Jarren Duran arrived at spring training this season with a new batting approach that showed immediate results. However, he lost some momentum after leaving camp for the World Baseball Classic and found himself starting the year with the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate Worcester.
Since being called up on Patriots' Day, Jarren Duran has been spectacular. Interestingly, Duran's production has mainly come from the bottom of the batting order. Entering Friday night, 38 of his 40 plate appearances occurred batting 7, 8, or 9th in the lineup. Given his production, should the Red Sox move Duran up in the lineup?
The biggest argument for moving Duran up in the batting order has been his gaudy production. Entering Friday night's series opener against the Cleveland Guardians, Duran was batting .400 with a 1.054 OPS, six extra-base, ten RBI, and two stolen bases. He followed this up Friday night by notching three doubles in his four at-bats. He has recorded a hit in 9 of 11 games since his call-up. After Friday night, he has a .455 OBP. With these numbers, Duran would be a dynamic force at the top of the lineup.
Duran's speed is also a unique skill he provides the Red Sox. It is a weapon that puts pressure on opposing defenses. Duran can stretch routine singles into doubles or take the extra base while running the basepaths. This creates more RBI opportunities for the heart of the order. With the new rules, there has been a return to the importance of the stolen base. This is a facet of the game the Red Sox are lacking though.
The team has only 10 stolen bases on the season with Duran having two of those. At the front of this lineup, Duran's speed and power would be a table setter to create more opportunities for mashers like Yoshida, Turner, and Devers. Earlier success could provide more opportunities for early leads putting pressure on their opponents while lessening the pressure on our pitchers.
Why Red Sox should not to move Jarren Duran up in batting order
Despite his impressive start, there are several reasons to not move Duran up in the batting order. His competition is one of the main reasons. The top of the Red Sox batting order has been productive this season. For example, the leadoff position has collectively produced a .358 OBP with Alex Verdugo getting roughly 75% of the team's leadoff bats. Verdugo has batted .298 with a .842 OPS. Duran will need to earn a spot at the top of the lineup.
The top of the Red Sox lineup is also left-handed heavy with Verdugo, Yoshida, and Devers. Putting the lefthanded Duran in this mix would make the lineup even more lefthanded heavy and vulnerable. Lastly, Duran's numbers are impressive but this has only been ten games with 40 plate appearances. Alex Cora may want Duran to prove that he can maintain this success for a longer stretch. Remaining in the bottom part of the order would also keep the pressure off Duran as he tries to find sustained success at the major league level.
It remains to be seen whether Cora will move Duran up in the Red Sox batting order. However, if Duran continues his torrid start, Cora may not have a choice. Duran's combination of speed and slugging would provide the team with a formidable weapon at the top of the order. Red Sox fans may be entering the Summer of Duran.