Bloomquist, creeking along. Still.
Willie Bloomquist has been playing baseball for a long time. This will be his 10th full year in the Majors, and in the previous nine, he has never been even an average hitter. Despite this, Bloomquist has started the season as the D-backs’ leadoff hitter, a role he filled nearly half of the time last season. He has started the season hot, but history tells us that will not last, and when he reverts back to form, the D-backs may have trouble scoring runs.
Prior to 2011, Bloomquist had started in the leadoff spot 23 times, and had totaled 115 plate appearances there over eight seasons. In those 115 PA, he had hit .226/.287/.274. Despite this ineptitude — albeit in a limited sample — D-backs manager Kirk Gibson decided to slot Bloomquist in at leadoff to start last season. Bloomquist started 13 of the first 16 games, and hit leadoff in all of them. For his part, he hit well during that stretch — .306/.323/.419, playing both shortstop and left field. He homered, drove in seven runs, and stole seven bases in eight tries. If you had a utility guy who could do that all season, that would be pretty valuable, right?
...It is not news that Willie Bloomquist is a bad hitter, nor is it news that he is a bad leadoff hitter. We knew these things before 2011, and we know them now. Stephen Drew is still not all the way back, so Gibson may not have any choice but to play Bloomquist. But while Bloomquist is fleet of foot, he walks less frequently than just about every other regular on the team, and he certainly isn’t one of the team’s best hitters. As a result, he shouldn’t be hitting first. Paul Goldschmidt may not seem like a traditional candidate, but batting him leadoff and dropping Bloomquist to the bottom of the order would improve the D-backs lineup. Bloomquist may be a favorite of Kirk Gibson’s, and he has started this season hot, just as he did last season, but if he keeps hitting him leadoff, it will eventually cost the D-backs dearly.