With the continued integration of sabermetrics into baseball, there has been an intense focus on getting on base, and it seems that stealing bases and manufacturing runs has been thrown out the window. While there certainly is no one of Rickey Henderson’s caliber, there are still players who prove baseball is not just played on paper, and make the games fun and exciting to watch. These are the guys who get paid to get on base and score; the leadoff hitters. While players like MIke Trout and Andrew McCutchen have power and speed, they’re relied on to hit in the heart of the lineup, and don’t count as leadoof hitters. That being said, here are the top 5 current leadoff batters in baseball.
Honorable Mentions: Dee Gordon (MIA), Ben Revere (PHI), Angel Pagan (SFG), Adam Eaton (CHW), Brett Gardner (NYY), Denard Span (WAS)
5. Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates
Josh Harrison was a 1st time All-Star in 2014, which was surprising to some. He finsish 9th in NL MVP Voting, and proved to be a spark for the PIttsburgh offense infused with young talent. He hit .315 and slugged .490, finishing the season with 58 extra-base hits, and 18 stolen bases. Entering his age 27 season, don’t be surprised to see him in another All-Star Game in the future. Not to mention, if you haven’t seen him escape a rundown, look it up!
4. Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays
His best days are behind him, and his time in Tornto has been marked by injuries. However, Reyes stole 30 bases in 32 attempts…pretty damn good. His 2014 was comprable to his 2012 season in Miami in all categories. On a team that has enough power to provide Toronto with a powersurge, having a consistent performer like Reyes to get on base and score is huge for their offense.
3. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
If being an All-Star is considered a down year, then Matt Carpenter is a force to be reckon with. Yes, his 2013 campaign was far superior to last year’s performance, but I think we will see him perform closer to his 2013 numbers, when he was a major contributor to the NL Champs that season. By no means a base stealer, Carpenter still gets on base and puts himself in scoring position for a number a veteran all-stars behund him in the order. And while he his average drop 40 points between 2013 & 2014, his OBP only dropped about 20 points, as he led the NL in walks. This guy is easily a top choice for any lineup to have.
2. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
He’s baseball’ shortest player, and but he’s the biggest piece to the puzzle if the Houston Astros plan on competing. A 2-time all-star, he led the AL in hits, Stolen Bases, and Batting average in 2014, and arguably should have started the All-Star Game over Robinson Cano. His career high in home runs is 7, but he’s only 24, and turns 25 in May. If the Astros ever turn their franchise around, it’ll be with Altuve at the top of the order.
1. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
There will never be another Rickey Henderson, but there’s no one in today’s game that matches his power, speed, defense, and flare better than Carlos Gomez. Originally the major prospect in the Mets-Twins Johan Santana deal, Gomez finally made a turn for the better in 2012, and has made the All-Star Team each of the past 2 seasons. In those 2 All-Star Years combined, he’s amounted 102 extra-base hits, 47 home runs, 74 Stolen Bases, 175 runs scored, and a .348 On-Base Percentage. If it wasn’t for Andrew McCutchen, we’d be talking about Carlos Gomez as the best Center Fielder in the National League, but for now, he’s just baseball’s best at the top of the order.