Indeed, that headline is not a lie. I have three things to say about Tyler Saladino at this given moment.
No. 1: The play he made on Chris Denorfia in the second inning of Saturday night's game was something else.
Just look at it.
That play came immediately after a remarkable stationary throw across the diamond, so he wasted no time one-upping himself.
No. 2: He finally hit a double.
It took 136 plate appearances, but he finally recorded his first double by raking a hanging Jake Arrieta curveball into the left-field corner. I had been keeping an eye on that column, although not because it's rare to go that long without a double. While Saladino didn't hit his first two-bagger until his 30th game, Juan Pierre needed 32 games to run into his first back in 2010.
No, what was unusual about Saladino's situation is that he had five extra-base hits before his first double (three homers, two triples). Going through Play Index, I can only find four other Sox that had at least five extra-base hits before their first double.
- Sam Mele (five homers, one triple over 97 PA in 1952)
- Norm Cash (four homers, one triple over 138 PA from 1958 to 1959)
- Luis Terrero (five homers over 115 PA in 2007)
- Blondy Ryan (one homer, four triples over 95 PA in 1930)
Oddly enough, this is the same foursome that is my answer to the question, "Who would you invite to a dinner party?"
No. 3: He should not be hitting second.
I'm burying the lede here to minimize the monotony of repeating myself about this topic, but ... yep. There's really no reason why Robin Ventura should keep batting Saladino second. It should have stopped a while ago. The novelty has worn off. He's hitting .218/.218/.291 with zero walks and 13 strikeouts in August, which is quite problematic for the guy hitting in front of Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera.
The events of the day keep hammering the point home. In each of the last three games, Saladino's been the guy at the plate in key late-inning situations, unable to extend the game to the Sox' best hitter, who is standing helplessly in the on-deck circle.
- Saturday: He struck out to end the game.
- Friday: He struck out with the tying run on second (and the go-ahead run on first) in the eighth inning.
- Thursday: With runners on the corners in the 12th inning, he tried bunting the winning run home. He made the third out instead.
Saladino is now 0-for-22 in high-leverage situations. And while .000 is unlucky, the odds are naturally stacked against him, especially since he's often facing the other teams' best right-handed relievers. Saladino just isn't qualified for that spot behind Adam Eaton. Really, only Abreu and Cabrera can say they're regularly up to the challenge. When Ventura bats somebody else second, he's doing the opponent a favor, and when he slots Saladino there, that's a huge solid.