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Best Hitters in the Game of Baseball Today

Updated on October 29, 2012

This article looks at the best active hitters in major league baseball. These are players that are at the top of their game and does not include great active hitters that are past their primes such as Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Lance Berkman, Todd Helton, and other older players that have declined in their performance. They are hitters you would most hate to see come up against your team in the bottom of the ninth with a one run lead. Some of the factors considered in the ranking include the ability to hit for both power and average, consistency of performance over their career, esthetics of their swing, ability to avoid strikeouts, and plate discipline as demonstrated by walk totals.

10) Matt Holliday

The career .315 hitter just makes the number ten spot on the list, primarily for his career average and his monster 2007 season that saw him finish first in two thirds of the triple crown categories: batting average (.340) and RBI (.137). That year he also led the league in doubles, hits, total bases and had an OPS over one. Holliday is also fun to watch hit with his high leg kick and one-handed follow-through. He tends to hit line drives that seem to keep going and going rather than long towering shots. Injuries have hurt his numbers in recent seasons, but he is still only 32 and should have several more productive years ahead of him.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2007)
158
636
120
216
36
126
63
.340
.607
1.012
386
Career Totals
1293
4878
846
1525
229
924
527
.313
.536
.923
2614

9) Josh Hamilton

The unique uppercut swing of Josh Hamilton
The unique uppercut swing of Josh Hamilton | Source

Josh was the first pick of the 1999 amateur draft but was out of the game a few years later due to drug addiction problems and missed three full seasons from 2003 to 2005 where from all accounts he never picked up a bat. However, when he returned he picked up where he left off like he had never been away and batted .292 with 19 homers his first year back with the Reds in 2007. Has a unique uppercut swing that generates tremendous power as evidenced by his hitting display in the 2010 All-Star Game Home Run Derby. His best season was 2010 when he won the AL batting title and MVP award. He also led the league in slugging and OPS as well. He has a tendency to get injuries due to his playing style which has limited his time on the field. He has had really only one full season, 2008, when he played 156 games. Other years have also been marred by injury. However, he makes the list because of his beautiful swing and his natural ability to hit. His epic 4 home run, 18 total base game on May 7, 2012 only adds to the evidence that Hamilton is one of the best hitters today.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2010)
133
518
95
186
32
100
95
43
.359
.633
1.044
328
Career Totals
737
2825
471
858
161
553
620
263
.304
.549
.913
1552

8) Jose Bautista

The sweet, level swing of Jose Bautista
The sweet, level swing of Jose Bautista | Source

Bautista, a native of Santo Domingo, was on a journeyman career path until his amazing 2010 breakout season when he came out of nowhere to club a league leading 54 homers. Before this year his career best had been only 16 in 2006 with the Pirates. Has been in 5 different organizations. Has always had great bat speed, but he tended to wait on the ball too much, which limited his power. His breakthrough came at the end of 2009 season when a teammate suggested he swing early to the point that it seemed ridiculous. The first at bat he tried this he ripped a "what the hell just happened" shot of the left field fall and he has been hitting homers at an incredible pace ever since. Has a swing that is mesmerizing to watch with the bat wrapped around his head while he waits for the pitch, the high leg kick, the uncoiling, the bat ripping through the strike zone on a level plane, and the high, one-handed finish. The 32 year old Bautista has won two consecutive AL home titles. Unfortunately, a wrist injury derailed his 2012 season. Hopefully he will make a full recovery.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2011)
149
513
105
155
43
103
111
132
.302
.608
1.056
312
Career Totals
977
3168
519
801
183
503
724
511
.253
.486
.848
1539

7) Matt Kemp

Five That Just Missed the List

Billy Butler

Prince Fielder

Evan Longoria

Jacoby Ellsbury

Carlos Gonzalez

Nicknamed "The Bison" for the way he runs, Kemp may be the most dangerous hitter on this list. He has put it all together as a player after a bizarre 2010 which was marked off-field by his dating music star Rihanna and on-field by loafing and disinterested play that resulted in public criticism from his general manager. He had one of the best hitting campaigns of recent memory in 2011 when he missed winning the triple crown by only .014 points in batting average. He also led the league in runs and total bases. Has tremendous power to centerfield and if he ever learns to pull the ball it will be game over man. Tends to strike out more and walk less then the top hitters on this list, but he has shown improvement in these areas in recent years. Hamstring and shoulder injuries wrecked his 2012 season, but he is still one of the most feared hitters in the game today.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2011)
161
602
115
195
39
126
40
74
.324
.586
.986
353
Career Totals
893
3607
538
962
151
526
843
290
.295
.501
.853
1637

6) Michael Young

The 35 year old Young had a resurgent 2011 which saw him bat a career high .338 with 213 hits. He has had an amazing six 200 hit seasons in his career. Has led the league in batting once (2005) and hits twice (2005 and 2011). Looks like he will fall short of the 3,000 hit mark due to his age. He may have a few more good seasons left but it will be difficult to accumulate the 1,000 hits needed with the time he has left. Doesn't walk as much and strikes out more than the greatest hitters of all time, but he makes the list for his pure ability to accumulate hits since he started playing full time in 2001.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2005)
159
668
114
221
24
91
58
.331
.513
.899
343
Career Totals
1668
7400
1006
2062
169
1082
499
.304
.451
.801
3061

5) Ryan Braun

The signature high, two-handed follow through of Ryan Braun
The signature high, two-handed follow through of Ryan Braun | Source

A controversial selection due to his recent "positive" test for performance enhancing drugs. The California native possesses a fluid right-handed swing with a high follow-through that results in tremendous power to all fields. The 28 year old Braun made the jump to the majors in 2007 and has hit over .300 in five of his six seasons. His best season may have been his rookie 2007 campaign when in only 113 games he hit an astounding 34 homers with 97 RBI and a .634 slugging percentage. Has led the league in slugging twice, OPS twice, homers once, and hits once. He boasts a career .313 batting average and .568 slugging percentage. Tends to strike out more and walk less than the greatest hitters, but his strikeout rate is trending downward, from 22.8% in his rookie season to only 14.8% in 2011. At the same time his walk percentage is also improving, from 5.9% to 9.2%. Has a nickname "The Hebrew Hammer" that is reminiscent of 1930s era baseball when anything was fair game when it came to nicknames.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2012)
154
598
108
191
41
112
128
63
.319
.595
.987
356
Career Totals
883
3477
614
1089
202
643
688
305
.313
.568
.943
1976

4) Joey Votto

Joey has been in the league only 4 full seasons but he is already widely regarded as one of the best hitters. He is only 28 years old and in his just entering his prime. His best season was 2010 when he posted career bests in almost every hitting category including homers (37), batting average (.324), and RBI (113). Born in Ontario, Canada in 1983. He was taught the game by his dad who died at a young age in 2009. He has beautiful left-handed swing and hits the ball well to all fields.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2010)
150
547
106
177
37
113
125
91
.324
.600
1.024
328
Career Totals
618
2228
369
697
119
401
478
336
.313
.550
.955
1225

3) Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano keeping his head on the ball.
Robinson Cano keeping his head on the ball. | Source

When Cano first came up with the Yankees Don Mattingly marveled at his swing and said it was the type that could someday win a batting title. He hasn't won a batting title yet, but he has developed into a feared power hitter. Cano has only a 11.5% strikeout percentage for his career, but doesn't walk very much, only a 5.5% walk percentage over the same time period. Has notched two 200 hit campaigns. His best season was 2010 when he hot .319 with 29 homers and 109 RBI. He has a great timing mechanism the way he rocks his hands during the pitcher's wind-up to get his hands into the launching position. He throws his hands through the hitting zone, keeps his head on the ball during the swing, and hits with power to all fields. Still only 30, the career .308 hitter should have many great years ahead of him.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
BA
SO
BB
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2010)
160
626
103
200
29
109
.319
77
57
.534
.914
334
Career Totals
1214
4731
718
1459
177
715
.308
604
285
.503
.854
2380

2) Miguel Cabrera

Miggy has put on an amazing display of hitting since he joined the major leagues at the tender age of 19 in 2003. He has that characteristic where he never seems to swing hard but the ball just jumps of his bat. He also has tremendous power to the opposite field and has led the league in homers twice, RBI twice, and batting twice. Amazingly, he is only 28 years old and is still improving as a hitter. He has cut his strike out rate from over 20% when he first joined the Marlins to only 14.7% in 2010 and 12.9% in 2011. Even with the better plate discipline, he has still maintained his power as shown by his best two slugging percentages these two years. Because he was so young when he started, he has the rare opportunity to amass some incredible career totals, potentially 500 homers and 3000 hits, if he continues to play at his current level.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2012)
161
622
109
205
44
139
98
66
.330
.606
.999
377
Career Totals
1512
5663
961
1802
321
1123
1107
709
.318
.561
.956
3177

1) Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols ready to strike
Albert Pujols ready to strike | Source

Albert had down years in 2011 and 2012, but he still makes the top of the list due to his incredible career statistics and sustained brilliance over the length of his career. A recent Sports Illustrated article shows that his numbers for his time in the league put him with some of the games all-time great hitters: Williams, DiMaggio, and Gehrig. Born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 1980, he has had many great years since he arrived with the Cardinals in 2001, but 2006 is his best. In only 143 games that season he managed to hit a career best 49 homers while striking out only 50 times. He also led the league and slugging and OPS as well. Overall in his career Albert has lead the league in batting once, homers twice, hits once, runs five times, RBI once, OBP once, slugging three times, OPS threes times, and total bases four times. He even won two-thirds of the triple crown in 2010. He is still only 32 years old and even though injuries have slowed him a bit in recent years, he still has plenty of time to climb the ladder of career totals and cement his position on the greatest hitters of all time list.

 
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SO
BB
BA
SLG
OPS
TB
Best Season (2006)
143
535
119
177
49
137
50
92
.331
.671
1.102
359
Career Totals
1705
6312
1291
2073
445
1329
704
975
.328
.617
1.037
3893

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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 19 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Prince is still a good hitter. I'm not sure he makes a best of list in 2016 though.

      No need to update this, really, you could always do another one and put the year in the title.

      Cabrera would definitely still be on the list. He's a monster, one for the ages, as folk sometimes say.

      Glad you put two of my Texas Rangers on here. Young is retired, but still part of the team. Hamilton has messed up knees, but he's still got all the power he ever had. Hope he gets to play a lot this year.

      Prince is now on my Texas Rangers. We're hoping for a lot out of him. Thanks for writing about baseball, one of my favorite subjects. :)

    • theframjak profile image
      Author

      theframjak 4 years ago from East Coast

      You are right. He needs to be on it. I just haven't updated it yet.

    • profile image

      Mike 4 years ago

      Why isn't Prince Fielder on the list?

    • theframjak profile image
      Author

      theframjak 4 years ago from East Coast

      Chris, thanks for reading. I plan on updating this for 2013 and Michael Young won't be on the list.

    • profile image

      Chris 4 years ago

      I know this list is from before last season, and it was a good read, but Michael Young in the top 10?

      I hope you do this again for next season, I'd like to see how your list has changed.

      http://derbybaseball.com

    • theframjak profile image
      Author

      theframjak 5 years ago from East Coast

      Hey Jason, thanks for the kind words. Prince just missed the list. However, I may have to rethink it as I love his swing and he hits for both power and average.

    • Jason Marovich profile image

      Jason Marovich 5 years ago from United States

      Don Mattingly was right about Cano, wasn't he? What a great ball player.

      I'd have liked to have seen Cabrera's teammate Prince Fielder on this list, too!

      Great article on the best hitters in baseball. Voted up and awesome.