One of the major story lines of the 2016 Spring Training preseason for the Red Sox was the continued under-performance of incumbent third baseman Pablo Sandoval. As it turns out, the reason for Sandoval's poor performance could well be the after-effects of an injury recently discovered, as reported by Fox Sports. This could mean that the former San Francisco Giant All-Star could be out for quite some time. This is good news for Shaw, who is living up to his starting position at third base, while spelling at first base for Hanley Ramirez on occasion.
While Travis Shaw began his MLB career as a first baseman, he's been flashing the leather at third base to begin 2016. According to Shaw's player page on FanGraphs, he played league-average defense at first base in 2015, but has already 3 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at third in only 78 innings played at the position! He also has credit for 1 Defensive Run Saved at first base. Clearly, his defense is an asset. This is in stark contrast to the-11 Defensive Runs saved that Pablo Sandoval recorded in 123 games for 2015.
Beyond just defense, the advanced statistical metrics are a fan overall of Shaw's 2016 performance so far. Baseball-Reference has Shaw's work so far being worth 1.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Keep in mind that an average Major League starting position player accrues about 2 WAR in a season. Shaw has provided that much value in just a dozen games. In fact, 1.1 WAR is the same number that Shaw accrued in all of 2015. While the projection systems ZiPS and Steamer don't see him keeping up this pace. Taking into consideration his work so far, they still see him as a roughly league-average player with a projection of an averaged 1.6 WAR in 120 games (thanks to FanGraphs Depth Charts for this info!)
Clearly, Travis Shaw has earned a place in the Major Leagues with the Red Sox. Some very difficult decisions will have to be made when Pablo Sandoval is ready to return to play, as Shaw clearly appears to be the better ballplayer at this point.