Taveras, Pierre leading off? 

April, 11, 2007
It dawned on me while I was watching Juan Pierre and Willy Taveras Tuesday night that these are not what leadoff hitters are supposed to be. Of course, they are fast, capable of stealing 100 bases between them, and they can cover ground in center field like few others, but do they get on base enough to satisfy their teams? Are they only leading off because they run fast?

Consider the Dodgers and what they are going to do, possibly as soon as this weekend, when Rafael Furcal is ready to return to the lineup. Furcal is a fine leadoff hitter, a guy who hit .300 in his debut season with Los Angeles and got on base at a .369 clip. Toronto's Reed Johnson led baseball in on-base percentage from the No. 1 spot in the batting order, at .391, and Furcal was ninth (minimum 100 plate appearances).

Where was Pierre ranked? His .333 on-base percentage leading off ranked No. 31 among 48 qualifiers, so he wasn't the worst (Nate McClouth was), but he certainly wasn't very good. Why is this an issue today?