Daugherty’s working thesis is that it doesn’t really matter who bats first because — wait for it — that batter may only lead off an inning once in a game! Brilliant!
It is frustrating that someone who gets paid to write about the Reds could write an entire piece and miss the mark so completely.
Let’s try to put this as simply as possible, so there can be no misunderstanding. True, the leadoff hitter is only guaranteed to lead off an inning once per game. However, that same leadoff hitter will always bat before the team’s best hitters. That’s why you want a leadoff hitter with a high on-base percentage. You want a guy who can get on base at a good clip so that the best hitters, the guys who are coming to the plate next, can drive him home.
It has nothing to do with whether the guy leads off an inning.
Sheesh. This shouldn’t be that difficult to understand.
It is true, however, that the importance of that leadoff hitter is routinely overstated. Having a leadoff guy with a high on-base percentage will help to create some number of runs over and above what you’d get with a low-OBP batter at the top of the lineup, but studies have shown that the number isn’t going to equal out to ten wins or anything. Still…shouldn’t the Reds be trying to do everything in their power to maximize their run scoring, even if it’s only an improvement of a few runs over the season?