Leadoff hitter

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Rickey Henderson, the all time leader in leadoff home runs . Rickeyhenderson2002.jpg
Rickey Henderson, the all time leader in leadoff home runs .

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.

Contents

Strategy

Traditionally, the leadoff hitter has been utilized as a contact-oriented position. The leadoff hitter is usually tasked with being able to reach base at a proficient on-base percentage and generate runs for the team. Secondary goals for such a player include wearing down a pitcher's stamina and providing a dangerous presence along the basepaths to create more offensive opportunities. As a result, the prototypical leadoff hitter is small ball oriented, with elements such as contact ability, speed, patience, and occasionally defense elevated to an important level. [2] Power hitters, instead, would be put in the third and fourth slots to drive in the leadoff hitter and produce more runs as a result, thus deemphasizing the necessity for power amongst leadoff hitters. [3] The correlation between leadoff hitters and small ball stretches as far back as 1898 with mentions of a "small, active fellow who can hit, run and steal bases" as being fit for the position. [4] Players such as Rickey Henderson, Ichiro Suzuki, and Kenny Lofton are often considered as archetypal leadoff hitters. [5]

In recent years, however, leadoff hitters are shifting away from the traditional makeup to generally more well-rounded players. Numerous teams have opted to utilize hitters with strong on-base skills and power potential at the top of the batting order in exchange for speed and pure contact ability. [6] Non-typical leadoff hitters such as Kyle Schwarber and George Springer have all seen time in the position in recent years.

Records

Key
*Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Most times on base as leadoff hitter

Below is a list of Major League Baseball players with the most times on base from the leadoff spot as of the end of the 2020 season. [7]

RankPlayerTOB
1 Rickey Henderson *5,412
2 Pete Rose 4,181
3 Eddie Yost 3,243
4 Brett Butler 3,237
5 Ichiro Suzuki 3,202
RankPlayerTOB
6 Lou Brock *3,080
7 Kenny Lofton 3,018
8 Craig Biggio *2,777
9 Paul Molitor *2,732
10 Johnny Damon 2,701

Most games played as leadoff hitter

Below is a list of Major League Baseball players with the most games played in the leadoff spot as of the end of the 2020 season. [8]

RankPlayerG
1 Rickey Henderson *2,886
2 Pete Rose 2,313
3 Lou Brock *1,901
4 Brett Butler 1,858
5 Ichiro Suzuki 1,827
RankPlayerG
6 Eddie Yost 1,741
7 Kenny Lofton 1,711
8 Johnny Damon 1,584
9 Paul Molitor *1,573
10 Harry Hooper *1,568

Most plate appearances as leadoff hitter

Below is a list of Major League Baseball players with the most plate appearances from the leadoff spot as of the end of the 2020 season. [9]

RankPlayerPA
1 Rickey Henderson *13,122
2 Pete Rose 10,710
3 Lou Brock *8,653
4 Ichiro Suzuki 8,451
5 Brett Butler 8,432
RankPlayerPA
6 Eddie Yost 8,023
7 Kenny Lofton 7,929
8 Johnny Damon 7,411
9 Craig Biggio *7,297
10 Paul Molitor *7,291

See also

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References

  1. "Most career leadoff home runs in MLB history".
  2. Petriello, Mike (September 24, 2021). "There's never been a leadoff hitter like Soler". MLB.com. MLB. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  3. Edwards, Craig (August 16, 2018). "Betts, Carpenter, and the Evolution of the Leadoff Hitter". FanGraphs.com. FanGraphs. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  4. Kram, Zach (March 31, 2017). "The Batting Order Revolution Will Be Televised". theringer.com. The Ringer. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  5. Paine, Neil (April 20, 2017). "Baseball's New Leadoff Hitters Don't Need To Be Speed Demons". FiveThirtyEight.com. FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  6. Kram, Zach (March 31, 2017). "The Batting Order Revolution Will Be Televised". theringer.com. The Ringer. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  7. "Batting Split Finder". Stathead.com. Sports Reference . Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  8. "Batting Split Finder". Stathead.com. Sports Reference . Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  9. "Batting Split Finder". Stathead.com. Sports Reference . Retrieved 26 January 2021.