Red Sox Leadoff Spot Candidates
Opening day is only days away and the Red Sox lineup is looking very solid. The new additions to the team like Adam Duvall and Raimel Tapia are making a strong first impression to be key players in 2023. Masataka Yoshida is expected to bloom into a star after his spectacular performance in the World Baseball Classic. Justin Turner is back from his scary injury where he was struck in the face with a pitch and he hasn’t missed a beat. However, one question still stands about this lineup: who will the Red Sox leadoff hitter be?
One of the candidates who has already made a great first impression is Triston Casas. In his 27 games last season, Casas had 19 walks and a .358 OBP. The only other player with a higher OBP in that time was 2022 MVP, Aaron Judge. Casas could thrive in the leadoff role, but would it be worth sacrificing his power in the middle of the lineup by getting his plate discipline in the leadoff spot?
Kiké Hernandez has been the primary leadoff hitter for the Red Sox in the past couple seasons. However, this spring we have seen Hernandez batting in the bottom of the order. Whether this will be his spot in the lineup for the duration of the season, Hernandez should still be seen as a candidate for the leadoff spot at least against lefty pitchers.
Mixing and Matching May be the Way to Go
Per Alex Cora in an interview with Ian Browne from MLB.com, the Red Sox will “mix and match.” Cora went on to say, “ At one point, obviously, I would love to have structure in that end, but I think we got a lot of guys that can do the job.”
Mixing and matching the leadoff spot may be the best route for the Red Sox. While it would be very nice to have an everyday leadoff hitter, having a matchup that works against the opposing pitcher could also be effective. A matchup against a righty could consist of Verdugo/Casas, while a matchup against a lefty could be Hernandez/Arroyo. If Adalberto Mondesi comes off the IL strong, he could fit in the leadoff spot as a switch hitter with lethal speed.
Whoever the Red Sox leadoff hitter will be, they will have a lineup full of productive hitters behind them. This lineup looks like they are ready to do some damage in 2023, and are looking to prove a lot of people wrong. Things have to go right, and they need to get off to a strong April. But given the charisma of this team along with having chips on their shoulders, this should be an entertaining season.
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