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Feb. 27, 2023

Where the F*ck Will Masataka Yoshida Hit in the Red Sox Lineup?

When the Boston Red Sox signed (arguably overpaid for) Masataka Yoshida, we were told that he would most likely be the Red Sox primary leadoff hitter heading into the 2023 MLB season. With a career .421 on-base percentage with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, would he be a no-brainer for the leadoff spot? Hold on to your hats because Red Sox manager Alex Cora threw a curveball this past Sunday, before the second Spring Training game of the year, suggesting that may not be the case. He might even hit fourth or fifth.

Look, I get it. Unfortunately for him, most people know little about Yoshida, considering he spent his entire career in Japan before this year. So, let me give you the rundown. This dude has been hitting third or fourth in the lineup for most of his career in Japan, and he's damn good at it. With a keen eye and a sweet swing, he can be a force to be reckoned with. So, when the Red Sox signed him in December 2022, fans were stoked. But now, with Cora's recent comments, we're all left scratching our heads. Where the f*ck is he going to hit?

Let's talk about Cora for a second. When it comes to the lineup, he's got us all baffled. Cora's been talking much about Rafael Devers hitting second, which makes sense. But where does that leave Yoshida? Cora has said that he wants to split up the lefties in the lineup, which means that Yoshida may end up hitting fourth or fifth. But wait, didn't we sign him to be our leadoff hitter? Mysteries abound in Fort Myers.

Here's the thing. We don't have a prototypical leadoff hitter on this team. Cora's mentioned Kiké Hernández, who did a decent job in the leadoff spot last season with a .342 on-base percentage. And then there's Alex Verdugo, who's hit leadoff 42 times in his career and has had some success with it. But the fact of the matter is, we need someone who can consistently get on base and set the tone for the rest of the lineup.

Now, let's talk about Verdugo. He doesn't give a sh*t where he hits in the lineup; he's just happy to be playing ball. And you know what? That's the attitude we need on this team. Verdugo's had success hitting leadoff in the past, and he could be a viable option for the position again this season. But the question remains, is he the best option?

Here's the bottom line. Red Sox leadoff hitters had a .295 on-base percentage last season, the fourth-lowest in the majors. That's unacceptable. If we want to be contenders this season, we need better production from the top of the lineup. And that means finding the right guy for the job. We need to figure it out quickly, whether Yoshida, Hernández, Verdugo, or someone else entirely.

The Red Sox are still figuring out who will hit leadoff this season. Will it be Yoshida, Kiké Hernández, Alex Verdugo, or someone else? Only time will tell.

But one thing's certain: the Red Sox must improve their production at the top of the lineup. Their leadoff hitters had a measly .295 on-base percentage last season, the fourth-lowest in the majors. Unfortunately, that won't cut it if they want to make a serious run at the World Series this year.

Let's hope Cora and the rest of the coaching staff can figure out a lineup that works and gets the job done. And who knows, Yoshida may surprise us all and become the leadoff hitter we didn't know we needed. Until then, we'll be eagerly awaiting the start of the season and all the drama that comes with it.