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« Verlander's Fastball Losing Favor with Umps | Main | Clayton Kershaw after a Dodgers loss »
Monday
Aug262013

Looking out for number three

When you are looking at the number three batter in most lineups, invariably you are looking at the best hitter on a player's team. 

Number three versus the clean-up batter in the lineup

There certainly have been times when the slugger in the number four slot was the man.

At least, that's what we grew up with fantasizing about.

I mean the number four guy in the line was the clean-up batter. He actually had a name because we pictured the first three guys getting on base and then the number four guy would clean up the bases with a big hit.

Isn't that why Lou Gehrig had so many grand slams?

But the reality is the number three batter has been the hitter to watch out for. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and even Mickey Mantle were all primarily number three hitters.

Comparing number three and number four

Take a look at how the top 2013 team's number threes versus number four batters in the lineup have done.

Top 10 number three batters by team
 PAAVGOBPSLUGOPSHRBBKRBI
Detroit Tigers (DET) 606 .340 .431 .639 1.070 42 82 91 136
Pittsburgh Pirates (PIT) 575 .315 .395 .509 .904 19 62 86 75
Cincinnati Reds (CIN) 598 .314 .430 .504 .934 20 100 115 62
Kansas City Royals (KC) 565 .300 .366 .443 .809 16 52 72 77
San Francisco Giants (SF) 575 .296 .339 .458 .796 17 33 70 82
Colorado Rockies (COL) 584 .295 .363 .560 .923 32 56 148 83
Boston Red Sox (BOS) 605 .295 .370 .408 .778 8 63 66 71
New York Yankees (NYY) 563 .289 .361 .472 .832 23 53 89 83
New York Mets (NYM) 573 .288 .361 .472 .833 19 55 99 63
Cleveland Indians (CLE) 578 .288 .362 .475 .837 16 59 123 83
2013 Cleanup batters by team
 PAAVGOBPSLUGOPSHRBBKRBI
Colorado Rockies (COL) 570 .334 .391 .557 .948 26 48 104 106
Texas Rangers (TEX) 559 .328 .379 .544 .923 28 39 59 76
Los Angeles Dodgers (LAD) 560 .321 .382 .498 .880 16 47 103 78
St. Louis Cardinals (STL) 568 .320 .382 .482 .864 16 46 98 94
Boston Red Sox (BOS) 592 .313 .380 .574 .954 30 60 99 104
Washington Nationals (WSH) 552 .296 .377 .494 .871 22 62 114 83
Tampa Bay Rays (TB) 559 .295 .367 .497 .864 21 59 117 74
Baltimore Orioles (BAL) 555 .294 .328 .538 .866 32 23 111 107
San Francisco Giants (SF) 561 .278 .351 .451 .802 16 54 81 70
Atlanta Braves (ATL) 563 .278 .350 .460 .810 21 52 115 94

Look at the variance in the number three slot

Baseball's number three batters are interesting lot.

Baseball's #3 Batters - min. 300 PA
 PAAVGOBPSLUGK%BB%HRBBRBISwng%Chas%P/PA
Miguel Cabrera (DET) 550 .358 .449 .684 14.5% 13.6% 42 75 128 50.4% 28.8% 3.69
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 537 .318 .399 .509 14.7% 11.2% 17 60 71 46.2% 22.3% 3.77
Joey Votto (CIN) 585 .314 .432 .507 19.1% 17.1% 20 100 61 38.9% 16.7% 4.13
Robinson Cano (NYY) 355 .314 .389 .495 13.5% 11.0% 13 39 52 46.2% 28.7% 3.78
David Wright (NYM) 456 .308 .393 .514 16.2% 11.4% 16 52 53 45.1% 20.9% 3.78
Carlos Gonzalez (COL) 417 .299 .367 .591 26.9% 9.6% 25 40 67 48.2% 32.9% 3.89
Dustin Pedroia (BOS) 593 .299 .374 .415 11.0% 10.6% 8 63 71 42.4% 24.4% 4.12
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) 501 .292 .394 .542 19.8% 14.2% 28 71 88 40.5% 20.4% 4.17
Jason Kipnis (CLE) 303 .283 .372 .445 21.1% 12.9% 7 39 44 39.1% 17.8% 4.31
Alex Rios (CWS) 460 .279 .329 .425 16.5% 6.7% 12 31 55 43.8% 24.7% 3.73
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) 422 .277 .322 .446 14.7% 6.6% 15 28 60 51.5% 33.6% 3.66
Jason Castro (HOU) 323 .271 .341 .455 26.6% 9.3% 10 30 32 45.6% 27.4% 4.03
Nick Markakis (BAL) 383 .263 .326 .370 8.6% 8.4% 8 32 30 42.1% 24.5% 3.74
Matt Holliday (STL) 400 .263 .343 .455 15.3% 9.8% 15 39 55 50.9% 27.7% 3.70
Albert Pujols (LAA) 443 .258 .330 .437 12.4% 9.0% 17 40 64 45.8% 29.8% 3.79
Justin Upton (ATL) 396 .255 .347 .455 25.3% 11.9% 16 47 46 44.8% 21.6% 4.07
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) 372 .251 .363 .470 26.3% 14.5% 16 54 40 41.4% 26.7% 4.18
Chase Headley (SD) 371 .225 .329 .356 25.1% 11.3% 7 42 30 44.9% 24.4% 3.94
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 438 .220 .313 .420 19.6% 11.2% 16 49 56 44.5% 26.5% 3.92

When you look at Miguel Cabrera, you see not the just best number three in baseball, you are looking at the best hitter in the game, on his way to historical greatness.

Andrew McCutchen potentially is on his way to being the NL MVP.

Joey Votto is a great player, but he is the reason why this chart includes walks, swing percentage, and chase percentage. There are many folks out there who get frustrated with Joey's selectivity and when you compare him to his peers, you can see why.

Robinson Cano, is the present and immediate future for the Yankees, if they can retain him. These numbers show you why Jay Z is feeling good about his client.

There is a reason why David Wright is called Captain America, and it's not just because of his good looks. He has good numbers in the three slot.

Carlos Gonzalez is a lifetime .300 hitter.

Dustin Pedroia is the anomaly on this list. The again, when you look at baseball's great players, Pedey is an anomaly in almost every respect.

Paul Goldschmidt is another NL MVP candidate as is Adrian Gonzalez.

Then you have the rest of Gilligan's Island in this select group.

The moral of the story

The moral of this story is very simple:

"If you are a pitcher, be less involved about thinking about number one...you're better off when you focus on number three."

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