Bobby Dalbec: Red Sox 2020 Rookie Of The Year
As he progressed through the minors, curiosity followed Bobby Dalbec.
As much as the third baseman represented a player with elite power potential, to what degree might his strikeout rate prove an impediment to his ability to make an impact in the big leagues?
Over the final four weeks of the 2020 season, Dalbec offered a compelling initial answer to that question.
The 25-year-old blasted a homer in his big league debut on Aug. 30, went on a longball binge a week later with homers in five consecutive games, and concluded his debut with a .263/.359/.600 line with eight homers in 19 games.
The righthanded hitter's top-of-the-scale power, which allows him to drive pitches out of the park from line to line, proved abundantly evident.
The performance did come with the caveat that Dalbec’s strikeout rate was a sky-high 42%, while he swung and missed at nearly 23% of the pitches he saw—the third-highest rate in the majors. But Dalbec also walked in 10.9 percent of his plate appearances, and when he made contact, he typically did damage.
During his minor league career, Dalbec showed the ability to rein in his strikeout rate. In 2019 he struck out 25% of the time while blasting 27 home runs at Double-A and Triple-A.
That history suggests to the Red Sox that Dalbec, a 2016 fourth-rounder out of Arizona, has the ability to level off his strikeout rate in the big leagues as well, with the hope that he can make enough contact to emerge as a run-producing, three true outcomes hitter.
“There are going to be streaks in his game. Power guys usually come that way. But, wow, the way he impacts the ball is impressive,” Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers said of Dalbec. “There are going to be strikeouts in there, there are going to be ups and downs, but I know he’s battling to be more consistent.
"Me, personally, I think he can. I think there’s not going to be such a peak and valley with him.”
— Righthander Tanner Houck became the second Red Sox pitcher ever to begin his big league career with three straight outings of at least five innings and no more than one run allowed.
— First-rounder Nick Yorke, 18, joined the Red Sox at their Pawtucket alternate training site in late September and made a strong initial impression, reaching base in seven of his 10 plate appearances with a pair of doubles.