Brock Holt, Brandon Snyder showing third-base platoon can work
|08.04.13 at 7:12 pm ET|
Of all the potential solutions at third base, a Brock Holt-Brandon Snyder platoon is probably not the one most Red Sox fans were expecting or hoping to see.
Sticking with Jose Iglesias and hoping he broke out of his slump was one option. Bringing Will Middlebrooks back up was another. Michael Young was frequently mentioned in trade rumors. Of course, the sexiest choice would’ve been to call up top prospect Xander Bogaerts.
But the Red Sox traded Iglesias, didn’t trade for Young and didn’t call up Middlebrooks or Bogaerts. Instead, they called up the left-handed hitting Holt to serve as a platoon player at third while also backing up Stephen Drew at shortstop. The right-handed hitting Snyder, who has been with the big club since Middlebrooks was sent down on June 25, would start against lefties.
It seemed like a temporary solution until either Middlebrooks or Bogaerts was ready for the call, and it still may end up being just that. But Holt and Snyder have shown that this platoon can work. They’ve both played solid defense, they’ve made sure their spot in the lineup isn’t an easy out, and they’ve contributed some pretty big plate appearances.
“Obviously when you come up here, you know they’ve got a good thing going,” Snyder said. “You’re just trying to not do too much. Just trying to fill in here and there. Brock’s done a great job in his first time really being that guy that’s platooning. I’ve done it for a while. It’s not easy, but there’s really no pressure because everyone’s picking each other up. That makes it easier to go out there and do the job.”
Last Monday, it was the 26-year-old Snyder who finally got the Sox on the board against David Price, homering down the right-field line to cut the Rays’ lead to 2-1. Although the Sox ended up losing by that same score, it was a big hit at the time.
On Wednesday, the 25-year-old Holt started a fifth-inning rally against Seattle with a leadoff double. He contributed an RBI double to the Red Sox’ incredible ninth-inning comeback on Thursday.
Snyder helped get a seventh-inning rally going on Saturday with a single to left. Holt pinch ran for him and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.
On Sunday, Holt was involved in both of the Red Sox’ scoring spurts. He laced a single to right in the fifth that moved Drew from first to third, then later scored on a Dustin Pedroia double. The next inning, he moved two runners over with a sacrifice bunt — both runners eventually scored.
“They complement one another, obviously,” said manager John Farrell. “They’ve come up with some big hits. They’ve come up with some key defensive plays. … We’re able to kind of match them up and get the best of their abilities right now. Even though they’re younger players relative to other guys here, they have a feel for the role and they’ve been doing a good job at it. To each’s credit, they fill both sides of the platoon well.”
Interestingly enough, third base isn’t either player’s natural position. Snyder was drafted as a catcher, and although he has played some third throughout his professional career, most of his playing time has come at first. Holt was drafted as a second baseman, and has played mostly second and short in the minors. He had never played third base before this spring.
Despite the relative inexperience, both have proven more than capable in the field. Snyder has made just one error in 89 innings at third this season. Holt has made two, including one on Sunday, in 118 innings at the hot corner. Holt has also made some big plays, though, including one on Friday on an Aaron Hill rocket and two on Sunday that started double plays.
“I’m still learning over there,” Holt said. “[My error Sunday] was one of those balls that just kind of ate me up a little bit. You don’t have as much time to read hops at third as you do in the middle. I probably could’ve taken a step backwards there and gotten an easier hop, but I got caught in between and it just ate me up. … The more I’m over there, the more confident I get. It’s just one of those things where you have to keep working at it and keep getting better.”
If he does, and if Snyder continues to rake against lefties — he’s hitting .360 with a 1.080 OPS against them this season — the Red Sox won’t be in any rush to call up Bogaerts or Middlebrooks. A week ago, that may have been disappointing news. But it’s getting harder and harder to be disappointed with this Holt-Snyder platoon.
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