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Leadoff Batter

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#1 Doctor Wu

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 08:08 AM

In most games this spring I've noticed Kepler being used as the leadoff batter. And based on results thus far (yeah, yeah, small sample size and all that, but still ...) it looks like a good strategy. Kepler is hitting well and even has a .500 OBP. Obviously, that's not sustainable, but it looks like he might be comfortable, and productive in the role as leadoff batter. What does everyone else think?

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#2 dbminn

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 08:37 AM

I think he's the best choice of the current bunch. He needs to find a few more hits than in the past. Otherwise, he's patient and takes plenty of walks. He has enough speed as well. Polanco will probably bat second because he puts the ball in play more than most. 

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#3 rghrbek

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 08:58 AM

Kepler had a .319 OB% last year, and is a career 313 ob% guy.  I am not sure he is the right fit up there.  Rocco seems to like him up there, but I think he's going to have to hit .260 or so with his added walks from last season to be affective.

 

Not sure who else we have that is an on base guy with a little giddy up.

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#4 MMMordabito

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 09:06 AM

I like Kepler up there.Hopefully a better BABIP can get his OBP up above .350 this season. It would also be good for him to get his PPA over 4, since the leadoff guy should be giving the rest of the lineup a chance to look at more pitches.

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#5 nicksaviking

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 09:30 AM

My guess is there won't be a set lead off guy. Looking at TB's lineups last year, they had six guys who lead off at least 13 games. The #2 spot was rotated almost the same way, and it should be noted that CJ Cron batted in that spot quite a bit last year as well.

 

So my guess would be that Kepler, Polanco and Buxton will have a healthy rotational share at that spot. I also wouldn't be surprised if Astudillo got some looks there if the team was facing a high strikeout/low walk kind of starter. 

 

Perhaps Rosario or whomever is the Twins hottest hitter will get some time there as well. Tommy Pham was easily TB's best hitter after he was acquired but that didn't stop them from batting him lead off in 22 games last year.

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#6 stringer bell

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 11:16 AM

I think Kepler is the guy, at least against RHP. I would think his leash would be moderately long, since there really aren’t many logical choices.

Semi-serious prediction—Kepler starts as leadoff guy, is fairly successful and has a power surge. Leads the club in homers and insists on hitting lead off. Twins tradition right?
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#7 dbminn

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 11:29 AM

 

My guess is there won't be a set lead off guy. Looking at TB's lineups last year, they had six guys who lead off at least 13 games. The #2 spot was rotated almost the same way, and it should be noted that CJ Cron batted in that spot quite a bit last year as well.

 

So my guess would be that Kepler, Polanco and Buxton will have a healthy rotational share at that spot. I also wouldn't be surprised if Astudillo got some looks there if the team was facing a high strikeout/low walk kind of starter. 

 

Perhaps Rosario or whomever is the Twins hottest hitter will get some time there as well. Tommy Pham was easily TB's best hitter after he was acquired but that didn't stop them from batting him lead off in 22 games last year.

 

Good analysis. I hope Buxton spends a lot of time at lead-off because that will mean he's hitting well.

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#8 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 11:39 AM

Polanco had a .345 OBP last year. He has to be in the running.

I mean, if Kepler has his breakout season then we should be seeing some real power from him, no? Put him where he can drive in some runs.

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#9 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 11:43 AM

 

My guess is there won't be a set lead off guy. Looking at TB's lineups last year, they had six guys who lead off at least 13 games. The #2 spot was rotated almost the same way, and it should be noted that CJ Cron batted in that spot quite a bit last year as well.

 

So my guess would be that Kepler, Polanco and Buxton will have a healthy rotational share at that spot. I also wouldn't be surprised if Astudillo got some looks there if the team was facing a high strikeout/low walk kind of starter. 

 

Perhaps Rosario or whomever is the Twins hottest hitter will get some time there as well. Tommy Pham was easily TB's best hitter after he was acquired but that didn't stop them from batting him lead off in 22 games last year.

I think this is right. Kepler and polanco switch off between hitting first and second - Kepler against RH pitching, Polanco against LH starters. 

 

I also like a LH hitting lead off guy with a RH hitter hitting second because you can hit Rosario 3rd that way without being vulnerable to LH relief in the late innings from stacking LH batters. That works with Kepler 1st and Polanco 2nd, Rosario 3rd and Cruz 4.If kepler leads off but stil hits >230 with a >.320 OBP, like he's always done in the past, then I say we lead off Polanco and hit Cron 2, with Kepler sliding down to 7 or 8 where his previous performance suggest he belongs. 

 

So I'm in favor of trying Kepler at lead off but with a very short leash. If he doesn't improve his hitting, move Polanco to 1st, hit Cron or Rosario 2 and follow Rosario with Cruz. Cron goes to 4 if Rosario hits 2 and Cruz 3, with Kepler or Cave 5 and Schoop 6. 


#10 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 11:46 AM

To amend my previous post, I see 2 options:

 

Polanco

Rosario

Cruz

Cron

Gonzalez/Sano

Kepler/Cave

Schoop

Garver/Castro

Buxton

 

That's my first choice. Second choice would be:

 

Polanco/Kepler

Kepler/Polanco

Rosario

Cruz

Sano/Gonzalez

Cron

Schoop 

Castro/Garver

Buxton

 


#11 yarnivek1972

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 04:04 PM

I would say Kepler is the best all around candidate. He has the plate discipline and the speed. Yes, his raw obp numbers have not been very good to date. All of his raw numbers are tied to his insanely low BABIP. Both for his career and even moreso in 2018. If something can be done to normalize that number, the rest of his numbers will take care of themselves IMO. What it is that can be done to improve his BABIP I have no idea.
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#12 Twodogs

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 07:56 PM

In most games this spring I've noticed Kepler being used as the leadoff batter. And based on results thus far (yeah, yeah, small sample size and all that, but still ...) it looks like a good strategy. Kepler is hitting well and even has a .500 OBP. Obviously, that's not sustainable, but it looks like he might be comfortable, and productive in the role as leadoff batter. What does everyone else think?


Joey Votto had a .474 OBP in 2012. That is absolutely crazy.
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#13 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 09:04 PM

 

Joey Votto had a .474 OBP in 2012. That is absolutely crazy.

Crazy is a good word for it.

Even Mike Trout has never had an OBP that high. Wow.

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#14 Foghorn Leghorn

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 07:25 AM

My vote would be Polanco. Though if Buxton keeps his spring training form that would be the most ideal leadoff hitter. Not a fan of putting Kepler there.
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#15 bighat

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 08:11 AM

I also like Polanco leading off. Kepler seems like a quirky, interesting selection to lead off....but aside from that, I'm not seeing the reason. Polanco seems to have all the tools of a typical lead off hitter.

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#16 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 08:22 AM

 

 

 

I also wouldn't be surprised if Astudillo got some looks there if the team was facing a high strikeout/low walk kind of starter. 

 

 

Interesting, very interesting. Please share this with Rocco.

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#17 yarnivek1972

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 08:59 AM

I also like Polanco leading off. Kepler seems like a quirky, interesting selection to lead off....but aside from that, I'm not seeing the reason. Polanco seems to have all the tools of a typical lead off hitter.


Polanco would be a good choice. However, his contact ability makes him an even more ideal # 2. The Twins have (in the past) hit and run a lot. Kepler on first and Polanco at bat would be an ideal pair.
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#18 sdangus

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 09:42 AM

I would do this:

 

Palanco

Kepler 

Cruz

Rosario

Cron

Sano/Gonzalez

Schoop

Castro 

Buxton

 

If Buxton continues to show power, I would slide him in front of Schoop and Castro. I don't think Buxton should be a leadoff hitter at this point. Not enogh OBP skills and the power plays for later in the lineup.

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#19 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 12:30 PM

 

Polanco would be a good choice. However, his contact ability makes him an even more ideal # 2. The Twins have (in the past) hit and run a lot. Kepler on first and Polanco at bat would be an ideal pair.

"Ideal" would be Buxton leading off. I was at a game where he scored from first on a single. And he wasn't even running with the pitch!

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#20 DocBauer

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 07:46 PM

Polanco had a .345 OBP last year. He has to be in the running.
I mean, if Kepler has his breakout season then we should be seeing some real power from him, no? Put him where he can drive in some runs.


And this is where my conundrum starts.

We don't have a true leadoff candidate on the roster. Kepler looks good there and could really embrace the role. His emergence...which I truly believe is about to happen, just a season later than I predicted/expected...could make him an ideal candidate. But Polanco seems to be the best fit initially. Except, I really liked the way Molitor used him as a #2 or #3 hitter and he responded in that role. And if Kepler really does have his breakout season, would he and his LH bat and skills be better served sitting in the 5 or 6 hole?

But then I reflect to guys like Downing, Boggs, or even former Twin Dozier making havoc at the top spot and realize what you want is production, however you get it.

It would seem a healthy, productive Buxton would indeed be ideal with his power and speed if the AVG and OB would allow him to do so. I mean, weren't we all conditioned to think that was going to be his role? But couldn't Buxton also be equally dangerous hitting 6 or 7 with power and speed to drive in runs and set the table for the bottom half of the lineup, as well as the top, potentially?

I applaud Rocco for his thinking and experimenting. (Also worth noting Adrianza has been batting leadoff in most games he's played. What's up with that?).

Based on what we've seen thus far, and skipping ahead to Sano in May or first of June, I'm seeing this:

1] Kepler
2] Polanco
3] Cruz
4] Rosario
5] Sano
6] Schoop/Cron
7] Cron/Schoop
8] Buxton
9] Castro/Garver

Note: There is fluidity in the 6-8 slots. Also, Buxton at 8 doesn't mean he's not performing. It means a trio of power hitters and then Buxton providing power and speed to make things happen and flip the lineup.

Note 2: Castro is a solid player. I think he's important in many facets and at least a decent producer. But I'm not so sure Garver won't emerge as the #1 catcher at some point, if healthy.

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