Fernando Tatis Jr. was the San Diego Padres primary leadoff hitter last season, but might he be better served in the middle of the order?
In his rookie year and when healthy, Fernando Tatis Jr. was the San Diego Padres leadoff man. Of the 84 games he played in, he batted leadoff in 63 of those, slashing .323/386/.593 with eight doubles, six triples, 17 home runs, and 41 RBI (149 OPS+). Those are fairly impressive numbers in a relatively small sample size.
Tatis also saw a considerable amount of time batting sixth in the order, 14 times to be exact. There he slashed .260/.309/.500 with three doubles, three home runs, and nine RBI. Might his production have tailed off this far down in the order because of a lack of protection behind him? It’s certainly plausible.
Mike Trout is a player that I am reminded of who hit from the leadoff spot a considerable amount of times, especially early on in his career. There, he slashed .322/.398/.555 with 35 doubles, nine triples, 33 home runs, and 92 RBI (91 OPS+) in a 161-game sample size.
He’s primarily batted second in the order for the last few seasons and saw a noticeable uptick in his production, slashing .301/.419/.595 (102 OPS+) in 649 games. And that’s, in large part, because of the guys immediately behind him in Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons, and Albert Pujols.
While a strong argument can be made for keeping Tatis at the leadoff spot this year, I am also intrigued by the possibility of moving him to the second spot in the order. This would set up a similar situation as Trout, with Manny Machado, Wil Myers, and Eric Hosmer immediately behind him. If moved, who should be the new leadoff man?
Let’s look at three candidates.