Comments on: 200+ Hits & 80 Runs Scored Or Less This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Dr. Doom Sun, 23 Jan 2011 15:18:40 +0000 @71 -

JA: somehow, your closing parenthesis became part of the link. If anyone tries to use it, just know that you have to delete that before it will take you to the correct page.

By: kds Sun, 23 Jan 2011 06:06:47 +0000 Jimbo #64, you said, "walks/doubles/homers far, far more (often) than singles." In 2010 there were 29743 XBH + BB, and 28589 singles in MLB. With the big boppers in the middle of the lineup I'm sure that the ratio is greater than usual, but
I don't think the difference will be enormous.

By: John Autin Sun, 23 Jan 2011 00:22:55 +0000 What kills me about the conventional notion of a #2 hitter is that it's premised on him coming to bat with a man on base. But even the top tier of leadoff hitters fail to get on 60% of the time -- leaving the "bat-handling" #2 guy no runner to hit behind.

Shouldn't you base your strategy on the most likely scenario?

By: John Autin Sun, 23 Jan 2011 00:16:33 +0000 This talk of #2 hitters reminded me of something I noticed by accident a while back. Here are the one-season stats of a certain #2 hitter:
-- 145 games, .309 / .392 / .601, 46 HRs (led the majors), 114 RBI, 117 Runs.

The year was 1959, and the hitter was Eddie Mathews. The Braves nearly won their 3rd straight NL pennant, but lost a playoff to the Dodgers.

(Aside: The successful strategy of batting Mathews #2 presumably came from manager Fred Haney, who had a .596 W% in his 3-1/2 years at the helm. And yet, as noted on Haney's B-R Bullpen page, "In his guide to baseball managers, author Bill James makes a detailed case for considering Haney's 1959 season at the helm of the Braves as the worst-ever performance by a Major League manager." More details at:

By: Jimbo Sat, 22 Jan 2011 07:26:12 +0000 I've always thought that if you have a high enough OBP guy batting leadoff, then batting 2nd is a great place to have your best all around hitter. If the leadoff man has 40% obp, then the 2nd guy is guaranteed at least 40% PA's with a man on base.

Not to mention, ~19 more PA's than if he bats 3rd, and ~38 more than if he bats 4th.

By: Johnny Twisto Sat, 22 Jan 2011 05:51:40 +0000 If I remember correctly, The Book ( advocates putting your three best hitters in the 1, 2, and 4 spots. The guy who gets on base more batting 1st, the guy with more power batting 4th. Yes, the 2-hole is an underrated spot. What's wrong with the #3 spot, where many teams traditionally put their best hitter? It typically gets too many AB with 2 outs and no one on base. Good spot for a power hitter with a lower OBP.

I think the general guidelines were:

Best hitters 1st, 2nd, 4th, as I described
Next best hitters 3rd and 5th
Remaining hitters in declining quality 6th to 9th
It makes sense to bat the pitcher 8th in the NL
Try to separate your LHB

In a computer baseball game I played a lot years ago I would bat my best hitter 2nd. People might think this would cost him RBI opportunities but it really didn't, he would drive in 120+ a year. (Sure, a game's not real, but it's still based on reality; he's not driving in ghost runners.)

And yes, there's not too much difference in terms of projected scoring between any reasonable lineups. So if a particular player is a sensitive baby and needs to bat in a certain spot, the manager should probably let him. Keeping the players happy probably outweighs minor strategic gains.

By: John Autin Sat, 22 Jan 2011 05:14:17 +0000 @58, Kenny said: "There's no reason to think that a guy who gets on base via walk has a worse chance of scoring than someone who gets on via a single."

While I am a BIG fan of drawing walks, I'll register a slight disagreement with this statement, just off the top of my head:

Walk frequency is higher with a runner on base and 1st base open than it is overall. And some significant chunk of those come because the pitcher would rather face the next batter; and that, in turn, is more likely to happen when the next batter is one of the weaker hitters in the order.

Plus, comparing the post-event baserunner situation between a walk and a single, there is a somewhat greater chance that the base ahead of the walk recipient is occupied -- because (a) the walk is more likely to have come in an "open base" situation than the single (as noted above), and (b) the walk itself cannot advance an existing baserunner by two bases, which a single sometimes can. Thus, there would seem to be a greater chance of a "base-clogging" runner ahead of the walk recipient, which would affect his chances of "taking an extra base" either on a hit or by stealing.

Adding it all up, I would expect that a batter who walks would be a little less likely to score than one who singles.

(Now tell me all the factors I've overlooked, and how I've misinterpreted the ones I did consider.)

By: John Autin Sat, 22 Jan 2011 04:50:44 +0000 P.S. Just to round out the picture on the Yankees' record with Mattingly at #2 and #3:
-- When Mattingly started in the #2 spot, the Yankees had a .529 W% (128-114).
-- When Mattingly started in the #3 spot, they had a .524 W% (619-563).

Slight edge to #2, but not significant. Still, if it doesn't show they were better off with him at #2, it certainly doesn't show they were better off with him at #3.

By: John Autin Sat, 22 Jan 2011 04:43:29 +0000 @53, Jimbo / @60, Kenny -- Re: misuse of #2 spot in the batting order -- Full-throated agreement from this quarter. To this day, despite the growing understanding within the game of the value of getting on base, many teams still employ a "bat-handler" type in the #2 hole.

The 2010 combined MLB stats for the top 3 spots in the order:
OBP: .329 / .334 / .360
Runs: 3,006 / 2,789 / 2,843

When the #3 hitters score more runs than the #2 hitters, that's a sign of inefficient batting orders.

And look at runs scored by inning:
-- 1st: 2,566
-- 2nd: 2,162
-- 3rd: 2,381
-- 4th: 2,532
-- 5th: 2,513
-- 6th: 2,510

Teams scored almost as many runs in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings as they did in the 1st. One could say, well, the SP is tiring by the 6th, maybe even the 5th -- but the 4th? Shouldn't the 1st inning be far more productive than the 4th? It's the only inning where you have the absolute control of having your 3 best hitters coming to bat in order ... if you choose to!

Going in a different direction ... Here's something I noticed during the long Mattingly/Olerud debate:

-- In 1985, when Mattingly racked up 145 RBI, he drove in 50 runs in 58 games from the #2 spot, with 20 HRs. The Yankees went 39-19 (.672) in those 58 games; they were 58-45 (.563) in other games.

But, you say, that was with Rickey Henderson having an amazing year hitting leadoff. How productive was Mattingly batting 2nd over his whole career?

Mattingly played 245 games hitting #2. He averaged 104 RBI and 120 runs per 162 games. His career rates were 100 RBI and 91 runs per 162 games.

But, you say, his games at #2 came only in his prime seasons, while his career rates take in his decline years. OK, so let's just compare his #2 games to his overall rates during his prime years (through 1989):
-- Games batting #2: 104 RBI + 120 Runs = 124 R+RBI.
-- Overall rate thru 1989: 115 RBI + 99 Runs = 114 R+RBI.

Isn't it just possible that the Yankees would have been better off hitting Mattingly 2nd all the time, in his prime? Each of his "slash" stats from the #2 spot were better than those of the other 4 spot in which he played at least 40 games.

By: Jimbo Fri, 21 Jan 2011 23:12:14 +0000 And even worse than stealing second is the ridiculous concept of the leadoff batter getting on and the #2 hitter "moving him over." The number 3 and 4 hitters often have less than 15% singles/pa, with walks/homers/outs much more common and generally indifferent to where the runner is (aside from avoiding gdp's).