3 hitters who can bring much-needed power to Red Sox lineup in 2023
The Boston Red Sox have overhauled their lineup for the 2023 season. While there are some exciting new additions to look forward to watching this year, we're left to wonder where the power production will come from in this revamped offense.
Power (or lack thereof) was a problem for the Red Sox in 2022
The Red Sox were below average in the power department last season, ranking 20th in the majors with 155 home runs and 17th with a .152 ISO, per FanGraphs. Spending half their games in the friendly confines of Fenway Park helped maintain their tradition of leading the majors in doubles and boosted their slugging percentage to a respectable .409, which ranked 9th in the majors.
Boston was starved for the long ball though. Rafael Devers led the team with 27 home runs but he was the only one who cracked 20. Trevor Story tied for second on the team with 16 despite being limited to 94 games by two separate stints on the injured list. Story could add some pop to the lineup for the stretch run but he's expected to miss most of this season recovering from elbow surgery. J.D. Martinez (16 home runs) and Xander Bogaerts (15) bolted in free agency over the winter.
That's three of the top four home run hitters from last year's lineup who we can't count on to be among the team leaders this season. How will a club that was already struggling in this department make up for those loses?
Justin Turner should sufficiently replace Martinez in the designated hitter role. His 116 OPS+ last season was nearly identical to Martinez's (117). The power is beginning to fade for the 38-year-old though. Turner's 13 home runs last season represented his lowest total in a full season since 2014. Turner can still hit and should rack up plenty of doubles at Fenway but the Red Sox aren't counting on him to be a home run threat.
Masataka Yoshida has a reputation for being an excellent contact hitter but it remains to be seen if the home run power he displayed in Japan will translate to MLB. Yoshida has shown an impressive ability to hit the ball hard to all fields even if none of those balls cleared the fence during his brief time in camp before departing to join Japan for the World Baseball Classic. The Red Sox are optimistic about what Yoshida's bat can bring to the lineup but it would be premature to expect him to be among the top power threats.
While the pair of high-profile newcomers might only provide modest power, the Red Sox have a few hitters who should deliver in the middle of the lineup.