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What a leadoff hitter looks like

Alejandro De Aza
Alejandro De Aza

Comparison of 2011 Juan Pierre and 2011-12 Alejandro De Aza.

PA Pierre: 711

PA De Aza: 255

2B Pierre: 17

2B De Aza: 16

3B Pierre: 4

3B De Aza: 5

HR Pierre: 2

HR De Aza: 7

BB Pierre: 43

BB De Aza: 26

SB Pierre: 27

SB De Aza: 14

SB% Pierre: 61%

SB% De Aza: 70%

R Pierre: 80

R De Aza: 44

In just a bit over one-third of the plate appearances, De Aza has already produced more extra base hits. He's 60% of the way to Pierre's walk total. He's more than halfway to Pierre's stolen base total. He's more than halfway to Pierre's runs scored total.

This is what the guy to whom you give the most plate appearances on your team should look like. He shouldn't be a low OBP, low SLG slap hitter who is (allegedly) fast. He should be an average to better OBP guy. He should be an average to better SLG guy. He doesn't have to be fast but, if he is fast and he does decide to steal bases, he should do it at a reasonable rate.

While runs are by no means a good measure of an individual player's offensive output, they certainly matter to the team overall. One of the reasons the White Sox are above .500 and essentially tied for first place in the AL Central is because they aren't throwing away plate appearances at the highest rate on the team now that De Aza is getting the most plate appearances. You can't score if you don't reach base. And you're a heck of a lot more likely to score if you can get past first base. De Aza is doing an excellent job of getting himself past first base so that the people behind him have an excellent opportunity to get him to home plate.

The rate at which De Aza is racking up these stats is likely to slow (of course, we said that after his 2011 season). But his underlying skill set is exactly what this team has been spending years searching for, even if they didn't know it.