Pop Quiz: Who’s Driving the Sox Offense?

Filed in Sports by on April 27, 2010 0 Comments

Varitek on Base ©DirectoryofBoston.com

Pop quiz: which Red Sox player has the highest batting average so far this season?

Is it V-Mart? Pedroia? Another one of the usual suspects?

Believe it or not, it’s Jason Varitek. Yes, the veteran catcher—who, you may remember, lost his starting job mid-season last year when the Sox brought in hard-hitting Victor Martinez in hopes of improving their offensive production—leads the team with a stellar .357 average 20 games into the 2010 season.

At first glance, it may seem like that number is inflated—Varitek started the season on the bench, and has about half the number of plate appearances as most of the starters. He could be on a string of good luck, and, with time, his numbers will dip back to more expected levels.

However, Tek also ranks second on the team in home runs and sixth in RBI. And, remember, he’s done all of that in half the plate appearances as the regulars. His RBI totals are also interesting to note, because all of his homers have been solo shots. Had the rest of the offense not been struggling so much, Varitek’s RBI total would most likely be much higher.

The fact that a player who was presumed over the hill—so much so that even The Onion began mocking his diminished offensive production—is leading the Boston offense is incredible. For Vartiek, his early season surge is something of vindication. He is continually proving that he has some life left, despite what critics and even his own team thought.

It’s doubtful Varitek will stay this hot all season. But if he does, he could bail the Red Sox out of the quagmire David Ortiz has landed them in.

Ortiz’s production has continued to decline, leaving Boston in an awkward position where their primary DH is a non-threat. If Varitek keeps up his production, Boston could make Victor Martinez their DH, and start Varitek back at catcher. Varitek is considered one of the best play callers in the game, so pairing him back with the Sox pitching would aid the team’s defense as well. Assuming he isn’t traded, Boston could also use Mike Lowell at DH to give Varitek a day off.

Of course this all assumes Ortiz stays in a funk. If he does, he will likely lose his DH spot to Martinez, with Varitek coming back into the fold as the starting catcher.

It will be sad to see Ortiz fizzle out of the lineup. But that sadness will easily be outweighed by a triumphant return by the Sox captain.

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