Athlon Sports: Best Hitters in MLB History

LuteHawk

HR Legend
Nov 30, 2011
28,131
18,320
113
On Monday, May 9, 2022, Athlon Sports Magazine named
their list of 10 best hitters in MLB history. Their choices
were based on career batting average, career hits, career
home runs, and career runs batted in.

1. Ty Cobb..........BA 367 HITS, 4,191 HR's 117, RBI's 1,938
2. Babe Ruth.....342, 2,873, 714, 2,213
3. Ted Williams..344, 2,654, 521, 1,839
4. R. Hornsby.....358, 2,930, 301, 1,584
5. Henry Aaron..305, 3,771, 755, 2,297
6. Tris Speaker...345, 3,514, 117, 1,529
7. Stan Musial....331, 3,630, 475, 1,951
8. Willie Mays....303, 3,283, 660, 1,903
9. Albert Pujols..297, 3,310, 681, 2,155
10 M. Cabrera....310, 3009, 503, 1,813

Bottom Line: It is fun to debate the best MLB hitters
in history. So, give your opinion now.
 
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seminole97

HR Legend
Jun 14, 2005
16,530
16,652
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By the mid-1920’s, Ty Cobb had long been eclipsed by Babe Ruth as baseball’s brightest star, and biggest drawing card. The Deadball Era was history. It was now the Roaring ‘20’s, the Jazz Age. New York City was the mecca of everything glamorous, the New York Yankees were the game’s mightiest team, and the Sultan of Swat was America’s favorite sporting hero.

If the Bambino was single-handedly responsible for ushering in baseball’s brave new world, then The Georgia Peach was the symbol of scrappy “inside baseball,” the way your granddaddy used to play it. But now, folks came out to the old ballpark to see titanic three-run homers, not well-placed bunts, slap singles, and 1-0 pitching duels. Had the game passed Cobb by?

The greatest player of the Deadball Era disdained the new power game, and clung stubbornly to the old ways. From 1920-1924, while the increase of home runs was redefining baseball strategy, Cobb averaged only seven homers per season for the Detroit Tigers. This was a negligible increase over his 15 seasons prior, when he’d averaged a mere four.
Home runs were simply not part of Cobb’s game. By 1925, now 38 years old and player-manager for the Tigers, Cobb may have lost a step or two, but he was still a magician with the bat in his hands.

His baseball team, however, had limped out of the gate. A 4-14 start had the fans groaning. That is where the Tigers’ record stood on the morning of May 5, 1925. That day, and the next, Ty Cobb put on the finest offensive display in his great career. And he did it with power.

Detroit was in Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, to take on the Browns. The game of the 5th, a Tuesday, Cobb batted six times, with six hits. He also scored four runs and batted in five. But the big surprise was his three home runs. His other extra-base hit that day was a double, giving him 16 total bases, establishing a new modern major league record (the mark has since been tied, and broken, by several players; Shawn Green now holds the big league mark with 19). His three bombs tied him with four other players for the most in a modern-day game (One of the other players was Babe Ruth himself, a fact which must have tickled Cobb to no end.). Incidentally, the Tigers won the game, 14-8.

But Cobb’s hitting spree was far from over. In the next day’s game, also in St. Louis, he went 3-for-6, with two runs scored and six RBIs. He also clouted two more home runs. His five homers in two consecutive games was something that had never been done before, not even by the Bambino. It is a mark that has not been eclipsed to this day, although it has been equaled by 28 players.

Cobb’s two-day output reads thus: nine hits in 12 at-bats (.750), six runs, one double, five homers, 11 RBIs, 25 total bases. His nine hits were made consecutively. On the negative side of the ledger, he was caught stealing once. The Tigers also won the second game by a score of 11-4.

Of course, the footnote to the tale is that, just prior to the first game, Cobb was sitting in the dugout with a reporter and pointed out, “I’ll show you something today. I’m going for home runs for the first time in my career.” Whether the story is apocryphal or not, it makes for a great legend. It also proves that Cobb could indeed hit the long ball when he felt like it.

The next day, however, having proved his point, Cobb went right back to his old style. He did not hit another home run until June 2. He finished with 12 homers in 1925, equaling his career-high. But for at least two days in the middle of the new Home Run Era, Ty Cobb was just as powerful as the great Babe Ruth.



Lute, can you confirm he said that?
 

GOHOX69

HR Legend
Sep 26, 2009
13,092
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Why are players from the 32 skidoo silent film era in this? Ty Cobb would be batting the mendoza line in current MLB. Sorry, but that's just the truth.
 

mnole03

HR Legend
Mar 20, 2005
21,676
55,966
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LOL. They use RBI but no BB and IBB?

I wonder why Barry Bonds has double the IBB per PA of anyone else in history. Maybe they were walking him because they felt bad for him.
 

seminole97

HR Legend
Jun 14, 2005
16,530
16,652
113
Why are players from the 32 skidoo silent film era in this? Ty Cobb would be batting the mendoza line in current MLB. Sorry, but that's just the truth.

images
 

CarolinaHawkeye

HR Legend
Gold Member
Feb 5, 2003
43,233
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Iowa
Nope. Sub .300 hitter with bad knees and struck out a ton...Musial had over 30% more total bases and stuck out less than 40 times per season. Mantle more like 115...

Willie Mays speed and defense makes him the best of the lot and he lost 2 seasons to the military as well...
He's still top 10.
 
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ANYCHawk

HR Legend
Nov 13, 2007
47,764
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LOL. They use RBI but no BB and IBB?

I wonder why Barry Bonds has double the IBB per PA of anyone else in history. Maybe they were walking him because they felt bad for him.
Intentional walks are just as bad as RBI. Both are heavily dependent on the teammates.
 

ANYCHawk

HR Legend
Nov 13, 2007
47,764
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OK, debate it. Tell me how Cobb was a superior hitter to Ruth. Then, I’ll tell you how Ruth was superior to Cobb.
Well Cobb had more hits, higher BA, more total bases, half the strike outs and more votes for the same hall of fame class....

You can like Ruth better but to say nobody can debate it is just dumb. Whether you want to argue Cobb, Aaron, Mays or the ilk is just fine.
 
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LuteHawk

HR Legend
Nov 30, 2011
28,131
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Lou Gehrig had a career batting average of .340,
career hits were 2721, career home runs were 493,
and career runs batted in were 1,995. He was a
better hitter than Albert Pujols or M. Cabrera. He
definitely belongs on the top Ten list.
 
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Kinnick.At.Night

HR Heisman
Jun 27, 2018
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Well Cobb had more hits, higher BA, more total bases and more votes for the same hall of fame class....

You can like Ruth better but to say nobody can debate it is just dumb. Whether you want to argue Cobb, Aaron, Mays or the ilk is just fine.

Ruth hit for average and power. He got on base at a higher percentage than Cobb. He has the highest slugging % and OPS in history. And he very nearly matches Cobb in total bases despite having thousands of fewer at bats. The bottom line is that over 500 at bats in a given season, Ruth produced a shitload more runs for the Yankees than Cobb did for the Tigers. And runs win games. Case closed.
 
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fezzador

HR All-American
Sep 12, 2006
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No Mickey Mantle?
The Mick was a legend in his own right, but was still hampered by injuries and alcohol. Had he been healthy and sober, he might have been the first to surpass the Babe as the all-time HR king and have a much better claim to taking a Top 10 spot. His career was essentially over after his age 32 season.
 

ANYCHawk

HR Legend
Nov 13, 2007
47,764
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Ruth hit for average and power. He got on base at a higher percentage than Cobb. He has the highest slugging % and OPS in history. And he very nearly matches Cobb in total bases despite having thousands of fewer at bats. The bottom line is that over 500 at bats in a given season, Ruth produced a shitload more runs for the Yankees than Cobb did for the Tigers. And runs win games. Case closed.
Cool, Ruth was good. Did anyone deny it?

But, if you're going to argue best hitter and say the guy with more of them is no question worse, you're full of it.

And the power means nothing in this case. Cobb's era nobody hit homerruns as it wasn't part of the strategy. Everyone admits that if they did Cobb would easily have 500 plus, he was that good.

And to argue produced more runs in fallacy, based on incomplete data. Cobb scored 1.8 percent of all runs in the league when he played and drove in 2.6 percent of all runs. Ruth scored 2.1 percent of all runs and drove in 2.2 percent. Offensive output was much higher in the 30s than the 10s. Cobb was simply responsible for a higher percentage of runs, which is what we should be talking about.
 
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Bonerfarts

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Nov 15, 2015
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It's impossible to compare. Josh Gibson was arguably a better hitter than Babe Ruth. Hell if they only let white guys in the MLB I might have made a big league roster.
 
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joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
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you can’t always get what you want!
It's impossible to compare. Josh Gibson was arguably a better hitter than Babe Ruth. Hell if they only let white guys in the MLB I might have made a big league roster.
My pops once told me that Babe Ruth was the best ballplayer he ever saw ( dad was a huge Cardinal/Gas House gang fan)....He also told me that Josh Gibson was the second best ballplayer he ever saw. He saw Gibson play several times as they “barnstormed” central Illinois when he was a kid.
 
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fezzador

HR All-American
Sep 12, 2006
3,546
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Cool, Ruth was good. Did anyone deny it?

But, if you're going to argue best hitter and say the guy with more of them is no question worse, you're full of it.

And the power means nothing in this case. Cobb's era nobody hit homerruns as it wasn't part of the strategy. Everyone admits that if they did Cobb would easily have 500 plus, he was that good.

And to argue produced more runs in fallacy, based on incomplete data. Cobb scored 1.8 percent of all runs in the league when he played and drove in 2.6 percent of all runs. Ruth scored 2.1 percent of all runs and drove in 2.2 percent. Offensive output was much higher in the 30s than the 10s. Cobb was simply responsible for a higher percentage of runs, which is what we should be talking about.
Cobb was considered the more well-rounded player, for good reason. Ruth was a tremendous slugger that also hit for a high average, but did not come close to matching Cobb's baserunning or defensive skills.

I think what hurts Cobb's legacy is that he was sort of the Barry Bonds of his day - his talent was undeniable, but wasn't the easiest guy to get along with. He also had a reputation for being a bigot, but that was not unique to him - it was par for the course for most white men of the 1910s and 1920s. Other than being a product of his era, he was not devoid of human decency as he had nothing to do with establishing the color barrier (Cap Anson was the driving force behind that travesty) nor did he fight against it in the 1940s when there were whispers of trying to integrate MLB (Kenesaw Mountain Landis upheld the color barrier and would not budge an inch during his 2-decade tenure as the commish). In fact, he praised Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays as being terrific ballplayers.
 

NoleinATL

HR Legend
Oct 29, 2006
22,206
5,738
113
Here is full list if interested, the list is flawed not having Bonds-

Not familiar with the writer, he is not listed as a sports writer, and his last two articles are lists
 

fezzador

HR All-American
Sep 12, 2006
3,546
4,226
113
Best hitter in baseball is a list of 1....It’s Teddy Baseball. Is it even up for discussion?

Now the list for the second best hitter in baseball might be an interesting discussion.

This topic/discussion reminds me of politics...where a party is looking for a problem to fit a slogan.
Teddy Ballgame was the best *batter* in MLB history, and not necessarily the best hitter. He has the highest OBP in MLB history (and that fact cannot be understated), but if you take a look at his historic 1941 season for example, it was absolutely a terrific. However, his .406 average was "only" across 456 at bats as a significant percentage of his plate appearances ended up as walks. There is nothing wrong with the ability of drawing walks, but lots of walks eats up potential base hits.

If he was a little less picky at the plate, he might have gotten 3,000 hits even without taking the missed wartime seasons into consideration (granted his lifetime average might have been closer to .324 than .344 if he swung the bat a bit more). He averaged nearly 150 walks per season which explains his nearly .500 career OBP.
 

tarheelbybirth

HR King
Apr 17, 2003
66,709
49,473
113
Cool, Ruth was good. Did anyone deny it?

But, if you're going to argue best hitter and say the guy with more of them is no question worse, you're full of it.

And the power means nothing in this case. Cobb's era nobody hit homerruns as it wasn't part of the strategy. Everyone admits that if they did Cobb would easily have 500 plus, he was that good.

And to argue produced more runs in fallacy, based on incomplete data. Cobb scored 1.8 percent of all runs in the league when he played and drove in 2.6 percent of all runs. Ruth scored 2.1 percent of all runs and drove in 2.2 percent. Offensive output was much higher in the 30s than the 10s. Cobb was simply responsible for a higher percentage of runs, which is what we should be talking about.
I'd give the edge to Cobb as a pure hitter in part, at least, because he was facing legal spitters and scuffers and cut balls during the bulk of his career and still got hits. But the term "Ruthian" is part of baseball lexicon for a reason...the Babe was a freak of nature.
 
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