Courtesy of MLB’s YouTube Channel
While reports are talking about Ender Inciarte assuming his old leadoff role while Acuña slides down to the 4th hole, Acuña stated at ChopFest that he would prefer to stay at the leadoff spot. “Obviously, I do enjoy batting leadoff, but it’s not my decision. It’s up to the coaches and manager to decide whatever is best for the team.”
Ender Inciarte was the leadoff man to start the season with high expectations coming off a 200 hit season. However, after a slow start to the season, where he batted .223 leading off, the torch was handed Ozzie Albies, who then batted .234 in the same spot.
Ronald Acuña Jr. dominated his rookie season while earning him the title of NL Rookie of the Year. When Acuña debuted, he batted in the 6th spot. While there, the former number one overall prospect hit .302 with three homers and an OPS of .932. He then experienced some rough patches after moving up to the second spot where he slashed a line of .238/.302/,400. That all changed when he moved to the leadoff spot.
Traditionally in baseball, the leadoff spot belonged to a guy who could get on base drawing walks or contact hitting. Then, he could fly around the bases and then created opportunities for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th hitters. However, whether he was the first batter of the game or led the inning off, he hit 23 home runs doing so — 19 of those being the leadoff hitter. The way we think of the leadoff hitter has changed over the past few years and Acuña is only making a case of why other teams should try it as well. Acuña batted .328/.409/.634 from the leadoff spot during the 2018 campaign. Besides earning ROY honors, he also won NL Player of the Week by hitting .464/.559/.954 batting first. He also became the youngest player in history to hit a home run in 5 games. All of those were from the leadoff spot, and 3 of them were to start the game.