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On the Offensive: the leadoff spot

February 5, 2009

it’s time for the annual tradition here at RBR, the “on the offensive” series. I do it every year before and during spring training. I go spot by spot in the lineup and predict who’ll hit there, how they will fair, etc. this year, it’s gonna be a little more difficult to predict the lineup, but I’ll give you my best geuss.

so, I’ll start today with the lead off spot naturally. I was asking myself this question the other day…who’s leading off for the cards this season?

I have some candidates in mind and they are: skip schumaker, colby rasmus, adam kennedy and brian barton. some of these guys will see plenty of time atop the lineup while others won’t get a sniff.

ok, if skip leads off, does that mean he’ll play center? if that’s the case, then colby won’t be in the bigs right? what if skip and colby are both on the team. will colby lead off? proabably not; knowing tony, he would protect him for at least part of the season before giving him small doses of the spot (unless he has to plug him in due ti injury, terrible hitting by others, etc.). so, colby making the team means he is the starting centerfielder….where will skip play? probably the bench.

the best scenario for me would be to have skip lead off and colby hit 2nd if both are on the team. that is a problem to tony because he doesn’t like stacking lefthanded hitters unless one or the other is a switch hitter (except, last season he hit skip and rick back to back and in 2004 womack and walker hit back to back).

now, to kennedy. tony has used him in the lead off spot before, but sparingly. he’ll probably do the same in 2009. his career obp is 22 points lower than skip (.328 compared to .350) and we know the most important category for a lead off man is on base percentage.

the last option is the forgotten man, brian barton. I think he is a really intriguing player with still untapped potential. his ceiling is difinitely higher than skip’s. he is two years younger than skip, can steal more bases and overall has greater upside with the bat (more power overall) and he hits right handed which is a plus in this situation. the cardinals are in need of a right handed hitting outfielder off the bench.

now, barton’s chances of making the team has increased due to glaus’ surgery and the fact that mather might get a look at the hot corner.  in limited and sporadic exposure, he did fairly well I think. he might not get an honest chance to make the team this season, but I do think he would fit nicely atop the lineup especially with tony’s rigty, lefty, righty strategy.

conclusion: I’ll go with skip as the safe choice to bat leadoff, but keep your eyes on colby and brian.

skip’s statline for ’09 in 555 at bats : .298 avg, 402 slg, .355 obp, 55 bb, 5 hr, 55 rbis, 93 runs scored….it’s all about the fives this season!

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