After scouring the roster and looking at outside options, I think I have found someone who I think could step in and fill the leadoff role for the team. As I have stated before, I do not see Aki being the leadoff hitter that we need him to be, which I will go into even further in a post later this week. I propose that we move Evan Longoria to the leadoff role for the time being.
This idea probably won't be popular with most, but it could add a lot more life to the top of our lineup. While losing his slugging from the five-spot would hurt, it would be more than made up by the added value of his on-base skills at the top of the order. Having a contact hitter like Carl Crawford hitting second makes it even more important that the team put somebody in front of him who can get on-base.
So far this season Longoria has an OBP of .345, which would be a welcomed improvement over Aki's .302 mark. Longoria's numbers suggest his OBP should only continue to improve. I hate to overdue BABIP, but to this point his BABIP is .280 while his xBABIP is .365. This suggests he has been very unlucky and will only continue to improve on his OBP. His minor league numbers suggests he could do better in this category as well, as his OBP was .402 during his time spent in AA/AAA.
This would also give the Rays the opportunity to move Eric Hinske, who has been our best hitter by a good margin thus far, to the five-spot. This would give the Rays a lineup that could feature a .350+ OBP hitter and Crawford, followed by three hitters slugging .429, .421, and .581. This could be a front half of the lineup with the potential to put up a ton of runs.
Here is my projected lineup based on this shift:
- Evan Longoria 3B
- Carl Crawford LF
- B.J. Upton CF
- Carlos Pena 1B
- Eric Hinske DH
- Dioner Navarro C
- Akinori Iwamura 2B
- Gabe Gross RF
- Jason Bartlett SS