Triston Casas reflects on the last year
It was announced prior to the Red Sox' series-opener against the Rangers that Triston Casas' first full major league season was likely over. It just wasn't worth pushing the injured shoulder that had put him on the injured list.
It's time to reflect. And the best quote to use as a jumping off point was the one he gave the 'Baseball Isn't Boring' podcast recently.
"Having the opportunity to fail as much as I did helped, I think," Casas said. "But with that opportunity I think I would say if you have a bad at-bat, if you have a bad game, if you have a bad week, just turn the page, try to come back the next day and fix whatever you did wrong and just constantly keep getting better and not focus on how many hits you get that day, but making sure you win the day."
It seems so simple, but so many times it is anything but. That is certainly must have been how it felt when Casas was hitting under .200 well into June.
But as his 2023 story came to a close, the first baseman accomplished the one thing the Red Sox have been starving for: Casas is actually a certified building block.
The gradual climb to this point - which lands Casas with an .857 OPS, 24 home runs and a .260 batting average - was always a good story. Any time you can draw comparisons to the likes of Dustin Pedroia's 2007 Rookie of the Year campaign, it's going to allow for eyebrow-raising.
Dustin Pedroia weighs in on Triston Casas
But what Casas has come to represent means more than any home run total. (Disclaimer: It would have delicious if he hit one more, paying off on a bet with Joe Castiglione who agreed to let Casas paint his nails if the rookie totaled 25 homers.)
In this season starved for meaningful stories, Casas might have been the most important one of them all.
A case can certainly be made for the evolution of Brayan Bello as the Sox' most important development. And knowing the likes of Masa Yoshida, Josh Winckowski, Jarren Duran and Connor Wong can seemingly function consistently on a high level is notable.
But what Casas has landed at feels more impactful than anything else.
He is a bonafide, no-doubt-about-it cleanup hitter who comes with one of the best batting eyes Boston has claimed since Kyle Schwarber. The Red Sox went from 21st in OPS at first base in 2022 (.683) to fourth overall with an .860 OPS at the position. It's the best production at the position for the Sox in a full season since 2011.
There is also the mindset.
While there are some unexpected twists and turns when it comes to Casas' approach, the defining aspect of the whole equation is that he is laser focused being a major league star. That was a reality hatched in spring training and never wavered throughout his ascension up the statistical charts.
In short, Casas has made it one less thing the Red Sox have to worry about heading into 2024. And for this group, that is gold.
"To see what he is doing is outstanding. It’s great," Pedroia said. "I think he has realized now the game is not about … I haven’t talked to him … but the game at that level is not about you doing certain things before the game, you have to do this, you have to do that. The game is about adjustments and being able to adjust to the other team making adjustments to you. And the faster you make adjustments, the better player you’re going to be. Now I see him from watching the game making adjustments, not only game to game but pitch to pitch and that’s what makes a good hitter. If you can make adjustments pitch to pitch you’re an elite baseball player at the major league level. If you can make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat, you’re a good major league player. That’s the difference. You make adjustments week to week? Guess what? You’re a below average major league levels. The game is about adjustments and how you can adjust to the people making the adjustments to you. That’s the game. Because everyone has talent. You see all the pitchers. They’re all throwing hard. They’re all locating. Everybody has got everything and everybody knows everything about everybody. It’s how you’re going to respond to how they know you is what is going to make you what type of player you’re going to be."
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