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View Full Version : Swisher may be a better lead off hitter than we thought.


Lillian
04-07-2008, 07:59 AM
In previous discussions, some of us argued the merits of Swisher leading off.
Is it reasonable to assume that he may be able to improve upon his career high number of walks last year? He has never batted in the lead off spot, and seems to be capable of exercising even greater patience in that role.
Of course, it is very early, however if he can continue to work the count, and draw even more walks than he has in the past, he could be a very compelling guy in that spot.

The issue of speed has already been discussed, but isn't a .400 plus OBP a lot more valuable than the stolen bases? Just getting on, and making the pitcher throw out of the stretch is worth a lot in itself, even if there is no stolen base attempt.
There are lots of disadvantages that come along with the stolen base strategy.
1) The number of good pitches that the number two hitter has to take in trying to give a base stealer chances to run.
2) The number of times he is caught stealing.
3) The number of times the number three hitter is pitched around when first base becomes open after a successful steal.

What do you guys feel about the relative merits of these factors, and should we read anything into K.W.'s recent statement that Owens' fit with the team will be reevaluated, when he is ready to return?

Shoeless
04-07-2008, 08:04 AM
I'm never huge on OBP and such, but the number of walks Swisher takes is great for lead off. I think it helps us a lot more in the early part of the lineup then it will in the latter spots (6,7 ish). The walks in the bottom of the order would become useless when Uribe just flies out, or grounds out.

Madscout
04-07-2008, 08:11 AM
You gotta love how many pitches he is taking too. The other day, against Willis, he saw 20 pitches in 3 AB. Especially knowing that this lineup does well against the end of the starter/ first soft relievers, that is great to have in a #1.

fquaye149
04-07-2008, 08:15 AM
In previous discussions, some of us argued the merits of Swisher leading off.
Is it reasonable to assume that he may be able to improve upon his career high number of walks last year? He has never batted in the lead off spot, and seems to be capable of exercising even greater patience in that role.
Of course, it is very early, however if he can continue to work the count, and draw even more walks than he has in the past, he could be a very compelling guy in that spot.

The issue of speed has already been discussed, but isn't a .400 plus OBP a lot more valuable than the stolen bases? Just getting on, and making the pitcher throw out of the stretch is worth a lot in itself, even if there is no stolen base attempt.
There are lots of disadvantages that come along with the stolen base strategy.
1) The number of good pitches that the number two hitter has to take in trying to give a base stealer chances to run.
2) The number of times he is caught stealing.
3) The number of times the number three hitter is pitched around when first base becomes open after a successful steal.

What do you guys feel about the relative merits of these factors, and should we read anything into K.W.'s recent statement that Owens' fit with the team will be reevaluated, when he is ready to return?

Well...in and of itself, it's unlikely that SB's are a negative (unless they're done at a less than 3/4's success rate, as those extra bases are unlikely to turn into runs as much as those 25%+ outs would).

However, once you're talking about a significant OBP difference, then the idea of getting a leadoff hitter for the sole reason of SB's as opposed to OBP becomes an issue.

I'm sure better people have run the #'s better, but given 600 PA's at the leadoff spot, the difference between a .350 OBP(an OBP that very few "speed guys" can boast) and a .400 OBP is about 30 times on base. When you figure that Swisher will also hit more doubles and home runs than most leadoff hitters, it's pretty clear that that 50+ points in OBP more than makes up for 50 or so stolen bases from a guy like Brian Roberts.

ChiTownTrojan
04-07-2008, 08:50 AM
I'm sure better people have run the #'s better, but given 600 PA's at the leadoff spot, the difference between a .350 OBP(an OBP that very few "speed guys" can boast) and a .400 OBP is about 30 times on base. When you figure that Swisher will also hit more doubles and home runs than most leadoff hitters, it's pretty clear that that 50+ points in OBP more than makes up for 50 or so stolen bases from a guy like Brian Roberts.
It's not like if Swisher was lower in the lineup, he wouldn't be getting those doubles and home runs. He remains productive lower down in the lineup, and would drive in a lot of runs. If we had a guy like Brian Roberts, there's no question you lead him off. Roberts would take Swisher's leadoff spot, and Swisher would bump whole bottom of the lineup down a spot, with Uribe falling off the back end. That's a big net upgrade. We don't have Roberts though, so the point is moot. Swisher is the best option out of the guys in our starting lineup, especially when you've got a good #2 in Cabrera who more times than not will get Swisher into scoring position for Thome, Konerko, et al.

As for the issue of the value of SB's, one huge advantage is that they take away the double-play ball. I don't know of any statistics that quantify that factor, but it's big. And I don't think many teams are going to pitch around Thome with 1b empty in order to get to Konerko and Dye.

fquaye149
04-07-2008, 08:56 AM
It's not like if Swisher was lower in the lineup, he wouldn't be getting those doubles and home runs. He remains productive lower down in the lineup, and would drive in a lot of runs. If we had a guy like Brian Roberts, there's no question you lead him off. Roberts would take Swisher's leadoff spot, and Swisher would bump whole bottom of the lineup down a spot, with Uribe falling off the back end. That's a big net upgrade. We don't have Roberts though, so the point is moot. Swisher is the best option out of the guys in our starting lineup, especially when you've got a good #2 in Cabrera who more times than not will get Swisher into scoring position for Thome, Konerko, et al.

As for the issue of the value of SB's, one huge advantage is that they take away the double-play ball. I don't know of any statistics that quantify that factor, but it's big. And I don't think many teams are going to pitch around Thome with 1b empty in order to get to Konerko and Dye.

if you would hit swisher 3,4,5 then that's a relevant concern. There is no spot for Swisher in the heart of the lineup, and although Swisher hitting 6th is a possibility, is it really worth putting garbage at the leadoff spot? If we had Roberts, sure...just because having Roberts leadoff and Swisher 6th is a better scenario than having Swisher leadoff and Roberts 6th, where Roberts's speed would be wasted behind slower footed baserunners, and his lack of power would be exposed.

However, we don't have Roberts. Therefore, we should look at what we gots.

If we didn't have a solid run producing core at 3,4,5 then giving up "RBI potential" at the leadoff spot might be worth worrying about. I'd rather put people on base for that 3,4,5 than worry about the occasional leadoff HR "wasting" runs

My post wasn't about how Swisher is inherently BETTER at leadoff than Roberts just because he gets on base more. Certainly you would have to examine the team you have and see what the best fit is. My post was to suggest that Roberts isn't inherently better than SWISHER at leadoff just because he's a more "prototypical" leadoff hitter

Elephant
04-07-2008, 08:58 AM
In previous discussions, some of us argued the merits of Swisher leading off.
Is it reasonable to assume that he may be able to improve upon his career high number of walks last year? He has never batted in the lead off spot, and seems to be capable of exercising even greater patience in that role.
Of course, it is very early, however if he can continue to work the count, and draw even more walks than he has in the past, he could be a very compelling guy in that spot.

The issue of speed has already been discussed, but isn't a .400 plus OBP a lot more valuable than the stolen bases? Just getting on, and making the pitcher throw out of the stretch is worth a lot in itself, even if there is no stolen base attempt.
There are lots of disadvantages that come along with the stolen base strategy.
1) The number of good pitches that the number two hitter has to take in trying to give a base stealer chances to run.
2) The number of times he is caught stealing.
3) The number of times the number three hitter is pitched around when first base becomes open after a successful steal.

What do you guys feel about the relative merits of these factors, and should we read anything into K.W.'s recent statement that Owens' fit with the team will be reevaluated, when he is ready to return?

I will always go with the slower .400 OBP guy, but ideally you also need to have some speed throughout the lineup. As it is we're a logjam in the middle of the order. It hasn't hurt us yet but it will at times.

ChiTownTrojan
04-07-2008, 09:01 AM
I will always go with the slower .400 OBP guy, but ideally you also need to have some speed throughout the lineup. As it is we're a logjam in the middle of the order. It hasn't hurt us yet but it will at times.
Maybe we should bat Owens at cleanup to break up the logjam.

fquaye149
04-07-2008, 09:02 AM
I will always go with the slower .400 OBP guy, but ideally you also need to have some speed throughout the lineup. As it is we're a logjam in the middle of the order. It hasn't hurt us yet but it will at times.

One of the main problems with our middle of the order is they aren't particularly versatile hitters.

No one is really going to "gut out" a hit. That might be the argument for putting Swisher in there somewhere--that if the slow fastball hitters in the middle of our lineup are slumping, someone can get in there and grit out a base hit or whatever.

I don't know what to think about that

oeo
04-07-2008, 09:17 AM
I will always go with the slower .400 OBP guy, but ideally you also need to have some speed throughout the lineup. As it is we're a logjam in the middle of the order. It hasn't hurt us yet but it will at times.

Most teams are a 'logjam' in the middle. Those are our big boys, they're supposed to be driving guys in, not speed demons.

Besides, if this team can be opportunistic like it was last night, they don't need a bunch of fast guys to get away from, "station-to-station baseball." They just need to constantly get good jumps off the ball, and take the extra base when it's there. Hate to bring it up, but the 2005 team was not fast. We had Pods, and that was basically it. The difference between '05 and '06-'07 was in '05, they were always looking to put the pressure on...not just taking second, but going to third; not just standing on a ball knocked away by the catcher, but trotting into second.

What they did the last couple of years was wait around for the long ball. If they can keep their heads in the game, and take their shots at extra bases when the opportunity is there, then that will change.

kevingrt
04-07-2008, 09:18 AM
Anyone that can have a OBP around .400 can definitely be a lead-off hitter regardless of their speed on the base paths. Swisher can get on base and set up the inning for Thome, Konerko and the hot JD & AJ. If Swisher keeps this up there really is no point in Ozzie changing the line up.

jabrch
04-07-2008, 09:23 AM
If we had a traditional leadoff hitter, I'd love to see Swisher hitting further down in the order. But we don't - so I am fine with him where he is.

Lineup construction is quite silly. As long as you don't do something fatally stupid like hitting Uribe #3, the difference between # of runs scored with various reasonable lineup constructions is very small.

Milkman43
04-07-2008, 09:46 AM
I love Swish at the top of the order. He sees a lot of pitches and has pop to all fields. Also, I feel his presence alone to start a game has a nice effect.