OK, the title of this post is going to eliminate a lot of the suspense here, but let's ignore that and, spurred by the conversation in this morning's links thread, consider the following two players' stats:
The rate stats here are your usual ones, except that nBB% is the percentage of walks the hitter gets that are non-intentional.
Comparing the two hitters, is there any argument for putting Player A at the top of the lineup over Player B? Player A hits for a worse average, gets on base at a significantly lower clip, hits for less power, and walks less. The only thing Player A does better than Player B is strike out less, but Player B obviously makes up for that by getting on base much more frequently.
Imagine, a .404 OBP sitting at the top of the Phillies lineup, getting on base 40% of the time in front of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth. Sounds pretty good? So, where can we find Player B?
Well, as the title suggests, Player B is Carlos Ruiz, showing his stats from August 15 of last year until today. Since August 15, which is almost a calendar year ago, Ruiz has been sizzling hot. If he had this line for this MLB season, rather than the pieced-together calendar year I'm using here, his .888 OPS would put him right between Prince Fielder (.892) and Ryan Howard (.884).
Player A is the Phillies' current leadoff hitter, Jimmy Rollins. His .319 OBP since August 15 would put him almost at the bottom of leadoff hitters this year who have 200 plate appearances. In contrast, Chooch's .404 OBP would put him at the top . . . by a very healthy margin. Even taking away Chooch's 10 intentional walks, which he presumably gets hitting toward or at the bottom of the Phillies' lineup, his OBP since August 15 last year is .387, which would still put him at the top for leadoff hitters this year (albeit only by 1 point over Rafael Furcal).
Of course, the stats I highlighted above mask one big difference between Ruiz and Rollins -- speed. Ruiz has stolen 0 bases in the past year, getting caught only 1 time. Rollins has stolen 17, getting caught 0 times. According to Baseball Prospectus, Rollins' overall baserunning skills have been worth an additional 2.1 runs this year; Ruiz's skills (if you want to call them that) have cost him 1.8 runs this year.
Still, fully understanding the issues related to speed on the basepaths, I'll take Chooch and his .404 OBP over Rollins and his .319 OBP any day.