I’ve said before that I’m not a big fan of qualifiers on stats. I don’t care who has the most home runs in the fourth inning. I don’t care who has the most doubles by a player from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. So, I really don’t care who had the most leadoff home runs any more than I care who had the most home runs during the second at-bat of the game. If Manny Ramirez hit leadoff, I’d be willing to bet he’d pick up a few leadoff home runs.
That being said, while a leadoff homer doesn’t mean anything to me as far as the player is concerned, they’re nice to have. A leadoff home run instantly puts the other team (hopefully) in a hole. It’s a quick punch in the mouth. Two such home runs come instantly to mind.
The first is Johnny Damon’s in game four of the 2004 World Series. The Cardinals were down 0-3 in the series, and had yet to have an inning where they didn’t trail. They needed to storm out. What did Damon do? Hit that leadoff homer. You could just see the Cardinals players droop as soon as that ball landed. Here we go again, coming from behind. It was crushing.
The second is Dustin Pedroia’s in game 1 of the 2007 World Series. The Rockies were on a huge winning streak entering the game. Josh Beckett slammed the door on them in the top of the innings. Pedroia really made it sting when he launched a homer to lead off the bottom half. Instantly the Rockies were reminded that they could lose. They were in a quick hole, and helped set the tone for the game, and the series.
So, leadoff homers are nice to have. I don’t know the results of the seven games where Nomar hit his. I’m sure the opposing team didn’t like the immediate runs scored against them. It had to sting. Although, if it was really defeating, why didn’t Manny Ramirez leadoff?
7 is for 7 leadoff home runs by Nomar Garciaparra.