Jose Altuve Needs to be the Leadoff Hitter, & Other Midday News
By Ray Kuhn
Who Will Hit Leadoff?
A good leadoff hitter needs to get on base. They set the tone for not only the game, but for the team and the lineup as a whole. Yes they only bat leadoff once in a game and the impact of the leadoff role is somewhat minimized since the Astros are now in the American League, but it is still important. Today manager Bo Porter stated his intention to have Jose Altuve bat in the second spot in the order, and therefore putting the leadoff spot up for grabs.
Jose Altuve (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
The first question is, is this a decision you agree with? We know that for the most part the entire Astros lineup is in flux and there will be daily speculation about it. Altuve batted leadoff last season and did well, both hitting for average and stealing bases. But is that the best spot for him? In all honestly, I think Porter is right and Altuve is the perfect #2 hitter. He has speed, will take pitches, and will get on base. The problem then, is if he is batting second, who will the leadoff hitter be?
Almost by default, whoever is playing shortstop is the only option. The problem, is that I am not sure that is best option. Both Tyler Greene and Marwin Gonzalez have career on base percentages under .300 (.292 and .280 respectively) . While Greene has more speed than Gonzalez, neither are true stolen base threats like Altuve is. It seems like the shortstop position will be handled by a platoon of some sort as Greene has the edge with power and Gonzalez with defense. Neither has shown the ability to hit for average, but also both are young players that have never been given a consistent opportunity.
Personally I would like to see Greene win the job as I think his power would be a nice boost to the lineup. But it is still unknown if he will ever truly hit for a high enough average to be a good leadoff hitter. Gonzalez is more of a slap hitter than anything else who has limited power. Both would be better served by batting second behind Altuve. Altuve has proved he can handle the role and get on base, but more importantly he is a threat to run. With Altuve on base and the threat of him running there, whoever is batting second will then see more fastballs and will therefore be a better hitter.
If either player develops enough to the point where they can handle the leadoff role, or if the Astros develop or acquire more of a true leadoff hitter, then Altuve should certainly be moved down a spot in the order. However, I am not rushing to judgement here, because I truly believe that if Porter sees that the team is better served with Altuve leading off, then that is what will happen. What do you think? Who would you like to see leading off?
Who Will Broadcast Astros games?
Astros social media guru Kelly George announced on Twitter this morning that there would be a press conference at 4pm central time today. At that press conference, the 2013 broadcast team will be announced. I know there has been a lot of speculation as to who will be part of that team, and thankfully we will find out soon enough. As always, there will be ample coverage of that announcement in this space, and please leave comments with your thoughts as well.
The problem though, is that this might not matter. Unless they are also going to announce that a deal has been reached to bring Comcast Houston into more homes, then frankly who cares who is broadcasting the games if you can’t watch them. Obviously a deal will be reached eventually, but when?
Captains might be one of the most overrated things in sports. Does someone have to be a captain in order to lead? Can no one else lead? What if not everyone agrees with the choice? I feel that anyone can be a leader, and everyone leads in different ways. The Astros are obviously lacking in veteran players compared to other teams, and they have a lot of young players, but that does not mean that there are no leaders on the team.
Manager Bo Porter established today a group of veteran players that are in the position to act as leaders both from the catching and pitching positions. They are: Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Jason Jaramillo, Erik Bedard, Bud Norris, Philip Humber, Lucas Harrell, Wesley Wright, Jose Veras, and Edgar Gonzalez. (This list was posted by Brian T Smith of the Chronicle).
One of the things that I like about this list, is how many players it contains. What Porter really is saying, is that everyone can be a leader. And why shouldn’t they be? This is obviously a young growing team, and the less barriers, the better. Just as Porter is not going to enforce any strict rules in the clubhouse, leadership will not be constricted either. It will be a group effort and a learning experience. I like it.