Fred Lewis, Rajai Davis, Randy Winn, and Emmanuel Burriss all have the tools to hit leadoff. This mix of former and current Giants all have the necessary capabilities, but will any of them leadoff for the Giants in 2010?
Nope, that will be none other than Aaron Rowand's job.
But before I get into the absurdity of a No. 6/7 hitter with little speed hitting leadoff, let's discuss the four men who can hit leadoff but won't for the 2010 Giants.
First off, there is current Oakland Athletics center fielder Rajai Davis. San Francisco received Davis midseason back in 2007 from the Pittsburgh Pirates. In just 142 at-bats, Davis had a line of .282/.363/.383 with 17 stolen bases.
And after he was given just 18 at-bats in 2008, the Giants cut him. Granted, a line of .056/.105/.056 is almost as bad as it could get in 18 at-bats, but considering those at-bats were given sparingly, it isn't enough to justify giving up on a player with Davis' upside.
Now who of all people picks Davis up off the scrapheap? That's right, Billy Beane. Oakland's famous GM snatched up this former Giant because he understood how to utilize Davis' talents.
Just look at the stat line for Davis last season in Oakland: .305/.360/.423 with 41 stolen bases.
At this point in his career, Aaron Rowand couldn't even dream of a .360 on-base percentage or even reaching 10 stolen bases. Yet Davis has more range in the outfield and is a much more valuable cog for the Athletics moving forward.
You're welcome Oakland.
As for Fred Lewis, I throw him into this leadoff conversation simply because he led the entire team (not named Pablo Sandoval) in on-base percentage last season at .348.
However, even Lewis has come out and said he doesn't like hitting leadoff. Combine that with Lewis being a one man circus in the outfield and displaying little power last season and now you have the Giants paying Mark DeRosa $12 million to play left field.
Current free agent outfielder Randy Winn had a down year with the Giants in 2009, posting a line of .262/.318/.353, but still led the team with 16 stolen bases. While Nate Schierholtz will take over at right field with Winn getting older and less productive, the Giants could have re-signed Winn on the cheap to play left field.
Put him at leadoff and perhaps with a better team around him, Winn could return to his career averages of .286/.344/.418.
And finally there is Emmanuel Burriss, who was supposed to be the starting shortstop for the Giants in 2009 until Brian Sabean changed his mind and overpaid for Edgar Renteria.
In his first stint at the big leagues in 2008, Burriss posted a line of .283/.357/.329 with 13 stolen bases in 240 at-bats. However, Burriss struggled last season and was sent down to the minors in June after a terrible start to his season.
But despite being sent down to Triple-A with an abysmal .292 OBP, he still led the team with 11 stolen bases for most of the season. If the kid was given time to grow and develop at the big league level, he could easily become a 40 steal a year player to go along with tremendous range defensively at either shortstop or second base.
Unfortunately, unless Renteria suffers a season ending injury at some point, Burriss isn't likely to see any extended playing time in 2010.
But Aaron Rowand and his 12 million dollars a year certainly will.
This is correct, a team that wasn't willing to pay Adam LaRoche (a first baseman with a career .491 slugging percentage) 10 million dollars annually is paying Rowand and his .448 career slugging percentage 12 million dollars.
And our beloved San Francisco Giants are going to put their 60 million dollar man at leadoff? Oy vey.
It was one thing when the Giants needed an offensive shakeup and they threw Rowand in at leadoff to try and get some life back in the lineup. The move actually worked...for awhile, anyway.
But we all know Rowand isn't a true leadoff threat. I mean, Fred Lewis had six more walks than Rowand last season despite having 204 fewer at-bats. Rowand struck out over four times for every time he walked. He stole just four bases last season. He grounded into a frigging triple-play for crying out loud. Not that one play really means anything, but of course it was Rowand who was the victim of that play.
This is the Giants' idea of a leadoff hitter? Aaron Rowand? Please. This is insulting to your fan base. Rowand posted an atrocious a .319 OBP last season and nearly struck out more often than he got a base hit!
You heard me right, Rowand struck out 125 times and registered just 130 base hits. That is just down right awful; he nearly had a strikeout average higher than his batting average.
If he is named Mark Reynolds and hits 44 bombs, I wouldn't complain. But his name is Aaron Rowand and he only hit 15 bombs.
Now as a die hard fan of the orange & black, I will be hoping for the playoffs in 2010. But I just wish for once the front office would put together a lineup that would make me expect them to make the playoffs.
Instead, I'm regulated to hoping for the postseason once again.
God, please help the Giants.