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MLB History: Can't Top This—Roger Hornsby's 5-Year Run Is All-Time Best

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MLB History: Can't Top This—Roger Hornsby's 5-Year Run Is All-Time Best
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Nobody in baseball history—not Cobb, not Ruth, nor Williams or Bonds—ever put together a better five-year run than Rogers Hornsby.

Between 1921 and 1925, the St. Louis Cardinals second baseman won five consecutive batting titles—with averages of .397, .401, .384, .424 and .403. Overall, the Rajah won seven batting crowns and hit .358 lifetime, highest for a right-hand batter in the history of the game.

During that five-year stretch, Hornsby also:

  • Led the NL in HRs in 1922 and 1925, winning Triple Crowns both years.
  • Hit .424 in 1924, the highest average ever recorded in a single season
  • Led the NL in OBP, slugging and OPS five straight times
  • Led the NL in hits, doubles, runs and RBIs three times, and triples once

In 1922, Hornsby led the league with 42 home runs, 152 RBI, a .401 average and 450 total bases. Only Ruth with 457 in 1921, ever had more. Not too shabby.

After winning his second Triple Crown and the NL MVP in 1925 with 39 homers, 143 RBI and a .403 average, the Rajah’s numbers slipped to a more pedestrian .317 the following season. However, as player-manager, he led the Cardinals to their first World Championship with a seven-game triumph over the Yankees.

 

Six Straight Batting Titles

Hornsby also won the NL batting title in 1920, when he hit .370 and led the NL in hits, doubles, RBI, OBP, slugging and OPS. Not even the great Ty Cobb can match Hornsby’s run of six straight batting titles, between 1920 and 1925.

Throughout baseball history, other players have had remarkable five-year runs. Beginning in 1911, Cobb won five straight batting titles—.420, .409, .390, .368 and .369—but couldn’t match up to Hornsby in some of the other categories. Babe Ruth won four home run titles, three RBI crowns and a batting title in his first five seasons with the Yankees, beginning in 1920.

Ted Williams hit .401 in  1941 and won American League Triple Crowns in 1942 and 1947 (the only player besides Hornsby to win two) but lost three years to World War II service. And more recently, Barry Bonds had a remarkable run between 2000 and 2004, capped by a record 73 home runs in 2001.

But none can match the Rajah’s brilliant five-year run.

Just before Christmas in 1926, Hornsby was traded to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring. Following the 1927 season, the Giants shipped Hornsby to the Boston Braves for Shanty Hogan and Jimmy Welsh.

Hornsby played just one year in Boston. Despite winning his seventh and final batting title in 1928, Hornsby then was traded to the Cubs for Bruce Cunningham, Percy Jones, Lou Legett, Freddie Maguire, Socks Seibold and $200,000.

That deal paid off handsomely for the Cubs, as Hornsby earned his second MVP in leading the Cubs to the 1929 World Series.

Hornsby went on to manage the Cubs, St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds and was a coach for the original 1962 New York Mets. He passed away in 1963.

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