Was Ichiro Suzuki a great leadoff man during the 2001-3 seasons?

 

by Cyril Morong

 

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No. From 2001-3, Ichiro Suzuki had an OBP of .374. He averaged 41.44 stolen bases (SBs) per 162 games with 12.67 caught stealing (CS). Using the linear weights run values (invented by Pete Palmer) from the new Baseball Encyclopedia of .22 for a SB and -.38 for a CS, that works out to 4.3 BSR (base stealing runs). This would account for less than half a win per season. In my opinion, the data does not warrant calling him a great leadoff man over this time period. Others may call him great based on this evidence. But I think it is reasonable to say he was not great.

 

As of Sept. 11, 2004, his OBP was .414 with 34 SB and just 10 CS. Three or four years of this would make him a great leadoff hitter. Now he has probably been the best leadoff man these past 4 years, but when we look at the last 20 years or so later, he will not look so great. And being a leadoff man is not specialized in the way catching or playing SS is. Many players could leadoff without being a big detriment to their team. This is not true for catching or SS.

 

I show that his base stealing is only good compared to other players. I show that his OBP is good, but not great compared to other players. I created a "leadoff index" that ranks him high but not nearly as high as others. His extra bases per plate appearance and adjusted OPS are also not extraordinary. Five different leadoff men, from 1980-2002 had seasons with an Offensive winning percentage of 50 or more points greater than the one that Suzuki had in 2001. In total, 37 higher. There were 15 cases in the same time period of leadoff men having more BSR, a higher adjusted OPS and a higher OBP relative to the league average in a season than Suzuki did in 2001 ((3 non-leadoff men also accomplished this). Most of this I show in tables at the end of this paper. The 2001 Mariners would have scored just 5 fewer runs if Olerud had been their leadoff man (based on a simulation).

 

In the course of analyzing Suzuki, I compare him to some other leadoff men. If you think I left any important leadoff men out, please let me know.

 

 

Was he a great leadoff man from 2001-3?

 

He ranked 10th, 14th and 30th in OBP in the AL, respectively, over the past three seasons. In 2002, with a .388 OBP (his highest of the three seasons), he was about 17% above the league average. Since 1960, this would rank him 349th for batting title qualifiers (in non-DH years or leagues, each player got compared to non-pitchers). I used the Lee Sinins Sabermetric Encyclopedia.

 

He would rank 127th all-time in OBP relative to the league average, if compared to all players with 5000 or more plate appearances. How does he compare to some well-known leadoff men? (again, many leadoff men are left out)

 

 

Player

Ratio

Henderson

1.207

Bishop

1.782

Huggins

1.168

Ashburn

1.168

Hack

1.162

Raines

1.156

Rose

1.143

Butler

1.142

Yost

1.142

Dykstra

1.133

Suzuki

1.123

 

 

Henderson was 20.7% above the league average. I did not check all leadoff men in history. Just some that I knew batted leadoff fairly often. Some players here did sometimes bat in other positions. Again, this is relative to non-pitchers. In the case of Suzuki and Henderson, their league average gets raised because the DH is a little better than the average hitter in OBP. But I think this effect will be slight after checking a few years on Retrosheet (where I was able to check if some guys actually did leadoff).

 

In BSR, I ranked every player with at least 50 SBs from 1980-2002. Vince Coleman had the best, in 1986, with 18.22 (107 SBs, 14 CS). There were seven seasons of 14 or more, twice what Suzuki had in 2001, which was 7 (56 SBs, 14 CS). In this group, Suzukiís 7 BSR were the 71st highest total.

 

I also looked at some select leadoff men in selected seasons from 1980 on and how they did in individual season. These included Boggs, Henderson, Raines, Butler, Molitor, and Dykstra. In most years for these players, at least 75% of their at-bats (ABs) were leading off. None were less than 33% (I did a rough estimate while going through Retrosheet). A season where Boggs, for example, had less than 33% of his ABs leading off was not included. Total of 42 seasons, so many leadoff hitters are not included in the ranking or comparisons.

 

I found at 28 seasons (with 300+ ABs) that had an OBP of .400 or higher, something Suzuki did not do before 2004. Just from these players, there were 40 seasons better than Suzukiís .381 of 2001. I also counted 9 seasons of .420 or more by players who had at least 75% of their ABs leading off.

 

I also looked at adjusted OPS. OPS is OBP + slugging percentage (SLG). Adjusted OPS is relative to the league average and takes park effects into account. Suzuki had 128 in 2001. It is 31st among these 42 seasons. There were 9 seasons of 150 or more, with the highest being Henderson at 190 in 1990. He was almost exclusively a leadoff man. He had 5 seasons better than 150.

 

The three seasons where Raines had over 90% of his ABs leading off he had adjusted OPS of 155, 134, and 129. All better than what Suzuki had in 2001.

 

Dykstra had 3 seasons with an OBP over .400. His two best adjusted OPS years were 144 and 137, both better than Suzuki in 2001 (128).

 

Molitor in 1987 had an OBP of .438 and an adjusted OPS of 159, both well above Suzukiís 2001 numbers. Molitor also had 6.1 BSR, close to Suzukiís 7 of 2001.

 

Boggs in 1989 had 80% of his ABs leading off. His OBP was .430. His adjusted OPS was 141. In 1991, he had 77.7% of his ABs leading off. He a .421 OBP and a 138 adjusted OPS. In both years his OBP and adjusted OPS were well above Suzukiís .381 and 128 of 2001. It is true that Suzuki scored a greater percentage of the time he reached base (due to his speed and stealing). But that partly depends on the hitters who follow you. The 1989 Red Sox batted .277 and slugged .403. In 1991, they had .269 and .401. The Mariners in 2001 batted .288 and slugged .445. So Suzuki had some help there.

 

Brett Butler went over .400 in OBP 3 times. He even had two seasons above 128 in adjusted OPS, what Suzuki had in 2001. Butler had seasons of 133 and 131.

 

In 2001, Suzuki had an OBP of .381 and 7 BSR. His OBP was 14% above the league average. Henderson had 9 seasons where he had both an OBP that was at least 20% better than the league average and more BSR than Suzuki had in 2001. In fact, Henderson had 2 seasons that more than doubled 7 BSR. In 1983 he had 16.54 while having an OBP 26.2% above the league average. In 1988 he had 15.52 BSR while his OBP was 21.6% above the league average.

 

In those three seasons where Raines had over 90% of his ABs leading off, he had the following BSR and relative OBP combinations: 11.98/23.4%, 14.48/18.4%, and 11.44/19.2%. Again, all much better than Suzuki had in 2001.

 

When it comes to great leadoff men, Henderson and Raines raised the bar very high. Only in 2004 is Ichiro Suzuki even approaching their achievements. During the 2001-3 seasons he did not achieve greatness in stealing or in getting on base. This is especially true when you look at some of the seasons by the others as well (Boggs, Dykstra, Molitor, Butler)

 

I almost forgot Craig Biggio. From 1996-2000, 72.3% of his ABs were leading off. His OBP was .389 over the whole period (Suzuki had .374 from 2001-3). Biggio averaged about 4 BSR per season, close to what Suzuki did over 2001-3. He had two seasons with an adjusted OPS in the 140s. His adjusted OPS over the 5 years was 123.4, close to Suzukiís best season of 128 in 2001. In 1998, he had an OPB of .403 with 7.96 BSR and an adjusted OPS of 141. All better than Suzuki in 2001.

 

Kenny Lofton: In 1993, he had 10.1 BSR and his OBP (.408) was 21% above the league average. In 1994, he had 8.64 BSR and his OBP (.412) was 19.4% above the league average and his adjusted OPS was 143.

 

Chuck Knoblauch: In 1995, his OBP (.424) was 23.3% above the league average and his adjusted OPS was 137. In 1996, his OBP (.448) was 28% above the league average and his adjusted OPS was 142. In 1997, he had 9.84 BSR and his OBP (.390) was 15% above the league.(Again, Suzuki in 2001 had 7 BSR, and adjusted OPS of 128 and his OBP was 14.1% above the league average).

 

Has Suzuki been hurt by Safeco Field in OBP? Here are his OBPs for the three seasons:

 

home/road OBP

 

379/384

372/403

366/338

 

The simple average for home games is .372 and for road games it is .375. In 2002, the OBP in games at Safeco by all hitters was .328 (just a simple average of what the Mariner hitters got and the pitchers allowed). So his home OBP of .372 was 13.4% above that. In Mariner road games, the OBP was .335. His .403 is 20.3% above that. The average of those two is 16.85% better than average.Earlier I said his .388 in 2002 was 17% better than the league average and that this would be the 349th best year since 1960 for qualifiers.

 

In fact, here are the top 40 hitters in OBP from 2000-2002 with 1000 or more plate appearances. Suzuki would rank 38th if we gave him a .382 OBP (I would have used 2001-03, but my Sabermetric encyclopedia only goes up through 2002). Suzukiís rank of 34 shown below only includes his 2001-2 seasons.

 

1††† Barry Bonds††††††††††††††† .512††

2††† Jason Giambi†††††††††††††† .462††

3††† Todd Helton††††††††††††††† .441††

4††† Manny Ramirez††††††††††††† .435

5††† Larry Walker†††††††††††††† .429††

6††† Carlos Delgado†††††††††††† .429††

7††† Brian Giles††††††††††††††† .428††

8††† Chipper Jones††††††††††††† .422††

9††† Gary Sheffield†††††††††††† .420††

10†† Jim Thome††††††††††††††††† .419††

11†† Edgar Martinez†††††††††††† .418††

12†† Sammy Sosa†††††††††††††††† .415††

13†† Jim Edmonds††††††††††††††† .414††

14†† Lance Berkman††††††††††††† .411††

15†† Jeff Bagwell†††††††††††††† .408††

16†† Bobby Abreu††††††††††††††† .407††

17†† Luis Gonzalez††††††††††† ††.407††

18†† Alex Rodriguez†††††††††††† .403††

19†† Vladimir Guerrero††††††††† .402††

20†† Bernie Williams††††††††††† .401††

21†† Mike Sweeney†††††††††††††† .399††

22†† John Olerud††††††††††††††† .399††

23†† Albert Pujols††††††††††††† .399††

24†† Frank Thomas†††††††††††††† .396††

25†† Rafael Palmeiro††††††††††† .389††

26†† David Segui††††††††††††††† .389††

27†† Ryan Klesko††††††††††††††† .388††

28†† Derek Jeter††††††††††††††† .388††

29†† Nomar Garciaparra††††††††† .388††

30†† Jeff Kent††††††† ††††††††††.387††

31†† J.D. Drew††††††††††††††††† .387††

32†† Cliff Floyd††††††††††††††† .386††

33†† Jeremy Giambi††††††††††††† .385††

34†† Ichiro Suzuki††††††††††††† .385††

35†† Tim Salmon†††††††††††††††† .384††

36†† Jorge Posada†††††††††††††† .384

37†† Edgardo Alfonzo††††††††††† .383††

38†† Moises Alou††††††††††††††† .383††

39†† Ellis Burks††††††††††††††† .381††

40†† Mark Grace†††††††††††††††† .381

 

What about comparing Suzuki to all those ďselectĒ leadoff men I mentioned? I do so in the table below.

 

Rank

Player

Freq

YEAR

PA

SB

CS

OBP

BSR

ADD BB

OBP INC

ADJ OBP

LG AVG

Index

1

Boggs

33

1988

719

2

3

0.476

-0.7

-1.21

-0.002

0.474

0.324

1.464

2

Henderson

75

1990

592

65

10

0.439

10.5

18.10

0.031

0.470

0.327

1.436

3

Henderson

75

1983

621

108

19

0.414

16.5

28.52

0.046

0.460

0.328

1.402

4

Henderson

75

1985

654

80

10

0.419

13.8

23.79

0.036

0.455

0.327

1.393

5

Molitor

75

1987

537

45

10

0.438

6.1

10.52

0.020

0.458

0.333

1.374

6

Henderson

75

1992

500

48

11

0.426

6.38

11.00

0.022

0.448

0.328

1.366

7

Boggs

33

1986

689

0

4

0.453

-1.52

-2.62

-0.004

0.449

0.330

1.361

8

Raines

75

1981

363

71

11

0.391

11.4

19.72

0.054

0.445

0.328

1.358

9

Henderson

75

1980

716

100

26

0.420

12.1

20.90

0.029

0.449

0.331

1.357

10

Henderson

75

1993

609

53

8

0.432

8.62

14.86

0.024

0.456

0.337

1.354

11

Henderson

75

1989

674

77

14

0.411

11.6

20.03

0.030

0.441

0.326

1.352

12

Henderson

75

1988

644

93

13

0.394

15.5

26.76

0.042

0.436

0.324

1.344

13

Henderson

75

1987

440

41

8

0.423

5.98

10.31

0.023

0.446

0.333

1.341

14

Raines

33

1987

627

50

5

0.429

9.1

15.69

0.025

0.454

0.339

1.339

15

Raines

33

1986

663

70

9

0.413

12

20.66

0.031

0.444

0.332

1.338

16

Raines

75

1985

662

70

9

0.405

12

20.66

0.031

0.436

0.328

1.330

17

Henderson

75

1982

656

130

42

0.398

12.6

21.79

0.033

0.431

0.328

1.315

18

Henderson

75

1981

493

56

22

0.408

3.96

6.83

0.014

0.422

0.321

1.314

19

Boggs

75

1989

742

2

6

0.430

-1.84

-3.17

-0.004

0.426

0.326

1.306

20

Dykstra

75

1990

689

33

5

0.418

5.36

9.24

0.013

0.431

0.331

1.303

21

Henderson

75

1984

596

66

18

0.399

7.68

13.24

0.022

0.421

0.326

1.292

22

Raines

33

1984

715

75

10

0.393

12.7

21.90

0.031

0.424

0.328

1.292

23

Raines

75

1983

718

90

14

0.393

14.5

24.97

0.035

0.428

0.332

1.288

24

Butler

33

1992

652

41

21

0.413

1.04

1.79

0.003

0.416

0.325

1.279

25

Raines

75

1989

618

41

9

0.395

5.6

9.66

0.016

0.411

0.321

1.279

26

Boggs

75

1991

641

1

2

0.421

-0.54

-0.93

-0.001

0.420

0.329

1.275

27

Dykstra

75

1993

773

37

12

0.420

3.58

6.17

0.008

0.428

0.336

1.274

28

Henderson

75

1991

578

58

18

0.400

5.92

10.21

0.018

0.418

0.329

1.269

29

Boggs

75

1984

718

3

2

0.407

-0.1

-0.17

0.000

0.407

0.326

1.248

30

Butler

75

1988

671

43

20

0.393

1.86

3.21

0.005

0.398

0.320

1.243

31

Butler

75

1994

489

27

8

0.411

2.9

5.00

0.010

0.421

0.342

1.232

32

Henderson

75

1996

602

37

15

0.410

2.44

4.21

0.007

0.417

0.339

1.230

33

Butler

75

1990

725

51

19

0.397

4

6.90

0.010

0.407

0.331

1.228

34

Molitor

75

1991

749

19

8

0.399

1.14

1.97

0.003

0.402

0.329

1.221

35

Suzuki

75

2001

734

56

14

0.391

7

12.07

0.016

0.407

0.334

1.218

36

Butler

75

1991

726

38

28

0.401

-2.28

-3.93

-0.005

0.396

0.325

1.217

37

Henderson

75

1995

486

32

10

0.407

3.24

5.59

0.011

0.418

0.344

1.217

38

Butler

75

1987

616

33

16

0.399

1.18

2.03

0.003

0.402

0.333

1.208

39

Dykstra

75

1994

386

15

4

0.404

1.78

3.07

0.008

0.412

0.342

1.205

40

Boggs

33

1995

541

1

1

0.412

-0.16

-0.28

-0.001

0.411

0.344

1.196

41

Boggs

33

1990

713

0

0

0.386

0

0.00

0.000

0.386

0.327

1.180

42

Boggs

33

1992

598

1

3

0.353

-0.92

-1.59

-0.003

0.350

0.328

1.068

Freq means how frequently the guy batted leadoff. 33 means at least 33% of the time and 75 means at least 75% of the time. I calculated how many additional walks a guy would have to get to equal the run value of his SB and CS (the BSR). I assumed that he could change outs into walks, so that an added walk has a value of .33 and one less out means you donít get a -.25, so you add another .25 (using the linear weights values from Pete Palmer). So you add .58 for each additional walk. I added enough walks so that the increased run value from those walks would equal each guyís BSR (see the ADD BB column). Then I figured how much those walks would increase his OBP (see OBP INC). The new OBP is the ADJ OBP column.

 

For Suzuki, you will notice that he has a .391 OBP for 2001, higher than what he really had. I adjusted it upwards to reflect his lower OBP at home in Safeco Field.

 

Then I divided each guyís adjusted OBP by the league OBP (for National League hitters, I used non-pitchers only to get the average, thanks again to the Lee Sinins Sabermetric Encyclopedia). That number is called the INDEX. Then I ranked them. Suzuki is 35th among these 42 leadoff men, which of course does not include all leadoff men from 1980-2003. The average index was 1.29, so he was well below that in 2001. Now most of these guys did not get much help from their home parks (Boggs is the exception). If they did, please let me know.

 

I also looked at how many extra-bases these guys got on 2Bs, 3Bs, and HRs per PA. I did this because a leadoff man does not just have to get himself on, but get into scoring position.

 

Rank

Player

YEAR

XB per PA

1

Henderson

1990

0.208

2

Molitor

1987

0.184

3

Henderson

1985

0.168

4

Henderson

1987

0.168

5

Raines

1987

0.166

6

Dykstra

1993

0.146

7

Henderson

1993

0.146

8

Molitor

1991

0.146

9

Henderson

1984

0.139

10

Henderson

1992

0.138

11

Raines

1985

0.134

12

Dykstra

1994

0.132

13

Henderson

1991

0.126

14

Raines

1986

0.124

15

Henderson

1995

0.123

16

Raines

1981

0.116

17

Raines

1983

0.113

18

Butler

1994

0.112

19

Raines

1984

0.112

20

Butler

1987

0.110

21

Raines

1989

0.110

22

Boggs

1991

0.109

23

Boggs

1986

0.109

24

Henderson

1983

0.106

25

Henderson

1981

0.101

26

Boggs

1990

0.101

27

Henderson

1989

0.101

28

Suzuki

2001

0.101

29

Boggs

1988

0.100

30

Boggs

1989

0.100

31

Dykstra

1990

0.099

32

Henderson

1982

0.095

33

Butler

1988

0.094

34

Boggs

1992

0.085

35

Boggs

1995

0.083

36

Henderson

1988

0.081

37

Henderson

1996

0.080

38

Henderson

1980

0.080

39

Boggs

1984

0.079

40

Butler

1992

0.069

41

Butler

1990

0.065

42

Butler

1991

0.040

Notice again that Suzuki ranks in the bottom half. The average was .114 for these guys, so Suzuki was below average. A surprise, considering how fast he is and all the room in the outfield at Safeco.

 

Here is a ranking of adjusted OPS. Suzuki ranks 31.

 

Rank

Player

YEAR

ADJ OPS

1

Henderson

1990

190

2

Boggs

1988

165

3

Molitor

1987

159

4

Henderson

1985

159

5

Boggs

1986

156

6

Henderson

1992

156

7

Raines

1985

155

8

Henderson

1981

152

9

Henderson

1993

150

10

Raines

1987

148

11

Molitor

1991

148

12

Henderson

1984

147

13

Raines

1986

146

14

Henderson

1987

144

15

Dykstra

1993

144

16

Boggs

1989

141

17

Raines

1984

140

18

Henderson

1983

139

19

Boggs

1991

138

20

Dykstra

1990

137

21

Henderson

1980

136

22

Henderson

1991

136

23

Butler

1988

134

24

Raines

1981

134

25

Butler

1994

133

26

Henderson

1989

133

27

Raines

1989

132

28

Butler

1992

131

29

Henderson

1995

130

30

Raines

1983

129

31

Suzuki

2001

128

32

Henderson

1988

125

33

Boggs

1984

123

34

Butler

1990

122

35

Henderson

1982

121

36

Boggs

1995

120

37

Boggs

1990

120

38

Butler

1987

119

39

Dykstra

1994

116

40

Butler

1991

114

41

Henderson

1996

108

42

Boggs

1992

94

 

The table below shows all leadoff men from 1980-2002 who had a higher Offensive Winning Percentage (OWP) than Suzuki had in 2001 (.687). Offensive winning percentage tells us what winning percentage a team would have if all 9 batters were just like the one in question and the team gave up an average number of runs. It is a stat invented by Bill James. It takes stealing into account. The OWPs here come from the Lee Sinins Sabermetric Encyclopedia, so they are park adjusted. LO AB is the number of leadoff at-bats a guy gets. Leadoff % was the percent of their at-bats that were leadoff. I could not find what percentage of at-bats were leadoff for Henderson, Dykstra and Lofton in 1993. But it is likely that they batted leadoff most of the time. The number with a star is how many at-bats they had actually leading off an inning (from the 1994 Great American Baseball Stat Book). Leadoff at-bats from some players came from Retrosheet. Others came from various version of the STATS, INC Player Profiles books.

 

There were 33 cases of a higher OWP than .687 for guys who had at least 50% of their at-bats leading off. There were 15 seasons with an OWP 50 or more points above Suzukiís 2001 OWP of .687. Five different players achieved this.

 

Rank

Player

YEAR

OWP

LO AB

Other AB

Leadoff %

1

Rickey Henderson

1990

0.859

485

4

99.18

2

Rickey Henderson

1985

0.807

546

1

99.82

3

Paul Molitor

1987

0.790

425

40

91.40

4

Tim Raines

1985

0.777

567

8

98.61

5

Tim Raines

1986

0.773

288

292

49.66

6

Wade Boggs

1986

0.770

214

366

36.90

7

Wade Boggs

1988

0.767

349

235

59.76

8

Rickey Henderson

1993

0.760

185*

 

 

9

Tim Raines

1984

0.757

362

260

58.20

10

Craig Biggio

1997

0.753

614

5

99.19

11

Tim Raines

1987

0.744

219

311

41.32

12

Rickey Henderson

1981

0.742

422

1

99.76

13

Rickey Henderson

1984

0.737

500

2

99.60

14

Rickey Henderson

1983

0.732

505

9

98.25

15

Brady Anderson

1996

0.731

402

177

69.43

16

Tim Raines

1981

0.731

313

0

100.00

17

Craig Biggio

1994

0.727

150

287

34.32

18

Lenny Dykstra

1990

0.726

588

2

99.66

19

Rickey Henderson

1980

0.725

591

0

100.00

20

Kal Daniels

1990

0.723

156

339

31.52

21

Rickey Henderson

1988

0.720

553

1

99.82

22

Chuck Knoblauch

1996

0.716

577

1

99.83

23

Kenny Lofton

1994

0.716

458

1

99.78

24

Lenny Dykstra

1993

0.714

260*

 

 

25

Willie Randolph

1980

0.714

513

0

100.00

26

Brett Butler

1994

0.712

354

63

84.89

27

Craig Biggio

1998

0.709

644

2

99.69

28

Darin Erstad

2000

0.704

675

1

99.85

29

Kenny Lofton

1993

0.704

227*

 

 

30

Paul Molitor

1991

0.700

652

13

98.05

31

Rickey Henderson

1989

0.699

539

2

99.63

32

Wade Boggs

1989

0.699

497

124

80.03

33

Rickey Henderson

1991

0.698

464

6

98.72

34

Tim Raines

1983

0.692

604

11

98.21

35

Tim Raines

1992

0.692

345

206

62.61

36

Wade Boggs

1991

0.691

353

266

57.03

37

Brett Butler

1988

0.690

566

2

99.65

38

Ichiro Suzuki

2001

0.687

685

7

98.99

 

In the table below are the cased of seasons in which leadoff men bested all three of the following by Suzuki in 2001: His BSR of 7, his adjusted OPS of 128 and his OBP relative to the league average of 1.14.

 

Player

YEAR

SB

CS

BSR

ADJ OPS

OBP

LG OBP

Rel OBP

Rickey Henderson

1983

108

19

16.54

139

0.414

0.326

1.27

Tim Raines

1983

90

14

14.48

129

0.393

0.332

1.18

Rickey Henderson

1985

80

10

13.80

159

0.419

0.324

1.29

Tim Raines

1984

75

10

12.70

140

0.393

0.328

1.20

Rickey Henderson

1980

100

26

12.12

136

0.42

0.328

1.28

Tim Raines

1985

70

9

11.98

155

0.405

0.328

1.23

Tim Raines

1986

70

9

11.98

146

0.413

0.332

1.24

Rickey Henderson

1989

77

14

11.62

133

0.411

0.326

1.26

Tim Raines

1981

71

11

11.44

134

0.391

0.328

1.19

Rickey Henderson

1990

65

10

10.50

190

0.439

0.327

1.34

Tim Raines

1987

50

5

9.10

148

0.429

0.339

1.27

Kenny Lofton

1994

60

12

8.64

143

0.412

0.331

1.24

Rickey Henderson

1993

53

8

8.62

150

0.432

0.337

1.28

Craig Biggio

1998

50

8

7.96

141

0.403

0.339

1.19

Rickey Henderson

1984

66

18

7.68

147

0.399

0.327

1.22

Ichiro Suzuki

2001

56

14

7.00

128

0.381

0.334

1.14

 

There were also three non-leadoff men since 1980 who topped Suzuki in all three of BSR, ADJ OPS and Rel OBP. Eric Davis (1987) had 8.72, 1.177 and 152. Tony Gwynn (1987) had 7.76, 1.32 and 160. Barry Larkin (1995) had 9.32, 1.159 and 133. Again, the league average OBP was for non-pitchers.

 

Finally, I also ran a simulation of the 2001 Mariners Lineup with Suzuki batting first and then again with John Olerud batting first instead of Suzuki (I used the Star Simulator).

 

The Mariners with Suzuki batting first scored 921 runs per 162 games (162,000 games played). Suzuki hit .350 with a .378 OBP and a .457 SLG, very close to his real numbers. He stole 61 bases and was caught 15 times. He scored 134 runs, 7 more than in real life, but only 3 more per 162 games. The Mariners in real life scored 927 runs, so the simulation worked well for them. The simulated Mariners hit .292 with a.362 OBP and a .458 SLG. The real numbers were .288-.360-.445. Their lineup was

†††††††

Ichiro Suzuki

Mark McLemore

Bret Boone†††

Edgar Martinez

John Olerud††

Mike Cameron

Dan Wilson†††

Carlos Guillen

David Bell†††

When Olerudreplaced Suzuki as leadoff man (and batted 5th as well), the Mariners scored 916 runs, just a little less than with Suzuki. Olerud batted .302 with a .401 OBP and a .470 SLG. 4 SB and 1 CS. The Mariners still batted .287 with a .460 SLG. But their OBP went up to .365. The 5th place Olerud had similar numbers to the leadoff Olerud.

 

So why would Suzuki be a great leadoff man if he could only add 5 runs above what you could get with John Olerud?


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