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How do the Red Sox line up?

With so much focus on the pitching, we should probably pay some attention to the bats.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

As we’ve gotten ready for the Red Sox to play in this bizarre 60-game season, most of the focus has been around the pitching, and more specifically the most ink has been spilled for the rotation. That makes a whole lot of sense, because the rotation looks like a mess and is likely to be the thing that keeps this team out of October. (Although the 16-team field may change that.)

With all of the focus on the rotation, though, we have kind of overlooked the lineup. I mean, not totally because people have certainly talked about guys like Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers and some of the other studs in this lineup. But the mechanics of how this offense is going to work has been put on the back burner. Again, it makes sense because the rotation is much more important in the context of this roster, but the specific lineups they run out there are still quite interesting.

So, that’s what I want to quickly go over in this space just a few hours before the games get started for real and we start to see the plans Ron Roenicke has rattling around in his noggin. Before we get into it, though, I should point out as I do when I do this piece every year that lineup order doesn’t matter as much as we tend to make it out to. As long as you’re not being silly and putting your best hitters in the bottom spots on the lineup, the ultimate difference in batting a guy second versus fourth or third versus fifth or whatever isn’t all that big. Of course, to argue with myself, it can make the difference any given day.

With that out of the way, let’s start with the lineup against right-handed pitchers. This is my expectation for what things will look like most days to start the season.

  1. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  2. J.D. Martinez, DH
  3. Rafael Devers, 3B
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  6. Christian Vázquez, C
  7. Alex Verdugo, RF
  8. José Peraza, 2B
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

The upside of this lineup is that they alternate lefties and righties pretty much the whole way through, with the only repeat being at the turn of the lineup. I think in an ideal world Verdugo will move his way up to the five hole at some point, but for now I think he’ll be seventh and I think it makes sense to start relatively slowly against him. Additionally, I have Peraza at second base but I think it’ll probably be something close to a 60/40 split between him and Chavis at second base, but both will hit in this spot to start the year.

The top of the lineup is where there’s more intrigue. With Mookie Betts gone, the question of who leads off is a big one, and Benintendi seems like the natural fit. If he gets off to a slow start I think we’ll see some re-examining of this position, but for now he makes the most sense. It seemed not too long ago that Rafael Devers would be batting second, but Martinez hit second in both exhibition games. I like this move to keep the lefties separated, and it’s good practice to have your best two hitters in the two and four spots. I would probably swap Bogaerts and Martinez myself, but the difference is negligible.

Here is what I expect against left-handed starters, which the Red Sox will be facing to start the year in Tommy Milone.

  1. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  2. J.D. Martinez, DH
  3. Rafael Devers, 3B
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  5. Christian Vázquez, C
  6. Michael Chavis, 1B
  7. Kevin Pillar, CF
  8. Alex Verdugo, RF
  9. José Peraza, 2B

Against lefties I would expect a little more variance, but only with Pillar. I expect the top of the lineup to remain the same despite some talk of Peraza or Pillar being in the leadoff spot. Peraza I could at least see an argument for, to be fair. Pillar has no business leading off. Still, I think the move is to keep Benintendi there every day as he is close enough to Peraza in their careers against lefties and this gives Benintendi a chance for more late-inning at bats against righties. I’d rather see him in those situations than Peraza.

The big question for me against lefties is how the outfield will be aligned. I think Jackie Bradley Jr. will get the most time off with Pillar spelling him, but I don’t expect that to be the case all the time. In fact, I would bet on Pillar starting in right with Verdugo getting the game off today. That’s just a gut feeling with Bradley, the veteran, getting the Opening Day nod. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a decent amount of Martinez in the outfield against lefties to get two righties out there. It’s not necessarily what I’d want to see, but I am kind of expecting it.

What do you think? Will they line up differently? Should they?