The Boston Red Sox are currently basking in the success of recent farm graduate Michael Chavis. Chavis, of course, started the year in the minors before taking over the starting second base job with his phenomenal play. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Boston might have another intriguing infielder ready to make the big jump. Power-hitting third baseman Bobby Dalbec is tearing up Portland and showing growth as an all-around hitter. If he can keep this up, then Dalbec should be locked in as 2020’s starting third baseman.
Bobby Dalbec Developing at the Plate
Entering the season, Bobby Dalbec was the definition of a three-outcome hitter. In just about every plate appearance, Dalbec would either hit a home run, strikeout, or draw a walk. His power was unparalleled, as evidenced by his 32 home runs between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. However, he also had a major strikeout problem. The right struck out in 37.1% of his at-bats in Portland and 31.0% of his at-bats in Salem. This rate was way too high for sustained success, especially against minor leaguers.
Fortunately, Dalbec is starting to turn it around. So far through the season, Dalbec is posting an impressive .252/.386/.504 slash line with a corresponding 157 wRC+. While his average looks a little low, it’s worth noting that he’s shown massive improvements over the past few weeks. Since May 2nd, Dalbec has a .348/.444/.804 slash line with an absurd 248 wRC+. Some of this is due to an unsustainably-high .393 BABIP, but there’s no denying Dalbec is seeing the ball well and improving at the plate.
The underlying numbers tell a similar story. So far on the season, Dalbec has decreased his strikeout rate to just 26.4%. While this still isn’t an elite rate by any means, it’s a huge step in the right direction and certainly helps his MLB stock. This isn’t just due to his recent hot streak, as Dalbec only struck out in 27.8% of his plate appearances before catching fire. It’s obviously not the largest sample, but if Dalbec can sustain this for a full season, he could be yet another great young player on a Red Sox roster loaded with young talent.
What’s Next for Dalbec
The next step for Dalbec is proving that he can do this against better competition. Dalbec spent the majority of 2018 in High-A but still finished the year with the AA Portland Sea Dogs. Since he’s repeating the level to start the year, it’s only natural that he’s putting up good numbers against AA.
If Dalbec is to truly have fixed his issues, he’ll need to prove it with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. The jump from AA to AAA isn’t as drastic as some minor league leaps, but there’s still a notable increase in talent. Dalbec should be promoted any day now to so he can prove he’s ready for the next step.
If he can do that, then the sky is the limit for the Dalbec. The righty has legitimately unmatched power and could be one of the MLB’s best sluggers if he can consistently make contact. The Red Sox need an answer at first base with Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce both set to hit free agency, and Rafael Devers could be that answer if Bobby Dalbec is ready to for a major league role in 2020.