Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
There's a certain quality in a player that appeals to the masses. All Boston fans know this.
Think about it. What do all the Boston sports icons have in common? Tom Brady wasn't always a polished quarterback prince. Before he married a supermodel, Brady was Drew Bledsoe's backup, a sixth-round pick with little to no chance of making it. David Ortiz, a Twins castoff, was just as unknown. French Lick, Indiana native Larry Bird and "refrigerator repairman" Kevin Youkilis (that's what Jackie MacMullan called him in a column for the Boston Globe) fit the same mold.
None of them looked like athletes and that's what made them cult figures. As loveable underdogs, we could all relate to them. The fact that they were great players was just a bonus.
So who are Boston fans gravitating toward these days? For the answer to that, let's rewind to Tuesday night's game against the Twins.
With the Red Sox clinging to a 1-0 lead, Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier punched a long fly ball out to left field. Jonny Gomes, still recovering from last year's championship celebration, lost track of it in the lights. Shortstop Stephen Drew, also in the vicinity of left field, was equally unhelpful.
Enter Brock Holt. The former ninth-round pick came flying onto the scene, sprinting 45 feet to make a sensational catch. Inning over, thanks for playing.
The first thing I thought to myself wasn't "who is this guy?" It was, "He did it again." Because saving the day has become a nightly occurrence for Brock Holt, the man, the myth, the legend.
Holt isn't so much a super utility man as he is a superhero. Holt was originally called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Will Middlebrooks' place at third base while he recovered from a broken finger. But soon, first baseman Mike Napoli got hurt too. So Holt moved over to first. Then Grady Sizemore started struggling so Holt, always willing to try new things, became the starting left fielder. Yesterday he played center field and today he's starting in right. Did I mention he began his career as a second baseman?
Is there anything Brock Holt can't do? Not really. Seriously, come up with the most obscure statistic you can think of.
Can he hit lefties? Sure (.365 AVG this season).
How about righties? You bet (.318 in 88 at bats).
How is he at Fenway? Not bad (.365 at home this season).
Is he good with runners in scoring position? I'd say so (.296).
And when nobody's on? What do you think (.347)?
Oh excuse me, he's only hitting .267 on turf this season. That's still higher than Big Papi's season average (.246 at the start of the day).
If the Olive Garden entree "The Tour of Italy" became a person, it would be Brock Holt. Because with Holt, you get a little bit of everything. Speed, contact, defense, versatility, free salads, bread sticks ... okay I made the last two up, but you get my point.
There have only been four days in the last month when Holt didn't have at least one hit. His on base percentage in June (.411) is higher than three of the last four MVP winners (Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey). Even more amazing, Holt has 14 multi-hit games since May 20. That's more than Mike Trout (two-time MVP runner-up) and Joe Mauer (six-time All-Star and 2009 MVP) ... combined.
At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Holt probably couldn't lift a chicken finger. Yet here he is, carrying the Red Sox back to .500. Boston has won four of its last six with Holt going 9-for-24 (.375) during that span.
A month ago, the Red Sox were so desperate for a lead-off hitter, they were posting ads on Craigslist (probably). That's no longer necessary. Holt has hit .345 from that spot in the lineup compared to .221 for everyone else who's tried it.
Holt is a fun player to watch but he's not the second coming of Pete Rose. If Holt kept his current rate of production up for a full season (500 at bats), he'd finish with three homers, 50 RBI, 17 stolen bases, 70 runs and a .338 average. Those aren't "run home and tell everybody you know" numbers, but they're respectable, especially for a guy none of us had even heard of until a few weeks ago.
At Fenway Park, Holt shirts are flying off the shelf. Brock must have taught them how.