Who Is The Best Leadoff Hitter In MLB Baseball History?

Who Is The Best Leadoff Hitter In MLB Baseball History

The leadoff hitter is arguably one of the most important places to hit in a baseball lineup. A leadoff hitter is the first player in a baseball team’s batting order. Have you ever wondered who the best leadoff hitter in MLB history is? Read on to find out.

Role of a Leadoff Hitter

The main goal of a leadoff hitter is to get on base so that when the power hitters deeper in the lineup come up to bat, they are on the bases to score. The leadoff hitter on the team is typically the hitter on the team with the highest on base-percentage, meaning they frequently reach base when they come up to bat. Furthermore, they are typically faster players that have the ability to steal bases in order to generate runs, usually making them one of the best baserunners on the team. A leadoff hitter is often considered a “small-ball” player, meaning they make contact often, run the bases well, and are extremely patient.

Who Is the Best Leadoff Hitter in MLB History?

Rickey Henderson is arguably the best leadoff hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. During his time in the league, Rickey Henderson played 24 seasons on nine different teams, and he is considered the best leadoff hitter in history for multiple reasons.

First, Rickey Henderson ranks fourth all-time in total career times on base among MLB players, with an impressive 5,343 times on base during his career. In addition, Rickey Henderson is also ranked fourth in MLB history for both career plate appearances (13,346) and in total games played (3,081). 

Rickey Henderson’s speed also was another factor that contributed greatly to his success as a leadoff hitter. His speed allowed him to run the bases better than any leadoff hitter in history, so much so that Henderson also holds the record for the most stolen bases by any MLB player with 1,406, further illustrating how much of a weapon he was as a leadoff hitter. 

Following his career in the MLB, Rickey Henderson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 and also had his number (24) retired by the team he spent his longest tenure with, the Oakland Athletics.

Notable Leadoff Hitters

While Rickey Henderson is arguably the best leadoff hitter in MLB history, there are many other standouts in the category, including Pete Rose and Ichiro Suzuki. Rose also had an impressive resume, boasting a career batting average of .303, but only played the leadoff hitter position for about two-thirds of his career. He leads the league in multiple statistical records, including having the most hits with 4,256 and having the best all-time on-base percentage of .375. Rose also won Rookie of the Year, three batting titles, and two Gold Gloves

On the other hand, Ichiro Suzuki, a Japanese native, played 28 seasons of professional baseball and was known for his speed and ability to make contact with the baseball. Suzuki was a 10-time Gold Glove winner, holds two batting titles, won Rookie of the Year, holds the MLB record for hits in a season with 262, and won the AL MVP award in 2001.