In Wednesday’s loss to the Brewers, the Pirates as a team had only five hits in the game. Michael Chavis collected two of them — despite entering the game in the eighth inning. Thanks to the pair of hits, Chavis improved his slash line to .500/.542/.773 (276 wRC+).
Chavis has gotten the bulk of his opportunities against left-handed pitching. Though he’s rarely getting at-bats against right-handers, Chavis is 4 for 5 with a double, a triple and two walks against righties this season. So, why isn’t he playing more?
Despite his strong start offensively, Chavis has collected only 24 plate appearances, the 10th most on the team. Additionally, 10 position players have appeared in more games than him. The sample size is small, but Chavis has been the Bucs most productive player in the early stages of the season.
Among the players who have received more playing time than him are Yoshi Tsutsugo (.521 OPS in 46 plate appearances), Ben Gamel (.611 OPS in 39 plate appearances), Kevin Newman (.623 OPS in 37 plate appearances) and Cole Tucker (.412 OPS in 34 plate appearances).
The thing about Chavis is that he is versatile enough to play the majority of games without unseating just one of the players listed above. In his career, he has played at first, second, third, left field and a few innings in right. It would be pretty easy to get him consistent playing time at various positions, enabling Derek Shelton to keep other players fresh.
Between the versatility and the production Chavis has enjoyed through the club’s first dozen games of the season, he should be playing more.
Chavis is seeing the ball better than he has in his career, striking out only two times in his 24 plate appearances. He’s already walked more than he did all of 2021, albeit just twice.
Could that be attributed to his current usage? Could be. But for now, Chavis has earned the benefit of the doubt and it’s time the Pirates think about playing their hottest hitter on a more consistent basis.
For a team that has manufactured just five runs over their last three games, the spark Chavis has provided sure could give the Bucs a boost to their lineup.