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Thread: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Much is made of the out-making-machines that are seemingly finding their way in Dusty Baker's leadoff slot, including his desire to place speedy center fielders at the top of the order despite their abysmal abilities to reach base. With all that we've seen thus far this season, I figured I'd take a look at the history of one Dusty Baker and what type of performances he's garnered from the leadoff slot during his managerial career.

    Dusty's first stop was in San Francisco, and he had some pretty good Giants teams throughout the 1990s and finally snagged an NL Pennant in 2002, though plugging one of the game's greatest sluggers in the middle of the order certainly didn't hurt him.

    But what about that leadoff slot on-base percentage? Let's take a look:
    Code:
    		Dusty Baker Managed Teams						National League						
    	  AB	  H	 BB	HBP	SF	 OBP	PA/BB		  AB	   H	  BB	 HBP	 SF	 OBP	PA/BB
    
    1993 #1	 707	 178	 44	 6	 1	.301	16.07		 9464	 2589	 964	  72	 67	.343	 9.82
    1994 #1	 467	 121	 56	 4	 1	.343	 8.34		 6720	 1867	 720	  58	 35	.351	 9.33
    1995 #1	 627	 163	 43	 9	 1	.316	14.58		 8467	 2328	 891	  99	 38	.349	 9.50
    1996 #1	 677	 165	 75	 6	 2	.324	 9.03		 9576	 2598	 900	 103	 61	.338	10.64
    1997 #1	 670	 171	 87	 4	 5	.342	 7.70		 9458	 2564	 972	 118	 53	.345	 9.73
    1998 #1	 673	 200	102	 5	 4	.392	 6.60		10872	 2949	1050	 143	 49	.342	10.35
    1999 #1	 697	 201	 80	 9	 1	.368	 8.71		11022	 3082	1121	  90	 63	.349	 9.83
    2000 #1	 688	 175	 82	10	 3	.341	 8.39		10927	 3008	1158	 102	 72	.348	 9.44
    2001 #1	 708	 179	 59	 6	 2	.315	12.00		10909	 2918	 940	 143	 54	.332	11.61
    2002 #1	 678	 170	 66	11	 3	.326	10.27		10973	 2936	 928	 109	 56	.329	11.82
    															
    TOTAL	6592	1723	694	70	23	.337	9.50		98388	26839	9644	1037	548	.342	10.20
    
    Things started out pretty lousy for Dusty and his leadoff on-base percentage, which isn't too terribly surprising. In three of Dusty's first four seasons, he had out-making-machines at the top of his order; only 1994 saw a respectable on-base percentage in the #1 slot, albeit that .343 clip still coming in below the league average of .351.

    Here were the primary hitters Dusty used in the leadoff slot through 1996:
    • 1993: Darren Lewis, center fielder
    • 1994: Darren Lewis, center fielder
    • 1995: Darren Lewis and Deion Sanders, both center fielders
    • 1996: Marvin Benard, center fielder

    Things started looking up for Dusty in 1997 though. Darryl Hamilton - a center fielder, of course - was his primary leadoff hitter, and while Hamilton had zero power, he gave the Giants a .354 on-base percentage in 529 plate appearances, all but 18 of those out of the leadoff slot. Then in 1998 both Hamilton and Marvin Benard shared the center field slot - and leadoff slot - and each clogged the bases up nicely with near .400 on-base percentages. Benard hung around for a bit and turned in a couple nice on-base percentages himself. Benard, however, washed up after a few seasons, which in turn meant Dusty's leadoff on-base percentage saw the ramifications.

    Here were the primary hitters Dusty used in the leadoff slot from 1997 through 2002:
    • 1997: Darryl Hamilton, center fielder
    • 1998: Darryl Hamilton and Marvin Benard, both center fielders
    • 1999: Marvin Benard, center fielder
    • 2000: Marvin Benard and Calvin Murray, both center fielders
    • 2001: Marvin Benard and Calvin Murray, both center fielders
    • 2002: David Bell, third baseman (!); Kenny Lofton, center fielder; Tom Goodwin, 4th outfielder

    In 2003, Dusty made his earth-shattering move to the dump known as Wrigley Field and reached the NLCS in 2003 before pissing off Cubs fans with his base clogging quotes and destruction of the pitching staff. As we all know, the Cubs fire Dusty after the 2006 season and the Reds hire him in 2008 for some ungodly reason.

    Let's take a look at Dusty's on-base percentage since he joined the Cubs:
    Code:
    		Dusty Baker Managed Teams						National League						
    	  AB	 H	 BB	HBP	SF	 OBP	PA/BB		  AB	  H	  BB	HBP	 SF	 OBP	PA/BB
    
    2003 #1	 687	204	 48	 9	 5	.348	14.31		10992	2969	 948	134	 54	.334	11.59
    2004 #1	 692	186	 59	 6	 6	.329	11.73		11025	3017	 929	125	 66	.335	11.87
    2005 #1	 689	169	 44	10	 2	.299	15.66		10930	3020	 931	128	 60	.339	11.74
    2006 #1	 703	204	 33	 8	 1	.329	21.30		11037	3026	 954	141	 59	.338	11.57
    2008 #1	 142	 36	 15	 0	 1	.323	 9.47		 2222	 591	 241	 22	 11	.342	 9.22
    															
    TOTAL	2913	799	199	33	15	.326	14.64		46206	12623	4003	550	250	.337	11.54
    
    Dusty brought both Kenny Lofton and Tom Goodwin with him to Chicago in 2003, and both saw time in ... you guessed it, center field and the leadoff slot. Dusty also used Mark Grudzielanek - a second baseman! - in the leadoff slot roughly half the season as well and overall the Cubs leadoff hitters fared very well in the on-base percentage department at .348.

    But starting in 2004, Dusty seemingly lost his mind and has been unable to find it since. A .329 leadoff on-base percentage in 2004, a ridiculous .299 leadoff on-base percentage in 2005, another below average .329 clip in 2006, and so far with the Reds in 2008 Dusty has given us lots of Corey Patterson, lots of outs, and a collective .323 on-base percentage out of the leadoff slot, nearly 20 points below the NL average.

    Once again, the list of Dusty leadoff hitters:
    • 2003: Mark Grudzielanek, second baseman (!); Kenny Lofton, center fielder; Tom Goodwin, 4th outfielder
    • 2004: Corey Patterson, center fielder; Todd Walker, second baseman (!); Mark Grudzielanek, second baseman (!)
    • 2005: Jerry Hairston, center fielder and second baseman (!); Corey Patterson, center fielder; Neifi Perez, shortstop
    • 2006: Juan Pierre, center fielder
    • 2008: Corey Patterson and Ryan Freel, both center fielders

    Speaking of Dusty losing his mind since the beginning of the 2004 season, here's his collective leadoff statistics since the beginning of that 2004 season:
    Code:
    		Dusty Baker Managed Teams						National League						
    	  AB	 H	 BB	HBP	SF	 OBP	PA/BB		  AB	  H	  BB	HBP	 SF	 OBP	PA/BB
    
    2004 #1	 692	186	 59	 6	 6	.329	11.73		11025	3017	 929	125	 66	.335	11.87
    2005 #1	 689	169	 44	10	 2	.299	15.66		10930	3020	 931	128	 60	.339	11.74
    2006 #1	 703	204	 33	 8	 1	.329	21.30		11037	3026	 954	141	 59	.338	11.57
    2008 #1	 142	 36	 15	 0	 1	.323	 9.47		 2222	 591	 241	 22	 11	.342	 9.22
    
    TOTAL	2226	595	151	24	10	.319	14.74		35214	9654	3055	416	196	.338	11.53
    
    Look at that impressive recent stretch of managerial expertise. I see that collective .319 on-base percentage and a crumbling walk rate in Dusty Baker's leadoff slot since 2004, and I see a wizard at work. Baker's leadoff on-base percentages since 2004 are nearly 20 points below the National League average, and the walk rates of his leadoff hitters are 28 percent worse than the National League average.

    Swing often, swing early, make outs, don't clog the bases; it's the Dusty Baker way.

    Finally, here is Dusty's career as a whole:
    Code:
    		Dusty Baker Managed Teams						National League						
    	  AB	  H	 BB	 HBP	SF	 OBP	PA/BB		   AB	   H	   BB	 HBP	 SF	 OBP	PA/BB
    
    1993 #1	 707	 178	 44	  6	 1	.301	16.07		  9464	 2589	  964	  72	 67	.343	 9.82
    1994 #1	 467	 121	 56	  4	 1	.343	 8.34		  6720	 1867	  720	  58	 35	.351	 9.33
    1995 #1	 627	 163	 43	  9	 1	.316	14.58		  8467	 2328	  891	  99	 38	.349	 9.50
    1996 #1	 677	 165	 75	  6	 2	.324	 9.03		  9576	 2598	  900	 103	 61	.338	10.64
    1997 #1	 670	 171	 87	  4	 5	.342	 7.70		  9458	 2564	  972	 118	 53	.345	 9.73
    1998 #1	 673	 200	102	  5	 4	.392	 6.60		 10872	 2949	 1050	 143	 49	.342	10.35
    1999 #1	 697	 201	 80	  9	 1	.368	 8.71		 11022	 3082	 1121	  90	 63	.349	 9.83
    2000 #1	 688	 175	 82	 10	 3	.341	 8.39		 10927	 3008	 1158	 102	 72	.348	 9.44
    2001 #1	 708	 179	 59	  6	 2	.315	12.00		 10909	 2918	  940	 143	 54	.332	11.61
    2002 #1	 678	 170	 66	 11	 3	.326	10.27		 10973	 2936	  928	 109	 56	.329	11.82
    2003 #1	 687	 204	 48	  9	 5	.348	14.31		 10992	 2969	  948	 134	 54	.334	11.59
    2004 #1	 692	 186	 59	  6	 6	.329	11.73		 11025	 3017	  929	 125	 66	.335	11.87
    2005 #1	 689	 169	 44	 10	 2 	.299	15.66		 10930	 3020	  931	 128	 60	.339	11.74
    2006 #1	 703	 204	 33	  8	 1	.329	21.30		 11037	 3026	  954	 141	 59	.338	11.57
    2008 #1	 142 	  36	 15	  0	 1	.323	 9.47		  2222	  591	  241	  22	 11	.342	 9.22
    														
    TOTAL	9505	2522	893	103	38	.334	10.64		144594	39462	13647	1587	798	.341	10.60
    
    Over 10,000 plate appearances over 15 seasons do not lie; the man simply doesn't seem to care about his leadoff hitter reaching base safely. Dusty's leadoff hitters have combined for a .334 on-base percentage while the National League average is a full seven points higher at .341. In fact, with this being Dusty's 15th season, his teams have only managed to post an above average on-base percentage in the leadoff slot only three times: 1998, 1999, and 2003. And so far it doesn't look like the 2008 Reds are going to join that tiny list.

    Somebody please make it stop!
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

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    GR8NESS WMR's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Nice work, cyclone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"


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    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    And here I thought my dislike of Dusty was misguided after being told so many times that all the bad things we heard were just myths.
    a super volcano of ridonkulous suckitude.

    I simply don't have access to a "cares about RBI" place in my psyche. There is a "mildly curious about OBI%" alcove just before the acid filled lake guarded by robot snipers with lasers which leads to the "cares about RBI" antechamber though. - Nate

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    It's just not in the leadoff spot though where he seems to keep out making machines. Look at his current #2 and #3 spots.
    Last edited by GAC; 05-07-2008 at 09:27 PM.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Member SMcGavin's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Nice post. It's pretty amazing how consistently bad Dusty's leadoff guys have been when you consider he actually had some pretty good teams. I guess Barry Bonds solves a lot of offensive problems.

    Regarding the centerfielder fetish, I wonder if Bruce gets that leadoff spot if he eventually takes over CF?

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    Start the Reactor! *BaseClogger*'s Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Cyclone, I know it would exhaustive and unrealistic, but I don't think much can be drawn without looking at what Dusty's alternatives were--he doesn't assemble the rosters. And I'm not a Dusty defender by a LONG shot...
    "On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."

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    Member Highlifeman21's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Who would have ever thought Darryl Hamilton and Marvin Bernard would skew the numbers in a positive way?

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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Bottom line -- Reds need a better lead off hitter. It is one of their major needs. OBP is obviously part of it.

    Right now, don't think Dusty really has a great option in that spot.

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    Member redsrule2500's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    great post. scary post, too.
    redsrule2500
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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Quote Originally Posted by *BaseClogger* View Post
    Cyclone, I know it would exhaustive and unrealistic, but I don't think much can be drawn without looking at what Dusty's alternatives were--he doesn't assemble the rosters. And I'm not a Dusty defender by a LONG shot...
    For the most part during Dusty's career, the only time he has ever placed a solid on-base percentage at the top of the order is when his center fielder magically had a solid on-base percentage.

    My favorite example is 1993, Dusty's first year managing. Here's the Giants' OBPs:

    Bonds, .458
    Thompson, .375
    Clarke, .367
    McGee, .353
    Manwaring, .345
    Clayton, .331
    Williams, .325
    Lewis, .302

    Who did Dusty bat leadoff? Why Darren Lewis, of course. The Giants had a leadoff OBP that season of .301. Heck, that was 13 points lower than what they had in the 8-hole with a .314 OBP. And in the 7-hole the team posted a .339 OBP.

    It's pretty funny, especially when considering that the Giants lost the division by only one game to the Braves.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

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    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    What it says is, a GM who has Dusty Baker for a manager would behoove himself to find a center fielder with OBP chops, since that guy has a 95% chance of being the leadoff hitter.
    Not all who wander are lost

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    Start the Reactor! *BaseClogger*'s Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    For the most part during Dusty's career, the only time he has ever placed a solid on-base percentage at the top of the order is when his center fielder magically had a solid on-base percentage.

    My favorite example is 1993, Dusty's first year managing. Here's the Giants' OBPs:

    Bonds, .458
    Thompson, .375
    Clarke, .367
    McGee, .353
    Manwaring, .345
    Clayton, .331
    Williams, .325
    Lewis, .302

    Who did Dusty bat leadoff? Why Darren Lewis, of course. The Giants had a leadoff OBP that season of .301. Heck, that was 13 points lower than what they had in the 8-hole with a .314 OBP. And in the 7-hole the team posted a .339 OBP.

    It's pretty funny, especially when considering that the Giants lost the division by only one game to the Braves.
    Okay, no defending that! Dusty is doing something very wrong when EVERY other spot in the order has a higher OBP than leadoff...
    Last edited by *BaseClogger*; 05-07-2008 at 10:08 PM.
    "On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."

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    GR8NESS WMR's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Quote Originally Posted by IslandRed View Post
    What it says is, a GM who has Dusty Baker for a manager would behoove himself to find a center fielder with OBP chops, since that guy has a 95% chance of being the leadoff hitter.
    Or be a GM who has got the balls to read Dusty the riot act when he starts pulling this stupid .
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"


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    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Thanks Cyclone, I'm afraid now.
    Go Gators!

  16. #15
    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Dustifying the Leadoff Slot

    Quote Originally Posted by KronoRed View Post
    Thanks Cyclone, I'm afraid now.
    Now?

    What took you so long?


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