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Time to Shuffle the Lineup?

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[editor's note, by Randy Booth] Added some stats.

You know the old saying, "When it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a nice to motto to live by, but sometimes you just gotta' try and fix an unbroken object. With the Boston Red Sox, it's the batting lineup. Should we, in this case, try and make it better?

The current "A" lineup:

Lugo
Youkilis
Ortiz
Ramirez
Drew
Lowell
Varitek
Crisp
Pedroia

A good lineup; one of the best in baseball for sure. The Sox have speed at the top, an OBP machine in the two hole, the best three and four power hitters in baseball, and a solid crew of hitters behind that.

How about some stats, shall we?

NAME            BA      OBP     SLG     HR      RBI     SB
Lugo          .225    .283    .330    3       33      16
Youkilis    .350    .434    .552    8       32      2
Ortiz               .328    .442    .586    9       39      0
Ramirez               .284    .371    .468    8       32      0
Drew          .222    .340    .310    2       17      1
Lowell              .337    .397    .595    11      45      2
Varitek             .276    .374    .469    6       27      1
Crisp         .236    .296    .324    1       16      12
Pedroia             .333    .411    .465    2       13      0

Green = Stats ABOVE career averages
Red = Stats BELOW career average
The statistics are pretty self-explanatory. Youkilis, Ortiz, Lowell, Varitek and Pedroia are having good seasons. Lugo, Ramirez, Drew and Crisp aren't living up to their billing as of yet. The red and green highlights don't cover everything, of course. It's just a general guide of everyone's current season.

There's been other talk about a lineup shuffle. SoxDevil proposed this lineup in a recent diary:

Pedroia
Drew
Ortiz
Ramirez
Youkilis
Lowell
Lugo
Varitek
Crisp
The proposed lineup would change everyone's slot except for Ortiz, Ramirez and Lowell. Moving Drew might let him get into a groove and see better pitches. Pushing Pedroia to the top of the lineup would give him more at-bats and get on-base for Drew, Ortiz and Ramirez.

I like parts of this lineup. Moving Drew might give him a lot of confidence and allow him to hit the ball around, but I don't like Pedroia at the top of the lineup. Even though Lugo is batting .225, I think his speed has been key at the top of the lineup. He has stolen 16 bases without being caught. I can't remember the last time the Sox had such a good base stealer. If it's the 9th inning and Lugo gets on, he could be on third base in two pitches -- maybe even one. That's huge, in my opinion. Pedroia just couldn't do that. He gets on base at a great clip, but I don't think he'd improve by batting at the front of the lineup. I think he's found his comfort zone at the end of the lineup, for now.

Here's a stat I love: the difference between a hitter's batting average and on-base percentage. The following shows you where the Sox starters rank, from best to worst:

NAME OBP/AVG DIF. Drew .118 Ortiz .114 Varitek .098 Ramirez .087 Youkilis .084 Pedroia .078 Lowell .060 Crisp .060 Lugo .058
Drew's .118 difference is the main reason why I think SoxDevil's idea of sliding him in the two hole would work really well. Imagine if Drew got his average up around .310 to .330. His OBP-AVG wouldn't change much at all, meaning his OBP would be in the .430-.450 range. That'd be great to see in the two-hole.

Here's my idea for a lineup shuffle. Just a note, I don't think the lineup needs much "shuffling" in the first place. A switch here or there could improve this team immensley:

Lugo
Youkilis
Ortiz
Ramirez
Lowell
Varitek
Drew
Pedroia
Crisp
It's not a very exciting change, but I think it'd work for the Sox. One through four stays the same, but I think the key change is moving Lowell up to the five-spot. Lowell has been a man among boys out there, but no one has really noticed because of how hot Youkilis and Pedroia have been. I think if Lowell is hitting behind Ramirez then he'll get a lot more RBI and the Sox will score a lot more runs.

In my lineup, Pedroia moves up one spot, making Crisp the nine guy. We can consider Crisp as the "second leadoff hitter." I really don't buy into that too much, but I do like the idea of having Crisp and Lugo's speed back to back on the basepaths. That's if they can get on the basepaths in the first place, of course.

Moving Drew down is key because I think it would do basically the same thing as SoxDevil's idea of moving him to the two-hole. He won't see as many good pitches hitting 7th, but all the pressure should be off his shoulders. I can guess there's a lot of pressure hitting behind Ramirez and Ortiz.

I think it's important that if the Sox do change the lineup, that they don't change it a lot. A huge lineup change can have disastrous effects on every single batter. That's why I think moving Pedroia to the top or Lugo to the bottom may not be the best case scenario, despite their stats.

As long as the Sox are playing well, this lineup is fine for me. As much as I'd like to see Lugo, Drew and Crisp have great numbers, I'll take a World Series Trophy over their stats any day of the week.