All signs point to JT Realmuto batting lead-off for Phils

JT Realmuto. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
JT Realmuto. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Against his former club, Joe Girardi further tipped his hand about what he wants to do with the top of his lineup for the first portion of the 2020 season.

The first-year Phillies manager penciled in catcher JT Realmuto at the No. 1 spot of the batting order again on Monday against the New York Yankees in their spring training matchup.

For the time being, Girardi is without his true lead-off man in veteran center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who is gradually making his way back from a torn ACL that limited his 2019 season to just 59 games.

In that abbreviated season, however, the 33-year-old was productive leading things off, slashing .256/.378/.457 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI.

It was that high on-base percentage that made him such a prime candidate to step in at the top of the order, which is a place that will be waiting for him upon his return.

For the time being, however, it looks as though Realmuto is the favorite to assume that position for the time being.

Before his start on Monday, he went 3-for-3 on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 28-year-old ranked behind only Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins among returning qualified Phillies with a mark of .328 and was the team’s most consistent hitter throughout the season.

Realmuto did not bat lead-off once during his debut season with the Phillies last year, only batting as high as second.

It was a position in the order that he struggled with, slashing .257/.304/.566 with 29 games.

But history suggests that he would be more than suitable for the time being at the very top of the Phillies’ lineup.

With the Miami Marlins, Realmuto led things off 41 times in his career and provided a much more impressive line of .339/.380/.471 with 17 extra-base hits and 19 RBI.

While he might not provide overwhelming speed, Realmuto is a deceptively dangerous baserunner with a 75% stolen-base success rate in his career.

Most importantly, though, he is a capable bat that can put traffic on the basepaths for the big bats of Harper and Hoskins.

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