No one in the American League has a higher slugging percentage than Manny Machado. That might not seem to make him the ideal candidate to bat leadoff, but he also has the best on-base percentage on the team, by far, so to the leadoff spot in the lineup he goes on Thursday night.
It's a look to the top of the lineup that we haven't seen since the first couple of games of the season, after which Joey Rickard, then quite hot, ascended to the leadoff spot. Things have since cooled for Rickard, who's now sporting just a .304 OBP and has only stolen one base all year.
For Thursday night, Rickard is on the bench with Hyun Soo Kim in left field. What's interesting is that Kim, who has batted ninth in all four of his other starts, is getting the #6 spot in the lineup tonight. Perhaps the Orioles have decided, as fellow CCer Nick Cicere wrote earlier today, that it's time for Kim to get some more playing time.
Here's the full starting nine behind Kevin Gausman:
1. Manny Machado - SS
2. Adam Jones - CF
3. Chris Davis - 1B
4. Mark Trumbo - RF
5. Matt Wieters - C
6. Hyun Soo Kim - LF
7. Jonathan Schoop - 2B
8. Pedro Alvarez - DH
9. Ryan Flaherty - 3B
They'll be going up against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, who is, of course, no slouch.
Don't expect Kim to get back to back starts here, as Friday's scheduled starter for Oakland is lefty Rich Hill. However, at least the next four games worth of starting pitchers lined up to face the O's seem to be right-handers, so we'll find out in a hurry whether this is a new pattern or simply a one game situation.
This will be the 22nd different lineup that the Orioles have used in their 26 games. It would look a lot better if either Jones (.582 OPS) or Wieters (.588 OPS) appeared to be capable of hitting the ball in the year 2016.