By Jason Shetler
I’m certain most of you reading the title of this post are thinking that I’ve officially lost my mind, or that I just had too much eggnog. Every once in awhile, I like to do a blog post that goes completely against conventional wisdom. For as long as baseball has been around, the long tradition has been that the leadoff batter should hit for a good average and have great speed. So why do I believe that John Jaso should be the Pirates leadoff man in 2016? – Here’s why.
Jaso’s calling card is his impressive ability to get on base. During his seven year big league career, he’s posted an on base percentage of .361. His walk rate is solid at 12.6% while his 14.6% strikeout rate is very good. Jaso put up a .404 on base as a leadoff batter in 40 games with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015. Josh Harrison and Gregory Polanco combined to post only a .326 on base from the leadoff spot for the Pirates this past season. Jaso owns a career on base of .380 from the leadoff position. It’s the highest mark of any spot in the lineup for him with a minimum of 100 games, so he does have a decent size track record. Having Jaso bat leadoff could really set the tone at the top of the lineup, as it relates to working the count deep and reaching base. It would also allow either Harrison or Polanco, depending on who the Pirates want batting second, to see good pitches to hit in front of Andrew McCutchen. So while it may seem unconventional to have Jaso leading off, it’s a move that I think can be unconventionally effective.