The Top-50 Hitters Ever: Nos. 41-45
The following is the second part of an 11-part series chronicling the Top-50 hitters of all-time.
45. Jackie Robinson, 2B, Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-1956)
Jackie Robinson, who is most notable for breaking baseball’s color barrier, was also a great hitter throughout his career.
In his 10 MLB seasons, Robinson’s wOBA was .390, comparable to many all-time greats.
He was a steady offensive contributor, with an OBP of .409, 62 points above the league average. This high OBP was a result of great contact hitting (.311 career average), as well as great plate discipline (740 walks in 5802 plate appearances).
Another factor in Robinson’s high ranking is the fact that he lost some of the years where his hitting ability may have been at its best due to being consigned to the Negro Leagues and then having to adjust to MLB pitching.
Still, Robinson has great numbers in the limited time he played with 273 doubles, 54 triples, and 137 home runs in 5802 plate appearances—decent power numbers for someone who was never known for their power.
44. Harmon Killebrew, 1B/3B/LF, Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins/Kansas City Royals (1954-1975)
Harmon Killebrew was never much of a contact hitter, but he was a great power hitter who, in the mold of many current hitters, made up for the lack of batting average with a high OBP from walking often.
During his 22 MLB seasons, Killebrew sustained a wOBA of .383, while having an OPS of .885, 161 points above the league average.
Killebrew also managed to have an OBP of .376, 41 points above the league average, despite having a batting average that was below the league average.
More importantly, he was a great power hitter, with a SLG of .509, which was 116 points above the league average, and 573 home runs in his career.
Killebrew’s on-base skill, paired with him being one of the great power hitters of his time, make him one of the top hitters in baseball’s history.
43. Roger Connor, 1B, Troy Trojans/New York Gothams/Giants/Philadelphia Phillies/St. Louis Browns (1880-1897)
Roger Connor was baseball’s original Home Run King before Babe Ruth came along and revolutionized offensive baseball.
The first baseman’s 138 home runs were the original longstanding career record, which lasted 23 years until Ruth broke the record in 1921.
His power numbers and large stature also inspired the team nickname of the "Giants", which is still used today by the franchise in San Francisco.
The greatest slugger of the 19th century also had 441 doubles and 244 triples in his 18-year career.
His career OPS (.883) was also .186 above the league average (.697), while his career OBP (.397) was .069 above the league average (.397)
During his best five seasons in the majors, Connor had an average OPS+ of 182.2, while having a very impressive OPS+ of 198 during his best season as a hitter, in 1885.
Connor’s career wOBA (.391) was also very impressive for his time period because of his combination of power for his time period and his ability to get on base.
42. Eddie Mathews, 3B, Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves/Houston Astros/Detroit Tigers (1952-1968)
Eddie Mathews, the only player to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, was one of the great power hitters of his time while steadily getting on-base as well.
Mathews had a career wOBA of .382, a fairly impressive number, and among the highest for the generation in which he played.
His career OPS of .885 was a very impressive 160 points above the league average during his career. Mathews also managed to have an OPS of .376 during his career, 50 points above his career average.
Finally, Mathews had top-of-the-line power, with his .509 slugging percentage being 110 points above the league average. He also hit 512 home runs while leading the league in home runs twice (1953-47 home runs & 1959-46 home runs).
41. Wade Boggs, 3B, Boston Red Sox/New York Yankees/Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1982-1999)
Over the 1980’s and ‘90’s, Wade Boggs was one of the most productive hitters in the league.
The third baseman had a career OBP of .415 in his 18 major league seasons, 78 points above the league average during his career’s time-span. He also led the league in OBP six times during his career, during 1983 and 1985-1989.
Boggs was not much of a power hitter—he hit just 118 home runs during his career—but he still had a career SLG of .443 and an OPS of .858, 108 points above the league average.
During his best year, 1987, Boggs had an OPS+ of 173, while hitting 24 home runs (around 20% of his career homers).
Boggs’ career wOBA comes in at .381—not too shabby for a non-power hitter.
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