Every single at bat that Marco Scutaro had with the Blue Jays in 2009 was in the leadoff spot. That's a pretty impressive feat considering he made 680 plate appearances.
Let that streak come to an end, though, when Scutaro's name is penciled into the Red Sox's lineup come Opening Day.Terry Francona is a big fan of Jacoby Ellsbury. Such a big fan, in fact, that he really wants to see Ellsbury in the leadoff spot for the Red Sox for good. That's where Ellsbury started in 2009 and that's where he ended. But he wasn't there the entire time.
On May 31, Francona dropped Ellsbury from the leadoff spot to the eight-hole. His .332 on-base percentage just wasn't cutting it. After trips up and down the lineup, including in the leadoff spot on the rare occasion, Ellsbury was back at No. 1 for good on July 20. The OBP went up to .343 -- a solid 11 point increase. He finished the season with a .355 OBP -- plus 12 more points. Not too shabby.
And that is where Ellsbury is going to stay. Marco, you're going to need a new spot.
While I think it's a tad too early to talk about what the 2010 lineup should look like, you know, considering we don't even have a left fielder yet (any Jeremy Hermida supporters out there?), we can get a rough idea. Let's pretend the Red Sox sign Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. It's a crazy idea, I know, but we could figure a lineup that looks similar to this:
- Ellsbury, cf
- Pedroia, 2b
- Martinez, c
- Youkilis, 1b
- Ortiz, dh
- Bay/Holiday, lf
- Lowell, 3b
- Drew, rf
- Scutaro, ss
This is a lineup that's pretty interchangeable. One through three is locked, but Youkilis, Ortiz and Bay could all be flip-flopped if Tito wanted. Lowell and Drew is also a toss up, but historically Tito likes to bat Lowell ahead of Drew.
So it's not a real mystery: Scutaro goes from leadoff man to No. 9 hitter. It's not that he's a bad hitter, it's just that this is the only place for him. Except, well, when Jason Varitek is in the lineup. Then expect to see Scutaro bat eighth.
Scutaro will also likely "spell" Ellsbury in the leadoff spot when he has his days off. I think Francona would be more willing to do that than move Pedroia or Drew to leadoff. Hopefully that's the case. I love Pedroia and Drew, but both, in my opinion, seem to do better in the two-hole.
I like Scutaro in the 9-hole, though. He's the "second leadoff man," as some people like to say. It's a good OBP to have at the bottom of the order, if he produces anywhere near Bill James's prediction of .350. If Scutaro gets on and Ellsbury can't hit him around, Pedroia, Martinez and Youkilis will have their shots. I can see Scutaro scoring a lot of runs this season.
Speaking of hitting, I'll probably dissect this in its own post, but I expect a lot of doubles out of Scutaro in 2010. He had 35 with the Jays last year. With The Monster so close, I think Scutaro could be a rack in 40-50 doubles if he plays 150+ games. I'll take that.
Where do you see Scutaro in the Red Sox's lineup?