Throughout the annals of baseball history, the art of hitting a round ball with a round bat has always been considered one of the toughest things to do in all of sports.
The fine line between hitting well and hitting poorly is indeed tiny—and characterized by failure. In school, if you incorrectly answer seven out of 10 questions, you are awarded a failing grade.
In baseball, if a hitter fails seven out of 10 times, he's a very good hitter.
But if he fails eight out of 10 times, he's a bum.
A 70 percent fail rate is all it takes to be considered a pure hitter. To be able to do it consistently over the course of a career is indeed rare.
Here is a list of 50 hitters who usually flew under the radar, yet consistently hit at a high level throughout their careers.
For the purposes of this presentation, we will not include any player who has been inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. With that kind of recognition, it's pretty difficult to call them underrated, anyway.
Career Stats: .295 BA, .375 OBP, two-time All-Star
The current hitting coach of the Kansas City Royals fashioned himself a pretty nice 12-year career in the majors.
Third baseman Kevin Seitzer came up with the Royals as a rookie in 1986 and would eventually replace the great George Brett—who moved to first base—at the hot corner.
Seitzer hit over .300 six times in his career, and while he didn't have a natural power stroke, he had the ability to spray the ball to all fields and find gaps.
They often say that those who can't do end up teaching, but in Seitzer's case, he was able to "do" very well.
Career Stats: .296 BA, 2,705 hits, eight seasons of .300 or better
Center fielder Doc Cramer plied his trade in the American League for 20 years with four different teams. When he retired, only Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker had played more games in center.
Cramer's 2,705 total hits are the most of any player prior to 1975 who was not inducted into the Hall of Fame.
A natural spray hitter, Cramer often was at the top of the batting order, leading the American League in at-bats on seven occasions. Playing for the Athletics, Red Sox and Tigers, Cramer was often overshadowed by hitters such as Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin and Hank Greenberg.
Career Stats: .296 BA, 1,598 hits, two-time All-Star
During a 14-year career that spanned six teams, third baseman Jeff Cirillo was never the main offensive force, but he was as steady at the plate as they come.
Cirillo's best years were with the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies, hitting over .300 four times in succession between 1998 and 2001.
Even late in his career as a part-time player, Cirillo managed to hit .319 in just 263 at-bats with the Brewers at the age of 36.
Career Stats: .296 BA, 1,500 hits, three-time All-Star
Throughout his major league career, especially in the 1970s, catcher Manny Sanguillen was always considered one of the finest backstops in the National League. However, he was always overshadowed by others.
Spending 12 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sanguillen was masterful in handling the Pirates pitching staff behind the plate, but he could wield the bat as well. Sanguillen retired with the fourth-highest batting average of any catcher since World War II.
Because he played in the same era as Johnny Bench and on teams that featured the likes of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, Sanguillen never received the accolades, but his bat and his offense was consistent throughout a stellar career.
Career Stats: .296 BA, 288 HR, seven-time All-Star
Left fielder Bob Johnson had the misfortune of playing on some pretty horrible teams during his 12-year career, but the stats clearly show a hitter who shined nonetheless.
Johnson spent 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics before finishing his career with the Boston Red Sox. The A's during that time were perennial losers, finishing at or near the bottom of the standings throughout Johnson's time there.
Despite his team's losing ways, Johnson started his career with nine consecutive seasons of 20-plus home runs and hit over .300 five times before retiring in 1945.
Career Stats: .297 BA, .360 OBP, 1,653 hits
Breaking in with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995, Shannon Stewart established himself as a regular in 1998. For the next several years, he was a fixture in the Jays lineup before moving on to the Minnesota Twins in 2003.
Stewart put together six consecutive seasons hitting .300 or better between 1999 and 2004, yet he never managed to be selected as an All-Star.
Career Stats: .298 BA, 1,680 hits, seven-time All-Star
Center fielder Dom DiMaggio may just be the epitome of a player who was overshadowed throughout his career.
The fact that his brother, Joe, was such a phenomenal player wasn't even the half of it—Dom DiMaggio was overshadowed on his own team as well, playing his entire career for the Boston Red Sox with Hall of Fame players Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr.
Nonetheless, DiMaggio shined, hitting .298 for his career and hitting over .300 four times at the top of the Red Sox lineup.
Career Stats: .298 BA, 1,227 hits, four-time All-Star
Throughout a 13-year career spent entirely with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pepper Martin was known as a player who left everything out on the field.
Playing with a physical abandon and hustling style of play, Martin was a spark plug for the Gashouse Gang Cardinals teams of the 1930s. His career in his later years was marred by injuries because of his all-out style, but he nonetheless continued hitting above .300 despite his diminished capacity.
Career Stats: .298 BA, 1,524 hits, three-time All-Star
Second baseman Jose Vidro spent 12 years in the majors without ever partaking in the postseason, but despite the poor performance of teams he was associated with, Vidro was a consistent presence at the plate.
Hitting .298 for his career, Vidro spent 10 seasons with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, ending his career with the Seattle Mariners in 2008.
On only three occasions did Vidro's teams finish above .500, yet he was consistently around the .300 mark, putting together five consecutive seasons above that mark between 1999 and 2003.
Career Stats: .299 BA, 853 hits, 1991 World Series champion
Outfielder Shane Mack spent two seasons trying to break through with the San Diego Padres before he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Minnesota Twins in 1989.
It turned out to be the break that Mack needed. He became a key component of the team that won the World Series in 1991, and Mack starred for the Twins for several seasons before moving to Japan in 1995.
Mack ended his MLB career with the Kansas City Royals in 1998 after compiling a career .299 batting average.
Career Stats: .299 BA, 1,153 hits, 1974 Rookie of the Year Award winner
In 1974, St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Bake McBride showed plenty of promise, hitting .309 with 30 stolen bases to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.
While he never quite lived up to his potential, McBride nonetheless displayed a natural hitting ability throughout his career, even hitting .311 in a utility role for the Cleveland Indians in the latter part of his career.
Career Stats: .299 BA, 1,910 hits, 192 HR, two-time All-Star
During a 15-year career spent entirely with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, right fielder Carl Furillo became known for a rocket arm.
Furillo's cannon for an arm led him to record 10 or more assists for nine consecutive season, leading the National League in that category twice.
However, Furillo could also wield a productive bat. His .344 average in 1953 led the majors, and while he played in the shadow of such greats as Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, Furillo was a key component of Dodgers' teams that won the World Series in 1955 and 1959.
Career Stats: .300 BA, 1,691 hits, 1950 AL batting title
Infielder Billy Goodman was a model of consistency throughout his 16-year major league career, hitting .290 or better in 11 consecutive seasons (1948-1958).
Goodman led the majors in batting in 1950 with a .354 average, finishing runner-up to New York Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto in balloting for the AL MVP Award.
Goodman hit over .300 five times and retired with a lifetime batting average right at the .300 mark.
Career Stats: .300 BA, 215 HR, five-time All-Star
For 15 seasons, outfielder Pedro Guerrero toiled for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, and his ability to hit a baseball prompted statistician Bill James to call him "the best hitter God has made in a long time" (via Baseball Library).
Guerrero became a proficient power hitter during the early-to-mid 1980s with the Dodgers, hitting over 30 homers three times during his career.
Guerrero wasn't just known for power, however—he hit over .300 seven times during his career as well.
Career Stats: .300 BA, 242 HR, four-time All-Star
When Wally Berger broke into the majors with the Boston Braves in 1930, he set a record by hitting 38 home runs as a rookie—a mark that would stand until Mark McGwire hit 49 HR in 1987.
Berger was a fabulous hitter who made the All-Star team in the first four years of its existence. However, a shoulder injury in 1937 severely diminished Berger's natural hitting abilities, finally retiring in 1940 at just 34 years of age.
Career Stats: .302 BA, 1,507 hits, two-time NL hits leader
There was nothing flashy about right fielder Tommy Holmes, who spent all but one of his 11 seasons with the Boston Braves. But he could flat-out hit.
Holmes twice led the National League in hits (1945, 1947), and he set the modern-day NL record by hitting safely in 37 consecutive games in 1945—a mark that stood for 33 seasons.
Holmes was also one of the toughest batters in MLB history to strike out. In 1945, he struck out only nine times in 636 at-bats.
Career Stats: .302 BA, 1,531 hits, three-time All-Star
Throughout his 12-year career, first baseman Sean Casey developed a reputation of talking to virtually every hitter who made his way to Casey's position at first base, earning him the nickname of "The Mayor."
However, Casey also developed a reputation as a solid hitter as well.
A three-time All-Star during his career, Casey hit over .300 six times, including his last season with the Boston Red Sox in 2008.
Career Stats: .302 BA, 228 HR, 1,012 RBI
Throughout an 11-year career, nine of them with the Cleveland Indians, first baseman Hal Trosky was consistently overshadowed by the likes of Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig.
Despite leading the majors with 162 RBI in 1936, Trosky failed to make the All-Star team. He was never once selected, despite hitting over .330 four times during his career.
Career Stats: .303 BA, 2,092 hits, eight-time All-Star
It's difficult to look at the career of shortstop/outfielder Harvey Kuenn and wonder why he isn't in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Kuenn is largely remembered for being the skipper of the Milwaukee Brewers during the early 1980s—a team that became affectionately known as Harvey's Wallbangers.
But Kuenn was also a tremendous hitter, earning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1953 and earning an All-Star selection eight consecutive times between 1953 and 1960.
While with the Detroit Tigers in the 1950s, Kuenn led the AL in hits on four occasions and three times led the league in doubles.
Career Stats: .299 BA, 1,677 hits, 1970 NL batting title
Had it not been for a variety of injuries and personality clashes with teammates, outfielder/designated hitter Rico Carty could well be in the Hall of Fame.
Carty was a pure hitter who had the ability to spray the ball seemingly wherever he wanted, hitting .366 in 1970 to lead the majors.
Carty hit over .300 eight times during his career, yet he was only selected to the All-Star team once.
Career Stats: .303 BA, 1,400 hits, two-time All-Star
When rookie Mike Greenwell took over in left field full time for the Boston Red Sox in 1987, he continued a tradition of outstanding hitters in left field that dated back to 1939 (Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice).
Greenwell hit over .300 five times after breaking through full time, and while he didn't have the power of his three predecessors, Greenwell provided a more-than-steady presence with his bat for several seasons before his tenure in Boston ended in 1996.
Career Stats: .303 BA, 2,743 hits, seven-time All-Star
It's always amazed me that outfielder/first baseman Al Oliver was never thought highly enough by voters for induction into baseball's Hall of Fame.
The numbers speak for themselves: 2,743 hits (54th all time), 11 seasons with a batting average of .300 or higher, seven All-Star team selections, 1982 NL batting title.
Maybe someday the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee will smarten up and give Oliver his due.
Career Stats: .303 BA, 2,445 hits, four-time Gold Glove Award winner
Throughout his 16 years in the majors, Mark Grace had a reputation as one of the slickest-fielding first basemen in the National League, earning four Gold Glove awards during his career.
But Grace was also graceful at the plate—a natural line-drive hitter who became a doubles machine, notching 511 two-baggers during his career (47th all time).
Career Stats: .303 BA, 2,134 hits, 332 HR, six-time All-Star
Outfielder Moises Alou came from pretty good stock. His father and two uncles famously played together in the same outfield for the San Francisco Giants in 1963.
Alou used his bloodline to fashion a stellar career of his own, becoming one of the great-hitting outfielders in the National League.
In 2007, Alou hit .345 for the New York Mets, which included a 30-game hitting streak—the longest such streak in history by a player over the age of 40.
Alou made only one World Series appearance during his career, but he made the most of it. He hit .321 with three homers and nine RBI to help the Florida Marlins over the Cleveland Indians in a grueling seven-game matchup in 1997.
Career Stats: .304 BA, 1,475 hits, 117 triples
In a 12-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants, outfielder Curt Walker was never known for his power, but his ability to find the gaps led to 117 career triples and a career .813 OPS.
Walker hit over .300 seven times, including his final season with the Reds in which he hit .307 at the age of 33. He was also one of the toughest hitters to strike out, fanning only once every 19.2 at-bats.
Career Stats: .304 BA, 1,149 hits, 150 pinch-hits
During a 20-year career with four National League teams, Manny Mota was never a full-time player, but he was one of the most proficient pinch hitters in MLB history.
Mota ranks third all time with 150 pinch hits, and when he got the opportunity to play, he made the most of it. He hit over .300 11 times, including his final four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a pinch-hitting specialist.
The ability to hit over .300 is tough enough as an everyday player—to do it as a part-time player coming off the bench cold on many occasions is even tougher. That fact alone gives Mota a prominent place on this list.
Career Stats: .304 BA, 1,917 hits, eight-time All-Star
When Tony Oliva broke through as the regular right fielder for the Minnesota Twins in 1964, he immediately established himself as a quality hitter.
Oliva led the American League with a .323 batting average, earning the Rookie of the Year Award and an All-Star selection as well. Oliva would earn seven more consecutive selections to the AL All-Star team as well, following up with two more batting titles (1965, 19714).
Together with Rod Carew, the two captured five batting titles for the Twins between 1964 and 1972.
Oliva's final years were hampered by a series of knee injuries, forcing him to retire in 1976 as a part-time designated hitter.
Career Stats: .304 BA, 1,216 hits, .361 OBP
When watching Hal Morris' antics at the plate, it's a wonder he could hit at all.
Morris was never in a set position while awaiting a pitch, constantly shuffling his feet from the back toward the front of the batter's box.
Yet he somehow managed to hit over .300 seven times during his career, with the ability to spray the ball effectively over the entire field.
Career Stats: .305 BA, 1,166 hits, 258 doubles
Rusty Greer spent his entire nine-year career with the Texas Rangers, establishing himself as a proficient hitter whose career was cut short by a series of devastating injuries.
Greer was a fan favorite in Arlington, particularly because of his all-out style play—a style that eventually led to crippling injuries. Nonetheless, Greer hit over .300 in five of his nine seasons, and three times collected more than 40 doubles.
Back and knee injuries finally forced Greer out of the game in 2002.
Career Stats: .306 BA, 1,562 hits, 1974 NL batting title
In looking over the careers of several players on this list, it's difficult to see how their careers seemingly went under the radar. Ralph Garr's 13 years in the majors is an example.
Garr hit over .300 five times during his career, including leading the National League with a .353 batting average in 1974, yet that was the only time Garr was ever selected for the All-Star team.
Garr's speed also helped him lead the NL in triples in back-to-back seasons (1974-1975), and with his uncanny ability to spray the ball to all areas of the field, he constantly gave opposing teams fits in how to properly position themselves defensively.
Garr's 149 hits before the All-Star break in 1974 is still a record to this day.
Career Stats: .306 BA, 2,064 hits, four-time All-Star
Some players take a little while to develop in the majors, and that was certainly the case for outfielder Dixie Walker.
After spending parts of five seasons with the New York Yankees, Walker was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1937.
Walker would then go on to record 10 seasons with a batting average of .300 or higher, seeing his most productive years with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1939-1947. Walker led the NL with a .357 average in 1944.
Career Stats: .307 BA, 1,455, three-time AL hits leader
Pesky would be an apt description to describe former Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky.
Playing in the shadow of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio, Pesky was a perfect complement at the top of the Sox batting order.
In his rookie year in 1942, Pesky led the American League with 205 hits. With his career interrupted by three years of military service during World War II, Pesky didn't miss a beat, again leading the AL for two consecutive years following his return.
Pesky ended his career with the Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators, finishing with a career .307 batting average and six seasons with a BA of .300 or better.
Career Stats: .307 BA, 827 hits, 1919 World Series champion
The career of left fielder Pat Duncan was indeed brief—only seven seasons—but he made the most of his time.
Duncan played in just three games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1915, and he would not make his return to the majors until four years later with the Cincinnati Reds.
Duncan made an immediate impact on his new team, hitting .269 with eight RBI in the Reds' victory over the Chicago White Sox in the 1919 World Series.
Duncan would go on to hit over .300 three times in the next four seasons, hitting .270 in his final season in 1924.
Career Stats: .307 BA, 1,777 hits, 1966 NL batting title
A trio of brothers made history in 1963 by starring in the same outfield together for several games in 1963 with the San Francisco Giants—Felipe, Jesus and Matty Alou.
Matty was easily the best hitter of the three, and with his speed and ability to spray the ball, Alou would hit over .300 seven times during his career, including an NL-leading .342 in 1966.
Career Stats: .307 BA, 1,682 hits, .369 OBP
During a 13-year career with five teams, left fielder Joe Vosmik was a constant presence on the basepaths, putting together six seasons with a batting average of .300 or higher.
Vosmik led the American League in hits twice, first with the Cleveland Indians in 1935 and again with the Boston Red Sox in 1938.
In 1935, Vosmik led the AL in hits, doubles and triples while hitting .348, finishing his career with the Washington Senators in 1944.
Career Stats: .308 BA, 896 hits, .807 OPS
Harvey Hendrick is another player who blossomed later in life.
Spending his first three seasons shuffling back and forth from the minors with the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, Hendrick finally began to flourish with the Brooklyn Robins in 1927 at the age of 29.
Hendrick hit well over .300 four of the next five seasons, with a .354 average in 110 games in 1929.
Hendrick's career ended in 1934 with the Philadelphia Phillies, still managing to hit .293 in 59 games.
Career Stats: .308 BA, 1,312 hits, .369 OBP
As a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, Spud Davis platooned for much of his career.
Despite not playing every day and handling the rigorous duties behind the plate, Davis hit over .300 nine times during his 16-year career, including a .349 batting average in 1933 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Career Stats: .309 BA, 1,906 hits, .364 OBP
Right fielder Johnny Tobin starred for two seasons in the Federal League before bringing his talents to the St. Louis Browns of the American League in 1916.
Tobin excelled there as well, putting together seven seasons with an average of at least .300 before ending his career in 1927 with the Boston Red Sox.
Tobin was best known for perfecting the art of the drag bunt, often catching the opposing team off-guard.
Career Stats: .311 BA, 1,267 hits, 1936 All-Star selection
Throughout his 10-year career in the American League, outfielder Rip Radcliff was a thorn in the side of opposing teams with his bat, but he never fully achieved the recognition afforded to others.
Radcliff was another late bloomer, playing his first game with the Chicago White Sox in 1934 at 28 years of age.
Radcliffe would eclipse batting mark of .300 five times during his career, earning an All-Star selection just once in 1936.
In 1940, Radcliff was second in the American League in batting before the All-Star game, but for some reason was left off the team. He ended his career in 1943 after he joined the Navy to fight in World War II.
Career Stats: .312 BA, 1,244 hits, two-time All-Star
Left fielder Dale Mitchell was not only one of the best baseball players in history of the University of Oklahoma, he was a pretty fair major leaguer as well.
After hitting an astounding .467 during his four-year collegiate career for the Sooners, Mitchell hit .300 or better in six of his first seven full seasons with the Cleveland Indians.
Mitchell was not a power hitter, but he had a natural line-drive swing that led to him leading the American League in both hits (203) and triples (23) in 1949.
To this day, Mitchell stands as one of the toughest hitters in baseball history to strike out, fanning only 119 times in 11 seasons.
Career Stats: .313 BA, 879 hits, .398 OBP
It's a good thing outfielder/first baseman Ed Morgan could hit, because his glove was not his strong suit.
Morgan started out as a right fielder and was eventually moved to first base by the Cleveland Indians. In 1929, Morgan's 11 errors led the American League for right fielders, and he led the league in errors twice at first base as well.
But Morgan certainly knew how to hit. He hit .349 in 1930 and followed that up with a .351 average in 1931. He bested the .300 mark four times in his career.
After being sent to the minors in 1934 by the Boston Red Sox, Morgan played a couple of years in the minors before finally calling it quits and joining the family business.
Career Stats: .313 BA, 1,631 hits, 136 HR
Jack Fournier was actually one of the premier hitters of the game during the 1910s and 1920s, but he was also one of the game's worst-ever fielders.
For example, before the start of the 1916 season, in an article printed in the Los Angeles Times, writer Harry A. Williams was writing about the chances for the Chicago White Sox—Fournier's team at the time—for the upcoming season.
"The only weak defensive point in the infield is at first base, where Fournier will again try his hand at playing that position. For every run that he lets in, he will drive in another, making it a so-so proposition," Williams wrote at the time.
Fournier committed an astonishing 20 errors at first base five times during his career.
However, he was also a productive hitter, hitting .300 or better eight times during his career and leading the National League in home runs in 1924.
Career Stats: .314 BA, 1,544 hits, three-time All-Star
Had his career not been interrupted by three years of military service during his prime, infielder Cecil Travis may very well have earned induction into baseball's Hall of Fame.
Travis hit .300 or better in seven of his first eight seasons before the United States entered into World War II. Travis had earned three All-Star selections and led the American League in hits (218) in 1941.
When Travis returned from the war, he was unable to be nearly as effective, finally ending his career after hitting just .216 with the Washington Senators in 1947.
Career Stats: .316 BA, 1,075 hits, 1929 AL batting title
First baseman/left fielder Lew Fonseca toiled in both the American and National leagues during his 12-year career, producing equally wherever he played.
Fonseca's best year was in 1929 with the Cleveland Indians, leading the league with a .369 average and driving in 103 runs. Six times during his career he hit higher than .300.
Injuries brought a premature end to a promising career for Fonseca, retiring at age 34 in 1933.
Career Stats: .317 BA, 963 hits, .404 OBP
As mentioned in previous slides, oftentimes players take years to finally realize their full potential.
In the case of Joe Harris, war injuries were the reason for his late arrival in the majors.
Harris spent parts of two seasons with both the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians before he served in World War I.
Harris was involved in a truck accident during the war, suffering two broken legs, three broken ribs and a fractured skull. After taking over a year to recover, Harris finally made his way back to the majors, making his mark with the Boston Red Sox in 1922.
Harris then put together six consecutive seasons with a batting average of .300 or higher before age finally caught up to him in 1928.
Harris finished his career with the Brooklyn Robins
Career Stats: .318 BA, 2,590 hits, nine-time All-Star, 2004 AL MVP
It's been said that right fielder/designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero never saw a pitch he didn't like.
To be sure, Guerrero swung at just about every offering thrown at him, often golfing a pitch seemingly in the dirt or reaching two feet out of the strike zone.
However, Guerrero's batting style worked—449 lifetime home runs, 473 doubles, 13 seasons with a batting average above .300. He also never struck out nearly as often as other power hitters of his era.
Guerrero was a power hitter for sure, but his .318 lifetime average indeed shows that he was simply a pure hitter as well.
Career Stats: .319 BA, 1,552 hits, 196 HR
During a 12-year career spent mostly with the lowly St. Louis Browns, left fielder Ken Williams was one of the premier power hitters of the early-to-mid 1920s.
Williams led the American League with 39 HR and 155 RBI in 1922, and he topped the .300 mark 10 times during his career.
Even at the age of 39 in his final season with the Boston Red Sox in 1929, Williams hit .345 in 74 games to close out his career.
Career Stats: .324 BA, 1,818 hits, 181 HR
One thing that right fielder/first baseman Babe Herman couldn't do well on the baseball was field—he committed 137 total errors at two relatively easy defensive positions.
But he sure could hit.
Herman was a noted power hitter, clubbing 35 HR with 130 in 1930 with the Brooklyn Robins. However, Herman was also proficient with the bat overall, hitting over .300 nine times, including posting a .393 batting average in 1930.
Career Stats: .305 BA, 2,008 hits, four-time NL batting champion, three-time All-Star
Throughout a 15-year career in the majors, third baseman Bill Madlock showed a proficiency with the bat, starting in his days with the Chicago Cubs.
Madlock was the batting champion four times in the National League—in back-to-back years with the Chicago Cubs and twice more with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Madlock, however, was only selected to three All-Star teams during his career—a low number considering his propensity to lead the league in hitting.
Eight times overall, Madlock topped the .300 mark, finally retiring in 1987 with the Detroit Tigers.
Career Stats: .336 BA, 1,515 hits, 321 doubles
When looking at a .336 lifetime batting average, one would wonder why Riggs Stephenson was never enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Poor defense was the reason.
Stephenson was as natural a hitter as there ever was, but there were only four seasons in his entire career that he ever played more than 130 games. He often platooned because of his horrible defensive skills at second base, third base and left field.
Stephenson hit over .300 12 times during his 14-year career, with a unique ability to spray the ball to all fields.
Stephenson retired with a .336 batting average—the highest average for any player in the 20th century not in baseball's Hall of Fame despite qualifying.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.