After a homestand filled with boo-birds from the Fenway Park faithful, Boston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story can’t hit a new low.
The 29-year-old two-time All-Star signed a six-year, $140 million with Boston late into Spring Training. The late signing –– plus the birth of a child –– limited Story to five Spring Training games and just 13 plate appearances. Then, on top of it all, he got food poisoning during the first series of the season. Excuses are aplenty with the former Colorado Rockies shortstop, but through 24 games he’s slashing .194/.276/.269 with a wRC+ of just 62.
Not to mention his struggles in learning second base. A transition that, so far, has him at -2 defensive runs saved. A man signed because of his power, speed, and defense is homerless, has just one stolen base, and is a net-negative on defense through a month of play.
So how worried should Red Sox fans be with their newest high-priced free agent?
Offensively? Not very.
The easiest direct comparison for Story is his former infield-mate in Colorado, Nolan Arenado. Despite hitting 34 home runs in his first season with the Cardinals, Arenado’s wRC+ was just 113 and his xwOBA a measly .312. His season started similarly to Story’s in Boston. While he didn’t go homerless in April, his xwOBA was only .287 and his average exit velocity was 88.9 mph. So far in 2022, Story’s xwOBA is .287 and his average exit velocity is 90 mph.
Story is striking out a lot to start the season as well. While that’s not on par with what happened with Arenado’s first month with the Cardinals last year, it’s still the worst it’s been for Story since 2017. Red Sox fans should be encouraged, however, that Story is hitting the ball hard when he is putting the ball in play.
His power will improve as the season progresses. He even has a couple of fly balls that threatened to leave the ballpark.
He'll be fine offensively. Just needs to hit one out. pic.twitter.com/372nRK5FlA
— Jordan Leandre (@JordanLeandre55) May 10, 2022
He’s in his first season with a big-market team. Naturally, he’ll be under a microscope every night. That’s just the nature of the market. However, Red Sox fans should be patient with him. Is he past the point of the early-season factors that certainly hindered his play? Yes. Is he past the point where fans should be calling him an albatross? Absolutely not. Offensively, he’ll be fine.
Defensively? Maybe some.
In reality, there’s reason to be speculative about the state of Story’s arm. Could he be taking some heat off of his throws since he’s at second base now? Sure. But there appears to be a hitch in his throwing motion, and he’s had some issues putting enough heat on the throw to reach the first baseman.
Maybe he throttled down on this throw, or just off-balance… or maybe we're not talking enough about Trevor Story's arm strength.
Pretty significant hitch in there right now. pic.twitter.com/U0jZROcdfQ
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) May 5, 2022
It’s fairly documented that Trevor Story has never possessed a strong arm, but still was an elite defensive shortstop for over half a decade. However, the knock on the 29-year-old this winter was that some teams believed he could need Tommy John Surgery at some point. There were legitimate concerns about his arm, but Boston didn’t balk at signing him to a long-term deal.
216.1 innings as a second baseman is substantial for assessing one year’s worth of defensive ability, but it’s minimal compared to Story’s track record as a shortstop. There’s some cause for concern, only because of the hitch in his throwing motion. However, long term, it’s not something to be worried about right now.
Remember, it’s only May 10.
There’s still plenty of time for Story to right the ship. Not only for his entire contract but 2022 as well. Last season, a few of Boston’s key hitters had dreadful starts to the season.
Through April …
Kiké Hernández: 75 wRC+ (107 plate appearances)
Kyle Schwarber (with Washington): 59 wRC+ (67)
Bobby Dalbec: 65 wRC+ (76)
Hunter Renfroe: 29 wRC+ (68)
The rest of the regular season …
Hernández: 118 wRC+ (478 plate appearances)
Schwarber: 159 wRC+ (404)
Dalbec: 116 wRC+ (377)
Renfroe: 126 wRC+ (504)
Red Sox fans have flocked to social media to say, “Well, they should’ve kept Schwarber and Renfroe!” This should serve as a good reminder that the player you see in April might very well not be hitting at the same level in August. The season doesn’t end after one month for a reason. There’s no reason to cast judgment on a six-year deal because of 105 plate appearances.
Patience, people. Patience.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images