Red Sox lineup the best in baseball, per Buster Olney
ESPN reporter Buster Olney recently released his list of the top ten lineups in baseball and, lo and behold, the Red Sox ranked first. Boston’s offensive attack was uncharacteristically weak through the first few months of the 2014 season, but since then, the front office has gone on a quest to drastically improve their lineup. At the trade deadline, the Red Sox acquired Yoenis Cespedes (whom they later traded for Rick Porcello) and Allen Craig, then added Cuban defector Rusney Castillo shortly afterwards. That determination to improve the lineup continued into the offseason as the Red Sox signed big-name free agents Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, putting them in position as one of the most prolific lineups in baseball today.
Olney cites Boston’s depth as a key reason for his ranking as the Red Sox’ influx of young talent positions them well to battle injuries. Even after dealing Cespedes, the Red Sox are still in a position to trade one more outfielder (likely one of Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, or Shane Victorino) and they also have ample youth in the infield with prospects like Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero, and Travis Shaw potentially providing the first line of defense. Plus, Boston has baseball’s best catching prospect in Blake Swihart, who will likely join the major league team in the event of an injury to Christian Vazquez or Ryan Hanigan.
In addition to that depth, however, Boston also has an incredibly talented lineup. The middle of the lineup, featuring some combination of David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Mike Napoli represents four guys with plus power, an increasingly valuable trait in baseball today. The Red Sox lineup isn’t all power, though, as Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo can inject some speed onto the base paths.
In total, the Red Sox boast a lineup featuring great depth, power, and speed and it’s no wonder to see them at the top of Olney’s list. The only issue going into the season will be the starting pitching, but there’s a decent chance that that will work itself out as well. The Red Sox are in a fantastic position to contend next season and Olney’s list is just more validation of that.