Philadelphia Phillies: How to address the leadoff situation?

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Ever since the injury to Andrew McCutchen, the Philadelphia Phillies have struggled to fill the void left in the leadoff spot.

Andrew McCutchen was a mainstay atop the Philadelphia Phillies lineup for the first two months of the season. Then, just in the blink of an eye and McCutchen was lost for the season with a torn-ACL. Since losing McCutchen, the Phillies have rolled out a plethora of options when it came to replacing him in both the outfield and in the leadoff spot.

The Phillies lost McCutchen on June 3rd and since then sport a 6-7 record prior to Thursday night’s game. It has certainly been a struggle, but if the Phillies wish to fulfill their postseason aspirations, then they must quickly learn to adapt to life without the 2013 National League MVP.

While the Phillies have missed McCutchen’s presence on defense and as a leader in the clubhouse, where he has been missed the most has been as a tone-setter at the top of the lineup.

More from Philadelphia Phillies

Prior to his injury, McCutchen drew 43 walks and a .378 on-base percentage; both numbers were near the top in the league for leadoff hitters. Since then, Phillies leadoff hitters have seen their on-base numbers rank towards the bottom of the league.

It will be nearly impossible to replace McCutchen’s production at the top of the order, but the Phillies have the talent on offense where they should be able to find someone who can fulfill that void. Now, it’s just a matter of finding the right guy to fulfill that role.

Cesar Hernandez and Jean Segura have each had their shots at the leadoff spot, and both saw minimal results there. Granted, both have been in major slumps lately, so once they pull themselves out of their respective offensive struggles, they could be ideal leadoff hitters. Both have proved to be .300 hitters when all things are going well and could prove to be ideal candidates to return to the top of the lineup in the near future.

It now looks like Bryce Harper will get the next shot to bat at the top of the lineup, starting with at least Thursday night’s game in Washington. Harper has some prior experience leading off, with a small sample size last season, and also back in 2013. He has walked 47 times and reached base at a .360 clip, but it is hard to foresee Harper in that spot long-term when you consider his ability to drive in runs.

Another intriguing option to bat first is Scott Kingery, who has been the Phillies best hitter this season. But much like Harper, it will be hard to see Kingery batting leadoff long-term due to his improved ability at driving in runs.

Next. Philadelphia Phillies: 5 starting pitchers worth trade consideration. dark

When it is all set and done, the Phillies best option to lead off might be Hernandez, who spent much of the 2018 season in the leadoff spot. It has to be expected that things will even out, and Hernandez will come out of his slump, and when he does, Hernandez’s speed and ability to reach base will make him the ideal leadoff candidate.