Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/5/12

It is almost unfair to limit today's Bad Spring Training Decision of the Day to "of the Day" status because this bit of lineup construction was a bad idea that nobody thought better of for several years, making this something of an evergreen Bad Spring Training Decision.  What poor idea is that exactly?  Oh, just batting Alfonso Soriano in the leadoff spot.

Really?  Again with this?

Yes, it seems now that Theo Epstein has left Boston, he somehow has forgotten all about the importance of on-base percentage.  Paging, Bill James.  Report to Wrigley Field, STAT!

How little sense would such a batting order make?  Let us count the ways:

  1. Soriano is coming off a season in which he posted a .289 OBP.
  2. Soriano's career OBP is .323.
  3. Soriano has not boasted an OBP higher than .322 in the last three years.
  4. The highest OBP that Soriano has ever registered is .351.
  5. The last time Soriano hit leadoff, he had great speed.  He has stolen 16 total in the last three seasons.

And those are just the quick bullet points that pertain to Soriano's profile in a vacuum.  This proposed arrangement only becomes even more puzzling when you consider the make up of the Cub roster.

If there is one thing that Alfonso Soriano can still do well, and there literally might be just one thing, it is that he can hit for power.  The rest of the Cubs... not so much.  Only three other players on roster have ever hit 20 or more homers in the majors.  Marlon Byrd, Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto have all done it, and they have all done it just once and none of them more recently than 2009.  Now, they do have slugging prospects like Anthony Rizzo and Bryan LaHair, but neither are even remotely proven at the big league level.  So it begs the question of who will provide pop in the middle of the order if Soriano is stuck batting leadoff?  Granted, Soriano is less than ideal as the big middle of the order run producer, but the Cubbies clearly don't have a lot to work with there.

Where they do have more to work with is at the top of the order, not a vast amount more, but more nonetheless.  Starlin Castro doesn't walk much, but because he bats over .300, his career OBP is .343, plus he has good speed.  Marlon Byrd isn't ideal, but his .339 OBP is still far superior to Soriano's.  The best candidate though is probably free agent addition David DeJesus.  He is coming off of a poor season in which he hit .240, but he still managed a .323 OBP which means that at his worst, he is still on par with Soriano's average season.  When he is playing up to his true ability, like he did two seasons ago, his OBP can touch .384.  Anywhere in between, like his .356 career OBP, and the Cubs should be in reasonable shape.

DeJesus is such an obvious choice to bat leadoff that it really makes one wonder why we are discussing anyone else at all, much less Soriano.  The only explanation that makes any kind of sense is that new manager Dale Sveum is falling into the old trap of, "Hey, someone else decided he could leadoff before, so it must be a good idea."  Oh, Dale, just because someone else was uninformed enough to make a bad decision doesn't mean that you should mimic them.  That's how we ended up with seven Police Academy films.

If there is one lesson this blog can teach you, it is don't ever do anything that reminds someone of the Police Academy films.

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