Feb. 13: Q of the Day
* To submit a question for consideration, email me at Jenifer.Langosch@MLB.com. Include your first name, last initial and hometown.
What on-base percentage do you think Kolten Wong or Peter Bourjos need to become a lead-off man? I believe Carpenter would be an outstanding two-hole hitter because he takes so many pitches. Wong or Bourjos would be able to steal bases and Carpenter would have a lot more RBI opportunities to go with everything else.
— Duane W., Bridgman, Mich.
If Wong could post an OBP near the one he did in the Minors (.365) this would certainly be a legitimate topic of discussion. But the Cardinals are realistic in their expectations — Wong first needs to merely establish himself as Major League-ready, and slotting him into a lower spot in the lineup should allow for a less-pressured opportunity to do so. The situation is similar with Bourjos, who has a career OBP of .306. Before his speed can play atop the lineup, he has to get on base more regularly.
We’ve seen baseball gradually shifting its emphasis from speed to OBP as it concerns the leadoff spot. Of the eight leadoff hitters with the highest OBP in 2013, only one (Jacoby Ellsbury) had more than 18 stolen bases. Certainly, you don’t want someone who is going to clog the basepath, but Carpenter is quick enough to make that concern mute. Breaking down last year’s numbers, the top 5 leadoff hitters in MLB had an OBP of .355 or higher; the top 15 were north of .333. If Wong and/or Bourjos reach that latter threshold, perhaps the Cardinals would consider a batting order shuffle. In the meantime, though, there seems no urgency to fix something that is not broken, even if Carpenter could just as well thrive as a two-hole hitter.
Follow me on Twitter (@LangoschMLB), Instagram (LangoschMLB) and Facebook (Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com)