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MLB Power Rankings: The 50 Best Left-Handed Power Hitters of the Last 50 Years

Lewie PollisSenior Analyst IIIJune 30, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: The 50 Best Left-Handed Power Hitters of the Last 50 Years

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    Left-handed people are at a distinct disadvantage in our society.

    For southpaws, scissors are upside down, doorknobs are in the wrong place and even firearms don't feel right (pun intended).

    Not so in Major League Baseball.

    In addition to left-handed pitchers who are prized for their gifts, lefty hitters are better than their opposite-handed peers at picking up breaking pitches from righty hurlers, who represent a majority of MLB pitchers.

    In this slideshow are the 50 best left-handed power hitters of the last 50 years, determined by both peak power and career-long achievement.

    I did my best, but still this list probably isn't quite right (I'll be here all week!).

No. 50: Justin Morneau

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    You wouldn't know it from his slump this year, but the 2006 AL MVP has a .219 isolated power and a .501 slugging percentage.

    That ain't bad.

No. 49: Robinson Cano

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    It might seem a little early to put Cano on this list, but the 28-year-old already has 130 homers.

    You might be surprised to learn he has a .490 career SLG.

No. 48: Ichiro Suzuki

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    He doesn't show it when it counts, but Ichiro hits moonshots in batting practice.

    If he changed his approach, he'd definitely be capable of hitting at least a couple dozen bombs a year.

No. 47: Steve Finley

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    Finley spent nearly two decades in the big leagues, and over that time he hit 304 home runs.

No. 46: Curtis Granderson

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    Granderson is 30 years old and on the verge of 150 home runs.

    He's got a .490 SLG and a .221 ISO.

No. 45: Kent Hrbek

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    Hrbek spent 14 years in the majors—all with the Twins—including eight 20-homer seasons in a row.

    He also posted a .481 SLG and a .198 ISO.

No. 44: Fred Lynn

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    Lynn topped 300 homers with a .201 ISO in his 17-year career.

No. 43: Andre Ethier

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    His 105 homers might not look like much, but he's only 29, and he has a .487 SLG.

    He's got time.

No. 42: Jeromy Burnitz

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    Burnitz wasn't a great hitter (109 career wRC+), but he had some serious pop with 315 homers and a .228 ISO.

No. 41: Dave Parker

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    No one will mistake Parker for Babe Ruth, but 339 homers and a .471 SLG have to count for something, right?

No. 40: Carlos Pena

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    A true "three-outcomes" hitter, Pena has 247 homers to date already.

    He has a .488 SLG, a .248 ISO and a 1.037 Power Factor.

No. 39: Harold Baines

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    Baines was never one of the game's elite players—only once in 22 seasons did he top 3.5 WAR—but he was a consistent power hitter for two decades.

    It takes someone special to hit 384 home runs.

No. 38: Chase Utley

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    Utley's a future Hall of Famer if he can stay healthy, and while power isn't the most impressive part of his game, he's got some pop.

    He's got a .512 career SLG and is averaging 28 homers per 162 games.

No. 37: Eddie Mathews

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    Mathews' best days were behind him by 1961, but he hit 174 homers with a .198 ISO in the 1960's.

    Not bad for a guy in his decline.

    Public Domain image (courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com)

No. 36: Tino Martinez

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    Maybe he was a product of his era, but even if he was overrated with the Yankees, he was quite a slugger.

    He hit 339 homers with a clean .200 ISO in his career.

No. 35: Russell Branyan

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    Branyan's never played a true full season, but he's shown tremendous power in the few chances he's gotten.

    He has a .250 ISO and a 1.075 Power Factor, and he's averaged a homer every 15 at-bats.

No. 34: David Justice

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    Justice's great plate discipline and power were immortalized in Moneyball, and for good reason.

    He hit 305 homers with a .221 ISO in his 14-year career.

No. 33: Boog Powell

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    Powell spent 17 years in a MLB uniform, and in that time he smacked 339 homers with a .196 ISO.

No. 32: Luis Gonzalez

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    Nineteen years in the bigs, Gonzo had 354 home runs with a .479 SLG and a .196 ISO.

    In 2001, he hit 57 homers with a .688 SLG.

No. 31: Travis Hafner

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    Sure, he declined too soon, but he's still shown quite a bit of pop over the last decade.

    He's got a .519 SLG and a .236 ISO.

No. 30: Bobby Abreu

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    Call him a product of his era, but Abreu smacked 279 homers with a .484 SLG.

    At the very least he's a borderline Hall of Famer. 

No. 29: Shawn Green

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    A favorite of Jewish fans everywhere, Green hit 328 homers with a .494 SLG 15 seasons in the bigs.

    He's second only to Hank Greenberg in career homers by a Jewish player.

No. 28: George Brett

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    Over 21 years in the majors, Brett hit 317 homers with a .487 SLG.

    He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer who got 98 percent of the vote.

No. 27: Graig Nettles

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    A solid batsman and an excellent fielder, Nettles hit 390 homers in his 22-year career.

    Why he never got any traction for the Hall of Fame is beyond me.

No. 26: Joey Votto

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    Is it a little soon to anoint Votto? Maybe so, but after less than four full seasons, he's got 101 homers under his belt.

    He's also got a .549 SLG and a .234 ISO.

No. 25: Norm Cash

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    Cash started his career before the purview of this list, but he did pretty well from 1961 on, belting 355 homers with a .490 SLG.

    He's proof that steroids weren't the first thing power hitters used to cheat—he later copped to having used a corked bat.

    Public Domain image (courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com)

No. 24: Darryl Strawberry

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    He wasn't the Hall of Famer many thought he would become, but Strawberry wielded a booming bat throughout his 17-year career.

    He had 335 homers to go along with a .954 Power Factor.

No. 23: Brian Giles

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    Giles will go down in the annals of history for his plate discipline, but don't forget about his power.

    He hit 287 homers with a .502 SLG.

No. 22: Will Clark

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    Over his 15-year career, Clark hit 284 homers with a .497 SLG.

    He was a threat to go yard every time he stepped to the plate.

No. 21: Mo Vaughn

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    Vaughn undid a lot of the good he did with his bat in the field—but not all of it.

    He smacked 328 homers with a .523 SLG in his career.

No. 20: Darrell Evans

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    Evans smacked 414 bombs over his 21-year career and posted a .183 ISO.

    Why he got less than two percent of the vote on his only Hall of Fame ballot is beyond me.

No. 19: Jason Giambi

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    Cheater. Criminal. Sell-out.

    Call him what you like, but don't call Giambi a weak hitter.

    He doesn't play everyday anymore, but he's smacked 423 homers and owns a .525 career SLG.

No. 18: Jim Edmonds

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    A deserving Hall of Famer, Edmonds hit 393 homers with a .527 SLG and a .243 ISO in his 17 big-league seasons.

    And given that he came out of retirement a year ago, there's always a chance that his current hiatus from the game won't be permanent either.

No. 17: David Ortiz

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    Every Boston fan's favorite clutch hitter, Ortiz has 366 home runs, a .545 SLG, a .263 ISO and a .931 Power Factor.

    Big Papi is one of the game's most prolific sluggers.

No. 16: Billy Williams

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    A six-time All-Star, Williams smacked 426 homers with a .492 SLG in 17 MLB seasons.

    In 1987, he was elected to the Hall of Fame with 86 percent of the vote.

No. 15: Carlos Delgado

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    Delgado was always overshadowed in his time, but that doesn't mean he wasn't a true force at the plate.

    He hit 473 homers and compiled a .546 career SLG—including a .664 mark in 2000.

No. 14: Adrian Gonzalez

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    Gonzalez is 29 years old, and he's smacked 184 homers with a .517 SLG despite spending almost all his career playing his home games in Petco Park.

    Now that he's in a hitter-friendly park this season, he's got a .611 SLG.

No. 13: Fred McGriff

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    If McGriff had hit seven more homers, he'd be a clear candidate for the Hall of Fame.

    The voters might not agree, but personally I think 493 is enough.

No. 12: Todd Helton

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    A lot of people don't remember how good Helton was, but not everyone can hit 342 homers with a .552 career SLG.

    Coors Field or not, his .698 SLG in 2000 was downright scary.

No. 11: Ryan Howard

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    He may have peaked early, and he's no longer one of the elite hitters in baseball, but you can't write off what Howard has already done.

    He's averaged a home run every 13 at-bats in his career and has a .565 SLG, a .288 ISO and 1.043 Power Factor.

No. 10: Adam Dunn

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    This year's struggles aside, Dunn is one of the most prolific sluggers of his generation.

    At age 31, he has 361 homers, and he's got a career 1.074 Power Factor.

No. 9: Prince Fielder

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    The man described in Moneyball as too fat even for the Oakland A's has done quite well for himself since breaking into the majors in 2005.

    Fielder has a .541 career SLG, and the barely 27-year-old already has 213 homers.

No. 8: Rafael Palmeiro

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    Palmeiro's steroid scandal has probably destroyed his chances of getting into Cooperstown, and that's a shame.

    He hit 569 homers with a .515 SLG in his 20-year career.

No. 7: Larry Walker

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    Another deserving Hall of Famer, Walker hit 383 homers with a .565 SLG and a .252 ISO in 17 seasons.

    His .790 SLG in 1997 is downright insane.

No. 6: Reggie Jackson

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    One of the greatest power hitters of all time, Jackson smacked 563 dingers with a .228 ISO and a .490 SLG.

    Mr. October is up there with the all-time top sluggers of any handedness.

No. 5: Willie Stargell

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    A .529 SLG, a .247 ISO and 475 home runs.

    Stargell (no relation to Tony) was a true stud throughout his 21 years in the majors. 

No. 4: Jim Thome

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    Thome's hit 593 homers over his 21-year career, and he's not done yet.

    He has a .558 SLG, .281 ISO and a 1.013 Power Factor

No. 3: Willie McCovey

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    In an era when hitters didn't put up the gaudy power numbers they have over the last 15 years, McCovey launched 521 homers with a .515 SLG and a .245 ISO.

    Talk about a legend.

No. 2: Ken Griffey, Jr.

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    One of the greatest players of his generation, Griffey wound up with a .538 SLG and a .254 ISO to go along with his reputation as a phenomenal fielder.

    Oh, and he hit 630 home runs.

No. 1: Barry Bonds

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    The second-greatest hitter of all-time, Babe Ruth's age means Bonds tops this list by default.

    You can dismiss his accomplishments as PED-fueled and claim he has no place in Cooperstown (though that thinking doesn't hold up very well under scrutiny), but the man owns both the single-season and career MLB home run records.

    Who else would be No. 1?

     

    For more of Lewie's work, check out WahooBlues.com.

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