Rangers manager Jeff Banister plans to use Leonys Martin as leadoff hitter

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The top of the Rangers’ lineup will have a new look this season, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that rookie manager Jeff Banister plans to use center fielder Leonys Martin as his regular leadoff man.

Martin will provide speed at the top of the lineup, but he doesn’t exactly profile as an ideal leadoff man. The 27-year-old owns a .316 on-base percentage over his first 334 games in the majors with a walk rate of 6.2 percent. His on-base percentage against left-handed pitching sits at just .279.

Shin-Soo Choo saw the majority of his starts out of the leadoff spot when healthy last season and while he batted just .242 with 13 home runs and .714 OPS across 123 games, he still managed a .340 on-base percentage. The 32-year-old boasts a .383 on-base percentage for his career, which is ninth-highest among active players.

While Martin is now slotted in as the leadoff man, it’s unclear what this means for the No. 2 spot. Banister could put Choo there and slide Elvis Andrus down in the order, but that would leave them vulnerable against left-handers. The alternative would be to keep Andrus in the No. 2 spot and move Choo to the middle of the order.

Ketel Marte shut down with back injury

Ketel Marte
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With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.

It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.

Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.

Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.