The Red Sox are currently second in the AL in runs and team OPS. They've done this despite a poor lead-off hitter and no production from the #3 spot in their batting order (the #8 spot is a black hole too).
Let's take a moment and back away from bashing David Ortiz, Julio Lugo, or (insert player's name). All teams have holes. I find it hard to believe that one line-up spot or player can drag a whole team down.
Here's a comparison of the Sox, MFY, and Rays based on how each spot in their line-up has done to date. By line-up spot, I am looking at the batting order position and not the player. In most cases more than one player has hit in a particular spot. For example, four players have manned the cleanup spot for the Sox: Youkilis (89 AB), Bay (37 AB), Lowell (3 AB), and Bailey (3 AB). I am counting the combined hitting totals of those four players when hitting fourth and not each player's individual stats. The stats are listed by AVG/OBP/SLG.
Red Sox Yankees Rays
#1 .294/.329/.356 .267/.335/.407 .211/.313/.289
#2 .315/.407/.413 .318/.382/.601 .336/.400/.461
#3 .215/.321/.313 .206/.342/.466 .327/.382/.660
#4 .333/.439/.644 .237/.329/.407 .250/.358/.610
#5 .294/.374/.493 .255/.303/.461 .259/.346/.333
#6 .289/.431/.579 .298/.399/.500 .254/.338/.448
#7 .254/.329/.470 .328/.421/.576 .232/.284/.362
#8 .208/.313/.360 .238/.298/.400 .308/.347/.446
#9 .295/.345/.462 .280/.321/.352 .287/.331/.426
The Rays have the best 2-3-4 combination. The MFY are getting almost nothing from the 3-4-5 spots in their line-up. Yet the MFY are scoring at a slightly better rate than the Rays: 5.41 runs per game v. 5.25 runs per game. The Sox are averaging 5.63 runs per game.
It seems to me that order of the hitters means less than the aggregate. While the #3 and #8 spots are pretty dead on the Sox (none of the three teams listed has a good lead-off hitter), the Sox other six hitting spots are better than the top six on the Rays or MFY.
Food for thought?