April 26, 2013 at 3:54 PM
Jason Bay to start at leadoff for Mariners for first time in career
Well, well, this is quite the interesting development for the Mariners, who tonight will send Jason Bay to the plate to start a game at the leadoff spot for the first time in his career. A career that began back in 2003 and has spanned 1,227 games.
So, how surprising is it? Well, it’s surprising in that Bay is 34 and you’d think he would have gotten a leadoff turn beforehand if he profiled to be any good at it. He might be one of the oldest guys ever to make their leadoff debut.
Then again, if you’ve been paying close attention to what’s gone on this season, the move is not that shocking.
We’ve spoken about it for a while now, but when the Mariners opted not to sign free agent Michael Bourn this winter, they essentially left themselves in the position of having no full-time leadoff hitter. Dustin Ackley seemed a temporary fit at best in that spot and the team ultimately did not want him coping with the pressure of leading off when they needed him to actually hit the ball — period.
So, they tried a combon of Franklin Gutierrez versus left-handers and Michael Saunders against righties.
Both guys are now hurt.
Endy Chavez had been leading off, but his OBP dropped down below .300 once he got more regular playing time, as was to be expected. The three hits last night bumped Chavez back up to a .326 OBP and he’s back in the lineup tonight — but he also bats left-handed and there’s a southpaw on the mound tonight.
So, who to put out there tonight?
If you’re looking for a right-handed bat, then Bay looks like possbily the best choice.
He’s currently running a .333 OBP and while much of that is due to getting hit by some pitches, there is some positive stuff to be found beyond the stats.
The other day, when I went through the laborious process of looking up the numbers on the team’s two-strike hitting the past week or so — going through every single at-bat, pitch-by-pitch, by every Mariners player — Bay’s plate appearances stood out to me. For one, he seemed to be working deeper into counts more than any other player. He was fouling off some two-strike pitches and even reversing counts in his favor.
Now, some of this may have been from Bay not squaring up on hittable stuff earlier on in the counts. But he was also working some walks in there as well.
Anyhow, I don’t see the harm trying him out against lefty C.J. Wilson tonight. He can’t be any worse than some of the team’s other options until Saunders returns.