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Free advice for David Ross
You have a leadoff hitter on your team, but it's not the guy you actually lead off
I have some good news for David Ross.
No, sorry, that’s not the Smokey and the Bandit car, Dave. That was a Trans Am and it had t-tops.
No, the good news I have for you is that I have solved your leadoff problem.
Yes, I realize you don’t think you have one, or at least you don’t seem to understand the actual problem, because when you move Nico Hoerner down a spot so he can bat behind Miles Mastrobuoni, it’s an exercise in stupidity, even for you.
Nico is a good player. He plays great defense, he’s hitting for a little more power this year (it’d be hard to hit for less), but he still doesn’t get on base all that well. His current on base is .339, which is above his career average of .335, but that’s not what you want.
But what if I told you that you had a guy who hits like a real leadoff hitter on your team? In fact, he’s in your lineup every night. The only problem is, you think he should bat third, probably because the Cubs are going to start paying him $20 million a year starting next year, and just like you think Nick Madrigal must be good because he was the fourth overall pick in a draft once, you probably think Ian Happ is your best player because he’s going to start being paid like it.
The reality is that Happ has no business hitting third these days. His current slugging of .400 is 105th in baseball. Hell, Nico’s is .393 and nobody thinks he’s a slugger.
Happ’s only 28 spots behind Oakland A’s immortal Ryan Noda in slugging.
But, Happ is getting on base at a .383 clip and that’s 15th in all of baseball. It’s legitimately good. (It’s also five spots behind Ryan Noda, but never mind that.)
Of the top 31 players in the big leagues in on base average, Happ is the only one whose OPS is in the .700s.
Of the top 50 players in the big leagues in on base average only three have lower slugging than Happ. It’s quite the elite company.
It’s Jeff McNeil (.352 slug), Dom Smith (.308! slug) and some guy named Christian Yelich at 50, with a .388 slugging.
And guess what Yelich does more often than not for the Brewers now? He leads off. Because their needle nosed manager knows that’s the best way to get something out of him, even though he’s paid like he should be hitting third.
So the next time you shake up the lineup, don’t fuck around with Mastrobuoni leading off. Put Happ there.
It’s not like Happ hasn’t done it before. He’s done it 89 times in his career. His 316 at bats hitting in the one spot are more than he has at any other lineup spot except third.
When/if Cody Bellinger ever comes back, you’ll actually have a lineup that makes sense if you do this.
And you can hit Gomes eighth and have Amaya stay at the six spot and DH when it’s Yan’s turn to catch. You can also mix and match Pee Whiz through the 3b and DH spots. Whatever.
I honestly think the reason you want Nico to bat second is because he could benefit from more at bats with a runner on first so he can go the other way and try to shoot it through the open right side. But when you put Mastrobuoni at the top he never gets on. Happ would. Dansby’s supposedly going to start hitting for more power, but regardless, he fits in the third hole better than Happ. I know you’re confused by the fact that this lineup doesn’t alternate left, right, left, right as much as you’d like, but buddy, fuck that idea. It’s dumb.
Maybe alternating handedness in a lineup confuses you when you try to make bullpen decisions, but you’re the only one.
Oh, and when a lefty starts, Happ doesn’t lead off. You let Nico do it, and Happ drops down in between Amaya and Morel. Because Happ’s on base is only .321 against lefties and well, all his numbers suck batting righthanded (.208/.321/.292). Maybe it’ll get better, but let him try to improve on it down lower in the order, you know, with the rest of your abundant set of bums.
Nico gets on against lefties (.357), so this works.
And if I find out the reason you won’t lead off Happ is that he won’t have enough time to stare at those stupid fucking dots in his helmet, I mean, don’t even.
Oh, and Dave. Stop DHing the backup catchers. I know you started Yan there last night because you are so hell bent on justifying three catchers on your roster, but you can’t do it. Pretty soon, Jed’s going to go back to a 13 man pitching staff and you’re only going to have four bench guys again. Two of them can’t be Yan Gomes and Tucker Barnhart on the days Amaya catches.
Besides, I know you think Yan’s hitting well because his overall stats are still OK (for a catcher). Going into last night he was hitting a pedestrian .271/.294/.458. (Hey, fifty-eight more slugging points than Happ.)
But…nearly all of that damage happened in an 11 game span in April. From April 11 to the 29th, Yan hit .419/.432/.721 with four homers and 10 RBI.
Since, he’s hit .222/.267/.333 with two homers and seven RBI in 17 games.
As hard as this is to believe, you are better off with Trey the third DHing than Yan anyway. Even though he’s been aggressively mediocre even at his best this season. Hey, at least he doesn’t need to wear a glove when he DHs.
Oh, and keep playing Mervis. We know what Trey and Wisdom can do, and it’s a far better investment to try to develop him than to wring whatever the hell you can out of those guys.
Anyway, back to the main point one more time. Given the way he’s hitting, right now, the best use of Happ is to lead him off against righties. It’s actually your job to try to put players in the best position to succeed, so if you do this it comes with the added benefit of you actually doing your job for once.