New Red Sox manager Alex Cora has his hands full with this Red Sox lineup in 2018. He has all of the talent he could ask for in his lineup. However, constructing it is going to be a very tall task. Now fused with young star-power, J.D. Martinez, and veterans, this lineup has a very high ceiling for the upcoming season.
LEADING OFF: MOOKIE BETTS
You can say whatever you want about how Mookie Betts should be batting third or fourth because he’s the best pure hitter on the team. Betts should be the first batter for the 2018 Red Sox. Mookie has everything you would want in a leadoff guy: power, quick hands, speed, and good base running skills. During his time as the Red Sox leadoff hitter, Betts had multiple leadoff home runs and hit much better than when he was in the third or fourth hole. He can be a big time spark plug and boost to the lineup from the lead-off spot, especially if he returns to his 2016 form.
HITTING SECOND: ANDREW BENINTENDI
We all know the story of Andrew Benintendi- a top Red Sox prospect that tore through the system and debuted in 2016, instantly becoming a vital part of the lineup. A lot of people argue that your best hitter should be batting second, which might just be Benintendi. He has put on some weight to increase his power, which combined with his speed makes for a dangerous hitter. Benny Biceps in the second spot would be a great table-setter for the big boys in the lineup.
BATTING THIRD: HANLEY RAMIREZ
I know what you are thinking. Why would Hanley Ramirez be playing first base over Mitch Moreland after his disappointing 2017? Anyone who is going to criticize Hanley for his 2017 performance has to take into consideration that the guy played most of the season with “one arm,” as Hanley said himself. Not only that, but I am not worried about Hanley’s defense at first, because in 2016 he did very well there. Also keep in mind that in 2016, Hanley thrived at the plate while playing in the field.
BATTING FOURTH: J.D. MARTINEZ
The King Kong of Slug. This was the guy that the Red Sox wanted, and they got him. After rejuvenating his career in 2014, JDM has been one of the best hitters in the league. He hit 46 home runs between Detroit and Arizona last season. J.D. Martinez should be in the cleanup spot for two reasons. One, no matter what people say about the third hole in the lineup, the best power hitter on the team should be batting fourth. And the second reason to build on that point is that J.D. would create opportunities for himself to start off an inning with a double or home run and get some momentum going, rather than coming up with two outs.
BATTING FIFTH: RAFAEL DEVERS
Rafael Devers was one of the main reasons why the 2017 Red Sox won their division. A highly touted prospect, Rafael was called up to take over the reigns of third base in the middle of a pennant race. He did not disappoint, hitting ten home runs in just 58 games. His most famous one, of course, being the game-tying home run off of Aroldis Chapman on Sunday Night Baseball. I expect Devers to have a great first full season, and will be a great lefty bat behind Martinez.
BATTING SIXTH: XANDER BOGAERTS
If I had been making the lineup two or three years ago, Xander would not be this far down. Bogaerts had a terrible 2017 season, large in part thanks to a hurt hand. He is looking for a bounce back season in 2018, and I think he has as good of a chance as anyone else to have a monster season. He will certainly have an opportunity to prove himself and move up in the lineup, but I think he starts the season in the sixth spot.
BATTING SEVENTH: CHRISTIAN VASQUEZ
Known throughout the Red Sox system for his stellar defense behind the plate, Vasquez showed how talented he is with the bat in 2017 during his platooning time with Sandy Leon. His defining moment of the season was his walk-off three run homer against the Indians. Vasquez is a great defensive and offensive catcher, and he should most definitely be playing over Sandy Leon on opening day.
BATTING EIGHTH: JACKIE BRADLEY JR
JBJ is most certainly the streakiest hitter in this lineup. He always has one month where he tears the cover off of the ball, but then other months where he can’t hit anything. Because of his stellar defense in CF and the power that he is, Jackie Bradley will be a regular in this lineup.
BATTING NINTH: EDUARDO NUNEZ
Having Eduardo this low in the lineup is certainly not a knock on him, but rather a compliment. You could easily have him higher up in the lineup, which I would not have a problem with. But I do like him in the ninth spot. His ability to get on base and his speed allows him to be a great hitter to have in front of the best hitters in the lineup.
If I was filling out the lineup card for the Red Sox, this would be the order I choose. Alex Cora has so many combinations that he can play around with, but this is lineup could be very dangerous if everybody plays to their potential.