For those who actually watched the Boston Red Sox play meaningless baseball in September, I salute you. You’re a rarity in this day and age, and your loyalty is inspiring. With that said, you were probably focused on the offensive emergence of Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, and on new-comer Rusney Castillo. They, in all honesty, were the men to watch in September, so it’s no surprise they were the ones you were talking about. However, there’s a Red Sox by the name of Christian Vazquez who also had himself a very solid month from the plate, but he doesn’t nearly get the recognition he deserves for it. Well, if it wasn’t already obvious, my mission in the subsequent paragraphs will be to shed light on Vazquez’s terrific final month of the 2014 season.
It is, indeed, irrefutable that Vazquez is a special talent, and his defensive aptitude is already at an elite-level. His offensive skills, on the other hand, have been his Achilles’ heel in his rookie season. Yet the Red Sox don’t mind — at least for this waste of a season — taking the trade-off, and rightfully so. Vazquez, with his 0.7 fWAR that doesn’t take into account his tremendous pitch-framing ability, pegs him as a valuable commodity even with his lackluster offensive contributions. Further, Oliver 5 Year Projection projects going forward that the right-handed hitting catcher will be worth roughly two and half wins each of the next five seasons
Now, this system isn’t perfect, but does give us a good indication on how a player will perform the next five years based on numerous factors such as his major and minor league production, as well as his age, ballpark, etc.
The point being, there’s reason to be optimistic about Vazquez even if his offense never comes. But, as I wrote three weeks back, there’s all the reason in the world to be hopeful that his bat will, in fact, come around. And wouldn’t you know it has come around this September.
Oh, yes, and in 74 plate appearances in that span the 24-year-old churned an exceptional .277/.351/.385 slash line, which resonates into an above-average 107 wRC+. His .333 BABIP in September doesn’t suggest luck has played a big role; therefore, there’s no reason to believe this won’t persist, given his minor-league track record. There’s no guarantee Vazquez becomes a decent bat, but, at the very least, he has shown he can hit in MLB.