Friday, April 30, 2004

Willie Continues To Struggle

Willie Harris is - and he's hot right now - continuing to get on base less than 30% of the time. This means that he's not useful hitting from the leadoff spot. You can't steal first base.

I like the idea of a speedster at the top of the lineup to put pressure on the defense and provide a steady diet of fastballs to Jose Valentin hitting second. But that only works when Willie is on base.

A couple of things stand out from Willie's splits this year. He's hitting a whopping .000 against lefties with a .091 OBP. In his career, he's hit about 30 points worse against lefties than righties - .186/.238/.186 vs. 219/.259/.307 (even against righties, those are horrid numbers).

I hope Ozzie will recognize this and sit Willie against lefties. He largely does already, which is good. So far this year, Willie is getting on base about 33% of the time against righties, which is on the low side of OK. To be a good leadoff hitter, you've got to be on base 35+% of the time.

At some point - here we are 400 ABs into his career - someone has to figure out that Willie can't hit. I can see giving him another 100 AB's, just to make sure his previous troubles weren't due to sporadic use, etc., but it's hard to justify giving him more than that when you've got a perfectly good leadoff hitter in the minors in Jeremy Reed (who, of course, hits 2nd at Charlotte).

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