Who'll lead off for Orioles? Promotional schedule; Call for questions - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Who’ll lead off for Orioles? Promotional schedule; Call for questions

Constructing a lineup is probably one of the things that’s not currently on the mind of Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. Pitchers and catchers report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex a week from now, take the field a day later, and by February 17, a day after infielders and outfielders report, he’ll have more than 60 players to evaluate.

Opening Day isn’t until March 26, but that won’t stop a little speculation. The Orioles will need a leadoff hitter, and Hyde might not have a clue yet of his identity.

Hyde’s predecessor, Buck Showalter, was always annoyed by lineup questions, although he spent hours on each day’s one through nine.

One name we can eliminate from consideration for the leadoff spot is Chris Davis. Two years ago, Showalter wanted to jumpstart Davis and thought he could if he batted leadoff to begin the season. After five games and one hit in 20 at-bats, that experiment was abandoned.

Last year’s favorite leadoff hitter, Jonathan Villar, was traded to the Miami Marlins in December. Villar led off in 105 games and, interestingly, hit worse there than anywhere else. His .258 average and .320  on-base percentage were below his .274 average and .339 OBP.

Infielder Hanser Alberto could get more opportunities to bat first this season. He led off 46 times in 2019, hitting .349. For the season, Alberto hit .305.

But Alberto doesn’t walk often, and managers often want players who draw bases on balls up top. Alberto drew just five walks batting leadoff and just 16 overall in 139 games.

Alberto does put the ball in play. He struck out only 50 times in 2019.

Alberto might be a more likely choice there than Villar’s replacement at shortstop, José Iglesias.


In 2019, Iglesias walked only 20 times. He hit .288 with a .318 on-base percentage.

Iglesias has no experience as a leadoff man. In eight major league seasons, he’s started just six games there. Like Alberto, Iglesias is a low-strikeout, high-contact hitter. He struck out 70 times.

Villar struck out 176 times, seventh in the major leagues.

The Orioles had five players who struck out more than 100 times in 2019. Two of them, Villar and Stevie Wilkerson, who was designated for assignment on Friday, are no longer on the team. Wilkerson had 108 strikeouts.

Trey Mancini and Renato Nunez each fanned 143 times. Davis struck out 139 times.

Showalter disdained the conventional. In his final years as Orioles manager, he put Nick Markakis (2014), Manny Machado (2015), Adam Jones (2016) and Mancini (2018) in the leadoff spot.

If Hyde starts thinking that way, perhaps Austin Hays could be the choice.

Hays, who should be the Opening Day centerfielder, could fit nicely there. In his limited 2019 time with the Orioles, Hays hit .309 with a .373 on-base percentage.

Last season, Hays hit .248 for four minor league affiliates and had a .299 OBP.

He doesn’t have great speed, but neither did Markakis nor Mancini.

Hyde likely won’t give us a clue on his thinking until the final week of Grapefruit League games when he’ll begin running out more realistic lineups.

Orioles Promotional Highlights: 2020 is the 50th anniversary of the team’s 1970 World Series championship, and the Orioles will commemorate that with a 1970 World Series Tote Bag on April 25 and a Brooks Robinson replica jersey on August 8.

The 25th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr. breaking the consecutive game streak of Lou Gehrig will be commemorated on September 6th with a Cal bobblehead.

The 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues will be marked by a Baltimore Elite Giants replica cap on May 9.

There’ll be a Jim Palmer bobblehead on May 30, an Oriole Bird bobblehead on June 20 to mark the Bird’s enshrinement in the Mascot Hall of Fame, and a Boog Powell bobblehead on August 22,

On May 25, the Orioles will give away a team beach towel. An Orioles soccer jersey will be handed out on June 27, and an Orioles travel pillow on August 9.

Floppy Hat night will be on June 19, and Hawaiian shirts are the giveaway on July 18.

County music concerts featuring women artists and fireworks will return on six Fridays from June through August as will six Saturday center field roof deck concerts. Postgame concerts will be held on July 18 and September 13,

The 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment will be marked by several events.

Single-game tickets will go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m.

Call for questions: We’ll have one final mailbag before spring training. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section or write to me: [email protected].

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 4, 2020 at 7:39 am

    Dang Rich … you’ve just sold a couple of tickets for the Orioles for the May 30th and August 22nd games. I absolutely have to get those Palmer & Powell bobbleheads! With the team stinking so bad, you gotta love the giveaways.

    And since you’ve obviously got some pull with the front office now that you’re moonlighting with the O’s sales office, can I ask you to pass along a suggestion from myself to the club? Could we ask the O’s to at least offer a couple thousand shirts that would realistically fit a grown man over 180 lbs? I went to the game in ’81 with the sole purpose of obtaining that sought after shirt. And I did manage to score a couple of the “large” variety. However, what the club deemed a ‘large’ size, barely fit my son who’s only 5’7″ and 170 lbs. At 6’1″ and 240 lbs, I couldn’t even manage to button it up! Aren’t Hawaiian shirts inherently designed for us fat guys?

    I can’t ever remember going to a game and being so disappointed. What a sham.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 4, 2020 at 7:47 am

      The game was in ’18 .. not ’81….typo

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      Last yrs was even worse, nothing bigger than a large, the xl’s were all mislabeled, you could return the shirt & get a voucher for a much later date, you had to go to Camden Yards to pick it up, my wife & I made a special trip from Ohio just for that game…what a bummer…go O’s..

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 4, 2020 at 2:07 pm

        XL was not an option in ’18. Choices were medium & “large”.

  2. J Guy

    February 4, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Put Davis on third moncastle on first wilkerson on second

  3. deqalt

    February 4, 2020 at 8:53 am

    When is Playoff Contender Night?

  4. Fareastern89

    February 4, 2020 at 8:54 am

    Interesting question on the leadoff hitter, Rich — this is the sort of problem that starts to expose just how limited the O’s lineup will be this year. Without a prototypical leadoff guy, I’d go with Alberto, and maybe Hays later in the season when he’s got some more major league experience.

  5. Bman

    February 4, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Prob Hays in leadoff, and Alberto too. Does McKenna regain his form and get a summer call up?

  6. DavisHasToGo

    February 4, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Bat Davis 10th.

    • Greazy Tony

      February 4, 2020 at 3:14 pm

      I like where your head is at, but that’s too high. Bat him 11th or 12th, or maybe 8th for Norfolk.

      • WorldlyView

        February 4, 2020 at 4:00 pm

        Somebody on another site had a really good idea. They suggested that the MLB Commissioner should impose an additional punishment on the cheating Astros: order the transfer of Mr. Davis and his contract to Houston.

  7. willmiranda

    February 4, 2020 at 10:31 am

    If you’re committed to leading the league in losses with placeholder players, does the batting order really matter?. Do it alphabetically or by age or height or weight or birthday. The only risk is that by chance you might come up with an effective one and win some games. And now that we’re dusting off the old bobbleheads, who’s manufacturing new ones for present O’s?.

  8. Bancells Moustache

    February 4, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Hays at the top. Doesn’t matter if he doesn’t have great speed, it’s not like anyone steals bases in MLB anymore.

    Random complaint of the day: The Orioles floppy hat is THE giveaway at Camden Yards and at Memorial Stadium. You almost can’t call yourself a fan if you haven’t gotten at least one over the years. (though one could argue it’s been eclipsed by the recent Hawaiian shirt giveaway). At some point the O’s changed it from a smaller fisherman type hat, what I consider a floppy hat, to a much wider brimmed hat, almost like a ladies sun hat. I don’t like this. Thank you for listening.

  9. WorldlyView

    February 4, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    I think one of those Dominican teenagers we got from the Bosox should leadoff. The future is Now.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 4, 2020 at 1:58 pm

      Now that’s funny!

  10. BirdsCaps

    February 4, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    Since they are on weekends, count me in for the five bobble heads. I wonder what current player they will feature on the bobble head. Means would be my guess, since he is the only active oriole of note (Mancini already had a bobble).

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