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@GlobeChadFinn is Brock Holt the best Sox utility player ever?
— Cjmullysr (@mullinsnova) February 18, 2020
You know, I think he is, and I say that as someone who thought he was good and helpful but a little bit overrated as a player. I mean, if you’re more bummed that Brock Holt is gone than Mookie Betts, we must have been watching different games over the last five years.
But it’s disappointing that the Red Sox have moved on from another popular player, and he was very good at his specific job. He hit .270 with a .715 OPS in seven seasons for the Red Sox, including .297/.771 last year. He played on two World Series champions, including a significant role in ’18, and made an All-Star team in the Red Sox’ otherwise lousy 2014 season. Good player, good guy.
And he is the best the Sox have had in that role. I did my homework on this, which in this case means scrolling through each individual season’s Red Sox team page on baseball-reference and saying things like, “Huh, I forgot Jose Cruz Jr. played for the Sox” and “Are we sure someone named Mauro Gomez had 111 plate appearances for the 2012 team?”
Frankly, Holt doesn’t have much competition through the years. There were good-field, no-hit types like Alex Cora (whatever happened to that guy), no-field, no-hit types like Ed Romero, a parade of quasi-popular journeyman in the ‘80s (Steve Lyons, Randy Kutcher, Ed Jurak), the occasional false hope (I was suckered by Donnie Sadler, and I know some of you thought Pedro Ciriaco was the shortstop of the future after his fluky 2012 success), and a million guys who arrived and departed without much notice like Eric Patterson, Brett Lillibridge, and Ernie Riles. Heck, half of the early-‘90s Red Sox rosters were made up of utility players.
There was also Jack Brohamer, a utility player with a power hitter’s name, and local favorite Lou Merloni, whose numbers in six seasons with the Red Sox are pretty similar to Holt’s (.269 batting average, .708 OPS).
But there’s really not much competition in terms of longevity, versatility, or competence, for Holt.
I know old timers will suggest Dalton Jones, who was clutch for the ’67 Red Sox. He might be the runner-up, but he did hit just .243 with a .646 OPS in six years with the Sox.
So, yes, Brock Holt is the best utility player the Red Sox ever had … but only because Chico Walker got stranded at Pawtucket for five years and never got a real shot, I say.
But what does everyone else think? I’ll hear you in the comments.