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All-Time Red Sox Roster: Constructing the Batting Order

I show how I’d deploy the All-Time team’s hitters vs both righties and lefties.

The Red Sox Big Three

With the roster now complete, it’s time to turn to how I would actually deploy what I have created. When I set out to complete this exercise I wanted to build the most functional 40-man roster that I could with a particular focus on having a 26-man roster that would emulate the construction of a real life team. What this meant is that I didn’t just fill my bench with outfielders because those players offered the most FanGraphs WAR; I added in outfielders, a corner infielder, a middle infielder, and a backup catcher.

A roster of this caliber is going to give you lots of options against any kind of pitching. I have created my best lineup vs right handed pitchers and my best lineup vs left handed pitchers. I will also discuss how and when I’d deploy my bench players if the answer is not obvious.

Batting Order vs RHP

Player Handedness Career vs RHP
Player Handedness Career vs RHP
Wade Boggs L .341/.433/.466
Mookie Betts R .300/.371/.516
Ted Williams L .349/.488/.663
Jimmie Foxx R .320/.419/.600
David Ortiz L .294/.97/.584
Nomar Garciaparra R .313/.360/.519
Fred Lynn L .298/.378/.518
Carlton Fisk R .267/.341/.452
Dustin Pedroia R .297/.356/.434

As you can see above, the lineup against right handed-pitching is incredible. Wade Boggs, who spent 931 games batting leadoff, more than any other spot, is my leadoff hitter for this team. Only Ted Williams can surpass Boggs’s .433 career on base percentage against right handed pitching and I need Williams to be hitting with men on base.

I decided to alternate lefties and righties as often as I could against right-handed pitching, so at the second spot I put Mookie Betts. Betts has spent most of his career batting in the leadoff spot, so he is used to being at the top of the lineup. Betts shows no real platoon splits, has good speed, and is an incredibly intelligent baserunner so it makes sense to have him high in the lineup.

In the three and four spots I have the best hitter on the team in Williams and the second best in Jimmie Foxx. Williams’s numbers against right-handed pitching are borderline unfair. He has a career line of .349/.488/.663 and he’s comfortable hitting third, having hit there for 1541 games. Foxx’s slash line of .320/.419/.600 isn’t quite as good as Williams, but it’s still inner circle Hall of Fame level good. In 1941, Williams slugged .721 vs righties with a .546 on-base percentage and in 1938 Foxx slugged .710 against them. It’s hard to imagine a better duo.

In the fifth and sixth spots we have David Ortiz and Nomar Garciaparra. Ortiz has a far more pronounced platoon split than I remember, slashing .294/.397/.584 against right-handed pitching and just .268/.338/.478 against lefties in his career. Garciaparra is remarkably balanced as a hitter, owning a career batting average of .313 against righties and .312 against lefties with ever so slight bumps in on-base and slugging percentages with southpaws on the mound.

Batting in the bottom three spots in the order are Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk, and Dustin Pedroia. Of these three players, by far the most remarkable against righties is Lynn. In Lynn’s best statistical season in 1979 he posted an on-base percentage of .450 against righties and a slugging percentage of .709. A whopping 34 of his 39 home runs came with righties on the mound that year. You can easily make the case that I should swap Lynn for Ortiz here if I’m going for peak performance, but Ortiz simply enjoyed his success for a more sustained period and their peaks were close enough.

The bottom two players in Fisk and Pedroia were very good against righties and over his career, Fisk posted his second best OPS while batting eighth. Pedroia is a great fit for the nine hole because he has the opportunity to use his on-base skills and speed to act almost as a second leadoff man. He spent the majority of his career in the second spot, but should adapt well in this lineup. I considered putting Bobby Doerr in ahead of Pedroia against righties because I slightly preferred his batting line of .288/.357/.457 to Pedroia’s .297/.356/.434. However, I prefer Pedroia’s glove which gives him the edge over the 23-point advantage in slugging.

Batting Order vs LHP

Player Handedness Career vs LHP
Player Handedness Career vs LHP
Tris Speaker L .338/.434/.493
Mookie Betts R .304/.384/.531
Manny Ramirez R .335/.433/.617
Jimmie Foxx R .343/.454/.655
Ted Williams L .312/.432/.496
Nomar Garciaparra R .312/.367/.525
Dustin Pedroia R .306/.392/.455
Wade Boggs L .297/.372/.389
Jason Varitek S .278/.358/.467

Now let’s look at the lineup against lefties. We have a replacement right at the top with Boggs being replaced by Tris Speaker, who takes over as the center fielder, which in turn pushes Lynn to the bench. This one is pretty simple. Lynn was never great against lefties even though he was otherworldly against righties. He only slashed .243/.315/.395 against lefties for his career while Speaker hit them quite well with a career line of .338/.434/.493. Speaker was worse against lefties than he was against righties, but the difference wasn’t huge

Betts stays in the second spot because, as I mentioned before, he shows no major platoon split. In fact he’s actually a bit better against lefties. Our second man coming off the bench is Manny Ramirez, who pushes Williams out of the three hole. Ramirez comes in for Ortiz at DH because although he’s still good against lefties, Oritz is not nearly as good as Ramirez is against them. The latter has a career line of .335/.433/.617 against southpaws and spent 1445 games batting in the three hole. This is a no brainer.

In the fourth and fifth spots we have the aforementioned duo of Williams and Foxx. This time, however, Foxx maintains his cleanup spot and Williams is batting fifth. Foxx was wildly successful in his career vs lefties slashing .343/.454/.655 compared to a .312/.432/.496 line for Williams. In his best year with the Red Sox, in 1938, Foxx hit .382/.521/.800 vs lefties. Although he was only able to log 27 games against lefties that season Foxx’s slugging percentage of .800 is better than the .752 that Barry Bonds put up in 2001.

Garciaparra stays in the sixth spot due to his consistency and Pedroia moves up from the ninth spot to the seventh spot to give this lineup back-to-back righties following Williams’s left-handed bat. Pedroia has a far superior .392 on-base percentage against lefties for his career while being slightly more productive in batting average and improving his slugging percentage by 21 points. Doerr again is a strong candidate here, but his entire slash line trails that of Pedroia.

In the eighth and ninth spots in the lineup I went with Boggs and Jason Varitek. In the case of Boggs I almost took him out of the lineup in favor of playing Doerr, but I chose not to because the latter never played a game at third base. Based on what I have read about Doerr, though, he had enough arm to play third and I think he could do that easily. I prefer his .278/.372/.452 slash line to Boggs’s .297/.372/.389, as Boggs struggled to drive the ball against lefties.

Vartiek gets the nod over Fisk here because the switch hitting catcher has a better batting average and on-base percentage against lefties than Fisk and is tied in slugging. Vartiek also can keep Fisk’s legs fresh by catching on days when a lefty is on the mound, and I actually prefer Varitek’s work with the pitchers to that of Fisk.

The one player who I haven’t mentioned yet is Carl Yastrzemski. People are going to start thinking I have something against Yastrzemski, when really he is just unfortunate enough to be on the same roster as Williams and Foxx. Williams and Foxx are both better than Yastrzemski regardless of pitcher handedness. In fact even if you wanted to stretch and put Yastrzemski in right field, Betts is a better defender and I prefer his numbers to Yastrzemski as well. Yastrzemski is a career .299/.398/.492 hitter against righties and .244/.321/.371 against lefties. I would play Yastrzemski in left field against righties to give Williams a day off and I’d play him at first base against righties to give Foxx a day off. I’d also think he could handle right field and could play that position against righties when Betts needs to rest. I’d sit Yastrzemski against all lefties.

Ramirez, in addition to being in at DH against lefties, could also fill in in left field against lefties or righties if Williams needed a rest. His career numbers are also incredible righties, though his defense isn’t great. Doerr can be used to give Pedroia or Boggs a rest and, as I mentioned before, if you want to play him over Boggs against lefties I won’t argue. Speaker and Lynn are in a true platoon in center field with Speaker getting the short side. And in a pinch Ortiz can play first against right handers if Foxx needs a day off.

Let me know in the comments if you’d do anything differently.

Introduction and Honorable Mentions Part One

Honorable Mentions Part Two

Bench: Bobby Doerr

Bench: Jason Varitek

Bench: Manny Ramirez

Bench: Tris Speaker

Bench: Carl Yastrzemski

Starting Catcher: Carlton Fisk

Starting First Baseman: Jimmie Foxx

Starting Second Baseman: Dustin Pedroia

Starting Third Baseman: Wade Boggs

Starting Shortstop: Nomar Garciaparra

Starting Left Fielder: Ted Williams

Starting Center Fielder: Fred Lynn

Starting Right Field: Mookie Betts

Starting Designated Hitter: David Ortiz

Reliever: Dick Radatz

Reliever: Curt Schilling

Reliever: Chris Sale

Reliever: Smoky Joe Wood

Reliever: Craig Kimbrel

Reliever: Jonathan Papelbon

Reliever: Koji Uehara

Starter: Luis Tiant

Starter: Lefty Grove

Starter: Cy Young

Starter: Roger Clemens

Starter: Pedro Martínez