I wrote last week about infielder Jonathan Villar’s 40 steals and how he ignited a running game that might not be sustainable without him. Besides ranking third in the majors, the stolen base total also tied for seventh in club history.
Luis Aparicio holds the record with 57 set in 1964. Brady Anderson is second on the list with 53 in 1992 and Brian Roberts is third with 50 in 2007.
Corey Patterson is fourth with 45 in 2006 and Al Bumbry occupies the next two spots with 44 in 1980 and 42 in 1976.
Villar is tied with Aparicio (1963) and Roberts (2008) for seventh. Bumbry (1979), Patterson (2007) and Delino DeShields (2000) are tied for 10th with 37.
Aparicio, Anderson, Bumbry, Roberts and DeShields received the vast majority of their career at-bats from the leadoff spot. Patterson came real close with 244 starts in the second slot and 240 in the first.
What about Villar?
Glad you asked.
Most of his career at-bats also have come as a leadoff hitter, with 360 starts atop the order compared to 100 at the bottom. The only spot he hasn’t occupied is cleanup.
Villar led off in 105 games this season. His second-highest total was 25 in the fifth slot.
Hanser Alberto led off in 46 games to place second behind Villar. Cedric Mullins was atop the order for seven games before the Orioles optioned him. Stevie Wilkerson and Joey Rickard each did it twice.
The original vision had Mullins settling into the leadoff role on a permanent basis with a gradual and less-pressured climb to the top. Now he has to win a job in camp and might settle for bench duty, which still beats the bus rides in the minors.
Alberto is arbitration-eligible, with a nice raise on the horizon, and could get lots of starts while batting first if Villar isn’t kept on the roster. He’d certainly make sense against left-handed pitching, based on his .398 average this season.
Someone else might have to do it against right-handers.
The current 40-man roster doesn’t include a player besides Villar with any sort of a track record leading off, but it’s far from a finished product. And we don’t know what the Orioles are going to do with Villar.
Austin Hays could evolve into a leadoff hitter, but manager Brandon Hyde might want the bat in the middle of the order.
There’s a lot of work to be done beyond implementing analytic data, establishing an international presence and making more hires.
Note: The White Sox have hired Scott Coolbaugh as assistant hitting coach.
Coaches under former manager Buck Showalter are trickling back into the majors.
Coolbaugh spent the summer as hitting coach at Triple-A Oklahoma in the Dodgers’ system. He was Showalter’s hitting coach from 2015-18.
Former Orioles first base coach and outfield instructor Wayne Kirby has joined the Padres’ staff after sitting out the 2019 season. Former Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson, the Phillies’ infield instructor this summer, was named Padres bench coach.