Padres Editorial: Derek Norris Should Lead-Off


Speed at lead-off is overrated. Would you rather have a player with a .300 OBP with speed at lead-off? Or a guy with a .360+ OBP with no speed to set the table? Out of the players currently on the San Diego Padres‘ roster, the man with the highest OBP in 2014 was Derek Norris. It does not matter that he has only stolen 12 bases in his three big league seasons. Norris gets on base and should be the one to lead off for the Padres in 2015. 

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The argument that a slow baserunner will clog up the bases is a myth. There isn’t an ultra speedy player that will be in the lineup immediately following Norris anyway, so worry not about Norris on the base paths.  The most important thing someone at the top of the lead-off position, is to get on base for Wil Myers, Justin Upton, and Matt Kemp.

Norris hit for a .361 OBP last year – 15 points higher than his next competitor Matt Kemp. While some, such as Friars On Base’s own Mark Whelan, have argued for Kemp to lead off, it would be a waste of his power to do so. Power at the lead-off position is not really important. Why have a guy hit 30 home runs batting first, when there are typically few to no runners on base most of the time?  The same goes for Upton and Myers. Bat Kemp third or fourth so that he can drive in say…Derek Norris.

So back to Norris. With a whopping four plate appearances batting lead-off, no one can really call upon much of a precedent. However, when batting first in an inning in his career, Norris has a .333 OBP. It was .394 in 2014. It’s a very good sign that every year his OBP when leading off an inning has gone up (.244 in 2012 and .303 in 2013).

Alexi Amarista has not proven that he can get on base often enough at the big league level. Cory Spangenberg is unproven. It could be argued that Yangervis Solarte is unproven too, but more importantly with basically the same speed as Norris brings, Solarte has an OBP 25 points lower than the new Padre catcher. Derek Norris is the best option to bat first for the Padres in 2015.

Next: Watch Out For Travis Jankowski In 2015

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