Who will bat leadoff for the Red Sox?

 

Ah, one of my favorite rituals of spring training is figuring out the opening day lineups. I've already noted that I expect more injuries this year to the lineup, but here's what we have.

 

With Ellsbury out, the Sox will most certainly platoon the leadoff spot, so I have two lineups here. Also, I'm assuming Stephen Drew goes to the Mets. The Mets are desperate for a SS, and just don't see that desperation for the local nine.

 

Vs. Left Handers

 

1. Shane Victorino (S)/(RF)

With a get on base at all costs attitude, and a .380 OBP against lefties over the last two years, expect Shane to get the Sox off to a good start.

2. Dustin Pedroia (R)/(2B)

Always like Dustin in the #2 hole.

3. David Ortiz (L) / (DH)

Those who follow the blog know I like to put the best hitter in the 3 spot. The guy who batted .688 in the world series and had a 1.206 OPS in one of the best pitched post-seasons I've ever witnessed? He's your best. Do I expect some fall off this year? An epic slump or two? Yes. But the Sox will deal with that when it happens and not before.

4. Mike Napoli (R)/ (1B)

Among the league leaders in pitches seen, with plenty of thump to protect Ortiz.

Spring Training is almost here!  Now if only Spring

would get here.....

5. Jonny Gomes (R) / (LF)

Gomes, offensively, had an fairly unremarkable offensive regular season last year, even if he did have the knack for the big hit. He did, however, hit just as well against lefties and righties, but historically he bashes lefties much more consistantly.

6. A.J. Pierzynski (L)/ (C)

Too many right handers! Gotta put A.J. Here.

7. Xander Boegarts (R) /(SS)

Boegarts is down at #7, where he gets the nod over Middlebrooks (I expect him to get a higher OBP even in his rookie season). The big question? Will he hit so well it's hard to keep him here? Realistically, he could only move up because of injury, but I was truly floored by his command of the strike zone and can't wait to see his AB's this year. I'm not going to say "star" or "core player" just yet, but the kid OOZES potential.

8. Will Middlebrooks (R) / (3B)

If Will gets hot, fixes the holes in his swing, he'll jump up and hit #5 or #6. Even money on that, but if he's hitting you can't leave his power in the #8 spot for long. Last year though, when dropped down in the second half, Middlebrooks hit much, much better.

9. Jackie Bradley, Jr. (L) /(CF)

Ellsbury's replacement he is not, but he is a talented rookie how is the perfect fit in the #9 spot. You could switch JBJ and Middlebrooks, but I think it would be done this way.

 

Vs. Right Handers

 

1. Daniel Nava (S)/(LF)

A ridonkulous .894 OPS against righties last season, with a .411 OBP. Not sure if he can do that again, but the spot is his to lose against righties. Amazing he's going to sit on the bench for half the games.

2. Shane Victorino  (S)/(RF) 

The Sox used Shane in the #2 hole extensively last year, and it was a really good success.  It moves Ortiz out of the 3 hole, but he gets to bat clean up against righties, and that is not so bad.

3. Dustin Pedroia (R)/(2B) 

4. David Ortiz (L) / (DH) 

5. Mike Napoli (R)/ (1B)  

6. A.J. Pierzynski (L)/ (C)

He should be good for 15 homers this year at Fenway, bats lefty, and hits lefties and righties equally, so # 6 can be his spot for now.

If Ross is catching. Ross, not mentioned in the lineups, could probably bat #8, but I think he'll be in the #9 spot, because of all the righties down there.  You might see Shane drop down moving up 3,4, and 5, and then 5. Middlebrooks (r) 6. Victorino (s)  7. Boegarts(r) 8. JBJ (l) 9. Ross (r), . Shane deserves to bat higher than Will, but the L/R is tricky to manage at the moment.  Ross has enough thump to bat 8th, but I have to think avoiding 3 righties in a row will be on Farrell's mind.

7. Xander Boegarts (R) /(SS)

8. Will Middlebrooks (R) / (3B)

Will probably stays in the #8 spot against right handers, where he struggles more.

9. Jackie Bradley, Jr. (L) /(CF)

Certainly worth noting here that if JBJ gets off to a good start, he is also a candidate for moving up in the order.  It would have to be pretty substantial though, because his natural "switchmate" is Victorino, and you're not going to have Victorino hitting 9th unless he's hurt or JBJ is really coming into his own.

 

It's worth noting, that with Nava and Gomes platooning, and Mike Carp still on the team, Farrell could be less concerned about stacking the bottom of the lineup with righties when it's healthy.  If any other team tries to take advantage of a run of righties with the bullpen, he's got the bench to deal with it.  He did this a lot last year - and I expect quite a bit of that this year too.  While many of the Sox are very good players, you have 4 young and/or not necessarily established players (Nava, Middlebrooks, JBJ, Boegarts), and 3 team first guys in Victorino, Gomes, Pierzynski.  What that basically means is that Pedroia, Ortiz and Napoli will stay in their spots, but everyone else can be moved around if need be - and no one is going to complain much, if at all.  A manager's dream from that perspective.