Predicting Boston Red Sox' Starting Lineup Halfway Through Spring Training
David Ortiz is the lone Boston Red Sox regular without any at-bats this spring training. He will likely see some time in the coming weeks, although it is still unclear when exactly he can see some game action.
The starting nine will be hard to predict with the speed and power that these players have.
If Ortiz can get healthy to start the season, the Opening Day lineup will be one of the best in MLB.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2013 Grapefruit League stats: 17 AB, .235 AVG, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 XBH, 0 RBI, 2 BB 1 K
Jacoby Ellsbury has struggled so far this spring, but that does not mean he will struggle come Opening Day. He is entering a contract year and that means he needs to perform to cash in.
The speedy lefty can still provide some thump in the top of the order and John Farrell will make sure to send him on the bases every chance he gets in 2013.
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
2013 Grapefruit League stats: 17 AB, .412 AVG, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 XBH, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K
Dustin Pedroia is that scrappy guy at the top of the order who no one wants to face.
He can hit the ball out of the park, into the gap or even just a little dribbler that he can beat out for a single.
The former AL MVP has everything going for him in a healthy spring training and could be a spark plug at the top of the order for the Red Sox in 2013. He not only will help with the bat, but his glove is really the asset that puts the young second baseman right there at the top in the American League.
The big concern with Pedroia is if he can remain on the field.
3. David Ortiz, DH
2013 Grapefruit League stats: N/A
Without a single at-bat this spring, David Ortiz should still be ready come Opening Day.
He seems ready to swing the bat on a daily basis, but it is the running that may hurt his progress to get some game action over the next couple of weeks.
After signing a two-year contract in the offseason, Big Papi needs to show Red Sox management that he can be healthy for a large chuck of these next two seasons.
He needs to put up at least 25-30 home runs each year and staying healthy is a key factor going forward for the aging slugger.
Ortiz has always been slotted around the three hole and it would not surprise me at all to see him there come Opening Day.
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
2013 Grapefruit League stats: 7 AB, .571 AVG, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 XBH, 5 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K
Mike Napoli has shown that he can hit the ball far—so far this spring, especially over that little thing called the Green Monster at Jet Blue Park.
He has three home runs, including one against Puerto Rico in an exhibition game.
What has really impressed me, is Napoli's glove at first base.
He has made some really strong plays leaning into the stands and diving for balls coming his way. Napoli even ran to the bag to beat someone in a foot race for his first putout of the spring.
The former Texas Ranger has a chance to show his value, even with a hip problem, and will be a great clean-up hitter for the Red Sox in 2013.
5. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
2013 Grapefruit League stats: 9 AB, .222 AVG, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 XBH, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Will Middlebrooks may not stay at a .288 clip for the 2013 season, but there is no mistake that he can hit the ball deep when his swing is on.
So far, the 24-year-old has not done too much, but has missed some time due to issues with the wrist he injured last August.
He did show some life with a home run against Puerto Rico and now Red Sox nation can blow a sigh of relief that the slugger still has that power stroke going.
Middlebrooks may be the bat of the future for the Red Sox, but the lineup will be really strong with him in the five hole to drive in the on base machines near the top of the order, including David Ortiz.
6. Jonny Gomes, LF
2013 Grapefruit League stats: 14 AB, .286, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 XBH, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K
Jonny Gomes has missed some time recently after getting stitches in his left knee, but that won't stop him from patrolling left field on Opening Day against the New York Yankees.
Gomes is a big power threat and is really good against left-handed pitching.
He can kill the fastball and is a known power threat. He is in the sixth spot in the order to be yet another slugger who can get the job done to drive in the guys on base.
7. Shane Victorino, RF
2013 Grapefruit League stats: 11 AB, .000 AVG, 2 R, 0 HR, 0 XBH, 0 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K
Shane Victorino is the fourth outfielder for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. He can play every outfield position and is a very fast and patient hitter at the plate.
Though 32, the switch-hitting outfielder has a chance to resurrect his career after a horrid 2012 season.
He can swipe bases, and potentially hit over 15 home runs with the Red Sox if he can stay healthy. There won't be much pressure on him if he is in the bottom third of the lineup on Opening Day.
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
2013 Grapefruit League stats: 15 AB, .333 AVG, 1 R, 0 HR, 4 XBH, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K
The Red Sox have three catchers, right now Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the guy who will play over 120 games. He could even get some time at the DH position if David Ortiz needs times off every now and again.
Salty still needs to work on his patience at the plate and cut down on his swing some to avoid striking out frequently.
His power stroke is what the Sox need towards the bottom of the lineup.
9. Stephen Drew, SS
2013 Grapefruit League stats: 16 AB, .188 AVG, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 XBH, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Stephen Drew is possible the weakest link in this lineup, but he has the potential to hit .280 with at least double digit homers and steals.
He may have two weak ankles, but is the best chance the Red Sox have at shortstop until either Jose Iglesias or Xander Bogaerts are ready to play every day at the major league level.