Nate McLouth singled to lead off the game against R.A. Dickey on Tuesday, prompting Tim to comment how well the Orioles leadoff hitters – Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth – are doing in getting on base at the start of a game.
The numbers back that up.
Orioles leadoff hitters have an OBP of .450 in 20 games this season with a batting average of .389. That works out to seven hits and two walks in twenty plate appearances. Markakis has three hits in seven plate appearances while McLouth has collected four hits and two walks in thirteen plate appearances leading off a game. Nate is also responsible for the duo’s only extra base hit – a double off of Phil Hughes in New York on April 13th.
Perhaps most importantly, the pair of O’s leadoff hitters have scored four times in the nine times they have reached base in the first at bat of the game this season.
I don’t believe there is anything extra special about the first batter of the game reaching base or scoring a first inning run except that it does set a positive offensive tone for the game. When the first batter of the game reaches base the opposing starter has to pitch out of the stretch immediately and in a slightly higher pressure situation for the rest of the inning. I am not sure getting the first batter of the game on has a monumental impact from a run scoring standpoint but it surely does not hurt. If nothing else, extra pressure is applied to the opposition right from the start and it is another run scoring opportunity for the Orioles.
For whatever it is worth, the 2012 Orioles had 38 hits and 12 walks in 162 plate appearances leading off a game last season. That works out to a .257 batting average and a .313 OBP. The Orioles got the leadoff batter on to start the game only 51 times in 2012. In 2013, they are on a pace for the leadoff batter to reach at the start of the game 73 times.