The latest installment of the John Dewan Stat of the Week, reprinted with permission:
Who can score from the 7-8-9 slots?
June 12, 2008
The Chicago Cubs have the best record in baseball. But here in Chicago the debate continues -- where should Alfonso Soriano bat? It will be a moot point for the next six weeks or so because Soriano broke a bone in his left hand after getting hit by a pitch last night.
The key reason that many folks want to see Soriano bat further down in the lineup is his power. Soriano has a ton of solo home runs, and game leadoff home runs. It's nice to get that 1-0 lead after your first batter of the game, but wouldn't it be nicer if some of those home runs came with men on base?
The Cubs are winning and all things are rosy on the north side of Chicago. People are beginning to lighten up on Soriano. One of the reasons is that the hitters ahead of Soriano are scoring runs, despite the fact that it's the weakest part of the lineup. The average NL team (not counting the Cubs) has scored 66 runs out of their 7, 8 and 9 slots so far this year. The second-best team, the Phillies, have scored 80 runs from their 7-8-9 slots. The Cubs have scored 92. They are scoring almost 50% more runs than the other NL teams from their 7-8-9.
Runs Scored from 7-8-9 Slots
Chicago Cubs 92
Average of other NL teams 66
Even the nine slot is hitting .238 for the Cubs. Compare that to the average pitcher who hits about .140. Counting pinch hitters, double switches, and the Tony La Russa strategy of batting your pitcher eighth, the NL nine hole is averaging a .182 batting average overall.
Over in the AL, only two teams have a higher OPS than the Cubs out of their 7-8-9 slots. The White Sox have the best (.804), the Red Sox No. 2 (.758), and the Cubs have the third best (.756) in all of baseball despite having their pitchers bat.
Source: Baseball Info Solutions (through games of Wednesday, June 11, 2008)
Copyright © 2008 by John Dewan.
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