Texas Rangers have a lead-off dilemma


Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Washington is certainly doing everything he possibly can with the hand he has been dealt this season.

That much is a fact.

There is certainly a whole lot of areas Wash can be criticized for, and fans have certainly voiced such displeasures over the past few years, but getting the most of the guys who suit up for him is certainly not one of them.

There are many people involved in baseball who say he may have already locked up Manager of the Year for what he has been able to get out of a depleted 25-man roster which has been completely ravaged by injuries.

Since the loss of Prince Fielder to a herniated disc in his neck, Wash has been searching and searching to find someone who can fill the void in the No. 3 spot in the order.

He may have found that guy in Shin-Soo Choo, but that has ended up creating yet another void in the lineup at the lead-off spot.

It certainly is tough to be a fan or someone who is covering the Texas Rangers this year, but can you imagine what the manager must feel like at this point?

If he makes an adjustment in the lineup to fix something, it opens up another hole.

Wash has continuously said the season isn’t going to stop for the Rangers and allow them to heal, and he’s going to keep managing day in and day out.

He will certainly do just that, as we have all seen, and he’ll continue giving off positive vibes. But you have to know he likely spits nails every time he fills out the lineup card.

The move of Choo to third in the order got the turnstiles moving at the lead-off spot.

Wash’s first inclination was to give Michael Choice the first shot, but that certainly has not worked out. You can see the potential Choice has and it’s hard not to get giddy about his future, but he simply isn’t ready for the majors just yet.

He should be getting every-day at-bats in Triple-A Round Rock but, well, I think we all know the reason he’s still on the Major League roster.

Richard Durrett wrote an article yesterday for ESPN Dallas stating the case for Rougned Odor to get a shot at leading off.

Durrett certainly made a good case, referring to Odor’s .314 average entering play yesterday and his climbing on-base percentage.

While it certainly looks like the big league spotlight isn’t too bright for him, I just don’t agree with giving the 20-year-old more pressure while he is still learning to play every day at the Major League level.

Tonight, Wash has decided to give Elvis Andrus a half-day off, DHing him and giving Luis Sardinas the start at shortstop.

He also decided to give Choice the entire night off, and that appears to be a good decision considering Choice has been struggling mightily as of late and has seen his average dip below the Mendoza Line down to .194.

So he penciled in Leonys Martin to lead off.

Martin was given a chance last season to lead off when Wash decided to tinker with hitting Ian Kinsler in the No. 3 hole, but it didn’t quite work out. He hit just .239 and had an on-base percentage of .298 at the top of the order.

In my opinion, Martin is the best man suited for the job. He bunts well, has great speed and can cause headaches to opposing defenses with his ability to fly around the bases.

Martin’s one problem at the top of the order is that he is considered by baseball people to be more of a “slasher” – a guy who steps into the batter’s box and attacks rather than seeing very many pitches.

If Martin can adjust to the role, see more pitches and – plain and simple – make a better effort out of just getting on base more, the lineup will be able to score more runs than they have so far this season.

That would mean increasing his on-base percentage from the .310 mark it currently stands at and drawing more than the 14 walks he has tallied so far.

There’s no telling how long Wash will hang with Martin but, if it ends up not working out, I’m sure the old manager will figure out something.