(1090 The Fan) — Let the speculation begin!
With the addition of Robinson Cano and Corey Hart, the Mariners’ middle of the order has pretty much been set: Cano is the number three hitter and Hart would follow in the cleanup spot. Third baseman Kyle Seager is likely going to be in the number two spot, according to manager Lloyd McClendon. So, how will the tip top of the lineup shakeout?
MLB.com’s Greg John notes that, obviously, it is all going to depend on who wins the two or three starting jobs that are up for grabs — and that will all be determined in Peoria throughout next month.
In 2013, Brad Miller had the most appearances at the leadoff spot in the lineup (67), with Endy Chavez being a distant second (38). Roughly one-third of the season featured a different leadoff hitter.
Needless to say, the leadoff position has been an issue with the club ever since Ichiro Suzuki was dealt to New York in 2012.
When it comes to the player who got on base the most consistently last year, Kyle Seager led the team with an OBP of .338. But, it’s Seager’s pop that is keeping him out of the leadoff spot; he had an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .764 in 2013. Seager also was second in RBI for the Mariners with 69.
Michael Saunders led the team with 13 stolen bases last year — a hint as to why the Mariners ranked 28th in stolen bases last year with 49 total. By comparison, American League West rivals the Texas Rangers tallied 149 and the Houston Astros had 110.
The Trouble With Miller
Miller is clearly capable of being the leadoff man of the future for the Mariners, however, he needs to win a starting position first. As we all know, Nick Franklin will not only be trying to win the starting shortstop position during Spring Training, but he’ll be fighting to stay with the club. With Cano at second, Franklin is destined to be dealt if he isn’t the Mariners starting shortstop in 2014.
One candidate without a whole lot of Major League data to support his case for leadoff spot is Abraham Almonte who held a .403 OBP and had 20 stolen bases in 94 games for Triple-A Tacoma last year.
Enough with numbers, who do you think should be the leadoff man?
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