Where will Rockies' OBP come from in 2014?

With the trade of leadoff man Dexter Fowler, we look at who can fill the requirement of getting on base at the top of the order.

Dexter Fowler, .369 OBP in 2013 and .365 over his career, was not a prototypical leaoff man but he was the standard in Colorado for several years. With Fowler's bat gone and the struggles of whoever was in the #2 spot last year, who can pick up the slack this year and set the table for the middle of the order? Here is a look at small sample size and somewhat meaningless spring training stats to attempt to find an answer.

Looking at overall OBP for this spring, there doesn't seem to be a clear answer for the two spots at the top of the order. Here are the players with a higher OBP during srping than what Dexter had last year.

NAME OBP
Janish .485
Pridie .432
Gonzalez .429
McBride .424
Wheeler, T. .424
Casteel .417
Stubbs .400
Barrnes .390
Arenado .389
LeMahieu .375

This list starts with two players trying to secure a bench spot with the team. After Carlos Gonzalez, who isn't moving this far up in the order, it then consists of two catchers and a young outfielder that, at best, will be in AAA this year. Then, at seventh and eighth on the list are the players brought in to try and replace Fowler in centerfield. Both being right handed, Drew Stubbs is likely to get first try at hitting leadoff based on salary/prior performance in a possible platoon with either Charlie Blackmon or Corey Dickerson (barely missed this list with a .359 OBP).

D.J. Lemahieu shows up tenth on this list, trying to restake a claim to the second spot that he filled much of last year. Meanwhile, there has been talk this off-season about Michael Cuddyer taking the second spot in the order based on his experience OBP fo .389 last year, and the lack of another alternative. What this list shows is there is another possibility with Nolan Arenado expected to improve in his second year and having a .389 OBP. This would allow Cuddyer's experience and hitting ability to be used to protect the middle of the order and gives the possibility that Josh Rutledge could develop at the back of the order if his strong spring supplants LeMahieu in the everyday lineup.

To give an idea how players have been doing in the top two spots of the order, here are the splits for the top four starters at the number one and two spots.

Leadoff Second
Name OBP Name OBP
Barnes .417 Pridie .667
Dickerson .333 Culberson .583
Blackmon .281 Barnes .313
Stubbs .333 Cuddyer .188

While it was nice for the last couple of years to have the top of the lineup fairly settled, this spring has been interesting to see who will step up. These next two weeks will give Walt Weiss his last opportunity to see who should fill the first two spots on his lineup card. I look forward to you telling me who you think it should be in your comments below.

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