Carl Crawford Best Fits in Red Sox’ Lineup as No. 8 Hitter, According to Simulator

The Red Sox’ recent acquisitions of All-Stars Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez make them one of the most feared offenses in the league. But how good are they exactly?

Baseball Reference ran a simulation of Boston’s new lineup and found, using each player’s on-base and slugging percentages over the past three seasons, that the Red Sox’ projected batting order would average roughly 5.675 runs per game, which is about 919 runs over a 162-game season.

Boston scored 818 runs last year, so the addition of Crawford and Gonzalez, combined with healthy seasons in 2011 from Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis will be a huge upgrade from 2010.

Here is the batting order that Baseball Reference projects the Red Sox will have in 2011, with the average of each player’s on-base and slugging percentages over the past three years:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (.339/.395)
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (.372/.475)
3. Carl Crawford, LF (.349/.454)
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (.387/.523)
5. Kevin Youkilis, 3B (.404/.560)
6. David Ortiz, DH (.356/.498)
7. J.D. Drew, RF (.379/.495)
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (.317/.364)
9. Marco Scutaro, SS (.351/.385)

The simulator also projects the Red Sox’ optimal lineup for 2011, based on the same calculations. The lineup, which projects to score 5.754 runs per game (or roughly 932 runs for the season) features Crawford, a career top-of-the-lineup hitter, batting in the No. 8 slot, while Youkilis, Boston’s most consistent slugger over the past two seasons, would hit second.

Here is the full lineup:

1. J.D. Drew, RF (.379/.495)
2. Kevin Youkilis, 3B (.404/.560)
3. David Ortiz, DH (.356/.498)
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (.387/.523)
5. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (.372/.475)
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (.317/.364)
7. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (.339/.395)
8. Carl Crawford, LF (.349/.454)
9. Marco Scutaro, SS (.351/.385)

It should be noted that these projections are based off several variables, and that this batting order may or may not be the one manager Terry Francona chooses to pencil into his lineup card on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the Red Sox, who already scored the second-most runs in the majors in 2010, will once again have one of the most potent offenses around.