USA Today Sports

Could this Red Sox lineup make history?

Rob Bradford
March 08, 2018 - 11:45 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox were a middle-of-the-road offensive team in 2017, managing to hit the fewest number of home runs among American League teams in the most historic home run-hitting season ever.

So, how could we possibly be talking about virtually the same group making history one year later?

Newcomer J.D. Martinez hinted at it Thursday afternoon.

"I think it's definitely unique," he said of the Red Sox' batting order. "It's a different lineup that I've been on. It's a lot more like the Arizona lineup in a sense, but it's still different from that lineup. There's a lot more speed. I feel like there are a lot of guys here who burn you on the bases. They're going to run. It's dangerous when you have guys who can move like that. Obviously, the home run is great because it's a quick run, but that's not always going to play. You kind of want guys on base, putting pressure on that pitcher and that's what I think we have here."

But how unique? Potentially historically unique.

It's really not a stretch to think that the Red Sox could become the first team ever to claim four players with at least 20 home runs and at least 20 stolen bases in a single season. 

Both Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi accomplished the feat last season, while Xander Bogaerts is seemingly creeping to 20 in each category for the past two years. The wild-card might be Jackie Bradley Jr., who has gotten the green light to steal bases for the first time in his career. As for home runs, the centerfielder has hit 43 over the past two seasons.

"I talked before – and I hate putting expectations on guys – but this is a lineup that, we can have four 20-20 guys, maybe five. And that doesn’t happen," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Well, it’s never happened in the history of the game."

He's right.

The record thus far is three players in one season, with the 2009 Phillies (Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley) and 1988 Mets (Howard Johnson, Kevin McReynolds, Daryl Strawberry) pulling it off.

Besides last season, the only other Red Sox club to claim two 20-20 players in a season was the 2011 team thanks to Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. In total, only nine Red Sox players have recorded such seasons, with Betts (twice), Benintendi, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Nomar Garciaparra, John Valentin, Ellis Burks, Carl Yastrzemski and Jackie Jenson (twice) managing the feat.

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