The Red Sox lineup: A balanced attack that works

For all of you who were fearing what this offense would look like without Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the month of August has been very comforting. Despite injuries to Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew, the Sox have hit .298/.383/.477 in August, their best month as a team. They’ve already scored 150 runs, their second-best monthly total of the year, and should easily pass May’s 154 runs. They’re walking as well as ever, and the strikeouts have stayed level. There really isn’t much to complain about, from a team perspective.

This excellent offensive production has not been primarily buoyed by Ortiz, who, judging by his production, is still feeling the effects of a strained tendon sheath in his wrist. He is hitting .268/.417/.476 this month with just 3 HR (with 21 walks this month, pitchers do seem to be pitching around him a lot, and the Sox have no objections there). Rather, just look at what some of the other regulars (and one irregular) have been doing this month:

Dustin Pedroia (.333/.380/.616 with 6 HR and 20 RBI)
Pedey has just been pounding the ball mercilessly, and has done a great job at the plate. Incredibly, he has actually BUILT upon his Rookie of the Year campaign, adding 15 HR and 12 SB to his high batting average and excellent OBP. His defense has gone from very good to excellent this season, and he’s turned himself into a heck of a player. As much as I acknowledge his value to this team, I do think that the MVP talk regarding Pedey is a little overblown. He has all those doubles thanks in huge part to Fenway, not because he has exceptional doubles power. The last 2B to win one of those was Jeff Kent in 2000 (when he hit .334/.424/.596 with 33 HR and 125 RBI), and there hasn’t been one given to a second baseman in the AL since Nellie Fox in 1959.

Kevin Youkilis (.356/.429/.667 with 6 HR and 21 RBI)
We’re used to seeing these numbers out of Big Papi, but they’re coming from the Sox’ unappreciated first baseman. He’s not a pure hitter, he’s not athletic, he doesn’t have enough power to play first; Youk has ignored all the criticisms to post a great season for anyone. What second half slump? I do think his XBHs and 91 RBI will put him in contention for an MVP, but I would be surprised if he beats out some of the bigger names; he’s not really well-liked around the league.

Jason Bay (.347/.387/.558 with 4 HR and 24 RBI)
Bay has been a pleasant surprise in Beantown; he has made his plate appearances count, and gotten lots of key hits in his short stint as a Red Sox. We can ignore what Manny’s doing out in LA because Bay has matched him in many categories, and even impressed a little with his solid defense. He’s adjusted well to the Monster, and does everything well, including running the bases.

Jed Lowrie (.321/.402/.560 with 1 HR and 21 RBI)
How many teams can lose their starting shortstop and simply plug in a guy who hits like this? The Dodgers and Angels are struggling to field a guy who can catch and throw the ball, let alone get on base. Lowrie has been incredibly steady for a rookie, and plays with his head. He is flexible, having played at second and third base and coming off the bench.


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