Weeks to bring power, speed to NL leadoff spot

Weeks to bring power, speed to NL leadoff spot

PHOENIX -- Rickie Weeks might not be your prototypical leadoff hitter, given his tremendous power, but National League manager Bruce Bochy is hopeful that the Brewers' second baseman will be a catalyst for his lineup.

Bochy unveiled his NL starting lineup at a news conference on Monday morning, and following Weeks in the lineup will be designated hitter Carlos Beltran, center fielder Matt Kemp, first baseman Prince Fielder, catcher Brian McCann, right fielder Lance Berkman, left fielder Matt Holliday, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and third baseman Scott Rolen.

Weeks, who hits leadoff for the Brewers, could help the NL start its half of the first inning off with a bang, given his 17 home runs this year, but if he gets on base, he can also be a weapon with his speed.


"If you look at our lineup, he makes the most sense," Bochy said of the decision to hit Weeks leadoff. "He's been doing it, but I don't think there's a stronger hitting second baseman in the game. He's got great power, and he's really gotten better as a hitter with his discipline. He has speed and can steal you a base, and he's one of those leadoff hitters you have to be careful with. You can't say, 'All right, I'm going to walk him,' because he can beat you with the long ball."

Beltran was chosen as the DH and to hit second because he, too, can run a bit and offers a switch-hitting presence between the right-handed-hitting Weeks and Kemp.

Fans don't vote for a DH in the NL, so it was up to Bochy to pick one, and he liked Beltran in part because of the speed the Mets' right fielder would bring to the top of the order but also because he's a veteran who has played in All-Star Games before.

NL STARTING NINE
No. Player Position Team
1. Rickie Weeks 2B MIL
2. Carlos Beltran DH NYM
3. Matt Kemp CF LA
4. Prince Fielder 1B MIL
5. Brian McCann C ATL
6. Lance Berkman RF STL
7. Matt Holliday LF STL
8. Troy Tulowitzki SS COL
9. Scott Rolen 3B CIN

"He'll probably get two at-bats, and I'll probably have another DH at that time," Bochy said. "It gives you another dynamic [hitter] in that two-hole, which I think is going to help us against a tough right-hander, so I wanted the lefty there."

Kemp nabbed the third spot in the order -- often reserved for the best all-around hitter in a lineup -- because of his ability to hit for both average and power.

"Unfortunately, I see too much of him, being in our division," Bochy said. "He's a guy with speed, power, a guy that can beat you with a base hit or a long ball. He's what you call a complete player, a tremendous defender, but more so in the three-hole, he can do so many things for you. He's so dangerous. The pitchers don't want to walk him, and yet they don't want this guy to beat them with the long ball."

While the meat of the NL order might not match the pure power of the American League, it can mash just the same, beginning with Fielder in the cleanup spot.

Fielder, who has 22 homers and leads the NL in RBIs with 72, was selected recently to be the captain of the NL team in Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby.

It adds up to quite a challenge for AL starter Jered Weaver of the Angels.

"It's fun to compete against these guys, and I'm just looking forward to the opportunity," Weaver said.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.