On Thursday the Boston Red Sox chose merit over money, with a decision to make Travis Shaw their starting third baseman over Pablo Sandoval. Shaw definitely earned the starting job, with a .333 batting average and two home runs this spring entering Thursday’s action, and he’s now absolutely on the radar of fantasy baseball owners with Opening Day on the horizon.
Over 226 at-bats (65 games) for the Red Sox in 2015, Shaw hit .270 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI. He stuck at the major league level for good last season after Mike Napoli was traded at the deadline, and all of Shaw’s home run and RBI production in the majors came from Aug. 1 on.
Shaw played 55 games at first base for Boston last season, and he may also immediately be eligible at third base (eight games) in some fantasy leagues. He played one game in the outfield as well, and if Brock Holt doesn’t stick as the primary option in left field the Red Sox could use Shaw there.
Shaw’s fantasy value is better in AL-only leagues out of the gate this year, but he is worth a look as a corner infield option in deep mixed leagues. Assuming 500 at-bats this season, I can easily envision Shaw hitting 20 home runs, driving in 70-75 runs and scoring 60-65 runs as part of what should be a solid Boston lineup. Sandoval will be a lingering factor for playing time, which could create an equal timeshare at third base at some point, but fantasy owners should follow the Red Sox blueprint and lean toward Shaw until further notice while fully buying him as a sleeper.