Cora: Benintendi will lead off, Betts will hit second in 2019


The defending world champion Red Sox lineup will have a new look in 2019. At least at the top.

Alex Cora said American League MVP Mookie Betts will move to the second spot in the order and Andrew Benintendi will take over as the leadoff hitter from Betts.

Cora said he'd been thinking about the change for the past and a half and wanted to give Betts, who had 80 RBI to go with 32 homers and the A.L. batting title (.346), more RBI opportunities. 

"Beni can be aggressive, too, and he can -- he's a good runner. He gets on base," Cora said. "And I put it this way to Mookie. And I know Beni's okay with it. But if you play 162 games, you're going to come up 162 at-bats with nobody on."

Among players with at least 600 plate appearances, no one had fewer opportunities with runners on base than Betts, with 205. The Astros' George Springer came close, though, at 206. 

Benintendi hit .290 with 16 homers and 87 RBI. He had 21 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .366. He hit No. 2 in the order for 120 of his 148 games. Betts had a .438 OBP and his 30 steals made him the second player in Red Sox history to have a 30/30 season (Jacoby Ellsbury in 2011).

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