David Wright Batting Leadoff

David Wright is number oneAccording to zen master Jerry Manuel, Jose Reyes will be the Mets’ #3 hitter — as long as Carlos Beltran is on the DL.

I don’t even want to go into the stupidity of Reyes in the 3-hole, nor the illogical thinking that went into the cause-and-effect relationship of Beltran’s unavailability compared to Reyes’ spot in the order. After all, unless he’s on a rare unconscious streak (such as he had at the beginning of 2009), Beltran’s ideal spot is either 4th or 5th. Further, if Reyes (or Beltran) is batting third, where does one pencil in David Wright?

Logic would dictate that Wright gets a guaranteed plate appearance in the first inning, since he has been, and remains, the Mets’ best hitter and on-base guy. That said, if Wright isn’t slated to bat third, then the next most logical spot in the order would be … first — a.k.a., “leadoff”.

Sound crazy? Not nearly as crazy as plotting Reyes in the three-hole.

Consider that Wright has led the Mets in OBP in four of the last five seasons (the one year he didn’t, he was second by .007 points behind the leader). Nearly every intelligent baseball enthusiast — both old-school lunkheads and modern Beaneheads — agree that the ideal leadoff hitter has a superior on-base percentage, so Wright’s career .389 OBP is ideal for the spot.

Further, there is the notion that someone “speedy” — or at least, a base-stealing threat — should bat in the top position of the order. Again, Wright fits the description — he led the Mets in stolen bases last year with 27, and he averages 20+ steals a year. Further, he routinely scores 100+ runs per year — again, the sign of an ideal leadoff hitter.

Naturally, you wouldn’t want to “waste” a slugger at the top of the lineup (unless his name is Rickey Henderson or Bobby Bonds). Generally speaking, you’d prefer to insert someone who is more of a singles hitter with gap power. And guess what? David Wright transformed into exactly that in 2009! His power outage (10 HR) suggest that he would be more valuable higher in the lineup, in a spot where he can get on base for the sluggers (such as Reyes) to drive him in.

Speaking of, if Wright bats leadoff, then what does the lineup look like?

1. David Wright
2. Luis Castillo
3. Jose Reyes
4. Jason Bay
5. Jeff Francoeur
6. Daniel Murphy
7. Angel Pagan
8. Rod Barajas
9. pitcher

I know, I know — Pagan was stellar in the leadoff spot in 2009. But really, do you truly expect him to continue to hit over .300 with a .350 OBP and .837 OPS in 2010? If so, then there was no point in signing Bay, and you may want to consider trading Beltran once he proves to be healthy. Additionally, those big numbers still aren’t close to being more fit for leadoff than Wright, whose OBP was 40 points higher last year.

The only other possible argument is Castillo, who has been hinted to be the “new” leadoff batter if Reyes moves to #3. But again, Wright is superior as an on-base guy, and he HAS TO get a plate appearance in the first frame — considering that, would you prefer he bat #2? Of course not! Castillo’s patience and ability to bunt are much more valuable in the two-spot than anywhere else. I don’t think Wright even knows how to spell the word “bunt”, and I wouldn’t want him worrying about advancing Castillo from station to station.

Finally, there is the cockamamie idea that Murphy should bat second. This nonsense is based on Murphy’s first 100 ABs in the bigs, when he was unconscious and posting Wade Boggs-like numbers. But as well all know, Cinderella’s carriage turned into a pumpkin, Kevin Maas turned into a human, and Murphy posted a .313 OBP over a full season. The #6 spot is a much better position than a guaranteed first-inning at-bat.

By the way, I’m feeling “stubborn” about Wright as the leadoff guy. I don’t care who you throw in the #2 spot, it don’t matter.

What are your thoughts?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. gary s. February 23, 2010 at 11:27 am
    i mentioned wright hitting leadoff last year due to his high obp and low avg hitting with players in scoring position and his lack of hr power in citicavern.it’s good for discussion but imho, the best lineup is a healthy reyes hitting leadoff and d.w. hitting third..are the mets afraid to have reyes bat leadoff and hurt himself early trying to steal a base?? or is manuel just being clueless??
  2. isuzudude February 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm
    Good thoughts, Joe. I think the Mets see Reyes as their own Hanley Ramirez, whom the Marlins switched from leadoff to 3rd in the order with success. But Reyes is not Hanley Ramirez. Reyes doesn’t have 30-HR power…and I don’t want Reyes thinking he needs to hit more homers because he’s in the 3-hole as that could have serious reprocussions on the rest of his game and approach, especially after missing most of the previous season. Reyes also isn’t an RBI man, he’s a table setter. His strength is getting on base and creating havoc on the basepaths. In the 3-spot, those strengths would be taken away from him, as you obviously don’t want to be running yourself out of innings with Jason Bay and/or David Wright at the plate. With Luis Castillo on the team, the only academic place to have Reyes bat is leadoff.

    Also, if Reyes is batting 3rd, the lineup becomes extremely vulnerable to ROOGYs. If Pagan, Castillo, and Reyes bat 1-2-3, then you have only Dan Murphy between spots 4-8 who is lefty. And I fear, to break up all the righties in the lineup, Jerry is going to get even crazier by having Murphy bat 5th or 6th, ahead of Francoeur and maybe Wright. It makes no sense, but I can definitely see Jerry doing it.

    There’s no doubt that 1-2-3, with or without Beltran, should be Reyes, Castillo, Wright. Wright’s strong OBP, speed, and hopeful resurgence in power make him the obvious #3 hitter. If Wright continues to put up weak power numbers, and continues to strike out 140+ times, then I could see moving him down in the lineup, but as of right now, that’s not the right plan. To think that Pagan deserves more ABs in a game than Wright is totally absurd, and shows how clueless Jerry truly is. I mean, wasn’t it just a week or so ago Jerry said Pagan and Matthews are competing for CF ABs in Beltran’s absence? Now he has Pagan batting leadoff ahead of Reyes, taking ABs away from Wright? Let’s get a grip.

    Alas, I can see it now. 2 weeks into the season Jerry’s maniacal lineup experiments lead to the following concoction (with much of the media praising his deep intellect and mysteriously sophisticated techniques):
    1. Pagan
    2. Murphy
    3. Reyes
    4. Bay
    5. Francoeur
    6. Wright
    7. Barajas
    8. Castillo
    Only in Jerry’s world would Barajas’ .270 OBP bat ahead of Castillo’s .390, and the combination of Pagan/Murphy get more ABs than Reyes and Wright, arguably your 2 best hitters on the team.

  3. Timo February 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm
    isuzudude, great post! Sad part of it, that lineup is not that far fetched in Jerry’s mind.
    Joe, it funny you mentioned Reyes in the #3 hole. i commute to NYC on the train (1 hour 5 minute trip, on a good day). To pass the time i play a simulated baseball game which i’m the GM of the Mets (and always do a better job then Minana). When i try and have the computer sort my lineup it always puts Reyes in the 3rd hole. SO, maybe Jerry’s playing the same game i’m playing. 🙂 Luckily it always has Wright in the 4th hole with Bay right behind him. Murphy doesn’t even come close to the top of the lineup.
  4. Rob February 23, 2010 at 10:07 pm
    So you are suggesting that we practically switch David Wright and Jose Reyes completely? So you are expecting Reyes to produce like Wright with 30+ HRs, 100+ RBI, .300+ AVG…? And you are expecting Wright to produce like Reyes with 10+ HR, 60 RBI, .280 AVG, 60 SB?

    What an illogical switch of these two players, with zero thought put into the idea.

  5. joejanish February 24, 2010 at 1:33 am
    Rob – what is the alternative? It’s NOT MY IDEA to bat Reyes third, it’s the genius logic of zen master Jerry Manuel.

    If Wright doesn’t bat first or second in the lineup, then there is the distinct possibility that Angel Pagan (or Gary Matthews) and Dan Murphy come to the plate before Wright, and are guaranteed a first-inning AB while Wright is not (as ‘dude mentioned above).

    So are you suggesting that arguably the best hitter on the team NOT be guaranteed an AB in the first frame of every game?

    Makes less sense than batting him first, no?

  6. DCwill beat the mets February 24, 2010 at 10:47 am
    It doesn’t matter what you metsies want. your team is crap, no matter who bats where. Your olwner is not even a human being, you all think you know so much why are you posting on a virtually empty blog site? The METSIES the small market team in the big apple. Because of your false arrogance peopel in the country want the yankees to kick your loser behinds. Metsies less popular than Brooklyn Cyclones. Metsies less popular than the lowly Nets and Knicks. Haha But you are best on one thing. Whining and acting like you know something. No wodner people get out of the toilet bowl known as Flushing as soon as possible. Flushing, a very appropriate place for rotten fans like you little Metsies.
  7. Mrs. Wright May 17, 2010 at 1:21 am
    You are a genius!
  8. Still Mrs. Wright... May 17, 2010 at 1:23 am
    That should be what it is now, since Reyes is back out of 3rd… Thank god! Wright is DEFINITELY the power hitter of the team!