flloyd wrote:Just to clarify, what The Book says is not that the 3rd batter comes up with the bases empty the most (that would be the leadoff hitter) but that he comes up to bat the most with the bases empty and two outs (which limits his run scoring and producing ability).
While true, that stat is somewhat misleading, because the 3rd hitter sees more at-bats than 4th - 9th, and 1st and 2nd will never encounter that situation in the 1st inning. Plus, because the 3rd hitter is so good, people batting behind him won't see that situation as much anyway, because he's on base. If every team put their best hitter 2nd all the time, those statistics would change. How much, I have no idea, because teams don't do it.
Something else to consider. The Book says that hits from 1st and 2nd generate the most runs. True. Also true: most teams bat their best players 3rd and 4th, so if 1st and 2nd get hits, then it's obvious that they're most likely to score, because the best hitters on the team are about to drive them in. Move the top guy to #2, and you'll get more hits from the 2-slot, but will you get more runs as well with a lesser hitter behind him? I don't know. And will that top hitter get as many pitches to hit, knowing there's someone not as good about to come up? Probably not.
More to consider. If you have a badass on-base speedster, who can bunt himself on and fly around the bases, you want him batting first. He's not going to drive in runs, but he'll create them from speed alone. Infield hits are a lot more difficult with men on base, so these guys find advantages at leadoff. This is pretty simple. But let's say this guy gets on, and your best hitter is coming up next. Do you want him trying to steal second anymore? Now you're really
taking the bat out of your superstar's hands, because there's an open base and only the 4th best hitter behind him.
The Book's analysis is interesting but is ultimately speculative, since managers aren't giving us real-world data in these situations. Take the Braves for example. Their best hitter is Chipper. If you bat him 2nd, who bats 3rd? Can't be Yunel Escobar. He leads the league in ground balls, and if the leadoff man and Chipper both get on, he'll quickly lead the league in GIDPs too. Can't be Infante, because he's the best OBP singles guy on the team (other than Chipper), and someone has to hit leadoff. McCann? Maybe, but The Book says he's supposed to hit 4th. Kelly Johnson? Wouldn't be a bad idea if he weren't such a headcase who would panic under the pressure.
The point here is that every team is different. Right now, it makes sense to have Infante leadoff with his high OBP, open up holes in the infield for Escobar (both at first and with the hit-and-run), and then bring up the big bats. When Schafer quits striking out 3 times a game, he'll move to the leadoff spot, but that will create a problem with Yunel "first-pitch swinging" Escobar, since Schafer will never get the chance to swipe a base. Hitters aren't interchangeable parts with OBPs and SLGs. They're styles and mentalities, and good managers understand these things and make the necessary adjustments. We really can't say how lineup changes affect runs over the course of a season, because managers aren't putting those lineups on the field for us to test. No calculator is going to tell us why Kelly Johnson is a power-hitting badass at #8 and a strikeout king at #1. He should be a great #2 hitter, a lefty who can hit for high average and power and abuse the hole created by a man on first, but his slumps when batting 2nd are epic.
Every team is different. Every situation is different. Hard and fast rules, whether it be popular methodologies or The Book's ideas, don't make much sense to me. But I guess they're good starting points for the manager who doesn't really know what he's doing ... which would be a lot of them.