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Why Jason Bartlett Should Not Bat Leadoff

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There has been a lot of complaining about the offense over the past 10 or so games. Complaints have been levied against nearly every member of the lineup for one reason or another. The batting order has also been a big bone of contention for some in this area. The cries of "Zobrist shouldn't bat 3rd!" and "Longoria is uncomfortable batting clean-up!" and "Bench Burrell for Blalock!" can he heard all around the Bay. The one cry that hasn't been shouted from nearly enough rooftops is that of Jason Bartlett and how he should no longer be batting lead off for this team.


The move was defensible last season as B.J. Upton was struggling through injury and Bartlett was enjoying the season of his life. The same can't be said for this year. Bartlett has been dead weight against right handed pitching throughout his career. His career wOBA against RHP is .311, and that's inflated by the comically high .372 mark of last season. Look at some other career numbers vs RHP and LHP:


vs RHP

OBP: .333

OPS: .699

wOBA: .311

vs LHP

OBP: .386

OPS: .841

wOBA: .366

The numbers against RHP are awful. As you may know, a majority of pitchers in baseball are right handed. R.J. wrote about this topic on FanGraphs two months ago, and nothing has changed.

Why not put Ben Zobrist in the leadoff spot? That would appease the "move Zobrist" crowd while allowing the Rays to give a large number of at bats to someone who doesn't hit RHP like one arm is tied behind his back. The fans and local media are in love with Bartlett, so a move out of the lead off spot would be an unpopular one. But it would also be the correct one. This team has never cared about the public perception of the on-field moves its made, and I doubt they're about to start now.