Red Sox shuffle batting order, move Mookie Betts to lead-off spot
By Sean Penney
Looking to spark a stagnant offense, the Boston Red Sox have shuffled the lineup to rearrange where their stars fit at the top of the order.
The Boston Red Sox are using a lineup that we haven’t seen this season, yet one that in ways looks oddly familiar.
Changes start at the top, with Mookie Betts moving into the lead-off spot that he occupied for the majority of last season. The Red Sox pushed their All-Star outfielder to the middle of the order late last season to take advantage of his blossoming power. We haven’t seen that home run stroke this year, with only two homers and 10 extra-base hits on the season.
Dustin Pedroia goes back to the No. 2 hole, where he thrived for years in the Red Sox lineup. The veteran second baseman took over the lead-off spot last year to accommodate moving Betts to the middle of the order and he responded by hitting a blistering .362 over 47 games in that role. The results haven’t been nearly as promising this season, as Pedroia struggled to the tune of a .232 average in 18 games hitting at the top of the lineup.
They will be followed by Xander Bogaerts, who returns to the third spot in the order where he spent the bulk of his time last season. The 24-year old shortstop has been moved all over the lineup this season, being used in five different spots – including at the top and bottom of the order. His .325 average leads all qualified hitters on the team, so if the Red Sox can get some runners on base ahead of him then Bogaerts can be counted on to deliver a hit to drive them in.
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The hope is that putting these hitters in familiar spots in the batting order will help spark a sputtering offense. While they are all having decent years at the plate, each has been a bit below expectations and the offense as a whole has been a disappointment. Boston enters the day 13th in the American League in runs scored and last in home runs.
The new lineup also features the team’s top power hitters back-to-back in the middle of the order. Andrew Benintendi gets his first crack at the cleanup spot and he’ll be protected by Hanley Ramirez behind him. Ramirez leads the team with five home runs this season and Benintendi is right on his heels after blasting his fourth Friday night. The rookie also has a team-high 16 RBI, while Ramirez is second on the team with 14.
The lineup is still obviously missing the retired David Ortiz, which remains the most significant difference from last year’s major league leading offense. The loss of one man – not even Big Papi – can account for such a drastic dip in production across the lineup.
There’s still enough talent on this roster for the Red Sox to have one of the top run scoring teams in the league. Manager John Farrell had to try something to mix things up looking to ignite a dormant lineup.
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Will these new changes make a difference? We’ll find out when the new-look lineup is tested this afternoon against the Minnesota Twins.