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Friday, 12 May 2017 20:38

Mookie Betts Might Be Best Suited For The Leadoff Spot

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In a season that so far has offered up a lot of opportunity for criticism of the Red Sox, there is one move that I think should really be praised. Sox manager John Farrell takes a lot of heat from everyone, myself included, but I believe his decision to put Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot was a great one.

Now, whether or not it was actually John Farrell’s idea is unknown and the thought that he was being brilliant might be a stretch. It could have easily been dumb luck that Farrell made this move while shuffling the lineup and Mookie got hot, but I’ll just give the credit to the manager because he needs anything he can get right now. 

Normally in baseball, you want your best hitter to be in the three hole and that is where Mookie has been quite a lot in his Red Sox career. After a year like last year when Betts blossomed into not only the best hitter on the Red Sox but one of the better ones in the major leagues, it was easy to see him batting third for Boston for a long time.

After a slow start to the season for Mookie and the offense as a whole, the Sox switched the lineups up and moved Betts to leadoff on May 6th. The Sox have only played five games since then, but the transformation for Mookie has been noticeable. In the first game, he struggled and went 0-for-5 even as the team put up 11 runs, but you might be able to chalk that up to getting re-acclimated to the role.

The next day, in another Sox offensive outburst, Betts led the way. He went 3-for-6 with a homerun, a double and two runs scored in a win over the Minnesota Twins. In the first game of the series with Milwaukee Brewers, he continued to shine as he went 4-for-4 with another homerun, another double, two more runs scored and four RBI. The Sox lost, but Betts was a bright spot.

Fast forward another day and Mookie cooled off a bit, as he went only 1-for-4 at the plate. That one hit was game-tying RBI single in the fourth, before the Sox would go on to lose again. Then there was yesterday, where I think most of us know what happened. Betts went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored, and oh you know just a go-ahead three-run homerun in the top of the ninth inning. So yea, I guess you could say the guy is seeing the ball pretty well right now. 

Before the move to leadoff, Betts was batting .280 with a OBP of .351 and a slugging percentage of .420. After the move, he's hitting .455 with a .556 OBP and slugging 1.045. If Mookie is indeed rounding back into form and going to get back to the MVP-caliber level of play, that will be a huge pick-me-up for a Red Sox team that needs one. He’s spent a lot of time in both the three hole and the leadoff spot and I don’t think he cares where he hits, but if his recent production stays the same, I like him right where he is.

John Farrell hasn’t ruled out moving Betts back into the middle of the order at some point, as he shouldn’t. I think right now though, everyone likes Mookie getting as many at-bats as he can.If Mookie is indeed rounding back into form and going to get back to the MVP-caliber level of play, that will be a huge pick-me-up for a Red Sox team that needs one. He’s spent a lot of time in both the three hole and the leadoff spot and I don’t think he cares where he hits, but if his recent production stays the same, I like him right where he is.

John Farrell hasn’t ruled out moving Betts back into the middle of the order at some point, as he shouldn’t. I think right now though, everyone likes Mookie getting as many at-bats as he can.

Jake Archer

Jake is a contributor to the CLNS Red Sox beat team. He is passionate about baseball, basketball, football and golf, but can get interested in almost anything competitive. Jake has a lot of strong opinions and will share them through his writing and podcasting. You can also follow him on Twitter @jarcher04 but please be advised, his takes can get hot.