I bought Doug Decatur's Behind-the-Scenes Baseball last week. It's a pretty interesting little book. The middle section of the book is a "GM IQ Test" (I think you can see where this is going already) in which you take a 100-question quiz of a bunch of things every GM should know but doesn't. Let's read Question #1, shall we?
Question 1. "The correlation between total team runs and which spot in the batting order is the strongest:
(D) 8th in the NL and 9th in the AL
(Without a doubt, Dave Littlefield would answer (A) to this question.)
From the 1986 Baseball Abstract: "[T]he correlation of runs scored in the number two slot to the total runs scored by the team is closer than for any other position--that is, the teams which got a lot of runs out of their number two hitters, also got a lot of runs period."
There are two explanations here from the Abstract: (1) "This could also be taken to reflect the marginal nature of the position. Everybody has at least one good hitter to hit third, so that doesn't tell you that much about the offense, but the only teams which have good hitters hitting second are those which have five good hitters, hence score lots of runs." (2) "[M]any managers tend to waste the second spot in the order by putting somebody there who isn't one of the better hitters on the team....Too many managers will say 'bat control' as if these words were a magic wand, and place some .260 hitter with a secondary average of .150 batting second...."
Jack "Magic Wand" Wilson's career batting average is .265. His career secondary average is .161. Just thought I'd point that out.