Leonys Martin started 31 games as the Texas Rangers' leadoff hitter in 2013, most of which came in a stretch during a hot month of August, in which the Rangers steamrolled their way to a comfortable lead in the AL West, that they of course lost in September. On Monday, the Rangers announced they plan to open the season with Martin back in the leadoff spot.
Martin showed a great ability to bunt his way on base and was running with great effectiveness, partly because the Rangers played the Los Angeles Angels so much and they couldn't throw Martin's grandmother out, much less the speedy Cuban outfielder.
But once the Rangers hit September, Martin stumbled in the leadoff spot and was put back in the No. 9 spot, mostly thanks to him being exposed as an impatient hitter who was a bit too much of a free swinger for a leadoff man.
As the Rangers' leadoff hitter in 2013, Martin hit .238 with a .308 on-base percentage — hardly numbers becoming of a leadoff hitter. As the team's ninth hitter, which comes with much less pressure and sees more hittable pitches, Martin hit .292 with a .336 on-base percentage.
The Rangers have another viable option in Elvis Andrus, but he's never been an effective leadoff hitter and seems better suited to hit second or in the back of the order.
There's still a prevailing opinion the Rangers will add another bat this winter, and one of the leading candidates is Cincinnati Reds free agent Shin-Soo Choo, who would most likely be plugged into the leadoff spot if he's brought to Texas.
But as for now, the Rangers are set to roll with Martin, and he showed, albeit briefly, last year that he could be a nice table-setter.