How often does a leadoff man come up with no one on base?

February 18, 2009

How often does a leadoff man come up with no one on base? 67% of the time. Or conversely, 33% of the time with at least one man on base. Overall, MLB hitters come up with at least one man on base about 45% of the time. Here's the breakdown by lineup position:

Order Slot
Percentage of Time
At Least One Man on Base
1 33%
2 43
3 48
4 50
5 48
6 46
7 46
8 46
9 45

In the forthcoming Bill James Gold Mine 2009, we take the Florida Marlins' star shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, and ask how many runs he would have driven in last year if he hadn’t been hitting leadoff.

The answer? About 112. The number of runs a player can be expected to drive in can be estimated by dividing his total bases by four, and adding his home runs. The majority of major league regulars last year were within 10% of the RBI estimated by that formula, and more than 80% were within 20%.

Hanley was the majors' #1 “RBI under-achiever”, by far, driving in 67 against an expectation of 112.5 (-45.5). No other major league player was off his estimate, high or low, by more than 31 runs.

Ramirez had over 400 at-bats with the bases empty.



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