MLB fans, both casual and obsessive, pay to see the game's purest hitters. Equipped with smooth, consistent and forceful swings, these players command our attention just by stepping up to the plate.
We aren't trying to identify the best all-around offensive contributors. The emphasis is on contact ability and power, and players who have exhibited both in recent seasons—Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, etc.—occupy the highest rungs in this slideshow.
Batting average, obviously, had a major influence on the rankings. Moreover, strikeout percentage (SO%) was also particularly relevant, so you'll see that statistic on each slide. To calculate it, divide strikeouts by total plate appearances (league average was 19.8 percent last season).
Isolated Power (ISO) quantifies power without being influenced by the amount of hits a player gets. Just subtract batting average from slugging percentage.
That wasn't always part of the purity equation. Several decades ago, Tony Gwynn and Ozzie Smith were the quintessential "pure hitters," even though they seldom blasted balls over the fence.
But we realize today that occasionally whiffing is acceptable if it ensures that you do extra damage when connecting. Therefore, heavy hitters like Jose Bautista and Matt Holliday—neither of whom consistently post .300 batting averages—earned inclusion alongside the usual suspects mentioned above.
With only a few weeks of the 2013 season complete, we needed to take the past into consideration. Data from Opening Day 2010 through the present has much more significance.
*Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and accurate as of April 15, 2013.