One of the drags on the offense this month has been a persistent inability to get the leadoff man on base (speaking here of leading off the inning, not just the game). In April, our leadoff men reached base at a .390 clip. The May figure was an OK .324. In June, they tailed off a little more to .311. So far in July, our leadoff men carry an on base percentage of .279 as only 50 of our 179 offensive innings have begun with a Cardinal batter getting on base.
Greg Garcia has gotten some looks at the top of the lineup – he’s batted leadoff in 5 of his last 7 starts. He has, however, only started 7 of the last 14 games. Of all the fulltime and part-time players, Garcia has done the best with his leadoff opportunities. In the 15 innings this month that he’s led off, he has reached base 7 times (.467). July has actually been a below average month for Greg in this respect. For the season, he has led off 28 innings and reached base through hit (7 times) or walk (8 times) in 15 of them – a .536 on base percentage.
Kolten Wong has only led off 5 innings this month, reaching base only once. For the season, though, this has been as aspect of the game that Kolten has excelled at, reaching in 19 of the 50 innings that he’s led off (.380 pct).
With Matt Carpenter’s return seemingly imminent, I have to say that his injury situation didn’t play out at all as I had anticipated. In my mind this was a terrific opportunity for someone – especially Wong – to lay a claim on the leadoff spot – to make it his own so that Mike Matheny might be tempted to move Carpenter into a better run-producing spot in the order. But no one has done much with the opportunity, and Wong hasn’t even been given even one start in the top spot in the order.
Stephen Piscotty has the team’s fourth-best on base percentage leading off an inning. He has reached in 4 of his 11 innings this month (.364) and 33 of 89 (.371) for the year. Next on the list – surprisingly – is Brandon Moss at .357 (20 of 56). Brandon reached twice in six innings this month before being sidelined with his injury. So a case could be made that much of our difficulty in getting leadoff runners on is caused by injury situations that will largely be resolved with the return of Carpenter and Moss.
It’s also true that too many of the regular players have mostly disappeared this month when given the opportunity to lead off innings. Several of them have generally failed in this situation for the entire season. Aledmys Diaz is at .214 (3 of 14) this month – he’s at .323 for the season. Matt Holliday is also at .214 (3 of 14) – he is only .271 for the season. Matt Adams is at .188 (3 for 16 this month) – reducing his season average to just .278. Jedd Gyorko’s been having a great month, but not when leading off an inning. He has reached just twice in twelve innings (.167). For the season, he is hitting just .179 and reaching base at just a .238 clip when leading off. Randal Grichuk has been the first man up in 15 different innings this month, reaching just twice on singles (.133). For the season, his on base percentage is just .250 (17 for 68) when leading off an inning.
The numbers seem to suggest here that there is a “leadoff mindset/approach” that some players employ and others – seemingly – will not.
Tommy Pham is the hardest to explain when it comes to leading off an inning. He has struggled as much as anyone else in the leadoff spot. He’s had six games in the top spot of the order, but has just 4 hits in 28 at bats (.143) and has walked just once. But, when he leads off an inning in games where he bats somewhere other than leadoff, Tommy has a .450 on base percentage (7 hits, a walk, and a HBP in 20 opportunities).
When the Cards get their leadoff hitter on, he scores 48% of the time.