In case you don’t remember, the Orioles used eight players to bat in the leadoff spot this year. They had varying degrees of success in the role and Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth were the only two players to start more than 20 games in that spot in the order.
A lot of you would probably get this question wrong. Among players with more than three starts batting leadoff, which player produced the best winning percentage in his starts there?
If you guessed Endy Chavez, you get a gold star, since the Orioles won 13 of his 20 starts when he hit leadoff for a win percentage of .650. But Chavez hit just .149 when he batted first, so maybe he didn’t play a big role in those wins.
Ranking O’s leadoff hitters by winning percentage:
1.000 - Ryan Flaherty (3-0)
.650 - Endy Chavez (13-7)
.635 - Nate McLouth (14-8)
.611 - Nick Markakis (33-21)
.588 - Robert Andino (10-7)
.571 - Nolan Reimold (8-6)
.412 - Brian Roberts (7-10)
.333 - Xavier Avery (5-10)
Here are the players’ stats only when they batted leadoff, listing batting average/slugging percentage/OPS:
Nick Markakis .335/.489/.879
Nolan Reimold .308/.631/.959
Nate McLouth .263/.463/.809
Xavier Avery .254/.349/.658
Robert Andino .183/.282/.519
Brian Roberts .182/.182/.415
Ryan Flaherty .154/.385/.538
Endy Chavez .149/.207/385
Markakis’ performance after the All-Star break batting leadoff has led a lot of fans to feel that he should be the Orioles’ leadoff hitter in 2013. I don’t see it that way. I see Markakis as a good hitter who was forced into that role and did well rather than a hitter who thrived because he was batting leadoff.
In his career, Markakis has numbers almost as good batting second (.313/.489/.873) over 1,340 plate appearances as he had this year batting first over 246 plate appearances.
If McLouth is re-signed and earns a starting job next season, I could see a McLouth-Markakis combo thriving atop the O’s batting order.
McLouth has 1,425 career plate appearances batting leadoff - by far his most at any spot in the lineup - with a stat line of .254/.445/.785. He also has a career .340 on-base percentage batting first.
Of course, should Roberts return healthy and be able to regain his form of a few years back, he could certainly reclaim his spot atop the Orioles lineup.
The Orioles have some options in that spot moving forward. But until Roberts proves he is ready to play every day, I see their best option as a McLouth-Markakis combo batting first and second in the batting order.