The following is the eighth part of an 11-part series chronicling the Top-50 hitters of all-time.
15. Frank Thomas, 1B/DH, Chicago White Sox/ Oakland A’s/Toronto Blue Jays (1990-present)
During his heyday with the Chicago White Sox, Frank Thomas was quite possibly the most feared hitter in baseball.
Thomas was a dominant force in his best season, 1994, as his 211 OPS+ was one of the best seasons of all-time. During the five best years of his career, Thomas also had an average OPS+ of 186, one of the highest marks of any player on the list of all-time great hitters.
His best seasons were among the best ever, and the numbers in those years don’t even tell the whole story, as his career averages are some of the bet of all-time.
Thomas is currently at the end of his career, but his .413 career wOBA ranks among the best of all-time.
Also, his career OPS+ of 156 ranks 20th all-time.
Another strength of The Big Hurt was his greatest balance between his abilities to get on-base and slug proficiently, as his career OBP of .419 ranks 21st all-time and his .555 career SLG ranks 24th all-time.
Compared to the league average during his career, Thomas also is a top performer. His .974 OPS is .215 above the league average, while his .419 OBP is .082 above the league average and his .555 SLG is .133 above the league average.
While he is currently injured and at the end of his career, the 40-year-old Thomas is climbing up the record books, and his great on-base ability, in addition to his 521 career home runs and his 495 career doubles, help to make him one of the best hitters of all-time.
14. Willie Mays, CF, New York/San Francisco Giants/New York Mets (1951-1973)
If this were a list of the greatest position players ever, Mays, the prototypical “five-tool player” would be somewhere around the top-five.
However, since this list measures pure hitting ability, he falls to 14th, where he is still in elite company.
The Say Hey Kid’s great power helped him to 660 career home runs, fourth all-time.
Percentages-wise, Mays had a .399 career wOBA, which, while incomparable to some of the all-time greats, was higher than any player during his pitching-oriented generation.
His career OPS+ of 156 also ranks 21st all-time.
Mays was a dominant offensive force throughout his 22 seasons, as evidenced by his .941 career OPS, .211 above the league average. While his .384 career OBP was not very impressive, it was still .054 above the league average, while his .557 career SLG was .156 above the league average.
Mays also has to be applauded for his yearly consistency. In 13 consecutive seasons, from 1954-1966, Mays had an OPS+ of at least 145 while playing at least 150 games per season.
Willie Mays’ year-in-and-year-out production in a pitching-dominated era, as well as his slugging prowess, help to make him one of the best hitters of all-time.
13. Joe Jackson, LF, Philadelphia A’s/Cleveland Naps/Indians/Chicago White Sox (1908-1920)
Shoeless Joe Jackson is more known for his involvement in the Black Sox scandal than for being a great hitter, but Jackson was one of the great hitters of the deadball-era and of all-time.
Jackson’s .399 wOBA ranks second among deadball-era players behind Ty Cobb, and his career OPS+ of 170 ranks eighth all-time.
Because of the era in which he played, Jackson had very low power numbers, mainly his 54 career home runs, but his career OPS was still .940, .244 above the league average, and his career SLG was .517, .161 above the league average during his career.
Shoeless Joe was also a great on-base presence, as his .423 career OBP ranks 17th all-time, and .083 above the league average.
The fact that Jackson was banned from baseball after 13 seasons may have helped or hurt his career averages.
On one hand, Jackson may have missed his prime as a hitter, as he was 30-years-old during his last season. However, Jackson also never went through a regression phase in his career. Still, neither of these factors were in control for Jackson.
In fact, recent evidence has furthered Shoeless Joe’s innocence, and that his name was only mentioned to bring more credibility to the scandal.
Regardless, Joe Jackson was a dominating hitter during his 13-year career, and although it was cut short by scandal, that does not taint his accomplishment.
12. Dan Brouthers, 1B, Troy Trojans/Buffalo Bisons/Detroit Wolverines/Boston Beaneaters/Boston Reds/Brooklyn Grooms/Baltimore Orioles/Louisville Colonels/Philadelphia Phillies/New York Giants (1879-1904)
In the 19th century, there was no greater hitter than first baseman Dan Brouthers.
Despite just 106 home runs in his career, Brouthers managed to come in ninth all-time in wOBA with a mark of .417.
Also, his career OPS+ of 170 ranks seventh all-time.
When compared to the average 19th century player, Brouthers’ hitting ability is absolutely dominant.
His .942 OPS was .246 above the league average during his career, while his .423 OBP was .095 above the league average and his .519 SLG was .150 above the league average.
Although his numbers were somewhat inflated due to the different rules that existed in the game during the 19th century, Brouthers was the greatest hitter of baseball’s first era, which merits a high ranking on the list of all-time great hitters.
11. Stan Musial, LF, St. Louis Cardinals (1941-1963)
Although he is overlooked in numerous discussions involving the best hitters ever, Stan Musial was a truly dominant hitter in the National League during his 22 MLB seasons.
Largely due to his 475 career homeruns and 725 career doubles, Musial compiled a career wOBA of .414.
His OPS+ is also an impressive 159, 15th all-time.
Like many other hitters on this list, Musial had a perfect blend of abilities with a great balance of on-base and slugging abilities.
His .417 OBP ranks 23rd all-time, while his .559 SLG ranks 21st all-time.
Compared to the league average, Musial’s OPS of .976 was .225 above the league average, his OBP of .417 was .074 above the league average, and his .559 SLG was .151 above the league average.
During his career, Stan the Man led the league in OPS+ six times and finished second four times. Also, he led the league in amount of times on base during eight seasons.
As evidenced by his very impressive career numbers, Musial’s outstanding production during his long career help to place him among the greatest hitters of all-time.
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