MLB Power Rankings: Barry Bonds and Each Team's Most Intimidating Hitter Ever
When a hitter steps into the batters box, what about his ability scares the opposing team? Is it tremendous power like Babe Ruth or is it the ability to get any kind of hit like Ted Williams?
If you were to look at each MLB franchise, who is their most intimidating hitter ever? Is it a power hitter or is it a hitter that just seemed to be able to do whatever the team needed?
Does the franchise have multiple choices or was there only one clear choice?
Let's take a look at each franchise and see who their most intimidating hitter is in their history, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks have several intimidating pitchers in their history (Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling) but not so many intimidating hitters.
The choice came down between Matt Williams and Luis Gonzalez.
I decided to go with Luis Gonzalez. Even though Williams had more home runs as a Diamondback, Gonzalez was more intimidating because he was a better overall hitter than Williams (Gonzo had over a 100 point advantage in OPS). There were more ways Gonzo could beat you than just hitting a home run —just ask the Yankees and Mariano Rivera.
As a Diamondback, Gonzo batted .298 with an OBP of .391, a Slugging Percentage of .529, an OPS of .919 and an OPS+ of 130.
The Braves have several intimidating hitters in their history.
Eddie Mathews could beat you with power or Chipper Jones could beat you several ways. However, no Brave was more intimidating than my choice, Hank Aaron.
Hammerin' Hank is still considered by many to be the all-time home-run king and is a top-10 all-time player in baseball history.
As a Brave, Aaron batted .310 with an OBP of .377, a Slugging Percentage of .567, an OPS of .944 and an OPS+ of 158.
This was a tough choice.
Cal Ripken had power (especially for a shortstop), but he was never really intimidating and Eddie Murray was one of the most consistent hitters in baseball during his 13 seasons in Baltimore. However, my choice won a batting Triple Crown in 1966 for the Orioles. Of course, I'm talking about Frank Robinson.
Frank was one of the most intimidating hitters during the 1960s and 1970s.
As an Oriole, Frank batted .300 with an OBP of .401, a Slugging Percentage of .543, an OPS of .944 and an OPS+ of 169.
Boston Red Sox
Another franchise with several good choices.
Manny Ramirez was one of the most feared hitters in the game and David Ortiz was someone you didn't want at the plate in a key situation. However, they don't compare to Ted Williams.
Williams is arguably the best overall hitter the game's ever seen. He could do it all with the bat—hit for average, draw a walk or hit a home run.
For Boston, Teddy Ballgame batted .344 with a .482 OBP, a .634 Slugging Percentage, an OPS of 1.116 and an OPS+ of 190.
Chicago White Sox
The choice for the White Sox came down to two players—"Shoeless" Joe Jackson or Frank Thomas.
While Jackson was a tremendous hitter, he wasn't nearly as intimidating as The Big Hurt. Thomas was arguably the game's most intimidating hitter in the 1990s.
Frank routinely led the league in OBP and OPS. He was also among the league leaders in home runs and OPS+.
While with the White Sox, Frank batted .307 with a .427 OBP, a .568 Slugging Percentage, an OPS of .995 and an OPS+ of 161.
The choice for the Cubs came down to two players—Ernie Banks or Sammy Sosa.
Ernie is Mr. Cub and was one of the best players in the game. However, what Sammy Sosa did between 1998 and 2001 was just plain nasty. He hit 50 or more home runs in four consecutive seasons while batting over .300 in three of those seasons. During those seasons, there was only one more feared hitter in the game than Sosa (Mark McGwire).
Yes, Sosa was smack dab in the middle of the steroid controversy and that should always be mentioned when discussing certain players from that era.
As a Cub, Sosa batted .284 with an OBP of .358, a Slugging Percentage .569, an OPS of .928 and an OPS+ of 139.
If you simply look at the Reds of the 1970s, you will come up with several choices for this article.
George Foster was a power hitter, Joe Morgan was great overall and Pete Rose was a great singles hitter. However, my choice was on the Reds before the Big Red Machine. Of course, I'm talking about a player who is making a second appearance in this article: Frank Robinson.
While Robinson won a batting Triple Crown in Baltimore, his best years came in Cincy (in terms of leading the league in batting categories).
As a Red, Robinson batted .303 with an OBP of .389, a Slugging Percentage of .943, an OPS of .943 and an OPS+ of 149.
The Indians have had several great hitters in their history, but none were as intimidating as Manny Ramirez.
Manny is arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of our generation. In the 1990s, there were few hitters more intimidating than Manny.
As an Indian, Manny batted .313 with an OBP of .407, a Slugging Percentage of .592, an OPS of .992 and an OPS+ of 152.
When you think of hitters in Rockies' history, two names come to mind: Larry Walker and Todd Helton.
Who was the more intimidating between the two? I think it was Larry Walker. Just look at 1999 when Walker led the league in batting average (.379), OBP (.458), Slugging Percentage (.710), and OPS (1.168).
As a Rockie, Walker batted .334 with an OBP of .426, a Slugging Percentage of .618, an OPS of 1.044 and an OPS+ of 147.
Was there really any doubt who the Tigers' pick would be? Yes, Miguel Cabrera is one of the scariest hitters in the game today, but he doesn't compare to Cobb.
Even though Cobb's home-run totals make it look like he didn't have much power; he once hit six home runs in nine at-bats simply to prove he could (at least according to baseball legend).
Cobb wasn't just an intimidating hitter. He was one of the most intimidating players to ever play the game. He was willing to do whatever he could to help his team win and most of the time that involved playing dirty (sliding cleats first, getting into fights).
Also, when you add in the threat he was on the base paths, it just adds to his initimidation. You simply didn't want him to get on base.
For the Tigers, Cobb batted .368 with an OBP of .434, a Slugging Percentage of .516, an OPS of .950 and an OPS+ of 171.
In the Marlins' short history, they have several hitters that would qualify for this.
Miguel Cabrera would be a good choice and Fred McGriff was a pretty great hitter as well. However, my choice is one of the most intimidating hitters of our generation.
What makes Gary Sheffield an intimidating hitter is his bat speed. One of the fastest swings I've ever seen, Sheffield could quickly turn a pitch into a souvenir.
As a Marlin, Sheffield batted .288 with an OBP of .426, a Slugging Percentage of .543, an OPS of .970 and an OPS+ of 156.
Is there any other choice except for Jeff Bagwell?
You could pick Lance Berkman, who was intimidating for a season or two, or Craig Biggio, who was only intimidating if you are scared of body armor and hit-by-pitches.
Bags was simply an on-base and slugging machine in the 1990s.
As an Astro, Bagwell batted .297 with a .408 OBP, a .540 Slugging Percentage, an OPS of .948 and an OPS+ of 149.
Kansas City Royals
The first hitter Royals fans will think of is George Brett, but unless you're an umpire calling him out for using too much pine tar, was he really intimidating?
My choice is Bo Jackson. Yes, his career was short, but Bo was a man among boys. The power he had in his swing made you stop and take notice.
The numbers Jackson put up just don't do him justice and don't scream "intimidator." If you saw Bo play baseball, you know what I'm talking about (or you can ask Brian Bosworth if Jackson was intimidating).
As a Royal, Bo batted .250 with an OBP of .308, a Slugging Percentage of .480, an OPS of .787 and an OPS+ of 115.
Los Angeles Angels
When I think of the Angels, not really many intimidating hitters come to mind. I think of guys like Tim Salmon or Garrett Anderson.
Yes, by the time Reggie was on the California Angels, his best years were behind him. However, his all-or-nothing swing could still scare pitchers. It always seemed like the next pitch was going to be a souvenir for some kid in the outfield seats.
As an Angel, Reggie batted.239 with an OBP of .343, a Slugging Percentage of .440, an OPS of .782 and an OPS+ of 114.
Los Angeles Dodgers
In the long history of the Dodgers, their most intimidating hitter (discounting Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez, simply due to their short careers in Los Angeles), has to be the 6'8", 275-pound behemoth, Frank Howard.
Keep in mind that Howard was an All-American for basketball and baseball at Ohio State and was drafted by the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors.
Other Dodgers hitters may have had better numbers, but when this monster stepped into the batters box, it must have been a sight to see.
As a Dodger, Howard batted .269 with an OBP of .326, a Slugging Percentage of .495, an OPS of .822 and an OPS+ of 125.
The Brewers have some great hitters in their history (Molitor and Yount) and one active player (Prince Fielder) that I considered. However, I ended up choosing Gorman Thomas.
Thomas was one of the best home-run hitters in baseball from 1978 through 1983. The problem was, he was another one of those all-or-nothing type hitters (though he was underrated defensively).
As a Brewer, Stormin' Gorman batted .230 with an OBP of .325, a Slugging Percentage of .461, an OPS of .786 and an OPS+ of 119.
Note: I almost picked the Brewers starting pitcher, Pete Vuckovich, simply because of his portrayal of Clu Haywood in the first Major League movie.
The Twins have had some intimidating hitters in their history, from Joe Mauer to Dave Winfield to Kent Hrbek, but the obvious choice is Harmon Killebrew.
Killebrew retired with the most home runs by a right-handed hitter in history, generated by his powerful swing, and he was known for his tape-measure home runs.
As a Senator and then Twin, Hammerin' Harmon batted .258 with a .378 OBP, a .514 Slugging Percentage, an OPS of .892 and an OPS+ of 145.
New York Mets
The Mets have mainly been a pitching organization throughout their history and while they've have some great hitters, not many were intimidating. Two names immediately popped into my head: Mike Piazza and Daryl Strawberry.
I decided to go with Strawberry simply because of his swing. It was one of the smoothest swings I've ever seen and so the amount of power he was able to generate with it was surprising.
As a Met, Strawberry batted .263 with an OBP of .359, a Slugging Percentage of .520, an OPS of .878 and an OPS+ of 145.
New York Yankees
Was there ever any doubt who the Yankees' choice would be? People could argue that Mantle was more intimidating because he was a switch-hitter or Gehrig was more intimidating if there were runners in scoring position, but those arguments would all fall short.
Ruth is the most intimidating hitter ever to set foot in a batters box, plain and simple.
As a Yankee, the Sultan of Swat batted .349 with an OBP of .484, a Slugging Percentage of .711, an OPS of 1.195 and an OPS+ of 209.
Up to this point, most of the hitters selected have been power hitters and some were also perennial Triple Crown threats.
My choice for the A's most intimidating hitter was made not because of what he could do with the bat, but instead, for what he could do on the base paths if a pitcher let him on.
Of course, I'm talking about Rickey Henderson. You didn't want to walk Rickey because within two pitches he'd be standing on third base. So a pitcher would give him something to hit and then he'd show the power he actually did have (most leadoff home runs in history).
As an A, Rickey batted .288 with a .409 OBP, a .430 Slugging Percentage, an OPS of .839 and an OPS+ of 136.
Was there any doubt that the greatest third baseman to ever play and arguably the Phillies' greatest player was going to be on this list?
A simple look at Schmidt's Baseball Reference page and you see nothing but black ink in the home run, RBI, BB, SO, OBP, Slugging, OPS and OPS+ columns, meaning he routinely led the league in the major hitting categories.
As a Phillie, Michael Jack batted .267 with an OBP of .380, a Slugging Percentage of .527, an OPS of .908 and an OPS+ of 147.
The choice for the Pirates came down to two players: Honus Wagner and Willie Stargell. In what I'm sure will be a surprise and disputed decision, I went with Stargell.
Stargell's home runs were monstrous to say the least. Out of the 16 total home runs ever hit out of Forbes Field, Stargell hit seven of them.
According to baseball lore, Stargell didn't use a weighted bat or donut in the on-deck circle; he used a sledgehammer. That alone yells intimidation.
As a Pirate, Stargell batted .282 with an OBP of .360, a Slugging Percentage of .529, an OPS of .889 and an OPS+ of 147.
San Diego Padres
When you think of Padres' hitters, you think of Tony Gwynn. However, he wasn't exactly intimidating. So, that left me with either Ken Caminiti or Dave Winfield.
The easy choice was Winfield, mainly because of his sheer size and athleticism. He was 6'6" tall and weighed 220 pounds. He was drafted by the NBA, the ABA, the NFL and MLB.
As a Padre, Winfield batted .284 with an OBP of .357, a Slugging Percentage of .464, an OPS of .821 and an OPS+ of 134.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants have several players worthy of being picked in this article: Willie McCovey for his pure power or Willie Mays for his overall hitting ability.
However, you have to choose Barry Bonds.
Yes, he is the face of the steroid era in baseball and is currently on trial for lying to a grand jury.
However, what he did from 2001 through 2004 was simply one of the best runs any player has ever had. How many hitters would be intentionally walked with runners on second and third already? Teams would rather load the bases than give Barry a shot at a three-run homer.
As a Giant, Barry batted .312 with an OBP of .477, a Slugging Percentage of .666, an OPS of 1.143 and an OPS+ of 199.
The Mariners have several intimidating hitters in their history; Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez or Jay Buhner for example.
Ken Griffey Jr. was the easy choice, though. During Griffey's first stint on the Mariners, he was considered the best player in the game and was someone you simply didn't want at the plate with the game on the line if your favorite team was playing Seattle.
As a Mariner, Junior batted .292 with an OBP of .374, a Slugging Percentage of .553, an OPS of .927 and an OPS+ of 144.
St. Louis Cardinals
One of the toughest choices to make. Do I choose Albert Pujols, Stan Musial or Rogers Hornsby?
Musial was one of the best overall hitters in the game's history, but I don't think he was considered initimidating.
Hornsby is a top-10 all-time player in baseball history and what he did between 1920 and 1925 was amazing.
However, what Pujols has done over his first 11 seasons is unprecedented in baseball history. Pitchers simply don't want to face Pujols—ever.
As a Cardinal, Pujols has batted .331 with an OBP of .425, a Slugging Percentage of .624, an OPS of 1.049 and an OPS+ of 172.
Tampa Bay Rays
In the Rays' short history, they haven't really had many intimidating hitters. The choice was basically between Greg Vaughn or Fred McGriff; and that's not really a hard decision to make.
McGriff was one of the most consistent hitters during his career and was always a threat for 30 or more home runs.
As a Ray, the Crime Dog batted .291 with a .380 OBP, a Slugging Percentage of .484, an OPS of .864 and an OPS+ of 122.
Another hitter caught up in the steroid era.
In the mid-to-late 1990s, Gonzalez was one of the scariest hitters in the game. He always seemed to come up with the big hit (which was usually a home run) when needed.
As a Ranger, Juan "Gone" batted .293 with an OBP of .342, a Slugging Percentage of .565, an OPS of .907 and an OPS+ of 133.
Toronto Blue Jays
To me, this was one of the easiest choices to make.
As a Yankees fan in the 1980s, there was one hitter I didn't want to see at the plate in a big situation for the Jays: George Bell.
As a Jay, Bell batted .286 with an OBP of .325, a Slugging Percentage of .486, an OPS of .811 and an OPS+ of 119.
In order to find the most intimidating hitter in Nationals history, you have to go back to their time as the Montreal Expos.
I went with Andre Dawson over Vlad Guerrero. Dawson seemed to have a ton of power in his swing that he would uncork at any minute.
As an Expo, The Hawk batted .280 with an OBP of .326, a Slugging Percentage of .476, an OPS of .802 and an OPS+ of 122.
So, do you agree with my choices or would you have picked different players? Please feel free to state you case in the comments below!