Finishing second in the batting title race with a .320 average would suggest that Bogaerts should be hitting in one of the top three lineup spots, but a high batting average being vital for those hitting high in the order is a bit of a misconception. The key for those at the top of the lineup is to get on base. Bogaerts is certainly capable of that, but the amount of walks Ortiz draws (77 last year, 6th most in the league) resulted in a team-high .360 OBP.
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One benefit of having Ortiz hit third is that pitchers may be less eager to give Big Papi a free pass with Bogaerts looming. The young shortstop may not be a major threat to hit one out of the park, but he’s about as good as it gets when it comes to slapping a base hit to the opposite field to move runners along. The Red Sox will certainly be pleased if the end result of hitting Ortiz third is that he gets more pitches to hit.
Even if Bogaerts doesn’t have the home run power that a slugger like Ortiz has, he still hits for extra-bases. Last year his 35 doubles tied for 12th most in the league and he also added 3 triples. Hitting cleanup isn’t just about smashing home runs, it’s about driving in runners that get on base. Bogaerts hit .331 with runners in scoring position last year, which trailed only lead-off hitter Mookie Betts among Red Sox hitters that saw at least 70 at-bats in that situation.
Next: More power on the horizon