Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini should continue to leadoff

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 06: Trey Mancini
FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 06: Trey Mancini /

The Baltimore Orioles have experimented with three different leadoff batters this season. After nine games into the season, they seemingly may have their, “number one,” guy.

After trying Chris Davis for five games and Tim Beckham for one, the Baltimore Orioles may have found a leadoff batter suited for the top of the order. Trey Mancini has graced the top of the lineup since Thursday, and he’s provided much relief for the for the number one spot.

Buck Showalter was questioned during the spring when it came to mentioning the possibility of Davis leading off. In speaking with Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun, Showalter said,

"I think the batting order sometimes is made way too much out of, but in this case, I think it’s something that has a little more bearing.”"

He’s right.

Sometimes the batting order can be blown out of proportion. If guys one-through-nine contribute, what does it matter who was leading off that game, or who hit sixth, seventh, or eighth?

But, after five games and a leadoff batter hitting .050 (1-for-20), suggesting Davis shouldn’t be at the top of the order no longer was an overreaction.

Sure, Beckham had a hit in the series finale in Houston, but he struck out twice. And, entering the series in the Bronx against the Yankees, the leadoff hitter for the Orioles had gone 2-for-24 in 28 appearances with seven strikeouts.

Enter, Mancini.

Providing hope for solidarity

A slight lineup shakeup had occurred Thursday before the series opener in New York, and Mancini found himself at the top of the lineup. He’s no stranger to the leadoff role; he did it in five games last season.

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He had success there, too. In 13 plate appearances, Mancini slashed .385/.385/.846 while collecting five hits. He also hit two home runs and drove in five runs while striking out three times.

Small sample sizes are fun, right?

Through nine games this season, Mancini is hitting .235 with two extra-base hits, one being a home run. But, it’s in the leadoff spot where he seems to excel.

BALTIMORE, MD – MARCH 31: Trey Mancini
BALTIMORE, MD – MARCH 31: Trey Mancini /

In 16 plate appearances at the top of the lineup, he’s gone 5-for-14 (.357) with a double and two walks.

Why this is going to work

Leadoff hitters should be able to work the count, make the pitcher throw a lot of pitches and get on base. Prototypically, they should be able to steal a few bases, lay down a bunt and occasionally hit for power.

Mancini probably isn’t going to lay down too many bunts, or steal many bases –

– however, he is doing a decent job at seeing pitches.

Another small sample size, but coming into today’s game, he’s matching his total PPAB from last season, at 3.88. His first pitch swinging percentage is down also, from 33.8% in 2017 to 30% this season.

It’s also worth mentioning that Mancini is making contact, whether it goes for a hit or not. Leading off, his BABIP has shot up to .417, and he’s struck out just twice in his last 25 plate appearances.

Next: Implications for Mike Wright's start

Trey Mancini isn’t classified as a stereotypical leadoff hitter. However, after a 3-and-6 start to the season and an offense that’s hitting just .193, as long as he is hitting, Buck Showalter should stick with whatever is working.