The Boston Red Sox have had plenty of story lines running rampant through their spring training and as it nears the cessation, the third base position is now taking center stage.
Travis Shaw has been splitting time with Pablo Sandoval at third base with the pair either traveling with the regulars, staying with the reserves or vice versa.
Both have been hitting well (Shaw, very well) but Sandoval’s lackluster performances in the field have begged the question of if he should even be on the field if Shaw has been playing so well.
Manager John Farrell has come out and said that Sandoval could be on the bench come Opening Day in favor of Travis Shaw because he gives the Sox the best chance to win games in April, which are just as important as those games in the latter half of the season.
In a response to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodono’s question of, “Does Sandoval understand he has to perform in order to win a starting job at third base?” Farrell said “I think he’s very well aware of it.”
“He understands this about putting the best team on the field from Day 1,” Farrell added. “And games in April are equally important to every other time of the year and it’s our job to get out of the gate with the best team on the field.”
With Farrell saying that, it brings up the possibility of seeing Travis Shaw, a league minimum earning player, playing every day over a high-priced free agent in Sandoval.
It wouldn’t be the first time it happened, and it won’t even be the only scenario playing out this season as both Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier will be on the bench for the Dodgers along with their respective $20 million and $18 million contracts.
#Tbt to that time we were excited about Carl Crawford
If Travis Shaw were to be the everyday third baseman, which he should be, it would give the Red Sox a much better chance at winning games as well as scoring runs.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe included stats saying, “There were 17 instances last season when Sandoval was on first base when a single was hit, and all 17 times he made it only as far as second base. There were seven times when Sandoval was on first when a double was hit, and six times he made it only to third, and he never scored.”
Even just getting into scoring position was hard enough for Sandoval let alone scoring runs in order to actually win games. Cafardo added, “His “extra base taken percentage” of 9 percent was half of David Ortiz’s. Dustin Pedroia was at 32 percent and Mookie Betts was at 44 percent.”
Not only would the Red Sox score more runs with Travis Shaw on the bases, he also is a much better fielder compared to Sandoval and could feed better throws to a new first baseman in Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez being a former infielder can handle short hops but it is most ideal when he doesn’t have to and with Shaw being able to get to the ground ball better and more athletically, that allows him the time to set his feet and deliver a seed right to Ramirez’ chest.
Overall, Travis Shaw has proven himself enough to earn the starting nod at the hot corner despite the big contract and gut of Pablo Sandoval and we should be seeing Shaw out their next to Xander Bogaerts.
Time will only tell who ends up getting the start on Opening Day.