This is a debate that will be sure to rage on as long as baseball is played. That is the great thing about baseball; the game hasn’t changed as much as others have through the years. The Deadball Era, lack of African-American players, Steroid Era were factors that could either hurt or help you, but in the end, being a complete hitter was most important to me. You may be a great singles hitter, but I lean towards a high batting average that includes extra-base hits more than just a straight-up singles guy.
Perhaps the greatest five-tool player in baseball history batted in more than 100 RBIs in 10 of his 22 seasons. Mays could hit for power, as his 660 lifetime home runs can attest, and the lifetime batting average was brought down as Mays played much longer than he should have.
Baseball’s all-time career hits leader also holds the record for the most plate appearances in MLB history. His 1,972 career wins as a player is also a record. Rose did not hit for power and his lifetime batting average was slightly above .300. He was a great hitter, but his records were more about longevity, but he was a great hitter.
Gehrig and Stan Musical are the only two players with at least 500 doubles, 150 triples, and 450 home runs for a career.
Jackson, one of the most famous players on this list, batted.375 in the 1919 World Series and had 12 hits. He knew that some of his teammates took bribes to throw this Series. Jackson was then banned from the game for the rest of his life. We all wonder what could have been. We know that Jackson was an all-time great hitter who was forced out of baseball with a lifetime .356 batting average.
won eight NL batting titles, tied for the most in NL history with the legendary Tony Gwynn. Wagner hit a career-high .381 in 1900 and won four batting titles in a row, starting in 1906 and culminating with a World Championship Pittsburgh team in 1909. He also led the league in slugging six times and in stolen bases five times.
Musial was a great hitter, and I have him this high on the list because he also hit with great power, belting 475 Home Runs in his career. Musial stands fourth all-time with 3,630 hits. The most impressive statistic in all of those hits is that he had 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road. Musial won seven batting titles and ended his career with a lifetime batting average of .331 and almost 2,000 RBI’s.
Carew won seven American League batting titles, including four straight from 1972-75. Carew hit a career-high .388 in 1977 and wound up with a .328 lifetime average and 3,053 hits. He was selected to 18-straight all-star games.
Since the retirement of Ted Williams, Gwynn has been the best hitter in baseball. Gwynn owns a record-tying eight NL batting titles. He hit .394 in 1993, the highest average since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941. That kicked off a string of four-straight batting titles, as Gwynn hit .368, .353 and .372 the next three years, respectively. Gwynn finished with 3,141 hits and a .338 lifetime batting average. Gwynn was selected to 15 All-Star Games and helped lead the Padres to the World Series in 1984 and 1998.
Speaker’s career record of 792 doubles is still intact. He hit 50 doubles in 1920 and batting.388 to help Cleveland Indians win their first World Series. His career doubles record has stood for 100 years.
Hornsby is a man that is seemingly on every baseball historian’s top 5 hitters list, and yes, he is on mine also. Hornsby had the highest single-season batting average in baseball history, .424, in 1924. Between 1922 and 1925, Rogers batted .401, 384, .424 and .403. He won his final batting title with the Boston Braves in 1928 when he hit .387. Hornsby ranks second in history with a .358 lifetime average. Hornsby won a pair of triple crowns in 1922 and 1925. Hornsby was also the first National Leaguer to notch 300 career Home Runs.Check out the top baseball betting sites.
With all the focus on his career home run record that Barry Bonds broke in 2007, it is easy to forget that Aaron is the all-time career leader in RBIs, extra-base hits (1,477) and total bases (6,856). Aaron was much like Ruth, who could beat you however he needed. He had a lifetime batting average of over .300, hitting 755 home runs for his career and over 3,700 hits.
Ruth once said, “If I’d just tried for them dinky singles, I could’ve batted around .600.” He may have been right, but we’ll never know. Over 2,800 hits, a lifetime batting average of .342, and 714 home runs tell you all you need to know about the greatness of Ruth.
As he was known, the “Georgia Preach” was one of the greatest hitters ever to play the game. His reputation was unjustly soiled by a drunken sportswriter named Al Stump and later Ken Burns in his PBS Documentary Baseball. But the truth about Cobb was that he was as good a man as a baseball player. Beginning in 1907, Cobb won an unprecedented nine-consecutive AL batting titles. Then after losing the 1916 race, he won three more in a row, starting in 1917. He is second all-time in base hits at 4,191 and has the highest lifetime batting average in Major League Baseball history at .367. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that he batted over .400 three times, hit above .300 for 23 straight seasons, and won the 1909 triple crown.
This is a no-brainer selection for me. The “Splendid Splinter” could do it all. The most fantastic stat may be that Williams lost five of his best years to military service and still put up odd numbers. Williams hit .344 lifetime, won six American League batting titles and was the last man to beat over 400 for an entire season. Williams won the triple crown not once but twice in 1942 and 1947. He won his final batting title at the age of 39 when he hit an astounding .388. To me, number one was undoubtedly the “Splendid Splinter”.
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