Could Sisco get more chances to bat leadoff?

Chance Sisco led off for the Orioles last night, but as the designated hitter. Not the starting catcher, where he'd normally be assigned.

We won't let it ruin our fun.

Who was the last Orioles catcher to bat first?

Floyd Rayford on June 26, 1985.

Rayford, mainly a third baseman, was behind the plate for Scott McGregor's start in New York. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 4-3 loss. Rickey Henderson swiped second and third base.

Henderson was so eager to run, which is like saying water is eager to be wet, that he broke too soon for third base and Scott McGregor nabbed him. The play was scored as a caught stealing.

Reliever Don Aase picked off Dave Winfield at second base.

But I digress ...

"Sugar Bear" had the physique of a catcher. Putting him atop the order was a bold move.

Or maybe it was his career .283 on-base percentage that made the lineup so unusual. The body of work instead of the body.

Rayford also led off as a catcher on July 30, 1984 against the Rangers at Memorial Stadium, per STATS research, and was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. But he threw out first baseman Pete O'Brien trying to steal.

He was behind the plate for Mike Flanagan, who probably had a few hilarious lines besides the traditional one for pitchers.

Curt Blefary, the former American League Rookie of the Year, made 510 starts in the outfield and 227 at first base. He also was written into the lineup as a catcher in 57 games and led off on April 17-19, 1968 during a West Coast trip to Oakland and Anaheim.

Sisco could be the third Orioles catcher to settle atop the order, but it may require another rest day for Hanser Alberto.

Alberto is likely to bat first this afternoon after being used as a pinch-hitter in last night's 8-7, 10-inning loss. Manager Brandon Hyde downplayed the idea that he wanted to leapfrog Sisco over everyone and finally found an opportunity.

This was about providing a breather for Alberto, whose 0-for-9 stretch seemed more troublesome given how high he's raised the bar. And Sisco had a .474 on-base percentage last night before drawing a walk in the first inning and hitting a two-run homer in the fifth.

Sisco-Homers-White-sidebar.jpg"Chance, for me, is a high on-base percentage guy, and looking at our lineup I want to get somebody at the top of the order without Alberto in there kind of being a spark for us. Even though Bert's not a high on-base percentage guy," Hyde said earlier in the day.

"With him out of there, I did want to put somebody up in front of (Anthony) Santander, Rio (Ruiz) and Noonie (Renato Núñez) that could potentially get on base. And (Nate) Pearson's a real hard-thrower, can be erratic at times, and Chance has got the opportunity and the ability to take a walk and to get on base for us via a hit, walk, homer, whatever it may be. So I feel like he gives us the best opportunity to get on base before the middle of our order."

Catchers slotted first isn't such a rarity anymore, with some recent examples including J.T. Realmuto, Curt Casali, Russell Martin, John Jaso, Derek Norris, Jonathan Lucroy, Francisco Cervelli, Willson Contreras, Francisco Mejía and Andrew Knapp.

There's also Tim McCarver, Butch Wynegar, Craig Biggio, Jason Kendall, Ivan Rodriguez, Brad Ausmus, Don Slaught, Michael Barrett, Paul Lo Duca and Jason Varitek. However far you want to dial it back.

It's been known to happen, but for whatever reason it still seems odd in a box score.

Mickey Cochrane was the first catcher to bat leadoff in 1925. I'm old enough to remember Brian Downing doing it.

Downing led off in 594 games, though he also played the outfield and served as a designated hitter. He was not fleet of foot, but he owned a lifetime .370 on-base percentage over 20 seasons. He drew 106 walks with the Angels in 1987 to tie the Red Sox's Dwight Evans for the American League lead.

Cal Ripken Jr. led the Orioles with 81. He never hit leadoff in a starting lineup, but he did get one plate appearance in the spot and singled.

Of course he did.

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