I’ve been a big Josh Ockimey fan for a number of years now, and I won’t be stopping anytime soon. Ockimey has one of those beautiful lefty swings and has used it to mash right-handed pitching all throughout his career in the minors. And because of all that, I’m hoping to see him utilized in a Mitch Moreland-type role when 2021 rolls around.
During the Red Sox’s 2018 championship run, the duo of Steve Pearce and Mitch Moreland proved to be huge, providing big-time production during the postseason. I don’t think anyone forgets Steve Pearce’s MVP performance in the World Series or Mitch Moreland’s pinch-hit, three-run home run in Game Four. The Pearce/Moreland duo turned into Michael Chavis/Moreland last year and for some of this year, and proved to be similarly productive.
I’m a big fan of platoons such as these and believe you can squeeze a higher level of production out of players by playing to their strengths. It’s almost like “combining” two players into one, using only their best production. We saw Mitch Moreland have huge success the past few years in this role, especially this year in his limited time with the Sox. If Moreland was utilized as a full-time player, he obviously would’ve been less productive; since he joined the Red Sox in 2017, he has a wRC+ of 113 against righties and 73 against lefties.
Now onto Ockimey. Plain and simple, he can’t hit left-handed pitching. In his four full seasons in the minors, his OPS against lefties topped .600 just once. To combat this, Ockimey can be used in the same way Mitch Moreland was with the Sox.
Against righties, Ockimey finished with an OPS of .898 in Triple-A last year, as well as an OPS of .968 in Double-A in 2018. He has swing-and-miss issues, but he makes up for it with a ton of walks; he walked over 17% of the time in Triple-A. If you can limit Ockimey’s at-bats against lefties, his power potential combined with his eye at the plate have the makings of a productive player. A new first base duo of Bobby Dalbec and Josh Ockimey could hit a lot of long balls in 2021.
Josh Ockimey isn’t a top prospect with All-Star level hype or anything close to that, really, and is likely blocked at his position when Triston Casas is fully developed. However, he can be a solid role player in the right situation, and the Red Sox currently have the right-handed bats at first base to make it happen. At this point, if I’m the Red Sox I’m looking for production anywhere I can get it, and Ockimey has the potential to contribute as a complementary piece at first base.