Pumping the Brakes on the Michael Chavis Hype Train
The unquestioned star of Spring Training’s action is corner infielder Michael Chavis. Chavis entered camp as the consensus top prospect in the Red Sox system, but the third base prospect is outperforming any reasonable expectations set upon him. Through eight games played, Chavis currently has a .353/.421/1.06 slash line and has already hit four home runs. With that superstar production, some are already wondering whether Chavis can start the season on the Boston Red Sox roster.
However, calls for Chavis’ promotion are premature. Make no mistake, the righty has been dominant, but calling him up to the majors would be throwing too much at Chavis too soon. It’s best for him to spend the beginning of the season with the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Michael Chavis Shouldn’t Start the Season In Boston
It’s obviously good to see Chavis hitting well, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really mean anything. Spring training results simply don’t matter, and there’s more than enough evidence to back up this claim. Last season, Sam Travis led the Red Sox with six spring training home runs. J.D. Martinez, meanwhile, didn’t even hit one.
Perhaps a better example is what happened to Jackie Bradley Jr. back in 2013. Bradley spent the 2012 season establishing himself as one of Boston’s top prospects with the AA Portland Sea Dogs. The center fielder earned a trip to 2013’s major league spring training and immediately set the world on fire. During the spring session, Bradley hit .431 with an on-base percentage over .500. His performance was so impressive that then-manager John Farrell had no choice but to put Bradley on the Opening Day roster.
This decision ultimately didn’t work out, as Bradley struggled during his time on the major league roster. Bradley spent 37 games in the majors while posting an ugly .189/.280/.337 slash line in 107 plate appearances. Bradley eventually earned a trip down to AAA Pawtucket, which is where he probably should have started the season to begin with.
Chavis is in a similar boat to Bradley. At the time, Bradley hadn’t played a single inning in AAA. Chavis, meanwhile, has only played eight games with Pawtucket. He was fantastic in that short sample, posting a .273/.294/.595 slash line through 34 plate appearances. That said, it’s too small of a sample and Chavis needs to spend more time in the minors to get accustomed to high-level pitching.
Nowhere For Him to Play
Even if the Red Sox believed Chavis was major league ready, there’s nowhere for him to play. Right now, Chavis is blocked at third base by Rafael Devers (yes, Devers is considerably better than Chavis) and is blocked at first base by the platoon of Steve Pearce and Mitch Moreland.
The only real unsure part of the Red Sox infield is at second base. On paper, Dustin Pedroia will be the everyday second baseman with Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez playing every three or four games. However, all three players have significant injury history and might not be available. Chavis played shortstop in high school and has practiced as second over the off-season. In theory, Chavis could fill in at second in a worst-case scenario.
However, a lot would go wrong in order for Chavis to see time at second in the majors. Chavis is buried behind the aforementioned trio of Pedroia, Holt, and Nunez, but is probably also behind Tzu-Wei Lin. At least four major injuries would need to happen before Chavis sniffed the majors at second base. Seeing as Chavis has such a promising ceiling, it’s best for him and the team to give him consistent at-bats in the minors.