MLB Boston Red Sox

Predicting Boston Red Sox’ 2014 Opening Day Lineup

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Predicting the Boston Red Sox' 2014 Opening Day Lineup

Predicting the Boston Red Sox' 2014 Opening Day Lineup
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With less than a month until opening day, the Boston Red Sox will have plenty of evaluating to do in order to set their 2014 lineup. The defending World Series Champions will be dealing with many changes within the lineup.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarred Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew are not on the Red Sox roster. Instead, the Red Sox will rely on young players like Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks to take over the duties of former players. Boston also signed A.J. Pierzynski to take Salty’s place. The young players make for many unknowns in the Sox lineup, so it’s difficult to project how well this team will fare offensively.

Of course, some old faces will be returning to the Red Sox roster this season. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes, David Ross and Mike Napoli will all be back in some type of role for the 2014 Red Sox. The questions is, where will they fit in with this year’s team? What type of role will they be accountable for?

With new faces, can the Red Sox duplicate their title run efforts in 2014, or is this season an inevitable rebuilding-type season? You be the judge after looking at what their opening day lineup may look like.

Michael LeDuc is a Boston Celtics writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @mike_leduc, and add him on Google.

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1. LF Daniel Nava

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Jacoby Ellsbury's presence will be greatly missed, but Daniel Nava will fill in nicely. Nava isn't the speed demon Ellsbury is, but he gets on base and works the count. In 2013, Nava was 5th in the American League with a .385 OBP. His lengthy at-bats should give the rest of the team a good look at the pitcher. When facing lefties, Johnny Gomes will get the at-bats and most likely hit second, bumping Victorino up.

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2. RF Shane Victorino

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Victorino is perfect for the No. 2 spot in the lineup. He brings speed and intensity, as well as a high batting average. Let's see how he does without Ellsbury preceding him.

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3. 2B Dustin Pedroia

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Whether he's in the No. 2 or the No. 3 spot, Pedroia is one of the most productive hitters on the team. The former MVP does his job to perfection. He hits for a high average, knocks in a bunch of runs and sets up Ortiz effectively. For now, hitting third makes the most sense for Pedroia and the Red Sox.

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4. DH David Ortiz

Big Papi
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Say what you want about him and his current contract situation, but the bottom line is Ortiz is the Red Sox' best hitter. Boston wouldn't be the same without him. Big Papi is fine just where he is.

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5. 1B Mike Napoli

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Boy his strikeouts are irritating. However, Napoli is solid insurance hitting behind Ortiz. Napoli, beard and all, comes up big in the right moments. I think he will have more home runs than last year (23), but fewer RBI's (92) and hopefully less strikeouts (187...yikes!).

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6. SS Xander Bogaerts

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Bogaerts showed that he was something special with his peformance on the biggest stage in baseball, the World Series. He's disciplined at the plate, has some pop and has more poise than any other 21-year old. He looks like a seasoned veteran in the batter's box. Bogaerts is the real deal, but expect some ups and downs in his rookie season.

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7. C A.J. Pierzynski

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most hated players in the MLB will be hitting 7th for the Red Sox. Many fans will miss Salty, but Pierzynski is just the bridge to some of the younger catchers in the farm system. Perizynski is a solid hitter, but he's a free swinger, isn't disciplined and doesn't draw many walks. He hits for a higher average than Salty and doesn't strikeout as much. Not much of an upgrade for the Red Sox, but not a downgrade either.

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8. 3B Will Middlebrooks

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Until Middlebrooks proves himself, he'll be hitting 8th for the Red Sox. He has power potential, but strikeouts too much and has a tendency to pull the ball at the height of its inconvenience. Hopefully Middlebrooks bounces back after hitting .227/.272/.425 and spending time in the minors.

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9. CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie B
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

After all the hype last season, Jackie Bradley Jr. was a bit of a disappointment. He clearly was not ready for the big leagues at the time. With the Center field position being his job to lose, Bradley has a chance to emerge in 2014. Batting 9th will take some of the pressure off and allow him to thrive. Hopefully he can become the Sox' leadoff hitter in the near future.