Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Furcal Honored as Leading Man

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN writes Rafael Furcal is the fifth-best leadoff hitter in baseball this season:

Furcal has been in a funk since returning from a sprained ankle April 13. Not to worry: He started slowly last year before putting up monster numbers (a .339 average and a .963 combined on-base/slugging percentage) after the All-Star break for the NL wild card Dodgers.

Furcal has plenty of sock for a little guy, and the speed and aggressiveness to consistently put pressure on the opposition once he reaches base. Like Ichiro, Furcal is fast and alert enough to advance on balls in the dirt, go from first to third on a single or score from first on anything in the gap.

"He's probably the best baserunner I've ever seen," said Milwaukee manager Ned Yost, who was third-base coach in Atlanta when Furcal played for the Braves. "Not only is he quick, but he has the best instincts I've ever seen."

Number five on the list, despite his awful start to this year, is pretty impressive. I agree with Crasnick that, once Furcal gets going, the offense will be much more exciting to watch. It is pretty painful now, however.

No other NL West leadoff hitter made the top nine, though Dave Roberts (who picked our pocket last night) made an honorable mention.