Could Jacoby Ellsbury Become Best Leadoff Hitter in Baseball Once He Gets Healthy?

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Could Jacoby Ellsbury Become Best Leadoff Hitter in Baseball Once He Gets Healthy? They play one of the most important roles in the batting lineup, bravely taking the plate first in every game. They have to be fast, smart and good at getting on and around the bases. They are the leadoff hitters.

As the Red Sox head into Game 3 of their series in Seattle, they face off against one of the best leadoff hitters in the game – if not the best — in Ichiro Suzuki. Observing Suzuki's keen eye and swift pace generated the question, who is the MLB's best leadoff hitter?

There isn't a baseball fan out there who wouldn't include Suzuki when debating this topic. Does this guy ever age? He always plays with the energy of a group of 5-year-olds combined, but he also possesses the right amount of concentrated energy that makes him so great in the leadoff spot. Ichiro holds a career batting average of .332 with over 2,000 hits and almost 450 walks. Those totals give him an on-base percentage of .377, which make him pretty dependable. Ichiro can bloop singles into the outfield, but he can also leg out infield grounders to short, as he did on Friday against the Sox.

When you talk about speed, you have to include Mets leadoff guy Jose Reyes. He's racked up an incredible 320 stolen bases in his career, and he's only 27. Though he's been plagued with injuries in the past, you can't count out his ability to get on base. While he has logged a steady .285 batting average with over 1,000 hits in his career, it's his speed that sets him apart from the rest.

Then you have the superman at short, Derek Jeter. The Yankees' captain is more prominently a No. 2 hitter, but his combination of a solid bat and speed makes him a strong leadoff hitter as well. His career stats are nothing short of amazing, and, like Ichiro, age is just a number to this guy. His career batting average is .315, and he's been in the majors for 16 years; that's flat out impressive. Though his power should place him in the two or three spot, Jeter can handle the leadoff spot admirably.

Might as well go even with the AL/NL ratio and give Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros his due. This guy can move around the base paths and already has 29 stolen bases this season. Bourn is still young and has many years of running ahead of him, that's for sure. His solid batting average (.260) makes him a great candidate, as well, but let's face it, it's his motor that impresses us most.

There are several great lead-off guys in the MLB, and the stats change all the time. Where do you think Jacoby Ellsbury would rank if he were healthy? And for those who are healthy, who is the best leadoff hitter in baseball?

Share your thoughts below. The best comments will be read on NESN?s Red Sox GameDay Live or Red Sox Final.

July 23: What do the Red Sox Need from Josh Beckett Down the Stretch?

 

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