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Hitting Alex Gordon Leadoff: A Worthwhile Idea

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After another dalliance with the oh so irresistible Chris Getz, Ned Yost returned Alex Gordon to the leadoff spot this week. For all the criticism I've leveled at Yost it would only be fair to praise him for making a nice move, which he has done here.

Gordon is one of the Royals best hitters overall, and is a good, if unorthodox option in the leadoff spot. Gordon gets on base (.368 OBP) better than anyone in the lineup save Butler, who for aesthetic reasons is not a true option.

Split stats based on lineup position are really really really really useless. That being said, as with player v team splits (also complete garbage) they sometimes get used to justify decisions. In this case, Yost has no excuse to use them to move Gordon out of leadoff. Alex has hit very well leading off this season:

Split PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS
Batting 1st 159 6 .298 .371 .496 .868
Batting 3rd 230 5 .293 .357 .462 .818
Batting 4th 37 0 .344 .432 .438 .870
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2011.

 

(Now, one quibble is that Gordon has been 1-5 in steal attempts while leading off. Stop sending him!)

Chris Getz is a hard worker and I'm sure everyone just loves him, but being fast just isn't enough to justify hitting him in front of the Royals most productive hitters. He has a .314 OBP. Bottom line.

While batting order politics is more interesting than important, given that the differences in the long run are fairly small, Yost deserves credit for thinking creatively here. One of the frustrating things about the Dayton Moore Royals (and about 80% of other teams) is the tendency to think about roster construction in traditional, almost movie casting ways. Player X should lead off because he's fast and plays CF. Player Y hits cleanup because he's our free agent signing and you don't get paid $10 million to hit second,etc.

So kudos to the Royals to coming back to an idea they never should have abandoned in the first place.