Baltimore Orioles: Orioles have to fill leadoff spot for 2017 season
As the Baltimore Orioles prepare for the 2017 season, they need to decide who will be the leadoff hitter in the starting lineup.
The Baltimore Orioles spent the offseason filling most of the holes on the roster, even if it was in true Orioles fashion.
However, there’s one spot that has to be filled, and the Orioles will use Spring Training to fill the position;
Who is going to be the leadoff hitter?
For 106 games last season, Adam Jones was the lead-off hitter. However, manager Buck Showalter hinted that he would like to use a different player in the leadoff spot.
Aside from Jones, is there anyone else that’s capable of handling the lead-off duties?
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Adam Jones said the following to MASN Sports during Orioles FanFest this past weekend:
"“It all depends,” Jones said at FanFest. “We can’t have 12 people in the lineup, so it all depends how you structure your outfield defense, it depends how you structure your lineup.“The infielders, really the only choice to lead off is Manny (Machado) and at this point in his career, I don’t think I’d do that. I would just let him grow into whatever player he’s going to be. He’s a three-hole hitter right now for any team, so leave him where he’s at.“It just depends how you line up the outfield.”"
So if Adam Jones was the manager of the Orioles, he would choose someone from the outfield. But who would be the ideal candidate for the leadoff position?
Joey Rickard? At this point, Rickard has to just fight his way onto the Orioles roster considering he’s no longer a Rule 5 candidate. If Rickard does make the team, then it would be in a backup role.
Seth Smith? Well, Smith would be the logical choice since Smith has experience at the lead-off position. He led off in 80 games during his career and holds a .344 OBP. The only issue is he hits .202 against lefties, and the Orioles are planning on using Smith as a platoon.
Hyun Soo Kim? Kim led the Orioles in average and OBP last season, which makes him an ideal leadoff candidate. However, he only had 22 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.
Since the Orioles don’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter, Showalter has been given the freedom to tinker until something works. Last season he used Rickard, Manny Machado, Kim, Steve Pearce, Jonathan Schoop, Nolan Reimold and Michael Bourn in the leadoff spot.
Pearce recently signed with the Toronto Blue Jays while Reimold and Bourn are free agents.
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Still, if the Orioles aren’t able to find their leadoff hitter, Jones has no issues going back to the leadoff spot. But if the Orioles choose to go with someone else, Jones will be more than happy to slot back into the cleanup role.