The Boston Red Sox finally got their man on Monday with the signing of slugger J.D. Martinez. They now officially have a lineup that can get them to the World Series.
Before the Martinez signing, Boston lacked a hitter that opposing pitchers fear. J.D. brings that fear to the middle of the Red Sox lineup, and that’s going to help out every other player. Here’s what the Boston Red Sox lineup should look like to begin the 2018 campaign:
- Mookie Betts, RF
- Andrew Benintendi, RF
- Xander Bogaerts, SS
- J.D. Martinez, DH
- Hanley Ramirez/Mitch Moreland, 1B
- Rafael Devers, 3B
- Eduardo Nunez, 2B
- Christian Vazquez, C
- Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Slotting J.D. Martinez into the fourth spot in the lineup will help every player in front of and behind him. Pitchers will look to be more aggressive with players like Betts, Benintendi, and Bogaerts to avoid facing Martinez with men on base. For that reason, those three players should see an uptick in their offensive numbers with better pitches to hit.
Hanley Ramirez, Mitch Moreland, and a young Rafael Devers will benefit as well. If opposing pitchers choose to walk Martinez, the next two players that step into the box will have a chance to drive in a run or two. Boston didn’t have a player like this in the lineup in 2017, and it showed. David Ortiz cannot be replaced, but the Red Sox have come as close as possible with the addition of J.D. Martinez.
Hanley should also remain fresh throughout 2018, as he will split time with Moreland at first base. He may DH as well for some games while Martinez gives an outfielder a day or two off. He can play in either left or right, with the Red Sox having the ability to move either Betts or Benintendi to center when needed.
Now, Boston should be able to truly compete with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in the American League. The Red Sox had a chance before with their stellar pitching rotation, but they were hoping for career and bounce back years from almost the entire offensive lineup. Those players can relax now and can approach the game with a much more free mentality.
Boston has responded almost directly to the Yankees trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Over the last four seasons, Martinez and Stanton are eerily similar in the batter’s box. Stanton has the vote as the better player for now due to his age, but that could change in 2018.
The Red Sox will be able to put up runs, and the home run should find it’s way back to Fenway Park. Martinez does like to go opposite field though, which could create some problems. Going to center field is tough in Boston, and although he can poke it past Pesky Pole in right, it would be much better to see him pull the ball over the Green Monster. That will likely be a point of emphasis for J.D. as the season goes on though.
In 2017, the Houston Astros won the World Series with 896 runs scored in the regular season. That led the majors, followed by the Yankees at 858. Boston came in at 10th overall with 785. That’s pretty impressive with a lack of home runs, and this slightly tinkered with Red Sox lineup could find themselves in the top-5 in 2018.
If that’s the case, Boston has a real shot at earning a spot in the 2018 World Series. The rotation has never been in question, and the Red Sox will likely find a way to better manage Chris Sale down the stretch. Their pitching can win them games if the lineup is able to give them a lead early and often. In the playoffs, if the Red Sox can simply give Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, or Drew Pomeranz a 2-run lead, they should be all set.
The Boston Red Sox are World Series contenders, and that’s all been made possible with the addition of slugger J.D. Martinez. He changes the entire look and feel of the lineup, and he has thrust himself into the Boston limelight. Some players have struggled with that pressure in Boston, but just last season Chris Sale should us all how well it can be done. The newest member of the Red Sox will look to follow in those footsteps.