What is tougher to find in Softball an excellent leadoff hitter or a top notch cleanup batter? Inquiring minds want to know.
Let's put the 3 hitter aside for now, b/c that's usually your best batter, and by default for the most part the best batter hits 3rd in most lineups.
My personal initial reaction is a leadoff batter, but lets look at it more closely.
Let's Look at Qualification's
Elite Leadoff Batter Skills:
(2) Ability to hit deep in counts, AKA Take pitches
(3) Line drive hitter with reasonable pop. In other words, he's not a slap hitter, he can drive in runs and the other team cannot play shallow. This will allow him to get his share of bloop hits and bloop hits plus speed leads to doubles and more runs scored.
(4) Hit to all fields. Combine this skill with #1 and this puts a lot of pressure on the defense.
Guys who fit these skills are Lefty, Hector,Elvis, Dusty, Vic, Eric Z, Cabezza, and my old skool favorite Jack Steinman
Elite Clean Up Hitter Skills
(1) Line Drive (LD) power. There is no defense for line drive power. If you have LD power to all fields, then your a major threat that the defense has to play straight up.
(2) Good RBI man. In other words, likes to hit with men on base and comes through in those situations. "Clutch"
(3) Offer protection to the 3 hitter. If he has characteristics #1 & 2 above, then the other team will have to pitch to the 3 hitter. If your 3 hitter gets going, then your offense is really clicking on all cylinders.
(4) Will take his walks, usually the more power you have the more walks you get. In other words, smart hitter.
Guys with these skills are Ricky Nen, Carlos Con, Castillo, Sito, Danny Vasquez, Eddie Brown, Jamie & Wayne from the "Cardinals"
There are other factors to consider like the field you play on, and the other needs on your team, but if I had my druthers I would probably pick an elite leadoff batter. I believe you need to start the offensive fire as quickly as possible, but hey to each is own. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject