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A Speculative Lineup Change

By: Thomas Casey
May 6, 2009

The Red Sox continued their 2009 success against the Yankees last night beating them 7-3. The key to winning this game was for the Red Sox to strike while the iron was hot.

Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Ortiz all produced consecutive hits, giving Jason bay the opportunity to do some real damage. Bay delivered with his 7th home run of the season making it 4-0 in the first in what turned out to be a pitcher’s duel. But I think there is something more important to take away from this game than just the win, a much needed lineup adjustment.

My proposal to Terry Francona is to swap Jason Bay with David Ortiz in the lineup. I know this takes away from the left/right/left/right strategy against pitching, but it’s early enough in the season to experiment. Moving Ortiz to 6 could allow him to ease into the season more comfortably, taking some of the pressure off that comes with hitting in the heart of the order. It would also be a good opportunity to see how the Bay/Youkilis tandem would fare.

I know there are a lot of people who would say that taking Ortiz out is a bad idea, and that he can turn it all around with one swing of the bat. My response would be, why do we need him to be an anchor in the middle of the lineup right now? Ortiz’s play hasn’t been abysmal, he has his fair share of doubles (9 on the season, constituting his only power of the season along with one triple) but his average and home run production are not on par with someone who hits in the 3 spot daily. Along with this, his OBP is only .331 while Bay has an impressive .487 OBP.

Every team wants their top run producers in the 3 and 4 spots, and the top Run Creators per Game (RC/G) this year have been Youkilis and Bay (14.8 and 14.3). Compare these numbers with David Ortiz’s 3.7 RC/G and it is easy to see why a change should be welcomed. On top of this, David Ortiz right now is second on the team in outs (AB – H= DP’s + Sac Flies + Sac Hits + Caught Stealing) with 87, and second on the team in SO’s with 24.

Since this is a numbers game, one last stat that should make the case for a lineup change is the OPS (On Base plus Slugging). Right now, Youkilis has a 1.224 OPS and Jason Bay has a 1.131 OPS. This stat is representative of what a 3 and 4 hitter should have; the ability to get on base and their power at the plate. Compare these OPS’ with David Ortiz’s team low of .664 and the case is clear that our lineup needs a change.

The Red Sox right now are at a high water mark in winning% on the year, but I think a few tweaks in our lineup could increase our productivity and give our pitching some extra run support. Boston is going to need to do something if we don’t expect to get stomped on by the Rays all season, and perhaps even in October.


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