Saturday, December 16, 2006

Should Soriano Bat Leadoff?

The glamour and glitz of the Fonz signing, with his 40/40/40 gaudy stats, could quite possibly spell another season with a miscast leadoff man.

Does Soriano's speed make him a leadoff candidate? Of course, but does his propensity to the strikeout and his awesome power numbers make him more suited batting further down the order?

Consider Pierre's number of AB's in the leadoff spot playing everyday generated 4.2 plate appearances a game. The difference in the number of plate appearances Soriano would garner out of the two hole for example, would mean at most a tenth of a percent in AB's and could easily be made up with a more productive run scoring lineup.

The situational problems that can affect the production of the lineup are also compounded with Soriano in the leadoff role.

For example, we all know in the NL that quite often a pitcher is called upon to sacrifice a runner along. Now consider he's successful and Soriano comes up to bat with first base open. You think he'll get pitched to? Not a chance. He'll get intentionally walked and you've not only taken the bat out of Soriano's hand but also negated some of his speed by having a runner on base in front of him. The team now has to count on the two hitter driving in the run.

Now let's illustrate the same scenario with Soriano batting in the two hole. No matter who, hopefully a high OBP player is batting leadoff, comes to the plate after the sacrifice is made. You still have first base open, but the opposing pitchers options are greatly reduced with Soriano on deck, and the leadoff man chances of getting a good pitch to hit are increased dramatically.

We also have to consider the affect of Soriano having the three hitter following him in the order. Soriano will now be the beneficiary of a potent bat behind him and he'll see better pitches to hit.

With a high OBP hitter in the leadoff role followed by Soriano, you negate the situations were Soriano can be pitched around, still keep his AB's high where his speed is still a factor, provide better run producing opportunities and give him better pitches to hit.

Who could fit the leadoff man role?

If the Cubs go to war with Jones, I'd like to see if Pie could win that job, in CF and DeRosa, I'd like to see if The Riot could win that job, at 2B, Murton, who led the team with a 360 OBP last year and has decent speed, bat leadoff. Of course if The Riot wins the job at 2B, I think he might be a better candidate in the leadoff role because of his speed.

2 comments:

Your Humble Correspondent said...

Moot point, I reckon. Part of the reason he came here was that he was promised the lead off spot.

Clute said...

"Part of the reason he came here was that he was promised the lead off spot."

I would have to say hte lead off spot was 2% motivation Soriano came here, the 98% motivation was the cash.

Much to Soriano's credit, he did say when introduced that he would bat or play anywhere Pinella wanted him to.

If Pinella is the baseball man we think he is, he'll realize Soriano's best impact we'll be somewhere other than leadoff.