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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top-15 Leadoff Hitters in MLB History: Henderson, Raines or Rose at the top spot?

Top-15 Leadoff Hitters in MLB History: Henderson, Raines or Rose at the top spot?

The best in the front of the lineup
Publish Date: 09/30/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Greatest Leadoff hitters

Getting the game started right is an integral part of any team. Today we will run down our top 15 leadoff hitters of all-time.

15) Vince Coleman

Vince Coleman made his entrance into the major leagues at an incredible speed.

His 110 steals as a first-year player in 1985 set a remarkable record that could stand for decades to come.

Coleman had a history of struggling during the playoffs, but his legs came alive during the 1987 Fall Classic. In seven games, Coleman swiped six bases.

After the 1990 season, he signed with the New York Mets as a free agent. Unfortunately, injuries and suspensions derailed his promising career from there on out.

Video: How Vince Coleman destroyed teams in 1985

How Vince Coleman destroyed teams in 1985

14) Brady Anderson

Brady Anderson effectively handed off the bat to Brian Roberts during his final season with the Baltimore Orioles in 2001.

He remains the only No. 1 hitter to hit 50 home runs in a single year (1996).

His 1.034 overall OPS from that summer and 1.029 OPS when leading off are unmatched by anyone else in the top 20.

Video: BAL@TOR: Anderson hits 50 home run mark

BAL@TOR: Anderson hits 50 home run mark

13) Willie Wilson

Willie Wilson was an impressively efficient base stealer despite his high volume.

He never experienced more than 12 caught-stealings in any single season.

With Wilson in their lineup, the Kansas City Royals were contenders.

At his peak, he was too fast to be doubled up on a ground ball.

Video: Willie Wilson Highlights!

Willie Wilson Highlights!

12) Kenny Lofton

He didn’t earn an everyday job in the big leagues until his age-25 season but managed to have a very long career. He was a perennial All-Star in his mid-20s and early 30s.

Video: Kenny Lofton's Top Plays as a member of the Indians

Kenny Lofton’s Top Plays as a member of the Indians

11) Maury Wills

During the 1962 season, Maury Wills batted .299, scored 130 runs and stole 104 bases. He whiffed only 57 times in 759 plate appearances. Wills spent his finest years with the Los Angeles Dodgers and won three championships with the club.

Video: Remembering Maury Wills

Remembering Maury Wills

10) Craig Biggio

Being a middle infielder was not nearly as physically demanding as his original position, catcher. As expected, his hitting improved dramatically once he got out from behind the plate. He was always eager to “take one for the team.”Only Hughie Jennings (287 times) was plunked more often than Biggio (285).

Video: Craig Biggio Career Highlights

Craig Biggio Career Highlights

9) Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs sticks out like a slow-footed third-baseman. Regardless, as a doubles machine and member of the exclusive 3,000-hit club, he had a resume worthy of first-ballot Hall of Fame induction. There haven’t been many better left-handed batters in the history of the game.

Video: Boggs gets 200 hits in sixth straight year

Boggs gets 200 hits in sixth straight year

8) Bobby Bonds

Bobby Bonds tended to strikeout, but his home run power was unparalleled as a leadoff hitter.

His.205 isolated power (slugging percentage less batting average) from the leadoff spot was by far the highest of any player featured in this article.

His elite base-stealing skills made him a legitimate NL MVP candidate during 1971 and 1973 as a San Francisco Giants outfielder.

Video: Bobby Bonds hits two-run home run for NL in 1973 ASG

Bobby Bonds hits two-run home run for NL in 1973 ASG

7) Richie Ashburn

In the 1950s, Richie Ashburn was unbeatable as a leadoff hitter. His excellent contact rate and just enough speed made him ideal for that position, providing him with enough advantage over opponents to hit for extra bases.

Ashburn only led the National League in stolen bases once as a rookie. But he won two batting titles and earned himself six all-star selections. Ashburn’s patience, control of the strike zone, and hustle make him one of baseball’s greatest leadoff hitters.

Video: Richie Ashburn 1995 Hall of Fame Induction Speech

Richie Ashburn 1995 Hall of Fame Induction Speech

6) Pete Rose

He is comfortably ahead of the rest in total hits (4,256), plate appearances (15,890) and games played (3,562). He wasn’t particularly powerful or quick. Rose made up for it with baseball instincts and, of course, hustle.

Video: Pete Rose Top 14 Moments

Pete Rose Top 14 Moments

5) Paul Molitor

With a nickname like “The Ignitor,” Paul Molitor was destined to wind up high on this all-time list.

Video: Paul Molitor Career Highlights

Paul Molitor Career Highlights

4) Lou Brock

Contrary to what you would expect, he wasn’t unusually aggressive on the basepaths in his early years. However, a 1964 trade to the St. Louis Cardinals put him in an environment where theft was encouraged. In his age-35 season, he became the oldest player to tally triple-digit steals.

Video: The ELECTRIFYING Lou Brock was one-of-a-kind on the field!

The ELECTRIFYING Lou Brock was one-of-a-kind on the field!

3) Ichiro Suzuki

The active legend won American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player on the winningest professional team baseball has ever had (2001 Seattle Mariners, 116 victories). In 2004, he broke George Sisler’s 84-year-old record for most hits in a single season with 262.

Video: The career of Ichiro Suzuki

The career of Ichiro Suzuki

2) Tim Raines

One of the most underrated players of the modern era. There were six consecutive seasons where he stole at least 70 bases and half a dozen more where he finished with 30-plus. He possessed considerable power for someone of his 5’8″ stature (170 home runs).

Video: Tim Raines Highlights

Tim Raines Highlights

1) Rickey Henderson

The numbers don’t lie. Rickey Henderson was no doubt the greatest leadoff hitter ever. He had power, speed, and everything you could want in a baseball player.

Video: Rickey Henderson Career Highlights

Rickey Henderson Career Highlights

Honorable mention

Devin White

Grady Sizemore

Brian Roberts

Alfonso Soriano

Juan Pierre

Dummy Hoy

Johnny Damon

Jose Reyes

Derek Jeter

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