Leadoff Walk

The Dreaded Leadoff Walk by John Dewan

How dreaded is the leadoff walk? Is it more dreaded than the leadoff single, for example? When a pitcher walks the first batter is it a bigger omen of problems than giving up a single? Let’s take a dip into the Baseball Info Solutions database to see what it has to say.

How often does the leadoff walk score? Going back 10 years, it’s 38 percent of the time. Not good (for the pitcher). How many runs score in the inning, on average, after the leadoff walk? .905 runs. That’s an 8.15 ERA, assuming all the runs would be earned.

So, when a pitcher gives up a leadoff walk in an inning, his ERA is, in essence, 8.15. Very bad. Very bad, indeed. (Note: this assumes the pitcher stays in for the whole inning and all the runs are earned.)

Is a leadoff walk worse than a leadoff single? Nope. They’re the same. Leadoff singles score 38 percent of the time, same as leadoff walks. The average number of runs are the same too, .902 runs per inning after a leadoff single.