So, what was your favorite Brock Holt moment from Tuesday night?
Was it the fact that he scored both runs in the Red Sox’ 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins? Maybe it was his double off the Wall leading off the third inning and the ensuing steal of third base?
Most likely, it was the catch of Boston’s season when he bailed out Jonny Gomes with a full-out sprint from center field, just another position Brock Holt can master, you know. Or, was it perhaps the moment when Brock Holt came upon a group of sad children and made the skies rain lollipops in the hopes of making them happy?
Yes, the legend of Brock Holt continues to grow at a Paul Bunyanian rate, with no second gear in sight. He was 2-for-4 Tuesday night against the Twins, but it is the catch to end the third inning that will be the talk of water coolers everywhere on Wednesday. Minnesota’s Brian Dozier hit a fly ball to left that Gomes lost in the lights, or something of that nature. That’s when Holt, dashing from center field, dove and made the remarkable catch about 20 yards behind where a confused Gomes was standing.
“I ran to the wrong spot. That’s why I had to [dive],” Holt said.
Yeah, better luck next time, kid.
“I guess I don’t really have much perspective because I lost it,” Gomes told MLB.com. “I’d like to call that tough love right there — just throwing Brock to the wolves right out of the gate. I went over scenarios with him early on in the game. For one, it’s a tough twilight now with the blue sky, starting to get the sunset. From about the third inning to the fifth inning, if you look at the sky, it’s the exact same color as the ball — kind of an off-white.”
Never mind that this was Holt’s first career start in center field, the play was jaw-dropping for a number of reasons; it displayed Holt’s ridiculous speed, his natural instincts for all positions on the diamond, and also underscored just how awful of an outfielder Gomes really can be. If you want to look deeper, Holt’s dive was symbolic of the 26-year-old’s omnipresence, coming out of nowhere and doing nearly everything, even as some of his teammates on the 33-38 Red Sox continue to merely stand around.
It’s easier to point out the positions that Holt hasn’t played this season: shortstop, second base, catcher, and pitcher, though nobody should be surprised if he checks one or all of those off at some point as well. And when he pitches, who would be shocked to see Brock Holt behind the plate as his own, personal catcher?
Holt is now batting .338, which would put him second in the American League for players with a minimum 150 at-bats this season, behind Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall, who is hitting .368 in 185 at-bats. His .842 OPS is the best on the Red Sox, 15th-best in the AL under the same minimum at-bat requirements. He hits lefties (.365). He hits righties (.318). He has a .371 on-base percentage as a leadoff hitter, and hitting .321 with runners on. Would you believe Jonathan Herrera is second, hitting .290?
Red Sox manager John Farrell will have the privilege of choosing which Red Sox he’ll want to bring with him to Minnesota for next month’s All-Star Game, and it seems there’s no way that he can bypass Holt for that honor. No other player, aside from the absurd Koji Uehara and rookie sensation Xander Bogaerts, is as obvious a choice, though I suspect Farrell might want John Lackey and Jon Lester along for the trip.
“The best way to wrap it up: He’s a good baseball player,” manager John Farrell said. “And I say that in general, but he understands the game. He’s athletic, he’s got speed. I think more than anything, he’s really flourishing in the flexibility we’re providing for him.”
See, that’s why the Red Sox didn’t do much in the offseason. They wanted to provide Brock Holt with “flexibility.”
Boston will probably insist that it knew it had something in Holt when the team acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the deal for Joel Hanrahan in 2012, but that would also suggest that the Red Sox knew what they were getting in Hanrahan, who was a complete disaster (nine games, 9.82 ERA) in Boston. Truth is, this is a breakout story akin to Brian Daubach’s magical summer in 1999. If it weren’t for Will Middlebrooks’ injury, Holt would still be playing in Pawtucket. If it weren’t for Holt, maybe the Red Sox are a little more patient with Grady Sizemore, finally designated for assignment Tuesday. Well, maybe.
He’ll probably be back in left field Wednesday night, maybe right field or first base to give the flailing Mike Napoli a night off. Farrell may want to do the same for Pedroia and Stephen Drew, who should probably have to sit after playing two whole straight games the past two evenings. Grueling.
Back in 1985, current NESN analyst Steve Lyons played six positions for the Red Sox, including designated hitter and shortstop, two spots Holt has yet to fill. But it’s only June. Brock Holt isn’t finished. Not even close.
“Every time he’s at a new position for the first time, we hold our breath a little bit, but he’s a baseball player,” general manager Ben Cherington told MLB.com.
Yeah, he’s a baseball player all right. For now. By the end of summer, who knows what sort of magnanimous plan Brock Holt has in store for all of us.