FIRE JOE MORGAN: Ultimate Leadoff Hitter...


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Sunday, April 24, 2005


Ultimate Leadoff Hitter...

...discussion on "Baseball Tonight." Harold Reynolds, our Joe Morgan of the Day, says this:

"It's not on-base percentage. If you don't score runs, it doesn't matter."


Reynolds naturally cites Rickey Henderson as the greatest lead-off hitter of all time, saying that he holds the all-time record for runs scored in a career. Apparently, it has not occurred to Reynolds, who is a former professional player, that Henderson couldn't have possibly scored that many runs if he did not first get on base. (He is second all-time in walks with 2190.)

Reynolds's three keys to being a good lead-off hitter? Glad you asked:

1. You have to steal bases. Because if you don't, then no one else in the line-up gets fastballs. Reynolds still apparently does not know that in order to actually help your team, you have to steal at a roughly 75% success rate (some say 80%).
2. You have to "handle the bat." He cites Juan Pierre as a guy who does this. I guess it means being able to bunt for hits, although Reynolds then showed a highlight of Pierre lining a soft single up the middle on an 0-2 count. He commends Pierre for "not trying to do too much" with the 0-2 fastball, which was low and outside. Perhaps he means that Pierre was smart for not trying to jack it out or something. Which considering his seven *careeer* homers, is something he tries to do...well...never.
3. "Knowledge of the Game." Derek Jeter is the example, because he knows when to bunt to move a runner over. He also, apparently, knows when to hit a home run, as Reynolds cites the Yankees-Sox game earlier this year when Jeter led off the 9th of a tie game with a home run. This is an example of "knowledge of the game."

Nice work, Harold! What is it about former second basemen-turned-analysts?

Let us say for the record that the only important thing for a lead-off hitter to do is to get on base. IsoP/SLG is gravy. "Knowledge of the Game" is expected. Stealing bases is okay if you are safe four out of five times. "Handling the Bat" is meaningless. Unless he meant being able to go the other way, or hitting sac flies when required, or something. But I don't think he did.


posted by Anonymous  # 7:24 PM

I was going to post about this very segment but was foiled by Curse you!

I like how HR said in regards to "handling the bat" that "you might not get on base every time, but you'll put a lot of balls in play." That's what you want from the guy who will likely have the most at bats with the bases empty, right?

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