Say It Ain't So, Ozzie
"I would really like to have 'Igu' down in the lineup. On the days Erstad hits first and Podsednik hits second, then maybe I put Iguchi down in the lineup at seventh."
Run. Scream in terror. Apparently, Ozzie has gotten it into his head to rotate Darrin Erstad into the one and two holes. The most important skill for a guy at the top of the order is getting on base. The rest of it -- stealing bases, bunting, whatever -- is at best secondary, and arguably meaningless. Those guys have to get on-base. Last year Erstad posted the remarkable on-base percentage of .279. It's remarkable in its craptacularity. He's 32, injury prone, and clearly in a fade. He has exactly one season with an OB above .331 this century. In 2005, his last injury-free season, he drew 47 walks and struck out 109 times. I don't think Erstad should even make the team, but he's clearly the least (no more italics, I promise) qualified guy to hit leadoff on the entire roster. PECOTA expects a much better .292 on-base percentage this season, which would be outstanding for a pitcher.
In contrast, Iguchi projects to have a .355 on-base percentage. Last year, he was at .352, and his rookie campaign, at .342, would beat all but Erstad's career best season. If anything, this is the guy who ought to be moving to the top of the order. I have an idea, Ozzie, let's not give 100 extra plate appearances to the guy who can't find first base with a personal navigation system. The theory that moving Iguchi down in the lineup, and thus depriving him of numerous plate appearances, somehow enables him to better use his skills is ludicrous. How about instead we leave him at the top and stop pissing his at-bats away with meaningless early-game sacrifice bunts, or have him stand around watching strikes while he waits for Podsednik to be thrown out stealing. Let him do his thing, and get the extra 100 at-bats.
It's bad enough that Ozzie's comments seem to indicate that Podsednik, Erstad, and Brian Anderson are likely to get at-bats that should be going to Ryan Sweeney and Josh Fields. But the idea of Darrin Erstad, lead off hitter, is enough to make me wet myself in fear.