Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jordan Schafer And The Leadoff Spot

Speed blinds people. It also strikes them dumb.

Example A is Jordan Schafer. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out Schafer's numbers don't belong at the top of a Major League lineup. Before Sunday, he had a line of .221/.296/.310 with a .277 wOBA and 72 wRC+. After Sunday, despite the RBI double, his OBP dropped to .295.

He has 18 strikeouts this month, and he went on a string of six straight games with at least one strikeout at one point, but that's not the problem here. Plus, I don't care about strikeouts, anyway. The problem is he doesn't get on base. He has three walks in his last 15 starts and five this month. He had 14 in 209 Triple-A plate appearances in 2010. Schafer did walk before last year, but he hasn't shown it since his injury.

Whether this is a trend or just a fluke as he continues to "re-invent" himself as a leadoff hitter, I don't know. But Schafer doesn't deserve the leadoff spot over Nate McLouth as long as this continues. McLouth is walking at a rate of 11.2% with a .337 OBP and .309 wOBA. These aren't mind-blowing numbers, but they are better than Schafer's. Assuming Martin Prado returns to full strength when he is activated, Schafer should take a seat to McLouth, and McLouth should return to the leadoff role.

This is actually difficult for me in some ways because Schafer's defense is much better than McLouth's. However, knowing Schafer would remain in the leadoff spot if he is starting, I feel the best value comes with McLouth in center.

Braves fans find Schafer's eight stolen bases and multiple bunt singles to be sparkly and exciting, but his bat is not helping the Braves.

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