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Who should bat lead off in 2015?

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I offered a deep dive into the Rays batting order, and three different styles of organizing the batting order. One of the more difficult aspects in building the lineup, however, was settling who should lead.

Typical lead off hitters have great contact rates and speed, letting them whip around bases and getting into scoring position as early as possible. With this team's run creation, perhaps just getting on base would be enough, but that's the ideal.

Determining who should lead off might be easier if we first eliminate some names.

I'm going to remove from contention Evan Longoria -- presuming he will be batting third or fourth -- James Loney, and any of the catchers. All three seem locked into batting positions after 1-2 in the order.

Leaning on yesterday's list of players for consideration, and removing the above, we get the following overall projections against right handed pitchers:

Player Hand
Proj. wOBA
vs. RHP
John Jaso L .338
Steven Souza R .318
David DeJesus L .317
Nick Franklin S .309
Kevin Kiermaier L .309
Desmond Jennings R .304
Asdrubal Cabrera S .303
Brandon Guyer R .299
Logan Forsythe R .283

These projections use a expected platoon splits, as generated by a tool developed by Ian Malinowski and Jason Hanselman, that incorporates Bojan Kopravica's splits regression research. The numbers are currently built off Steamer projections. Hat tip to all three guys.

Now against left handed:

Player Hand
Proj. wOBA
vs. LHP
Steven Souza R .341
Desmond Jennings R .330
Brandon Guyer R .320
Asdrubal Cabrera S .315
Logan Forsythe R .311
John Jaso L .292
Nick Franklin S .286
David DeJesus L .275
Kevin Kiermaier L .273

I believe it might be worth mentioning Cash does not have a strong desire to have an ever-changing lineup as the team did under it's previous manager, and also believes Jennings would benefit from dropping lower in the order.

So with all of that in mind, who would you bat leadoff?

Links

- ICYMI, we posted video highlights from the first game of Spring, and Nate Karns really enjoyed his first outing:

On Rays Radio in the evening, Jim Hickey said he wished Karns would have used fewer breaking balls, as he thinks all his guys should focus on the fastball through the first few weeks in March.

- Today is the annual head-shaving event to benefit Pediatric Cancer Awareness; you can visit pcfcutforacure.org for more info, and participate for a $100 donation.

- Yesterday morning the team signed another reliever, right handed Jim Miller.

- Today's lineup against the Twins, on this the 500th Spring Training game in franchise history:

RH Matt Andriese, RH Burch Smith, RH Ernesto Frieri, RH Brandon Gomes, LH Jordan Norberto, RH Kirby Yates, and LH Mike Montgomery are in the pen.

- As promised by Rays president Brain Auld, the Rays are one of three professional sports franchises to officially support gay marriage.

- Fangraphs on the relationships between market size, attendance, and TV Revenue for Payroll.

- Matthew Trueblood says there's no solution to Tommy John.

- Chris Teeter on swinging at 3-0 pitches.

- Hunter Pence has a broken forearm that will need a cast on his wrist, keeping him out for two months. David DeJesus rumors sure to follow.

- Hector Olivera may have injured his UCL.

- Finally, Steven Souza was the second guest on Rays Radio last night and he had much to say about his career up until this point. It's a worthwhile listen as we get to know the new players in camp. He came across as humble and grateful and intelligent and confident, as soon as it's available I will post the link here from the Rays Podcast hub. Be on the look out for it.