Rays Manager Joe Maddon Looks To Capitalize On Platoon Advantage From The Leadoff Spot In 2014
Early on during the 2013 season Joe Maddon inserted Desmond Jennings at the top of the Rays lineup. He batted leadoff in 42 of the teams first 46 games but struggled with the bat posting a slash line of .236/.297/.397. He also was deficient on the base paths as well. After stealing 31 bases in 33 attempts in 2012 he was mysteriously having trouble in this area stealing just six bases and being caught three times.
In early May Jennings was dropped out of the leadoff spot for three games and after a quick respite Jennings returned tot the top of the Rays lineup but continued to struggle through May 23rd when he was finally dropped in the batting order.
During this period of time Jennings seemed to have regained his form posting a slash line of .273/.338/.477 and on July 1st was returned to the leadoff spot nearly full time.
From July 1st through August 3rd the Rays played 28 games and Jennings hit leadoff in 27 of them. He finally seemed to be everything the team wanted as a leadoff hitter posting a slash line of .274/.357/.389 stealing eight bases while only being caught once. Unfortunately, he broke his finger stealing a base on August 3rd and ended up on the 15-day disabled list and missed 12 games.
After coming off the disabled list the returned to the leadoff spot but for only a few more games. On August 23rd the Rays acquired David DeJesus from the Washington Nationals and after a few days settling in he was inserted as the Rays primary leadoff hitter against right handed hitters.
From August 25 through the end of the season the Rays played 36 games and DeJesus led off in 20 of them hitting .275/.354/.391. Overall from August 23rd through the end of the season DeJesus hit .260/.328/.413 and Jennings hit .253/.368/.442.
The Rays leadoff hitters combined to hit .250/.323/.406 with 19 home runs and 20 stolen bases. In the American League their batting average ranks 10th, on-base percentage (9), slugging percentage (5), and stolen bases (10).
It’s a safe bet that Joe Maddon will look to set up a platoon advantage leadoff spot in 2014. The juggling of the top spot in the lineup is not something that Joe Maddon does because he likes to keep things revolving – he’ll do it to maximize the benefits of both DeJesus and Jennings.
In his career DeJesus has hit very well against right handed pitching posting a slash line of .289/.365/.447 (OPS of .812) while struggling versus left handers hitting just .252/.321/.342 (OPS of .663).
The opposite is true of Jennings who has hit very well versus left-handed pitching posting a slash line of .272/.362/.442 (OPS of .812) while struggling against right handers hitting just .241/.316/.342 (OPS of .663).