Where does one begin in making a list of the greatest hitters ever? Well, I put together a spreadsheet, and using my very special grading system that I only just invented, I came up with a Top 10 list of hitters. In fact, I have a Top 538 hitters -- those are the 538 hitters in baseball history who compiled more than 6,000 plate appearances. The bottom 10, in case you are curious:
Yes, Ed Brinkman. He hit .224/.280/.300 over a long All-Star career (well, he was an All-Star in 1973). He won a Gold Glove, twice got MVP votes, and he was a high school teammate of
So, the 10 best hitters in baseball history. For the record, I incorporated all sorts of factors -- walk-to-strikeout, runs created, OPS+, length of career, their run-scoring environment, their production numbers and so on. I threw in a few personal factors, added 20 points to everyone on the 1975 Reds (for all the
And just below them:
Now remember, we're just talking about hitting here. So this comes down to the players who, though a combination of batting skill, patience, power and the ability to not make outs, are the best who ever lived. There's no way you can fairly rank the 10 best. But nobody said this would be fair. Here's the list:
In 1960 Mantle struck out 100 times for the fifth time in his career. That was a record and a very recent development. Up until the end of World War II, striking out 100 times in a season was an enormous embarrassment, and it had only happened 13 times. The strikeout pioneer was probably
But what interests me is that another player had done the dirty 100 K's four times as well ...
Well, you can never tell about brothers. The only set of baseball brothers that really made sense to me were the
I love that in 1922, at the age of 35, Cobb hit .401... and didn't even come CLOSE to winning the batting title. That was the year
You might know that Foxx won the Triple Crown in 1933. He hit .356, hit 48 homers and drove in 163 runs. Yeah, a pretty nice year.
But here's an interesting tidbit: Foxx TWICE had near Triple Crowns. In 1932 he hit .364 with 58 homers and 169 RBIs -- he had the most homers and RBIs, but lost the batting title to the much-forgotten
In 1938 Foxx led the league with a .349 average and 175 RBIs. But he finished second with 50 home runs. This time it was legit though...
I tried all I could to push Albert down because he only just crossed that 6,000-plate appearance limit. But no matter how many points I penalized him, he kept popping into the Top 10. He's that good. Though it should be noted that after he hit two home runs in Milwaukee in early September this year -- that gave him 47 for the season -- he was asked about being a home run hitter. And he
And, sure enough, he did not hit a home run for the rest of the season.
Now what inspired Stan Musial to go out to the game? It could have been anything, of course. Maybe he just wanted to relax and watch a baseball game -- one of those things to do in Denver. But yeah, as much as I love the numbers and as much I try to stay based in reality, sure, I have a little Field of Dreams in me. And, sure, I can feel that maybe Stan the Man was meant to be there to see Albert Pujols start his career.
You might recall he was the one
According to the
And the Red Sox said, "No thank you. We are quite happy with Phil Todt."
In case you're wondering, Barry Bonds from 1986 to 1999, before he, er, "bulked up," would have ranked somewhere around 14 -- on either side of Frank Thomas. And remember, that's just as a hitter. That Bonds was a great base stealer and perennial Gold Glove winner. When Bonds comes up for the Hall of Fame vote, I'm sure we'll try to break this down better, but I would say he was pretty close to a Top 10 player before 1999.
And so it's weird that his next five years -- and the 241 OPS+ he punched up in 3,000 plate appearances; nobody ever did anything quite like it -- are what, in the minds of many, will diminish him forever.
I do think there's a strong argument to be made for Ted Williams over Babe Ruth. He had the better on-base percentage. He missed three prime seasons because of World War II and most of two seasons in his young 30s when he went to Korea -- there seems little doubt that with those years his numbers would have been even better. He walked more than Ruth and struck out a lot less. The main thing that Ruth could do better than Williams was hit home runs. That's not a bad advantage to have -- especially because Ruth was so good at the things that Williams was good at (hitting for average, drawing walks, consistently putting up jaw-dropping numbers).
In the end, I could not quite put Ted at No. 1 -- at least not this time. The home run advantage has to count. And Ruth really invented a whole new way of hitting a baseball.
You have heard the various rumors about Babe Ruth
I'm pretty sure there were no steroids for Ruth to take. But my question is: If we found out that he did, would that change the way baseball fans everywhere view Babe Ruth's career? Would everyone say: Well, NO WONDER he put up those ridiculous numbers? I mean the guy hit more home runs than ENTIRE TEAMS for crying out loud. We should have known.
Or would a discovery like that just spark yawns of disinterest? Who cares? It was a long time ago. It was a different era.
I don't know. It's just something to think about. Then again, Babe Ruth on steroids (and with a better workout plan) might have hit 100 home runs in a season. And