The Boston Red Sox don’t know who they’ll face yet in the World Series, but they do know they’ll have to play at least two games in a National League ballpark next weekend. When the scene shifts to Los Angeles or Milwaukee for Games 3, 4 and potentially 5, the designated hitter will be out, which in their case could eliminate J.D. Martinez and his MVP-caliber bat from the lineup.
We say could eliminate Martinez, because Red Sox manager Alex Cora admits the team is considering a bold plan that would allow Martinez to stay in the World Series lineup. But it would force Boston’s other MVP candidate, Mookie Betts, to change positions.
Mookie Betts could play second base
During a workout Saturday at Fenway, Cora admitted that playing Betts at second base could be an option in the NL park.
Alex Cora didn’t rule out Mookie Betts playing second base in the National League Park
— Christopher Smith (@SmittyOnMLB) October 20, 2018
That plan would open up a corner outfield spot for Martinez, who historically has been a defensive liability. You can’t really hide a defender in baseball, but presumably putting him in left field could limit his exposure.
If Betts play second base, the odd man out would be Brock Holt. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi would round out Boston’s outfield.
Betts is a good enough athlete to pull off his end of this plan. In fact, he’s made 15 appearances at second base during his MLB career. Only one of those has come since 2014, but at least he has experience. The bigger problem would be losing Betts’ exceptional outfield defense. He’s made some huge plays for Boston in right field.
Is the plan worth it?
Martinez was arguably the best hitter in the American League this season, posting a .330/.402/.629 slashline to go along with 30 homers and 143 RBI. Yeah, we’d say finding a way to keep his bat in the lineup is a worthwhile endeavor.
It’s not unlike recent Boston teams getting David Ortiz in the lineup at first base during games in NL parks. It’s not a foolproof plan, nor is it one you’d ideally want to use for a full nine innings. But if Cora and the Red Sox are intent on fielding their best offensive lineup, it will definitely feature Martinez in the outfield.
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