The Brewers face a level of uncertainty with the leadoff spot in their batting order. Who should get the most starts there?
Manager Craig Counsell has used a variety of hitters in that spot since Cain opted out, playing matchups to his advantage as much as he can. However, with the whole offense having been in a slump to start the season, it makes judging that group more difficult.
With a few more games now under their belt, let’s look at how the Brewers can fill the leadoff spot in their order.
The Brewers have given Eric Sogard most of the opportunities in the leadoff spot this year, having been penciled in there for seven of the 13 games played so far. In those seven games, Sogard has 30 plate appearances with a .167/.333/.208 slash line. While his four hits don’t look too appealing, he’s also drawn six walks from this spot and has gotten on base at a pretty good clip at least.
Sogard has also only struck out four times to this point, and his contact ability is crucial to have atop the order, even if the hits aren’t falling at this point.
He’s done enough keep himself as a regular option for the leadoff spot, and as long as there’s a favorable pitching matchup, Sogard’s likely to see a lot of time up there.
Another utility infield option, Brock Holt swings from the left side of the plate, just like Sogard, and would make for a solid candidate atop the order.
This year has brought a slow offensive start for Holt, just like seemingly everyone else in the Brewers order. He’s started one game as the leadoff hitter and he went 1-3 with a walk against Trevor Bauer and the Reds in an utterly dominant game for Bauer.
In his career, Holt has hit in every spot in the batting order and has started more games at leadoff (134) than any other spot. As the leadoff man, Holt is a career .285 hitter with 27 doubles, seven triples, and five home runs in 593 ABs.
Throughout Summer Camp and the early part of the regular season, Ben Gamel has been one of the Brewers hottest hitters. He reworked his batting stance and his swing over the offseason and so far, it’s been paying off.
Gamel has produced a .763 OPS and a 108 OPS+ so far this year. In the one game that he did bat leadoff, Gamel went 0-6 with four strikeouts. However, that’s not enough to judge his ability to hit leadoff going forward
With Cain out, Gamel is going to get a lot more playing time this year and should his hot-hitting ways continue, he makes a lot of sense at the top of the order.
Yes, why not? The Brewers just recently called up Mark Mathias to make his major league debut and he’s done an incredible job in the short amount of time he’s been up. He’s 5-for-15 to start his career and has come up in some big situations.
Mathias is pretty fast, can play all over the field, and has shown a knack for getting base hits. He’s pushed his way into the starting lineup a few times now, and if he continues to produce, he’ll get some more.
Craig Counsell is going to use some combination of the above players at the top of the order throughout the season, but for right now, I’d say either Sogard or Gamel would be the two best options for the top of the order that will see the most playing time.
Holt has historically been a solid option for that role, but he’s not as likely to see the amount of playing time that Sogard and Gamel will get.
Mathias still has a little ways to go before he proves himself ready for the leadoff spot on a regular occasion.
The Brewers offense appears to be starting to wake up, and that should take some pressure off of whoever is leading off in any given game.