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Baseball Strategy:Who to Bat Leadoff

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Rules and Exceptions

Rule 1: Traditionally a team's fastest hitter bats leadoff, however, the ability to get on base supersedes the speed factor. Being an above average baserunner is more important than the ability to steal a base. A good baserunner is more important than the actual ability to steal, as this allows him to make things happen on the basepaths. A fast runner with a low OBP, such as Vince Coleman, is not effective as a leadoff hitter unless you have a second place hitter to "pick him up", meaning he acts as a lead off hitter himself.

Examples: Jose Reyes, Scott Podsednik, Joey Gathright, Ichiro Suzuki, Rickey Henderson

Rule 2: Modern day thinking has brought about a new type of leadoff hitter. These days managers realize that the job of a leadoff hitter is to get the game going by getting on base. Speed does a team no good from the bench. Guys who take a lot of walks also work because they make the starter throw more pitches.

Examples: Brady Clark, Kevin Youkilis, Brad Wilkerson, Jason Kendall

Rule 3: Hitting for power has traditionally not been a crucial skill for leadoff hitters, because it's relatively rare for them to come to the plate with runners on base. However, there are a few leadoff hitters who are capable of putting up strong power numbers.

Examples: Craig Biggio, Hanley Ramirez

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