clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Leadoff hitter: Yunel Escobar or Kelly Johnson?


John Farrell has used Kelly Johnson in the leadoff spot the last couple of games, and it has us guessing whether he likes Johnson there better, for the spot, than Escobar, or if he is just trying things out. I figured I'd ask you all who you would rather see leading off.

For me, it doesn't matter all that much. They get on base about the same amount. Kelly walks a bit more, Yunel has a slightly higher batting average. Kelly's career slugging average is a bit higher than Yunel's and Kelly steals a bit more. Not that he steals a lot of bases, but he had 16 steals last year. I'm not sure if that matters to you. I don't care if the leadoff guy steals a lot of bases.Neither of these two are going to steal 30 bases.

I'd rather have guys stealing nearer the back of the lineup. Who wants to have some guy stealing in front of Jose Bautista? The guy on first is in scoring position for Jose. You don't want to take the bat out of his hands and you very much don't want someone getting caught stealing in front of him. I always thought you would be better off stealing in front of the guys at the back of the order, who aren't likely to hit a home run or a double, but might single or move a runner up from second on a ground out.

Johnson is a left-handed batter so he has the platoon advantage more often. And if he walks more often but Yunel hits more often, it would be good as you can go first to third on a hit, you can't on a walk.

Someone on the radio broadcast, (can't remember who, Wilner?) suggested that Yunel had 'better bat control' suggesting (I guess) that Yunel would be the better one at the plate, if they decided to hit and run. I tend to discount those 'bat control' statements. It is hard to prove who would be better at the hit and run.

My worry is that we might see Farrell have Yunel bunting a bunch.

Bunting is one of my least favorite strategies in baseball. Bunting in the first inning has got to be the dumbest idea going. A) you should never play for one run in the first inning. You don't know how the game is going to go. Perhaps one run will be important, but you don't know yet. B) The first inning is often the best chance to get some runs against a starter. Sometimes it takes a starting pitcher an inning or two to figure out what pitches are working and where the strike zone is. How many times have you seen a starter be just out of the strike zone in the first inning and then, the rest of the game, be right on the corners. Sometimes it is the umpire that is having the problems getting the strike zone right. Either way, why help out the pitcher?

Also, in the first inning, if you get the first batter on, you have a chance to drive up the starter's pitch count. Why give him an out on one pitch?

Anyway, that's my worry, I don't want Yunel bunting. Let's have the question....