For the most part, the Red Sox offense has been just fine this year. Most everyone outside of a couple guys here and there have had some points already where they’ve shown what they can do, and the top half has been potent for pretty much the entire season. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez especially have been forces and there’s little reason to expect either of them to be anything besides star-level bats for the duration of the season. Mitch Moreland has also been great when he’s gotten a chance to play, and he made his case loudly on both sides of the ball on Wednesday for more playing time. I’d be surprised if it didn’t come. The point being, there isn’t a ton to worry about with this offense. That being said, a slight tweak or two to the lineup could make things better for a team that could probably use a bit of a spark right now.
I guess the easiest way to do this is just start at the top and work our way down because, ya know, that’s how batting orders work. Betts has been at the top of the lineup all year, and he shouldn’t be moved from that top portion. In an ideal world I’d probably have him as my number two hitter to give him an extra potential opportunity with a runner on base, but Alex Cora clearly likes the idea of starting things off with a bang with his second-best hitter. I’m fine with keeping things the way they are.
In that ideal world I’d have Xander Bogaerts in the leadoff spot, but if that’s not going to happen I’d slide him up to the number two spot. The shortstop has made legitimate swing changes this year and there’s no denying the results. We’ve been dreaming of a true breakout from Bogaerts for a few seasons in a row now, and 20 percent of the way through the season it looks like it’s starting to happen. Starting games off with Betts and Bogaerts — in any order, really — puts immediate pressure on the pitchers.
Andrew Benintendi has been manning the second spot behind Betts all year, and while he’s been fine he hasn’t really turned it on yet. I have little reason to believe he won’t at some point — even with this underwhelming performance he’s been league-average — but I’d still move him down one spot. It would give him a chance to knock in some runs with a single if both Betts and Bogaerts got on to lead off a game, and would also break up a somewhat righty-heavy top of the lineup. It’s a one-spot drop, but not really a demotion.
J.D. Martinez remains the cleanup hitter. The dude is a monster at the plate, and his 167 wRC+ somehow feels like a quiet 167. That’s amazing. Don’t change a thing here.
For the next two spots, I’d go with Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez. The latter gets the biggest demotion in the entire lineup, which is a combination of Bogaerts’ impressive start and his own slide lately. He did hit that big home run on Wednesday that will hopefully spark another run, but for now he probably should be a little bit lower with more RBI chances. As for the order these two would hit, I would probably just base it on the handedness of the starting pitcher on most nights, with Moreland hitting fifth against righties and Ramirez doing so against lefties.
The bottom three spots is where most of the trouble has come for Boston’s lineup this season, but it’s hard to really fix that besides just hoping the hitters do better. Eduardo Núñez has been a bit better over his last few games at least and can hopefully carry that momentum moving forward. Rafael Devers has been scuffling, and while he has higher upside than someone who typically hits in the eight spot I’d have him there. It would simultaneously take a little pressure off the young third baseman while also potentially adding a spark to a bottom-third that desperately needs it. The catcher of the day gets the nine spot because, well, they have to hit somewhere.
First of all, you’ll notice that Jackie Bradley Jr. is not included here. He’s not going to be a permanent bench player, but right now it’s hard to argue for him to do anything besides sit more often than not. As for the lineup as a whole, I’d guess that Cora won’t make any changes. It’s not his style to switch things up like this, and the lineup has been mostly fine as is. Ultimately, batting order doesn’t have a major impact either way so it’s not something to get overly worked up about. That being said, the Red Sox are going to be in a tight division race all year, and maximizing every portion of the roster will prove important in this kind of environment. This is how I’d maximize the offense.