Entering this spring, the thought was that there would be several position battles all over the diamond that would make this an interesting spring. Some of these battles include the role of the fifth starter, starting shortstop, and right field. So far, the fifth starter is wide open, starting shortstop has essentially been settled with Mike Aviles– who is batting .259/.259/.407 with two doubles and three RBIs, and right field should be essentially closed. In the right field slot– Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross were thought to be competing. However, the competition has been weak to say the least. While Cody Ross is raking to a tune of .450/.500/.700 with two doubles, a home run, and four RBIs, Sweeney has been shaky at best with just a single in twelve at bats this spring. Also, the thought of a platoon with Sweeney a lefty and Ross a righty should also be thought of as useless as Sweeney is 0-9 against righties and Ross is 7-15 with all his extra base hits against righties, as well as 3-5 against lefties.
These stats essentially beg for Ross to start in right field to begin the season. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he is 6-15 in Jet Blue Park– an exact replica of Fenway. And those stats at home are not luck for Ross– a dead pull hitter. After playing in the NL West for the past year and a half, Ross has been out of touch with the true hitter’s parks in the AL East– such as Yankee Stadium, Rogers Centre, and the one he’ll play half his games in– Fenway Park. In fact, after looking at spray charts for every park Ross played in last year, and converting them into Fenway– I calculated that Ross would have hit seven more home runs than he did, giving him 21 home runs– not to mention numerous doubles. Because almost all of his good hits are to left field (all but one of his home runs in 2011), Ross should pepper the Green Monster quite regularly with power and bring some punch to the bottom of the order.
I think that Ross’s performance in 2012 could be an X-factor to the Red Sox’ performance. With a mix of J.D. Drew, Josh Reddick, and Darnell McDonald– the Red Sox had the worst right field production in the majors last season. It’s not ridiculous to think if the Sox had somebody like Ross in right, they may have made the playoffs. If Ross performs the way he is able and Carl Crawford rebounds, the Red Sox could very well have the best outfield in major league baseball and even though spring training stats don’t matter a whole lot, it’s nice to see Ross playing as he is. However, if he can put up a .260/.350/.450 slash line– which is well within his reach– the Red Sox could hit him #7 behind Carl Crawford and if Crawford rebounds and the guys in front of Ross do as expected, it’s not out of the question that he could reach 80+ RBIs. Also, if nothing else, Ross is a great presence in the clubhouse and brings a World Series acumen to the table. I’d really like to see Cody Ross outperform all expectations and with that Green Monster in left field, it’s a definite possibility.