Baseball’s All-Time Hits Leaders
When it comes down to it, the base hit is what the game of baseball is based around. So in its purest form, collecting base hits is one of the best measuring sticks of a player's career. Here we look at the top 10 hitters of all-time in the game based on total number of hits over a career:
Pete Rose is baseball's all-time hits leader with 4256 over a career that spanned from 1963-1986 with the Reds, Phillies, and Expos. Unfortunately, Rose is not recognized by the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame because of a gambling scandal a few years ago. But between the lines, Rose was clearly one of the best, if not THE best, hitter the game has ever seen. And he played the game as hard as anyone has ever played it. Rose had his best season with the Reds in 1973, when he collected 230 hits and batted .338 to lead his team to the NLCS, where they lost to the Mets. Rose was also part of the Big Red Machine that won a few championships in the 70s.
Ty Cobb played almost his entire career with the Tigers (1905-1926), except for his last two seasons with the Athletics (1927-1928). Over that time, Cobb amassed 4189 hits, and was the all-time leader for many decades before Pete Rose broke the record. Cobb had an astounding lifetime batting average of .366 and his best season was 1911, when he hit .420 with 248 hits. Cobb also ranks fourth all-time with 892 stolen bases over his career.
Simply one of the greatest sluggers the game has ever fielded, Henry "Hank" Aaron was also a professional hitter, tallying 3771 base hits over his career, which spanned from 1954 to 1976 with the Braves and Brewers. Aaron broke Babe Ruth's all-time home run mark in 1974, and his record of 755 homers was just broken in 2007 by Barry Bonds. But Aaron was also a career .305 hitter, and his best season was 1959, with a .355 average, and 223 hits including 39 home runs.
St. Louis Cardinals great Stan "The Man" Musial seems to find his way into many of these hubs. And that's because he was one of baseball's all-time great hitters in addition to just being a great player in St. Louis. Musial played from 1941 to 1963, and over that time had 3630 hits, with a batting average of .331 to go along with 475 homers and 1951 runs batted in. Musial's best season was 1948, when he hit .376 with 230 hits, 39 homers and 131 RBI.
Tris Speaker ranks fifth all-time in major league history with 3514 hits, but most people of today's generation are less than familiar with his name. That's because Speaker played from 1907 to 1928, for the Americans, Red Sox, Indians, Senators and Athletics. But with a lifetime batting average of .345, baseball historians sure remember Speaker. In 1912 with Boston, Speaker had a career high of 222 hits, finishing with an incredible batting average of .383.
Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski was one of the great Red Sox players of all-time, and leads the franchise in many offensive categories. But he also ranks sixth all-time in baseball history with 3419 base hits. Yaz played his entire career with Boston (1961-1983) and over that time hit .285 with the 3419 hits, 452 home runs and 1844 runs batted in.
Honus Wagner is another player who played in the late 19th century and early 20th century, from 1897-1917. He played for the Colonels and Pirates, and had a career batting average of .327, collecting 3415 hits for his career. Wagner's best year was 1900 when he hit .381 with 201 hits. Wagner also duplicated the 201 hits, a career high, in 1908.
Paul Molitor played most of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, but also for the Blue Jays and Twins, in a career that spanned from 1978-1998. Over that time, Molitor became the game's eighth-place hits leaders with 3319. Molitor was also a lifetime .306 hitter, and his best season came in 1996 with the Twins, when he batted .341 with a career high of 225 hits.
Eddie Collins played from 1906 to 1930 with the Athletics and White Sox, and ranks ninth all-time in baseball history with 3315 hits. Collins was a career .333 hitter and had career highs in hits (224) and batting average (.372) in 1920 with the White Sox.
Outfielder Willie Mays, a.k.a. the "Say Hey Kid," ranks tenth all-time with 3283 base hits, and also is fourth all-time with 660 home runs. Mays played most of his career with the Giants (1951 to 1972 in both New York and San Francisco) and also part of 1972 and all of 1973 with the New York Mets. Mays' best season was 1958, when he hit .347 with a career high of 208 hits.