Reed Johnson best option for Lead-off?

Lou Piniella has apparently anointed Reed Johnson for his lead-off batter in Alfonso Soriano’s absence.  Of course Lou is apt to change his mind on occasion, but for now that’s the way it is.  Reed provides some spark and has a gamer attitude, but he’s far from the prototypical #1 slot hitter based on his numbers.

Johnson has a .342 on-base percentage which is actually ten points higher than Soriano. But the entire world knows Soriano is a free-swinger and OBP is not his claim to fame.  Johnson is batting just .267 this year and has 13 walks in 176 at bats. He doesn’t steal bases with just 4 bags all year. So why then does Lou want him in the leadoff spot? 

Ryan Theriot is batting .310 with a .388 OBP. He leads the team with 13 steals and has 32 walks. He, too, is a gamer who can work the count and makes contact with just 23 strikeouts as compared to Johnson’s 28 k’s in 76 fewer at bats.  So why is Lou not comfortable with Theriot batting lead-off with Fukudome 2nd, followed by Lee, Ramirez, Soto…?  This was the lineup I advocated in March (with the exception of Soriano in the 5th spot).  Statistcally, this lineup matches the modern day thinking of ideal hitters for each slot.  You want an on-base guy who can run leading off, a contact guy who can hit situationally second, your best overall hitter third, your power guy in cleanup, and a big bat in the 5th hole to protect your cleanup guy.  That’s how you draw it up on paper and if you have the personnel, its a winning formula. 

So tell me why Lou doesn’t buy into this?  Sure, hard to argue with the manager of a team 20 games over .500 in June, but surely worth discussion…

Reed Johnson

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    June 16, 2008   Posted in: lineup, Lou Piniella, players, stats

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