Monday, April 11, 2011

Leadoff Rankings: Week 2 (Still Slightly Early Edition)

Shane Victorino had a huge series against Atlanta,
but how'd the Phillies do in the rankings?
Welcome back to another edition of our world-famous Leadoff Rankings. Now, we realize that last week's rankings were based on far too small of a sample size for any reliable ranking. Now, however, every team has played at least eight games, so our sample size has started to take on the smallest measure of meaning. For those of you knew to our Leadoff Rankings, they're based on the statistics of each team's 1st and 2nd hitter every night, regardless of the name on the back of the jersey. These rankings are not dependent on injuries, slumps, lucky seasons--they're only based on performance of how we believe the top hitters in a lineup should hit. That is, by getting on base and scoring runs, with a few other useful stats to sort things out. We use season statistics, with a small bias towards more recent performance. The theory is, giving your best players the most at-bats leads to more overall success, and therefore teams that are hitting well at the top of the lineup should score the most wins. Then, combined with our Rotation Rankings that come out every Thursday, we'll come up with an overall performance ranking to let all our baseball fans know just how their teams are doing in two critical areas. Last week, the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, and Pittsburgh Pirates sat atop the rankings. This week, only one of those three remains in the top five! To see how the week went atop the lineup for teams around the majors, hit the jump!

(LW: Last week's ranking; AVG: batting average; OBP: on-base percentage; SLG: slugging percentage; RBI: runs batted in)

30. (LW: 26) Tampa Bay Rays (1-8):
This Week: .152 AVG, .204 OBP, .239 SLG, 6 steals, 2 RBI, 4 runs
Season Stats: .159 AVG, .216 OBP, .275 SLG, 6 steals, 4 RBIs, 5 runs
To say it's been a rough week in Tampa would be an understatement. Not only does Manny Ramirez retire after testing positive for something (again), but the guys in the lineup who are supposed to get on base and score runs have done neither.

29. (LW: 28) San Diego Padres (4-4):
This Week: .135 AVG, .256 OBP, .135 SLG, 5 steals, 0 RBI, 4 runs
Season Stats: .172 AVG, .243 OBP, .188 SLG, 5 steals, 1 RBI, 7 runs
It's been mostly Wil Venable (.120/.207/.160) and Jason Bartlett (.148/.233/.148) that account for the atrocious numbers. Orlando Hudson batted second on Sunday and went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base, we'll see if that continues this week.

28. (LW: 7) Seattle Mariners (2-7):
This Week: .125 AVG, .176 OBP, .167 SLG, 0 steals, 3 RBIs, 1 runs
Season Stats: .192 AVG, .244 OBP, .274 SLG, 4 steals, 7 RBIs, 4 runs
Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins combined for just six hits in six games--all losses--against the Rangers and the Indians. The pair had fewer RBIs and runs in this week than they did in their first three games.

27. (LW: 27) New York Yankees (5-4):
This Week: .196 AVG, .288 OBP, .283 SLG, 1 steal, 3 RBIs, 4 runs
Season Stats: .191 AVG, .276 OBP, .250 SLG, 2 steals, 4 RBIs, 8 runs
Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter went one for their last 17 against the BoSox, without scoring any runs or knocking anybody in. Bad start for Jeter (.206/.300/.235), who is just 67 hits from 3,000.

26. (LW: 30) Washington Nationals (4-5)
This Week: .214 AVG, .290 OBP, .393 SLG, 3 steals, 7 RBI, 4 runs
Season Stats: .203 AVG, .276 OBP, .354 SLG, 3 steals, 7 RBI, 7 runs
After a hot first few games, Jayson Werth (.200/.333/.371) has cooled off considerably; the Nationals did get at least one hit in every game this week as Ian Desmond (.237/.256/.395) led off in six of seven.

25. (LW: 25) Los Angeles Dodgers (5-4):
This Week: .237 AVG, .310 OBP, .342 SLG, 4 steals, 2 RBIs, 7 runs
Season Stats: .221 AVG, .284 OBP, .324 SLG, 4 steals, 5 RBIs, 10 runs
Tony Gwynn, Jr. has taken over the leadoff spot the last two games from Rafael Furcal (.208/.240/.250) after the shortstop hurt his wrist, not that he was producing too well anyways. The second slot has been a rotation between Gwynn, Ivan DeJesus, Casey Blake, and Aaron Miles.

24. (LW: 29) Florida Marlins (5-4)
This Week: .264 AVG, .339 OBP, .453 SLG, 0 steals, 5 RBI, 9 runs
Season Stats: .234 AVG, .322 OBP, .364 SLG, 0 steals, 6 RBIs, 11 runs
Chris Coghlan (.200/.273/.400) and Omar Infante (.270/.333/.324) have started all nine games up top for the Marlins, and they've gotten a hit in every game; a 5-for-9 performance with 3 runs against Washington was their best so far.

23. (LW: 23) Atlanta Braves (4-6):
This Week: .268 AVG, .293 OBP, .375 SLG, 0 steals, 5 RBIs, 4 runs
Season Stats: .244 AVG, .271 OBP, .354 SLG, 0 steals, 7 RBIs, 9 runs
Not a good week for the Braves, dropping three of four in Milwaukee before losing a series at home to the Phillies; having your leadoff guys score only four runs without swiping a bag is one reason why.

22. (LW: 24) Toronto Blue Jays (5-4):
This Week: .250 AVG, .291 OBP, .423 SLG, 1 steal, 7 RBIs, 9 runs
Season Stats: .237 AVG, .284 OBP, .382 SLG, 3 steals, 9 RBIs, 10 runs
Maybe losing speedster Rajai Davis for a few days will be a blessing in disguise for the beleaguered Blue Jays lineup.  Davis has posted a putrid .156/.156/.188 line so far, meaning he has zero walks and only five hits in seven games.

21. (LW: 22) Detroit Tigers (3-6):
This Week: .224 AVG, .283 OBP, .245 SLG, 2 steals, 2 RBIs, 3 runs
Season Stats: .215 AVG, .292 OBP, .292 SLG, 3 steals, 5 RBIs, 7 runs
The Tigers have a scary middle of the order, with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but the top of the lineup is giving the sluggers little to work with.  They have more strikeouts (15) than hits (14) and only 19 total bases in nine games.

20. (LW: 8) Baltimore Orioles (6-3):
This Week: .174 AVG, .255 OBP, .348 SLG, 1 steal, 4 RBIs, 7 runs
Season Stats: .217 AVG, .280 OBP, .405 SLG, 1 steal, 11 RBIs, 10 runs
Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis have plenty of experience at the top of the Orioles order, but somehow the speedsters have only managed a .217 average and one stolen base thus far.  Pitching has carried the O's so far, but the veteran hitters need to step up soon.

19. (LW: 13) Minnesota Twins (3-6):
This Week: .224 AVG, .240 OBP, .265 SLG, 0 steals, 4 RBIs, 4 runs
Season Stats: .254 AVG, .303 OBP, .324 SLG, 1 steal, 7 RBIs, 6 runs
The top of the Twins order has not done a terrible job getting on base this year, but they've scored the third-fewest runs (six) in baseball so far.  A low slugging percentage (23 total bases on 18 hits) and only one stolen base are making things difficult for the middle of the order.

18. (LW: 9) Oakland Athletics (4-5):
This Week: .213 AVG, .315 OBP, .319 SLG, 3 steals, 1 RBI, 4 runs
Season Stats: .257 AVG, .342 OBP, .385 SLG, 4 steals, 2 RBIs, 8 runs
First baseman Daric Barton has really let the A's down so far this season, hitting only .219 with three runs scored, while starting all nine games in the number two slot in the order.

17. (LW: 17) Boston Red Sox (2-7) :
This Week: .250 AVG, .304 OBP, .365 SLG, 2 steals, 6 RBIs, 6 runs 
Season Stats: .253 AVG, .309 OBP, .387 SLG, 3 steals, 8 RBIs, 10 runs
The rough first 10 days for the Red Sox has not skipped the top of their lineup, which has a not-so-stellar .253 batting average.  Manager Terry Francona has used a different combination at the top of the order in each of the Sox's three series this season, but nothing has worked yet with too much consistency.

16. (LW: 20) Kansas City Royals (6-3):
This Week: .265 AVG, .308 OBP, .367 SLG, 0 steals, 7 RBIs, 6 runs
Season Stats: .253 AVG, .293 OBP, .379 SLG, 4 steals, 10 RBIs, 9 runs
The top of the Royals' order had a good week, more than doubling their RBI and runs totals.  To continue their climb, though, number two hitter Melky Cabrera has to figure out how to draw more than one walk every 10 days.

15. (LW: 18) New York Mets (4-5):
This Week: .280 AVG, .333 OBP, .320 SLG, 5 steals, 2 RBIs, 7 runs
Season Stats: .266 AVG, .310 OBP, .354 SLG, 7 steals, 4 RBIs, 13 runs
Jose Reyes has reached base safely to lead off the first inning in eight consecutive games, spuring the Mets' small jump in the rankings.  They have to start drawing more walks, though--five in the first two weeks just won't cut it OBP-wise.

14. (LW:19) St. Louis Cardinals (3-6):
This Week: .295 AVG, .436 OBP, .295 SLG, 3 steals, 2 RBIs, 6 runs 
Season Stats: .292 AVG, .425 OBP, .308 SLG, 3 steals, 3 RBIs, 8 runs
The Cardinals have done a fantastic job getting on base, helped out by 15 walks in nine games, but it's the lack of production behind them that's hurting them. Low slugging numbers hurt too--getting on first base isn't nearly as helpful as getting on second and then stealing third.

13. (LW: 15) Milwaukee Brewers (5-5):
This Week: .291 AVG, .361 OBP, .436 SLG, 0 steals, 2 RBIs, 11 runs
Season Stats: .275 AVG, .333 OBP, .500 SLG, 1 steal, 7 RBIs, 13 runs
The top of the Brewers order scored half of the times they were on base, which compensates for the fact that they've struck out 17 times so far this season and only stolen one base.

12. (LW:16) Cleveland Indians (7-2):
This Week: .306 AVG, .358 OBP, .551 SLG, 2 steals, 10 RBIs, 9 runs 
Season Stats: .297 AVG, .350 OBP, .486 SLG, 2 steals, 14 RBIs, 11 runs
Asdrubal Cabrera has been scorching so far this season, belting three home runs while posting a .316/.341/.605 line in the first 10 days.  Center fielder Michael Brantley is hitting .303 as well, but he isn't producing much else, leaving the Indians outside the top 10.

11. (LW: 1) Texas Rangers (8-1):
This Week: .159 AVG, .245 OBP, .318 SLG, 2 steals, 8 RBIs, 6 runs
Season Stats: .254 AVG, .333 OBP, .582 SLG, 2 steals, 15 RBIs, 14 runs
We expect better than this from Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, who only went 3-for-21 against Seattle before starting to pick it up against Baltimore (five hits, five RBIs the last two games).

10. (LW: 21) Houston Astros (2-7):
This Week: .356 AVG, .442 OBP, .467 SLG, 4 steals, 3 RBIs, 8 runs
Season Stats: .304 AVG, .385 OBP, .406 SLG, 4 steals, 6 RBIs, 13 runs
Angel Sanchez (.364/.421/.394) is having a nice start to the season batting behind Michael Bourn. The 27-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop has a career .281 average in just 313 at-bats.

9. (LW: 12) San Francisco Giants (4-5):
This Week: .293 AVG, .383 OBP, .390 SLG, 1 steal, 1 RBI, 5 runs
Season Stats: .311 AVG, .378 OBP, .419 SLG, 1 steal, 6 RBIs, 10 runs
Scoring five runs this week helped the Giants jump into the top 10 of the rankings.  If they want to be a top-5 team, though, they have to start stealing some bases aqnd forcing the issue on the basepaths.

8. (LW: 6) Chicago White Sox (6-3):
This Week: .281 AVG, .305 OBP, .421 SLG, 5 steals, 8 RBIs, 9 runs
Season Stats: .304 AVG, .337 OBP, .418 SLG, 5 steals, 11 RBIs, 16 runs
Taking three out of four from the Rays would have been a good thing if the Rays weren't playing so terribly; still, Gordon Beckham's bat (.333/.400/.564) is adding some pop from the second spot in the lineup.

7. (LW: 14) Arizona Diamondbacks (4-4):
This Week: .302 AVG, .339 OBP, .491 SLG, 6 steals, 10 RBIs, 12 runs
Season Stats: .306 AVG, .342 OBP, .472 SLG, 9 steals, 13 RBIs, 13 runs
In the three games this week where the top two hitters scored at least three runs, the Diamondbacks were 3-0; in their other three games (one run total) Arizona was 0-3. Coincidence? (We hope not).

6. (LW: 10) Colorado Rockies (6-2):
This Week: .300 AVG, .417 OBP, .380 SLG, 3 steals, 1 RBI, 13 runs
Season Stats: .309 AVG, .413 OBP, .412 SLG, 3 steals, 4 RBIs, 15 runs
The 15 runs are nice, while the four RBIs speak more to the lack of production at the bottom of the lineup than anything else--the Rockies did go 5-1 this week against the Dodgers and Pirates. Jonathan Herrera has started the last three games hitting in the second spot, going five-for-10.

5. (LW: 4) Cincinnati Reds (6-3):
This Week: .286 AVG, .352 OBP, .327 SLG, 2 steals, 3 RBIs, 12 runs
Season Stats: .311 AVG, .370 OBP, .459 SLG, 4 steals, 9 RBIs, 19 runs
Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips managed to have fewer RBIs (three) in six games this week than they did in just three games last week (six). The 18 strikeouts (t-2nd in the National League) are also a pretty big concern.

4. (LW: 2) Chicago Cubs (4-5):
This Week: .298 AVG, .365 OBP, .319 SLG, 0 steals, 5 RBIs, 5 runs
Season Stats: .366 AVG, .430 OBP, .465 SLG, 0 steals, 8 RBIs, 10 runs
Fukudome and Baker have been splitting time in the leadoff spot so far, each starting four games there, but the nice batting average and OBP aren't helped out with a lack of steals. Still, hitting .366 means the opportunities are there for more runs.

3. (LW: 3) Pittsburgh Pirates (5-5):
This Week: .296 AVG, .387 OBP, .519 SLG, 4 steals, 7 RBIs, 10 runs
Season Stats: .338 AVG, .427 OBP, .545 SLG, 5 steals, 12 RBIs, 18 runs
Jose Tabata and Neil Walker started all seven games for the Buccos this week, scoring at least one run in every game while Tabata stole three bases in three games against the Rockies.

2. (LW: 11) Philadelphia Phillies (7-2):
This Week: .389 AVG, .400 OBP, .556 SLG, 2 steals, 13 RBIs, 9 runs
Season Stats: .368 AVG, .400 OBP, .513 SLG, 2 steals, 16 RBIs, 14 runs
Shane Victorino went 13-23 (.565) in his last five games, adding in a triple, two doubles, and five RBIs; Placido Polanco had 8 RBIs in three games against the Mets.

1. (LW: 5) Los Angeles Angels (5-4):
This Week: .381 AVG, .469 OBP, .595 SLG, 1 steal, 5 RBIs, 7 runs
Season Stats: .378 AVG, .433 OBP, .659 SLG, 3 steals, 11 RBIs, 12 runs
Tons of production up top from the Angels--Maicer Izturis and Howie Kendrick, along with a little bit of help, combined for at least three hits in eight of their nine games.

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