The Boston Red Sox open up next Thursday against the Seattle Mariners. The only thing set in stone at this moment is that Chris Sale will be the opening day starter.
— CBS Local Sports (@CBSLocalSports) March 18, 2019
It is always fun to make predictions for one particular game. With that being said, here is my prediction for the Red Sox opening day lineup.
1. Mookie Betts RF
There has been a lot of talk about Mookie potentially hitting second behind Andrew Benintendi. Why mess around with something you know that works? Mookie is a great leadoff hitter who can hit for average and power. He can also steal bases. Keep in mind, he won the American League MVP award last season while mostly hitting in the leadoff spot. Leave the man leading off!
2. Andrew Benintendi CF
Benintendi is the perfect two hitter for this Red Sox team. He is very beneficial in the hit and run game, being a left handed hitter.. Remember, he hit .290 in 2018 with 16 homeruns and 87 RBI’s. Again, if it isn’t broken; then don’t try to fix it. Benintendi in the two hole to start the season is the right move here.
3. J.D. Martinez DH
There is no question that J.D. Martinez is the best pure hitter the Red Sox have in their lineup. Martinez had a MONSTER year in 2018, hitting for a .330 average with 43 homeruns and 130 RBI’s. On any other team, Martinez is an MVP candidate. He provided the Red Sox last season with the power they lacked after David Ortiz retired. Don’t forget, Martinez can opt out of his contract after this season. So, he needs to have another productive season hitting third.
4. Xander Bogaerts SS
We are starting to see the power numbers improve with Xander Bogaerts, hence why he is in the cleanup spot. Bogaerts had 71 extra base hits last season. He also knocked in 103 RBI’s on the season. I think in 2019, he takes another step forward in developing his power and continue to protect J.D. Martinez.
5. Rafael Devers 3B
A lot of people were questioning if Devers could even hit in the third spot to open up the season. Devers in the five spot is a good place to start. Devers is not ready to be in the top third of the lineup just yet. He hit .240 with 21 homeruns and 66 RBI’s last season. Devers has a lot of potential with his bat. Let’s see some consistency and then maybe we can move him up in the lineup.
6. Steve Pearce 1B
The World Series hero deserves to start in game one, plain and simple. Pearce earned it with his World Series heroics, while also earning a World Series MVP award in the process. Pearce should be the primary option, especially if Seattle plans on throwing a left-handed pitcher on opening day. Even if they don’t, Pearce can hold his own against right-handed pitching. Plus, Mitch Moreland off of the bench for defensive purposes late in the game doesn’t hurt either.
7. Brock Holt 2B
Brock Holt is in the seven slot for the time being. Dustin Pedroia is still being carefully monitored and the hope is to have him ready for the home opener. Holt is more than a reliable option. A plus fielder and solid hitter from the left side of the plate, Holt will see himself in the opening day lineup.
8. Christian Vazquez C
Christian Vazquez will handle the duties behind the dish. With the recent rumors of the Red Sox trying to trade Sandy Leon, it is time for Vazquez to fully gain the pitcher’s trust.
The Red Sox are actively discussing possible trades of catcher Sandy Leon, @MarlyRiveraESPN and I have heard from sources.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 21, 2019
Vazquez is a great defender and has an above average arm. He even has occasional power in his swing. Look for Vazquez to take the next step in 2019 to be the Red Sox primary catching option.
9. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Rounding out the Red Sox lineup is none other than Jackie Bradley Jr. We know how it is with J.B.J., he hasn’t been consistent. He can have a series like he did against the Astros in the 2018 ALCS, or he can hit below .200. We have seen the best and the worst of Bradley Jr. in his time with the Red Sox. You simply cannot keep him out of the lineup because of his glove. If he can ever keep himself consistent, then this Red Sox lineup becomes THAT much better.
P Chris Sale
Chris Sale gets the ball Opening Day. Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball and the best one on the Red Sox. Expect Sale to come out and strike out about 10 Mariners hitters. Especially after last year’s catastrophe on Opening Day, I would bet that the Red Sox start the season 1-0 in 2019 with Sale on the mound and the offense showing up.
It’s only one game. But, it is a big game nonetheless. The Red Sox are out to prove that 2018 wasn’t a fluke season. This lineup could be completely different by mid-April. But for now, let’s sit back and watch this lineup go to work. To everyone out there, enjoy your Friday!
Go Red Sox!
-Alan Nahigian (BigAl2793)