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Monday, February 09, 2004

Patterson and Batting Order

Interesting little article on the Cubs and their big question mark in the leadoff position for 2004. The story focuses on Corey Patterson and whether he might fulfill the role. For anyone who has even taken a cursory look at Patterson's statistics it's obvious that he is perhaps the worst candidate for leadoff outside of Barrett and Gonzales of course. His OBP last year was .329 but only because he hit .298 walking only 15 times in over 300 plate appearances. He certainly may improve as we all expect and learn more discipline as is the norm as a player ages but I wouldn't start him off anywhere near the leadoff spot. To his credit Dusty sees this and says:

"He's a swinger. He doesn't know how to work the count. Last year, he was coming into his own, learning how to hit. I think he's a perfect third hitter to me."

However, just when you think Dusty's on the right track he veers off course by saying that Patterson is the "perfect" third hitter. Now historically, your best hitter hits third, meaning one that combines average, on base, and slug. Clearly Sosa is still that man for the Cubs (.279/.358/.553). I wouldn't be suprised if Patterson becomes that someday soon but based on last season he still needs to develop more discipline. His .511 slug would indicate that he's more of a "runner advancer" as I discussed in a previous post, which would indicate he'd be an ideal 5th or 6th hitter. Given that the Cubs have little to work with in the leadoff spot, I would go like this:

2B - Grudz/Walker
1B - Lee
RF - Sosa
LF - Alou
CF - Patterson
3B - Ramirez
SS - Gonzales
C - Barrett

Against lefhanders I might switch Ramirez and Patterson and perhaps even move Gonzales up a bit since that is his strong side.

Also found this nice overview of the Cubs top prospects on the Cub reporter. Note that they have a slightly different take on Dusty's comments. There was a similar list in the most recent issue of Vine Line, the Cubs official magazine. I believe they also had Guzman number one.

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