The Miami Marlins may have several choices to fill their leadoff hitter this coming season. Manager Don Mattingly could have a tough decision to make.
It’s not as clear-cut as you might think. Instead of the Miami Marlins asking “Who’s on First”, the team may be asking themselves, “Who’s up First.” The leadoff position could be up for grabs in Spring Training as the coaching staff may have a few players to choose from.
Joe Frsaro of MLB.com broke down the candidates who the team will consider.
"“Right now, there is no clear-cut choice, but that could change by the time full-squad workouts begin for the Marlins on Feb. 18,” he wrote. “There’s still a few weeks to add a free agent or possibly make a trade for a leadoff candidate.”“To answer your question based on where things stand today, I would guess either center fielder Lewis Brinson or shortstop JT Riddle would lead off.”"
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Brinson hit .199 and had 11 home runs and 42 RBI in an injury plagued season in 2018. He hit the ball better when he came back from the disabled list and was a late season addition on Sept. 1. The South Florida native is expected to be at full strength this season and is the only player guaranteed of a starting spot in the outfield as the Marlins centerfielder.
Riddle battled through injuries as well, and will be part of a competition at short with veteran Miguel Rojas. Manager Don Mattingly said before he does not want to use a platoon system at short this season, so the player who does not win the starting spot will provide depth off the bench.
Rojas can play second and third base as well, showing that his versatility is valuable to this organization.
"“Last year on Opening Day, it was Brinson who got the nod, but he struggled and was moved down in the lineup. Riddle has a good approach, but he has hit mostly at the bottom of the order at the big league level,” Frisaro added."
The Marlins will once again be a team built on speed and defense up the middle of the diamond. Rojas (11 home runs, 44 RBI) and Riddle (9 homeruns, 36 RBI) both have some pop in their bat, but not enough to become dependable power hitters in the middle of the batting order.
Frisaro said there could also be another veteran Mattingly looks to who can provide a spark at the top of the lineup.
"“Another possibility could be Starlin Castro, who for the most part batted third last year. Earlier in his career, Castro batted mostly first or second,” he wrote."