Friday, April 21, 2017

Baseball’s New Leadoff Hitters Don’t Need To Be Speed Demons-538, Neil Paine

4/20/17, "Baseball’s New Leadoff Hitters Don’t Need To Be Speed Demons," fivethirtyeight.com, "Just look at Kyle Schwarber." by Neil Paine

"Today’s leadoff men draw more walks and hit for substantially more power than they did in previous generations — which, unsurprisingly, leads to better production (i.e., a higher on-base plus slugging rate) than in the past. But they’ve also changed how they approach each at-bat: Relative to overall trends in the game, leadoff hitters now launch more fly balls and hit to the opposite field less.

Even that fabled top-of-the-order speed is on the decline, with leadoff men stealing 21 percent fewer bases per trip to first base (again, after adjusting for league average) than they did just 15 years earlier. Clearly, our mental image of a speedy slap-hitter leading off is as outdated as a 25 cent hot dog."...

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