The leadoff hitter can set the tone for the entire game, so it’s important to have a reliable one. Who is the best leadoff hitter in the majors?
The leadoff hitter can make a big impact. That may seem like an obvious statement, and it is, but they oftentimes people tend think of them simply as being a guy who can either hit for a decent average and/or can run the bases very well. These are very important attributes, but a very talented leadoff hitter can be so much more. If talented enough, they can be viewed as the driving force behind their offense. If power, skillful hitting (ie bunting), and the ability to drive in runs when the bottom of lineup is on base can factor into the duties we normally associate with this role, this player can be a force to be reckoned with on the base paths. However, if the leadoff hitter flounders and is unable to get the rest of the lineup going (especially the middle of the lineup) this can be detrimental to the team’s ability to generate runs. Even the best 3-4-5 hitters can only do so much if the top of the order can’t set them up to their job at the plate.
In this piece we’ll take a look at the leadoff hitting class of 2018. We’ll break it down and see who are giving their teams the extra boost they need to be successful and who isn’t doing enough to get their team going offensively. Some of the names here are perennially solid performers while others are just starting to make a name for themselves. Then there are those who could probably be doing a little more to give their team some much needed support. Without further adieu here is the official ranking of every leadoff hitter in the major leagues.
30: Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox
There’s no doubt that the White Sox are a very young team looking to find its identity. There are many players on the roster who fans don’t know much about or don’t know what their potential is. The same could be said for Yoan Moncada. He has been given the opportunity to take on the leadoff role full-time this season, but hasn’t quite found his grove yet.
If anything, he is currently trending in the wrong direction as he leads the league in strikeouts. On top of all the other subpar numbers Moncada is putting up, this just won’t get the job done. Especially as the hitter who is supposed to set the tone for the lineup.
29: Trey Mancini – Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles struggles have been well documented this season. Their inability to generate offense has been a little surprising considering some of the names in their lineup. What hasn’t been surprising is their continuing struggle to find a suitable leadoff hitter. Trey Mancinihas gotten most of the leadoff nods this season, but his stats hardly standout as leadoff hitter material.
He strikes out a lot, his batting average is close to .200, and his on base percentage doesn’t justify the leadoff hitter designation in the lineup.
Much like the rest of the roster, the Orioles will need to go back to the drawing board in order to find a leadoff hitter who can produce the kind of numbers they need to start winning games again.
28: Kevin Kiermaier -Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are currently giving Kevin Kiermaier a tryout as their leadoff hitter. This is due to the team being in a transitional phase after trading away Dernard Span earlier this season. Kiermaier is known primarily for having a cannon for an arm. This is a great attribute for any team to have, but it won’t get the job done on offense. He is capable of making a decent contribution on offense, but probably isn’t a longterm solution. It’s doubtful that many people view him as a leadoff hitter at all. This experiment could very well work out, but it’s probably in the Rays’ best interest to keep looking for a better fit.
27: Dustin Fowler – Oakland Athletics
The Athletics are a team who are very much in need of a consistent presence at the leadoff position. Although the team is performing well overall, the leadoff position appears to be a weakness. Currently they are hoping that 23-year-old Dustin Fowler is able to come in and fill the void. It might be a little too early to say whether Fowler has what it takes to be a mainstay as their leadoff hitter, but they do appear to be heading in the right direction considering former leadoff man Matt Joyce has been dealing with a nagging back injury.
26: David Fletcher – Los Angeles Angels
Despite only having a few games on his major league resume, David Fletcher is currently being given a shot to leadoff for the Angels. Despite having Ian Kinsler on their roster, the Angels seem to be looking for somebody a little younger and more dynamic than the aging Kinsler.
At the very least, the Angels have somebody good to fall back on if Fletcher’s leadoff tryout doesn’t pan out.
Much like the Pirates Austin Meadows, Fletcher is off to a good start, but judgement on his play at the leadoff spot may have to come in the longterm.
25: Austin Meadows – Pittsburgh Pirates
Most casual fans may not be familiar with the name Austin Meadows. This 23-year-old outfielder has received his first dose of big league action this season and so far he has been pretty impressive minus a big cool off at the end of June. It’s way too early to rank Meadows too high among all of the leadoff hitters in the league, but Meadows definitely showed some potential to fill that role for the Pirates in the future. Let’s hope that he can find his groove again and help elevate the Pirates offense from the middle of the pack to the upper tier in baseball.