BOSTON -- Pop quiz time.
Through the first 69 games of the season, who leads the Red Sox in RBIs?
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
Despite the ups and downs of his first few weeks with the Red Sox, Trevor Story is carrying the title of RBI machine on his new team. After his three-run rocket soared over the Green Monster and onto Lansdowne Street to help Boston to a 5-4 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday night, Story got to 48 RBIs, fifth in the American League.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that puts Story on pace for well over 100 RBIs.
Yes, it is true: There are many in the analytics crowd who would just as soon outlaw the RBI.
“It’s a stat that I have taken a lot of pride in in the past,” said Story. “I feel like people are kind of losing the love for it out there in the analytic world. But it’s something, playing alongside [Nolan] Arenado and seeing the way he did it for so many years, driving in 100, that was something that I strived to do. I’ve done it before, and it’s something that means a lot to me. I like coming through in those spots.”
Be it offense or defense, Story has made his best contributions at the most opportune times.
Take, for example, Tuesday, when Story made a beautiful snare of a line drive by Javier Báez to end the top of the seventh inning.
“It was a good spot to come up right there and follow my instincts, really,” said Story. “I knew I might have a shot and you just kind of track it, hopefully. I had to get up in the air a little bit and put the glove up and, like I said, trust my instincts that I’m going to get where I need to be.”
Ryan Brasier, who was on the mound at the time, was smiling widely. Alex Verdugo was practically laughing as he ran back to the dugout. Even the low-key Story had a big grin on his face.
“That was a great play. That was amazing,” said Red Sox starter Rich Hill, who went five innings and earned the win.
There’s a feeling developing with the Red Sox right now that any ball hit in Story’s general direction is going to be caught. This, from a lifetime shortstop who is playing second base for the first time in his career.
“He’s smooth,” said Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. “He’s in that groove where he’s catching everything. He’s making nice plays. I’d say he’s in a really sweet spot right now.”
Though Story’s offense (.223 average, .728 OPS) clearly hasn’t been as consistent or productive as his defense, he has made his hits count.
Of his 11 homers, he has four three-run jacks and a grand slam. Seven of his 11 long balls have tied the score or put the Red Sox ahead. Boston has won its past 15 games when Story has at least one RBI. The Sox are 20-4 this season when Story drives in at least one run.
“I think a little smaller in those situations, and I think that helps me a lot,” said Story. “I’m just trying to use the whole field and hit a line drive. That works well for me.”
Story has mainly hit in the No. 6 hole on a squad that has Devers, Martinez and Bogaerts in the more prominent spots in the order. When he gets going, Boston’s offense is tough to contain.
“He gets some big RBIs, comes through in some big moments and destroys mistakes,” said Bogaerts.