The Boston Red Sox infield and outfield are better than most in fielding, batting average, OBP and scoring runs. They lack power for the long ball. The Red Sox 2013 lineup will find their home runs coming from the DH and catcher positions.
Red Sox new manager John Farrell should be comfortable slotting David Ortiz near the top of the heart of the Red Sox order and Jarrod Saltalamacchia near the bottom of the three-to-seven range.
Ortiz led the team in slugging percentage and finished second to Salty in home runs. Boston can expect this duo to do the same in the upcoming season. They could be called on to provide even more pop, considering the down grade from Adrian Gonzalez, who led the team in RBI, to Mike Napoli at first base.
Big Papi is back on a two-year extension. This year he doesn’t have to worry and we don’t have to hear him complain about a multi-year deal. Red Sox Nation will have at least one reason to keep the Fenway sell-out streak going. The really good news is: Ortiz is still very productive, even with an expected slight decrease due to health and age.
Ortiz earned his eighth All-Star appearance in 2012, but he only managed to finish the season with 90 games played—his lowest number since coming to Boston. However, he still produced 103 hits for a .318 average with 23 home runs and 60 RBI.
During the fall and winter, Ortiz was on schedule in his recovery from an injured Achilles tendon. If he is healthier this year, the 37-year-old could to return to his production numbers of couple years ago: 30 homers with 100 RBI and a near .300 average. However, he will most likely still be dealing with the injury at the start of the season, so he may take some time to get up to that pace.
Some have wondered: What does the addition of catcher David Ross and the signing of Mike Napoli mean to Saltalamacchia? The Red Sox home run leader in 2012 heads into training camp as the starting backstop. No one in the group of backups, including Ryan Lavarnway, has a much of a chance to change that. If the switch-hitting catcher can limit his strikeouts, and if fans forget about how good they think his predecessor Jason Varitek was, Salty has nothing to worry about.
The 27-year-old set career-high marks in games played (121), OPS (.742), home runs (25) and RBI (59), but only hit .222. His average dipped around mid-season, and he was never able to bring it back to his season-high of .281 on May 1. Heading into his seventh MLB season, Saltalamacchia might find himself taking less of the load at catcher. He may return to his platoon days of finding time at first base and DH. That—along with Farrell improving the pitching staff—could help him get the batting average up and maintain the power numbers.
With the start of spring training, a big question surrounds each player. Will Ortiz have recovered enough to start on Opening Day? Will Saltalamacchia be traded during the season to make room for Ross and Lavarnway to take over the catching duties?
I predict a no on both counts.
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