Braves Graph of the Week: The Importance of Leadoff Men

Following up on my post from yesterday about the Braves' woes when leading off innings (and their 0-for-9 performance in that situation last night), here is an infographic that shows how these issues have affected the Braves on both sides of the ball:

Braves-leadoff-innings-2011-v2_medium

Click to embiggen.

The Braves have a .206 OBP leading off innings; their opponents have a .375 OBP in that situation.

Fun Facts

  • Pitchers facing the Braves have an 11.05 ERA when the Braves get the leadoff man on, and a 1.16 ERA when they get the leadoff man out. 
  • Braves pitchers have a 6.00 ERA when they allow the leadoff man to reach, and a 1.94 ERA when they get him out.
  • The Braves have gotten more than 3 leadoff men on base in only 1 game this year: against Cliff Lee, of all people.
  • On the other hand, the Braves have allowed more than 3 opposing leadoff men to reach base in half of the games so far.
  • The Braves have not had more leadoff baserunners than their opponents in any of the last 7 games.
  • In 4 of the 12 games, all the runs were scored during innings in which the leadoff man reached base.
  • The Braves have scored at least one run in 54.5% of the innings in which the leadoff man reached base, but only 9.4% of the innings in which he did not.
  • The Braves' opponents have scored at least one run in 43.6% of the inning in which the leadoff man reached base, but only 13.8% of the innings in which he did not.

To be clear, these are super-small sample sizes, and I wouldn't expect most of these numbers to continue. The Braves' leadoff OBP will go up and their opponents' leadoff OBP will go down, most importantly. One trend that should continue, however, is the correlation between getting more leadoff men on and winning. So far, the team with more leadoff baserunners has won 8 of 11 games. I would expect the team with more leadoff men on base to win about 2/3 of the time from here on out.

Another trend that won't keep up is the Braves' extreme efficiency on both sides of the ball after the leadoff man gets on. The Braves' pitchers have been fortunate to escape some very serious jams (thanks in part to having several runners thrown out at the plate), and their hitters have been lucky with runners in scoring position. If the Braves keep struggling to get leadoff men on, they won't score even as many runs as they have been scoring. Similarly, if the Braves' pitchers keep letting opposing leadoff hitters reach base at this rate, they'll give up a lot more runs.

In short, while the Braves have been very unlucky with leadoff hitters so far (hitting and pitching), they have been very lucky after the leadoff hitters get on. With time, the bad luck will even out, but so will the good luck.

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