If 2018 is any indication, the Boston Red Sox are set for another dominant regular season and deep postseason run in 2019. After leading the league in hits, runs, doubles, total bases, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, and extra-base hits, it’s safe to say Red Sox Nation should be optimistic.
What’s Next for the Red Sox Offense?
The new campaign is right around the corner and many within the Red Sox scope are wondering the same thing: what’s next? Beyond losing Ian Kinsler to free agency, the lineup looks nearly identical to the 2018 season. It would make the most sense to keep things the same, right? If it isn’t broken, why fix it? Why even talk about it? Because Spring Training is still a month away, and new storylines are fun for the restless mind of a baseball junkie.
There are a plethora of narratives within the Red Sox lineup that could be speculated over. However, at least for today, we will keep our sights set on the top of the order.
The typical 2018 lineup featured (in order) Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Rafael Devers, Christian Vásquez, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Because manager Alex Cora utilized the bench players frequently, changes like Steve Pearce subbing in for Moreland at first and take the three-hole while moving J.D. Martinez to clean-up occurred almost every game. We can expect the same changes from Cora in 2019, especially at the dawn of the season’s opening.
The start of the season is where fans will see new revelations start to unfold. Revelations like Benintendi becoming Boston’s new lead-off hitter.
Andrew Benintendi Should Be Used as a Lead-Off Hitter
To be clear, keeping Betts as the lead-off hitter is the most likely outcome in this conversation. But there are reasons to believe Benintendi would be a great representative to lead off the Sox lineup.
Benintendi has played a majority of his Red Sox career hitting as the second batter in the lineup. In this time, he hosts a .278 batting average and .352 on-base percentage through 186 games. As the No. 2 hitter, you need to be consistent and find ways to get on base for the all-power three-hole or cleanup hitter to knock you back home. It worked for Boston in 2018. However, Benintendi posted a .322 batting average, .381 on-base percentage, and .979 slugging percentage in 21 games as the lead-off hitter.
If looking at the top of the lineup, fans need to remember who Betts is as a batter. Betts carries a .300+ batting average and .360+ on-base percentage when he’s batting as a lead-off or second batter. This man brings run support like it’s going out of style and consistently finds ways to get on base. Need more evidence? His slash line was a pristine .346/.438/.640, including an OPS of 1.078.
If Benintendi gets on base consistently as the lead-off hitter, there’s a pretty high chance either Betts, Pearce, or Martinez are going to knock him and themselves back home.
Benintendi as the lead-off hitter might be perceived as a far-fetched idea, but this is an examination for more ways to improve Boston’s staggering 5.45 runs per game that they notched in 2018. Moving Benintendi to lead-off could be the root of even more production.
Alex Cora is a man who loves creativity and spontaneity within his starting lineup and we could see multiple days where the lead-off hitter is different than the day prior. With Dustin Pedroia set to make his return to the active roster, that only adds more intrigue to the topic. Either way, MLB is scheduled to experience more dominance from the Boston Red Sox this season.
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