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Mookie Betts hits 30 home runs from the leadoff spot, again

Betts is one of four players in MLB history with multiple seasons of 30 HR while batting first

Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins Photo by Bryan Cereijo/Getty Images

Mookie Betts on Saturday hit a Sandy Alcántara slider 411 feet, giving him 30 home runs on the season. That’s a milestone in itself, but that all the homers have come while batting first makes it even more rare.

This is the 28th time a player has hit 30 home runs from the leadoff spot in a season. Betts also turned the trick in his MVP season, hitting 32 homers while batting first for the Red Sox in 2018. Betts is one of just four players to have at least two 30 leadoff-homer seasons, along with Alfonso Soriano (four times), George Springer, and Francisco Lindor.

Betts is the second Dodger to hit 30 leadoff homers in a season. He’s three behind Joc Pederson, who hit 33 of his 36 home runs in 2019 while batting first.

Most years with 30 leadoff HR

Player Years
Player Years
Alfonso Soriano 4 ('02-03,'06-07)
George Springer 2 (2017, 2019)
Francisco Lindor 2 (2018-19)
Mookie Betts 2 (2018, 2022)
Source: Baseball Reference

The record for home runs while batting first is 39, first hit by Soriano in 2006 and then again by Springer in 2019.

Betts hit two home runs on Friday, fueling a comeback win in Miami, and also set a record. Betts has 20 multi-homer games out of the leadoff spot, passing Soriano for the most in MLB history.

Through the divisional era, players hitting 30 home runs while batting leadoff were like unicorns. It only happened three times, all in a seven-year stretch. Brewers infielder Tommy Harper hit 31 home runs in 1970, all from the leadoff spot, surpassing his homer total (27) from the previous four seasons combined. Bobby Bonds hit 35 homers while batting first for the Angels in 1973, then Rick Monday hit 31 such home runs for the Cubs in 1976, his last year in Chicago before getting traded to the Dodgers.

After that, no leadoff hitter reached 30 home runs until Brady Anderson in 1996, a season that came out of nowhere in many ways. The power-hitting leadoff batters trickled in over the next 20 years, but the explosion came over the last five full seasons. Half of the 28 seasons have come since 2017.

In just his third season with the Dodgers, 64 of Betts’ 69 home runs have come while batting first. That’s already good for third place in franchise history, five behind Pederson, with Davey Lopes and his 99 leadoff home runs holding down the top spot.

Hitting 30 home runs from any spot in the lineup was hard to come by for the Dodgers after moving to Los Angeles. In their first nineteen years out west, only Frank Howard (1962) and Jim Wynn (1974) hit 30 home runs in a season. Then four Dodgers did it in the same season (1977), the first MLB quartet to pull off that feat.

Only three Pedro Guerrero seasons in the 1980s ticked the 30-homer box for the Dodgers until Mike Piazza came along in 1993. Piazza and Eric Karros ushered in a power boom, as did the steroid era throughout the sport. Beginning in Piazza’s rookie season, the Dodgers had 19 different 30-homer seasons in twelve years.

After that, Andre Ethier hit 30 homers once (2009), and Matt Kemp did the same two years later in his NL MVP season (2011). Starting in 2017, Cody Bellinger has two 30-homer seasons, Max Muncy has three, and Pederson one with the Dodgers.

And now Betts, who has the 37th season of 30 home runs in Los Angeles Dodgers history, and the 55th such year in franchise history, counting the Brooklyn years. He’s the 25th different Dodger with a 30-homer season.