Monday, April 25, 2011

Leadoff Rankings: Week 4

Previous Rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

The fourth weekend of the 2011 season has come and gone, and the Leadoff Rankings are starting to settle out. More a fan of pitching? Check out our Rotation Rankings, published every Thursday, where we rank each team by the performance of their starting pitchers. The rankings are based on season performance, with a small bias towards recent performance. To see how things turned out this week, hit the jump!

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

30. (LW: 16) Toronto Blue Jays (9-12)
This Week: .127 AVG, .127 OBP, .236 SLG,  0 steals, 2 runs, 2 RBIs
Season (180 ABs): .211 AVG, .249 OBP, .344 SLG, 5 steals, 17 R, 19 RBIs
A tough week overall for the Blue Jays, going 2-4 while mostly using Corey Patterson (two for his last 24) in the second slot. Zero-for-10 and two-for-12 games this week brought that average plummeting, and no walks in 55 ABs for the week is just plain awful.

29. (LW: 28) Detroit Tigers (12-10)
This Week: .220 AVG, .291 OBP, .380 SLG, 0 steals, 8 runs, 6 RBIs
Season (169 ABs): .201 AVG, .282 OBP, .290 SLG, 3 steals, 18 R, 13 RBIs
After six different leadoff combinations last week, at least Austin Jackson started all six games this week atop the lineup, though with only marginally better results than Jim Leyland had been getting. For as poor as the batting average was this week, the OBP and slugging numbers aren't too shabby.

28. (LW: 29) Washington Nationals (10-10)
This Week: .282 AVG, .349 OBP, .333 SLG, 2 steals, 7 runs, 2 RBIs
Season (165 ABs): .206 AVG, .272 OBP, .333 SLG, 8 steals, 17 R, 16 RBIs
Danny Espinosa and Rick Ankiel started all five games this week up top for the Nationals, and it paid off with by far their best leadoff week this young season. The only thing that was lacking was the low slugging percentage (and lack of steals), but seven runs in five games is a pretty good stat.

27. (LW: 30) San Diego Padres (8-14)
This Week: .291 AVG, .350 OBP, .382 SLG, 5 steals, 4 runs, 3 RBIs
Season (166 ABs): .217 AVG, .301 OBP, .253 SLG, 13 steals, 14 R, 4 RBI
After an absolutely abysmal first few weeks, the Friars at least got three 4-hit games out of their leadoff spots, using a combination of Wil Venable, Jason Bartlett, and Cameron Maybin. Considering four of their seven games were against the Phillies' rotation, this was a pretty good week overall--but the slugging percentage really holds them down.

26. (LW: 11) Chicago White Sox (8-14)
This Week: .173 AVG, .218 OBP, .192 SLG, 2 steals, 4 runs, 2 RBIs
Season (182 ABs): .253 AVG, .292 OBP, .313 SLG, 7 steals, 23 R, 16 RBIs
The second-worst week (batting-average-wise) in the Majors leads to a 16-slot drop for the White Sox. While they do have a better batting average than a few of the teams below them, the awful OBP and slugging numbers kept Juan Pierre and company down in the bottom five.

25. (LW: 25) Kansas City Royals (12-10)
This Week: .237 AVG, .308 OBP, .475 SLG, 3 steals, 11 runs, 9 RBIs
Season (193 ABs): .233 AVG, .288 OBP, .363 SLG, 9 steals, 26 R, 21 RBIs
Chris Getz and Melky Cabrera (along with a little help from Mike Aviles) scored 11 runs this week despite only being on base 20 times (14 hits, six walks) in seven games. Cabrera (.283/.301/.424) has been a decent addition to the lineup, though the OBP could certainly be higher.

24. (LW: 18) Baltimore Orioles (8-12)
This Week: .234 AVG, .308 OBP, .277 SLG, 0 steals, 3 runs, 4 RBIs
Season (161 ABs): .242 AVG, .291 OBP, .385 SLG, 1 steal, 18 R, 21 RBIs
It was April 6th the last time the Orioles got a stolen base out of their top two hitters, and it's tough to manufacture runs when you're not stealing any bases while slugging only .277, or anywhere close to there. Either Baltimore needs to get more power out of Brian Roberts (who had 50 steals back in 2007) and Nick Markakis, or start gambling a little on the basepaths.

23. (LW: 19) Minnesota Twins (9-12)
This Week: .239 AVG, .314 OBP, .261 SLG, 1 steal, 8 runs, 2 RBIs
Season (173 ABs): .254 AVG, .295 OBP, .329 SLG, 3 steals, 17 R, 12 RBIs
Joe Mauer has been out since April 12th with a horrible flu, but he seems to be finally close to returning--a much-needed boost for the Twins. Denard Span has had five different players hit behind him since Mauer left the lineup, but nobody's established themselves in his absence.

22. (LW: 22) Oakland Athletics (11-11)
This Week: .240 AVG, .296 OBP, .380 SLG, 2 steals, 8 runs, 5 RBIs
Season (174 ABs): .230 AVG, .309 OBP, .339 SLG, 8 steals, 23 R, 9 RBIs
The on-base-percentage is really good considering how bad the average is for Coco Crisp and Daric Barton--who is only batting .216 but has an OBP of .370 thanks to 17 walks in 22 games. The A's need some offense if they want to support their fantastic rotation (2.07 ERA, 1.12 WHIP).

21. (LW: 17) Arizona Diamondbacks (8-12)
This Week: .234 AVG, .308 OBP, .617 SLG, 1 steal, 9 runs, 6 RBIs
Season (173 ABs): .243 AVG, .288 OBP, .428 SLG, 11 steals, 27 R, 21 RBIs
The Diamondbacks were without Willie Bloomquist (.306/.323/.419) this week, but are hoping to get him back just in time for a three-game series against the Phillies. 13 strikeouts in six games from Ryan Reynolds and Kelly Johnson doesn't bode well when Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels are coming to town.

20. (LW: 27) Seattle Mariners (8-15):
This Week: .327 AVG, .373 OBP, .364 SLG, 6 steals, 9 runs, 6 RBIs
Season (189 ABs): .243 AVG, .296 OBP, .307 SLG, 12 steals, 21 R, 18 RBIs
Finally a sign of life from Ichiro Suzuki, who had four multi-hit games this week, including a 4-for-5 performance in a win against the Tigers on Tuesday. Even Chone Figgins went 3-for-4 in that game...though he's only got one hit in his 15 ABs since.

19. (LW: 21) Atlanta Braves (11-12)
This Week: .268 AVG, .369 OBP, .393 SLG, 0 steals, 9 runs, 9 RBIs
Season (183 ABs): .246 AVG, .296 OBP, .366 SLG, 2 steals, 26 R, 18 RBIs
Jason Heyward might be getting readjusted to batting in the second spot in Atlanta's lineup, going 7-for-12 in a sweep against the Giants. His average had bottomed out at .188, but the Braves need him to be a force in that 2-slot for them to catch the NL East leaders.

18. (LW: 14) New York Mets (9-13)
This Week: .229 AVG, .288 OBP, .229 SLG, 2 steals, 7 runs, 2 RBIs
Season (187 ABs): .251 AVG, .307 OBP, .353 SLG, 13 steals, 28 R, 13 RBIs
The Mets are on a four-game winning streak, but a .288 OBP from Jose Reyes and company (Daniel Murphy, Angel Pagan, and Josh Thole) is far too slow with that much speed on the basepaths. Not getting any extra-base hits this week doesn't help either, and those guys definitely need to take advantage of turning any single into a RISP.

17. (LW: 15) Florida Marlins (13-7)
This Week: .267 AVG, .313 OBP, .378 SLG, 1 steal, 4 runs, 9 RBIs
Season (164 ABs): .256 AVG, .318 OBP, .372 SLG, 2 steals, 19 R, 18 RBIs
Unfortunately for the Marlins, they get stuck in the awkward position of having a better week than their season so far, yet still managing to drop two slots in the rankings due to stellar performances by teams ranked below them. Still, the Fish went 5-1 and kept pace with the hotter teams in baseball.

16. (LW: 20) Boston Red Sox (10-11)
This Week: .241 AVG, .369 OBP, .370 SLG, 4 steals, 8 runs, 3 RBIs
Season (171 ABs): .240 AVG, .323 OBP, .374 SLG, 7 steals, 25 R, 14 RBIs
How did Boston managed to leapfrog Florida, despite a lower batting average and similar slugging percentages? Easy--a .056 difference in on-base-percentage plus four extra steals means 8 more runs created for the Red Sox, who went 6-1 this week.

15. (LW: 26) Los Angeles Dodgers (12-11)
This Week: .321 AVG, .406 OBP, .482 SLG, 1 steal, 15 runs, 5 RBIs
Season (182 ABs): .258 AVG, .318 OBP, .363 SLG, 6 steals, 32 R, 11 RBIs
Los Angeles might see fluctuations in these rankings all season as Don Mattingly uses a constantly rotating cast of characters in the top two spots in the lineup. Only four times all season has he used the same top two in back-to-back games, never in more than two games in a row--and all four of those times were different pairings.

14. (LW: 24) New York Yankees (12-6)
This Week: .342 AVG, .405 OBP, .553 SLG, 0 steals, 10 R, 6 RBIs
Season (144 ABs): .264 AVG, .325 OBP, .375 SLG, 2 steals, 26 R, 14 RBIs
The Yankees played only four games this week due to some rainouts, but Derek Jeter seems to have found a steady backup hitter in Curtis Granderson (.292/.343/.708), who has seven home runs and 12 RBIs already.

13. (LW: 7) San Francisco Giants (10-11)
This Week: .191 AVG, .224 OBP, .319 SLG, 0 steals, 6 runs, 3 RBIs
Season (172 ABs): .279 AVG, .326 OBP, .401 SLG, 1 steal, 25 R, 13 RBIs
Aaron Rowand was hitting .364 as recently as April 17th, but his average has dropped since then down to .283 after going one for his last 16. If you're not hitting at the top of the lineup, then you should be drawing walks and stealing basis--but the Giants top pair only has four walks and no steals since April 8th, a span of 15 games.

12. (LW: 23) Texas Rangers (14-7)
This Week: .327 AVG, .400 OBP, .490 SLG, 1 steal, 8 runs, 4 RBIs
Season (160 ABs): .250 AVG, .333 OBP, .438 SLG, 7 steals, 30 R, 22 RBIs
The Rangers have gone from the top five to the bottom ten and now back up into the upper half of the rankings, but they've stuck with Ian Kinsler (.228/.344/.494) and Elvis Andrus (.225/.293/.338) the entire time. The two have combined for 42 starts out of 46 possible for the purpose of these rankings (23 games, two top spots in the rotation), so it's the four other starts that have helped the overall numbers.

11. (LW: 13) Milwaukee Brewers (11-10)
This Week: .304 AVG, .361 OBP, .411 SLG, 5 steals, 14 runs, 5 RBIs
Season (176 ABs): .278 AVG, .335 OBP, .438 SLG, 6 steals, 31 R, 16 RBIs
A successful week for the Brewers, taking two of three from both the Phillies and the Astros. The Houston series was a big one for Rickie Weeks, Craig Counsell, and Carlos Gomez, as they went 11-for-26 (.423) with nine runs and four RBIs.

10. (LW: 8) Cincinnati Reds (11-11)
This Week: .216 AVG, .322 OBP, .392 SLG, 2 steals, 8 runs, 3 RBIs
Season (179 ABs): .279 AVG, .345 OBP, .464 SLG, 9 steals, 35 R, 21 RBIs
The Reds have lost three straight series, two of which were against divisional opponents in the Pirates and Cardinals. Four games this week had Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips getting multiple hits, but the other three had them going 0-for-20.

9. (LW: 3) Los Angeles Angels (12-10)
This Week: .211 AVG, .297 OBP, .368 SLG, 3 steals, 3 runs, 4 RBIs
Season (192 ABs): .302 AVG, .356 OBP, .505 SLG, 6 steals, 20 R, 20 RBIs
The seven walks are good, but the sixteen strikeouts are atrocious--part of the reason that Maicer Izturis and Howie Kendrick haven't started the last three games up top together after being the Angels' main pair for the first 19 games. Losing four at home to Boston was a bit of a letdown, to say the least.

8. (LW: 12) Tampa Bay Rays (11-11)
This Week: .316 AVG, .339 OBP, .491 SLG, 3 steals, 10 runs, 7 RBIs
Season (177 ABs): .282 AVG, .317 OBP, .463 SLG, 12 steals, 24 R, 27 RBIs
The Rays, like their division counterparts in Boston, are finally emerging from their atrocious start, using mostly the combination of Sam Fuld (.346/.388/.513) and Johnny Damon (.260/.280/.452). Fuld is now owned in 100% of ESPN's Fantasy Leagues, a 30% jump after last week, but the nine combined walks in 22 games are a red flag.

7. (LW: 9) Cleveland Indians (13-8)
This Week: .296 AVG, .345 OBP, .426 SLG, 0 steals, 5 runs, 4 RBIs
Season (175 ABs): .291 AVG, .344 OBP, .469 SLG, 3 steals, 22 R, 25 RBIs
The first full week of Grady Sizemore turned out to be a successful one, as the outfielder is off to a .357/.400/.715 start, helped out by two homers and four doubles in his first 28 ABs. The surprising Indians are a game and a half up in the AL Central already, and the play of Sizemore is a huge boost.

6. (LW: 10) Houston Astros (8-14)
This Week: .333 AVG, .385 OBP, .396 SLG, 2 steals, 8 runs, 6 RBIs
Season (177 ABs): .294 AVG, .349 OBP, .367 SLG, 12 steals, 34 R, 19 RBIs
The Astros continually strong presence at the top of the lineup, helped by Michael Bourn (.304/.375/.418) who has become a quintessential leadoff hitter. The 32 runs scored by the top two are the most by any team in MLB, but the batting averge and OBP are still not in the top echelon of the major leagues.

5. (LW: 6) Colorado Rockies (14-7)
This Week: .227 AVG, .346 OBP, .318 SLG, 0 steals, 4 runs, 3 RBIs
Season (171 ABs): .287 AVG, .387 OBP, .409 SLG, 6 steals, 32 R, 17 RBIs
The Rockies unfortunately had to face the San Francisco gauntlet of Lincecum/Sanchez/Cain to start the week, and went four-for-24 (.167) out of the leadoff spots. Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera then went six-for-20 (.300) against the Marlins to somehow move up in the rankings, but these two need to steal more bases.

4. (LW: 4) Pittsburgh Pirates (9-12)
This Week: .229 AVG, .302 OBP, .333 SLG, 3 steals, 7 runs, 3 RBIs
Season (164 ABs): .287 AVG, .378 OBP, .463 SLG, 12 steals, 29 R, 18 RBIs
A two-for-24 performance in a three-game sweep (at home) to the Marlins was the lowlight for Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata, who have taken over the leadoff positions in Pittsburgh. The pair had five walks in six games, but they came in the only wins of the week--a sign, perhaps?

3. (LW: 5) St. Louis Cardinals (12-10)
This Week: .289 AVG, .347 OBP, .378 SLG, 2 steals, 4 runs, 6 RBIs
Season (179 ABs): .318 AVG, .387 OBP, .419 SLG, 5 steals, 27 R, 17 RBIs
After drawing 11 walks in the first full week of the season, Ryan Theriot and Colby Rasmus have gotten only five free passes in the 14 games since. The slugging numbers are just a little too low to move the Cardinals up into the second slot, but this one was a really tough decision.

2. (LW: 2) Philadelphia Phillies (15-6)
This Week: .255 AVG, .359 OBP, .455 SLG, 5 steals, 9 runs, 6 RBIs
Season (171 ABs): .316 AVG, .378 OBP, .474 SLG, 7 steals, 27 R, 26 RBIs
It's been a tough week for the entire Phillies lineup--although they went 5-2, they failed to score more than four runs in any single game. Placido Polanco has started all but one game in the second slot, and is having an All-Star April (.366/.429/.488) with two home runs and 15 RBIs.

1. (LW: 1) Chicago Cubs (10-11)
This Week: .375 AVG, .386 OBP, .429 SLG, 2 steals, 6 runs, 9 RBIs
Season (179 ABs): .391 AVG, .435 OBP, .503 SLG, 4 steals, 28 R, 25 RBIs
Starlin Castro (.393/.419/.528) is off to an unbelievably hot start, and at just 21 years old is on his way to establishing himself as the next great major league shortstop--at least, if he can come anywhere close to keeping this up. Cubs manager Mike Quade has started batting Castro third in the order, so it might be up to Kosuke Fukudome (.415/.529/.439 in 41 ABs) to keep up the hot start.

Previous Rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

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