In the American League last season, hitters batting fourth cranked out 427 home runs in 10,463 plate appearances. Over a full season for a single player, generalized typically as 650 plate appearances, that’s about 26-27 homers. Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts last season hit seven in 654 PA, and the Red Sox are considering batting him cleanup, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne.
Manager John Farrell isn’t focusing so much on Bogaerts’ ability to hit home runs. Rather, because he bats right-handed, Farrell thinks batting him fourth will separate him from fellow right-handers Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia in the lineup. With David Ortiz batting third, teams will have to take some risk or cycle through pitchers in order to bring in a tough right-handed reliever late in a game.
“If the No. 1 criteria of the four-hole hitter was how many home runs did you hit, Xander isn’t that type of hitter,” said Farrell. “Within our lineup, you’re always looking to get your higher on-base, higher-average guys higher in the order. He’s clearly one of those. Second to that is, how do you best break up a complete run of right-handers?”
Farrell added that he would likely flip the 3-4 spots in the order against left-handed starters, meaning Bogaerts would hit third and Ortiz fourth.