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Finding the optimal Red Sox lineups

If everyone is healthy, what is the best way for the Red Sox to order their hitters this year?

MLB: ALDS-Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

There’s not a lot going on in Red Sox camp just yet. Pitchers are throwing live BP, which is neat but also the complete opposite of neat. Hitters are taking batting practice, which is cool but also the complete opposite of cool. Coaches are wearing baseball uniforms, which is still weird as hell. Eventually, good news and bad news will sprinkle out of Fort Myers and we’ll have some concrete issues to discuss. In the meantime, we are left dreaming of Opening Day and what the team will look like when it rolls around. Part of that is figuring out how the lineup will look when the real games start. So, here are my optimal lineups for against both righties and lefties, with a few notes following each.

Vs. Right-Handed Pitchers

  1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  3. Mookie Betts, RF
  4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
  5. Jackie Bradley, CF
  6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  7. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  8. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
  9. Sandy Leon/Christian Vazquez, C
Boston Red Sox Photo Day Photo by Elsa/Getty Images


  • I had to think a little bit all the way at the top, but at least to start the year I think it makes the most sense to put Pedroia in the leadoff spot. Before transitioning there last year, there was some concern that the second baseman wouldn’t perform as well since it’s not his preferred spot in the lineup. He put that to rest by posting an .852 OPS in 213 plate appearances. I think later in the year there could be an argument to move Benintendi there, which brings us to the next spot.
  • In our OTM Mailbag, someone sent a question asking if it was too early in Benintendi’s career to hit him as high as second in the lineup. My short answer is no, although it’s not ideal. This is traditionally the spot for the best and most well-rounded hitter in the lineup, and that’s undoubtedly Betts. However, putting Betts in that spot would cause a logjam of lefties lower in the lineup and make opposing managers’ jobs much easier. If Pedroia starts to slip this year — he will be 33, after all — and Benintendi hits like we expect, I think they can move the ladder to leadoff and Betts to the second spot. For now, though, this top three makes the most sense to me.
  • I switched the next three spots around a few times, but this is what I’ve landed on in this moment. I think Ramirez is the best option for cleanup, because the top three spots should get on base at a high rate and Hanley has the most consistent power to drive them in. Following him, I have Bradley even though I think Bogaerts is a better and more consistent hitter. This is simply a matter of splitting up the lefties in the lineup.
  • The final three spots are pretty self explanatory. I put Leon and Vazquez there, because I think they’ll split time pretty evenly. If Sandoval looks really poor in spring, I think I would probably bat him ninth and swap Bradley and Bogaerts.

Versus Left-Handed Pitching

  1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  2. Mookie Betts, RF
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  4. Hanley Ramirez, 1B
  5. Chris Young, DH
  6. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  7. Jackie Bradley, CF
  8. Sandy Leon/Christian Vazquez, C
  9. Pablo Sandoval, 3B


  • Here, I found a way to get Mookie Betts into the ideal lineup spot. There are issues with this lineup, which I’ll get to in a minute, but every variation had some problems. The top part of this lineup is all right-handed, and should dominate against southpaws. Those first five hitters would scare opponents
  • The bottom part of the lineup, however, is a different story. The biggest issue I ran into here was having Benintendi and Bradley hitting back-to-back. Obviously, both are left-handed hitters and they both had issues against left-handed pitchers last year. For Bradley, it’s probably a true-talent thing. Benintendi, on the other hand, hit well enough against southpaws in the minors before struggling so badly in the majors. If he proves that last year’s small sample was a fluke, that would go a long way towards deepening this lineup. It could also get him up to hitting second here as well to split up the righties up top. Until he proves that, however, I’m more comfortable with him hitting a little lower against lefties.

At the end of the day, lineup configuration doesn’t make a huge difference in a broad sense. If you have good hitters, you’ll get good results more often than not. However, when the lineup is mostly set (assuming health), this is all that’s left to settle. I couldn’t find a perfect lineup against each handedness of pitcher, but I feel these are the best options. Take to the comments to tell me how wrong I am.