Who Should Leadoff for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018?

The constant debate for the St. Louis Cardinals lineup is who should bat in the leadoff spot?

First, the leadoff spot is a very important part of the lineup. The batter batting first can give you a big boost to start off the game. That is why it’s crucial to have the right player batting first in the lineup. So what player do you think should be batting leadoff? Many people say Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, and even Tommy Pham could bat first in the lineup for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dexter Fowler has batted first in the lineup 720 times in his career. In those 720 games Fowler slashed .264/.363/.429 hitting 70 HR with 258 RBI and drawed 424 walks. It’s safe to say that Fowler looks to be a good candidate to bat leadoff but last season when batting first he slashed .205/.308/.390 with only 8 HR and 17 RBI and 30 walks. I would not let Dexter Fowler leadoff for the St. Louis Cardinals. Fowler’s career numbers does show that he is very successful from batting first in the lineup but last season his leadoff numbers is something to be worried about.

Tommy Pham was the biggest surprise for the St. Louis Cardinals last season. If it wasn’t for Pham last season the St. Louis Cardinals would have finished under .500 as a team. Since he was such a breakout player last season for the Cardinals many people believed he should have been batting leadoff due to the struggles of Fowler. So should he bat leadoff for the Cardinals this upcoming season? Tommy Pham has batted first in the lineup 21 times in his career. In those 21 games Pham slashed .205/.283/.337 with only 2 HR and 6 RBI with 29 SO. Even though Pham has only batted first a small amount times in his career I do not believe he should bat leadoff for the St. Louis Cardinals next season. I think his bat would be more productive batting second or third in the lineup as he did for much of last season.

Kolten Wong was an improved player in 2017 for the St. Louis Cardinals. Much improved from the previous season. Wong had career best numbers in AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS+, and walks. Is Wong the answer to the leadoff spot? Kolten Wong has batted first in the lineup 80 times in his career. In the 80 games Wong slashed .238/.295/.364 with 6 HR and 27 RBI with 58 SO and only 17 walks. Wong had some success batting first in the lineup in early May last season when he slashed .254/.324/.333 but is that enough to have him leadoff this upcoming season? It doesn’t seem likely.

Matt Carpenter struggled batting second and third in the lineup last season. Carpenter’s numbers were the best when batting leadoff last season where he slashed .268/.418/.497 with 14 HR and 42 RBI with 76 walks. Having an OBP of .418 is just the type of player the St. Louis Cardinals need leading off. Carpenter’s career numbers are impressive from the leadoff spot as well. In his career he has slashed .291/.391/.487 in 576 games batted from the leadoff spot. Carpenter also hit 73 HR, 285 RBI, 173 doubles, and 359 walks in those 576 games batting in the leadoff spot. Carpenter is the best leadoff hitter the St. Louis Cardinals have statistically and he has earned that role over the last five years.

If the season started tomorrow Matt Carpenter would be leading off tomorrow’s game. If he was not leading off it would be a poor decision by Mike Matheny. We will have to wait and see what Mike Matheny will do with the lineup on March 29th.

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