he hits righties better than lefties.  Perhaps this is just a function of native streakiness - hot and cold stretches skewing the numbers?
 
He's 25, so his uneven book hasn't been fully written yet. 
 
I've been on the road the past couple of weeks and haven't seen any Sox games (although I did catch a Mets/Nats game at Citi.)
 
How does he look out there?  Should he be getting playing time - allowing Sandoval to rest his stomach?  Or would playing him over Napoli increase the chance that, if traded, we'd pay 97% of Nap's remaining salary instead of 96%?
 
Could he be the quasi-serviceable 1B bridge to Sam Travis that many people here have suggested we go find for 2016?
 

alwyn96

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 24, 2005
1,351
At this point, in order for Shaw to get three games in a row, someone would probably need to be hurt or the Red Sox would need to face 3 RHP in a row. He'd probably have helped his chances of getting more starts if he'd hit better than a .674 OPS in Pawtucket this year. I'm not sure there's any way the Red Sox see him as a starting 1B for 2016 unless he absolutely crushes it over the rest of the season. Even then I don't know. 
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
16,795
It's going to be a Napoli issue I'd guess. Shaw did not look like he could field 3B from what I saw. His future if he has one is at 1B.
 

strek1

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 13, 2006
23,617
Hartford area
Cellar-Door said:
It's going to be a Napoli issue I'd guess. Shaw did not look like he could field 3B from what I saw. His future if he has one is at 1B.
 
 How about LF?   Surely "anybody" can play there.
 

strek1

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 13, 2006
23,617
Hartford area
P'tucket said:
I like Travis Shaw, and it's exciting to see him rolling, but if you put a gun to my head and asked me whose career arc he was likely to follow, I'd say Jeff Bailey.
 Your probably correct. But if Bailey were here and he showed a couple of good offensive games recently I'd be in favor of starting him over Nap right now too.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

Homeland Security
SoSH Member
Dec 4, 2005
19,114
Portsmouth, NH
Shaw can play the whole month of September. Right now they need to ride Nap and hope he puts on something of a warm streak, at least, and maybe they can dump his salary for a bag of balls. An extra few weeks of Shaw, even if he tore it up, isn't giving them any confidence they can roll into next year with him slotted into 1B.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
13,620
No one should be talking about Shaw being handed a starting job next year. That won't happen, obviously. But we should be finding out if this guy might be a useful part-timer next year. A decent bench bat who can ride the shuttle and who might do okay against righties. If he can do that then he can help us. Maybe he can't be that, but maybe he can. If you have competent player evaluators, then a couple of months of playing time should help you make that call. 
 
Looks like we'll need a first baseman next year. Maybe instead of giving up money and/or talent to bring in a locked-in starter, who can't be benched or moved if he has a disastrous year, we could take the 2003 approach and have 3 or 4 cheap candidates battle it out, and give the playing time to whoever actually plays best, and save our resources for pitching. If Shaw can hit decently for two months, then he could be one of those candidates, and one who can be sent up and down to AAA as needed. 
 
He is a streaky hitter who just went 6-8 with 2 HRs, a double and a walk in his last 2 games. But Farrell couldn't bother to find him an at-bat in the next 2 games. Then he does get an at bat as a pinch hitter and gets another hit. 
 
It doesn't matter if Shaw never does anything in the majors. It just makes no sense to keep starting Napoli. Shaw has zero trade value but Napoli has negative trade value. This idea that Napoli will be worth more if we keep playing him is ridiculous. If you DFA him right now, you could probably eventually get someone to take him for a PTBNL if you paid almost all his salary. But you're not going to get anything decent. That is not going to change if you give him more at-bats. Napoli has had from April to August to do something and he hasn't. Another week or two doesn't change that. (In fact if you spot Napoli as a pinch hitter and use him only against lefty middle relievers, he would probably do a lot better than he has been doing as a starter. Not that it matters anyway.) 
 
Shaw might be a useful role player for us next year and we should find out. Of course our player evaluators would probably get it wrong anyway. 
 
Maybe everyone who was all irate here in the Buchholz thread about how other teams aren't stupid, and of course you can't sell high because of that, should have a meeting with Cherington and explain that no other team is going to be dumb enough to give you anything for Napoli even if he might get a hit once in a while in August. They certainly won't give you anything after yet another 0-4 with 2 more whiffs. 
 
This team needs to realize that they aren't fooling anyone and get on with trying to be better next year. 
 

MikeM

Member
SoSH Member
May 27, 2010
2,923
Florida
Papelbon's Poutine said:
Shaw can play the whole month of September. Right now they need to ride Nap and hope he puts on something of a warm streak, at least, and maybe they can dump his salary for a bag of balls. An extra few weeks of Shaw, even if he tore it up, isn't giving them any confidence they can roll into next year with him slotted into 1B.
 
At this point i'm starting to be more convinced that the plan is to simply let Napoli play out year here, in default hope that he figures out enough between now and then to warrant a cheap one year contract look. 
 
If you discount the possibility we see Hanley make the shift over it's not like the winter market is projecting much more then slim pickings atm, and there is probably still a greater overall probability of seeing a Napoli resign then Travis Shaw being named the 2016 starter (imo). So might just boil down to a matter of them valuing that resign possibility, however painful it may look now, over whatever trivial return we would realistically get out of a Nap trade. 
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
12,264
Maine
Papelbon's Poutine said:
Shaw can play the whole month of September. Right now they need to ride Nap and hope he puts on something of a warm streak, at least, and maybe they can dump his salary for a bag of balls. An extra few weeks of Shaw, even if he tore it up, isn't giving them any confidence they can roll into next year with him slotted into 1B.
 
If it was a matter of dumping Napoli's salary, I think they'd have done it already.  At this point, the "savings" on him will only be a couple million bucks.  Unless they're right at the precipice of the luxury tax threshold, and losing the remainder of Nap's salary could get them under, I imagine they'll just ride it out.  As much as some might want him to be, Shaw isn't compelling enough to force out a vet like Napoli, especially since Nap does seem to be on something of a "warm streak" of late (.286/.385/.571 since the ASB).
 
If Napoli clears waivers and someone comes calling, by all means the Sox should listen and probably take a fair deal.  But at this point, I don't think there's necessarily a need to dump him just to be rid of him.
 

jscola85

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
1,305
MikeM said:
 
At this point i'm starting to be more convinced that the plan is to simply let Napoli play out year here, in default hope that he figures out enough between now and then to warrant a cheap one year contract look. 
 
If you discount the possibility we see Hanley make the shift over it's not like the winter market is projecting much more then slim pickings atm, and there is probably still a greater overall probability of seeing a Napoli resign then Travis Shaw being named the 2016 starter (imo). So might just boil down to a matter of them valuing that resign possibility, however painful it may look now, over whatever trivial return we would realistically get out of a Nap trade. 
 
Well, over the last 30 days, only Ortiz has posted a higher wRC+ than Napoli's 130 for the team.  I suspect they're trying to use another 2 weeks of plate appearances to help show to other teams that perhaps Napoli has fixed something and is reverting back to his old self, which could in fact be true.  He's driving the ball a lot more (ISO, Hard Hit% much better during this stretch), and frankly he's just getting his BABIP luck back a bit closer to the mean (.333 BABIP vs. .252 on the year).
 
Perhaps if they cannot trade him but he's still raking, they will keep playing him through the end of the year.  It's certainly not inconceivable that Napoli does not in fact have a fork in his back, and figured something out to right the ship.  The guy has exhibited huge streakiness in the past, so it would not be out of the realm of possibility that he continues his tear for another 100-150 PAs and his year-end numbers wind up not that far off 2013-14.
 

JimD

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2001
7,419
It's only August 7th, so still plenty of time to move Napoli and give Shaw an extended look in late August and September.
 

jscola85

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
1,305
Suffice to say, Shaw has not had many issues so far in the majors. After 59 PAs, he's got a .315/.356/.574 line with a 6/3 K/BB and 4 dingers. He's also been quite capable defensively at both corner spots. His HRs have been no doubters all to the pull side or CF, displaying the kind of raw power a lefty needs to hit homers at Fenway with consistency. His line is not BABIP driven either, at just .289 and over 85% of hits balls in play hit medium or hard.

Very SSS but the plate discipline figures and power are very encouraging. He showed plenty of raw power in lower levels but it dissipated in AAA. He has always had solid plate discipline though so not a shock that he's got a good approach up there so far in the majors.

At this point, Shaw has to being given the same treatment as Rusney, JBJ and Swihart - get them out there as much as humanly possible. Playing everyday would give the FO another 200 PAs to evaluate what they have here with Shaw. Certainly not a definitive sample but enough to tell whether he could realistically compete for a starting role in 2016.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 11, 2007
2,663
If he can continue to play close to how he's been playing through the rest of the season he should be considered as at least a very viable backup corner outfield spot where- in a world where no injuries ever happen- he could still get 300AB's.  
 

ivanvamp

captain obvious
Jul 18, 2005
6,104
Shaw has been strange so far (SSS and all) this year.
 
20 games played, 17 hits
5 of those games have accounted for 15 of the 17 hits (15-22, .681)
15 of those games have accounted for 2 of the 17 hits (2-32, .063)
 
So his overall line looks very good:  .315/.356/.574/.930.  But boy it's come in bunches, rather than a string of consistency.
 

benhogan

Baynes Hogan (pending trade)
SoSH Member
Nov 2, 2007
8,691
Santa Monica
fun fact...."Rookie Travis Shaw hit his fifth home run, which gives us a reason to invoke the name of Sam Horn, always a worthy occasion. Shaw has more homers in his first 21 games than any Sox left-handed hitter in the last 100 years other than slugging Sam, who hit seven. Shaw has hit as many home runs in 58 big-league at-bats as he hit in 289 at-bats this season in Triple-A Pawtucket."
 

jscola85

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
1,305
Shaw looks very adept over at first. Lost in all the Hanley to first talk seems to be how fortunate we were to have an elite defender like Napoli over there the last 2.5 years. Not sure Shaw is on his level but for a big guy he is quite coordinated - the stretch to first to get Lindor's dribbler was impressive.

It is silly and subjective but I tend to agree with Speier's comment last night during the game that Shaw just looks out there like a guy who belongs in the majors. Raw power, plate patience, a swing that can use the Monster, smart baserunner, and adept defender.

Maybe that's still no more than a bench corner infielder, but we could still use a piece like that for 2016. Would not shock me if Shaw could play a passable LF too if given the reps in spring training. An Erica Hinske type is a nice bench asset.
 

The Tax Man

really digs the Beatles
SoSH Member
Jun 8, 2009
733
Mansfield, MA
Abs digs a little deeper into Travis Shaw's surprising success so far with Boston:
 
He was called up for good on August 1 and then things got a little weird. Maybe weird is too strong of a word. Let’s say things have been interesting in his 11 games in August. In 34 plate appearances he’s hit four home runs, two doubles, four walks and has had only six strikeouts. Shaw is currently sporting a line of .315/.356/.574 with a BABIP of .289 and an ISO of an otherworldly .259 – MLB average is .140. 
 
 

Rovin Romine

Johnny Rico
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
10,603
Miami (oh, Miami!)
I love UFO as a potential nick-name. 
 
For all the number crunching, if you look at the game logs, the PAs are interesting.  http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=shawtr01&t=b&year=2015  Even including his single appearance in May, he's got 21 games.  In 8 games he has 1PA or less (defensive replacement or PH, one assumes), he's only managed one hit in those.   For the remaining 16 games, he's failed to significantly contribute in 6 of them (I'm including the Aug. 8 game where he was 0 for 3 with a SF.)   In the remaining 10 he's mashed.  
 
His platoon splits show another story: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=shawtr01&year=&t=b#plato  He's destroying LHP and hasn't been nearly as effective at hitting RHP.  
 
He's also crushing it at Fenway and pretty much nowhere else.
 
This is all SSS and indicates nothing more than a guy on a hot streak of some sort.   But it's sort of a limited hot streak so far.  Still, a strong LH bat off the bench, particularly one with the raw power to deal with Fenway's RF is nothing to sneeze at.  
 

Paradigm

juju all over his tits
SoSH Member
Dec 5, 2003
5,954
Touche?
Looks like a really good player. I like the Speier comment as well. Right now, I see him as a better version of Daniel Nava with the added bonus that he can handle third base. I think it would be really interesting to see what he could do with a full season's worth AB's. It looks like with his smooth swing he could easily find his way to 20 HR's. 
 

KillerBs

lurker
Nov 16, 2006
812
Shaw's surely had a great 60 AB run here, but I am still dubious based on the minor league performance. I get Drek's point that everyone's ML performance does not reflect their minor league performance, but at the same time you cannot ignore his inability to hit at AAA this year. His 736 OPS at AA at age 23 is a red flag for me too.
 
That doesn't mean I write him off. It does mean if I have a choice between giving PT between Shaw OTOH and Bradley or Castillo on the other I give it to the OFers. It also means that I cant conceive of what Shaw could do the rest of 2015 that would make me comfortable penciling him as a starting 1b for 2016. A bench spot? sure maybe. But there is too much risk there to turn to the job over to Shaw for 2016, even if it is only the big half of a platoon.
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2007
18,781
The wrong side of the bridge....
FWIW, and for whatever reason, it's been a pretty common pattern recently for Sox prospects to put up gaudy numbers in A and/or AA and then falter a bit in Pawtucket. I don't know if it's McCoy, or something else, but it seems to happen a lot.
 
Examples:
 
Bogaerts: A .834, A+ .883, AA .922, AAA .822
Pedroia: A 1.034, A+ .941, AA .917, AAA .783
Ellsbury: A- .850, A+ .774, AA .906, AA .743
Youkilis: A- 1.007, A .760, A+ .810, AA .951, AAA .664*
 
*This includes his first two AAA stints, at ages 24 and 25. He did post a 1.051 line in his third year of AAA at age 26, which brought his total up to .808.
 
I'm not saying the poor AAA line isn't a concern, just saying that it's far from definitive. If Shaw turns out to be a solid MLB hitter after struggling at the Bucket, he'll be in good recent company.
 

grimshaw

the new rudy
SoSH Member
May 16, 2007
3,460
Portland
Since 2000, the Red Sox have had two players who OPS'd lower than .700 in AAA (at prospect age - 25 or younger) and then improved by 100 points or more in the majors over an extended period of time.
One is Jose Iglesias, and the other is Brock Holt.  Middlebrooks had his half season run and then turned back into a pumpkin.
 
There are also guys like Kalish, Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, Wilton Veras, Ryan Lavarnway, and Alex Hassan, who had some moments in the minors where it looked like they would be good major league hitters, but weren't able to replicate that success the next season in the minors.  Shaw has fit that profile more in terms of minor league numbers since he has dropped off significantly the past season+. 
 
It would be a great story if Shaw broke the recent mold, but the odds are against him based on recent history.
 

Drek717

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 23, 2003
2,540
KillerBs said:
Shaw's surely had a great 60 AB run here, but I am still dubious based on the minor league performance. I get Drek's point that everyone's ML performance does not reflect their minor league performance, but at the same time you cannot ignore his inability to hit at AAA this year. His 736 OPS at AA at age 23 is a red flag for me too.
 
That doesn't mean I write him off. It does mean if I have a choice between giving PT between Shaw OTOH and Bradley or Castillo on the other I give it to the OFers. It also means that I cant conceive of what Shaw could do the rest of 2015 that would make me comfortable penciling him as a starting 1b for 2016. A bench spot? sure maybe. But there is too much risk there to turn to the job over to Shaw for 2016, even if it is only the big half of a platoon.
Shaw's AAA line against RHP this year is 0.258/0.342/0.361.  That is over 194 PAs.  Last year in 223 PAs against AAA RHP his slash line was 0.291/0.348/0.502.  So far this year at the ML level his slash against RHP is 0.282 0.326 0.436.  If you dig into his AAA numbers this year you see a really awful April (.185/.260/.308) followed by a modest bounce back in May (.250/.336/.394) and June (.288/.342/.356).  Prior to his first call-up breaking his hot streak in June he was posting a slash of .364/.429/.455.  He spent July riding the shuttle so the decline in is overall stats (BRef's splits include both mL and ML PAs for the month) is explainable.
 
May and June aren't too off from the guy who moved up to AAA last year and had a .262/.321/.431 line.  That guy had a LH/RH split of .189/.253/.256 vs. .291/.348/.502, so it isn't like he's never hit AAA pitching, he's just never hit AAA LHP.
 
His ML line against RHP is .282/.326/.436.  Not bad, better when you consider that about a quarter of those PAs came while riding the shuttle and he basically need nothing productive in them.  It is also only about .060 points better than all of his projections from Fangraphs (ZIPS, Steamer, and Depth Charts all placed Shaw as a ~.700 OPS MLer).
 
The explosion against LHP is the mystery.  It isn't the product of cheap hits, or even some kind of astronomical BABIP (.385 against LHP so far this year).  My observation largely attributes it to LHPs pitching him like he's your average LHB.  Throw fastballs on the opposite edge and breaking balls that move off the plate away, expecting him to dribble the fastballs down the left foul line and swing and miss at the breakers.  Instead he's showing great plate discipline and very impressive reach.  He's leaving breaking balls and fastballs off the plate alone, squaring up outside fastballs, and when thrown a mistake breaking ball that lands on the outer edge he's showing the bat speed and reach to get around on them and hook them hard to right field.  I don't know how to post his zones from ESPN, but if you check it HERE you will see blobs of red middle/middle, middle/outside, low/middle, and outside/middle (not to mention a blob off the plate and in the bottom of the zone also outside).
 
He is likely experiencing a confluence of causality.  MLB LHPs don't have a book on him so they're treating him like the standard AAA LH rube.  He's seeing a nice bounce in plate control as ML umpires are more accurate than mL umps and Shaw was likely getting a lot of bad calls from these exact same borderline strikes form LHPs in AAA.  He's also obviously riding a hot streak.
 
What happens when LHPs start busting him inside is the real question.  Is the more precise outside strike really that big an asset to Shaw's game?  If so he might suddenly become split neutral or even reverse as so many mediocre LHPs live on those outside breakers and can't effectively pitch inside.
 
Lastly, both his BABIP and BB%s have taken some hits this year relative to his norms.  His BB% for example had always been in the 13-14% range and to date in AAA (last year and this year) has been around 8%.  His BABIP has traditionally bee in the .300's, including last year in his first stint at AAA.  His year in AAA it is .289.  So his current ML BABIP of .304 is not only well within league norms, it is within Shaw's own career norms, and his BB% is likely only going to trend up from the current 6.3% he's sporting at the ML level.  A big part of his strong AA season in 2014 was a significant decline in K% (BABIP was still only .301) to 11.1%.  He had a 22% K rate in his first taste of AA, that appeared again in his first taste of AAA, but he was working the K% down in AAA this year at 16.8%.  His secondary stats all indicate that his current small sample isn't a complete mirage built on unsustainable BABIP, BB%, K%, etc..  His ISO is riding high to be sure, but it wouldn't be out of the question for him to normalize at something that still starts with a .2xx.
 
He was having a mediocre AAA season, largely a mediocre April that he rebounded from, prior to getting put on the shuttle and seeing inconsistent ABs.  Now that he's seeing regular ABs he's gotten hot and is on a tear.  I don't think it's any more fair to assume he's the guy his base AAA stat line suggest than to consider him the guy his current ML line suggests.  Both have serious sample size issues and major caveats attached.
 
If he doesn't turn into a pumpkin by the end of the season I think the FO would be absolutely out of their minds to not go into 2016 with Travis Shaw as the backup 1B/3B and probably even start working him out in LF.  He has shown that his tools at least have the potential to transition well against ML pitching.  He absolutely should not be written in as a presumptive starter however, unless 2016 is an intentional punt year.
 
If the FO wants to move Hanley to 1B I don't think Travis Shaw should change their thinking any.  He'd be a great defensive sub/backup who could take a game or two a week there as well as one or two from Sandoval and maybe a game a week in LF depending on the state of the roster.  If they're set in keeping Hanley in LF however I'd be fine with the club taking Shaw, presumptive FA Kyle Blanks, and/or another guy or two on short years to compete for the job.  The Cards might trade or even DFA Brandon Moss given how poorly he's done this year and specifically for them, so that's one option for another LHB to add to the competition.  Sam Travis might, if he goes on a tear with his first taste of AAA, slip into the RHB options by mid-season as well.  If Hanley isn't moving to 1B I'd rather see the club try to composite the position together and find a diamond in the rough than drop market rate on a veteran answer.  All disposable dollars need to go to getting a front line starting pitcher (or two) and some much needed bullpen help.
 

soxhop411

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 4, 2009
35,547
“@Shesta_Sox: Travis Shaw is the only Red Sox in the last 100 years to record multiple 4-hit efforts within his first 22 career major league games.”
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
13,620
Shaw's really streaky. We need to get him in the lineup every day while he's hot, and not so much when he's cold. 
 
It will be interesting to see what happens when he has a slump in the majors-- how long will it take him to get out of it? Will it drag on for months and months, or will he be able to bounce back relatively quickly? 
 
It will also be really interesting to see what happens once the league gets a book on him. Will he be shut down completely, or will he be able to adjust? 
 

underhandtofirst

stud who hits bombs
SoSH Member
Jul 25, 2005
1,551
Chelmsford, MA
He did just go through a short 1-17 stretch from Aug 7 through his first AB on Aug 14.  A lot of players got hot facing Seattle with back to back 20 hit games.  Although in the 26 hit game he went 0 for 6 which is pretty incredible.
 

CouchsideSteve

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Apr 16, 2013
288
New York, NY
Over 240 PAs entering today, Shaw has posted a 122 wRC+ and 1.8 fWAR (BBRef doesn't like his glove work and credits him with only 1.1 bWAR).

Considering his lack of prospect cachet, I thought the fast start was likely just fools gold. But it now looks increasingly likely that Shaw could be in the big club's plans for 2016. Keith Law sounded pretty bullish on Shaw in his most recent chat: http://meadowparty.com/blog/2015/10/02/klawchat-10215/

"Shaw is a legitimate big leaguer with a chance to be a regular at 1b."

I'm curious what the internal evaluations are, and whether the team views Shaw as an eventual replacement for Ortiz (by way of moving Hanley to DH). Presumably there is no market/appetite for selling low and eating a considerable amount of money to move the Sandoval or Ramirez contracts... which I think is the right course. Does Shaw just back up both corner infield slots, with occasional LF duty, next year?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
12,264
Maine
CouchsideSteve said:
Over 240 PAs entering today, Shaw has posted a 122 wRC+ and 1.8 fWAR (BBRef doesn't like his glove work and credits him with only 1.1 bWAR).

Considering his lack of prospect cachet, I thought the fast start was likely just fools gold. But it now looks increasingly likely that Shaw could be in the big club's plans for 2016. Keith Law sounded pretty bullish on Shaw in his most recent chat: http://meadowparty.com/blog/2015/10/02/klawchat-10215/

"Shaw is a legitimate big leaguer with a chance to be a regular at 1b."

I'm curious what the internal evaluations are, and whether the team views Shaw as an eventual replacement for Ortiz (by way of moving Hanley to DH). Presumably there is no market/appetite for selling low and eating a considerable amount of money to move the Sandoval or Ramirez contracts... which I think is the right course. Does Shaw just back up both corner infield slots, with occasional LF duty, next year?
 
No reason for that not to be the plan.  He's dirt cheap, has options, and if he flops, they lose very little since he carries next to zero expectations anyway.  Between he and Holt, the Sox have the makings of a strong and versatile bench and solid plan Bs to cover slumps/failures by Hanley, Sandoval, JBJ and/or Castillo.
 

PrometheusWakefield

Nasty, brutish, and short
SoSH Member
May 25, 2009
9,269
Boston, MA
His 1.6 WAR is 3.5 WAR higher than Pablo Sandoval.
 
There's no way he could be worse at third base than the -17 UZR Sandoval put up this year. 
 
Right now in my world he's 3B1. Although I'd have Swithart picking up an infielder's mitt this offseason and see if he can pick up some of the load there too.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
12,264
Maine
Only we know that in the real world, if you're paying one 3B $20M and one 3B $500K, there is no real "competition" for the spot.  The only way Travis Shaw is the starting third baseman for the 2016 Red Sox is if Sandoval is traded or gets seriously hurt and can't play at all.
 

AB in DC

OG Football Writing
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2002
7,480
Springfield, VA
Or it could lead to a platoon situation -- this year Shaw has had 158 wRC+ against lefties, 101 wRC+ against righties, while Sandoval has historically hit better against RHPs.
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
15,586
What's the general feeling around here --- Is Travis Shaw now a better bet than Will Middlebrooks was after his 2012?  I'd like to think its "yes," but I'm having trouble finding reasons why that is.
 

threecy

Cosbologist
SoSH Member
Sep 1, 2006
1,580
Tamworth, NH
joe dokes said:
What's the general feeling around here --- Is Travis Shaw now a better bet than Will Middlebrooks was after his 2012?  I'd like to think its "yes," but I'm having trouble finding reasons why that is.
I think one encouraging thing is that, while both struck out at similar rates, Shaw has a track record of drawing more walks and thusly getting on base more frequently.
 

Buzzkill Pauley

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 30, 2006
10,569
joe dokes said:
What's the general feeling around here --- Is Travis Shaw now a better bet than Will Middlebrooks was after his 2012?  I'd like to think its "yes," but I'm having trouble finding reasons why that is.
 
I wouldn't say precisely that, but the expectations and backup plan are quite different. I don't hear anyone truly anointing Travis Shaw the "corner infielder of the future" the way WMB was. In fact, most folks believe Shaw is merely a good backup 1B/3B who should be able to put up solid at-bats in case anything changes (or goes wrong with) the plan to have Hanley at 1B and Sandoval at 3B next season.
 
The biggest difference, though, is the folks sandwiching Shaw into a role-player's expectations. On the one side are those two veteran all-stars owed $41MM annually between them. On the other side are three good-to-great infield prospects in Sam Travis, Yoan Moncada, and Rafael Devers.
 
Those factors, if left unchanged, put the "Brian Daubach" crunch on Travis Shaw. But that also means the expectations for him seem pretty reasonable; this itself is very different from WMB, who saw outside expectations built up like a house of cards atop his unsustainable 2012 power hitting.
 

Drek717

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 23, 2003
2,540
joe dokes said:
What's the general feeling around here --- Is Travis Shaw now a better bet than Will Middlebrooks was after his 2012?  I'd like to think its "yes," but I'm having trouble finding reasons why that is.
Because Shaw is a completely different player than Middlebrooks.
 
Shaw has always been a patient hitter, in the last few years chided for being too patient in fact.  He's spent the last year or so working on that and has now gotten to a much more comfortable point.
 
He is also a far more studious hitter.  He puts a lot of prep time in regarding the pitchers he faces and takes a far more mature approach to getting his pitch to hit than Middlebrooks ever did.
 
From a statistical standpoint you also have some pretty noteworthy statistical differences:  Shaw's worst BB% seasons compare with Middlebrooks' best at pretty much every level.  Shaw's worst K% seasons land somewhere between Middlebrooks' best and average seasons, far ahead of his worst.  His ML success has come with a lower BABIP (.310 v. Middlebrooks' 2012 ML BABIP of .335) and a much better BB% (7.3 v. 4.5).  Middlebrooks' 2012 outburst was also highly volatile.  His BABIP by month was .400, .288, .378, .190.  Shaw's BABIP the last two months: .336, .306.  BB% for WMB by month: 4.0, 4.9, 2.9, 8.6.  Shaw: 7.3,7.4.
 
If Shaw is the guy we've seen in September and this first weekend of October he's a .258/.316/.435 hitter (.752 OPS) with very reasonable secondary stats of a .306 BABIP, .177 ISO, 7.3 BB%, and 5 K%.  That's been good for a 100 wRC+ and is basically what everyone has been saying Travis Shaw was going to be for the last three years.
 
But that guy everyone's been predicting for the past three years was supposed to be strictly a 1B.  Now he can play a semi-passable 3B and even some LF in Fenway.  That guy was also never supposed to have an August like Shaw had this season.  It also fails to account for the fact that Shaw has, in both AA and AAA, dramatically reduced his K% in his second year.
 
The difference is basically this: Shaw is a very savvy hitter who gets better the more he learns the league.  He was supposed to be your typical AAAA 1B: league average bat carried by OBP over SLG and at a position where average isn't good enough.  The power has flashed better than advertised, the defense and positional versatility has too.  There are some strong recent and career trends that suggest the OBP/contact portion still has room for growth, not regression a la Middlebrooks.
 
He looks like a guy on the verge of bucking the odds and scouting presumptions typically assigned to a bad body 1B with a patient approach and middling power not being able to cut it at the next level, i.e. a poor man's Kevin Youkilis.
 

Minneapolis Millers

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
2,176
Twin Cities
I like the Daubach comp for Shaw: both fairly patient hitters with some pop.  If Shaw could give us 4 years like Daubach did, with 20+ HR power while playing credibly at 1st, LF and 3rd?   We'd be ecstatic.  Along with BROCKHOLT, he gives us solid versatility, both for making trades and for roster-building heading into '16.
 

alwyn96

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 24, 2005
1,351
I'm not sure I've heard Shaw described as a 'bad-body' 1B before. The dude is 6'4" 225 and not really fat or anything. Maybe "old player skills." I think the pessimists' case against Shaw would be that his patient approach in AAA might just not work in MLB, and indeed his BB% was just almost cut in half as he was exposed to AAA pitching. Guys can just throw more strikes at the higher levels. His defense at 1B is fine, but he was moved off 3B for a reason. Could be something like a Mitch Moreland-type.
 
On the other hand, if he can actually fake it at 3B/LF, Eric Hinske-style, a guy who hits LHB and can be an averagish hitter can useful to have around. Although the Mauro Gomez's and Chris Carter's (the elder) of the world often don't get a great shot.
 

chrisfont9

Member
SoSH Member
Drek717 said:
Because Shaw is a completely different player than Middlebrooks.
 
Shaw has always been a patient hitter, in the last few years chided for being too patient in fact.  He's spent the last year or so working on that and has now gotten to a much more comfortable point.
 
He is also a far more studious hitter.  He puts a lot of prep time in regarding the pitchers he faces and takes a far more mature approach to getting his pitch to hit than Middlebrooks ever did.
 
From a statistical standpoint you also have some pretty noteworthy statistical differences:  Shaw's worst BB% seasons compare with Middlebrooks' best at pretty much every level.  Shaw's worst K% seasons land somewhere between Middlebrooks' best and average seasons, far ahead of his worst.  His ML success has come with a lower BABIP (.310 v. Middlebrooks' 2012 ML BABIP of .335) and a much better BB% (7.3 v. 4.5).  Middlebrooks' 2012 outburst was also highly volatile.  His BABIP by month was .400, .288, .378, .190.  Shaw's BABIP the last two months: .336, .306.  BB% for WMB by month: 4.0, 4.9, 2.9, 8.6.  Shaw: 7.3,7.4.
 
If Shaw is the guy we've seen in September and this first weekend of October he's a .258/.316/.435 hitter (.752 OPS) with very reasonable secondary stats of a .306 BABIP, .177 ISO, 7.3 BB%, and 5 K%.  That's been good for a 100 wRC+ and is basically what everyone has been saying Travis Shaw was going to be for the last three years.
 
But that guy everyone's been predicting for the past three years was supposed to be strictly a 1B.  Now he can play a semi-passable 3B and even some LF in Fenway.  That guy was also never supposed to have an August like Shaw had this season.  It also fails to account for the fact that Shaw has, in both AA and AAA, dramatically reduced his K% in his second year.
 
The difference is basically this: Shaw is a very savvy hitter who gets better the more he learns the league.  He was supposed to be your typical AAAA 1B: league average bat carried by OBP over SLG and at a position where average isn't good enough.  The power has flashed better than advertised, the defense and positional versatility has too.  There are some strong recent and career trends that suggest the OBP/contact portion still has room for growth, not regression a la Middlebrooks.
 
He looks like a guy on the verge of bucking the odds and scouting presumptions typically assigned to a bad body 1B with a patient approach and middling power not being able to cut it at the next level, i.e. a poor man's Kevin Youkilis.
Thanks for this. I worry when I see Pete Abe saying the Sox' needs include a first baseman, once they jettison Hanley. Could we at least remember Shaw exists, even if maybe he doesn't get the job handed to him outright? If there is not already a 'Please Don't Give Chris Davis a Max Deal" Club, I might have to start one. I am not completely against Davis, but have my suspicions, and would hate to see Shaw's chances cut off at the knees. I don't see them sitting Sandoval for Shaw; seems more likely they'll find a taker for Hanley and keep Shaw at first.
 

Al Zarilla

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 8, 2005
51,570
San Andreas Fault
chrisfont9 said:
Thanks for this. I worry when I see Pete Abe saying the Sox' needs include a first baseman, once they jettison Hanley. Could we at least remember Shaw exists, even if maybe he doesn't get the job handed to him outright? If there is not already a 'Please Don't Give Chris Davis a Max Deal" Club, I might have to start one. I am not completely against Davis, but have my suspicions, and would hate to see Shaw's chances cut off at the knees. I don't see them sitting Sandoval for Shaw; seems more likely they'll find a taker for Hanley and keep Shaw at first.
I wish they could ship Sandoval somewhere and keep Hanley if one of them has to be on the team. Just my personal feeling, but I got so disgusted with Sandoval letting himself go for the third of fourth time in his career to the point where his range at third was how far his glove went when he fell when a grounder came his way. If I looked at a box score after a game, I wished all the hits went to the kids or Pedey or Papi, anyone but him. Used to root for him when he was in reasonable shape at SF, but can't stand him anymore.
 

jscola85

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
1,305
Given Hanley's and Pablo's injury history and body type, respectively, there's a good chance Shaw could play 100+ games next year without a defined starting role.

I see him as an early career Youk type of "Professional Hitter" at the plate who can also do ok at third and be a plus glove at 1st.
 

Rasputin

Will outlive SeanBerry
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 4, 2001
29,159
Not here
Sam Travis should also be mentioned.
 
If, as some want, Ramirez is discarded, I'm not sure we want to bring in a big name guy with Sam Travis hanging around. Sure, he's no stud in the making, but if we're paying Ramirez to play elsewhere, we need to save somewhere, and not bringing in a stud is the way to do that.
 
Sure, we can find some savings elsewhere, but do we want to? Seems to me everything is easier if we just keep Ramirez. We have Shaw as an MLB ready backup, and we have Travis who'll likely be in AAA.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,408
jscola85 said:
Given Hanley's and Pablo's injury history and body type, respectively, there's a good chance Shaw could play 100+ games next year without a defined starting role.

I see him as an early career Youk type of "Professional Hitter" at the plate who can also do ok at third and be a plus glove at 1st.
 
Probably closer to Brian Daubach than Kevin Youkilis when all is said and done, but it's Brian Daubach's offense with a late-career Youkilis ability to play 3B.  So, a more versatile Daubach.
 

Drek717

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 23, 2003
2,540
Rasputin said:
Sam Travis should also be mentioned.
 
If, as some want, Ramirez is discarded, I'm not sure we want to bring in a big name guy with Sam Travis hanging around. Sure, he's no stud in the making, but if we're paying Ramirez to play elsewhere, we need to save somewhere, and not bringing in a stud is the way to do that.
 
Sure, we can find some savings elsewhere, but do we want to? Seems to me everything is easier if we just keep Ramirez. We have Shaw as an MLB ready backup, and we have Travis who'll likely be in AAA.
I think the common (mis)belief is that trading Ramirez means financial savings.  Some believe that Hanley Ramirez sans valid fielding position and with dubious health can be traded to some other team with only a partial subsidy.
 
The simple reality is that Ramirez, and Sandoval, were so bad in 2015 and are owed enough money going forward that you aren't going to find a team willing to take on a significant portion of their remaining contracts.  People cite the Prince Fielder trade as an example of this working but ignore that Fielder was a +2.3 WAR player (per fangraphs) the year prior despite having a "bad" season.  Pablo was by the same metric tied for the least valuable player in baseball (with Victor Martinez) and Hanley was #3 on that list.  Currently they don't just look like bad contracts, they look like sunk cost.  Both add to that serious health and conditioning concerns.
 
There is very little money whatsoever to save from trading either one of them.  If instead they bounce back, as both are still relatively young and both have at times in 2015 flashed their previous talents, they suddenly regain value and become much more trade eligible.
 
At 1B the Sox have about as good a situation as they could hope for short of having a stud waiting at AAA.  Sam Travis is a good prospect who hit in both A+ and AA this past season.  Travis Shaw has pushed up his expectations with his last few months of ML play.  Hanley is saying all the right things about moving to 1B.  So if Hanley does rebound at 1B they're back on originally planned succession path for him into DH and one of Shaw/Travis providing a cost effective quality 1B.  If instead Hanley continues to fail or can't stay healthy they have two young, cost controlled bats with ML regular potential who also happen to be right and left handed, so worst case an ideal platoon of some sort.
 
Way better options than giving big money to a free agent 1B while paying Hanley to play somewhere else.
 
Same goes at 3B.  Sandoval gets first crack at the job, then one of Holt or Shaw.  If none of them take the job by the horns by late in the season we'll probably see Moncada at the hot corner.  The internal answers to these problems exist, but for now the best option is to stay the course and hope Pablo and Hanley redeem themselves to at least some degree.
 

keninten

lurker
Nov 24, 2005
588
Tennessee
Drek717 said:
I think the common (mis)belief is that trading Ramirez means financial savings.  Some believe that Hanley Ramirez sans valid fielding position and with dubious health can be traded to some other team with only a partial subsidy.
 
The simple reality is that Ramirez, and Sandoval, were so bad in 2015 and are owed enough money going forward that you aren't going to find a team willing to take on a significant portion of their remaining contracts.  People cite the Prince Fielder trade as an example of this working but ignore that Fielder was a +2.3 WAR player (per fangraphs) the year prior despite having a "bad" season.  Pablo was by the same metric tied for the least valuable player in baseball (with Victor Martinez) and Hanley was #3 on that list.  Currently they don't just look like bad contracts, they look like sunk cost.  Both add to that serious health and conditioning concerns.
 
There is very little money whatsoever to save from trading either one of them.  If instead they bounce back, as both are still relatively young and both have at times in 2015 flashed their previous talents, they suddenly regain value and become much more trade eligible.
 
At 1B the Sox have about as good a situation as they could hope for short of having a stud waiting at AAA.  Sam Travis is a good prospect who hit in both A+ and AA this past season.  Travis Shaw has pushed up his expectations with his last few months of ML play.  Hanley is saying all the right things about moving to 1B.  So if Hanley does rebound at 1B they're back on originally planned succession path for him into DH and one of Shaw/Travis providing a cost effective quality 1B.  If instead Hanley continues to fail or can't stay healthy they have two young, cost controlled bats with ML regular potential who also happen to be right and left handed, so worst case an ideal platoon of some sort.
 
Way better options than giving big money to a free agent 1B while paying Hanley to play somewhere else.
 
Same goes at 3B.  Sandoval gets first crack at the job, then one of Holt or Shaw.  If none of them take the job by the horns by late in the season we'll probably see Moncada at the hot corner.  The internal answers to these problems exist, but for now the best option is to stay the course and hope Pablo and Hanley redeem themselves to at least some degree.
Great post. I actually think Craig would be easier to trade, not that he could be. Less money and years but a bad foot. I`m certainly not predicting it to happen, but see no reason another team would take Sandoval or Hanley.
 
This could be a great chance for young players such as Marrero, Shaw, Travis, Holt, Swihart to get a shot at a corner position if Sandoval or Hanley shit the bed again. Much like Shaw has this year. Who thought much about him except for a September call up?
 

Yossarian

lurker
Jan 22, 2015
89
Not to highjack the thread, but it seems at least tangentially related -- am I completely crazy to think they should consider giving Swihart a shot at first?  
 
Let's assume Vazquez is healthy and more or less back to his full arm strength.  What you then have then is Swihart, whose greatest asset is athleticism (so much so that SoxProspects has mused in print about converting him to second base a la Biggio if catching doesn't work out), potentially beaten out by a generational defensive talent at catcher.  So if Swihart has the athletic ability to play first, and play it well--and I'm guessing he does--and shows signs of becoming a good hitter, it might be worth kicking the tires on.  His bat may not naturally profile at first, but I also wonder if taking him away from the daily grind at catcher (and all the extra work you need to do to study your pitchers, etc) could actually improve his hitting.  
 
Is this worth thinking about, or am I overvaluing Vazquez and undervaluing having Swihart's bat at catcher?
 

Darnell's Son

He's a machine.
Dope
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 23, 2010
9,096
Providence, RI
iayork wrote about Shaw on the .com today:
 
 
Streaks are streaks, and often just random, but for a new player up from the minors the obvious question is whether scouts identified holes in his swing that pitchers could exploit. If so, the second hot streak may be a little encouraging, suggesting that Shaw was in turn adjusting to the new pitch pattern. Here is how pitchers, over the whole season, have thrown to Shaw, and how he has hit against them.