The utility infielder

This is me last month wearing my Holt jersey that I wear to every match (note the #26 that he started out with, until it had been retired for Wade Boggs a few years back — Brock wears #12 now):

What I really like about him are just two things: 1) he does all, wherever and whatever has to be done, and 2) he performs the best brand of baseball energy: hustle. He gets things done, when they have to get done, without a positive energy. It is amazing, and I picked up on it the first time I watched him perform, back in 2013. He’s the greatest utility infielder.

“Utility Infielder” can be somewhat of a derogatory term, since it essentially means that you aren’t enough of a star to be a starter at any one position. But in my opinion, a excellent utility infielder may be the glue that holds a team together, and Brock is the best example of that I can consider.

You may play first base one day, third another, outfield then.

By way of instance, within the past month or so, Brock has done a whole lot of pinch-hitting (coming into a game for one at-bat), and has been Mr. Clutch, getting a whole lot of big hits and home runs, including the pinch-hit homer that clinched the Red Sox playoff place .

A excellent utility infielder can play any position, and play it well enough not just to get by, but to make fantastic plays, consistently. Here’s a Brock Holt highlight reel, consisting largely of plays from 2014 and 2015. You will notice highlights from each place — not just infield but all of the outfield positions also. It also happens to include him hitting for the cycle, ending, of course with the most challenging of all to achieve, the triple:

Lastly, a terrific utility player must do more than simply make plays on the field — you have got work to do in the clubhouse and in the dugout, to maintain up the vibe and the energy great.

My favourite Holt instance of this was back in April of this year. I was in the game with a buddy and our children; the dads were prepared to throw in the towel but the children had faith and wanted to wait it out. Brock Holt came to bat, and amazed the whole scene when his walk-up song was”I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston (the very loud part in the end). The entire stadium woke up and laughed. He flied out, but that sparked a 2-out rally in which the Sox scored 6 to take the lead. It worked. That’s what I am talking about.

I guess I feel a kinship with Brock Holt, and high-hustle utility infielders everywhere, since I’ve always thought of myself as a one also. Basically every job I’ve ever had, my strategy has been: I am going to be useful and do whatever has to be done — and appreciate it.

There’s a clear danger in being a utility infielder, in this by helping a little bit everywhere, you can’t find awesome anywhere. That’s a real risk. But my experience has been that in case you do anything and everything that has to be done, do it well, enjoy yourself, and do what you can to make your teammates better, opportunities will present themselves.


Categorized as Strategy

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