As the Texas Rangers embark on a nine-game, 10-day road trip through Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim -- an AL West journey that could determine whether they are buyers or sellers as the calendar creeps closer to July -- they do so with a lineup still trying to figure itself out.
Rangers manager Ron Washington has had no choice but to experiment with a variety of possibilities. But with Mitch Moreland likely gone for at least four weeks (maybe longer depending on which surgery options he chooses), Washington is determined that Shin-Soo Choo has to bat in the 3-hole.
Washington really doesn't have any choice there. Choo has to do it with Adrian Beltre in the cleanup spot and Alex Rios batting fifth to give the middle of the lineup some consistency and productivity.
But those guys have to be able to have the opportunity to drive in runs. That means a leadoff hitter who can get on base and do something. So who should get the bulk of the playing time in the top spot? Some options:
-- Michael Choice. He's the guy whom Washington has chosen recently, and he's struggled in that role. He's hitting .137 in 58 plate appearances, with a .241 on-base percentage. He does have seven RBIs in 16 games in the leadoff spot, but Choice isn't getting on base consistently enough when batting at the top of the order.
-- Elvis Andrus. Judging from my Twitter account, this is the guy whom most fans would like to see in the leadoff spot. But Andrus has hit .269 with a .340 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot in his career. That's 820 plate appearances. And those numbers are similar to what he does in the 2-hole. But Washington likes Andrus' ability to do so many key things in that second spot, like bunt and hit and run.
-- Leonys Martin. Some will suggest this experiment has already been attempted and failed. But I don't think Martin has had a long enough look to fully determine that. Sure, he's struggling in general right now. He's had 155 plate appearances in his career at leadoff and has a .239 average and a .298 on-base percentage. Martin has struck out 35 times and has just seven walks as a leadoff hitter. But his time there has been sporadic. Perhaps he can do it, perhaps he can't. I'm not sure we know yet.
-- Rougned Odor. This is the guy I'd like to see get a shot. Yeah, I know he's still getting used to life as a big leaguer. And his stats are a bit inflated thanks to stronger play of late, with his on-base percentage going up to .333 and his average now at .314. But why not? Odor has some speed. He has the ability to make contact. Ask his teammates and coaches about how great his attitude is and how fierce a competitor he is on the field. Why not give him another challenge? I'd be curious to see how he does if given a month to try it.
Those are my thoughts. Who would you go with? Is there someone I didn't mention whom you think should get the job?