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Squashing the “Bat Ruiz Leadoff” Campaign

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, August 16, 2010 02:40 PM | Comments: 72
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I addressed this in the comments section of my last post, but feel that it’s become such a popular blogosphere topic that it deserves its own post.

Carlos Ruiz should not be batting first. Or second.

It is true that you want a high on-base percentage out of your leadoff batter. It is also true that Chooch has a .381 OBP. But a .381 OBP in the seven- or eight-hole is not easily translatable to the leadoff spot.

Why?

Well, first, keep in mind that Chooch has six intentional walks this year, all of which have been the means to the end of pitching to a pitcher, or to Wilson Valdez. Then factor in his two unpredictable hit-by-pitches, which also contribute to OBP.

Subtract those eight instances, and Ruiz’ OBP goes from .381 to .364. This is still impressive, but you must also recognize that Carlos has received a good amount of unintentional-intentional walks this season, i.e. plate appearances in which he sees nothing but junk.

Chooch would certainly stop seeing as much junk if batting first or second, so even with exceptional plate discipline, his walk rate would decline. If you figure that there is a 10 or 15 point dropoff in OBP from batting 7 or 8 to batting 1 or 2, were looking at about a .350 OBP from Ruiz.

Even with all of his recent struggles, Jimmy Rollins has still maintained a .340 on-base percentage, a figure nearly 100 points higher than his batting average.

So, if the debate is between a slow guy with a .350 OBP and a fast guy with a .340 OBP and years of experience in the leadoff spot, wouldn’t you choose the latter?

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About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    This is crap. I guess its an off day.
    Batting second could be debated but you choose not to.
    Why not go full tard? (Robert Downey Jr.)

     
  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    Speed doesn’t mean a whole lot when your 3-4 guys combine for 75 homers.

    But even in those other instances, how much do you sacrifice with the speed difference? I’m not going to argue that Chooch is all that great of a baserunner, but how much speed do you really need? It’s a traditional line of thinking to have fast guys at 1-2, but that got Willy Taveras nowhere.

    Chooch has shown he’s got the ability to go first-to-third (in 11 times when he’s been on first and a batter has hit a single, he’s gone to third in five. Below 50%, but Rollins has only gone first-to-third 9 times in 24 of those chances, for 38%)

    For his career, Chooch is 15-for-39 going first to third on a single, and that comes to about 39%. Not wonderful, no, but Rollins is 113-for-334, or 34% in a bigger sample.

    Jimmy also scores from 2nd on singles 68% of the time for his career (158-for-234), and Chooch is at 64% (25-for-39).

    So, while I can’t totally throw away the sample disparity, I can’t dismiss this idea of Chooch batting in the upper half out-of-hand. Especially if Jimmy’s bat really is on the decline and his future lies in hitting lots of infield pop-ups. It looks like Chooch’s discipline is legit, even when your factor out the IBBs and HBPs, and I want a guy who can get on base more – while still running the bases well enough – batting ahead of my best guys.

     
  • Posts: 0 DaveGee7

    If you really wanted to be unconventional, the guy who has been the ideal leadoff hitter this year is Jayson Werth. Though he K’s too much he is super patient in working pitchers, has an outstanding OBP, excellent speed and baserunning ability and we would stop worrying about his RISP performance. Just sayin.

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Interesting stuff, Paul. What immediately came to mind when I read your post was that Chooch’s first-to-third percent is as high as it is, and Jimmy’s as low, because I’d assume a higher percentage of Ruiz’ opportunities to do so came with two outs. I can’t confirm that, it’s just an assumption.

    Regardless of that assumption, Jimmy Rollins is not Willy Taveras. Jimmy has a combo of speed and pop (Taveras has speed and thats it, kinda like Francoeur has arm and thats it), and though Jimmy is not performing up to his true talent level right now, it’s not like we’re looking at a leadoff batter with a .312 OBP.

    I just think that the speed disparity between Jimmy and Chooch (which allows Jimmy to, say, steal two bases with two outs like he did last night), more than compensates for the ~10 point adjusted OBP advantage Chooch has.

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    @DaveGee- It’s radical but that’s the way I’d go. High OBP, and also not hitting well this year with RISP. It’s a shame to see him in scoring position so often and not score because those behind him can’t get him home. And Paul is right about speed, it only works if you are actually on base.

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    And Andrew, I didn’t address Chooch batting second because there are already a plethora of better options. Polanco, Victorino, Utley when he comes back are all better options to bat second than Chooch.

     
  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Chooch is perfect were he is. Leave well enough alone.

    I’m a little worried that having to play Raul against those lefties has messed him up again. A much needed day off for Raul. Might be time to platoon a little more with Ben Fran.

     
  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Phillies Buzz, Paul Boyé and iPhillySports, Corey Seidman. Corey Seidman said: Just posted to @PhilliesNation – Squashing the 'Bat Ruiz Leadoff' Campaign…for good: http://tinyurl.com/25hhrf7 [...]

     
  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Chooch has managed to adjust to batting 8th where, once Chase and Ryan comes back is where he should be. It is not easy to bat eighth in the NL. With the pitcher behind you, you really need to adjust based on the number of outs and if there are runners on base. This explains part of the numbers even beyond the IBB and UIBB stats.

    With two outs and a runner on base, especially in scoring position, the #8 batter must expand his strike zone. After all, what good is it to walk with two outs and the pitcher coming up? But, you can’t hack at everything and Ruiz has adjusted.

    In addition, with only one out you can take the walk, let the pitcher sacrifice and end up with runners on 2nd and 3rd for the leadoff guy. When Victorino was batting leadoff he feasted on this situation.

    So, let’s leave Chooch where he is. He does a nice job there and if he was #1 or #2 we would see a lot more double plays, not good with the big boys coming up.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Cory his batting second can be debated. He could do that. Batting first is simply absurd. Like the Dip wanting Jermaine Dye, Eyre, Fuentes and the Pope to play for the Phillies.
    My thoughts on Ruiz batting up in the order have been said in other threads.
    Like the bible says about stealing and cheating. I am against it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I don’t care how poorly Werth is batting this year with RISP. He’s our main right-handed power threat and fits perfectly right behind Howard. Pedro Feliz had the team’s highest average with RISP last year… does that in any way help predict how good he was going to be in future RISP situations (just look at his RISP numbers this year)? I want Werth who’s hitting .300 right where he is, in the heart of the lineup…. hitting bombs with guys like Utley and Polanco on base.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Really? Chooch is effective further down the line-up because he’s a scrappy little hitter who can keep your offense ticking around less disciplined hitters. I would understand the argument for Polanco leading off but you have to have your gritty bats where their most effective or your just asking for stats hitters.

    Chooch’s numbers would change if he hit at the top of the line-up. he’d be pitched far more aggressively and you also have to consider the extra wear and tear on his body if he had more plate appearances. When you think of good offensive catchers who hit further up the line-up you think of many guys who’ve had their careers shortened and poor defensive guys.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I don’t get it.. we finally reach the Wild Card spot and NOW we want to change everything (moving Werth, moving Chooch)? I’m with Corey. Only a major J-roll slump (like he had early last season) or a serious losing-streak would make me change my mind. We’re winning consistently as it is, why play with fire?

     
  • Posts: 0 DaveGee7

    @ Manny- I hear you and your point is well taken. There would obviously be an impact in the middle of the order if Werth batted leadoff. My point isn’t that he is not a middle of the order guy, but he has most exhibited the qualities of the ideal leadoff hitter this season and we have all debated the Phillies leadoff spot for years. Werth has excellent speed, takes the extra base, high OBP, even high average this year….some little guys are frustrated power hitters (we have a couple) and Werth is the rare power hitter who seems to be the opposite. He would be an interesting weapon at the top of the order if left to just follow his instincts.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Doesn’t it come down to you prioritize stats and arrange your line-up accordingly and your the Oakland A’s or you defer the line-up to your manager and judging who can compliment the next guy where and your the two time NL Champion Phillies…

     
  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Manny… the voice of reason… it’s a day off and we’re going full tard.

    If it ain’t broke, no need to fix it…

    Other more important topics… nice article on Matt Rizzotti that closes with this nugget “(Matt) Rizzotti likely will be sent to the instructional league again, as well as the Arizona fall league.” The only reason that I can see for sending Rizzotti back to the IL is to see if he can play some outfield.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/100734524.html?cmpid=15585797

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Well, why not juggle the lineup so you can have all the OBP guys in front of Howard – like:

    Utley
    Polanco
    Werth
    Howard
    Ibanez
    Rollins
    Shane
    Chooch

    With this lineup you will have more guys on base for Ryan. Jason can run some more if he wants and so can Chase Also, you have the benefit of speed near the bottom of the lineup where you can manufacture some runs, to wit: Rollins and/or Vic get on, steal, and Chooch is more than capable of singling home some runs.

    See, when you have guys that run fast but can’t get on base, its not an automatic that they bat at the top of the lineup. Werth and Utley can run AND get on base. Don’t let the afraid of the unfamiliar.

    Do we have Brain Fuentes yet?

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    What exactly would Brain Fuentes and his massive contract do for the Phils? If he can barely close for the Angels how can he be expected to be an upgrade here with all of that salary choking on the payroll?

    Dipsy I think you need to go and have a face to face with Charlie because that line-up is either totally brilliant or completely insane!

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Dipsy: How is Fuentes such an upgrade over Lidge? Fuentes was having a bad season initially (people calling Rodney to be the closer… now he’s locked in, Rodney isn’t). Same for Lidge.. he started shaky, now he’s locked in. So what’s the upgrade? Fuentes has a better ERA, but a much worse xFIP than Lidge (Fuentes 4.43 vs Lidge’s 3.74). I’m a little concerned with Lidge’s fastball recently –dropped to 89 mph yesterday– but he’s getting the job done. I just don’t see how Fuentes could be such a notable upgrade over Lidge, especially if it continues to handcuffs this team’s payroll flexibility. Lidge’s current K/9 is 11.20 and BB/9 is 4.61. Compare that to his 2008 numbers (K/9 was 11.94 and walks/9 was 4.54). Pretty similar numbers if you ask me.

    P.S. This is coming from someone who’s had both Fuentes and Lidge from Day 1 in fantasy baseball this season… and stuck with both of them despite their low point –which have been frequent for both pitchers.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bacardipr05

    I would not be oppose to trying Werth in lead off spot. Then moving J-Roll down the spot a few

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    If Ruiz played 3rd or leftfield or right or any other position but catcher he’d be an ideal number 2 hitter. But he doesn’t. He catches and basically runs this team. He is team MVP hitting .150
    Hitting up in the order could affect his defense and how he controls the pitchers. Trust me we don’t even want to think about that.
    So the point is rendered moot.
    Next topic
    If Utley and Howard both didn’t play again this year would the Phils still make the playoffs? I say yes.

     
  • Posts: 0 jeff

    Jimmy is not a leadoff hitter but on this team he has no choice. Since his MVP season his batting average is dropping. Still..

    Rollins, Poly, Utley, Howard, Werth, Raul, Chooch, Vic.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bacardipr05

    I ask Dipsy before whats up with Fuentes although lately he is pitching well. Are the Phils in talks with Angels. I think Fuente is a close cousing of Lidge.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bacardipr05

    Why does is seem teams like Boston an Dodgers seem to find these guys out of Japan or wherever and throw them in an they do great? Why dont the Phils do these sort of things or dont they have Scouts that go that deep?

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    I love my lineup change. J-Roll and Vic can swing like maniacs and not give a damn about getting on in the 6 and 7 spots. Lets the guys who can get on base bat higher. Brian Fuentes’ contract is up, if I’m not mistaken. he would probably cost about 2.5-3.0m. He’s a lefty, and he’s good. AND he might be able to clear waivers. Would I rather have Venters or Soriano, etc. Yes. But that’s not feasible. Fuentes is the best guy we could reasonably get…so I wanna get him. I know he’s not Tug McGraw but he is a major upgrade in the pen, and from the left side.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Hey I’d love Fuentes to come in and replace JC but I’d rather sign Bob Wickman to close. If Fuentes the best the Phils can come up with as a replacement to Lidge to justify his departure then we would be in deep deep trouble.

     
  • Posts: 0 biz

    jeff,

    “Rollins, Poly, Utley, Howard, Werth, Raul, Chooch, Vic.”

    How can you put a man with Vic’s speed 8th? WHat an absolute waste. You need to bat someone like Chooch behind him to knock him in. I think Vic should be 6th with Raul and Chooch behind him.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Oh I see, Dipsy. I thought you were saying you wanted Fuentes as the new closer (thus replacing Lidge). But if it’s as a late-inning lefty reliever who could occasionally pitch to righties, then yea, I’d be on board. Fuentes would replace Romero.. and the pen would look really solid with Durbin, Contreras, Madson, Lidge and Fuentes. Lefties are only hitting .114 against Fuentes!

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I still HIGHLY doubt we could get him…

     
  • Posts: 0 steve

    I think the line-up should be as follows:

    Victorino
    Polanco
    Utley
    Howard
    Werth
    Rollins
    Ibanez
    Ruiz
    Pitcher

     
  • Posts: 0 steve

    Oh and you platoon Ibanez with BennyFrank against LHP

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Dipsy then yes it will make sense but do u release JC ?

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    This is my postseason bullpen:

    Lidge
    Madson
    Kendrick
    Durbin
    Contreras

    Fuentes
    Eyre
    Romero

    Or, if the Phils decide to go with a three man rotation, Cheeseburger would be in there somewhere. Oh, and did I mention that all “must save or season is over” situations will be handled by Roy Halladay. And I’m so not kidding and I don’t care who’s feelings would be hurt.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

     
  • Posts: 0 Phan in the outfield

    It might be a great idea to put Werth 1st in the line-up but maybe Howard doesn’t want him moved. I’m just talking this through: but if I were Howard I’d like him to stay right where he is, thank you. Ok, I’m probably entirely crazy saying that but why would you mess with Howard’s production? If messing with Werth messes with Howard in some way, I’m guessing they don’t do it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    No Dodgers feed tonight.
    Forced to watch the Braves announcers.
    I miss Chris Wheeler already.

     
  • Posts: 0 JAY-AKA-PHILLYBOY

    LOL AT K-ROD AND THE MESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 Wis

    i always breath a sigh of relief when i see werth on base, and then chooch up to bat

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Phan,
    You are right about Howard, but I’d suggest moving Utley the 5 spot to replace Werth if Jayson were to move up. I don’t think they would pitch Howard any differently with Utley behind him, than Werth. I just think Jayson gets stranded too often where he’s batting, and he does have the best OBP on the team, and the speed/hustle taking the extra base etc. And what’s wrong with a leadoff hitter with a little pop in his bat, that’s what we have with JRoll. I admit it’s a little far fetched, but what the hey, there’s no game to talk about tonight so-

    Werth-R
    JRoll/Vic-S
    Polanco-R
    Howard-L
    Ultey-L
    JRoll/Vic-S
    Ibanez-L
    Chooch-R
    Just a thought for fun.

     
  • Posts: 0 Wis

    now the MEts wanna void k-rods contract

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    The mets are pathetic. Its not even fun beating thier brains in anymore and ridiculing their fans.

    Dodgers up 1-0 top of 6th they will blow it again i bet

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    CMON DODGERS! They’re pathetic

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Except for Ethier… what a catch! phew

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Yea Wis wouldnt you want to do same or at least try K-Rod is getting a pretty penny. I think its going to be hard to do that MLB contracts arent as easy to get around as NFL contract. K-Rod is a great pitcher if you put the feelings behind the Mets behind…Im sure next year teams will be all over him an his value will be down. An organization cant control a players Shenanigans dont you remember our own K-Rod just a few years ago…Given the chance im sure you would want him in our bullpen…Anyhow any word on RAJ getting bullpen help or is this it?

     
  • Posts: 0 shag beta sigma delta

    One thing most of you are missing when talking line up change is that JRoll is Charlie’s lead off guy, that is not going to change. The one issue is what do you do with Vic. Chase is and should be locked into the 3rd position as soon as he gets his swing back, can you move him for the first couple games when he comes back, I think that is a possibility, but long term he fits best in the 3 hole. And Poly, he is a perfect fit for the 2 spot, he is the best at situational hitting on the team, seems like he can direct the ball to the holes a lot of the time, good at hitting with two strikes, so when JRoll gets on he can get a good read on when to run. If I am not mistaken Vic strikes out more the Jimmy I may be wrong on that one, but I think that is why Jimmy is better then Vic to lead off. Howard is clean up, and you do not want 3 lefties in a row, so Jayson protects Ryan. So really you have 1-5 set. Vic has been an RBI machine this year, but does not have a lot of plate discipline in him, so you can not move him down behind Chooch cause he would get 0 pitches in the strike zone. So I guess he has to bat 6 or 7 may not be a bad idea to have Raul bat behind him in the 7 spot. So with that said
    JRoll
    Polly
    Chase
    Ryan
    Jayson
    Vic
    Raul
    Chooch
    Ok so that is pretty much what Charlie does except flip flop Vic and Raul.
    So after all that, I guess I am saying leave it alone. LOL.
    Charlie for Manager of the Year!

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    The dodgers and Joe torre rpt on hell forever on that note

    the braves walked off

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Braves announcers even mentioned you phillie fans
    pressures still on

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    I would like to see this as an experiment.
    WERTH
    POLLY
    CHASE
    HOWARD
    ROLLINS
    IBANEZ
    CHOOCH
    VICTORINO
    COLE HAM??

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Yea i think I will send Uncle Cholly a message.

     
  • Posts: 0 biz

    Vic is way too talented to bat 8th. Too much speed, too much power, too good overall.

     
 
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