Red Sox UFO Travis Shaw

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The things that have gone right for the Boston Red Sox this year are few and far between. Yet we, as die hard fans, keep watching. Rick Rowand takes a look at the Red Sox UFO Travis Shaw to see what has made him special since his latest call up.

In between rides on the Pawtucket Shuttle, Travis Shaw has found the time to play a little baseball for the Boston Red Sox. So far this season he’s taken that trip four times. His last ride looks like it might be a one-way ticket to Boston. Since his promotion on August 1, he’s become a source of unexpected, but very welcome offense. 

Shaw, the son of former major league pitcher Jeff Shaw, was drafted twice by the Sox. The first time was out of high school in the 32nd round in 2008. He decided to go to college at Kent State and was drafted in the 9th round in 2011.

As Brandon Magee detailed in an article after his second call up in May, Shaw progressed through the minor league system on a steady pace. He was never spectacular, but exhibited decent power and a very good eye at the plate.

His second time with Boston came in June. Like his previous stint with the team, it was a one game affair. He had one PA and a line of .000/.000/.000. His third time up was also in June and lasted a bit longer than the previous two combined. He had six PAs in four games and equaled his previous offensive output. But, this time he scored a run!

His fourth time, he appeared in three games and had his first hit in the majors against the Miami Marlins. In that game he had three hits and scored another run. Progress was being made! He appeared in two more games and had two plate appearances with nothing to show for them.

He was called up for good on August 1 and then things got a little weird. Maybe weird is too strong of a word. Let’s say things have been interesting in his 11 games in August. In 34 plate appearances he’s hit four home runs, two doubles, four walks and has had only six strikeouts. Shaw is currently sporting a line of .315/.356/.574 with a BABIP of .289 and an ISO of an otherworldly .259 – MLB average is .140. Considering his start, what he has done in August is pretty remarkable.

His singles have been spread pretty evenly between left, center and right fields. One double was to LF and the other to left-center. Three of his home runs have been of the pull variety with the other going to dead center:

Granted, this is a very small sample and we can’t read anything into it at all, but it’s certainly not what we, the fans, were expecting and I doubt anyone in the front office predicted it either.  

But this isn’t the interesting thing. To me what’s interesting is how he gets his hits. They seem to come in flurries like UFO or Bigfoot sightings. In his eleven games this month, he’s had a line of .000/.000/.000 in five games. In his other six games he’s had four multi-hit games. On August 1 he had four hits with a double, two home runs and a walk. On August 2, he had two singles – rather boring. On August 14 he had three hits with two home runs. Finally, on August 16, he had three hits with a double and a walk.

All in all, not a bad month. And certainly a welcome relief after the seemingly endless weeks the Red Sox would go with no offense from first base this year. I seriously doubt, and by seriously I mean I wouldn’t even bet a dollar on it, that he can maintain anywhere near this sort of production for the rest of the season. But, it’s gotta give him the confidence that he can play this game at the highest level. If he continues to perform, it should force the Sox into giving him a serious look to be on the team next year. Oh, and as a bonus he can also play a passable third and left field.

Rick Rowand has written about the value of Brock Holt, Boston’s rotationBrock Holt’s cycle and aura, and a series about Bogaerts, Betts and Swihart, and a screenplay of Napoli’s last days on the Sox.

Follow Rick on Twitter @rrowand.

Check out Jimmy Wulf’s look at minor league facilities.

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