i normally wouldn't like preston wilson in the leadoff hole. i'd normally sneer at the suggestion --- he doesn't get on base, which is a leadoff man's main job. but after watching his four at-bats last night, i'm wondering if it's worth leaving him there for a few games. for one thing, batting in front of duncan and pujols he saw mostly fastballs; with the boppers coming up behind him, pitchers aren't quite as free to deploy that off-speed, off-the-plate slop that has been wilson's undoing. and when, in the 5th inning, wilson did see a lot of off-speed stuff --- woody threw him four straight curveballs --- he didn't chase it. took every one of those pitches, drew a walk, and scored the winning run.
i think the guys coming up behind him had everything to do with preston's selectivity in that at-bat. consider the circumstances: two outs, tying run at second base. important rbi situation. if he's batting 5th or 6th, with molina or kennedy or miles or schumaker batting behind him, wilson feels like he has to be The Man. he's got a run-producer's mind-set --- he doesn't think he can afford to take a walk and leave it up to one of the weaker hitters; he feels like it's up to him to knock in that run. so he's a lot quicker on the trigger, a lot freer with his swing. but last night he didn't have to be The Man --- not with duncan on deck and pujols in the hole. accordingly, he displayed the plate discipline he's been lacking all season; he looked for his pitch to hit, rather than a pitch to hit.
wilson didn't hit the ball particularly hard last night, and the team didn't score a whole lot of runs; batting him leadoff probably isn't a great idea long-term. but it might be a reasonable idea for the short-term --- might get preston into some better habits, get him to exercise some discretion and recognize pitches a little bit better. he earned that walk against williams in the 5th --- the first two pitches were close, and the 4th was one of those irresistible low-outside slopballs . . . . but wilson resisted this time. it was a good at-bat.
he needs to have more of those.