Cleanup hitter

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Lou Gehrig, with 1,515 runs batted in as a cleanup hitter, has "cleaned up" the most bases of any cleanup hitter in Major League Baseball history. Lou Gehrig as a new Yankee 11 Jun 1923.jpg
Lou Gehrig, with 1,515 runs batted in as a cleanup hitter, has "cleaned up" the most bases of any cleanup hitter in Major League Baseball history.

In baseball, a cleanup hitter is the fourth hitter in the batting order. The cleanup hitter is traditionally the team's most powerful hitter. His job is to "clean up the bases", i.e., drive in base runners. [1]



The thinking behind the use of the cleanup hitter is that at least one of the batters before him will reach base somehow, usually via a walk or a base hit. Traditionally, the lead off hitter, the number one spot in the batting order, has good foot speed, plate discipline, and a high on-base percentage. The second batter is usually a contact hitter, meaning he is able to consistently make contact with the ball and put it in play to move base runners forward and into scoring position. The first or second batter might bunt his way on base as they both will be speedy runners. The third batter is usually the best batter, the hitter with the highest batting average. He has the role of scoring runs himself, but his job comes down to getting on base for the cleanup hitter to have a turn to bat in the same inning. The cleanup hitter coming up to hit—if he has runners on base—has the opportunity to produce runs by getting a base hit or a home run. The third and fourth batters tend to be interchangeable in the batting order. The fifth batter in the lineup also has the job of batting in runs, in effect a backup for the cleanup hitter. He shares multiple traits with the cleanup hitter and therefore can compete for the cleanup hitter's spot in the batting order. Batters six to nine typically descend in batting skill level, meaning that the ninth batter is often the least effective batter in the lineup. [2]

Each individual hitter's strengths and weaknesses determine their spot on the daily lineup card. As the number four hitter's primary responsibility is to turn base runners into runs, a hitter with a high slugging percentage and batting average, especially with runners in scoring position, is generally preferred to the higher on-base percentage (OBP) and low strikeout rates of hitters earlier in the lineup. A manager may also take into account a batters tendency to hit in clutch situations or focus on home run ability. Since the home run is by far the most sure-fire method of batting in baserunners, the annual Home Run Derby tends to be a who's who of cleanup hitters from around the league. [3] That being said, a hitter with an unspectacular home run rate who is instead reliable when it comes to extra-base hits can also be a valuable tool for scoring with runners in scoring position (RISP). It is ultimately a question of how well a player fits into the rest of the lineup which determines the run-scoring potential of the cleanup spot.

Designated Hitter

The designated hitter (DH) is a batter that hits for the pitcher and never plays defense. The DH is important because the DH is usually one of the better hitters. It is a trend that the DH is either in the third, fourth, or fifth spot in the lineup. The DH was adopted by the American League of North American Major League Baseball in 1973 and by the National League in 2022. In games without a DH, the pitcher hit in the lineup unless another player pinch hit for the pitcher, in which case the pitcher left the game and was replaced for the team's next defensive half-inning. [4] Between 1973 and 2022, when there were interleague games and the National League was the home team, the American League team did not use a DH, and their pitchers took their turn at bat.


*Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Most runs batted in as cleanup hitter

Below is a list of Major League Baseball players with the most runs batted in (RBI) from the cleanup spot as of the end of the 2020 season. [5]

1 Lou Gehrig *1,515
2 Eddie Murray *1,340
3 Fred McGriff 1,224
4 Manny Ramirez 1,215
5 Joe DiMaggio *1,207
6 Al Simmons *1,206
7 Albert Belle 1,184
8 Jim Bottomley *1,167
9 Willie Stargell *1,131
10 Carlos Delgado 1,112

Most games played as cleanup hitter

Below is a list of Major League Baseball players with the most games played in the cleanup spot as of the end of the 2020 season. [5]

1 Eddie Murray *2,041
2 Fred McGriff 1,826
3 Honus Wagner *1,812
4 Willie McCovey *1,622
5 Lou Gehrig *1,545
6 Willie Stargell *1,535
7 Jim Bottomley *1,525
8 Greg Luzinski 1,521
9 Dave Winfield *1,484
10 Nap Lajoie *1,458

Most plate appearances as cleanup hitter

Below is a list of Major League Baseball players with the most plate appearances from the cleanup spot as of the end of the 2020 season. [5]

1 Eddie Murray *8,775
2 Fred McGriff 7,777
3 Honus Wagner *7,708
4 Lou Gehrig *7,004
5 Jim Bottomley *6,742
6 Willie McCovey *6,659
7 Willie Stargell *6,545
8 Greg Luzinski 6,477
9 Dave Winfield *6,351
10 Albert Belle 6,332

Related Research Articles

Baseball statistics play an important role in evaluating the progress of a player or team.

Baseball Bat-and-ball game

Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each, taking turns batting and fielding. The game is in play when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball that a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objective of the offensive team is to hit the ball into the field of play, away from the other team's players, allowing its players to run the bases, having them advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate.

Home run Four-base hit resulting in a run by the batter in baseball

In baseball, a home run is scored when the ball is hit in such a way that the batter is able to circle the bases and reach home plate safely in one play without any errors being committed by the defensive team. A home run is usually achieved by hitting the ball over the outfield fence between the foul poles without the ball touching the field. Far less common is the "inside-the-park" home run where the batter reaches home safely while the baseball is in play on the field.

Defense (sports) Preventing an opponent from scoring

In many team sports, defense or defence is the action of preventing an opponent from scoring. The term may also refer to the tactics involved in defense, or a sub-team whose primary responsibility is defense. Similarly, a defense player or defender is a player who is generally charged with preventing the other team's forwards from being able to bear down directly on their own team's goalkeeper or goaltender. Such positions exist in association football, ice hockey, water polo and many other sports.

Run (baseball) Statistic in baseball

In baseball, a run is scored when a player advances around first, second and third base and returns safely to home plate, touching the bases in that order, before three outs are recorded and all obligations to reach base safely on batted balls are met or assured. A player may score by hitting a home run or by any combination of plays that puts him safely "on base" as a runner and subsequently brings him home. Once a player has scored a run, they may not attempt to score another run until their next turn to bat. The object of the game is for a team to score more runs than its opponent.

Batting order (baseball) Sequence in which the members of the offense bat against the pitcher

In baseball, the batting order or batting lineup is the sequence in which the members of the offense take their turns in batting against the pitcher. The batting order is the main component of a team's offensive strategy. In Major League Baseball, the batting order is set by the manager, who before the game begins must present the home plate umpire with two copies of his team's lineup card, a card on which a team's starting batting order is recorded. The home plate umpire keeps one copy of the lineup card of each team, and gives the second copy to the opposing manager. Once the home plate umpire gives the lineup cards to the opposing managers, the batting lineup is final and a manager can only make changes under the Official Baseball Rules governing substitutions. If a team bats out of order, it is a violation of baseball's rules and subject to penalty.

Baseball rules Overview of the rules of baseball at different levels and in different countries

The rules of baseball differ slightly from league to league, but in general share the same basic game play.

Pinch hitter Term for a substitute batter in baseball and softball

In baseball, a pinch hitter is a substitute batter. Batters can be substituted at any time while the ball is dead ; the manager may use any player who has not yet entered the game as a substitute. Unlike basketball, American football or ice hockey, and in a similar way to association football, baseball does not have a "free substitution rule" and thus the replaced player is not allowed back into that game. The pinch hitter assumes the spot in the batting order of the player whom he replaces. Pinch hitters are commonly used to replace a weak hitter or to gain a platoon advantage.

Batting (baseball) Baseball offensive act of facing the pitcher and attempting to hit the ball into play

In baseball, batting is the act of facing the opposing pitcher and trying to produce offense for one's team. A batter or hitter is a person whose turn it is to face the pitcher. The three main goals of batters are to become a baserunner, to drive runners home or to advance runners along the bases for others to drive home, but the techniques and strategies they use to do so vary. Hitting uses a motion that is virtually unique to baseball and its fellow bat-and-ball sports, one that is rarely used in other sports. Hitting is unique because it involves rotating in the horizontal plane of movement, unlike most sports movements which occur in the vertical plane.

Box score (baseball) Statistical summary of a game of baseball

A box score is a chart used in baseball to present data about player achievement in a particular game. An abbreviated version of the box score, duplicated from the field scoreboard, is the line score. The Baseball Hall of Fame credits Henry Chadwick with the invention of the box score in 1858.

Leadoff hitter First batter in baseball

In baseball, a leadoff hitter is a batter who bats first in the lineup. It can also refer to any batter who bats first in any inning.

This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, along with their definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.


  1. Kalkman, Sky (2009-03-17). "Optimizing Your Lineup By The Book".
  2. Tango Dolphin Lichtman, Tom M Andrew E Mitchel G (2014). The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball (Playing the Percentages in Baseball). Createspace Independent. pp. 398 pages. ISBN   9781494260170.
  3. Keri Click, Jonah, James (2006). Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong. Basic Books. pp. 1–57. ISBN   9780465005963.
  4. Brinson, Linda (2012-08-26). "Whats The Difference between the American and National Leagues?".
  5. 1 2 3 "Batting Split Finder". Stathead. Sports Reference . Retrieved 25 January 2021.