Good-Bye To a Great: Duke Snider and the Top 20 Left-Handed Sluggers of All Time
Only 10 percent of the population is left-handed. Despite a world against us (looking at you notebook spirals), being left-handed has its advantages. One place in particular is on the baseball field.
According to an article in the Japan Times, research by fellow lefty David Peters has finally confirmed the advantage that left-handers have in baseball. Of Hall of Fame pitchers, 21 percent are/were left-handed. Of batters, it was almost half. That's five times as much as the population is left-handed.
Peters' research concluded that the game of baseball is set up to give lefties an advantage. First of all, the base placement. Lefties are 1.5 meters closer to first base, translating to more hits and a higher batting average. Also, lefties' batting placement places them in the natural direction of where they are headed.
Another advantage that lefty batters have is that because most of the population is right-handed, most of the pitchers are right-handed. This allows them to see the ball and throw better than right-handed batters. Finally, left-handed batters typically pull the ball towards right field. Many ballparks have shorter right field distances than left, allowing lefties to accumulate more runs.
For all these reasons, some of the greatest sluggers in baseball history have been left-handed. Here are twenty of them.
20. Tris Speaker
Tris Speaker collected 3,514 careers hits and had a career batting average of .345.
Speaker is among the top in many different categories for major league records: he’s first in doubles, fifth in batting average, fifth in hits and sixth in triples. He also holds the records in many defensive accomplishments.
Plus, in 1912, Speaker joined the small group of players to have a hit in 30 or more consecutive games with his 30-game hitting streak.
19. Bobby Murcer
Bobby Murcer spent most of his career as a New York Yankee and was very popular with the fans. He is also known as one of the greatest baseball players from Oklahoma.
His career batting average was a respectable .277 and 252 home runs and 1,043 RBIs. He was selected to five All-Star Games during his career.
18. Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs was a consistent contender for the American League batting titles. His career batting average is .328. His best season was 1987, when he .363 batting average and .588 slugging percentage.
Boggs was known more for hits than for home runs. He is a member of the 3,000 hit club with 3,010 career hits.
Boggs was voted to 12 consecutive All-Star Games. He also was awarded the Silver Slugger award eight times.
17. Jim Thome
Jim Thome is still a designated hitter in the MLB, for the Minnesota Twins. As of the end of last season, Thome has 2,216 hits, 1,624 RBIs and 589 home runs in his career.
His 589 home runs put him in the eighth spot on the all-time home run leaders list and he could definitely move up before the end of his career. He joined the 500 home run club in 2007.
He was awarded the Silver Slugger Award in 1996 and lead the NL in home runs in 2003. Thome is also tied for first in most walk-off home runs with 12. Thome shares that honor with Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Babe Ruth.
16. Rod Carew
Rod Carew was not discovered playing high school baseball. He didn’t even play on his high school baseball team.
Instead, Carew played semi-pro, sandlot baseball, where he was discovered by a scout for the Minnesota Twins.
He was drafted as a free agent after he graduated. What a find for the Twins. Carew accumulated 3,053 hits and 1,015 RBIs in his career. His career batting average was .328.
15. Eddie Collins
Eddie Collins has been called “the greatest second basemen of all time,” by baseball historian Bill James. During his career, Collins accumulated 3, 315 hits and 1,300 RBIs. His career batting average is .333.
In addition to hitting, Collins was proficient in fielding and base-running as well.
Collins stole 744 bases in his career. Collins also is tied for the major league record for most stolen bases in a game with six. He accomplished this feat twice in September 1912.
14. Carl Yastrzemski
Carl Yastrzemski collected 3, 419 hits (sixth All-Time MLB ranking) and 452 home runs in his 23-year career with the Boston Red Sox. He also accumulated 1,844 RBIs.
Yastrzemski was the first American League player who had accumulated 3,000 hits to also accumulate 400 home runs.
Yastrzemski holds many Red Sox records including most career RBIs and hits. He is second on the Red Sox All-Time home run leaders behind Ted Williams, who was his mentor on team and in left field.
13. Willie Stargell
Willie Stargell collected 2,232 hits and 475 home runs in his career.
He also boasted a .529 career slugging percentage. Additionally, Stargell tallied 1,540 RBIs in his career.
His number eight was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
12. Willie McCovey
Willie McCovey was known for his powerful bat. He accumulated 2,211 hits and 521 home runs in his career.
He hit 231 of those 521 career home runs at the San Francisco Giants’ home ballpark, Candlestick Park, the most home runs hit there by a player.
11. Barry Bonds
Some claim that Barry Bonds career is forever tainted by allegations of his steroid use. Yes, it is tainted. However, we will never really know if his power hitting and home run record are due to steroid use or not.
Not to dismiss allegations but 762 home runs is an impressive accomplishment, even if aided by performance-enhancing drugs, because many players have used performance-enhancing drugs and didn’t break the all-time home run record.
10. Ken Griffey Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr. had 2,781 hits and 630 home runs in his career. Griffey’s 630 home runs puts him currently at fifth place for most career home runs, behind only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.
A lot of his career was interrupted by injuries though, so one can imagine that those numbers would be even higher if it hadn’t been for bad luck.
9. Ted Williams
Ted Williams led the league in batting six times. Williams also won the Triple Crown twice( leading the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average).
He had a career batting average of .344 with 521 career home runs and 2.654 hits.
8. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson
Despite not being able to play after 1920, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is still third in major league history in highest career batting average.
In 1911, his rookie season, Jackson hit .408, which still ranks as the highest for a rookie. Babe Ruth claims he modeled his hitting after Jackson.
Jackson also holds the White Sox franchise record for most triples and highest career batting average.
7. Reggie Jackson
Reggie Jackson, was dubbed “Mr. October,” for his clutch post-season hitting. Jackson accumulated 2,584 hits and 563 home runs in his career.
Jackson won two Silver Slugger awards in his career. Jackson was part of five World Series Championship teams in his career: three consecutive years with the Oakland Athletics and two consecutive years with the New York Yankees.
His number nine was retired by the A’s and forty-four by the Yankees.
6. Stan Musial
Stan Musial is ranked number four on the list of all time hits leaders with 3,630 career hits. Along with his hits total, Musial recorded 475 career home runs.
Musial is one of only 53 major leaguers to have a consecutive hit streak of 30 or more games. Musial recorded his 30-game hitting streak in 1950.
Due to that and his .350 batting average, Musial was the second highest vote-getter for the 1950 All-Star Game in the National League.
5. George Brett
George Brett had 3,154 career hits, the most for any third baseman in major league history and ranked 15th of any position.
(Although some argue that the honor belongs to Wade Boggs, since Brett only recorded 2,044 of those hits actually as a third baseman, whereas Boggs collected 2,788. Regardless, Brett would still be second.)
Brett is in good company being one of only four players to reach 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 batting average in his career. The other players are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Stan Musial. Brett has 317 career home runs.
4. Duke Snider
Duke Snider, the great Brooklyn Dodgers’ center fielder passed away February 27 at age 84.
Snider was a power hitter, known for hitting home runs. He had five consecutive seasons with 40 or more home runs. He also boasted a .540 career slugging percentage. He hit 407 home runs during his career.
Of those, he hit 389 with the Dodgers, holding the franchise’s home run record. He is also the only player in MLB history to hit four or more home runs in two separate World Series.
R.I.P. the Duke of Flatbush.
3. Babe Ruth
Everyone knows “El Bambino” for his home run hitting. Ruth was the first player to hit 60 home runs. He accomplished this in 1927 and it would stand for 34 years, until broken by Roger Maris in 1961.
He led the majors in career home runs (714) until Hank Aaron was the first to break the record in 1974 Unlike most home run hitters, Ruth had an impressive batting average as well.
His career slugging percentage of .690 is one record that has yet to be broken by a major leaguer (and let’s be honest: this is one record that is going to be extremely difficult to break).
Ruth led the league in slugging percentage 13 times in his career and led the league in home runs 12 times.
2. Ty Cobb
Ty Cobb was voted into the first Hall of Fame near unanimously with 222 out of 226 votes.
He holds the highest career batting percentage (at .366) and most career batting titles. He also held many other titles that have since been broken, including: most hits, runs, games played and at-bats.
He had almost 4,200 hits in 3,035 games in his impressive career, qualifying him for second place in most career hits in MLB history.
1. Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig was an amazing baseball player and hitter, whose 17-year career with the Yankees was cut short due to suffering from ALS, or what has come to be known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Had it not been for the effects of the disease, Gehrig could have gone on to play for many more years
. During his career, Gehrig accumulated 493 home runs and 2,721 hits. Gehrig also had a streak of 2,130 consecutive games played, the most of any major leaguer. The record stood for over 50 years, until Cal Ripken broke the record in 1995.
Gehrig’s number four was retired by the Yankees. Legendary Number Four really liked the number: he still holds the record for most career grand slams (with 23) and hit four home runs in one game.