Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story reeled in American League Player of the Week honors Monday afternoon after his dominant week that helped guide the Sox to a 6-1 homestand and two series wins.
After a slow start to the year, the two-time All-Star found his groove, batting .360 (9 for 25) with 10 runs scored, a double, six home runs, 14 RBIs, five walks, two stolen bases and a 1.120 slugging percentage in seven games played. Story tied the Sox single-game homer record with three in a contest.
For the most part, good players eventually rise to the top. And Story, undoubtedly, earned some points with the Fenway crowd who showered him with boos earlier this month after a four-strikeout performance against the Angels.
But beyond that, if Story showed anything last week, it’s that he and the dimensions at Fenway are certainly a match for each other. Story is naturally a pull hitter. When he’s pulling the ball that’s when he’s at his best and most of Story’s power is to the pull-side.
Consider: Of Story’s 165 homers, 90 have come to the pull-side. In general, Story’s slugging percentage is .925 when he pulls the ball compared to .600 when he goes the other way. The ability to hit the ball the other way is a key attribute to have, no question. But it’s clear what makes Story who he is: his knack for slugging pitches into the left field seats.
His performance last week. Of his seven homers hit, five of them went to straightaway left field. The other was to left center, and one was to dead center field.
On his grand slam, Story hunched over when he saw the trajectory of the ball as he ran to first base. He said he was trying to “crouch” and make the ball go higher, sort of attempting to will it over the wall. He followed up by saying that he’s “still getting familiar with the monster.” The numbers, though, would beg to differ.
As it pertains to Story, the player and teammate, manager Alex Cora said that he’s beginning to find his role with the team. Story, who is naturally a quiet person, is now filling the role of being both an impactful player on the field and in the clubhouse.
“He’s been really good,” Cora said Sunday. “You can see in the meetings, you know, more vocal, you see him on the field talking to players and off the field and I think he’s been great doing what he did with them. The guys that have been here have done an amazing job of embracing him and now you can tell that he’s a part of it.”
The Red Sox were swept in a three-game series against the White Sox earlier this month, scoring just one over three games. Obviously, though, this is a different Red Sox ballclub. The Sox will have Nick Pivetta on the mound Tuesday against Dylan Cease. In his last start against the Red Sox, Cease allowed four hits and one run over five innings while striking out eight despite throwing 101 pitches. Cease has just three starts against the Red Sox and hasn’t pitched well. He has a career 7.30 ERA in 12 innings pitched. The Red Sox will have Rich Hill on the Hill and will draw Lucas Giolito, who has a 2.84 ERA in six starts (31 ⅔ innings pitched). Giolito currently has 44 strikeouts which marks his highest strikeout rate (12.5 batters per nine innings) of his career. Michael Wacha will make his second start Thursday against the White Sox since returning from the injured list with left intercostal tightness. The White Sox are to be determined. ... The White Sox are fresh off a series win against the Yankees and are a game above .500 (21-20). They are 6-4 in their last 10 games despite having a -22 run differential.