Mariners Analysis: Who Should Hit Leadoff for Seattle in 2016?

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Jul 30, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA;Texas Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin (2) steals second base and avoids the tag of New York Yankees second baseman

Brendan Ryan

(17) in the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Texas beat New York 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Leonys Martin – CF

The 27-year-old center fielder is the dark horse in this competition, but his electrifying speed gives him an outside chance to win the job in 2016. The Seattle Mariners acquired Leonys Martin from the Texas Rangers this past November, and he immediately became the club’s everyday starter in center field.

Unfortunately, Martin is fresh off his worst season as a pro. He limped his way to a .219/.264/.313 slash line last year with the Rangers. Martin contributed 5 home runs, drove in 25 runs and swiped 14 bags across 95 games. It goes without saying that his 69:16 strikeout to walk ratio left something to be desired.

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Despite Martin’s awful numbers in 2015, he has fared reasonably well hitting out of the leadoff spot during his five seasons in the big leagues. He sports a .257 batting average with 5 home runs and 40 RBI across 104 games as the leadoff man. Martin has registered a .308 on base percentage and stolen 27 bases hitting at the top of the lineup.

Baseball Reference is projecting a bounce back season for the Martin in 2016. They predict he will hit .255 with 7 home runs, 36 RBI and 19 stolen bases across 413 plate appearances. FanGraphs is also confident Martin will rediscover his stroke next season. They believe he will hit .242 with 8 home runs, 47 RBI and 23 steals through 126 games.

Personally, I would prefer to see Leonys Martin hitting 9th in the Mariners lineup. I think his speed is a true difference maker, but he does not get on base consistently enough to warrant a shot as the leadoff man.

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