Sure, why not?: Bautista hitting leadoff as Jays face Twins in Minnesota

Jose Bautista
Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Just in case you were wondering if the Blue Jays feel, internally, that they’re as badly in need of some kind of a spark as fans do — and are as completely devoid of ideas on how to go about getting their offence firing again as we are — behold!

Today’s Toronto Blue Jays lineup will feature a new leadoff hitter, and since you almost certainly already read the title of this post, I probably don’t have to tell you that it’s Jose Bautista.

Sure, why not?

I mean, over the course of the early spring I argued against a power hitter taking the top spot in the order, simply because he’s guaranteed one plate appearance in which there will be nobody on base for him — leadoff hitters bat with the bases empty something like 32% of the time (do you really want me to look it up?) more often than the next lowest spot in the order — but what the hell! Might as well try something. It’s not like it’s going to be permanent. And if it is, maybe Jose potentially getting some extra at-bats at the end of games offsets the fact that he’ll come to the plate less often with runners on.

So full credit to interim manager DeMarlo Hale here. Or is that DeSockpuppet Hale? (John Gibbons got a three game suspension for his role in Sunday’s P.T. Barnum in Texas, but didn’t begin serving it until Tuesday — if you recall, he was managing on Monday… until he got ejected — so it’s technically Hale’s decision.)

Bautista last hit leadoff on June 15th, 2010. And anybody quoting you his stats as a leadoff hitter might as well be bluffing their way through reciting pi by memory, for all the use those numbers actually have. Still, though, it’s kinda fun — and fun sure was something missing from that dreadful Tampa series, so I’ll damn well take it!

Somewhat surprising update…

Hmmm, so it turns out like this very much might be a permanent thing — if it works — or, at the very least, isn’t quite as half-serious a plan as I painted it.

Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star tweets that this was a change suggested by the players. Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet explains that last week Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, and Russell Martin met to discuss ways out of its funk, and he adds that this batting order was one of the changes they requested.

Hooookay then! That’s kinda cool, I guess. And you’ve got to hand it to Bautista for understanding, in his free agent year no less, that it’s not RBIs that he’s going to get paid for, and not worrying about padding a stat like that just for personal gain. Now here’s hoping it actually works!