Thursday, July 27, 2006

things you wanted to know about leadoff homers

When Craig Biggio hit his 50th career leadoff home run last night, you may have said to yourself, or someone watching the game with you, "Didn't he hit a leadoff home run last Wednesday too? Is this the first time Craig Biggio has ever led off consecutive Wednesday games with a home run?". My guess is that whoever you asked didn't answer. Yes, that was the first time Craig Biggio hit leadoff home runs on consecutive Wednesdays, or any other day of the week. Also, if he has one more leadoff homer this month, he'll tie his best month ever for leadoff homers. He has 3 this month, but he had 4 in June of 2001, on his way to setting his career high with 8 that year. He has 6 so far this year.

But more importantly, how do these leadoff home runs effect his plunk production? Biggio has only been hit by a pitch 4 times in games in which he also hit a leadoff homer, but he got those 4 plunks in only 2 games. On June 30, 2001 on the road against Milwaukee, Biggio homered off Alan Levrault in the 1st, got plunked by Levrault on his next trip to the plate in the 2nd inning, and got hit again by Mike Buddie in the 5th, after hitting a single of Levrault leading off the 4th. On June 21, 2003 at Texas, Biggio lead off with a homer against Ismael Valdez before Valdez plunked him in the 4th inning. Erasmo Ramirez hit Biggio again in the 8th inning.

In the games immediately following games when Biggio hits a leadoff homer, he has only been plunked 4 times, at an average rate of 0.018 plunks per plate appearance - significantly below his career rate of 0.024 plunks per plate appearance. But, Biggio's slugging percentage in games following ones in which he hit a leadoff homer is .474 - well above his career slugging pct. of .436. So, the first game after a leadoff homer appears to have a decreased rate of getting hit by pitches, and an increased rate of slugging. But in the 2nd game following a leadoff homer, Biggio has been hit 8 times, at a rate of 0.035 plunks per plate appearance - well above his career average. In the 10 game stretches following games in which Biggio hits a leadoff homer, he gets hit at a rate of 0.028 plunks per plate appearnance (or once every 35.7 trips to the plate), bats at a .297 clip compared to his .284 lifetime average, and slugs at .474, compared to his .436 career slugging percentage.

So, it appears that when Biggio hits a leadoff homer, it ushers in periods of increased success at the plate. Or, it could all be a big coincidence.

The Astros have now won their last 8 games in which Biggio hit a leadoff homer, stretching back to September 17th of last season. 6 of his 10 homers this season have been to lead off the game - the highest percentage of leadoff homers to total homers he has previously had was in 1992 when 50% of his 6 homers were leadoffs.



At 7/28/2006 12:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genius. Pure genius.


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