The Red Sox are already one of the three best teams in baseball and arguably have the best offense in the land. They possess the highest team batting WAR and the second highest wOBA in baseball. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez are all MVP candidates. David Ortiz and his team leading .404 wOBA is almost an afterthought. So is always exceptional Kevin Youkilis. Well, Ortiz and Youkilis are injured, leaving a void in the lineup. What do the Red Sox do to fill it? They call up one of the hottest hitters in all of the minor leagues, naturally.
Much has been made of the season Ryan Lavarnway is having. He hit well in Double-A putting up an .869 OPS in 239 plate appearances, but he’s really shined in his stint in Triple-A. With Pawtucket he’s put up a line of .301/.385/.608 with 16 home runs and a .306 ISO in 239 plate appearances. He’s always hit for power, smacking 21 homers in 2009 and 25 in 2010. Lavarnway’s numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Pawtucket is in the International League, which isn’t the hitter’s haven the Pacfic Coast League is. League average in the IL is .260/.330/.401, which pity in comparison to Lavarnway.
The biggest struggle for him has been getting comfortable at catcher. He played more games at DH than catcher at Double-A, but has reverted back to his backstop ways at Triple-A, presumably so the Red Sox can get him ready for 2012 if Jason Varitek isn’t retained. He won’t play much, if any, catcher while up with the big league club, sticking to DH duties while Ortiz is out. There’s no exact time table for Ortiz’s return from right heel bursitis but it seems likely he’ll be out at least a week, maybe two, which gives Lavarnway time to showcase his talents for a possible place on the postseason roster. Rosters expand in the next few weeks so it’s likely that Lavarnway remains with the Red Sox for the rest of the season, though his at bats will be limited if Ortiz comes back healthy.
He started last night’s game and batted seventh. He’s bound to receive many opportunities to pick up RBI no matter where he bats in the Red Sox order. He’s a solid pickup in deep A.L. only leagues and is a good candidate to stash away in keeper leagues due to his power from the feeble catcher position.
Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.