Red Sox: Cora wants Bogaerts hitting behind Martinez
We are starting to get a picture of what the Opening Day lineup will be for the Boston Red Sox. Alex Cora recently stated that he likes the idea of Xander Bogaerts hitting behind J.D. Martinez.
Earlier in the off-season we heard Alex Cora state that Andrew Benintendi would lead off and Mookie Betts would bat second in the Boston Red Sox lineup in 2019. The rest of the lineup though was left for fans and media members to try to figure out.
Sunday Alex Cora gave us more insight into how he envisions his 2019 batting order. Benintendi is still hitting lead-off and Mookie is still batting second. In the article written by Sean McAdam of Boston Sports Journal, Cora states how he loves how Xander Bogaerts can put the ball in play.
"“That’s a given,” said Cora. “I love the fact that he puts the ball in play. We need somebody behind (Martinez) to put the ball in play, drive the ball. He hits with two strikes and in the spot where he hits behind J.D., there’s going to be a lot of traffic like last year.”"
At first, glance, because he can put the ball in play, batting third in the order, seems like a better option. Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts will get on base. They finished last year 3rd and 1st in the category. Having Bogaerts batting third can ensure the lineup will get to Martinez with more men on base.
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However, the more I think about it, hitting Xander behind J.D. either fourth or fifth will help extend the lineup and make teams regret trying to pitch around J.D. Martinez.
Alex Cora is willing to shuffle the lineup depending on the matchups, so the lineup won’t necessarily be the same day in and day out.
"“We’ll talk about it. The cool thing is, there’s going to be days when Mookie and J.D. are going to hit back-to-back and it’s going to be a little bit tougher (for opposing pitchers). They might pitch around (Betts), but the cool things is that Mookie doesn’t expand the zone and he’s still going to be the same guy, regardless. Maybe J.D. might benefit from having (Betts and Martinez) back-to-back. It will be interesting."
What I think we will see more times than not is J.D. Martinez batting cleanup and Xander batting fifth is Rafael Devers batting third. Cora asked Devers in the off-season if he would like to hit third in this lineup.
"“I said, ‘Would you like to hit third in this lineup?'” Cora asked. “That was in the off season. (Devers) said in Spanish, ‘There’s a lot of RBIs in between those two guys.'”"
The fact that Cora was asking Devers in the off-season about batting third tells me that Cora thinks Devers in primed for a big year. While Devers didn’t light the world on fire last year, he did show what he’s capable of giving a full year of experience. In 450 at-bats Devers hit 21 home runs mostly hitting in the six spot in the lineup.
At the age of 22, if Devers can keep improving, then the Red Sox have found a way to improve their lineup without adding any new hitters. Devers batting third and moving Mitch Moreland and or Steve Pearce from the three spot to the sixth spot in the lineup does make this lineup harder to pitch around which is the goal of any manager when writing up a lineup.
In an extremely small sample size of three games, Rafael Devers when hitting in front of J.D. Martinez, went 4/14 with 4 RBI’s and 2 home runs.
Rafael Devers might not seem like an ideal number three hitter but when you take into account his age, the production he has produced already, he actually is the best option to start the year hitting third in this talented lineup. Whichever way Alex Cora decides to go one thing is certain, he has an embarrassment of riches when crafting his lineup for 2019.