Batting David Ortiz, J.D. Drew Back-to-Back Is Risky But Could Be Terry Francona’s Most Potent Option Against Righties

Batting David Ortiz, J.D. Drew Back-to-Back Is Risky But Could Be Terry Francona's Most Potent Option Against Righties Editor's note: Each weekday starting Jan. 17, Red Sox reporter Tony Lee will offer his take on 10 different potential lineups for the 2011 Red Sox. Check back every day to see a new offensive rundown and the pros, cons and likelihood of each.

In our several looks at lineup possibilities for the 2011 Red Sox, we have worked under the assumption that David Ortiz and J.D. Drew need to be kept separate in the order.

The obvious support for such an action lies in their inability to hit lefties last year and at other times in their careers. Consider that they had six home runs and 111 strikeouts in 334 at-bats against southpaws in 2010. Putting those results back-to-back has some risk.

Yet, with Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald on the bench most days, manager Terry Francona has a pair of solid options to pinch-hit for Drew if the opponent trots out a tough lefty to handle the Ortiz-Drew pairing. Additionally, the Sox, like every other team in baseball, will be facing more right-handed starters than lefties, so we're really only worrying about an issue in some late-inning situations. That doesn't seem hardly enough of a concern when you think about the value of putting Ortiz and Drew together, as opposed to something like Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Here is a look at the lineup if and when there are no concerns over righty-lefty matchups:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Carl Crawford, LF
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
6. David Ortiz, DH
7. J.D. Drew, RF
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
9. Marco Scutaro, SS

Let's imagine a run-of-the-mill righty on the mound, a rather common scene. He could get positively hammered by this lineup. Of the nine guys listed, only Youkilis and Scutaro have lower career slugging percentages against right-handers, and for them, the margin is slim. Everyone else would be in their element, and from a pure production standpoint, this could be the best top seven Francona can put out there.

Five of those first seven guys bat from the left side. It'll make for some interesting chess matches once the bullpens get into the mix. Fortunately, Francona has Cameron, McDonald, Jason Varitek and Jed Lowrie to cover his bases. And if Drew reverts to his 2008 and 2009 form, when his OPS vs. lefties was .926 and .863, respectively, then this all becomes less of an issue.

Likelihood we will see this lineup in 2011
If everyone is going well, this configuration could be utilized several times a week.

Wednesday, Jan. 26: Darnell McDonald, Mike Cameron provide depth, options.

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