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Monday, October 27, 2014

The Greatest Lead-Off Guys Evar!

Gonna do this blog's seasonal trademark "Rock for Hall of Fame" article earlier this season, this is of course the 4th annual article of this genre.

Previous "Rock for Hall" articles:

1. Rock and Roll #1
2. Rock and Roll #2
3. Rock and Roll #3

This time around, we'll be looking at the greatest leadoff guys of all time and we'll see how Raines fits in with that class of baseball player. Players will be ranked in relation to 5 tools and will be given a Numeric-based rating in those five-tool variables. The variables will be the following...

1. Gettin' On Base (either using his bat to attain H or his eyes to attain BB).
2. Hittin' da Gaps and Down da Lines (to attain 2B and 3B)
3. Blastin' Bombs (to attain the coveted HR)
4. Runnin' Game (the ability to attain SB, to go first-to-third, and to go second-to-home)
5. D-Fence (ability to handle his position, make crazy cool plays, makin' it look easy, throwin' out runners)

Now, since this article is attempting to specifically rate "Lead-Off Guys", the weight of the ratings will not be the same for all 5 tools. The tools that exemplify a lead off guy will be given a higher weight. Lead off guys are expected to be on base, to get himself around the stations with his speed, and ultimately to cross the pentagon-shaped plate and add a run to the scoreboard. The weights are the following....

1. GOB: 5pts
2. HG&DL: 3pts
3. BBomb: 3pts
4. RG: 5pts
5. D: 3pts

As you can see, due to the article attempting to rate lead-off hitters, gettin' on base and gettin' around the bases via speed will be given a bonus in weight for the ratings. A maximum (best) rating can be 19 points whilst a minimum (worst) can be a rating of 0. Obviously "D" is the most difficult rating to apply because these stats are harder to qualify to achieve analysis....to me "D" is mostly qualified by the difficulty of position they played and since almost all of the guys listed here are outfielders then the only real difficulty is that Center is more of a taxing position then Left/Right.  If they manned Center they will get a a better rating than if they manned Left/Right, and if they were notably bad fielders they will get a poor rating.

Alrighty, let's start...


Rickey

Rickey Henderson was pretty damned amazing and I think everyone who knows baseball history knows that, so, since this article wants to focus on lesser-known players who aren't hall-of-famers, we won't spend too much time on Rickey. Everyone knows Rickey was pretty darned good. If you watched baseball for even one second the eighties or nineties you knew Rickey was a superstar.

Career Stats:



Plate Appearances (sample size): 13,346
Hits + Walks (GOB): 3055 + 2190 = 5,245
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 510 + 66 = 576
Homers (BBomb): 297
Steals/Attempts (RG): 1,406/1,741 (success rate: 80.75%)

Career OBP: .401
Career SLG: .419
Career OPS: .820

Position: Left Field (not known to be a notoriously bad defensive player)
Nickname: Man of Steel

Yeah, Rickey has some nuts stats. He's crossed the plate more times than any other human being in the history of Major League Baseball...no one has ever scored more runs than Rickey. Everyone already knows he was the best lead-off guys ever and everyone during his career and after are compared to him.

The only negative things that are said about Rickey is usually based on the assumption that he was a somewhat selfish player and had the reputation of being a "stat-padder." The most notorious example of this is during a game against the Brewers where Rickey's Padres were winning by a great margin and the opposing Brewers had no chance to win the game...Rickey stole second just to pad his stats...and Brewer's manager Davey Lopes flipped, ran out of the dugout to second base, to kick the shit outta Rickey and tell him that he was getting drilled the next time a Brewers' pitcher faced him.

Henderson was known as being a stat-padder who loved to see his stats increase and didn't care whether him being caught stealing would harm his team (like trying to steal third with two outs), or enrage the opposition (like stealing bases in late-innings with a huge lead).

It's hard to find anything wrong with Rickey due to him being a literal Super Star...the only other thing I can think of is that Rickey didn't understand pluralization as we can see from his Hall of Fame speech, Rickey puts an "s" on words that don't need them and doesn't put an "s" on pluralized words. Observe,


I know that not using pluralization in linguistics wouldn't really affect his ability to play baseball but it's hard to find anything wrong with Rickey...you really have to nit pick because he was pretty much possibly the greatest position player of all time.

1. GOB: 5
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 3
4. RG: 5
5. D: 2

Total Score: 18



Rock

Tim Raines is undoubtedly my favoritist baseball man who ever lived.

When I played that little league baseball, my batting stance looked like his, and everything else. I thought Tim Raines was the kewlest guy evar.

No doubt about it.

Career Stats:



Plate Appearances (sample size): 10,359
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2605 + 1330 = 3,935
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 430 + 113 = 543
Homers (BBomb): 170
Steals/Attempts (RG): 808/954 (success rate: 84.69%)

Career OBP: .385
Career SLG: .425
Career OPS: .810

Position: Left Field (not known to be a notoriously bad defensive player)
Nickname: ROCK

Tim Raines is the reason all my sweat-pants as a kid were ripped to shreds. I used to compulsively "steal" the objects. furniture, and fixtures around me as a child-unit. I used spend hours running and sliding into inanimate objects. I'd steal the sofa, then the chair, then the t.v. stand, then run upstairs and steal the other sofa, some kitchen chairs, slide into a bed or two, head first slide into the fridge....etc, etc, etc.

Tim Raines is so cool.

1. GOB: 4.5
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 2
4. RG: 5
5. D: 2

Total Score: 16.5



Willie Wilson

The Royals are such an exciting team to watch in the World Series and I hope they come through and win the 2014 World Series. They are the running team of the new millennium. Young people probably don't know that the Royals had one of the greatest leadoff guys who ever played. In fact, unlike Raines who had the luxury of playing in National League and thus was able to not constantly be compared to Rickey...Willie Wilson was in the AL and played against Rickey and therefore was more in the shadow of Rickey than anyone else. People don't even think about Willie in discussions of this nature yet look at his stats...


Plate Appearances (sample size): 8,317
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2207 + 425 = 2,632
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 281 + 147 = 428
Homers (BBomb): 41
Steals/Attempts (RG): 668/802 (success rate: 83.29%)

Career OBP: .326
Career SLG: .376
Career OPS: .702

Position: Mostly Left Field (not known to be a notoriously bad defensive player) 
Nickname: None

Willie's main strength was slap-hitting singles to maintain a high batting averages (career .285 BA), stealin' bases like a bat outta hell, and gappin' triples (this guy gapped 21 triples in a single season back in '85). His weakness is obviously his lack of base-on-balls which lead him to a poor career OBP of only .326...he could slap his way on to steal into scoring position and quite often gap his way on with doubles and triples into scoring position yet his lack of walks definitely affected his ability to score runs for his team.

As to why Willie was never given a cool nickname? I don't know...an alliteration of the W.W. of his name would have logically made a "W" related nickname easy to produce. His speed being his biggest weapon would have suggested the nickname "Wheels" Wilson or Willie "Wicked Wheels" Wilson would have fit extraordinarily well...yet he never secured a cool nickname throughout his career.

1. GOB: 2 
2. HG&DL: 3 
3. BBomb: 0.5 
4. RG: 5 
5. D: 2

Total Score: 12.5



Kenny Lofton

Next we'll handle ol' Kenny. Who was another incredibly gifted player who has sort of been forgotten since he didn't muster the vote percentage needed to stay on the hall of fame ballot.

He's one of the greatest lead off guys ever but sadly his career only began in the early nineties and the so-called "Steroid Era" was almost ready to go into full swing. If Kenny was born 10 years earlier and put up these numbers in the 80s he would be more highly regarded yet with all the Mark McGwires, Jose Cansecoes, Albert Belles, Frank Thomases, Barry Bondses, Sammy Sosas and Jeff Bagwells of the nineties...Kenny Lofton was pretty much drowned out by meat-heads banging out ludicrous amounts of homers. Still, Lofton's skill set should not be forgotten and his numbers should not be forgotten by baseball history. His career ticket is as follows...

Plate Appearances (sample size): 9,235
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2428 + 945 = 3,373 
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 383 + 116 = 499
Homers (BBomb): 130
Steals/Attempts (RG): 622/782 (success rate: 79.53%)

Career OBP: .372
Career SLG: .423
Career OPS: .794

Position: Mostly Center Field (not known to be a notoriously bad defensive player)
Nickname: None

Kenny was just about a 5-tool player, but as mentioned, he played in an era where muscle-meats were hitting up to 70 friggin' homers a year sometimes, so his modest homer numbers which at times hit the mid teens (14, 15) were nothing special at all. Still, his numbers are pretty darned amazing if you ask me. He got on base a lot, he got extra-base hits, the odd homerun, and ran like a jaguar. despite playing in the heart of the steroid era...Lofton deserves his kudos for the career he had.

1. GOB: 4
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 1.5
4. RG: 4
5. D: 2.5

Total Score: 15



Lou Brock

He was THE lead-off guy until Rickey and Rock came along and re-defined the genre. How does his numbers stack up now?

Although his numbers may come up a little flat...people should see Brock as a pioneer for this type of baseball. He was the first guy to tear up the basebaths like nobody else before him.





Plate Appearances (sample size): 10,332
Hits + Walks (GOB): 3,023 + 761 = 3,784
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 486 + 141 = 627
Homers (BBomb): 149
Steals/Attempts (RG): 938/1,245 (success rate: 75.34%)

Career OBP: .343
Career SLG: .410
Career OPS: .753

Position: Mostly Corner Outfield (not known to be a notoriously bad defensive player)
Nickname: The Human Franchise

The big thing here is you notice Lou's OPS is way below Henderson's (.820), Raines' (.810) and even Lofton's (.794)...clocking in at only .753 which is quite low for a Hall of Fame outfielder. He nailed the gaps and got down the lines better than any of the other contestants so far but his low batting averages in some seasons and his low walk rate really hurt his overall OPS.

The benefit for Brock is he was the first player to blow people away with his ability to run around the bases...when he stole 118 bases in '74 it no doubt shocked the baseball world. Still, his numbers don't compare to some of the guys who came after him.

1. GOB: 2.5
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 2
4. RG: 5
5. D: 2

Total Score: 14.5



Joe Morgan

Finally, a non-outfielder! It's the second-baseman, member of the Big Red Machine, and broadcaster Joe Morgan! Yay! Obviously being a non-outfielder he automatically gets max points in the defense column. Morgan will surprise you with his numbers because most don't really remember him as the run scorer he was...they prefer to remember the more flashy Lou Brock instead from that era.




Plate Appearances (sample size): 11,329
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2,517 + 1,865 = 4,382 
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 449 + 96 = 545
Homers (BBomb): 268 
Steals/Attempts (RG): 689/851 (success rate: 80.9)

Career OBP: .392
Career SLG: .427
Career OPS: .819

Position: Second Base (with some Golden Gloves too)
Nickname: Little Joe

Joe Morgan will surprise most as being maybe the only guy possible in this article who possibly can be considered better than Henderson. His numbers other than steals stack up, and he played a much more grueling position at second than Henderson did as a corner outfielder. The only knock on Morgan is that his nickname is super-lame.

1. GOB: 5
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 3
4. RG: 4
5. D: 3

Total Score: 18



Brett Butler

A white guy? Yup. Similar to Woody Harrelson in "White Men Can't Jump," Brett Butler was a guy in the late eighties and early nineties who was trying to be the exemption to the adage of "White Men Can't Run." This is a name no one remembers, but his stats might actually surprise you in relation to how they stack up to other players of his skill set.

(Not to be confused with that woman of the same name from that short-lived sitcom).




Plate Appearances (sample size): 9,545
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2,375 + 1,129 = 3,504
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 277 + 131 = 408
Homers (BBomb): 54
Steals/Attempts (RG): 558/815 (success rate: 68.4)

Career OBP: .377
Career SLG: .376
Career OPS: .753

Position: Mostly Center Field (not known to be an awful fielder)
Nickname: Grace Under Fire / That White Guy Who Runs

His OPS is literally on par with Lou Brock's yet his running game suffers from all the caught stealings. He has by far the lowest success percentage out of these guys so far...clocking in at an abysmal 68%. Maybe he should have cooled off his running game a bit and just attempted to steal maybe 20 to 30 times per season instead of 60 or 70 times. His OBP is where it is at though and his ability to go first-to-third and to score from second base on a single helped him cross the plate a good deal of times.

1. GOB: 4
2. HG&DL: 1
3. BBomb: 0.5
4. RG: 3.5
5. D: 2.5

Total Score: 11.5



Pete Rose

Rose was not a base-stealer but his ability to get on base, go from first-to-third, and cross the plate by hustlin' and playing like "an asbestos dog dressed in a gasoline suit runnin' through hell" lands him on the list of players with this unique skill set. His sample size, however, is absurd due to him getting playing time in his later years when he was definitively washed up...which leads him to have the same reputation as Henderson as being a "stat-padder."

He had OPS numbers of below .700 and even one season below .600 in his 40s while he was still getting close to full seasons of play under his belt. Obviously younger players deserved to play in the stead of Rose yet his name helped him stay in lineups and increase his sample size of numbers well into his decline years.


Plate Appearances (sample size): 15,890 (ok there, yo)
Hits + Walks (GOB): 4,256 + 1,566 = 5,822
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 756 + 160 = 916
Homers (BBomb): 160
Steals/Attempts (RG): 198/347 (success rate: 57%)

Career OBP: .375
Career SLG: .409
Career OPS: .784

Position: All over the damned place (not known to be terrible)
Nickname: The Charliest of Hustles

Rose's OPS is behind Henderson, Raines, and again even behind Kenny Lofton which would probably surprise a lot of people. His base stealing numbers are atrocious and had no business trying to steal bases if he could barely even be successful half the damned time. Still, this guy ran like a maniac and crossed the plate a shit-load of times for the Big Red Machine.

1. GOB: 4
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 1.5
4. RG: 2
5. D: 2

Total Score: 12.5



Craig Biggio

I guess we'll clump all the white guys together so here's Craig Biggio! A guy I saw play a heck-a-va-lot live and this guy could really play ball.

He's a guy who got hit by a lotta pitches too which got him on base even more than usual. He was drilled by 34 pitches one year which is almost Ron Hunt-esque.

Him and those Astros of the late-nineties could run. I remember seeing a game live where Biggio and the Astros stole seven damned bases off of Jeff Juden and Chris Widger in the span of like 5 innings (boxscore courtesy of b-ref). It was Biggio, and Chuck Carr, and some other guys...it was nuts. They were runnin' up a muck...they were really runnin' up a stew.



Plate Appearances (sample size): 12,504 
Hits + Walks (GOB): 3,060 + 1,160 = 4,220 
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 668 + 55 = 723
Homers (BBomb): 291
Steals/Attempts (RG): 414/538 (success rate: 76.9%)

Career OBP: .363
Career SLG: .433
Career OPS: .796

Position: All over the damned place (even behind the damned plate and won goldies at second)
Nickname: Killer B (one of many to hold this monicker)

His OPS sinks him right ahead of Kenny Lofton by a mere 2 points but is distinctly less than Henderson's and Raines'. His base stealing ability was similar to Butler's but unlike his white base-stealin' counterpart...Biggio didn't attempt to steal as much as Butler and only stole in circumstances where he was sure he had a chance to steal it leading him to have a better success rate than Butler yet still well behind others (notably Raines' 84.69% success rate). I wouldn't be surprised if he makes the Hall and he will...but people should take note that he wasn't all that much better than Kenny Lofton by any stretch and Lofton didn't even get 5% of the vote.

1. GOB: 3
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 3
4. RG: 3
5. D: 3

Total Score: 15



Paul Molitor

This guy was pretty darned good himself and "Moh-Lit-Tohr" was a pretty fun last name to say. Sounds kinda like a robot's name.

Molitor played many infield positions but started already getting a lot of DH time by the age of 30, so despite his time at second and at third base...I don't think Molitor should get a full 3 points in the D-Fence field. I think a two will suit him just fine.




Plate Appearances (sample size): 12,167
Hits + Walks (GOB): 3,319 + 1,094 =  4,413
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 605 + 114 = 719
Homers (BBomb): 234
Steals/Attempts (RG): 504/635 (success rate: 79.37%)

Career OBP: .369
Career SLG: .448
Career OPS: .817

Position: All over the damned place (a lot of time spent at DH however)
Nickname: The Ignitor (pronounced Ig-Night-Tohr).

Obviously an amazing baseball player and already deservingly in the Hall of Fame, however, since his OBP and base stealing numbers aren't in the range of some other players it is unlikely he will be the renowned as one of the greatest lead-off guys of all time. Top-5 is a good bet, though.

1. GOB: 4
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 3
4. RG: 3.5
5. D: 2

Total Score: 15.5




Ichiro

Ichiro is an interesting case because half of his career was in the Nippon league and only half of his career was across da pacific pond over here on this side of the planet earth. Still, he's put up some huge amounts of hits with his slappity-slappy-slap style of chip-away hittin' and has some good numbers. I have never in my life seen a live game with Ichiro in it to date which is mainly due to him being in the American League his whole career. I always wanted to see him live.




Plate Appearances (sample size): 9,663
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2,844 + 565 = 3,409
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 336 + 85 = 421
Homers (BBomb): 112
Steals/Attempts (RG): 487/596 (success rate: 81.7%)

Career OBP: .360
Career SLG: .411
Career OPS: .771

Position: Right Field (known to be excellent and efficient)
Nickname: 鬼才


Like Brock and others, his OPS looks a little lackluster for a legend. He, like many others, is behind Kenny Lofton and way behind Henderson and Raines. He steals efficiently though and since Japanese catcher's arms are not known to be significantly worse than MLB catcher's arms...I'm tempted to count his 199 bases he stole in the Nippon league yet since this is for the MLB Hall of Fame those numbers cannot in the end be used. If you do take the 199 he stole before coming overseas he'd sit at 686 steals which jumps him ahead of both Kenny and Wicked Wheels Wilson.

1. GOB: 3
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 2
4. RG: 4
5. D: 2.5

Total Score: 14.5



Otis Nixon

Goodness gracious and great googly-moo, I can't believe I managed to sneak my man Otis up in here. Yet, his numbers stack up so he's gotta have an entry of his own. He along with Gary Gaetti and Randy Johnson are the only 3 Major Leaguers to ever be referenced on one of the greatest shows ever...Mystery Science Theatre 3000...so he's got that going for him too.

He's also named Otis Nixon, in case you didn't know. Which is a good name.




Plate Appearances (sample size): 5,800
Hits + Walks (GOB): 1,379 + 585 = 1,964 
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 142 + 27 = 169 (yucky)
Homers (BBomb): 11 (that's not a lot)
Steals/Attempts (RG): 620/806 (success rate: 76.9%)

Career OBP: .343
Career SLG: .314 (yeeeeeeesh)
Career OPS: .658 (yowza)

Position: Center Field (known to be quite good)
Nickname: Oats and Whey Nixon

I wrote a song once about Otis Nixon in elementary school instead of paying attention in class and it was the greatest and most catchy song anyone ever wrote.


1. GOB: 2.5
2. HG&DL: 0.5
3. BBomb: 0
4. RG: 4.5
5. D: 2.5

Total Score: 10



Marquis Grissom

Sneakin' in another personal favorite while I have the chance and getting another Expo hatted man in here. This article is going on a long time, I started writing this in like the 4th inning of game 5 of the 2014 World Series and now it's the 8th inning...either way...The Grip is bustin' in this article too so make way.

I saw him hit in-da-park homers, score from third on short sac-flies. In his halcyon days...this cat could flat-out storm on the basepaths.




Plate Appearances (sample size): 8,959
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2,251 + 553 = 2,804
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 386 + 56 = 442
Homers (BBomb): 227
Steals/Attempts (RG): 429/545 (success rate: 78.71%)

Career OBP: .318
Career SLG: .415
Career OPS: .732

Position: Center Field (known to be quite good)
Nickname: The Grip

His OBP is his main flaw yet his OPS isn't that bad thanks to his late career when he became a power hitter and hung up his base stealin' cleats. He stole with almost an 80% success rate in his early career and snagged 429 bases which is pretty good. I just wanted to get him in here cause he's a cool guy and one of my all-time favorite baseball dudes.


1. GOB: 1
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 3
4. RG: 3.5
5. D: 2.5

Total Score: 13



Juan Pierre

Here we go, a modern day player! A guy who played through the Steroid+ era of Pujols, A-Rods, Heltons, and all those guys. If Lofton's stats were washed away by the nineties Steroid Era then Juan Pierre's numbers are DROWNED out by the Steroid+ era. His numbers are damned good too...





Plate Appearances (sample size): 8,280
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2,217 + 464 = 2,681 
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 255 + 94 = 349
Homers (BBomb): 18
Steals/Attempts (RG): 614/817 (success rate: 75.15%)

Career OBP: .343
Career SLG: .361
Career OPS: .704

Position: Center Field (known to be decent)
Nickname: The Haitian Sensation

He's a slightly better version of Otis Nixon, yet it's cool that at least one guy in modern baseball is still playing like it's the seventies or eighties...and who knows...with the Steroid+ era in remission we may start seeing a whole lot more Juan Pierres in the big leagues again. Jose Reyes and Mike Trout are both too young to be included in a "baseball history" sorta article like this but they are two guys who can play this way too. That Billy Hamilton is destined to be more of an Otis than a Henderson or a Raines...but that kid in Cincinnati can run too. Modern baseball still has some of these guys left, which is good. The Steroid era and the Steroid+ era didn't squeeze them all out.


1. GOB: 2.5
2. HG&DL: 1.5
3. BBomb: 0
4. RG: 4
5. D: 2.5

Total Score: 10.5



Willie McGee

The World Series game still isn't over as I write this (9th now) so I'm gonna throw in some more guys before we close this article out. Make way for that slap hittin' man-of-the-hour...WILLIE MCGEEEEEEEEE! YEAH!

There's not one person on earth who does not love Willie McGee. If you're sitting there and pretending you don't like Willie McGee...then just grow up...you're not fooling anyone...everyone loves Wille McGee. Stop lying to yourself.


Plate Appearances (sample size): 8,188
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2,254 + 448 = 2,702
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 350 + 94 = 444 
Homers (BBomb): 79
Steals/Attempts (RG):
352/473 (success rate: 74.4%)
 

Career OBP: .333 
Career SLG: .396
Career OPS: .729


Position: Out Field (known to be decent and won son Goldies)
Nickname: ... (how the fuck did Willie McGee never get a nickname?)

1. GOB: 2
2. HG&DL: 2.5
3. BBomb: 1.5
4. RG: 2.5
5. D: 2.5

Total Score: 11



Tony Gwynn

Rest in peace, legend. I saw you live in the flesh hit your 3,000th hit at Olympic Stadium...you were a true legend. Serious.

Tony is in here, but like others he was more in the role of an RBI-guy for most of his career and though he was an amazing player it is unlikely he will be considered one of the best Lead-Off guys of all time.




Plate Appearances (sample size): 10,232
Hits + Walks (GOB): 3,141 + 790 = 3,931 
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 543 + 85 = 628
Homers (BBomb): 135
Steals/Attempts (RG):
319/444 (success rate: 71.84%)
 

Career OBP: .388
Career SLG: .459
Career OPS:
.847

Position: Right Field (not known to be a bad fielder)
Nickname: Mr. Padre (get outta here Tim Flannery...you bum, don't ever call yourself that again. That's Tony's name.)

Since this article is rating lead-off hitters, Tony, though having a higher OPS than Rickey and Raines, will wind up with a lower final tally. His role was more hitting out of the number three slot and to drive in leadoff guys...yet he did display the skill set of a leadoff guy. 

1. GOB: 5
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 1.5
4. RG: 2.5
5. D: 2

Total Score: 14



Wade Boggs

Like Pete Rose, Boggs ran like shit...but he did log a hell-a-vu-lotta at-bats from the lead off spot over his career and he was definitely not a power hitter so he has to be included in here too.

There was always something about Boggs that irked me, I never figured out what it was though. Maybe because he looked sorta like Carney Lansford...and that guy seemed odd, I found.






Plate Appearances (sample size): 10,740 
Hits + Walks (GOB): 3,010 + 1,412 = 4,422  
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 578 + 61 = 639 
Homers (BBomb): 118
Steals/Attempts (RG):
24/59 (success rate: 40.67%)
 

Career OBP: .415 
Career SLG: .443
Career OPS:
.858

Position: Thirdbase (not known to be a good fielder)
Nickname: Chicken Man (cuz he always ate chicken at the same time before a game)

Wade couldn't homer so he hit at the top of the order a lot, he couldn't run but since he was ALWAYS on base...he scored a lot of freakin' runs, man. He won gold gloves later in his career as a member of the Yankees in '94 and '95...why was he awarded these? I have no clue. He did not excel at third whether early or especially late in his career. He was given these gold gloves simply for playing in a big market city for the Yankees and did not deserve them.

Obviously, like Tony Gwynn...because we are trying to find the greatest lead-off guy and Wade's skill set is more for a number 3 hitter like Tony...his ratings will be hindered a bit in this contest. Wade's a great player but not he greatest lead-off hitter of all time.

1. GOB: 5
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 1
4. RG: 0
5. D: 2

Total Score: 11


Vince Coleman

Great player, well great baserunner anyway, not so much a great hitter though.

It's a shame that he's remembered for that one time he tried to celebrate after a game by whipping fire crackers into the parking lot as the Mets rolled outta Dodger Stadium but he didn't realize fire crackers are extremely dangerous and a little 1-year old girl got burned. He didn't mean it....

Vinny Coleman might give Otis a run for his money for dead last on this list.

Plate Appearances (sample size): 5,970
Hits + Walks (GOB): 1,425 + 477 =  1,902
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 176 + 89 = 265
Homers (BBomb): 28
Steals/Attempts (RG): 752/929 (success rate: 80.94%)

Career OBP: .324
Career SLG: .345
Career OPS: .668

Position: Mostly Leftfield (not too shabby yet unexceptional)
Nickname: Vincent Van Go (like the artist but Go as in Go!)

People remember him in a more glorious light than his stats should indicate. Many even think he was better than Raines. I've read a lot of articles from people who really mis-remember how good Coleman was. He was more like an Otis Nixon or a Gary Pettis type player. He does look pretty fuckin' gangsta in his photo though.

1. GOB: 1.5
2. HG&DL: 1
3. BBomb: 0.5
4. RG: 5
5. D: 2

Total Score: 10



Barry Larkin

Barry was a shortstop, and was an excellent one at that, so like Joe Morgan, he will get an automatic 3 points in the D section. Barry was a great player who played his whole career on one team. He is a hall of famer and legend.

Larkin was a real superstar, but his superstar status is in the fact that he was a gold glove shorstop who just happened to be an excellent hitter. He, similar to Boggs and Gwynn, are incredible players yet not exactly the greatest lead off men of all time.


Plate Appearances (sample size): 9,057
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2,340 + 939 = 3,279
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 441 + 76 = 517
Homers (BBomb): 198
Steals/Attempts (RG):
379/456 (success rate: 83.11%)
 

Career OBP: .371
Career SLG: .444
Career OPS:
.815

Position: Short Stop (Gold Glover)
Nickname:  B-Lark? (I dunno, he's another guy who never got adorned a nickname)

1. GOB: 4
2. HG&DL: 3
3. BBomb: 2.5
4. RG: 3
5. D: 3

Total Score: 15.5


Maury Wills

Now we're getting way old school here, with guys like Maury Wills. Yet, Wills stole 100+ bases in 1964 so he is a pre-Lou Brock basepath menace...no doubt about it.

Wouldn't be far fetched to call him the trail-blazer in basepath blazin' come to think of it.

Briefly an Expo too...which is cool.



Plate Appearances (sample size): 8,306
Hits + Walks (GOB): 2,134 + 552 = 2,686
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 177 + 71 = 248
Homers (BBomb): 20
Steals/Attempts (RG):
586/794 (success rate: 73.8%)
 

Career OBP: .330
Career SLG: .331
Career OPS:
.661

Position: Short Stop (Gold Glover too)
Nickname:  None stated

1. GOB: 2
2. HG&DL: 1
3. BBomb: 0
4. RG: 4
5. D: 3

Total Score: 10


Jackie Robinson

What article about speedy lead-off men would be complete without the Legends of Legends...a veritable Legend's Legend...Mr. Jackie Robinson.

This is the entry in this list from the furthest back in time, all the way back to the nineteen fifties with ol' Jackie.

Jackie, like Ichiro, only began playing in the majors at the age of 28 yet for an entirely different reason. Jackie lived in the USA yet in the 1940's black men were not allowed to play baseball despite their ability to do so. In fact, as most would know...Jackie was the first black man to play Major League Baseball.

His sample size is quite small due to this reason as he only played ten years of ball due to not being allowed to play initially.


Plate Appearances (sample size): 5,804
Hits + Walks (GOB): 1,518 + 740 = 2,258
Double + Triples (HG&DL): 273 + 54 =327
Homers (BBomb): 137
Steals/Attempts (RG): 
197/ ??? (success rate omitted)
 

Note: Since Jackie started his career 5 years prior to Caught Stealing being recorded as a statistic...his caught stealing records are incomplete so his steal success rate is left omitted. His stolen bases are legit, however.

Career OBP: .409
Career SLG: .474
Career OPS:
.883

Position: All Over (mostly second base)
Nickname:  None stated

1. GOB: 5
2. HG&DL:3
3. BBomb: 3
4. RG: 3
5. D: 2.5

Total Score: 16.5

Note: Jackie's career stats would have been much higher if he was allowed into the league earlier. As stated he only had his rookie year at the age of 28...whilst guys like Raines and others had their rookie year at the age of 20. Had he played a full career he would have likely been the greatest lead-off hitter of all time.


Assessment

Leadoff Guy Leader Board:

1. Rickey Henderson 18 (HALL)
2. Joe Morgan 18 (HALL)
3. Tim Raines 16.5
3. Jackie Robinson 16.5 (HALL)
4. Paul Moilitor 15.5 (HALL
4. Barry Larkin 15.5 (HALL)
7. Kenny Lofton 15
7. Craig Biggio 15
9. Lou Brock 14.5 (HALL)
9. Ichiro 14.5
11. Tony Gwynn 14 (HALL)
12. Marquis Grissom 13
13. Willie Wilson 12.5
13.. Pete Rose 12.5
14. Brett Butler 11.5
15. Willie McGee 11
16. Wade Boggs 11 (HALL)
17. Juan Pierre 10.5
18. Maury Wills 10
18. Vince Coleman 10
18. Ol' Otis 10



Note: Boggs and Gwynn were included because they hit quite a bit of leadoff...though they are handicapped due to being more RBI-guys in nature than Run-guys....and this article was to rate leadoff hitters so although they are great players they score lower on here due to not being excellent baserunners and more suited for the 3-slot.


Conclusion

This went on too long, I was starting to look at Gary Redus, Julio Franco, Ryne Sandberg, Robin Yount, Ron LeFlore, Rodney Scott, Mickey Rivers, Juan Samuel, Bert Campaneris, Garry Pettis, Delino DeShields, Omar Moreno, Tony Phillips, Bill North, Harold Reynolds, Dave Collins, Luis Aparicio, Mitch Webster, Eric Young Sr., Bob Dernier, Bake McBride, Tommy Harper, Terry Puhl, Tommie Agee, Warren Cromartie, Ken Griffey Sr, (trouble in da suez!), Garry Templeton, Ozzie Smith, Lonnie Smith, Dwight Smith, Milt Thompson, Cesar Cedeno, Roger Cedeno, but not Andujar Cedeno, Rex "The Wonder Dog" Hudler, Davey Lopes, Lloyd Moseby, Rudy Law, pre-steroid Barry Bonds, Chad fuckin' Curtis, Luis Polonia, Stan Javier, but when I got to Greg Gross...I was like...okay, enough of this shit now. I Can't include everyone ever in here...I'd hafta stay up all night long writin' 'bout leadoff guys.

Anyways, Tim "Rock" Raines, is the third best player of this genre...only behind Rickey Henderson and Joe Morgan. His skill set of getting on base, stealin' bases, and scoring runs was complimented by his hitting prowess and decent power.

If Biggio gets in before Raines...to me...it would be a bit of an insult. Just because Biggio's another one of those guys who got to the arbitrary sum of 3,000 hits he's primed to be a shoe-in yet was Craig Biggio a better player than Tim Raines? No, he was not...I don't even think Biggio was a better player than Kenny Lofton to be honest.


(Note added Dec.10/2014): This article only dealt with retired players and Derek Jeter was still an active player in 2014 so that's why he wasn't listed...not because I forgot or anything like that).

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