Mailbag: Top of the Order

Today’s question is a fun one:

Thanks for the question, Richie. With the caveats that a) the Padres have played only 11 games so far and b) I haven’t seen any of them, I’ll take a stab.

Myers isn’t a traditional leadoff hitter by any stretch of the imagination. He owns a career .326 OBP and hasn’t drawn a walk this year in 46 plate appearances. He did show some patience in the minors, drawing 85 walks in 2010, which is also when he stole a career-high 12 bases (in 18 attempts; again, not numbers normally associated with a leadoff hitter). Myers also owns a career .522 SLG in the minors and hit 37 homers at two levels in 2012, suggesting more of a middle-of-the-order profile.

All that being said, the early returns are promising and the Padres are winning. It will be interesting to see if pitchers eventually exploit Myers’ free-swinging ways. If they do, then maybe dropping him to a lower spot in the order makes sense. If not, his game will play anywhere in the lineup. Good hitting is good hitting.

Norris, meanwhile, has shown solid on-base skills in his brief big-league tenure. His career .333 OBP isn’t much better than Myers’, but over the last two seasons, that number is .354. Assuming Norris’ more recent work better represents his skill set (a debatable assumption, to be sure), he would seem to be a good fit as a table-setter.

The only other palatable options are Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, who both have way too much power to bat near the top; Yangervis Solarte, who isn’t a full-time starter; and Yonder Alonso, who outside of Norris has the best claim to bat second and in fact is doing so today. My guess is that some combination of Alonso, Norris, and Solarte—possibly with an occasional dash of Alexi Amarista—will continue to see time there.

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  • ballybunion

    What are the chances the season ends with a strong-armed, speedy shortstop/leadoff man and Alonso taking over the #2 spot? I can’t see AJ Preller sticking with the current top of the line up all year. I’m guessing AJ will have to wait for the trade deadline to find a partner, though.