The 2017 Major League Baseball season is less than a week underway, so any broad-sweeping conclusions would obviously be folly. We can, however, make observations, especially those that seem to be a continuation of recent years or that we expect to continue. On that front, let’s discuss the power that some leadoff men have flashed early. 

Hello Carlos Santana

Oh, hey, Kyle Schwarber

George Springer of the Astros already has three homers from the leadoff spot -- two to start the game for his team -- but I chose those Santana and Schwarber shots for a few reasons. 

First off, Santana’s bomb came on the road to lead off the game. That’s a pretty big deal to all of a sudden spot your team a 1-0 lead before an out is even recorded in the game. It’s a total game-changer from a mental standpoint, not to mention the lead on the actual scoreboard. 

Secondly, those who oppose power hitters -- especially bigger guys like Santana and Schwarber -- often talk about how they should be lower in the lineup so they can drive in more runs. In Schwarber’s case, that was a three-run shot that would prove the game-winner. If Joe Maddon was concerned about having a smaller guy who can steal more bases leadoff in order to move Schwarber down, perhaps the Cubs don’t win that game. Maybe they do. Regardless, Schwarber was the leadoff hitter and still picked up a three-run homer. 

It’s more than just the three names I’ve mentioned, of course. 

A.J. Pollock is hopefully around for a full season with Arizona. He had 20 homers in 2015 and already has one with five RBI this season. 

Ian Kinsler hits atop a powerful Tigers lineup and clubbed 28 bombs last year. He has one in two games so far in 2017. 

Rockies center fielder Corey Dickerson had 24 homers last season and already has one this year. 

Brian Dozier hasn’t homered yet this year, but he hit 41 homers last year and leads off for the Twins

Carlos Gomez has three seasons with at least 19 homers in his career and already clubbed one over 460 feet this season. Jean Segura hit 20 home runs last year and has one so far in 2017. Believe it or not, the speedster Jonathan Villar had 19 homers last year for the Brewers and already has one this time around. New Dodgers leadoff hitter Logan Forsythe hit 20 homers in only 127 games year. 

Several others have some power, such as Dexter Fowler, Dustin Pedroia and Devon Travis

Perhaps one of these guys will make a run at the leadoff homer record in a season (counting the bottom of the first as well as leading off the game). Here are the players in MLB history with at least 10 leadoff homers in a season. 

  1. Alfonso Soriano, 13, 2003
  2. Alfonso Soriano, 12, 2008
  3. Brady Anderson, 12, 1996
  4. Bobby Bonds, 11, 1973
  5. Jacque Jones, 11, 2002

Again, Springer already has two. 

It goes beyond that, though. The leadoff man is the hitter who gets the most plate appearances for his team, so his at-bats past the first inning can come with runners on base and that’s where the power really comes in. 

There’s an overall uptick in power at the top spot in the order. As alluded to in the quick intro, this is a continuation from last season. Before 2016, here were the top five seasons ever for home runs from the leadoff spot in the order: 

  1. 2008, 466 HR
  2. 2015, 453 HR
  3. 2006, 448 HR
  4. 2007, 448 HR
  5. 2004, 445 HR

That record was shattered in 2016, as there were a whopping 576 home runs hit from the number one spot in the order. Also take note of 2015’s standing on the leaderboard and some of the names hitting leadoff this season. It’s a trend. 

There have been 12 home runs from the number one spot this season and we’ve only been watching regular-season action since Sunday. It’s far too small a sample to start drawing conclusions from such a number, but, again, look at the personnel listed above. 

Between the likes of Santana, Schwarber, Springer, Dozier, Dickerson, Pollock, Kinsler et al, would it really surprise anyone to see the record set for the second-straight season? 

Home runs are up across the board, but nowhere like at the top: The leadoff man, MLB’s trendy power source.