Last night’s Cubs-Cardinals game on ESPN was yet another example of Joe Morgan being able to say whatever he thinks is true and assert that it is true, whether it’s actually true or not.
Morgan and Jon Miller asked Cubs’ skipper Lou Piniella if he’d considered moving Alfonso Soriano out of the leadoff spot (besides being the Butcher of Lyon in left field, Soriano’s a horrendous leadoff man). Piniella said some players just feel comfortable in certain spots (he used the example of Bobby Bonds, who couldn’t hit his weight in the third spot when he first came to the Yankees in 1975, but had excellent numbers when moved to leadoff1This is actually true.), and that as long as Soriano was more comfortable in the leadoff position, that’s where he’ll hit.
Morgan then brought up (what he thought was) a similar case with Tony Gwynn, who Morgan said (repeatedly) just couldn’t hit in the third spot in the batting order. It was just one of those things, the number one baseball analyst for the World Wide Leader in Sports said.
Only it’s not even remotely true. Gwynn’s career splits (thanks, baseball-reference.com) show that he got 53 percent of his career at-bats and his career hits in the third spot and, oh, by the way, hit .342 there.
Leading off: .324 avg., .389 OBP, .823 OPS in 512 plate appearances
Hitting second: .338 | .385 | .842 in 3,962 plate appearances
Hitting third: .342 | .393 | .860 in 5,417 plate appearances
Gwynn only had 341 plate appearances hitting anywhere other than first, second or third. If you’re going to make the case that there was a position where he didn’t “feel comfortable” as a hitter, you may have to go with fifth, where he “only” hit .283 with a .325 on-base percentage.
In all of 114 plate appearances. 87 of which came in his first two years in the league.
The guy has got to go.