Prodigious is one of those adjectives not heard often in baseball unless it’s preceding a certain specific word: power.
The definition of prodigious: remarkably or impressively great in extent, size, or degree.
Used correctly in a sentence: Holy cow, this kid Michael Chavis has prodigious power. And does he ever keep on showing it.
The Red Sox’ slugging rookie Chavis hit two more home runs Saturday night in the Red Sox’ 15-2 rout of the White Sox.
The first, a a solo homer off beleaguered White Sox starter Manny Banuelos, immediately followed a Xander Bogaerts homer during the nine-run third inning, all the runs and 10 consecutive hits coming with two outs.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of an inning like that in pro ball,’’ he said. “That was wild.”
His second homer, another solo shot, came in the fifth off reliever Josh Osich. Chavis finished 4 for 6, with three RBIs and three runs.
Since the Red Sox recalled the 23-year-old third-baseman-by-trade and second-baseman-by-necessity from Pawtucket April 19, he has hit six home runs in his first 58 plate appearances and 48 at-bats over 14 games.
Three of the homers have come in the last two days against the White Sox.
“Honestly, I didn’t swing the first night [in this series, a 6-4 loss Thursday],’’ said the affable Chavis. “I was a little uncomfortable. I had become too focused on the results.
“I had some success early on [after getting called up], and I got caught up in trying to make the success happen instead of staying focused on the process that led to success . . . These past few days I’ve gotten back to that and I feel a lot better.”
Not to draw a direct comparison or suggest a similar career path, but his power surge is reminiscent of Phil Plantier’s torrid streak at the end of the 1991 season, when the touted rookie outfielder hit six home runs over his final 48 at-bats and 54 plate appearances.
Of Chavis’s six homers, there hasn’t been a cheapie in the bunch. Saturday night’s homers, his second and third of this series, were measured at 419 and 438 feet.
Those six home runs have traveled a total of 2,572 feet, almost a half-mile, for an average of 428.66. His shortest home run covered 374 feet, which is still a good poke.
His two-run home run in the sixth inning Friday night against White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez traveled 459 feet, the longest by a Red Sox batter this season.
The previous longest? Actually, it was a tie at 441 feet between Chavis’s first major league home run off Detroit’s Victor Alcantara in the second game of a Fenway doubleheader April 23 (that one was majestic enough to fit in on a Manny Ramirez highlight film) and his blast April 28 off the Rays’ Tyler Glasnow.
Friday’s homer was the fourth longest by a Red Sox hitter since Statcast began tracking such data in 2015.
In a lineup that features elite hitters such as Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, it’s a guy who has been here for little more than two weeks that has produced the three longest homers of the Red Sox season.
He’s now tied with Betts for second on the Red Sox in home runs (6), trailing only Mitch Moreland (9). That’s one way to make friends in a hurry, though Chavis said he feels fortunate that he’s been welcomed from the get-go.
“I can’t say enough about the guys in the clubhouse,’’ said Chavis, a first-round pick in 2014 who entered the season ranked the organization’s No. 2 prospect by Baseball America.
“I’m not saying that because it’s cliché. They’ve done everything they can to make me comfortable. Mookie, J.D., [Steve] Pearce, everyone in the clubhouse has been teaching me and taking me under their wing and showing me how things are.”
The Red Sox brought up Chavis, who it should be noted served an 80-game suspension last season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, in part because of attrition.
The team’s assortment of second basemen — Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, and Dustin Pedroia — were all injured. Utility man Tzu-Wei Lin, who is now dealing with a sprained knee, was called up the same day as Chavis.
Chavis had played just 12 games at Pawtucket — five at second base, where he was a novice — when he was recalled. Injuries helped create his opportunity, but so did his own performance.
He was hitting with the PawSox (four homers in 48 plate appearances), and he hasn’t stopped since arriving in Boston. He raised his average from .310 to .354 Saturday night.
His offense has more than made up for the occasional defensive shortcomings, especially compared with those who have also had a turn at second base this season.
Nunez, Pedroia, Holt, and Lin entered Saturday’s game having batted .140 with a .196 on-base percentage and .170 slugging percentage in a combined 100 at-bats this season.
Holt is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Pedroia is with Double A Portland trying to find the truth about what he has left to give and how often he can give it.
Nunez, who came off the injured list and started at second base, did hit the first homer of the season among the quartet Saturday night, the Red Sox’ third home run in the nine-run third.
Chavis started at first base Saturday night, batting fifth in the order. Manager Alex Cora made it clear, even before Chavis’s latest star turn Saturday night, that the rookie will get regular at-bats even if it means playing in something of a super-utility role.
“We see what Michael is doing offensively, so we’ll find ways for him to get at-bats,’’ said Cora. “DH, playing second, playing third, playing first, we’ll find ways for him to get into the lineup. He’s doing an outstanding job.”
When you have prodigious power and know how to use it, it doesn’t much matter where you play. Right now, Chavis’s kind of power plays anywhere.