The Arizona Diamondbacks’ offense was terrific in 2015. Their 720 runs were the second-most in the National League, behind only the Colorado Rockies’ 737.
As good as Arizona’s offense was, it could be better in 2016.
Yes, you read that right.
In this case it might be by exploring where first baseman Paul Goldschmidt hits in the batting order.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark uncovered this stat for a story discussing where the Pittsburgh Pirates might hit Andrew McCutchen.
That shows slightly under 24 percent of Goldschmidt’s plate appearances came with two outs and no one on base. He hit third in 147 games and fourth in 10.
In front of Goldschmidt typically were Ender Inciarte and A.J. Pollock, plus a mashup of other players.
The Diamondbacks OBP in the leadoff slot was .338, .10 percent above league average.
The Diamondbacks OBP in the two-hole was .324, .08 percent below league average.
While his power receives the majority of his notoriety, the aspect of Goldschmidt that probably brings the most value is he gets on base in more than 40 percent of his plate appearances.
While conventional wisdom tells you to hit someone like him third or fourth, doesn’t it make most sense to hit him second or even first to maximize the amount of plate appearances he has with the least amount of outs?
In the 101 games Inciarte hit leadoff he averaged 4.65 plate appearances per game. If you extrapolated that to 162 games it would be 753 plate appearances.
In the 147 games Goldschmidt hit third he averaged 4.42 plate appearances per game. That difference doesn’t seem like a lot, but over 162 games it would equal out to 716 plate appearances. That’s 37 extra times you could get your best player up over the course of a season by hitting him first rather than third and you’d also guarantee 162 at bats of him coming to the plate with zero outs.
For a team said to be considering something as unique as hitting a pitcher eighth regularly, are they actually looking in the wrong spot to be creative?
Whether Goldschmidt is accumulating runs scored or RBI, it doesn’t really make a difference. The goal is to score the most runs possible and hitting Goldschmidt higher in the lineup would help that.
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