If one can create some distance from baseball convention and the prototypical notion of what a lead-off hitter is supposed to look like, it raises some interesting questions to consider.
Is it really worth batting a far less effective offensive player in that spot just because he looks like a lead-off guy is supposed to look? Not every team has a guy like Billy Hamilton, after all. And if a team lacks an effective lead-off hitter in that mold, shouldn’t they make an effort to at least get one of their best hitters in that spot?
From there the logic seems pretty simple. The lead-off guy bats more because his spot comes first as the lineup flips over the course of a game. If it fits your team, shouldn’t you have one of your best guys there?
That may or may not be what San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy is thinking with his decision to bat Hunter Pence in the lead-off spot. On Wednesday night he announced to plans to bat Pence in the top spot and first baseman Brandon Belt second when he returns from the disabled list on Friday. Hank Schulman writes the following about Bochy’s decision at SFGate.com:
After the Giants fell to the Cardinals 2-0 Wednesday night, Bochy said he will drop Gregor Blanco from the leadoff spot and replace him with Hunter Pence, perhaps as soon as Thursday.
When Brandon Belt returns from nearly two months on the disabled list Friday he will bat second behind Pence.
The Giants are trying to keep their season afloat after they saw the Los Angeles Dodgers overcome a 9.5 game deficit and take over first place last week. The Giants actually hold a 0.5 game lead entering this weekend, but they are still wise to address some of the flaws exposed in the last few weeks. On the offensive side of things, Bochy is hoping that moving Pence and his .355 on-base percentage to the lead-off spot will light a spark.