Welcome to Over The Monster’s 2023 Season Preview. Between now and Opening Day, we’ll be here to tell you anything and everything* you need to know about the upcoming season. Below is an installment in our Things We’re Excited About series, in which we do a deep dive into the things we can’t wait to watch and experience this year (because we’re not all doom and gloom! We promise!) Today we’re talking about Triston Casas, future star.
* Well, not everything, but a lot of things. Trust us: you don’t actually want everything, anyway; a little hunger feeds the soul.
I am convinced that I know the secret to life (or, at least, one of the key components thereof — I confess that there could be others I’m missing, like, say, finding an allergy medication that enables you to leave the house during the month of May, or never losing your keys.) This is not to say that I live a life entirely full of meaning and happiness — I don’t, for the simple reason that knowing how to do something is not the same thing as actually doing it. But nevertheless, I am convinced that there is one thing above all that makes the world worth inhabiting. And that thing is novelty.
Without new things — even new things that are scary, and especially new things that are challenging — there would be no point to any of this. New people, new places, and new experiences all, in turn, make us feel something new, something different. And without that, all we’re doing is killing time.
This is what makes middle age so hard for so many people. From birth until the time you hit 30, novelty is intrinsic in your life. The whole damn world is new to you, and if that’s not enough, society is structured such that you’re forced into something new every year on the first Wednesday after Labor Day. But as you age, novelty becomes increasingly harder to find. You settle into long-term jobs and long-term relationships. You settle into a home. You may even get used to a more static existence, such that novelty no longer seems worth the inherent and necessary discomfort that comes along with it. Almost everyone reaches some variation of this stage, though we meet it differently, as it does us. And when we get there, it’s only when something new is forced into our lives that we remember that the world still maintains its capacity to surprise, and we remember just how alive those surprises can make us feel.
Baseball has new things. They’re called rookies. But a sizable chunk of baseball culture would like to hide these new things away. These defenders of the static status quo would have you believe that rookies aren’t supposed to talk; they aren’t supposed to make you notice them; they aren’t supposed to show up their elders; and they’re certainly not supposed to act like anything other than a rookie. Most rookies fall in line. They put their heads down, keep their mouths shut, and communicate solely through anodyne cliches. They do their best to blend into the background.
And then there’s Triston Casas, who shows up at the Red Sox Winter Weekend like this:
POV: You're Triston Casas getting introduced at #SoxWinterWeekend. pic.twitter.com/ETG9WnSmL0— Red Sox (@RedSox) January 21, 2023
Triston Casas very obviously wants to be a star, and he wants to be one right now, rookie status be damned. I’m not sure the Red Sox have ever had a first-year player who so nakedly asserted his star status. Sure, there was Dustin Pedroia’s youthful confidence, but remember that “ask Jeff fucking Francis who the fuck I am” came only after he put up an .823 OPS over a full season. Casas isn’t waiting that long. He’s doing half-naked pilates in front of the press before his first game at Fenway. He’s promising people he’ll be pimping his homers. He’s showing off all of his personality on Twitter. He’s saying he’s good right now, and he’s going to make you notice him.
This is new! Triston Casas is a new new thing!
Of course, no matter what he does with a selfie stick, he’ll only get to call himself a star if he hits, and whether he can do that over the course of a Major League season is still very much an open question. We’ve already talked a lot about his difficulties against lefties, and they are real: he hit just .222 without a single home run in 105 minor league plate appearances against lefties last season. Likewise, the 24.2% strike out rate and .197 batting average he displayed after his call-up would have been amongst the worse in all of baseball had he qualified. But, thanks to his power and an already incredibly advanced approach at the plate (his 20% walk rate would have been second to only Juan Freaking Soto), he proved to be an above average offensive performer last September despite those deficiencies, putting up a 113 OPS+ with 5 homers. The potential is there and he knows it.
We’ve seen exciting first-year players plenty of times before (though it’s been a while for Sox fans). But we really haven’t seen an exciting first-year player with the personality and drive for fame that Casas has. He’s not just an important part of the core of the next great Red Sox team — he may be the key to jolting the whole organization out of the static, middle-aged malaise that seems to have settled over it in the post-Mookie era.
He’s new and different, and there isn’t much in life that’s better than that.
Triston Casas Star Potential Excitement Score: 7 Doug Mirabelli Police Escorts To Fenway Out Of 10