The frustration caused by disappointing leadoff hitters is ridiculously high this year. We can see the White Sox, Yankees, Reds and Cardinals are inefficiently using their leadoff men.
Or are they?
If we take a closer look we see a new market inefficiency batting your shittiest player first just to get it the fuck out the way. While it frustrates fans and makes life easier at the top of game, it means better hitters are coming up later when the pitcher thinks this game will be cake.
Last thing Justin Verlander wants to see is Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson near the bottom of the third when it took six pitches to get Jeter, Martin and Posada out. How can you be mentally prepared to face Paul Konerko after spending Alex Rios’ entire at bat trying not to giggle?
Many managers still use a decent, if not good player in the leadoff position and while this is still tactical, it represents merely a marginal upgrade. While the player may perform decently, he will still have enough flaws in the leadoff spot to cause fan ire; thus starting negative Rickey Henderson comparison (-RHC). Ian Kinsler is a great example of this. Sure he gets on base and can run, but does he do it enough? He should be better. Why is he not taking more pitches? He does not need to hit home runs!
The Yankees and White Sox have a different approach.* We know Jeter and Juan Pierre are useless leading off; thus optimizing the rest of the lineup and acknowledging the start of the order as the Black Hole Wasteland of Outs (WOUTS). This ensures fans who arrive late miss nothing and causes pitchers to relax too quickly.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, the inventor if this strategy, properly credited his own genius:** “I immediately realized that the longer the game goes on, the more pitchers forget Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday are on my team!”
With the dog days of August upon us, it’s about time Yuniesky Betancourt got some leadoff at bats for the Brewers before someone’s brain explodes because Rickie Weeks is “more of a number five hitter!”
– STATS 360%
*While the Mariners are employing this strategy, they technically are hitting their best players first. Yeah…
**LaRussa insisted we compare penis sizes afterwards explaining his probably was not larger, but it’s not supposed to be and he does that intentionally.