Often unsung, the number two hitter in a lineup is a crucial transition between the speedy leadoff man and the RBI producers in the three, four, and five holes.
A solid number two hitter is able to move runners, stay out of double plays, work pitchers, and get on base. And, be willing to sacrifice themselves for the team.
This slideshow explores the best players in the two-hole; those scrappy individuals who put team over self and attempt to do whatever it takes to lead their team to victory. This is for the unsung, although some names are more well-known than others.
The five players listed here are in alphabetical order, thus eliminating the need to claim one better than the other. And, the five are drawn from both the American and National Leagues.
First, a quick note on how these players were determined.
For most stats, only the players statistics while batting second are taken into account. Thus, stats from other spots in the lineup were not taken into account.
The only stats that are examined from the entire 2009 season (i.e. regardless of where the hitter batted in the lineup) are pitches per plate appearance, sacrifices and GIDP (ground into double play).
Also, stats are normalized by games played while batting second. Obviously a player like Aaron Hill will have the most total hits and home runs because he was the second hitter for Toronto in 158 games. This normalization allows for more level analysis.
Lastly, a note on eligibility. I looked at players that played a plurality of his team’s games in the two-hole.
This means that while Joe Mauer batted quite well in the number two spot for Minnesota, I used Orlando Cabrera instead.
Additionally, I attempted to limit it to one team; Cabrera batted second for two different teams in 2009, but I let him represent Minnesota rather than Oakland.
So, enjoy and please comment liberally and civilly.
This slideshow derives from a similar list that first appeared at Uncle Popov's Drunken Sports Rant. The article appeared on March 11, 2010.