Comments on: Keeping Score: The Most Important Leadoff Skill? Not So Fast – This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: kds Sun, 01 May 2011 03:47:39 +0000 I agree with Jimbo. The "other" column includes all situations with runners on. In general, pitchers in these situations will pitch in such a way as to lesson the chances of runs being driven in; hence the lower SLG. When you try to give the batter less than the usual in hittable pitches you will walk more; hence the higher OPB.

By: John Autin Sun, 01 May 2011 03:46:41 +0000 @48, Jimbo -- Maybe you're right about that. I may have been looking at the leadoff situation too much from the hitter's perspective.

By: Jimbo Sat, 30 Apr 2011 23:29:17 +0000 Wouldn't a lower OBP with higher SLG make sense because pitchers throw more strikes to leadoff hitters?

By: Johnny Twisto Sat, 30 Apr 2011 23:26:12 +0000 Neil L, I thought Neil Paine's #39 was well-put. I don't objectively draw a line for "junk stats," and perhaps I should be more careful in my descriptions. I called that lineup ratio I described in #28 a junk stat because it "means nothing outside of the very specific context of its own formula." Rickey Henderson might have a ratio of 3.0, and Vladimir Guerrero a ratio of 0.3, and we can understand that means we'd rather have Guerrero batting behind Henderson if possible, but the numbers don't necessarily mean anything on their own.

By: John Autin Sat, 30 Apr 2011 17:17:45 +0000 Jimbo -- I do think it would be interesting to look at catchers leading off an inning after playing in the field. I did not mean to dismiss the possibility of an effect on some batters just because it didn't seem to affect Barry Bonds.

I don't have time to do the full study right now, but here's a piece of it -- the 2010 stats for all batters, when leading off an inning after playing in the field, and in all other situations. (Note that I did not try to filter out the DHs.)

Stat* -- 1st** / Other***
BA ---- .257 / .257
OBP -- .317 / .322
SLG -- .414 / .400
OPS -- .731 / .722
HR% -- 2.84 / 2.39 (HRs as % of PAs)

* Rates were calculated after subtracting intentional walks.
** 1st batter of an inning but not of the game.
*** All other situations.

The differences are small, and it's just one season's data.
But it's still interesting that the OBP and SLG results show the opposite of what one might expect: The leadoff OBP is 5 points lower, while leadoff SLG is 14 points higher (and that all based on XBH, not BA). The HR% is about half a point higher in the leadoff situations.

Of course, even if we detect real difference in these situational results, we can't know how much might be due to the batter having played in the field, as opposed to the batter and/or pitcher having a different approach to a leadoff situation.

I'll try to look at catchers when I have time.

By: Cyril Morong Sat, 30 Apr 2011 15:51:23 +0000 Thanks, Neal L.

Jimbo, I like your idea about studying catchers. It might be a little time consuming but it seems like we could just check the catchers who play the most and see how they hit when they leadoff an inning (I guess that BR has this split). Then compare it to the league average (I guess that BR has this split, too). Then see if catcher's normal hitting differs more or less from their leadoff hitting than other guys. Maybe this is what John did.

By: BSK Sat, 30 Apr 2011 13:13:29 +0000 Cy-

Great point. If you have a great leadoff guy who also has power, no problem. If your best power hitter would also likely be your best leadoff hitter, it might behoove you to bat him elsewhere.

By: Jimbo Sat, 30 Apr 2011 10:47:58 +0000 Thanks John.

You definitely debunked my theory that leading off an inning after coming in from the outfield has any effect. I thought maybe having less time for pre-at bat routine would be a negative.

I suppose most likely it makes no difference for catchers either then.

By: John Autin Sat, 30 Apr 2011 07:24:59 +0000 Neil Paine transcends the narrative limitation of raw numbers.

Or maybe he narrates the numeric transcendence of raw limits.

Either way, he's definitely electable.

By: John Autin Sat, 30 Apr 2011 07:17:12 +0000 @34, Jimbo -- For his career, Bonds hit almost the same in the #3 and #4 spots:
#3, .306 / .457 / .670 = 1.127 OPS
#4, .317 / .503 / .670 = 1.173 OPS
He had a higher walk rate (especially IBBs) hitting cleanup, but a lot of that was just timing; he batted almost exclusively #4 from 2003 on, after Kent left and after he had firmly established himself as the deadliest hitter of a generation (at least).

He did have his record HR season mostly in the #3 spot, posting a 1.370 OPS in that position in 2001. And in 2002, splitting between the two spots, he did better at #3 (though his 1.301 OPS at cleanup was hardly embarrassing).

But in 2003-04 he spent the vast bulk of his time at #4, and was still utterly devastating.

I can't see that where he batted made any difference. And I really can't see a big challenge in leading off an inning after jogging in from LF -- not in theory, and definitely not in the stats. Here are his OPS figures when leading off an inning from 2001-04:
-- 2001, 1.421
-- 2002, 1.257
-- 2003, 1.227
-- 2004, 1.199
Bear in mind that he's not getting any IBBs in those situations, which tends to bring down his OPS. His HR rate when leading off in those years was astronomical: 54 HRs in 495 PA, 392 AB. That's significantly better than his HR rate when not leading off an inning in those years, even when comparing on a per-AB basis (not per-PA).