Red Sox Opt For Offense in NL Park

With a right-handed pitcher on the mound for the second game of the Philadelphia Phillies-Boston Red Sox series, Terry Francona has decided to rearrange his lineup and get all his biggest bats into the game. That means he has to find two places on the field for Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz, neither of which is particularly fleet of foot, and although Gonzalez has a slick glove, it’s fair to question how he could handle the outfield. These questions will be answered today, as Francona has elected to put Gonzalez in right field to open up first for the statue that is David Ortiz.

Ortiz effectively replaces Mike Cameron in the lineup. Cameron has been a shell of his former self this year, posting a miniscule 25 wRC+, whereas Ortiz has been playing his best baseball in years, posting a 165 wRC+, a difference on the order of 90 runs over the course of a full season. The true talent difference probably isn’t quite that large, but throwing in the platoon advantage it’s not difficult to imagine an offensive gain of around half a run per game with this move.

This will be Gonzalez’s first game as a right fielder since he played eight innings there for the Rangers in 2005. The worst right fielders (think Adam Dunn and Brad Hawpe) tend to be around -30 runs over a full season, and I can’t imagine Gonzalez, very out of practice and lacking outfield range, would be much better. David Ortiz has been the butt of jokes as an American League representative at first base in All-Star Games at NL parks before, which should speak to how poor he is in the field. Think Prince Fielder, but without the practice of playing the position every day, and probably with less range. The defensive difference between Gonzalez and Cameron, two above-average defenders, as opposed to Ortiz and Gonzalez, likely two of the worst fielders in the game at their position, could approach something like 50 runs over the course of a whole season, or about a third of a run per game.

So although the difference in runs per game appears negligible, just looking at these dry statistics, I think Francona is making a great decision with this lineup. With John Lackey on the mound, the Red Sox may need to score more runs than usual regardless of the quality of their defense. Also, in one individual game, there’s a chance Gonzalez may only be forced into action at RF two or three times, and Ortiz may not even have to face any challenging plays at first. Regardless of what happens in the game, though, both the first baseman and right fielder will have to hit at least three times, and likely four or five.

The Red Sox have a flexible enough bench that they can easily go to a defensive replacement at any time in the game by inserting Cameron into right field and returning Gonzalez to first base. With the heavy-hitting run-scoring lineup on the field to begin the game, the Sox may be able to sprint out to an early lead and then revert to a defensive lineup in the later innings. Francona is employing a creative and potentially risky plan, but the flexibility of his lineup and talent of his hitters suggest that it is the right one.

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everdiso
Member
everdiso

what a well built team.

David
Guest
David

For the league and park they play most of their games in it most certainly is

everdiso
Member
everdiso

$170m team desperately relying on a 35yr old DH’s surprising renaissance season doesn’t scream “well built”, IMO.

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu

So it’s the Red Sox’ fault that their DH has been one of the best hitters in baseball, as opposed to the crap that most teams stick into the DH spot?

I’d say that Carl Crawford’s (lack of) performance has been many times more surprising than Ortiz’ performance.

David
Guest
David

If only they had other talented players like Ellsbury, Youkilis, Pedroia, AGon, and Crawford on their roster so they wouldn’t have to lean so heavily on Ortiz they could have the third best winning percentage in baseball… oh wait they do.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas

Any team with a guy as awful as Lackey getting paid as much as Lackey and with key players as old as the BoSox have isn’t “well built”. When people are acting like them signing a 26 year old who has never realized his supposed potential and just had a decent peripheral outing (even though actual performance sucked) is proof of their smarts, it’s not a well built team.

The Red Sox benefit from having a ton of money and a core of good players in place. Any other team besides the Yanks, Sox, and Phillies make these kinds of mistakes and it’s selling/rebuilding time.

Bill
Guest
Bill

everdiso is a jealous, troll Blue Jays fan. he constantly posts this type of shit about the Red Sox. Could it be because they are one of the two main reasons his team hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in nearly two decades?

This is not a “surprising renaissance” for Ortiz. His OPS was 899 last year. You’re a moron. Thank you, come again.

everdiso
Member
everdiso

well Bill, Ortiz’ 162 ops+ this year is most certainly a surprising renaissance, far better than the 137 and 101 he posted the last two years, and right back at his career years of 171/161/158 from 3-5 years ago.

As for “3rd best record in baseball”, David, it’s not usually a great idea to look at the standings at the end of a blazing hot streak. I think they’re down to 5th after tonight anyways. As for listing Ellsbury (career 98ops+) and Crawford (career 106ops+) as 2 of the best red sox…well, I think that says it all.

and no it’s not the Red Sox’ “fault” that Ortiz has been good, Yirmiyahu, it’s their fault that they need him to be this good to win. As for Crawford’s surprisingly poor performance, that’s been more than matched by Ellsbury’s surprisingly good performance.

Sultan of Schwinngg
Guest
Sultan of Schwinngg

well, Everdiso, less then 2 years ago, your ‘Joey Bats’ was one of the most worthless players in the game. Stop pretending you know who’s good or bad. You’re a fan, everything you claim is based on hindsight.

As far as Papi, I think this move was made simply because they had lost 5 of 6 while scoring 3 runs a game against less than spectacular pitching. They’re slumping and their manager wanted to ramp things up a bit, that’s all. Papi starting doesn’t mean the team was constructed poorly.