* Throughout this month, we'll put a member of the 2020 Red Sox and one of their most notable statistics under the microscope while assessing their season and what lies ahead. Today's installment: Bobby Dalbec.
Dalbec's sample size wasn't gigantic, but it was still impressive to see half of his eight home runs leave the park to right field in 2020. Even some of the game's best sluggers lack true opposite-field power -- Mookie Betts has only hit six home runs to right field in his entire career, for instance -- but the 6-foot-4, 227-pound Dalbec can launch balls out to any part of the park.
That suggests that the power surge that accompanied his arrival in the big leagues -- a continuation of what he had done throughout his minor league career -- might actually be here to stay.
What went right for Dalbec in 2020
Dalbec typically rated highly on Baseball America and MLB.com's prospect lists, but that doesn't mean his arrival in late August was particularly heralded.
He homered in his debut -- down the right field line, naturally -- and then he really turned on the power, launching long balls in five consecutive games, a Red Sox rookie record. That surge altered perceptions of Dalbec from strikeout-prone slugger with a modest ceiling to legitimate starting infielder on either corner.
What went wrong for Dalbec in 2020
The problem that held him back in the minors -- monster strikeout totals -- didn't exactly disappear in the big leagues. Dalbec struck out 39 times in 23 games, a 275-K pace over 162 games. That's obviously not sustainable even in an industry obsessed with launch angle, but he also walked 10 times while forging a .359 on base percentage.
Early outlook for 2021
Dalbec's contact rates will ultimately determine his future. If he continues striking out in half of his at-bats, then he cannot reasonably be called an everyday player. But if he becomes more selective, his power means his bat will play.
He's also skilled enough defensively that he could man third base if Rafael Devers doesn't clean up his own defense. There's also the possibility that the Red Sox will sell high on Dalbec, given his surprising success, and try to maximize him as an asset. If he does stay, he has the inside track to start at first base.