I know, I know, this is what you've all been waiting for - and I have kept you waiting. In my defense, had I done this any sooner, I wouldn't have been able to include Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford, and their presence certainly changes things in a big way. Two weeks ago, I presented the Bill James projections for the rotation (58-48 from the front five), and it's high time I did the same for the lineup. Keep in mind, this batting order is just my guess - I'm sure it will change based on who the other team has pitching, who needs rest, and how everyone is doing, so take it with a grain of salt.
CENTER FIELD: Jacoby Ellsbury: 2010: 18 games, .192 BA, .241 OBP, .244 SLG, 0 HR, 5 RBI
2011 projection: 157 games, .300 BA, .355 OBP, .409 SLG, 8 HR, 58 RBI
If Goldenboy lives up to these numbers, I promise to stop calling him D-Ellsbury, and maybe even become a fan. In all seriousness, you could ask for more form a leadoff hitter, but it would be pretty demanding. I could definitely live with this line from Ells.
SECOND BASE:Dustin Pedroia: 2010: 75 games, .288 BA, .367 OBP, .493 SLG, 12 HR, 41 RBI
2011 projection: 158 games, .297 BA, .372 OBP, .462 SLG, 17 HR, 77 RBI
Hubby is expected to be back to his old voracious, impressive, and loudmouth self in 2011, after a season that was a wash due to injury. Pedey hits best when he's batting second, and he seems to like it, so I expect Tito to keep him there.
LEFT FIELD:Carl Crawford: 2010: 154 games, .307 BA, .356 OBP, .495 SLG, 19 HR, 90 RBI
2011 projection: 149 games, .300 BA, .350 OBP, .453 SLG, 14 HR, 93 RBI
Let's deal with the elephant in the room first: is Crawford worth $20+ million a year? Probably not, but I'm thrilled he's coming to Boston at any cost. I REALLY wish he was willing to bat leadoff, but apparently he hates it, and Tito's not one to go against a player's wishes, but he'll definitely be somewhere near the top. His numbers might be slightly better at Fenway than the Trop, but the difference won't be anything crazy.
THIRD BASE:Kevin Youkilis: 2010: 102 games, .307 BA, .411 OBP, .564 SLG, 19 HR, 62 RBI
2011 projection: 151 games, .294 BA, .398 OBP, .507 SLG, 25 HR, 95 RBI
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kevin Youkilis is under-appreciated by this fanbase - and that's hard to do. He's wildly consistent, and his willingness and ability to slide across the diamond to third base next year is huge.
FIRST BASE:Adrian Gonzalez: 2010: 160 games, .298 BA, .393 OBP, .511 SLG, 31 HR, 101 RBI
2011 projection: 161 games, .285 BA, .378 OBP, .512 SLG, 33 HR, 102 RBI
Keep in mind that Gonzo's numbers are likely to improve due to the Fenway effect. He spent last season playing in Petco Park, where doubles go to die, but even if we only (ONLY!) get the numbers predicted by James, I'll be happy.
DESIGNATED HITTER:David Ortiz: 2010: 145 games, .270 BA, .370 OBP, .529 SLG, 32 HR, 102 RBI
2011 projection: 151 games, .261 BA, .366 OBP, .509 SLG, 33 HR, 112 RBI
Expect the usual from Papi: he'll struggle mightily in April, and then find his stroke sometime in May, just as the howling about his $12.5 million salary reaches fever pitch. In the end, he'll produce what we've come to expect from him, which isn't too shabby when you really look at it.
RIGHT FIELD: JD Drew: 2010: 139 games, .255 BA, .341 OBP, .452 SLG, 22 HR, 68 RBI
2011 projection: 145 games, .263 BA, .370 OBP, .460 SLG, 22 HR, 77 RBI
Mike Cameron: 2010: 48 games, .259 BA, .328 OBP, .401 SLG, 4 HR, 15 RBI
2011 projection: 121 games, .239 BA, .327 OBP, .425 SLG, 18 HR, 58 RBI
Because the outfield is so lefty-heavy, I expect Cameron to get more than enough playing time. I'm coupling him with Drew for the purpose of these projections simply because Drew tends to miss significant time with injuries each year. On the other hand, it is a contract year for Drew, so maybe he'll surprise us.
SHORTSTOP:Marco Scutaro: 2010: 150 games, .275 BA, .333 OBP, .388 SLG, 11 HR, 56 RBI
2011 projection: 153 games, .266 BA, .339 OBP, .374 SLG, 10 HR, 60 RBI
Jed Lowrie: 2010: 55 games, .287 BA, .381 OBP, .526 SLG, 9 HR, 24 RBI
2011 projection: 144 games, .270 BA, .361 OBP, .467 SLG, 17 HR, 75 RBI
Either James is predicting that Lowrie will be a utility guy and get a lot of games at other positions, or he's guessing one of these two will be traded. Either way, both players have respectable lines - though Lowrie's are a bit better across the board. If Lowrie can manage to keep himself healthy (I know that's a big "if" given the history) he'll probably play more, but let's face it: they're both just place-holders until Jose Iglesias is ready.
CATCHER:Jason Varitek: 2010: 39 games, .232 BA, .293 OBP, .473 SLG, 7 HR, 16 RBI
2011 projection: 72 games, .228 BA, .324 OBP, .386 SLG, 33 RBI
2010: 12 games, .167 BA, .333 OBP, .292 SLG, 0 HR, 2 RBI
2011 projection: 110 games, .249 BA, .323 OBP, .422 SLG, 12 HR, 43 RBI
Not the best thing you've ever seen, but if Salty can come into his own defensively while Tek shows him the ropes, I think we can deal with this line. One more note: Salty hits righthanders better, while Tek is pretty good against lefties - I think that's what we'll see.
The very fact that I can plausibly design a lineup that has David Ortiz hitting sixth and JD Drew seventh makes me very excited. I'm sure Tito will figure things out, and his lineup will be fantastic - if we can just keep healthy (PLEASE?!?) this should be a fantastic team to watch.