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Thread: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    I swear I read some version of this phrase at least once a day. Stubbs is supposedly a poor fit for leadoff because of his strikeouts.

    But assuming we're talking about a given level of production (say a .350 OBP), I can't for the life of me figure out why strikeouts are such a bad thing for the leadoff hitter.

    What am I missing? The only thing that makes strikeouts worse than other types of outs is that they have no potential to advance other runners. But I'd be willing to bet that, over the course of the season, the leadoff hitter tends to come to bat with less people on base than any other position in the lineup. And strikeouts do have the advantage of forcing the pitcher to generally throw more pitches.

    This isn't meant to be a question about the value of strikeouts themselves. But rather, why is it supposedly so bad for a leadoff hitter, in particular, to strikeout? I'd certainly rather see my leadoff guy striking out than a 6th hitter who's supposed to be an "RBI guy".
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Brett William Moore Will M's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    i believe Ks are overrated. i suspect these 'nonproductive outs' (as opposed to a grounder to 2B that advances the runner to 3rd) add up to maybe one loss a year for the whole team. maybe. I look at OPS (or OPS+) with a bit of a preference for the OBP part of it. put your best guys at 3-4. put the next best OBP/OPS guys at 1-2 then fill out 5-6-7-8.

    Stubbs problem isn't the Ks in general. its that he has sooooo many of them that overall his OPS isn't that great.
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I swear I read some version of this phrase at least once a day. Stubbs is supposedly a poor fit for leadoff because of his strikeouts.

    But assuming we're talking about a given level of production (say a .350 OBP), I can't for the life of me figure out why strikeouts are such a bad thing for the leadoff hitter.

    What am I missing? The only thing that makes strikeouts worse than other types of outs is that they have no potential to advance other runners. But I'd be willing to bet that, over the course of the season, the leadoff hitter tends to come to bat with less people on base than any other position in the lineup. And strikeouts do have the advantage of forcing the pitcher to generally throw more pitches.

    This isn't meant to be a question about the value of strikeouts themselves. But rather, why is it supposedly so bad for a leadoff hitter, in particular, to strikeout? I'd certainly rather see my leadoff guy striking out than a 6th hitter who's supposed to be an "RBI guy".
    With leadoff hitters in general, and with speedy leadoff hitters specifically, the more balls they put into play, the more they will get in base.

    And remember we are only talking about what a hitters does with two strikes, so he doesn't have to lose much power or aggressiveness overall. He just needs to focus on making contact with two strikes.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Hot Stove Season HotCorner's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    Quote Originally Posted by Will M View Post
    i believe Ks are overrated. i suspect these 'nonproductive outs' (as opposed to a grounder to 2B that advances the runner to 3rd) add up to maybe one loss a year for the whole team. maybe.
    The games from Monday and Tuesday against Pittsburgh come to mind. This team had gone through a recent stretch of bases loaded 0 or 1 out and not score a single run mostly due in part to striking out rather than making contact for a groundout or flyball.

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    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    RMR, I think you're probably reading too much into it. Or, alternatively, you're reading what they say but what they say isn't really what they mean.

    This isn't a "strikeout is just another out" argument. This is about Stubbs, specifically, piling up strikeouts in such quantity that it's a limiting factor on his ability to put up a sufficiently high OBP to be a good leadoff hitter.

    But assuming we're talking about a given level of production (say a .350 OBP), I can't for the life of me figure out why strikeouts are such a bad thing for the leadoff hitter.
    But Stubbs isn't putting up a .350 OBP and the Ks are a big reason why. Any hitter that whiffs that much needs an unnaturally high BABIP (or hit a lot of home runs) to overcome that anchor-drop on the batting average. Or else he needs to draw a ton of walks to have a high OBP even with a low BA. Stubbs can leg out a hit and take a walk, but not quite enough (yet) to bring his OBP up to leadoff-worthy.
    Not all who wander are lost

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    Brett William Moore Will M's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    Quote Originally Posted by HotCorner View Post
    The games from Monday and Tuesday against Pittsburgh come to mind. This team had gone through a recent stretch of bases loaded 0 or 1 out and not score a single run mostly due in part to striking out rather than making contact for a groundout or flyball.
    fair enough. i guess i was thinking about annoying announcers who praise a guy who makes an out that advances the runner. getting a guy from 2B to 3B by making an out is a non issue 99% of the time. you are correct that this IS a big deal if its a sacrifice fly.
    .

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    With leadoff hitters in general, and with speedy leadoff hitters specifically, the more balls they put into play, the more they will get in base.

    And remember we are only talking about what a hitters does with two strikes, so he doesn't have to lose much power or aggressiveness overall. He just needs to focus on making contact with two strikes.
    Of course, but why not then just make the conversation about OBP, rather than focusing on how that OBP is generated?

    It seems to me that the idea getting put forward again and again is that contact rate, moreso than other skills, is a choice. While approach certainly has an effect, players like Stubbs can't turn themselves into Juan Pierre or Michael Bourn by changing their 2-strike approach any more than those guys could turn themselves in to Stubbs or Soriano by taking bigger hacks early in the count.

    The thinking seems to be: "Stubbs is really fast. Therefore Stubbs should be a leadoff hitter. But his OBP is too low to be a good leadoff hitter. Let's do what we can to raise that OBP". But Stubbs isn't a leadoff hitter. Trying to get him to alter his approach to increase contact is likely to going to come at the expense of power. And I'd hate to think that part of the reason his slugging is down this year is because he's trying to keep the ball on the ground in order to fit somebody's idea of a leadoff hitter.

    I just find it frustrating that we spend so much energy trying to turn players in to players that they aren't rather than finding ways to maximize the value of the skills they have. Dusty in particular seems to have molds of what certainly players should be and then tries to turn his guys in to those archetypes at the expense of making best use of the players they actually are.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 07-22-2011 at 02:21 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    No one should strike out. Ever. Not even pitchers. Especially not pitchers because they should be world class bunters and base runners.
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    [QUOTE=RedsManRick;2444470]Of course, but why not then just make the conversation about OBP, rather than focusing on how that OBP is generated?

    QUOTE]

    The issue is failure to make contact.

    The strikeout itself is no worse than other outs usually.

    A hitter who fails 180 times per season to make contact and strikes out has no chance to help his team. He can't get on via error. He can't move a runner along. He can't get a base hit. He can't hit a home run.

    High strikeout hitters have fewer chances to get hits. They have, essentially, forfeited 180-200 chances to do something productive. Those at bats can't lead to anything good. No contact was made.

    A high OBP/walks guy reduces the problem.

    But generally, strikeouts are no good because the hitter has failed to make contact and nothing good can come from the at bat.

  11. #10
    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    Do hitters that strikeout more, see more pitches?

    If so, would one trade that for the lost opportunity of not getting on base via error?
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Viva la Rolen kaldaniels's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    No more line drives either, cause they cause runners to get doubled off.

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    BobC, get a legit F.O.! Mario-Rijo's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    Do hitters that strikeout more, see more pitches?

    If so, would one trade that for the lost opportunity of not getting on base via error?
    One can do both....so I won't get into that debate.
    "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

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    BobC, get a legit F.O.! Mario-Rijo's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kc61 View Post

    The issue is failure to make contact.

    The strikeout itself is no worse than other outs usually.

    A hitter who fails 180 times per season to make contact and strikes out has no chance to help his team. He can't get on via error. He can't move a runner along. He can't get a base hit. He can't hit a home run.

    High strikeout hitters have fewer chances to get hits. They have, essentially, forfeited 180-200 chances to do something productive. Those at bats can't lead to anything good. No contact was made.

    A high OBP/walks guy reduces the problem.

    But generally, strikeouts are no good because the hitter has failed to make contact and nothing good can come from the at bat.
    Well said and this is pretty much how I feel about it.
    "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

    --Woody Hayes

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    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    As a rule, I agree with the idea that you don't want hitters to strike out, or change their approach to avoid striking out. Still. Throughout baseball history, many excellent hitters let 'er rip until they got two strikes and then they focused on putting the ball in play. The modern argument against that is, it cuts down on their potential to hit for power. But... that assumes there's actual power production to lose, doesn't it?

    Let's look at splits for a moment. OK, once the count reaches 0-2 or 1-2, all hitters are worse. But not equally worse. When the count reaches 0-2 or 1-2, having Stubbs at the plate is exactly like having Paul Janish up there. Or a pitcher. Take your pick. Short of calling checkmate and not actually making the pitcher throw strike three, it's difficult to form an argument that Stubbs can possibly be less productive in those situations. So why not shorten up on 0-2 or 1-2 and see if it helps?
    Not all who wander are lost

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    Worst Behavior. reds44's Avatar
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    Re: "Leadoff men shouldn't strike out"

    Drew Stubbs is a bad fit for leadoff because he's in his 3rd year in the majors and has a career OBP of .329.


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