Chone Figgins hit second in the Mariners’ batting order for the first 55 games of the season, but manager Don Wakamatsu moved him to the ninth spot yesterday and Figgins wasn’t very happy about it:
I mean, I’ve been getting on base. I’ve been swinging the bat pretty good. Obviously, it had something to do with me. I think I’ve earned enough respect as a player, because I’m still battling and I’m going good, that I should stay where I was at. I don’t have anything to say.
The fact is, I come to play. And anybody that’s ever known me or watched me play this game knows no matter whether you hit me first, second or tenth, I’m going to play. If I come off the bench, I’m going to come to play 110 percent. And there is not anybody in this game who can take that away from me.
Figgins had three hits last night, so surely Wakamatsu thinks the move motivated him, but in reality Figgins has been hitting well for a while now. Prior to yesterday Figgins was 20-for-68 (.293) with 10 walks and four steals in his last 19 games, producing a .294/.380/.353 line that basically matches his .288/.361/.383 career mark.
So after sticking with a legitimately struggling Figgins in the second spot for two months, Wakamatsu actually decided to move him to the bottom of the order exactly when he started producing like normal again.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.