MLB Power Rankings: Derek Jeter and the 40 Greatest Pure Hitters in MLB History
Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit has come and gone, and now that the media circus that surrounded the milestone has subsided, we can sit back and appreciate the magnitude of the accomplishment.
Only 28 men in the history of this great game have ever reached the 3,000-hit plateau, and all but three—Jeter, Pete Rose and Rafael Palmeiro—are enshrined in Cooperstown.
That got us here at Bleacher Report thinking: Just what does it take to reach 3,000 hits?
Is there some sort of magic formula that helps a player become a model of consistency, like Wade Boggs' ridiculous daily routines, or can it only be done with a certain level of natural born talent?
The easy consensus is that you have to be a "pure" hitter. There's that perfect blend of natural talent, work ethic, and consistency that results in the creation of a baseball legend.
Of course, that theory had me wanting to expand the parameters of the list a bit. Instead of wondering what it takes to reach 3,000 hits, I began wondering just who the 40 greatest "pure" hitters in the history of the sport were.
To understand the list, however, it will be important to understand what qualifies as a "pure" hitter.
In 2009, Joe Posnanski, who was twice awarded as the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press and currently writes for Sports Illustrated, published a list of the 10 best "pure hitters" in baseball, according to his own personal opinion.
While I may agree or disagree with the placement of some of the names on his list, he did a fine job of establishing the criteria for what a "pure" hitter should be. According to Posnanski, a pure hitter is someone who:
- Has a high batting average
- Does not strike out often
- Has the ability to hit the ball hard, night in and night out
Using those criteria, which are widely accepted to establish a pure hitter, I decided to expand the list from 10 to 40. Of course, with a bigger list comes a more severe set of criteria.
While I've used the skeleton of Posnanski's guidelines as a rule of thumb, I've also set up a number of other parameters, which are as follows. To qualify, a hitter must have:
- played in the Major Leagues for a minimum of 10 seasons
- had fewer than 2,000 strikeouts over the course of his career
- had a career batting average of no lower than .290
With those criteria added, along with the ones that Posnanski used in his piece, I assembled a list of some legendary names, that established themselves by hitting.
The following list are the 40 greatest pure hitters in the history of baseball, according to myself.
The criteria that I set for the list resulted in the lofty standards that baseball fans have come to expect from someone that can be called a "pure hitter."
As a result, I came across a number of guys that didn't quite make the cut but were far too talented to not be mentioned somewhere within the list.
The following men are as close to being pure hitters as it gets, but didn't quite make the list:
- Robin Yount
- Dave Winfield
- Craig Biggio (pictured)
- Rickey Henderson
- Rafael Palmeiro
- Harold Baines
- Ken Griffey Jr.
- Vida Pinson
40. Lou Brock
Why not kick off the list with one of the most entertaining men to ever play the game, Lou Brock?
He is one of the those elite few to have reached the 3,000-hit plateau, notching 3,023 for his career and striking out only 1,730 times over 19 seasons. When all was said and done, he retired with a career batting average of .293.
39. Alex Rodriguez
Al Bello/Getty Images
I came very close to excluding Alex Rodriguez from the list, what with the whole steroid controversy that creates an air of uncertainty in including him in "all-time" lists.
That said, it's hard to ignore what he's done over the course of his career and the natural talent that got him there.
Another reason that I nearly left him off of the list was because of his climbing strikeout totals. As an active player, he will more than likely reach the 2,000 strikeout limit, already having been punched out 1,903 times—the most of anyone on this list by far.
38. Ivan Rodriguez
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Ivan Rodriguez probably takes home the award for being the most surprising hitter mentioned on this list. He may be struggling at the end of his career at the dish, but people quickly forget just how much of a threat he was in his prime, especially in his days with the Texas Rangers.
Already having collected 2,842 hits over the course of a 21 season career, there is still a slight chance that he could reach the 3,000-hit plateau before all is said and done.
He is the owner of a career .297 batting average and has struck out just 1,472 times.
37. Barry Bonds
Then again, I can think of more than a few people who would be surprised to see Barry Bonds on this list. In fact, he was a late addition to the order.
After a bit of back and forth with myself, I decided to include him. His legacy may be shrouded in steroid usage, but that doesn't change the fact that the man was a great hitter. We live in America, people. Who am I to point the finger?
All we have are the facts, and that's what I'll go by. You may or may not accept him as the home run king, but the man sports a career .298 average. He struck out 1,539 times—a number that is easily surpassed by his hit total: 2,935.
Love him or hate him, or refuse to accept him at all, but there's just no denying the fact that he was easily one of the greatest hitters of all time.
36. Derek Jeter
Yes, his quest for his 3,000th hit may have been blown way out of proportion by the media, but the fact that he was the first Yankee to accomplish the feat is somewhat astounding, considering the names that have worn pinstripes.
Derek Jeter is just a special player and has been over the course of his 17-year career.
Wearing just one uniform since day one, and likely until the day he decides to hang it up, Jeter has been smashing records as The Captain of the New York Yankees.
With the 3,000th hit behind him, he now sits at 3,007 for his career, to go along with a career batting average of .312 and just over 1,600 strikeouts to his name.
35. Frank Robinson
I find it hard not to like Frank Robinson and not just because he played for Cincinnati while they were still called the "Redlegs."
There was just something about the way that he approached the game, at least, as a manager, that I found quite inspiring. During his playing days, he was certainly a threat at the plate, mainly because he could hit just about everything.
He wrapped up a 21-year career in 1976, finishing with a batting average of .294. He struck out just 1,532 times, a stat that is not even worth mentioning when you consider the fact that he retired with 2,943 hits.
34. Babe Ruth
You may be surprised to see Babe Ruth's name so low on any kind of list, but don't forget, we're not just talking about the greatest hitters of all time here.
What I find interesting is that he's on this list at all. Regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, power hitters of all time, Ruth was one of a kind.
In today's game, being a power hitter means throwing up huge power numbers and equally huge strike out numbers. But not The Babe.
Until Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron came around many years later, he was the all time home run king. What many people don't know, however, is that power was just one facet of his game.
He was a very good, patient hitter, collecting 2,873 hits over the course of his career, striking out just 1,330 times and helping himself to a career batting average of .342.
33. Eddie Murray
With a nickname like "Steady Eddie," it was only a matter of time before he showed up on this list.
Eddie Murray spent parts of his 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Anaheim Angels, collecting hits and drawing walks every where he went.
Regarded as the greatest switch hitter of all time (at least, for now), Murray made a name for himself by being a model of consistency.
Admittedly, I cheated a little bit by including Murray here, because his .287 career average doesn't quite fit the criteria, but I have my reasons.
Not only was he one of the greatest hitters of all time, but he was great from both sides of the plate. He reached the 3,000-hit plateau with relative ease but also clobbered more than 500 home runs, while striking out less than 1,500 times.
I think we can excuse three points of his batting average for numbers like that.
32. Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente was a blessing for the sport of baseball, both on the field and off of it. Widely regarded as one of the greatest people of all time, he was also somewhat like a machine, collecting base hits at a rapid pace.
Over the course of an 18-year career, he collected exactly 3,000 hits, all as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He struck out just 1,230 times, sporting a career batting average of .317 and will always be remembered, both as a person and a player, as the greatest Pirate to ever play the game.
31. Willie Mays
I'd like to take a break from reminding you just how great Willie Mays was for some commentary.
Whenever I'm looking through older pictures, like for this slide, it baffles my mind just how built some of these guys were. For instance, right around this time, the big bellied players of the early 20th century are beginning to fade, and guys who took great pride in their physical conditioning began to emerge, like Mays.
OK, on to the factual information. Spending most of his career with the New York (and eventually, San Francisco) Giants, Mays was an absolute monster at the plate. I could go on and on about his offensive achievements, but it wouldn't be doing Mays any justice.
He collected more than 3,200 hits for his career, including more than 600 career home runs, all part of a .302 batting average.
Arguably the greatest to ever play the game.
30. Al Kaline
Let's face it. Al Kaline is the Detroit Tigers. He's not only one of the greatest Tigers to ever suit up, but one of the greatest men to ever wear a baseball uniform. He spent 22 seasons in Detroit and never skipped a beat, collecting hit after hit for the Tigers.
Kaline finished his career with just over 3,000 hits, all part of a .297 batting average. In more than 11,000 plate appearances, he struck out just over 1,000 times.
29. Mel Ott
Mel Ott was what we today would call a "professional hitter," as in, he was just good at all facets of the game. He could drive a ball up the middle or over the wall and had a great eye at the plate, drawing walks at a frantic pace.
He spent the entirety of his career with the New York Giants and was one of the greatest players ever produced by that franchise.
He was a career .304 hitter, collecting 2,876 career hits—511 of which were home runs. Ott struck out just 896 times in his career, and it baffles my mind how he was able to hit anything at all with that crazy batting stance.
28. Carl Yastrzemski
He wasn't the biggest guy in the world, but Carl Yastrzemski made himself look like a giant at the plate.
Easily one of the greatest hitters of all time, for a long time he was the heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox franchise and as many fans will tell you, still is today.
He spent the entirety of his 23-year career with the Red Sox, collecting 3,419 hits, making it look easy day in and day out. He blasted 452 career home runs, striking out just under 1,400 times in close to 12,000 plate appearances.
When he retired in 1983, Yaz had not only an MVP to his name, but three career batting titles.
27. Paul Molitor
Paul Molitor was just a hitting machine. There's no other way to put it. He was the type of guy that did everything right at the plate, made a ton of appearances and cashed in more often than not.
When his career ended in 1998, the Hall of Fame debate began and was quickly resolved. Molitor collected 3,319 hits over the course of his career, struck out just over 1,200 times and owns a .306 batting average.
26. Rod Carew
All you really need to know about Rod Carew is that he was one of the greatest players of his generation, owning both a Rookie of the Year Award and league MVP Award, but that wouldn't be doing him any justice.
He spent his 19-year career with the Minnesota Twins and California Angels, manning either first or second base.
At the plate, he was a force to be reckoned with. He finished his career with more than 3,000 hits, struck out just over 1,000 times and finished with a career batting average of .328. Just an all around outstanding player.
25. Al Simmons
Al Simmons is the type of hitter that I wish I had the opportunity to watch play. I don't have much to say about him because there isn't much that I know about him, but looking over his career numbers, he had an outstanding eye at the plate.
He notched 2,927 career hits, including 307 home runs, compiling a career batting average of .334. What I find most outstanding is that he struck out just 737 times in his career.
24. Luke Appling
Luke Appling spent the majority of his 20-season career with the Chicago White Sox, splitting time at shortstop and third base.
One of the most popular players of all time, Appling made a name for himself by being a consistently good hitter, notching two batting titles and finishing just four seasons with a batting average below the .300 mark.
"Old Aches and Pains," as he was called, put the ball in play with the best of them. Appling is the owner of a career .310 batting average, having collected 2,749 hits along the way, while striking out just 528 times in over 10,000 plate appearances.
23. Jesse Burkett
You know that you've stumbled across an old time player when four of the five teams that he played for are no longer in existence.
That's exactly the case for Jesse Burkett, who spent his career with the New York Giants (now in San Francisco), Cleveland Spiders, St. Louis Browns and Boston Americans, as well as the St. Louis Cardinals.
One thing that remained true no matter the destination—the man could get out of bed and hit.
He spent his 16-year career collecting 2,850 hits and is the owner of a career batting average of .338. In just under 10,000 plate appearances, he struck out 610 times. Truly amazing.
22. George Brett
George Brett was just an easy player to like. He was a hard nosed, blue collar type of guy that went about the game the right way, and that style shone through with his approach at the plate.
Brett was a tremendous hitter that could spray the ball all over the place, including over the outfield walls for a home run, but it was his consistency that made him great.
He played in the major league for 21 seasons—all with the Kansas City Royals—and more than half of those were seasons in which he batted better than .300, including the 1980 season, where he hit .390.
"Mullet" is the owner of three batting titles and has a career average of .305, including 3,154 hits and just 908 strikeouts in more than 11,000 plate appearances.
21. Rogers Hornsby
I literally had to force myself not to move Rogers Hornsby up on this list. Not only his he one of my favorite players of all time, but he's widely regarded as one of the top five hitters of all time and top three in my head.
His career numbers are simply astounding, and I highly doubt that any man will ever come close to matching his line.
In 23 seasons, Hornsby collected 2,930 hits—but that's just the tip of the iceberg. He led the league in batting seven times, including three seasons in which he batted better than .400. His career batting average is .358, and he struck out just 679 times in just under 10,000 plate appearances.
I had to do some major convincing to keep him out of the top 20.
20. Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs was a man of routine, to the point that I found him to be a bit hysterical. He would run on the field at the same time every day, eat chicken at the same time every day and never broke his routine.
Most importantly, however, the one thing he did routinely was hit, and throughout his career, it seemed like he never made an out.
Boggs spent parts of 18 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, notching base hit after base hit at every stop.
He won five batting titles and hit better than .300 in all but two of his 18 seasons. He had 3,010 hits and a career batting average of .328, and he struck out just 745 times in close to 11,000 plate appearances.
19. Zack Wheat
The owner of one career batting title, "Buck" Wheat was a hitting machine, batting better than .300 in all but five of his major league seasons.
He retired in 1927 with 2,884 hits to his name, a career .317 batting average and most impressively, just 572 strikeouts in just under 10,000 plate appearances.
18. Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron is arguably the greatest hitter of all time, but his strikeout numbers have him climbing up this list just a little bit. I'm not sure what I can say about Aaron that you don't already know.
"Hammerin' Hank" spent the majority of his 23-year career with the Braves' organization—both in Milwaukee and Atlanta—before spending the final two years of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.
He smashed 755 career home runs and in the hearts of many a baseball fan, is still the home run king.
What places him on this list, however, is his consistency at the plate. While his power needs no introduction, it's worth noting that he was much more than your average slugger.
Over the course of his career, he notched an incredible 3,771 hits, and when he retired in 1976, owned a .305 batting average.
Unlike power hitters of today's generation, he rarely ever struck out. He was able to make contact at the plate no matter the pitcher and was punched out just 1,383 times in just under 14,000 plate appearances.
17. Jake Beckley
Jake Beckley is a guy that I'm not all too familiar with, but looking over his career numbers, it's amazing what he was able to do at the plate.
He spent parts of a 20-year career all over the place, but his stay in Pittsburgh was the longest, where he donned the uniform of not only the Pirates but also teams called the Alleghenys and the Burghers.
When he retired in 1907, he had collected 2,934 career hits. Beckley sports a career batting average of .308 and struck out just 524 times in more than 10,500 plate appearances.
16. Charlie Gehringer
Charlie Gehringer was a second baseman who spent his entire 19-year career manning the infield of the Detroit Tigers.
In his prime, he was one of the most reliable, durable guys in baseball, earning him the moniker of "The Mechanical Man."
Of course, that nickname could also be used to describe his approach at the plate, which was nothing short of machine-like. In more than 10,000 plate appearances, he struck out just 372 times, collecting 2,839 career base hits along the way, sporting a career batting average of .320 when he retired in 1942.
15. Sam Crawford
Fans of today's game recognize the name of "Crawford" as belonging to Carl Crawford of the Boston Red Sox, and when you think of him, you think of his speedy style of play.
Well, long before the Red Sox signed Crawford to a hefty, multi-year contract, a man by the name of Sam Crawford was blinding people with his speed.
"Wahoo Sam" began his career with the Cincinnati Reds before moving on to the Detroit Tigers, and if you could say one thing about him, he was really, really fast. To date, no man in history has more triples than the 307 that Crawford collected during his tenure.
Getting on base was also somewhat of his specialty. He is the owner of a career batting average of .309, and retired in 1917 with 2,961 career hits. While his strikeout numbers are historically incomplete, it's well documented that he struck out rarely.
What is documented are just 479 strikeouts in more than 10,500 plate appearances.
14. George Sisler
A while back, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine whom I consider a great baseball mind. He knows the ins and outs of the game, it's history and how it all ties together.
One day, we were having a conversation about the greatest hitters of all time overall, and once we got past the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, etc., we came upon George Sisler.
I don't think I've ever been angrier than when this friend told me, "Sisler was a great, Hall of Fame player, but not the caliber hitter that guys like (Rogers) Hornsby were."I never found the proper place to rant about that comment, so I'll do it here.
Sisler spent his 15-year career with the St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators and Boston Braves, hitting like a man on fire everywhere that he went. He is the owner of a ridiculous career batting average of .340, collected 2,812 career hits and struck out just 327 times in close to 10,000 plate appearances.
If that doesn't put him in the discussion, I'm not sure what does.
13. Frankie Frisch
Frankie Frisch is probably one of the least recognizable names on this list, but the quality of hitter he was should speak for itself. He spent his career with just two teams—the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals—spanning a 19-year career, playing both second and third base.
What he lacked in power, he made up in consistency. He racked up 2,880 career hits, helping himself to a career batting average of .316. "The Fordham Flash" made a name for himself on the basepaths with impressive speed, but it was getting on base in the first place that was his forte.
In more than 10,000 plate appearances, he struck out just 272 times.
12. Honus Wagner
When people first start looking into the history of baseball, I think that Honus Wagner is one of the first names that you come across.
His baseball card, among other things, has become an iconic image of the game's past, and that isn't even mentioning what he actually brought to the game, easily recognized as one of the greatest hitters of all time.
"The Flying Dutchman" made a name for himself as the greatest shortstop of his day, and to this day, there isn't much of an argument to knock him out of that top spot. He spent all but the first three years of his 21-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, coming into the game as a member of the Louisville Colonels.
His name alone is probably enough reason for me to place him here, but in case you were curious, here are his credentials. Wagner collected an outstanding 3,420 career hits and retired with a .328 lifetime batting average.
In close to 12,000 plate appearances, he struck out 734 times.
11. Tony Gwynn
Personally, I highly doubt that another hitter quite as good as Tony Gwynn ever comes along. The man was just a natural born talent with the bat, and at times, it seemed like he could do anything he wanted with it.
What he lacked in power, he made up with power to the gaps, and there are few more reliable hitters in the history of the game.
"Mr. Padre" collected his 3,000th hit with relative ease, finishing his career with 3,141. He took home a whopping eight batting titles, and hit lower than .300 just once—during his rookie campaign in 1982.
When all was said and done in 2001, he was the owner of a lifetime .338 batting average, and he struck out just 434 times in more than 10,000 plate appearances.
10. Sam Rice
Despite the fact that he's enshrined in Cooperstown, Sam Rice is probably the lesser known Rice in baseball history, but Jim Rice didn't quite crack my top 40. Instead, let's talk about Sam Rice for a little while.
Rice spent all but one of his Major League seasons with the Washington Senators, finishing his career with the Cleveland Indians. The right fielder wasn't a big guy, but he seemed like one at the plate, hitting just about anything that was thrown at him.
He just missed out on 3,000 hits, recording 2,987 knocks, and recording a lifetime batting average of an impressive .322. Even more impressive than that feat, however, is the fact that in more than 10,000 plate appearances, he struck out just 275 times.
Talk about making contact!
9. Paul Waner
One of the first guys that came to mind when I started putting names together for this list was Paul Waner, mainly because he was a guy I was familiar with and I knew how he played the game.
He spent the majority of his 20-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but also made brief stops as a member of the Boston Braves, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees.
Waner exemplified what it means to be a "pure hitter." He certainly had the high batting average, retiring with a lifetime average of .333. "Big Poison" was a member of the 3,000 hit club, collecting 3,152 knocks and struck out just 376 times in close to 11,000 plate appearances.
Now, if someone would enlighten me as to why a guy who was billed at 5'8", 153 lbs. was known as "Big Poison," I'd love to know.
8. Willie Keeler
Reading about Willie Keeler, he was just a likable player. In today's game, he's what we would call a contact hitter, as in he had virtually no power but was still a threat at the plate because of his overall ability to put the ball in play.
Not bad for a guy who was billed at 5'4", 140 lbs. and earned himself the nickname "Wee Wille."
Keeler spent his entire career on the east coast, and mainly, in New York, playing for the New York Giants, Brooklyn Grooms, Baltimore Orioles, Brooklyn Superbas and the New York Highlanders.
One thing that remained constant was his consistency, as he hit everywhere he went, logging just three seasons with a batting average sub-.300, and finishing with a career batting average of .341.
Striking the man out was like an accomplishment for a pitcher. Over the course of his career, he struck out just 136 times in close to 10,000 plate appearances, including the 1899 season, where he played in 141 games and struck out twice!
7. Stan Musial
When all is said and done, the best position player to ever suit up for the St. Louis Cardinals may very well be Albert Pujols (who almost made this list, actually), but in my personal opinion, he'll have to do something even more impressive than what he's already done to top Stan Musial.
"Stan the Man" is the heartbeat of the Cardinals' franchise, spending each and every one of his 22 major league seasons in St. Louis. A three time MVP, Musial led the league in batting seven times and retired with a career batting average of an incredible .331.
What I love most about Musial as a player is the fact that he could literally do everything. He could get that clutch base hit, or drive a clutch home run over the wall.
What I find most impressive, however, is that he struck out just 696 times in close to 13,000 plate appearances.
6. Nap Lajoie
Nap Lajoie was arguably the greatest second baseman to ever play the game, but there is no doubt in my mind that he was at least within the top five.
He broke into the major league with the Philadelphia Phillies, and spent parts of his 21-year career with the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Naps/Bronchos as well.
He batted beneath the .300 mark just five times during his career, registering a lifetime batting average of .338, which included five batting titles. Though his strikeout total is incomplete, I think we can all agree that he rarely struck out.
Data from three seasons is missing, but what I can say factually is that he struck out less than 400 times in right around 10,500 plate appearances.
5. Eddie Collins
Speaking of one of the greatest second baseman of all time, make way for Eddie Collins. "Cocky" Eddie Collins approached the game with a hard nose attitude that made him one of the most respected men to ever play the game, and some of the all-time greats have tabbed him as the greatest second baseman of all time.
He spent 25 seasons in the major league, splitting time almost equally between the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox. Over the course of his career, he racked up an incredible 3,315 hits, helping himself to a lifetime batting average of .333.
Like Lajoie before him, Collins' strikeout numbers are incomplete with parts of three seasons missing, but it makes little difference. He struck out right around 400 times in more than 12,000 plate appearances, which is nothing short of incredible.
4. Cap Anson
After the initial "Who?" has been asked, the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Cap Anson has to be that glorious mustache.
As soon as you're finished admiring the mustache though, it's kind of easy to wonder why that uniform looks so strange on him. On to the baseball relevant information.
Anson spent the majority of his career with the Chicago White Stockings, but he also spent some time as a member of both the Rockford Forest Citys (no, I've never heard of them either) and the Philadelphia Athletics, completing an incredible 27-year career.
He collected 3,435 career hits, helping himself to a lifetime batting average of .334, boosted by two career batting titles. In more than 11,000 plate appearances, he struck out just 984 times.
As a little bonus statistical factoid, Anson also led the league in RBI eight times.
3. Pete Rose
Admittedly, I'm a huge Pete Rose advocate and not just because he exemplified baseball in the city of Philadelphia (though, I'm sure that's a pretty big reason why.)
In my opinion, it's hard not to like the way Rose went about the game, laying it all on the line with his hard nosed, blue collar style of play that earned him the nickname "Charlie Hustle." If you don't like him for those reasons though, you can like him because he was just really, really good.
Rose spent all but 95 games of his major league career with the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds, playing those 95 games for the Montreal Expos before being traded back to Cincinnati in 1984.
I could tell you about how he has the most hits of all time, but would it really do him any justice?
Consider this: From 1963-86, Rose made 15,861 plate appearances (also the most of all time.) In those appearances, he collected 4,256 hits, walked 1,566 times and struck out just 1,143 times.
The man should be in the Hall of Fame.
2. Tris Speaker
I'm almost positive that I can count the hitters throughout the course of baseball history who were better than Tris Speaker on one hand.
Not only was he a hitting machine, but he had great speed, was a well above average base runner and had excellent power to the gaps, as evidenced by the fact that he has the most doubles of all time.
He spent 22 years in the major leagues, splitting time with the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators and Philadelphia Athletics. A model of consistency and longevity, Speaker collected 3,514 hits over the course of his career, boosting the old batting average to .345.
Like a couple of other guys on this list, his strikeout data is incomplete, missing three seasons, but he struck out right around 300 times (or less) in close to 12,000 plate appearances, which is just unreal.
1. Ty Cobb
And finally, there is Ty Cobb. In the long run, could anyone else really even come close to taking the top spot on this list? To be quite honest with you, it wasn't even close.
I had the "Georgia Peach" ranked first in my head, on paper, and in wrapping the list up, there wasn't a single player that came close to changing my mind.
Cobb spent all but two of his 24 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, wrapping up a splendid career by spending two seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics.
In many regards, he is the greatest hitter of all time and one of only two men (with Pete Rose being the other), to collect more than 4,000 hits, retiring with 4,189 to his name.
As far as batting average goes he is the king. His .366 average is the greatest of all time, and he led the league in batting average a ridiculous 11 times, sporting an average better than .400 three times.
While his strike out totals are incomplete, it makes little difference. In more than 13,000 plate appearances, he struck out about 580 times.
His career numbers are just outstanding and arguably, make him the greatest hitter of all time.
At least once in his career (and on several occasions, several times), he lead the league in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and total bases.