Now that Norichika Aoki has a new home in Kansas City, the Milwaukee Brewers are without their best leadoff hitter.
So who will fill Aoki’s shoes?
According to manager Ron Roenicke, the Brewers will consider Carlos Gomez, Scooter Gennett and Jean Segura, though he admitted that none of them are great OBP guys. He also mentioned Rickie Weeks as a possible candidate citing his experience at the leadoff position.
“If Rickie is in the picture, he has done it before. I think ‘Seggy’ and Gennett can improve their on-base percentage,” Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The leadoff spot is one of, if not the, most important positions in the batting order. Without a base-hawk, offenses tend to stall and usual RBI machines in the middle of the order don’t have a chance to drive in runs. Leadoff hitters contribute to runs more than any other position in baseball.
With that being said, the decision on who replaces Aoki is an important one. Let’s take a look at the first candidate: Carlos Gomez.
Unlike Segura and Gennett, Gomez has experience leading off a ball game. In 2008, he was the Minnesota Twins leadoff hitter for most of the season. But even though Gomez has uncanny speed (77 stolen bases in the last two years), he’s not your prototypical leadoff hitter. Before 2013, he had never hit for a high average and struggled with his on-base percentage. He’s developed into more of a power guy than an average guy.
Gomez seemed to turn the corner in 2013. He reached base safely with more frequency than ever before, boasting a .338 OBP. His previous high was .305 in 2012.
The downside of Gomez as the leadoff hitter is his base running ability. The guy can run and steal bases like it’s nobody’s business but he makes far too many mistakes on the base paths. To be a leadoff hitter, you must be a smart base runner, and Gomez’s base running IQ is not too impressive.
Gomez’s skill set is better utilized in the middle of the lineup, considering that he thrived hitting behind Aramis Ramirez last year. But Corey Hart‘s potential return could make the decision easier. Hart would undoubtedly step into the five-hole, bumping Gomez. If Roenicke wants someone like Khris Davis or Juan Francisco to hit behind Hart, Gomez would have nowhere else to go but to the top of the lineup.
While Gomez wouldn’t be the worst leadoff choice, Roenicke will probably lean in another direction. He needs the power Gomez brings when men are on base.