Baseball has always had its household names, and naturally those household names are going to be some of MLB's all-time greatest hitters.
Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and many more who are long retired or gone are still widely remembered today. Of the tens of thousands that have played Major League Baseball, however, who are the greatest?
This list narrows it down to the top 100 that have played this game. This looks solely on hitting, with an emphasis on those who could hit for both power and average where possible.
100. Jim O'Rourke - Orator Jim was a dominant hitter during his time in the majors, but since he played in the 1870s and 1880s he did not have much competition. He had a .310 batting average and over 2,600 hits.
99. Lou Brock - Brock was not an elite hitter necessarily, or even a great one, though he was one of the game's all-time great baserunners. Still, a player with 3,000 hits has to be on a greatest hitters list, and a .293 average isn't too bad.
98. Zach Wheat - Wheat was a key part of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1910s and 1920s who seemed to hit .300 every year, whether it was the live ball or deadball era. He had a .317 average and nearly 2,900 hits in his career.
97. Harmon Killebrew - You can't leave off a guy who hits 500 home runs off a greatest hitters list, but there are caveats with him, since hitting home runs was basically all he did, giving him the lowest batting average on this list.
96. Rickey Henderson - Henderson is in the same boat as Brock; all-time best baserunner, but not an elite hitter. Only once did he have a legitimately great hitting season, and that was his MVP season in 1990.
95. Jeff Kent - Perhaps it was playing alongside Barry Bonds, but when Kent joined San Francisco, he went from a very good hitter to an elite one pretty quickly. He had nearly 2,500 hits, and he hit nearly .300 during his Giants tenure as well.
94. Jackie Robinson - Robinson broke the color barrier for baseball, and was a great hitter on top of being an elite defender. Like Henderson, he had one elite season which showcased his power, but he still wrapped his career up with a .311 average.
93. Joe Medwick - Medwick, one of a handful of Triple Crown winners, was a mainstay for the Cardinals and Dodgers, even though he fell off at 30. He had a .324 average and nearly 2,500 hits in his career.
92. Ralph Kiner - Kiner only played ten seasons, yet led the league in home runs seven times, became a perennial MVP candidate, and was elite in the post-war years if only for that short time.
91. Mickey Cochrane - Cochrane, like Kiner and Robinson, had a short career, which can sometimes happen to great catchers, but he did have elite moments. He had a .320 career average and won two MVP awards.
90. Barry Larkin - Larkin was a great shortstop for most of his career who could hit .300 and produce runs, even if his stat sheet didn't light up.
89-86. Kiki Cuyler, Fred Clarke, Jake Beckley, Joe Kelley - All four of these people are almost interchangeable. They all put up great hitting numbers for their time periods, most of them for Pittsburgh, and they all came close to 3,000 hits while hitting well over .300.
85. Home Run Baker - Baker has one of the shortest careers on the list, but when he was on he was the best there was. Int he 1910s he has no trouble leading the league in home runs and RBIs; it's where he got his name.
84. Willie Stargell - Stargell was the team leader of the Pirates and a great hitter in his own right. He had 475 home runs, and was able to keep his average around .300 most seasons.
83. Craig Biggio - While I may not necessarily consider Biggio a first-ballot Hall of Famer, he was still elite. He led the league in doubles three times, passed the 3,000 hit mark, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone willing to be hit by as many pitches as he was.
82. Johnny Bench - One of the best power hitting catchers, Bench could do it all at his position. He won two MVP awards and had over 2,000 hits, which for a catcher is great.
81. Kirby Puckett - Puckett's career ended earlier than it should have, since he was still in his hitting prime when he had to retire. He hit .318 for his career with over 2,300 hits, and would have had little trouble making it to 3,000.
80. George Davis - Davis is highly regarded by sabermetricians in hindsight for his numbers, even if they aren't quite as big as others in the 1890s. He had a .295 average, over 1,500 runs, 1,460 RBIs, and 2,665 hits.
79. Yogi Berra - Berra was one of the best catchers in MLB history, and his three MVP awards will be tough to repeat. He had over 2,000 hits, 358 home runs, and nearly 1,500 RBIs.
78. Dave Winfield - Despite dealing with a tough crowd at New York, Winfield had a great career. He hit .283 with 465 home runs and 3,110 hits, and even had a great year as a 40-year old.
77. Ichiro - Ichiro is a unique case. All he does for the most part is hit singles, but he does it at a very elite level. He has a .322 career average, and despite only playing in the majors a decade he could still have 3,000 hits soon.
76. Sam Rice - One of many who fell just shy of 3,000 hits, Rice was a longtime great hitter for Washington. he had a .322 average and 2,987 hits in his career.
75, 74, 73. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro - All three have the same stigma. All three were great home run hitters, and Palmeiro has 3,000 hits to add to that, but they were a product of the steroid era, and from their stats they would likely have not been great hitters without the performance enhancers.
72. Frankie Frisch - Frisch was a staple of the Cardinals and Giants lineups in the 1920s and 30s thanks to his elite hitting. He hit .316 in his career with over 2,800 hits.
71. Willie Keeler - Wee Willie Keeler was one of the great hitters at the turn of the century, hitting .424 one season. He finished his career with a .341 average and 2,932 hits.
70. Roberto Alomar - Alomar was a jack of all trades hitter in his career, hitting triples, home runs,a nd whatever was needed as a career .300 hitter.
69. Goose Goslin - Goslin was the centerpiece of Washington's lineup through the 1920s and helped them win a World Series. He has a career .316 average, including a league-leading .379 in 1928 and over 1,600 RBIs.
68. Hank Greenberg - Greenberg may be one of the most underrated hitters out there thanks to one of the shortest carers on the list. He had a .313 average and 331 home runs in what amounts to 10 real seasons, 13 total.
67. Luke Appling - Appling was a longtime great for the Chicago White Sox and a consistent .300 hitter. He hit .310 in his career with nearly 2,750 hits.
66. Al Simmons - Simmons has been underrated since during his playing career, when he wasn't given the 1925 MVP for whatever reason. He had a .334 average and over 2,900 hits in his career.
65. George Sisler - Sisler was one of the all-time great hitters even while playing for the St. Louis Browns, hitting over .400 twice. He had a .340 career batting average and had big RBI numbers before slowing down once he hit 30.
64. Billy Williams - Sweet Swingin' Billy From Whistler was precisely that, and was a great hitter for average and power. He hit .290 and had 434 home runs in his career, showing power in a fairly dominant pitching era.
63. Jesse Burkett - Burkett was perhaps the main piece known in the Cleveland-St. Louis swap in 1899 besides Cy Young that made the Cleveland Spiders a futile team. He had a .338 batting average, nearly 3,000 hits, and 182 triples.
62. Vladimir Guerrero - Despite playing in a prime offensive era, Vlad somehow has managed to end up underrated for his hitting abilities. A .318 career average, 449 home runs and nearly 2,600 hits is certainly elite.
61. Ed Delahanty - It's quite shocking that Delahanty isn't more well-known given his numbers. He has a .346 career average, over 2,500 hits, and led the league in home runs and RBIs many times over a 16 year career.
60. Cal Ripken, Jr. - You don't become an iron man in baseball without being a great hitter, and Ripken certainly was. He had over 3,000 hits and 431 home runs, as well as two MVP wins.
59. Charlie Gehringer - Gehringer was a speedy hitter in the 1920s that seemed to become a power hitter in the 1930s. He had a .320 average, nearly 1500 RBIs, and nearly 3,000 hits.
58. Eddie Murray - Murray was one of baseball's all-time greatest switch hitters, and one of the few to join the 3,000 hit club and the 500 home run club. He also had 560 doubles in his career.
57. Johnny Mize - Mize is perhaps underrated in hindsight, as he was someone who could easily hit for power and average. He had a .312 career average, over 2,000 hits, and over 350 home runs while missing the prime of his career to World War II.
56. Billy Hamilton - Hamilton was perhaps the best hitter of the 1890s. In 14 years he had over 2,100 hits and had a .344 batting average to go with 914 stolen bases.
55. Willie McCovey - McCovey knew what he was and did it well during his career. He led the league in home runs and RBIs more than once, and hit 521 of those round-trippers during his career.
54. Jim Thome - Thome was a player who could hit well for both average and power early in his career before turning into a 35 HR, 100 RBI machine. He passed 600 home runs last season and continues to climb those ranks.
53. Duke Snider - Snider is someone who may very well be underrated as a hitting great. He was a .300 hitter most of his career, and led the league in home runs and RBIs as well. He retired with over 400 HRs and 2,000 hits.
52. Ernie Banks - Banks was a two-time MVP winner who was a great home run hitter who could hit for average as well early in his career. He ended it with 512 home runs and over 2,500 hits.
51. Al Kaline - Kaline had a great deal of success during his time in Detroit, leading the league in batting average and showcasing himself as a great power hitter. He finished his career with 3,007 hits and 399 home runs.
50. Joe Morgan - As much as sabermetricians love him and consider him an all-time great, you have to factor in that he was merely good during his tenure with Houston. As a pure hitter, it's tough for me to even put him in the top 50. He had over 2,500 hits for his career though and had some great hitting years with Cincinnati.
49. Edgar Martinez - When you're talking about great hitters, Edgar Martinez has to come to mind as the namesake of the DH award. He has a .312 career average, over 300 home runs, and over 2,200 hits.
48. Robin Yount - Yount was an elite hitter in spurts with a great overall career. He may have made it into the top 25 had the spurts been throughout his career. He had 3,142 hits in his career and two MVP wins.
47. Roger Connor - He doesn't quite compare to other 19th century hitters on the list, but he was still an all-time great. Led the league in batting average, home runs, triples, RBIs, and had a .316 career average.
46. Paul Waner - Waner was a speedster who was hitting triples when everyone else was hitting home runs. It led to 3,152 hits, a .333 average, and nearly 200 triples.
45. Reggie Jackson - His .262 average isn't ideal for inclusion this high in the rankings, but his playoff hitting and 563 career home runs make up for it.
44. Mike Piazza - The all-time greatest hitting catcher had a .308 batting average and 427 home runs in his career. No catcher came close to putting up the type of power he did.
43. Paul Moltior - Molitor was a consistently great hitter for the Brewers, and actually became afar better hitter after turning 30, hitting over .300 no problem after that. He had 3,319 career hits and a .306 average to go along with over 500 stolen bases.
42. Harry Heilmann - Heilmann was an elite hitter for most of his career, especially when the live-ball era began. He led the league in hitting four times and retired with a .342 batting average and 2,660 hits.
41. Manny Ramirez - Man-Ram was an elite hitter throughout his career despite his antics and PED use, which hurt his stature. He has 555 home runs, a .312 average, and was a perennial MVP candidate for a time.
40. Sam Crawford - Crawford may have been best known as Ty Cobb's contemporary, but he was an elite hitter in his own right. He had nearly 3,000 hits and a .309 batting average, plus his 309 triples is a record that will be tough to break.
39. Arky Vaughan - Vaughan had a rather brief career, but he was an elite hitter during it for the Pirates. He hit .318 for his career, led the league in triples a few times, and had over 2,100 hits despite only playing 12 full seasons.
38. Gary Sheffield - Sheffield hit both for power and average during his career. He hit over .300 for nearly a ten-year period, and had nearly 2,700 hits and 509 home runs during his career.
37. Wade Boggs - Boggs was not a hitter for power and was helped by a lot of at-bats with the Red Sox, but he was still dominant. He had a .328 career average, 3,010 hits, and anyone who hits over .300 in their last season at 41 has to be great at it.
36. Roberto Clemente - Clemente took a few years to get going, but was an elite hitter before long. He had a .317 career average, a nice number of triples and home runs, and exactly 3,000 hits.
35. Eddie Mathews - Mathews was overshadowed by Hank Aaron, but he was great in his own right. He had a few seasons of .300 hitting, and hit 512 career home runs, regularly leading the league in walks in the process.
34. Jeff Bagwell - There's no question that Bagwell should have been in the Hall of Fame, since as a hitter he's a true great. He nearly hit .300 over his career, regularly hit over 100 RBIs and 30 HRs, and did it over 15 seasons, which is less than many others on the list.
33. Derek Jeter - Vastly overrated as a defender, but as a hitter he's definitely an all-time great. Jeter has a .313 career average, over 3,000 hits, and has nice hitting numbers elsewhere across the board, even passing the 100 RBI mark once.
32. Tony Gwynn - The longtime San Diego Padres was a hitter, plain and simple. A .338 career average, 3,141 hits, and leading the league in hits seven times showcase his talents. He was the last player to nearly hit .400 as well, hitting .394 in 1994.
31. Ken Griffey, Jr. - Staying in the league so long probably hurt his overall stats, but with Seattle he was king. Was a .300 hitter in the 1990s and a home run champion. Finished his career with nearly 2,800 hits and 630 home runs despite missing so much playing time.
30. Carl Yastrzemski - Same as Griffey, but through most of his career and especially before 30, he was dynamic. Last player to hit a Triple Crown, won batting title three times, and had 3,419 career hits for the Red Sox.
29. Frank Thomas - The Big Hurt was known for his power, hitting 521 home runs and winning two MVP awards as a result. He was also a career .301 hitter though, and led the league in 1997 with a .347 batting average.
28. Chipper Jones - He's a .304 career hitter who's close to 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, and even hit .364 late in his career. He likely won't hit either, but his dominance has made him not only great, but perhaps underrated.
27. George Brett - Brett led the league in batting average three times, won MVP in 1980, and was able to manage a few 100 RBI seasons. He finished his career with 3,154 hits, a .305 average, over 300 home runs, and one of the highest first-ballot percentage for the Hall of Fame in its history.
26. Shoeless Joe Jackson - Shoeless Joe may have been banned from baseball, but his elite hitting lives on. He had a .356 average in 13 seasons, led the league in triple several times, and had his best power year in 1920 before being banned.
If we're talking about pure hitting, then Rod Carew has to be brought up. His statline may not look like that of an all-time great, but there's no question that he was one of the greatest hitters.
Carew led the league in hitting seven times, winning MVP after hitting .388 one year. Even when he moved from Minnesota to California he was able to hit .300 with little difficulty, and had a couple seasons with great triples numbers.
Carew had 3,053 hits in his career, a .328 average, and well over 100 triples. He didn't have much in the way of home runs or RBI, but for most of his career he either played alongside Harmon Killebrew or no one who could get on base to add to that total.
There are a couple players from the 19th century who were easily the hit kings of their time. The one that is probably less known is Dan Brouthers.
Brouthers spent 19 years in MLB, playing for a slew of different teams. Everywhere he ended up though, he led the league in batting average. He led in every offensive category at least once, and was dominant in his time.
Brouthers had a career .342 average, nearly 2,300 hits, and 205 triples, which ranks in the top ten all-time.
Eddie Collins is one of those players whose surface stats are not the greatest, but combined with the era he played in, the teams he played for, and the numbers he did put up, he's still a top 25 hitter all-time.
Collins played for the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox for a quarter century. He regularly had double digits in triples, hit over .300 nearly every year, and put up huge stolen base numbers.
His career ended with 3,315 hits, a .333 average, and 187 triples. He won an MVP as a member of the famed $100,000 infield, and certainly he was the one that had to have been worth the most of the group.
A-Rod get a lot of flack from Yankees fans, and the stigma of PED use doesn't help matters. At the end of the day though, Alex Rodriguez has been one of the best hitters the game has seen.
He made his debut in 1994, but really hit the scene two years later, leading the league with a .358 average. He should have won MVP that year. Since then, he's led the league in runs and home runs five times.
He has 629 career home runs, is hitting .300, and should still be able to get 3,000 hits, most likely during the 2013 season. Eclipsing 2,000 runs and RBIs on top of that should not be tough.
Mel Ott was a longtime great of the New York Giants, and playing in the 1930s helped his offensive prowess a bit, as he showed himself to be one of the best players from that decade with his power hitting.
Ott consistently led the league in home runs, RBIs, and walks. He often hit over .300 and could score 100 runs, so his hitting ability was not limited just to power.
In his career Ott had 511 home runs, a .304 average, and nearly 3,000 hits. Perhaps the most surprising thing about him is that it took him a few years to make it into the Hall of Fame.
Cap Anson was one of the toughest guys to rate. There's no question that he was dominant, but he played in an era with far fewer stars. When it comes to hitting prowess though, Anson has to be mentioned near the top.
Anson was the star of baseball in the 19th century, leading the league in RBIs often, as well as batting average and hits as well, primarily for the Chicago squad now known as the Cubs.
Anson had a .334 average and 3,435 hits in his career, as well as over 2,000 RBIs. He also managed those numbers despite the schedule containing far fewer games in the 1880s.
If there's one member of the Philadelphia Phillies that stands out, it's longtime great Mike Schmidt. Schmidt was not a great hitter for average like many near the top were, but that does not mean he wasn't an elite hitter.
Schmidt was a three-time MVP winner thanks to his power hitting. He led the league in home runs eight times, as well as RBIs and walks several times as well. He even had a year where he hit well over .300, should that he could absolutely do it.
Schmidt finished his career with 548 home runs, 2,232 hits, and a consistently great career spanning nearly two decades, which helped make him an easy Hall of Fame choice.
Is Albert Pujols, a player still in his prime with at least five years left in him, worthy of being called a top 20 hitter already? The answer is a very easy yes.
Pujols has been an MVP candidate in each of his 11 seasons. He's been a .300 hitter nearly every year, has led the league in batting average, runs, and home runs, and is a three-time MVP winner.
He should have little trouble finishing his career with 3,000 hits, 600 home runs, and even 2,000 runs and RBIs are not out of the question.
When it comes to dominant hitters, some of them ironically came from the hitting starved time that was the deadball era. One of the best of that bunch, Nap Lajoie, even had a team named after him.
Lajoie spent much of his career with the Cleveland Naps, leading the league in batting five times, as well as pretty much every offensive category in 1901. He often led the league in both hits and doubles as well.
Lajoie had a career average of .338, 3,242 hits, 163 triples, and a team name. Perhaps the only question to answer was whether the statline was greater to him or having his own team.
Frank Robinson is someone who had a great career to begin with, but his numbers look even greater in hindsight considering that he played in a dominant pitching era.
Robinson won the Triple Crown in 1966 and was a two-time MVP winner. He regularly hit home runs, doubles, and rang up 100 RBIs with little difficulty, and could score runs himself easily.
In his career, Robinson had 586 home runs, 2,943 hits, over 1,800 RBIs, and was a no-brainer as a first ballot Hall of Famer.
In a list of the greatest hitters of all time, it's only natural for the all-time hits leader to be ranked fairly highly. Charlie Hustle has done enough in his career to certainly be deserving of a high rank.
Rose saw more playing time and at-bats than anyone during his time with the Phillies and Reds, and he made sure he earned it. Not only did he just play wherever on the field, but he led the league in batting average many times, hitting a slew of both singles and doubles.
His hits record of 4,256 will be difficult to break, and he scored well over 2,000 runs as well. He was a true jack of all trades when it came to hitting, ironically scoring more home runs earlier in his career and stealing bases later.
Jimmie Foxx was one of the most dominant players in the 1930s and is definitely worthy of the top 15, yet he's not that well-remembered despite being part of the Red Sox for a good portion of his career.
Foxx was a regular .300 hitter , and if he wasn't leading the league in home runs and RBIs, then he was right up there every year. His power led to three MVP awards.
People forget that he could run well too and had 125 triples in his career. He also hit .325, had 534 home runs, over 2,600 hits, and even became a pitcher at the end of his career for the Philadelphia Phillies when everyone else was in the service.
The Yankee Clipper's numbers are great to begin with, but once you factor in that he missed three prime years and his numbers are through 13 seasons, lower than most this high, suddenly his numbers are that much more amazing.
He was immediately an MVP contender his first season and led the league in triples, then led in home runs in a sensational 1937 campaign which should have netted him MVP. He did win three in his career, and also led the league in batting average twice.
In his career, DiMaggio batted .325 and had 2,214 hits and over 1,500 RBIs. He was the heart of the Yankees during the war years, and was a standout even playing in between Gehrig and Mantle in Yankee history.
On the surface, Tris Speaker has stats that look great, but may not necessarily be elite, especially compared to those in the top ten. Given his sustained dominance in baseball and how he did it, I would instead consider him one of baseball's most underrated greats.
Speaker spent most of his career with the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, regularly hitting in the upper .300s and leading the league in doubles eight years. He was mostly a part of the deadball era so he didn't have high home run totals, but he knew how to get on base.
His 792 doubles are easily the most all time, and in his career, Speaker had a .345 average, over 3,500 hits, and was a key part of many World Series-winning teams.
For most kids growing up today, the face of the St. Louis Cardinals is Albert Pujols. It makes sense given his dominance in the 2000s. Before that however, the face of the franchise was a no-brainer; it was Stan Musial.
Stan The Man had a long 22-season career with the Cardinals, and appeared to be the National League's answer to Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. He led the league in batting average and hits six times, as well as triples, doubles, and RBIs frequently.
The three-time MVP winner finished his career with a .331 average, 3,630 hits, and nearly 600 home runs despite never leading the league in that category. He is also one of the few to have a career WAR over 120.
I had a real mental battle going between Musial and Gehrig for that number ten spot, But Gehrig had a stronger run of dominance, and had he been able to play as long as Musial, this would have been a no-brainer.
The Iron Horse was dominant once he made the starting lineup, and we all know of his games played streak. Along with that, he earned a Triple Crown once and regularly led the league in RBIs. He even won the MVP in 1927 when Babe Ruth hit his 60 home runs.
Gehrig finished his career with a .340 average, nearly 500 home runs, 1,995 RBIs, and finished in the running for MVP nearly every year they had it.
When Mickey Mantle became a Yankee, he was following in the footsteps of Joe DiMaggio, who was on his way out in 1951. Despite such big shoes to fill, Mantle not only did so, but established himself as one of the best hitters in MLB history.
Mantle was the cornerstone of the Yankees in the 50s and 60s, winning baseball's triple crown in 1956, the only year he led the league in batting average. He frequently led the league in runs and home runs, and could still hit for power even in his final years.
Mantle finished his career nearly hitting .300 with 536 home runs, and over 1500 RBIs. He also cemented his status as the greatest switch-hitter of all time, and his three MVP wins could have easily been five had it not been for Roger Maris's short dominant streak.
Before there was Babe Ruth, before there was Ty Cobb, there was one dominant force in baseball after thr 20th century rolled around. That player was the Flying Dutchman, Honus Wagner.
Wagner was a speedster on the basepaths, but hitting was where he shined. He led the league in batting average eight times, doubles seven times, and RBIs five times. His consistently great average didn't slip under the .300 mark until he turned 40 (though he did hit .299 in 1898).
He finished his career with 3,420 hits, a .328 batting average, and naturally was one of the first five inducted into the Hall of Fame. With a guy like Wagner leading the Pirates, it's surprising that they only won one World Series in his time there.
In 1924, Rogers Hornsby batted .424, yet failed to win the MVP award. One writer left him off the ballot completely, saying that he was an MVP for himself, but not for his team. This type of list celebrates the former, so of course Hornsby is a top ten talent.
Hornsby led the league in batting average seven times, and led the league in nearly every other category at least once. He really got going once the deadball era ended, as 1920 was the first year he really started looking like an elite hitter.
Hornsby finished his career somehow missing out on 3,000 hits, but his .358 batting average is second all-time, and his 1922 and 1924 seasons are considered two of the best in league history.
Not putting Hank Aaron in the top five hitters is one of the hardest parts of this slide. He is the Home Run King after all. Nonetheless, it doesn't take away from his elite hitting.
The 23-year veteran of the game was not one who had a couple ridiculous seasons like a certain person just ahead of him, but he was consistently great at what he did. He led the league in batting average twice, but also rarely hit under .300.
He often led the league in doubles and RBIs, but it was his frequent 40 home run seasons that got him noticed, As he was still hitting 40 at the age of 39, and despite only winning the MVP once, he was in the running nearly every year thanks to his hitting.
I know that Barry Bonds has a lot of baggage, and people are going to bash on me for having a guy who is the face of the steroid era in the top five hitters of all-time. Even before his surge in his 30s though, he was an elite hitter and a five-tool player, so i don't see the problem.
In his 20s, Bonds was an all-around hitter who could hit 100 RBIs and 30 HRs, but could score triples and draw walks as well. Once 2000 rolled around, it all changed. Instead of his numbers falling off, his numbers became absolutely ridiculous.
He shattered the home run record in 2001 with 73, put up on-base percentage numbers that were unheard of due to pitchers working around him, and continued to regularly hit triple digits in runs and RBIs en route to seven career MVP awards thanks to his hitting.
When one thinks of the greatest pure hitters in baseball, one of the first, if not the first to come to mind is Teddy Ballgame, whose hitting for the Boston Red Sox was legendary.
Williams' stats could have been even better had he not served in World War II, yet he still put up great numbers. He was the last player to hit .400, and his .344 batting average is one of the best all-time, as well as his 521 home runs.
He regularly led the league in on-base percentage and walks, but when he did hit the ball, it was almost certainly going to be a hit. Perhaps that's why his walk totals were so high; even late in his career he was hitting .300 with no difficulty.
Is Willie Mays the best five-tool player in MLB history? That's a possibility. He may not be the greatest hitter ever, but he's right up there thanks to a long, dynamic career.
The four-time leader in stolen bases and home runs won the MVP twice, and should have won it a few more times as well, namely in 1960 and 1962. He was so feared that he led the league in walks at the age of 40 in 1971, his final full season as a Giant.
Over his career, he had over 3,000 hits, 660 home runs, and an offensive WAR of 136.2. At shows your dominance when you win an MVP at 23 and are still in the running for one at 40.
Before Babe Ruth stole the baseball scene, the greatest hitter remained rather obvious. During the deadball era, that title belonged to the Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb.
The longtime Detroit Tiger led the league in batting average 11 times, and it would have been 12 had an error not been found decades later for 1910. He regularly led the league in runs, RBIs, hits, you name it. He even led the league in home runs one year.
His 4,189 hits are second all-time, and there's a reason that he was the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame, receiving 98.2% of the vote in the inaugural election. He didn't have the power of Ruth, but he had everything else in his great career.
If we were talking about the greatest baseball player of all time, an argument can be made for someone else (though it's quite difficult). If we were talking about the greatest pitcher, others held that position for much longer. As for the greatest hitter of all time, there was no one better.
When Babe Ruth was converted to an outfielder full-time, it changed the game of baseball as we know it due to his dominance. His career offensive WAR of 164.6 is far beyond anyone else's, and his 714 home runs looked unbreakable at the time.
His 59 home run season in 1921 is often called the greatest season by a player in MLB history, and his career batting average was .342, so he didn't only hit for power as well; he even finished his career with a respectable 136 triples on top of all his huge numbers.
No question, Ruth was the greatest hitter that ever was or ever will be in the game.