February 28, 2007

Lo Duca Isn't The Best Choice To Bat 2nd?

Ted Berg at Flushings Fussings (SNY), writes about Paul Lo Duca and how he shouldn't be the number 2 hitter:

While it's hard -- though possible -- to argue with the choice of the speedy Reyes as a leadoff guy and harder to contest the powerful Beltran in the third hole, Lo Duca is clearly the weak link in the top of the order. He performed admirably in the second spot last season and was lauded throughout for the patience he showed with Reyes on base, but in 2007, he's clearly not the best choice for the two hole.

Conventional wisdom puts power hitters in the three through five slots in a Major League lineup, but the depth of the Mets' starting eight should allow Willie to break with said convention. David Wright is likely the best choice to bat second.

Take a look at some of the numbers: Over the past three seasons, Lo Duca's on-base percentage is .342 and .348 with a runner on first. Wright's numbers over those same three seasons are superior -- .375 and .356. And while much has been made of Lo Duca's ability and willingness to take a strike to allow Reyes to steal, the catcher has posted only a .298 OBP in at bats that started with a first-pitch strike. Wright has tallied a .338 mark in the same situations.

The very fact that Wright's OBP is significantly higher than Lo Duca's makes him the better choice. Even if Reyes improves dramatically and gets on base 40 percent of the time, that means that 60 percent of the time, the Mets' No. 2 hitter will be up with none on and one out. Wright has a better chance of getting on in that situation, plus, when he gets on, he's far more likely to steal a base than the slow-footed Lo Duca.

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