Fanposts Revisited: Does the prototypical leadoff hitter still exist?

Over the course of the offseason, I'm going to look at the fanposts I made during the season and reflect on them, finding out if my opinions were off base or not, and giving myself a grade from STRIKEOUT to GRAND SLAM. Sixth in the series: Does the prototypical leadoff hitter still exist? This was posted on June 14th, and was a sort of continuation of my previous fanpost calling replacing Dex a futile effort. I recommend checking out the previous BIG CHART for comparison.


My major points were as follows:

  • A prototypical leadoff hitter is a guy who has a high OBP, steals a lot of bases, and doesn't hit many home runs (because if you put a home run hitter at leadoff, a bunch of people scream and cry)
  • I separated everyone into tiers, and found three prototypical leadoff hitters: Ender Inciarte (ATL), Mookie Betts (BOS), and Delino DeShields (TEX).
  • Dee Gordon's OBP was a bit too low to make it, at only .325 at the time.
  • Stop blaming our offensive slump on the loss of Dexter Fowler, because no team has a guy like him, including the team that has Dexter Fowler.
  • This fanpost was really fun and Fanposts Revisited exists just to do this one.


Time for a BIG CHART. I'm looking at season stats for each player that had the most games started at leadoff. I thought about doing a chart for only the games that the players spent at leadoff, but decided on season stats, because the full season's performance dictates where in the order a player will hit.

An asterisk* next to a player means that when I posted the original in mid-June, a different player had the most games at leadoff for that team. The new column, Last, is the last game that player started at leadoff. An asterisk* in this column means they stopped hittiing leadoff because of injury. OBP above .350 and SB above 20 have been boldfaced and italicized, because they're good.

ARI David Peralta* 54 Sept 30 .293 .352 .444 14 8/4
ATL Ender Inciarte 154 Sept 28 .304 .350 .409 11 22/9
BAL Seth Smith 54 July 9 .258 .340 .433 13 2/0
BOS Mookie Betts 81 Aug 5 .264 .344 .459 24 26/3
CHC Jon Jay* 51 Sept 29 .296 .374 .375 2 6/2
CHW Leury Garcia 40 Aug 31* .270 .316 .423 9 8/5
CIN Billy Hamilton 135 Oct 1 .247 .299 .335 4 59/13
CLE Francisco Lindor* 63 Oct 1 .273 .337 .505 33 15/3
COL Charlie Blackmon 156 Oct 1 .331 .399 .601 37 14/10
DET Ian Kinsler 137 Sept 29 .236 .313 .412 22 14/5
HOU George Springer 137 Sept 30 .283 .367 .522 34 5/7
KCR Whit Merrifield* 115 Oct 1 .288 .324 .460 19 34/8
LAA Cameron Maybin* 56 Aug 29 .276 .333 .412 5 1/3
LAD Chris Taylor* 74 Oct 1 .288 .354 .496 21 17/4
MIA Dee Gordon 143 Sept 30 .308 .341 .375 2 60/16
MIL Jonathan Villar 71 Sept 4 .241 .293 .372 11 23/8
MIN Brian Dozier 151 Oct 1 .271 .359 .498 34 16/7
NYM Michael Conforto 68 Aug 9* .279 .384 .555 27 2/0
NYY Brett Gardner 139 Sept 30 .264 .350 .428 21 23/5
OAK Matthew Joyce 54 Sept 16 .243 .335 .473 25 4/1
PHI Cesar Hernandez 124 Oct 1 .294 .373 .421 9 15/5
PIT Adam Frazier 63 Sept 30 .276 .344 .399 6 9/5
SDP Manuel Margot 105 Sept 30 .263 .313 .409 13 17/7
SFG Denard Span 107 Sept 27 .272 .329 .427 12 12/7
SEA Jean Segura 118 Sept 29 .300 .349 .427 11 22/8
STL Matt Carpenter* 89 Sept 28 .241 .384 .451 23 2/1
TBR Corey Dickerson 57 Aug 15 .282 .325 .490 27 4/3
TEX Delino DeShields 78 Sept 30 .269 .347 .367 6 29/8
TOR Kevin Pillar 52 June 20 .256 .300 .404 16 15/6
WSH Trea Turner 90 Oct 1 .284 .338 .451 11 46/8

I used the better of two White Sox hitters with 40 games started at leadoff. The other was Tim Anderson, a shortstop who hit .257/.276/.402 with 15/1 SB/CS and 17 home runs in 146 games. WHY WAS HE ANYWHERE NEAR LEADOFF EVER?! I know the White Sox were at the absolute pit of their rebuild this year but come on. Their best OBP guys, Avisail Garcia (.380) and Omar Narvaez (.373), hit 4th and 8th. It's insanity.

The Orioles stopped using Seth Smith on July 9th because he'd slumped from a .271/.352/.471 slash line to a .259/.329/.440. They replaced him with Adam Jones, who was slashing .263/.303/.431. The Jones experiment lasted 26 games, which was about 48 too long, and he was replaced with Tim Beckham, who at the time was hitting .259/.314/.407. He did well the rest of the year by some miracle, but this was still a weird move at the time. The day of Beckham's first start, Smith was back up to a .350 OBP. It's not like Beckham was a speedster, either. He had six stolen bases on the season. Baltimore, you get an honorable mention for being stupid as hell.

Cameron Maybin was traded to the Astros from the Angels at the end of August, and led off once for them on September 9th, the second game of a doubleheader.

Michael Conforto started 13 games after August 9th before being shut down for the rest of the year. I'm counting this as being dropped from leadoff because of injury.

Corey Dickerson had one more start at leadoff after being dropped for Kiermaier on August 15th. That start was on October 1st. I listed the 15th on the chart because it was an outlier.

Dexter Fowler isn't even on the list any more. He started 51 games at leadoff. Only three after being moved in early June. Carpenter started almost 40 more games than him at leadoff.

Kevin Pillar (.300 OBP) was dropped early, which was the correct move. The Jays then put Bautista (.308 OBP) in the top spot for 51 games. They dropped him too, which was the correct move. Their last 10 games featured Teoscar Hernandez (.305 OBP) in the leadoff spot. You're not doing this right, Toronto.

Rajai Davis was traded from Oakland to Boston on August 22. But it doesn't matter! Oakland was smart enough to stop using him at leadoff so much! Joyce beat him out by five games, and I'm so proud of them. Davis was not on the disabled list this year, but only started 81 games (53 at leadoff) because he sucks and is bad. His stats this year: .235/.293/.348, 5 HR, 29/7 SB/CS. Don't bat fast guys with sub-.300 OBP at leadoff. Use them as pinch runners.


Well, let's bring back the weird and unscientific tier list from the previous post and take a look, plus adding a new tier for guys who are just really, really good at baseball and deserve their own tier.

  • Prototypical leadoff hitter: ATL, SEA, TEX
  • Very close, but under my .350 OBP benchmark, however slightly: MIA, WSH
  • Multi-tool hitter: BOS, LAD, NYY
  • Easy Ed's nightmare, a slugger at leadoff: CLE, COL, HOU, MIN, NYM, STL, TBR
  • Just using a decent OBP guy with low power (not a bad approach by any means): ARI, CHC, OAK, PHI, PIT
  • Stubbornly using a guy who sucks at leadoff because he's a gifted base stealer: CIN, KCR, MIL
  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ : BAL, CHW, DET, LAA, SDP, SFG, TOR
  • A case could be made for Merrifield to be moved to a better tier, but I'm not listening to it very closely. I gave Dee Gordon his own tier, basically, as he was only off my OBP threshold by .009. Then Trea Turner snuck in the same door, only being off by .012. Baltimore would be at the Decent OBP/Low Power tier, but they stopped using that guy in favor of guys who made no sense at all. See above.

    When I originally posted this in June, I said I expected three guys in all of MLB to be prototypical leadoff hitters, which is why complaining about not having one is pretty silly. Yet again, I found three that meet the prototype. 21 guys that are fine at leadoff by my standards, three that aren't, and six teams that disappoint me and are stupid.

    But, does the prototype leadoff hitter still exist? Yes, though they're a very rare breed. I'm awarding myself a SOLO HOME RUN for this fanpost. It was really fun. And hey, thanks for reading.

    Previously on Fanposts Revisited: Javier Baez is not a leadoff hitter, The Cubs do not have a clutch hitting problem, Javier Baez has not been good at swinging a bat this year, Kris Bryant just keeps getting better, Trying to replace Dexter Fowler is an exercise in futility.

    Up next: The offense is dead and it's never coming back ever.

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