Friday, April 18, 2014

How are the leadoff hitters doing?

Here we are 16 games into 2014, and one spot in the order that hasn't quite been figured out yet is leadoff.  Let's take a look at the numbers of each player in that spot:

Dee Gordon
8 G, 12-for-32, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 6 SB, .375 AVG, .417 OBP
There was no way at the start of Spring Training that anyone would have thought Gordon could put up these types of numbers leading off, or any spot in the order for that matter, but much to his credit he has.  The word on him was that he put on some muscle in the offseason, and maybe that combined with more confidence and seasoning has paid off.  He still isn't the slickest fielder on Earth, but what he's done at the plate in the early going cannot be ignored.

Carl Crawford
5 G, 6-for-22, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 R, 2 SB, .273 AVG, .304 OBP
Crawford seems like a more prototypical leadoff hitter compared to Gordon, but the results aren't as good.  Then again, taking walks has never been Crawford's thing, so maybe these numbers shouldn't be too surprising.  It's hard to get too excited about him these days, as he clearly looks like he's on the downside of his career.  That's not to say that he can't contribute anymore, because he can, but with five healthy outfielders, his playing time is pretty scattered.

Yasiel Puig
3 G, 3-for-14, 1 RBI, 1 R, .214 AVG, .267 OBP
I came into this season really believing in Puig leading off.  I still do, but these numbers don't exactly back me up.  If Gordon comes back to Earth some, then I can see Puig getting more starts in the #1 spot.  Obviously his weakness is swinging and missing, as he's pretty much all or nothing at the plate.  But when he's on, he sets quite the tone.  We definitely have not heard the last of him leading off.

(Note: Justin Turner has three at-bats in the leadoff spot, but that was in relief of Gordon.  He did have an RBI single, at least.)

Gordon has earned more starts at leadoff, as you can't ignore those numbers.  The only downside is that he's hitting .222 against left-handed pitchers, including being blanked against Madison Bumgarner on Thursday.  Hitting .405 against right-handed hurlers is much more encouraging.

Like I said above, I still believe in Puig at leadoff as well.  So here's my simple solution: if a righty is on the mound, then Gordon is at leadoff and Puig hitting second.  With a lefty, flip-flop it.  Imagine both of those guys getting on base to start a game.  How distracting would that be for an opposing pitcher and defense?  That would be fun to watch.

Crawford in the leadoff spot?  Not so much.  Let Gordon and Puig handle it.

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