Long, long ago, on a blog far, far away (and now lost to the vagaries of Internet abandonment), one of the posters commented that "[Dustin] Pedroia and the #2 spot should get married." Judging by his career numbers over the last seven seasons, there may be some truth to that idea. Hitting from the third spot last year, although somewhat limited by injury, Pedroia had statistically the worst complete year of his career, finishing well below his career average in just about every major category. While he's got most of the tools (absent speed) to be a leadoff hitter, we know he also just doesn't really like batting from the top spot in the order. And even though his small sample size gives him absolutely ridiculous numbers from the cleanup spot, there's no way he's going to hold down that spot in a lineup featuring David Ortiz and Mike Napoli.
Ultimately, just like the vote for the leadoff spot, Pedroia got an absolute majority of the votes. Pedroia had nearly two and a half times as many votes as Shane Victorino, and among the rest of the offense only Xander Bogaerts and Grady Sizemore got any votes at all. So, according to OTM readers, it's back to the number two spot for Pedroia. There's certainly the hope that with a one-two punch of Nava and Pedroia at the top of the order, that opposing pitchers will already have some wear and tear on their arms before getting out of the first inning, softening them up for the remaining batters in later innings:
I don't have cumulative totals available, but Nava has averaged about 100 pitches per plate appearance in the last 2 games.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 9, 2013
Given the number of high pitch per plate appearance guys in the Sox lineup, I suspect there will be many a pitcher panicking in advance of a start against the Boston nine this season. (And if guys like Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, Jr. can learn from their peers, so much the more dangerous!)
Now it's time to figure out who's going to be batting after Nava and Pedroia in the lineup. Here are your remaining candidates for the number three spot:
- 1B: Mike Napoli: 0.353/0.464
- SS: Xander Bogaerts: 0.320/0.364 (note: no splits because of small sample size)
- 3B: Will Middlebrooks: 0.244/0.412
- CF: Jackie Bradley Jr.: 0.308/0.414
- RF: Shane Victorino: 0.386/0.510
- C: A.J. Placeholder*: 0.286/0.438
- DH: David Ortiz: 0.440/0.652
- LF/1B: Mike Carp: 0.367/0.537
- LF/1B: Jonny Gomes: 0.341/0.404
- CF: Grady Sizemore: 0.300/0.452 (note: data from 2011)
- C: David Ross: 0.298/0.382 (note: no splits because of small sample size)
Same rules as before apply. Vote for one candidate; top vote-getter becomes the number three hitter. Note also that this is not a prognostication poll; the goal isn't trying to guess who Farrell will slot into each spot, but crowdsourcing preferences. There's no wrong answer here.*
Voting will continue until Tuesday night; starting on Wednesday we'll try to pick who hits in the cleanup spot.
*OK—there aren't too many wrong answers, but if you guys had put Placeholder in the leadoff spot, I would have had to send you all to the corner for a timeout.