Pierre, Biggio leading the way

The ideal leadoff man is a player who reaches base often and disrupts defenses with speed.

Updated: June 1, 2004, 4:06 PM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
"Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, singles hitters drive Fords."

So said slugger Ralph Kiner during his run at seven consecutive National League home run crowns in the late '40s and early '50s. How would we go about modernizing that statement for today's ballplayer making one hundred grand a week? "Home run hitters drive Escalades, singles hitters drive Excursions?" I don't know, it doesn't have the same magic.

Craig Biggio
Craig Biggio has more power than most leadoff hitters.
In any case, the sentiment still holds true: if you want to take the money out of the baseball mint in a wider pipeline, it pays to smack it. Is that perhaps why there are so few good leadoff men in baseball today? Padres general manager Kevin Towers seems to think so. Writing in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Joe Starkey uses a quote by Towers that says money has driven young players to emulate the middle-of-the-order guys rather than traditional leadoff men. "Arbitration," said Towers, "They get paid to hit homers."
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at