Red Sox steal another Superman by signing Kevin Pillar to a 1-year deal
(Photo: Getty Images)
It’s (pretty much) official—the Boston Red Sox have Kevin Pillar on their team. Yes, after signing a 1-year deal with the Sox, Kevin Pillar, a.k.a. Superman, will call the outfield at Fenway Park his home. While Pillar doesn’t pose the offensive threat of some of the game’s best players, this deal has a good shot being the sneakiest move of this strange offseason.
When Pillar made his big league debut in 2013 against the Red Sox, he gave the world a sneak peek into what his career would be trademarked by. A highlight reel tattooed with all-time defensive gems, Pillar has consistently been one of the best defensive outfielders in our sport. Pillar projects to serve primarily as a fourth outfielder for the Red Sox if all goes according to plan, with the opportunity to pinch-hit, pinch-run, and provide astronomical value as a defensive replacement, all for a 1-year-deal that is expected to be cheap (I'm guessing in $3m-$4m range). He has played all three outfield positions in all types of ballparks at an elite level, using athleticism and gifted route efficiency to save runs for his team.
In a lineup that is lefty-dominant, Pillar’s right-handed bat is also far from laughable. While the surface-level career numbers are a bit drab on first look, he has the capability of getting on blue-hot streaks, which he most recently displayed in the second half of 2019, earning him a top-10 NL MVP vote while a member of the Giants.
Pillar also has seen success in the postseason in four different series and a wild card game while a member of the Blue Jays. In 80 career playoff plate appearances, he has a career .203/.250/.365 slash line, featuring 8 extra base hits. For comparison’s sake, Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers has a .227/.313/.341 slash line with 8 extra base hits in 99 career playoff plate appearances. I just picked a random player, okay? Completely arbitrary selection. Pillar is also a career .307 hitter at Fenway Park, .281 hitter against southpaws, and .290 pinch-hitter, all signs of an instant spark plug for an offense that needs multiple X-factors in 2020. If that wasn’t enough, his career spray chart as seen on Fenway Park is a pure treat for the eyes.
Graphic courtesy of Baseball Savant.
Pillar’s role on the Red Sox could not only vary during the course of the season but also keep every outfielder on the roster on their toes. With the Sox outfield previously consisting of three lefties and multiple question marks, Pillar can fill a need in the starting lineup of the Red Sox at any point, especially as a platoon option against lefty starters. We know he can hit it over the monster; can he also rob a home run over the monster?
Kevin Pillar is a perfect fit for the Red Sox and is set to be one of the several reasons the Red Sox could surprise the world in 2020. He’s always been that guy on a divisional rival that you hated facing but wanted on your team. In a possible scenario with Jackie Bradley Jr. playing CF while Kevin Pillar is at RF, we may very well see the two best defensive outfielders in all of baseball wearing the same uniform. If I may paraphrase Sacramento Kings announcer Grant Napear, "if you don’t like that, you don’t like Major League Baseball."