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Please Don’t Trade My Triston Away

By the numbers, Casas is getting better

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St. Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

I was alarmed to see a recent article that posited that the Red Sox might trade Triston Casas at the trade deadline. Chaim Bloom, don’t do this to me!

I’ll admit I’ve been extra jittery this week, watching and waiting for news of the missing submersible. [Note: the sad news came this morning as I finished writing this.] Also, I just wrapped up watching Succession and like, whoa. [No spoilers here, but how did I not know that there was a Wambsgans connection to the Red Sox?]

But this trade rumor has got me worried. Let’s start by stating the obvious: who knows what Bloom will do at the deadline? Buy…sell…sort of both, like last year? We’ll see what unfolds.

But Chaim, I’m asking you—please wait on this potential trade. Give the guy some more time. I’ve already written about how fun Triston is to watch. And yes, I’ll agree with anyone who thinks it’d be even more fun if he, say, struck out less (guess what—the numbers say he is, in fact, striking out less! More on the numbers in a bit), or got into a real groove, as he’s shown he can do in the minor leagues, as well as on the international Olympic stage. To recap his Olympic effort in Tokyo in 2020 (which I didn’t touch on at all earlier), he led the Games in RBIs and tied with two other players for most HR. All of that was good enough to earn him a spot on the All-Olympic Team at first base.

Okay, you might be asking, that was in 2020, the year of one anomaly after another, especially in baseball. What has he done for us lately?

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game Two
Triston celebrates a double against the Yankees on June 18.
Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Well, since I last wrote about him almost exactly a month ago, what he’s done is improved in nearly every offensive category (not counting some that you wouldn’t expect to change, like Sprint Speed, for example).

Here’s a snapshot of his stats on May 26 and here are his stats from June 22:

Graphic of improving Triston Casas offensive statistics.
Courtesy of Baseball Savant

We want to see more red than blue, and dark red instead of rose is even better. Let’s see, Average Exit Velocity has gone from pinky-rose to dark red. Yes! Maximum Exit Velocity, the same. Hard-hit Rate has gone from white to rose. Awesome.

Modest gains—but gains nevertheless—in Expected Slugging, Barrel Rate, Whiff Rate, Outs Above Average, and even Arm Strength. But probably my favorite area to look at is his continued strong performance in (and rising) Expected Weighted On-base Average (xwOBA). I like this stat because it attempts to valuate at-bats based on what is most likely to happen based on what the data says other similarly hit balls have done, rather than what actually occurred on the field, which we all know, can be pretty crazy sometimes. Sometimes a hard-hit ball is slammed directly into a fielder’s glove, for example, but what are the odds? Normally, that’s a screaming hit. Sometimes the weather plays a role. xwOBA offers a way to look at what the hitter is doing and remove factors he can’t influence, like lucky plays, or absolutely extraordinary defense. This is supposed to provide a truer measure of an at-bat and a player. It factors in Exit Velocity, Launch Angle and sometimes Sprint Speed.

Triston’s xwOBA has edged up into the 70th percentile. For all of 2023, it’s .347. Read it like a regular batting average, and hey—pretty good! And it’s moving in the right direction. His true batting average, by comparison, currently sits at .219, but even that has increased 38 points in less than a month. His OBP has increased each month of the season, from .283 in March-April to .403 in June.

His defense admittedly needs room and time to flourish, and some metrics say that he’s been the worst at his position across all of baseball. The crazy year that was 2020 deprived minor leaguers everywhere of development and all that goes with it. I’m all for allowing some of that to happen on the big-league field, since Triston has shown he’s ready in many ways, and the numbers support that. There is room to improve and I’m glad the Red Sox have developed a new program for him to apply to his field work.

But I think Triston’s development can, should, and hopefully will, happen here in Boston. Give him more time here.