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Travis Shaw more of a utility guy now

September 06, 2016

RIP Travis Shaw’s dreams of being the Boston Red Sox everyday third baseman.

It was going well until about late May — and then he hit .205 with a .632 OPS from May 29 to August 31. Call a Mr. Yoan Moncada to the stage.

Yeah, so the young Moncada is pretty much the Red Sox new starting third baseman. He’s an upgrade over Shaw — hopefully — but yesterday, there was a clear indication Shaw is moving into more of a Brock Holt type role. Why else would he have been playing the outfield Monday?

Seriously: if Shaw were a third baseman, he would have been playing third base — especially against a subpar right-handed pitcher in Edwin Jackson. But no, he was in the outfield — because Chris Young isn’t fantastic against righties. But he did have that pinch-hit homer off a lefty reliever (which was pretty sweet if I could say so myself).

Looking at next year, it would be tough to justify starting Travis Shaw and expecting to have some sort of world-class lineup. Yes, David Ortiz being gone opens up the opportunity. But can you really replace one of the greatest hitters in Red Sox history with a guy who is hovering the Mendoza Line (.200) since late May? No way, Jose.

If Shaw is going to make the team next year — which up for debate with the almighty Pablo Sandoval returning in 2017 and the second coming of Wade Boggs (Moncada)  also fighting for the third base job — it would probably be as a utility guy — like Tim “The Toolman” Taylor.

Think about it: he’s a left-handed bat. He’s better against righties — 75 percent of pitching. So 75 percent of the team, he can enter the lineup at three positions. And he has a little pop. That’s kind of valuable good for a bench player. So what if his batting average is low? He was never really a top prospect and left-handed pop off the bench isn’t bad to have.

If nothing changes headed into next year, the Red Sox bench would probably be: Shaw, Holt, Young and Christian Vazquez. Yes, they have plenty more options (Marco Hernandez, Bryce Brentz, Bryan Holaday, Josh Rutledge and Blake Swihart among others), but that seems most likely.