Forget Michael Bourn. Statistically speaking, the Mets have their leadoff man: David Wright.
Yes, the man who common baseball wisdom dictates is a middle-of-the-order bat, would have been one of the best leadoff men in baseball in 2012…
There were only eight players in 2012 who were MLB average or above in on-base percentage, pitches per plate appearance, pitches fouled off, strikeout rate and putting the ball in play: Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker (Pirates), Ian Kinsler (Rangers), Alejandro De Aza (White Sox), David DeJesus (Cubs), Matt Holliday (Cardinals), Matt Wieters (Orioles) and . . . David Wright .
The numbers prove putting the best on-base threat at the top of the order is key to constructing the best lineup. Bill James, the godfather of modern baseball analysis, wrote in 1981 that getting the first batter on is the most important element needed to score in an inning. The crew at Baseball Prospectus went a step further, using countless computer simulations to show the lineup that scores the most runs is ordered by OBP (greatest to least).
The first batter of the game for the Mets in 2012 got on base at a .290 clip. Not a recipe for success, compared to the MLB average of .317. The Mets ranked 23rd in getting their first hitter on base.
Further, Mets batters hitting in the No. 1 spot in the lineup got 748 plate appearances in 2012. The No. 3 hitter only received 710, most of which went to Wright, who batted third in 144 of his 155 starts. That means 38 plate appearances that could have gone to the Mets’ best hitter didn’t.