Best Baseball Hitters of All Time
BEST BASEBALL HITTERS OF ALL TIME
The Best Baseball Hitters listed in this article do not include Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Mike Schmidt, Joe Morgan, Honus Wagner, or Johnny Bench. These eight men were written about already in my previous article "Greatest Nine Players in Baseball History." So besides those men, these are, in my opinion after diligent research, the Best Baseball Hitters of all time.
Ty Cobb (1886-1961) was a 6'2", 180 lb., country boy from Georgia. Even after he became the biggest baseball star of his generation, Cobb was insecure because of his unsophisticated background. This insecurity would turn into a burning rage if Cobb felt his honor disrespected.
In 1905, Ty Cobb's father snuck up on his own house, trying to catch his wife cheating on him. Cobb's mother heard a rustle in the bushes, and thinking it was an intruder, shot her husband dead. She was charged with murder, but later acquitted.
Three weeks after his father's death, Ty Cobb made his debut in center field for the Detroit Tigers, for whom he played nearly his entire career. He was 18 years old.
Ty Cobb was mercilessly abused by the veteran Detroit ballplayers as a rookie. These actions hardened him into a notoriously mean, aggressive hothead, prone to dirty play, racist rants, heated arguments, and fistfights galore. Cobb famously fought an umpire after a game—and whipped him good. Nobody in baseball liked him, not even his own teammates.
Ty Cobb played hard and lived hard. He was a heavy drinker and smoker. His wife finally divorced him after 39 years in a marriage that produced five children. Cobb was a major stockholder in Coca-Cola; this made him rich, and he was a major philanthropist. But he died a lonely, regretful man.
Ty Cobb has the highest lifetime Batting Average of any baseball hitter in history, .366. His record of 12 Batting Titles still stands unmatched. Of all the men who ever played the game of baseball, Cobb has the 2nd most Hits, Runs Scored, and Triples; 4th most Stolen Bases and Doubles; 5th most Total Bases; 7th most Runs Batted In.
After his first season, he never batted below .316 for 23 consecutive years. Cobb was the youngest player to win a Batting Title until 1955; won the Triple Crown in 1909; is still the only player to hit safely in 35 consecutive games or more twice, and the only player to steal his way from first to home four times in his career.
Ty Cobb is the youngest player to ever garner 3,000 Hits, and no other player has gotten to that mark in fewer at bats. Cobb was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with more votes than Babe Ruth (whom he was intensely jealous of), and the most votes ever until 1992. He played major league baseball from 1905 to 1928.
Rogers Hornsby (1896-1963) was from central Texas. His first name was his mother's maiden name. Hornsby spent the majority of his baseball career playing second base for the St. Louis Cardinals. He never smoked nor drank, but he loved to gamble on the horses. Hornsby was known as a cold, brutally frank, hateful man, though he never argued with an umpire. He died of a heart attack after cataract surgery, leaving behind a son.
Rogers Hornsby (5'11", 175 lbs.) posted a career Batting Average of .358—the best in the history of baseball for a right-handed hitter, and the highest ever in National League. Hornsby won seven Batting Titles, and is the only two-time Triple Crown winner in the history of the National League. Additionally, he found success as a manager, while also playing—leading the Cardinals to an upset over the "unbeatable" New York Yankees in the 1926 World Series.
Rogers Hornsby holds many records for twentieth century baseball players. For instance, in 1922 he hit over .400 with 40 Home Runs; he had 450 Total Bases that same year; in 1924 Hornsby hit .424 with a .507 On Base Percentage; in 1925 his Slugging Percentage was .756; Hornsby averaged .402 for five seasons; he also led the National League in Slugging Percentage nine times. None of these totals have been matched since by any man. He played major league baseball from 1915 to 1937.
Jimmie Foxx (1907-1967) grew into a big strong young man (6'0" 225 lbs.) from doing heavy work on the family farm in Maryland. He became known as the "right-handed Babe Ruth" during his baseball career as a first baseman. Foxx was a good-natured, well-liked man, who always picked up the check. He drank heavily and was not good with money. Foxx ended up broke, and died from choking on a piece of meat at dinner with his brother in Miami. He was survived by a son and a daughter.
Jimmie Foxx debuted in the major leagues at the tender young age of 17 with the Philadelphia Athletics. He played for that club 11 seasons, followed by 6 years with the Boston Red Sox. Foxx was the second player to reach 500 career Home Runs, and is still the second youngest to ever do so. His major league record of 12 seasons with 30 or more Home Runs stood until 2004.
Jimmie Foxx was a three time Most Valuable Player; won the Triple Crown one season; was a nine time All Star; and won two World Series championships. He finished his career with 534 Home Runs, 1922 Runs Batted In (today 8th best all time), and a .325 Batting Average. Of all the men who ever played in the big leagues, Jimmie posted career numbers that are 10th best in On Base Percentage; 5th in Slugging Percentage; and 6th in OPS. He played major league baseball from 1925 to 1945.
Stan Musial (b. 1920) was a Polish kid from Pennsylvania who stood 6 foot tall and weighed in at 175 pounds. He played high school baseball with Buddy Griffey, the father of Ken Griffey Sr.
Stan Musial recently celebrated 70 years of marriage to his high school sweetheart, with whom he has four children. He is widely known as a humble, modest man, who once asked his team for a 25% salary reduction because his production had fallen off. They gave it to him. It is said that Musial played a mean harmonica, back in the day.
Stan Musial made his major league debut in 1941 for the only team he ever played for during his 22 year career, the St. Louis Cardinals. He was selected to play in the All Star Game 24 times; won three MVP Awards; and won three World Series rings. Musial played first base and the outfield.
Stan Musial finished with a .334 lifetime Batting Average. Still today, he is the man with the 2nd most Total Bases for a major league career (6,134); 3rd most Doubles (725); 4th most Hits (3,630); 6th most RBIs (1,951); 9th most Runs Scored (1,949). Musial finished with 1,815 Hits at home, and 1,815 Hits on the road. He is the oldest man to hit three Home Runs in a game (age 41).
Stan Musial was the General Manager for the Cardinals for one season (1967) and won the World Series that year (He then resigned to devote more time to his restaurant). He played major league baseball from 1941 to 1963.
Mickey Mantle (1931-1995) was the son of a coal miner from Oklahoma. Mantle (5'11", 195 lbs.) was the greatest switch-hitter in the history of baseball, and an extraordinary center fielder with blazing speed. His memorabilia sells for more today than that of any other player, past or present, except Babe Ruth. Mantle had an ineffable hold on the imagination of baseball fans across America.
Mickey Mantle was a heavy drinker and a womanizer. His wife and four sons all became alcoholics as well. Mantle lived too high on the hog and made bad investments. As he lay dying of cancer he famously said, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself." I suppose I could say the same thing.
Mickey Mantle played his first game with the New York Yankees at the age of 19. The next year he replaced Joe DiMaggio as the Yankee's center fielder. By the time Mantle retired, he had amassed 536 career Home Runs, 3rd most in history at the time.
Mickey Mantle was selected to the All Star Game 16 times; won a Triple Crown; was the league MVP three times; and won seven World Series championship rings. His career numbers are currently 12th all time for OPS, and 7th for Base on Balls. Perhaps he is revered more for the distance of the Home Runs he hit; several traveled over 550 feet. He played major league baseball from 1951 to 1968.
Frank Robinson (b. 1935) was born in Beaumont, Texas, and reared in Oakland, California. His father worked on the railroad. Robinson was the last of ten children born of his mother. He played high school basketball with the great Bill Russell. Robinson has been married 49 years, and has a son and a daughter. He was active in the civil rights movement, and became the first black manager in the major leagues.
Frank Robinson (6'1", 183 lbs.) broke into the big leagues as an outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds in 1956, winning the Rookie of the Year Award. He led the National League in Slugging Percentage three consecutive seasons (1960-1962) while developing a reputation as a vicious player for his aggressive style of play.
Frank Robinson played 10 years for the Reds, followed by 6 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. He is the only man to win the Most Valuable Player Award in both major leagues. Robinson also won the Triple Crown one year, and played on two World Series championship teams.
Frank Robinson finished his playing career with 586 Home Runs (today 8th all time). Presently, his career statistics place him 11th all time in Total Bases; 14th in Runs Scored; and 19th in Runs Batted In. These numbers are all the more remarkable considering Robinson played in an era when pitching dominated baseball. He played major league baseball from 1956 to 1976.
Hank Aaron (b. 1934) is from Mobile, Alabama. He grew up poor as one of eight children, and picked cotton as a young lad, which some say gave him strong hands. After his playing career ended, Hank Aaron owned many car dealerships, and worked in the front office of the Atlanta Braves baseball team, as well as working for the Turner Broadcasting Network. Aaron is married to his second wife, and he has five children.
Hank Aaron broke into the Big Leagues in 1954 as the right fielder for his long time team, the Milwaukee Braves (in 1966 the team moved to Atlanta). In 1957, Aaron won the MVP Award while leading the Braves to the World Series championship.
Hank Aaron, 6', 180 lbs., broke Babe Ruth's "unbreakable" record for career Home Runs (714) in 1974. By the time he retired, he had 755 of them. Aaron remains the only player to hit 30 Home Runs in 15 seasons. And all this batting "cross-handed."
Hank Aaron became the first baseball player to reach 500 Home Runs and 3,000 Hits both in a career. He is the all time leader in Total Bases with 6,856, and Runs Batted In, with 2,297. Aaron ranks 3rd among all players who have ever played in career Hits (3,771), 4th in Runs Scored (2,174), 10th in Doubles (624).
Hank Aaron is a 25 time All Star who won two Batting Titles. Aaron led his league 8 times in Total Bases, 3 times in Runs Scored, and 4 times each in Home Runs, Runs Batted In, Slugging Percentage, and Doubles. He played major league baseball from 1954 to 1976.
Barry Bonds (b. 1964) is the son of former major league baseball star Bobby Bonds, and a cousin of the imitable Reggie Jackson. He grew up in California. Barry was a surly man, and a polarizing, insufferable braggart with an enormous ego—and a user of steroids and amphetamines. He is also the greatest baseball hitter ever.
Barry Bonds, at 6'1" and 185 lbs. (including his enormous head, which got noticeably bigger over the years) played left field for the Pittsburg Pirates 7 years, and then for the San Francisco Giants 15 years. He is a 14 time All Star, who also was a great fielder, winning 8 Gold Glove Awards. Barry is the only baseball player to win four consecutive MVP Awards; and the only one to win the award seven times—no one else ever won it more than three times.
Well, let's take a look at his stats. Barry owns the all time single season record for: On Base Percentage (.609); Walks (232); Intentional Walks (120); Slugging Percentage (.863); OPS (1.422); and Home Runs (73).
Barry won two batting titles; led the league in On Base Percentage ten times and is 6th for his career among all players who ever played the game; led the league seven times in Slugging Percentage and is 6th all time; led the league in OPS nine times and is 4th all time; is 3rd in career Runs Scored; 4th in career Total Bases; twelve times he led the league in Bases on Balls; and hit the most Home Runs for his career with 762. And he stole 514 bases.
Barry Bonds is the only baseball player to ever hit 500 Home Runs and steal 500 bases. He played major league baseball from 1986 to 2007.
There are a few baseball hitters still active that are among the best that ever played the game: Alex Rodriquez, Albert Pujols, and Manny Ramirez. Also, the statistics of Mark McGuire and Frank Thomas earned them serious consideration for inclusion on this list. Additionally, I would like to extend honorable mention to: Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Mel Ott, Hank Greenberg, and Joe DiMaggio.