Top 9 2013 Leadoff Hitters
Middle infielders and center fielders. Speedy, quick guys with one goal: get on base. Let the power bats in the middle of the order drive you in. These guys are the best at doing it, the best leadoff hitters in the game.
Note: List is going off of CBS and Rotoworld projected lineups
9. Denard Span (Nationals)- Span is one of the most underrated players in the game. He doesn’t have a ton of power, he doesn’t steal as many bases as I think he could, but he certainly knows how to play the game. With guys like Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, and Bryce Harper hitting behind him in the lineup, look for a truly breakout year from Span this 2013 campaign.
8. Jimmy Rollins (Phillies)- The old guy of the group, Rollins doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. He added another 20-20 year to his résumé last season, and that was with a depleted Phillies lineup. He still managed to cross home 102 times last year, making it the sixth year of his career he’s produced triple digits. I’m sure he would like to see his batting average creep back up to his career .270 number, but make no doubts about it, the old guy is still getting it done. It’s highly possible Rollins can move out of the leadoff spot with the addition of speedster Ben Revere.
7. Dexter Fowler (Rockies)- Fowler is electric and one of the rising stars in the game. He has been in double digits in triples each year he’s been in the league, and the speed needs to translate into more steals. He had 27 his rookie year, but hasn’t had more than 13 since. He started showing some pop last year, cracking double digits in homers for the first time. His on-base percentage closed in on .400 and his slugging percentage was up near the .500 mark last season, something you don’t see much from leadoff guys. Keep an eye out on Fowler this year.
6. Ian Kinsler (Rangers)- Kinsler had a down year last season, but it was only the year before when he went 30-30 for the second time in his career. He does lose Josh Hamilton behind him in the lineup, but it’s not like the Rangers are void of power with Adrian Beltré, Lance Berkman, and Nelson Cruz back there to drive him in. I look for Kinsler to have a bounce back season as he looks to restore last year’s numbers to his career norms. Also, it’s possible that the emergence of top prospect Jurickson Profar could force Kinsler out of the top spot.
5. Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox)- No doubt about it, the injury history scares me (which affects his ranking). Two of his past three seasons have been cut short by rib and shoulder injuries. But when he’s out on the field, he’s one of the biggest threats in the game. He has power, as evidenced by his 83 extra base hits in 2011. He has speed, as you can see he had 120 steals combined in back to back years. He doesn’t strike out much, never surpassing the century mark. But it’s the health he doesn’t have. If he can make it through a full season again, you’ll see his name rise up this chart.
4. Austin Jackson (Tigers)- Jackson has steadily improved in each of his three seasons in the bigs and there’s no reason to believe that trend won’t continue. He’s led the American League in triples the past two seasons, something that you love to see from the guy atop the lineup. The big knock on Jackson is his strikeout numbers, which were down last season, but still way too high. If he can cut back on those even more, he’s going to be one of the best players in the league. It doesn’t hurt that he has veterans Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Victor Martinez hitting behind him in the order. A big year is ahead for A-Jax.
3. Michael Bourn (Indians)- In somewhat of a surprise move this offseason, Bourn decided to take his talents to Cleveland. In an outfield with Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs, no other team will be able to cover the ground they can. But this isn’t about defense, and honestly, Bourn struggles to get on base as much as other top leadoff hitters. But once he’s on the paths, he wreaks havoc. He’s led the league in steals three times, combining for 276 so far in his career. A shift to the AL where pitchers haven’t really seen him before should mean good things for Bourn.
2. Jose Reyes (Blue Jays)- The biggest move of the offseason sent Reyes to Toronto. He has everything you want in a leadoff hitter. He has unreal speed, which he translates to being a tremendous base stealer. Not all fast guys can say the same. He has some pop in his bat, but can spray the ball all over the field. He’s a nightmare for pitchers because he doesn’t strike out much, and once the ball is in play, he can run for days. With an absolutely stacked lineup behind him, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Reyes with a monster year in the new shade of blue for him.
1. Mike Trout (Angels)- About as much a no brainer as no brainers can get. Not only is Trout the best leadoff man and the center fielder in the game, he’s the best player in the league at just 21 years old. While only playing in 139 games, he led the AL in runs scored and stolen bases, hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBI. From the leadoff spot! The numbers he put up were just ridiculous, especially for a guy his age. The Angels helped him by going out and getting prized free agent Josh Hamilton, which can only help Trout with another huge bat behind him. It will certainly be fun to see what kind of numbers Trout can put up this year, potentially nearing stats you typically only see in a video game.