Who's the greatest hitter ever? It's difficult to compare hitters over the long baseball history timeline. So all we really have to go on are baseball statistics.
Does hitting .400 put the hitter in contention as the best ever? Before the early 1900s, a ball hit foul was not counted as a strike. So let's go from after that point.
Ty Cobb hit better than .400 three times. He also has the highest batting average of all time at .367. Does that make Ty Cobb the best hitter ever?
Ed Delahanty and Rogers Hornsby hit over .400 three times also and Hornsby has the highest lifetime average for a right handed batter.
Hack Wilson knocked in a record 191 runs in 1930. Hank Aaron has the most lifetime runs batted in with 2,297.
A strong case could be made for Aaron. He has the most RBIs, he's first with 6,856 total bases, first with 1,477 extra basebhits, third in games played, second in at bats, fourth in runs scored and third with 3,771 hits. Plus Hank had a lifetime batting average of .305.
Of course Babe Ruth would have to be considered. The Bambino is ranked first in all time slugging percentage at .690. We all know he hit 714 home runs. He's second with 2,213 RBIs and hit .342 for his career.
The Babe's team mate Lou Gehrig has to be in the running. Lou finished third all time in slugging percentage, hit 493 home runs and is fifth with 1,995 RBIS. And he batted .340 lifetime. A great combination of average and speed.
The St. Louis Cardinals hall of famer Stan Musial could also be our choice for the greatest hitter ever. Stan The Man stands fourth with 3,630 hits. He's second with 6,134 total bases and third with 1,377 extra base hits. He slammed 475 home runs, drove in 1,951 runs and batted .331.
Here's another guy to consider. Pete Rose finished his career first in games played, at bats, singles, times on base, plate appearances and of course hits. But Pete only hit 160 homers and batted .302.
How about Barry Bonds? He's a seven time Most Valuable Player, has more home runs than anyone with 762 and slugged .607. But there's that steroid thing.
Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro, along with Hank Aaron, all have at least 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.
Now a days, the Cardinals' Albert Pujols has to be among our choices for greatest hitter ever. Albert is currently batting .333 with 401 home runs and 1,207 runs batted in. He's won a batting title and five silver slugger awards. All this in just ten big league seasons.
Then there is the player that most consider the greatest hitter of all time. Ted Williams ranks number one with a .482 on base percentage. The Splendid Splinter is second in slugging percentage at .634, hit for 4,884 total bases, 521 home runs, 1,839 runs batted in and 1,117 extra base hits. His lifetime batting average stands at .344. He also won the triple crown twice and as we know is the last batter to hit .400. All of this while missing almost five prime seasons to military duty.
Honorable mention will have to go to Tony Gwynn who won eight batting titles and has 3,141 hits.
Also George Brett and Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson and Carl Yastrzemski.
Along with Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, there are three others who have hit 600 home runs. Ken Griffey, Jr., Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriquez.
I guess we all have our opinions on who is the best. Times and the game have changed so much that's it's also hard to compare hitters from different eras.
I mean, put Pete Rose, George Brett and Tony Gwynn back in the 1920s and see what they do. Maybe bring Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ty Cobb to the present day and see if their stats would change. I'll bet they would.
So who's the Greatest Hitter Of All Time? I guess the debate will go on forever. But that's a good thing.
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