22 Apr

from the top

Here’s a fun fact: Seven Mississippians (natives or college alums) have hit leadoff for seven different teams in the big leagues this season. They come in all shapes and sizes and profiles, from the power-hitting Corey Dickerson to small speedsters Billy Hamilton and Jarrod Dyson. Dickerson, the Meridian Community College alum, doesn’t look like the classic leadoff type – a stocky 6 feet 1, 205 pounds – and he’s not a base-stealing threat. But he has fit the bill at the top of the order for Tampa Bay. He belted a leadoff homer on Friday night in a loss to Houston and is batting .317 (.358 on-base percentage) with four homers, eight RBIs and nine runs. Ex-Taylorsville High star Hamilton does look like a leadoff batter, and he might be the fastest man in the game. After a good start for Cincinnati, however, he has dipped to .224 with eight runs and seven steals. Southwest Mississippi CC product Dyson has been used occasionally as Seattle’s leadoff man and is batting .228 with nine runs and four bags. Brian Dozier, the former Southern Miss star, brings a blend of power and speed to the top of Minnesota’s order. He is off to a sluggish start at .226 with two homers and five stolen bases. He was a 42/18 man in 2016. Ole Miss product Seth Smith typically bats leadoff for Baltimore against right-handed starters; he has been out since Tuesday with a hamstring problem. Smith is a solid hitter who, like Dickerson, is more about power than speed. He is batting .259 (.355 OBP) with two homers, three RBIs and seven runs in his first year with the Orioles. Tim Anderson, the ex-East Central CC standout, hits leadoff on occasion for the Chicago White Sox but is off to a slow start (.169 with six runs) in his sophomore campaign. The slender Anderson is expected to develop into a base-stealing threat and also has surprising pop. Pittsburgh uses Adam Frazier, the Mississippi State alum, all over the field and the lineup, including some leadoff opportunities. Frazier is hitting .289 with a homer, four RBIs and five runs. In addition to those seven, there are three other Mississippians in the big leagues who could get looks in the leadoff spot: Ole Miss product Zack Cozart (Reds), UM alum Chris Coghlan (Toronto) and former Richton High star JaCoby Jones (Detroit). Jones, scuffling at the moment, is projected as a 20 homers/20 steals type. P.S. Ex-State standout Chris Stratton is back in the big leagues with San Francisco, taking the roster spot that opened up when Madison Bumgarner went on the disabled list. Stratton had a 7.84 ERA in two starts at Triple-A Sacramento but has a 3.99 career ERA in the minors and posted a 3.60 in a brief MLB trial last year. … Fellow Bulldogs alum Tyler Moore was assigned to Triple-A New Orleans by Miami.

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