When it comes to the batting order that Red Sox manager Alex Cora will make for the 2024 season, here is what we know.
Trevor Story should be there from the start this time after not playing until August last year as he recovered from right elbow surgery. Justin Turner (signed with the Blue Jays as a free agent) and Alex Verdugo (traded to the Yankees) won’t be part of the mix. Adam Duvall, who belted 21 homers last season despite missing two months with an injury, is a free agent. While there’s still a chance Duvall could be re-signed, he currently is not part of the mix, so projections must be made without him at this point.
So how might Cora’s batting order shape up in ’24?
Here is an early projection:
Analysis on all nine
Boston’s lineup was at its best last season when Duran was performing well at leadoff. It will be interesting to see if Cora starts the season with his speedster up top or gives him time to build some confidence and timing after missing a few weeks at the end of ’24 following left big toe surgery.
Without question, Devers is the most dangerous player the Red Sox have. In 1,386 plate appearances batting second, he has a .900 OPS. In other words, expect him to be back in the two-hole to start ’24.
Last year, Turner was the club’s most frequent No. 3 hitter, starting 101 games in that spot. Given the projection of lefties in the first two slots, as well as the fourth and fifth slots, the right-handed-hitting Story might be the best fit to bat third.
Casas was perhaps the team’s most dangerous hitter after the All-Star break and figures to do plenty of damage from the cleanup spot. Look for him to make a dramatic jump from the 65 RBIs he had last season.
In his first season in the Majors, here was the breakdown of Yoshida’s lineup placement by starts: Second (35), third (17), fourth (45), fifth (21), sixth (16). The moral of the story is that Yoshida is the type of pure hitter who can hit anywhere in the lineup. Despite a keen batting eye when he is at his best, Yoshida prefers not to hit leadoff and Boston respected those wishes last year. If O’Neill starts strong, he could switch spots with Yoshida to give Cora some more balance in the first five spots.
O’Neill looked like a star in the making with the Cardinals in 2021, but he struggled the past two years with both health and performance. If O’Neill can get his groove back and take advantage of the Green Monster, he will be a mainstay in the lineup. If not, look for him to be more of a platoon player.
For a player with 76 career at-bats, lots of optimism surrounds Abreu. The left-handed hitter has a polished approach for a player with such limited experience. He will get a chance to prove he is worthy of all the faith the organization has in him. Abreu has a strong batting eye and an arm that plays in Fenway Park’s big right field.
Of all the players in Boston’s starting nine, Grissom is the hardest to project because he only has 256 career plate appearances. His Minor League track record and brief exposure in the Majors show that he is someone who can hit for average. The Red Sox dealt Sale to the Braves for Grissom with the idea that the right-handed hitter has more power than he has shown so far. Given his impressive build -- spoiler alert, he does not look like a second baseman -- there’s a decent chance of that.
The Red Sox are most concerned with what Wong does behind the plate. However, he was dangerous at the plate in spurts. If Wong’s hot streaks can last a little longer in ’24, that would be a bonus.