The Red Sox were lost a few weeks ago, and no one could find Trevor Story, the Rockies’ free agent shortstop who had become a $140 million second baseman (over six years) at Fenway Park. A team that was less than two World Series wins away last October found itself bottom of the AL East with a 10-19 record.
Even after the Red Sox finally showed some life and combat by winning back-to-back series against the Rangers and Astros, Story was still hitting just .205 and hitting .293 with a paltry .320 OPS.
Then that all changed last week against the Mariners, when Story played the second three-home run game of his career at the start of a four-game sweep against Seattle that appears to have turned the Red Sox’s season upside down. Four hits in all that night, seven RBIs. Before long, Story was American League Player of the Week due to a .360/.452/1.120 slant line, and had reminded everyone how quickly things can still change in baseball for a player and for his team.
Tuesday night against the White Sox, Story hit another three-run homer, this one in the first inning of what turned into a 16-3 loss that took the Red Sox record to 20-22. . Obviously, just about everyone but Grandpa Ortiz has started hitting for the Red Sox lately. But everything seemed to be organized around what quickly became such an amazing story: that of Trevor Story.
Right now, he’s the most dangerous .231 hitter in the entire sport, as the Red Sox look like the hottest team in the league. The story counts up to eight home runs and 33 RBIs and 23 runs scored. When people wondered how much he missed Coors Field, he did what the Red Sox asked him to do: make his new baseball field as friendly as his old one.
“I said [Story] a few weeks ago… we trust you,” Red Sox coach Alex Cora said the other day. “He’s playing for free and that’s something I told him during the recruiting process. You know, adding one more athlete to the roster is going to help us.
Not only did Story remind everyone beyond Red Sox fans of the way he was still hitting for his old team, it simultaneously reminded us that sometimes, moving to a new team, a new city, a new position, a new fan base – and even higher expectations than ever – isn’t as easy as simply putting on a new uniform.
We reviewed everything. And he finally heard it at Fenway after the White Sox completed a three-game sweep against the Sox. It was the low point for them, and for Story. He has struck six times in this series, three in the last game. After the last one, the boos for him, from the local crowd, were as loud as they had been. After that game, he was unavailable to the media, in the same way that his bat – his average was .194 after his last strikeout – had been largely unavailable for his new team in April and now May. .
But in Game 1 of another series against Chicago, no one was having fun throwing at his team, and no one was having fun throwing at all at Trevor Story, who not only reminded people of how he can hit, but has shown how he reacted to be knocked down, and knocked down.
Rockies manager Bud Black, the former skipper of Story whose own side came 20-22 on Tuesday night, said he was never worried about Story changing things.
Black: “He always cared about all the good things. His team, his teammates and his respect for the game. He still has as much capacity for work as any player I have worked with.
So Story managed to get out of the hole he dug himself in the first month of the season, and the hard work really started to pay off in that 6-1 homestand the Red Sox just finished. Then came that three-home run game against Seattle, it was like the lights all came on for him at once. Again: He’s the hitter the Sox thought they would get, the one whose presence in Cora’s batting order would make up for the right-handed bat the Red Sox lost to Hunter Renfroe (31 homers for Renfroe last season, 96 points produced).
Here’s something Cora said in Chicago after Story got deep again:
“He’s doing an amazing job doing damage in the area.”
Is it ever. Story is now up to 18 for 76 in May, and that includes its slow start to the month. He’s now hit eight homers in his last 12 games. There are much bigger batting averages ahead of him in the Sox roster. Rafael Devers, one of the best clean hitters on the planet, is at .337. Xander Bogaerts is .323. JD Martinez had four more hits on Tuesday and is at .366.
But the way the Sox have exploded, just over the past week, seems to have been sparked by the new guy hitting behind them all. A story.