McCarver, after a leadoff walk to Johnny Damon:"There is nothing that opens up big innings any more than a leadoff walk. Leadoff home runs don't do it. Leadoff singles, maybe. But a leadoff walk. It changes the mindset of a pitcher. Since he walked the first hitter, now all of a sudden he wants to find the fatter part of the plate with the succeeding hitters. And that could make for a big inning."
Now, I'm not one of the ten most brilliant geniuses in the world, like McCarver, but I do know some stuff. For example, the average number of runs a team scores when the leadoff runner reaches base is 0.953. (You can find such information here, thanks to tangotiger and the Hardball Times
.) The average number of runs a team scores in an inning where the leadoff guy homers = 1 + whatever happens next. So, it stands to reason that teams will score more runs in innings where their leadoff guy homers than they will when the leadoff guy walks.
Now, McCarver, who earned a B.A. in Intelligence from the University of Brilliance, did, admittedly, reference "big innings," not just "runs scored," and I suppose in some way it is possible that teams might have more "big innings" (like, say, innings where they score 4+ runs) after a leadoff walk than after a leadoff HR. I can't imagine that's true, but I suppose it's possible. However, what about innings where the leadoff guy homers, and then the next guy walks, meaning they now have the run in hand plus
the average of .953 runs/inning from having a guy on 1B and no one out? If I had to guess -- and I do, because I don't have the info readily available right now (perhaps someone out there does?) -- I'd say that there are far more "big innings" that result from leadoff homers than from leadoff walks.
As for McCarver's assertion that a walk is better than a single...I'm guessing they're about the same.
(Jeter promptly grounded to short, Abreu singled, ARod hit into a double play.)
Labels: tim mccarver