Who has the most leadoff HRs in a season?

May 17th, 2019

Power has not traditionally been an attribute associated with leadoff hitters, who for much of baseball history have been selected primarily for their ability to make contact, get on base, and run.

That thinking has shifted in recent years, making the leadoff home run a bit less of a rarity, even as it remains a notable achievement. In 2017, MLB saw a record 159 leadoff home runs -- which include those hit by the first batter in both the top and bottom of the opening inning. Hitters nearly equaled that mark in ‘18, smacking 150 more. But even that quicker pace means there’s a leadoff shot in about 6 percent of games.

With that in mind, here is a look at the most leadoff homers hit by a player in a single season, through 2018.

1) Alfonso Soriano (2003 NYY), 13: Only Rickey Henderson has hit more career leadoff dingers than Soriano, who produced at least nine in a season three times. Soriano went deep 38 times total and stole 35 bases in 2003, his last season with the Yankees before he was sent to Texas in the Alex Rodriguez trade.

2-T) Alfonso Soriano (2007 CHC), 12: Soriano signed with Chicago after the 2006 season, then put up 33 big flies in his first year with the Cubs, who had him make 125 of his 134 starts in the leadoff spot.

2-T) Brady Anderson (1996 BAL), 12: It wasn’t hard to see why Anderson was batting first. From 1992-95, he posted a .367 OBP and averaged a solid 16 homers and 34 steals. Then the power suddenly exploded in 1996, as Anderson crushed 50 taters -- more than double what he produced in any other season. He remains the only player to hit leadoff homers in four straight games, from April 18-21 of that season.

4-T) Bobby Bonds (1973 SF), 11: Barry Bonds outhomered his dad overall, but Bobby has him beat when it comes to leadoff shots, both in a single season (Barry’s high was eight in 1988), and in a career (Bobby 35, Barry 20). As for Bobby, he finished 1973 one homer shy of a 40-40 campaign (39 homers, 43 steals).

4-T) Jacque Jones (2002 MIN), 11: This was a career year for Jones, who smacked 27 homers in all while slugging .511 for a Minnesota club that stormed to 94 wins and a division title.

6) Charlie Blackmon (2016 COL), 10: This was Blackmon’s breakout season at the plate, but he’s hit at least one leadoff homer in every season since 2013 and is climbing up the all-time leaderboard in this category. Eight of his 10 in 2016 came in a stretch of just over three months from May 3-Aug. 11.

7-T) Francisco Lindor (2018 CLE), 9: The Cleveland shortstop led the Majors in this category in 2018. He had one more than the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter, the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, and the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr., whose total included four in a five-game span from Aug. 11-14.

7-T) George Springer (2017 HOU), 9: Part of a new generation of No. 1 hitters that don’t necessarily meet the stereotypes of that spot in the lineup, Springer popped eight leadoff homers in 2016 before topping himself the next year. He went on to earn World Series MVP honors in ‘17, going deep five times in seven games against the Dodgers.

7-T) Hanley Ramirez (2008 MIA), 9: Yes, Ramirez was once a leadoff man. He stole 51 bases in both 2006 and ‘07, then 35 more in ‘08, which he paired with 33 homers. But Ramirez hit first in just 28 more games over the rest of his career after that season.

7-T) Jimmy Rollins (2007 PHI), 9: This was Rollins’ NL MVP Award-winning season, when he posted an incredible combination -- 20-plus triples, 30-plus homers and 40-plus steals. He’s the only player in baseball history to do that, and all 30 of those homers came as a leadoff man.

7-T) Chris Young (2007 ARI), 9: Young finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year race in 2007, after a 30-game debut the year before, and slugged 32 homers to go with 27 steals. This season accounted for nearly two-thirds of his 14 career leadoff big files.

7-T) Alfonso Soriano (2006 WSH), 9: Yes, Soriano managed to have a season of at least nine leadoff homers for three different clubs. He certainly made his one season in Washington count, becoming the fourth player -- and to this point, the last player -- to go 40-40.

7-T) Ray Durham (2004 SF), 9: An underrated player over 14 big league seasons, the two-time All-Star second baseman finished with 34 career leadoff shots. Durham went deep a total of 17 times in 2004, so more than half of those came batting first in the opening inning.

7-T) Brad Wilkerson (2004 MON), 9: This was the last season for the Expos before the franchise departed Montreal, and it was the most productive of Wilkerson’s career. He clubbed 32 total homers for Frank Robinson’s club, including the final roundtripper in Expos history -- a go-ahead, ninth-inning, three-run shot on Oct. 2 at Shea Stadium, in the penultimate game of the season.

7-T) Rickey Henderson (1986 NYY), 9: While Rickey doesn’t hold the single-season record, he has an enormous lead for the all-time mark, which is no surprise. The ultimate leadoff man, he started a whopping 2,875 games in the top spot in the batting order, compared with just 15 in every other spot combined.