Adam Eaton Is A Good Leadoff Hitter
Adam Eaton of the White Sox is a good example. According to Fangraphs.com, Eaton had an OBP of .345 and saw an average of four pitches per plate appearance while stealing 18 bases in 2o15.
During the same year, Escobar had an OBP of .293 while stealing 17 bases and saw an average of 3.5 pitches per plate appearance. Half a pitch difference per plate appearance may not seem like a big difference, but it equates to about 337 more pitches given the same number of plate appearances by Escobar.
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The other factor to consider with lineup construction is the number of plate appearances each position in the lineup will get. A post by John Dewan at Bill James Online breaks down the average number of plate appearances by position in the batting order. The leadoff hitter averages 767 appearances per season while each subsequent hitter has an average of 17-18 fewer appearances each.
The number nine spot in the order averages 625 plate appearances per season. Thus, a big part of the logic behind putting the best hitters at the top of the lineup is that the manager wants the best hitters to have the most plate appearances.
We are well aware of the #EskyMagic effect explained by Kansas City Star writer Rustin Dodd in October of last year. The article notes that Ned Yost is well aware of the advanced metrics and what they say about who should lead off. But, at the same time, Yost cannot ignore that the KC Royals were 103-59 with Escobar leading off, and just 92-85 when he didn’t over the course of the two prior years.
Next: Did Esky Really Help At Leadoff?