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The Dreaded Leadoff Walk

July 12, 2011

How often does the dreaded leadoff walk score?

Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone are the announcers for the White Sox television broadcasts here in Chicago. They are excellent together. One of my favorite moments happens regularly. It's Hawk lamenting, "Oh's the dreaded leadoff walk."

How dreaded is the leadoff walk? Is it more dreaded than the leadoff single, for example? When a pitcher walks the first batter is it a bigger omen of problems than giving up a single? Let's take a dip into the Baseball Info Solutions database to see what it has to say.

How often does the leadoff walk score? Going back 10 years, it's 38 percent of the time. Not good (for the pitcher). How many runs score in the inning, on average, after the leadoff walk? .905 runs. That's an 8.15 ERA, assuming all the runs would be earned.

So, when a pitcher gives up a leadoff walk in an inning, his ERA is, in essence, 8.15. Very bad. Very bad, indeed. (Note: this assumes the pitcher stays in for the whole inning and all the runs are earned.)

Is a leadoff walk worse than a leadoff single? Nope. They're the same. Leadoff singles score 38 percent of the time, same as leadoff walks. The average number of runs are the same too, .902 runs per inning after a leadoff single.

Here's a shout-out to my good friend, Mike Murphy. Murph and I did Stat of the Week together on the radio for 20 years here in Chicago. After some time off the air, Murph can be heard again on ESPN radio (AM 1000) here in Chicago on Sunday mornings from 9am to 1pm. Murph is back together with his old sidekick, Fred Huebner. If you tune in, you might even hear me once in a while!


COMMENTS (1 Comment)

Beautiful, short & sweet analysis on a well known piece of erroneous 'conventional wisdom'.
7:04 AM Aug 17th
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