The Greatest Hitters in Baseball History

Pete Rose

Missing the sounds of the ballpark? They'll be back before you know it, and the game's best hitters will be crushing home runs into the stands. But what about the best hitters baseball has ever seen?

Hearing the crack of the bat, seeing the spray of the ball, and following the mad dash in the outfield after it’s been blasted makes baseball fans appreciate the art of hitting. Major league pitchers hurl the ball with inhuman velocity, making the act of getting a hit one of the most difficult tasks in sports. The best hitters to ever live should be appreciated and studied forever!

1. Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Public Domain/Wiki Commons.

Babe Ruth revolutionized baseball with his powerful home run hitting and consistent greatness at the plate. Ruth’s statistics only tell part of the tale. While he is known for his .342 batting average and leading the American League in home runs 12 different times, Ruth’s template-shattering swagger and skill transformed baseball forever.

2. Ted Williams

An image of Major League Baseball hall of famer Ted Williams.
Image Credit: Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Ted Williams could be compared to Tim Duncan or Peyton Manning in basketball and football. Williams wasn’t the flashiest player on the diamond, but he always delivered the most production. He only hit under .300 one time in his 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. His combination of power and finesse is unprecedented.

3. Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds on deck in 1993.
Image Credit: Jim Accordino – CCA 2.0/WikiCommons.

Barry Bonds often gets shelved from greatness lists due to allegations of cheating. As long as the players of the steroid era are still in the record books, Bonds must be acknowledged for his prowess. No player has ever been feared like Bonds in his prime, with many pitchers walking the legend with the bases loaded. Bonds still holds the home run record with 762.

4. Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb, 1913.
Image Credit: Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Ty Cobb smashed the baseball record books with more indicators of greatness than any other player. Cobb’s accomplishments are like an almanac of baseball lore. A .366 batting average and 12 American League batting titles feel like tokens of a mythical figure that will never be replicated in modern baseball.

5. Hank Aaron

Black and white photograph print of Carl Albert shaking hands with Mrs. Aaron as Hank Aaron looks on. July 14, 1974.
Image Credit: CarlAlbertArchives – CCA SA 4.0/WikiCommons.

Hank Aaron still holds the “pure” home run record for those who believe Barry Bonds was using performance-enhancing drugs. Aaron’s top-three standing for hits and home runs makes him one of the greatest dual-threat hitters in baseball history. Most players either hit for power or accuracy. Aaron hit for both.

6. Willie Mays

Willie Mays waving to a crowd during a parade.
Image Credit: Michael Marconi – CC 2.0/WikiCommons.

Willie Mays ranks even higher on lists that take into account his fielding, base running, and athleticism. As it stands here, Mays was one of the defining hitters of the 1950s through the 1970s. He conjured an image of the perfect baseball player with his poetic home run hitting and ability to drive his teammates on the base pads to home plate.

7. Stan Musial

President Bill Clinton poses with a baseball bat in the Oval Office after receiving it from St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial.
Image Credit: Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Stan Musial’s hitting prowess turned the St. Louis Cardinals into the powerhouse name in the National League. He led the league in batting average seven times with the Cardinals, and many of his records with the franchise still stand today. His high level of play was symbolic of the team’s improved standing in the baseball hierarchy.

8. Tony Gwynn

San Diego Padres player and Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn (2006).
Image Credit: ewen and donabel – CCA 2.0/WikICommons.

If Tony Gwynn added home run hitting to his singles-hitting prowess, he’d rank even higher on the all-time list of hitters. As it stands, Gwynn represents one of the surest on-base probabilities of any player in baseball lore. His loyalty to the San Diego Padres also made him one of the most likable players in the sport throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

9. Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki (left) and Barack Obama (right) talking in the locker rooms.
Image Credit: Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Ichiro Suzuki slots in right around the same spot as Tony Gwynn because they are similar players. The Japanese superstar served as a built-in advantage for every team he played for when he led off for the Mariners and other squads. Suzuki showed during batting practice that he could hit for home run power but chose to bat for singles instead.

10. Pete Rose

Tommy Lasorda talking with Cincinnati's Pete Rose before game in Los Angeles.
Image Credit: Jayne Kamin, Los Angeles Times – CCA 4.0/WikiCommons.

Pete Rose is the best hitter in baseball history by the number of hits. Rose was an automatic single when he swung, and his speed and hustle often turned those singles into doubles or triples. Rose is one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame after he was banned from the sport for gambling on his team’s games.

11. Joe DiMaggio

Library of Congress
Image Credit: Library of Congress.

Joe DiMaggio’s greatness as a hitter goes far beyond his famous 56-game hitting streak. DiMaggio delivered stability and soundness to a Yankees team that needed that kind of calm. DiMaggio never shied away from the lights in New York and was the star of the team during its most dynastic years.

12. Honus Wagner

Head and shoulders outdoors portrait of Hans Wagner, undated photograph.
Image Credit: Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Honus Wagner represents one of the original great players in baseball history. Considering he retired before 1920, nobody alive today was able to witness his eight batting titles or superb hitting skills. The record books do plenty to tell the tale of Wagner and the standard he set for every hitter who came after him.

13. Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente. (L) Roberto holding a baseball bat for a photograph; (R) Roberto posing for a military photo.
Image Credit: Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Roberto Clemente’s career and life were tragically cut short in a flying accident, but he brought baseball outside of America with his blissful passion for the game. Clemente hit .317 for his career and accumulated an even 3,000 hits in his 17 seasons.

14. Lou Gehrig

(R) Lou Gehrig wearing a Columbia uniform on the field; (R) Photo of Lou Gehrig working at a stockbrokers' office in the baseball off-season in 1929. Gehrig worked at Appensellar, Allen and Hill with the idea of possibly entering the finance business after his baseball career was done.
Image Credit: Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Lou Gehrig sometimes got overshadowed by Babe Ruth and a plethora of other stars on the Yankees. His statistical output seems unimaginable, though. Gehrig batted .340 in a 16-season career and always played the game with integrity. He was also a three-time home run leader, demonstrating underrated power at the plate.

15. Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr in June 2009, playing for Seattle.
Image Credit: Keith Allison – CCA SA 2.0/WikiCommons.

Ken Griffey Jr.’s swing inspired millions of kids to play baseball in the 1990s. This means a lot more than any record he could ever set, but those numbers sure looked great, as well. Griffey batted .284 and hit 630 home runs in an era where many pitchers and peers were on steroids.

16. Rod Carew

Rod Carew warming up before a game with the Minnesota Twins in Cleveland on August 31, 1975.
Image Credit: Rick Dikeman – Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Rod Carew ranks lower than similar players like Tony Gwynn and Ichiro Suzuki because he hit fewer than 100 home runs in his career. Suzuki showed home run potential throughout his career, but Carew didn’t. The Twins’ legend won seven batting titles and thoroughly beat every peer for the crown during the 1970s.

17. Carl Yastrzemski

President Richard Nixon and Boston Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski.
Image Credit: Public Domain/WikiCommons.

Carl Yastrzemski won the batting Triple Crown in 1967, something not accomplished again for over 40 years. Yaz carried the Boston Red Sox on his back for 22 seasons with a unique balance of power and contact-hitting skills. He remains one of Boston’s favorite athletes.

18. Mike Trout

Mike Trout
Image Credit: Keith Allison – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons

Mike Trout is the best hitter of this current generation. Even though he’s tailed off a bit in recent years, Trout maintains a .301 batting average and surely will hit over 500 home runs in his career, as he’s only 32 years old. His aggressive style at the plate and prodigious talent made him one of the most popular players at the dawn of the 2010s.

19. Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols swinging the bat.
Image Credit; Jeffrey Hayes – CCA 2.0/WikiCommons.

Albert Pujols was the rare home run hitter who nearly maintained a .300 batting average for his career despite swinging for the fences. His 703 home runs make him one of only four players ever to surpass 700. Pujols' longevity across 22 years makes him one of the only players in the modern era capable of hitting so many home runs.

20. George Brett

Leslie Davenport and George Brett on the red carpet at Celebrity Fight Night XXV at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona.
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore – CCA SA 2.0/WikiCommons.

George Brett’s two-plus decades with the Kansas City Royals brought relevance to a city that desperately needed it in sports during the 1980s. Brett’s fiery style was backed up by some incredible hitting, including batting .305 for his career.

21. Shoeless Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson
Image Credit: Charles M. Conlon – Mears Auctions, Public Domain/Wiki Commons.

Joe Jackson’s brief 12-year career ended after it was revealed his Chicago White Sox were losing on purpose. During his tenure in baseball, Jackson posted an astounding .356 batting average and was well on his way to becoming one of the very best hitters to have ever lived.

22. Reggie Jackson

Photograph of Reggie Jackson, field side with NY.
Image Credit: Googie Man – CCA SA 3.0/WikiCommons.

Reggie Jackson was a great hitter in the regular season, but he transcended into another stratosphere in the playoffs. Jackson’s 78 hits and 18 home runs in the postseason helped his teams in New York and Oakland win five World Series titles.

Author: Shawn Laib

Title: Writer

Expertise: Gaming, Sports, Film, Television


Shawn Laib is a writer for Wealth of Geeks, The Manual, Den of Geek, and Edge Media Network. Shawn loves sports, gaming, film, and television and uses his knowledge of these subject areas to deliver interesting and entertaining content to his readers.