Thursday, December 17, 2009

Next season's batting order

Well, that should just about do it.

The Red Sox have their Opening Day lineup.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (L)
Dustin Pedroia, 2B (R)
Victor Martinez, C (S)
Kevin Youkilis, 3B (R)
David Ortiz, DH (L)
Mike Cameron, LF (R)
J.D. Drew, RF (L)
Marco Scutaro, SS (R)
Casey Kotchman, 1B (L)

A couple of notes:
* J.D. Drew and David Ortiz aren't going to hit back-to-back in any lineup Terry Francona writes out. Francona makes a point of breaking up his lefties, especially his lefties in the middle of the batting order. Cameron is a natural fit in the No. 6 hole between Ortiz and Drew, and whether Ortiz or Drew hits fifth might be determined by how good each guy looks coming out of spring training.
* Barring any dramatic moves -- and the Red Sox appear to be out of the running for Adrian Beltre -- Casey Kotchman will open next season at first base for the Red Sox. Kotchman, who swings lefthanded, either would have to hit back-to-back with Drew at No. 7/8 in the batting order or with Jacoby Ellsbury at No. 9/1. A cursory look at each guy's career righty-lefty splits tells the story:

Drew: .925 OPS vs RHP/.804 OPS vs. LHP
Ellsbury: .764/.764
Kotchman: .751/.712
Ortiz: .964/.819

If an opponent is going to bring in a southpaw specialist to face back-to-back lefties in the Red Sox lineup, Francona would want him to do so against Kotchman and Ellsbury -- the two with the least dramatic platoon splits. Ellsbury actually has exactly the same OPS against lefties as he does against righties.

The bottom of the Red Sox lineup for much of last season usually consisted of Nick Green and Jason Varitek. Kotchman has shown flashes of being an on-base guy -- he OBP'ed .354 with the Atlanta Braves before he was traded and relegated to part-time duty -- and Scutaro always has been. The Red Sox might not lead the major leagues in home runs, but they certainly don't have any automatic outs in their lineup.

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