As soon as the first pitch is thrown on April 3, the Boston Red Sox will need to start answering a few questions. Can Pablo Sandoval control his weight? Can the pitching staff get and stay healthy? However, what may be the most important question won’t be answered on the field. Boston has a gaping hole to fill, but that hole resides in the clubhouse. When David Ortiz retired, he left behind a huge leadership void. He was the heart and soul of the team, the rallying point. Without him, the Red Sox leadership will have to come from someone else.
The Red Sox Leadership Question
Replacing a personality like Ortiz, however, would be a daunting task for any one person. Instead, a few individuals will likely have to step up. Fortunately, the Red Sox already have at least three candidates who could do just that.
The veteran second baseman is the most obvious focal point for the other players to turn to. With Ortiz gone, Pedroia is now the elder statesman, the longest-tenured member of the team. Over his career, Pedroia has been known as much for his toughness as for his excellent bat and glove. He plays through injuries as often as anyone, and more than most. When he can’t play through an ailment, he works tirelessly to get back on the field.
Pedroia is a perfect example of grit and of the right way to play the game, which could be of great importance to a team featuring so many young stars. He’s the standard for effort and for how to work through rough periods. Off the field, away from the cameras, he’ll set the tone.
One of Ortiz’s closest friends, Ramirez could replace Ortiz as the designated hitter and as the rallying point. Last season, Ramirez became known for his defiance (in a good way). At the start, he set out to prove to fans that his play in 2015 didn’t represent him as a player. He did that. When he slumped and the media started to turn on him, he seemed to revel in heating up and proving the doubters wrong. That defiance could prove invaluable, should the team or any individual player go through protracted downturns. Ramirez is also known for his playful, fun-loving personality. He’ll help keep things light when the weight of the long season starts to get to the team.
A young superstar on a team filled with exciting young talents, Betts will have to step up when called on. Though just 24 years old, Betts is already being talked about as a perennial MVP candidate, in the likeness of Mike Trout.
With great fame comes great responsibility, however. Betts is the centerpiece of the Red Sox youthful core. He could be the leader that the others relate to. As the future face of the team, its time for Betts to take his place at its head. He already seems like the natural successor to Ortiz. He even got into a sort of pseudo home run race with the Large Father last season. Ortiz won, of course, but Betts gave him a run for his money. Betts has the talent and the personality assume the Red Sox leadership role. With Ortiz gone, it might be his time.