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Phillies 2013 Preview: Ranking the NL leadoff hitters

I'm supposed to complete all of my stories for our Opening Day preview section and send them to my sports editor today, which means I am just now getting to work on them (hi Chuck!). Because I have spent the last 40 some odd days watching Phillies baseball and talking to Phillies people, it is sometimes difficult to view the team in a greater context. As I noted last week, Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard have both produced tremendous spring trainings, which might lead me to believe that people are selling this lineup short. Except Freddie Freeman and B.J. Upton have both had tremendous spring trainings as well. So have Lucas Duda and Colin Cowgill. And Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Anyway, you get the idea.

I've learned in the past that spring training really doesn't mean anything beyond what your eyes tell you, and because my eyes have seen little beyond the Phillies, it probably is not in my best interest to base much of my prognostication on spring training (except Josh Johnson. He looked awesome and I drafted him way early in my fantasy baseball draft).

So anyway, I am in the process of going position-by-position and lineup-by-lineup in attempt to recalibrate my mind. I figure I might as well provide running updates of my progress.

First up is a look at the leadoff hitters across the National League (this will be followed by No. 3 hitters, No. 4 hitters, No. 5 hitters, No. 2 hitters, No. 6 hitters, No. 7 hitters and No. 8 hitters). I used for projected Opening Day lineups. I then took each player's combined numbers over the previous three seasons and used a simple little formula that I concocted last season that is more intuitive than some of the advanced metrics like WAR that many folks tune out, but more representative of total offensive production than batting average, RBIs and so on. I took the total amount of bases produced by a player (1Bs x 1, BBs x 1, SBs x 1, HBPs x 1, 2Bs x 2, 3Bs x 3, HRs x 4) and divided them by the total number of outs created by the player (PAs - Hs - BBs - HBPs + CS). The result is Bases Created per Out Created. I did not include double plays, and you can argue whether I should have included stolen bases, because both are depended on situations (Should a player be penalized for hitting a ground ball to short stop just because there happened to be a runner on first? Should a player be penalized for not stealing a base because his team holds a lot of big leads?). I decided to include stolen bases because I wanted to include caught stealings, because caught stealings most definitely results in an out. I based everything on outs because the whole goal of baseball is not to make an out, because you only get 27 of them.

Anyway, if you are still following me, here is a ranking of projected leadoff hitters based on the bases-per-out they create, using a three-year sample size.

  1. Shin-Soo-Choo, Reds: .851

  2. Dexter Fowler, Rockies: .788

  3. Norichika Aoki, Brewers: .777

  4. Carl Crawford, Dodgers: .755

  5.  Angel Pagan, Giants: .727

  6. David DeJesus, Cubs: .703

  7. Jon Jay, Cardinals: .695

  8. Andrelton Simmons, Braves: .686

  9. Starling Marte, Pirates: .684

  10. Gerrardo Parra, Diamondbacks: .681

  11. Jordany Valdespin, Mets: .662

  12. Denard Span, Nationals: .655

  13. Everth Cabrera, Padres: .608

  14. Juan Pierre, Marlins: .608

  15. Ben Revere, Phillies: .584

Yes, I used Revere as the leadoff hitter, mostly because that is what Charlie Manuel has been doing lately. If we did not include caught stealings and just divided total bases created by plate appearances, Revere would still rank at the bottom. This does not factor in base running, so you'll have to eyeball how much Revere's speed means once he gets on base. Also, the sample size is pretty small for guys like Marte and Simmons. And Revere's OBP improved last season, so you also have to eyeball progression against regression. But those are the numbers.