1) Just Who Do You Want To Hit Leadoff?
Sabermetric-inclined fans keep harping about shortstop Alcides Escobar hitting leadoff. However, the Kansas City Royals tended to win last season with Esky at the top of the lineup and he’s headlined the order through two successful playoff runs.
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The other problem with moving Escobar out of the no. 1 position is who would you replace him with?
The only current KC Royals hitters with good On Base Percentages are Eric Hosmer and Paulo Orlando. Hoz is NOT a leadoff hitter because you don’t want to waste his bat following the weakest hitters in the lineup. On the other hand, Orlando has the OBP you want right now, but he’s running hot. He’s not likely to continue at his current pace. For his career, Orlando has a ,292 OBP and doesn’t take walks.
Besides, do you really want to change anything with Orlando? That would be disrespecting the streak as baseball movie legend Crash Davis (Bull Durham) might say. I doubt Ned Yost wants to disturb himi.
Alex Gordon is often mentioned as a leadoff candidate, but he doesn’t hit well in the no. 1 position over his career. Besides, Gordon is hitting so poorly right now, putting him in the leadoff spot in place of Escobar is hard to justify. Gordon’s .211/.319/.331 triple slash is the last thing you need getting the most at bats on the team.
Omar Infante? Yeah. I’m calling him Rally Killer on Twitter in something resembling gallows humor. Since he’s played pretty well since I started calling him that, I keep putting that nickname out there. But, Infante’s recent “surge” has brought his slash line all the way up to .246/.278/.314.
If there was one thing I’d target at the trade deadline this season, it would be a guy that could set the table from the no. 1 position. Looking around the league, I’m not seeing any realistic trade candidates that could fit that bill.