Who should lead off, Matt Carpenter or Peter Bourjos?

First off, thanks to Charlie Rose (Twitter Handle @rose338) for today’s topic. His question was this: Why have we not given Peter Bourjos a shot in lead off spot with Matt Carpenter being a prototypical #2?

First, let me state my own personal opinion about the lead-off spot: I think it should be a guy who can hit decently with above average plate discipline. While traditionally, the leadoff hitter has been someone fast who can steal bases, to me, speed doesn’t matter as much as getting on base. I’m boring. I’ll take a steady OBP guy over an exciting speedster who doesn’t get on base as much any day.

Peter Bourjos, while he has a .220 overall average, has picked up in the last month, hitting .265 during that period. Matt Carpenter meanwhile, has been steady. His overall average is.283, and in his last 28 days he’s hitting .284. The big difference comes in OPB. Carpenter’s OBP for the last 28 days is .389, while Bourjos OBP for that same span is .306, a 83 point difference. There’s your answer. Carpenter may not have Bourjos’ speed, but his ability to get on base at a much higher rate trumps any speed advantage Bourjos has.

Look at it another way, of players of the past 2 or 3 years, if you could take one player, clone him, and play 8 of him on your team, who would you pick? I’d take last years version of Joey Votto. He had a .435 OBP. Can you imagine a lineup that disciplined? It would set the record for runs scored. Compare that to say, having 8 Dee Gordon‘s in the lineup.Gordon’s on pace for about 70 to 75 stolen bases, give or take, and has a .344 OBP. Even with all those stolen bases, I’d still rather have that .435 OBP that Votto had. Those stolen bases can’t make up for a roughly 90 point difference in OBP.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the All Star Game!

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