Rickey Henderson, the all time leader in leadoff home runs[1].
Rickey Henderson, the all time leader in leadoff home runs[1].

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.

Strategy

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Leadoff hitters must possess certain traits to be successful: they must reach base at a proficient on-base percentage rate and be able to steal bases. Sabermetric analysis has indicated that the ability to steal bases is often an overrated quality of leadoff hitters; however, the leadoff hitter should still take a large lead at first and draw a throw from the pitcher. This is useful because it shows the team the pitcher's pick-off move. Many managers also wish their leadoff hitters to take a lot of pitches, to work high pitch counts, to give their teammates a feel for the opposing pitcher, as well as raising his pitch count. Also, because the leadoff hitter is first in the batting order, he will usually have the most plate appearances on the team over the course of a season, therefore must be a competent hitter. Power is valuable for a lead-off hitter, as any hitter who reaches second base or third base has a far greater chance of scoring on a single.

Leadoff hitters tend to play defensively difficult positions, such as shortstop, second base, and center field that require great mobility in the field. Rickey Henderson is widely regarded as the prototypical leadoff hitter for a combination of a high on-base percentage, power, speed, and base-running judgment.

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.[2]

Rank Player TOB
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
Rank Player TOB
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.[3]

Rank Player G
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
Rank Player G
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.[4]

Rank Player PA
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
Rank Player PA
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

References

  1. ^ https://www.mlb.com/news/most-career-leadoff-home-runs-in-mlb-history
  2. ^ "Batting Split Finder". Stathead.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Batting Split Finder". Stathead.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Batting Split Finder". Stathead.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved 26 January 2021.