Blue Jays: The leadoff spot is definitely up for grabs right now
One of the more frequently used leadoff men late in the 2018 was Billy McKinney, who was a pleasant surprise after arriving from New York in a trade involving J.A. Happ.
McKinney finished with a slash line of .252/.320/.470 in 36 games with the Blue Jays, and was especially good early on. He hit 395/.478/.763 in his first 12 games, before slashing just .182/.232/.325 in his last 20 starts, and 24 appearances. Both sets of numbers come from small sample sizes, and chances are he will perform closer to the overall line.
That said, he didn’t have a great year in Triple-A last season before his promotion, and the numbers might suggest that he could use a little more time in the minor leagues before taking on a MLB job, let alone a role like leading off. I think the former first round pick has sneaky potential in Toronto, but I don’t like the look of that .222/.307/.470 slash line in 84 games spent between AAA-AA-A+.
Also working against McKinney is the fact that he’ll need to earn starts in what’s becoming a crowded outfield picture. Randal Grichuk and Kevin Pillar seem slated for regular playing time in centre and right field, so that leaves left field as a battle ground for the rest on most days. That picture will include Teoscar Hernandez, and possibly the infielders that Montoyo will be tasked to get into the lineup like Travis, Gurriel Jr., and even Drury.
McKinney also has minor league options remaining, which won’t help his case for making the team out of Spring Training. However, Montoyo did mention him by name when asked about it on Friday, so he’s at least under consideration for a roster spot, and for the task of leading off in 2019.
My guess is he’ll start the year in Buffalo barring injuries to other players on the roster, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Toronto at some point this year, and also to get a shot at leading off. It seems like he looks the part more than fits the description with his numbers, but we’ll see how he continues to develop.