OK, so I get that a few hours after a brutal 13-4 beatdown isn’t the best time to praise the Mariners’ manager. However, I’m so critical of Wedge that I figured when he finally made a good move, I should probably show him some support.
The move I’m talking about took place on Friday, and it happened approximately five hours before the game. It was one that no one saw coming, and one that drew a lot of skepticism and understandably so. But in the two games Wedge has employed the strategy, batting Brad Miller leadoff has paid dividends.
The leadoff spot has not helped Seattle much this season. Before Miller, four men had occupied that spot in the Mariners lineup. Endy Chavez has led off the most for the M’s, with 38 games in that spot, followed by Michael Saunders (25), Jason Bay (12) and Franklin Gutierrez (10). Sure, those guys have accounted for seven leadoff homers, a new team record, but overall they haven’t done the job.
The main task of leadoff man is to get on base, and the players the Mariners have employed in that spot are not doing that well enough. Chavez has led off in nearly half of their games, and is hitting .270. That’s not terrible, but his .292 on base percentage certainly stinks. Saunders has a better OBP than Chavez at .297, but the Condor is only hitting .212. Bay is a similar case, with an OBP (.321) 101 points higher than his batting average. But his average is .220, which doesn’t come close to getting the job done.
Sure it’s been only two games, but Miller has owned the leadoff spot so far. He immediately put a dent in the speculation with a leadoff triple Friday that was quickly followed by a Nick Franklin two-run bomb. He checked in with another triple later in the game for the first multi-triple game in the history of Great American Ballpark.
Saturday, Miller went hitless, but he still made his impact felt. The newest Mariner drew three walks, an impressive feat for a player who’s been in the major leagues for a week. That kind of patience is what a quality leadoff hitter needs. The lead off spot is all about getting on base at all costs, and so far, Brad Miller is doing just that.