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5 Best Power Hitters in Every Baseball Era

Robert KnapelCorrespondent IJanuary 13, 2017

5 Best Power Hitters in Every Baseball Era

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    The home run is one of the most exciting plays in baseball. Fans love to see players hit the long ball and throughout the history of baseball, there have been a number of elite power hitters capable of doing so.

    During some of the baseball's eras home runs were much rarer than others. However, the best pitchers of every baseball era had their hands full when these hitters stepped to the plate. With one swing of the bat these power hitters could change the game.

Pre-1900

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    In baseball's early days the home run was a rare event. The balls used in the game were not hard and the fences were far away. Players normally thrived by hitting doubles and singles.

    In many seasons the home run leader had a total that was in the single digits. However, there were a a few power hitters that were able to reach into double digit home run totals.

    Photo Credit: South Coast Vintage Baseball

5. Cap Anson

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    Career Stats: .340/.415/.426, 97 HR, .112 ISO (27 seasons)

    Cap Anson was one of the game's first superstars. He lead the National League in RBI eight times during his career and he was eventually selected for the Hall of Fame.

    Anson only hit more than 10 home runs three times in his career. His highest single season home run total was 21. He finished with the seventh most home runs of any hitter from his era.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

4. Roger Connor

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    Career Stats: .317/.397/.486, 138 HR, .169 ISO (18 seasons)

    Roger Connor had the most home runs of any player during baseball's pre-1900 era. He also had more at-bats than a number of other power hitters.

    Surprisingly, he only led the National League in home runs once during his career. The Hall of Famer's highest single season home run total was 17.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

3. Dan Brouthers

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    Career Stats: .342/.423/.519, 106 HR, .177 ISO (19 seasons)

    Like many of the other power hitters of this era, Dan Brouthers did not hit more than 10 home runs in a year very often. He did it just three times.

    Big Dan had the best ISO of any everyday player during the pre-1900 era. He also had the ability to hit for average and led the NL in batting five times.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

2. Harry Stovey

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    Career Stats: .289/.361/.461, 122 HR, .173 ISO (14 seasons)

    Harry Stovey was the first player in major league history to reach the 100 home run mark. He was a feared power hitter who led the his league in home runs five times.

    Stovey was also a threat on the bases and stole 97 bases one season. He was one of the first players who was a valuable power hitter and speedster.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

1. Sam Thompson

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    Career Stats: .331/.384/.505, 127 HR, .175 ISO

    Sam Thompson was the best power hitter of the pre-1900 era. When he retired in 1898, he had the second highest home run total in MLB history.

    He had one 20 home run season and led the National League in home runs twice. Big Sam held the record for most RBI in a season when he drove in 166 in 1887. That mark was eventually broken.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

Dead-ball Era (1900-1919)

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    Home run totals remained low after the pre-1900 era. In the dead-ball era pitchers were dominant and run totals were down.

    No true power hitters emerged during this time period although the game did see some of its all-time greats step onto the field in the dead-ball era.

    Photo Credit: Vanished Americana

5. Ty Cobb

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    Career Stats: .366/.433/.512, 117 HR, .146 ISO (24 seasons)

    Ty Cobb was the best player of the dead-ball era but the was not the time periods' best power hitter. Cobb only eclipsed 10 home runs twice in his career.

    The Georgia Peach was one of the most tenacious players of his era and he won eleven AL batting titles during his career.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

4. Honus Wagner

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    Career Stats: .327/.391/.466, 101 HR, .139 ISO (21 seasons)

    Honus Wagner was the greatest shortstop in baseball history and also owns one of the game's greatest nicknames. The Flying Dutchman was feared whenever he stepped to the plate.

    Wagner had a single-season career high of ten home runs. He reached that total twice in his career. Wagner led the National League in RBI five times during his career.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

3. Sherry Magee

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    Career Stats: .291/.364/.427, 83 HR, .135 ISO (16 seasons)

    Sherry Magee is considered to be one of the most underrated players in baseball history. He could hit for power and average. He could steal bases and was one of the best defensive outfielders during the dead-ball era.

    Magee never led the National League in home runs, but the Philadelphia Phillies great did hit 15 home runs twice in his career. He led the National League in RBI four times during his career.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

2. Frank Schulte

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    Career Stats: .270/.332/.395, 92 HR, .124 (15 seasons)

    The left-handed slugger had the second most home runs of any hitter during the dead-ball era. He is also just one of four members of the 20-20-20-20 club (doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases).

    In 1910 Schulte led the National League in home runs. He followed up that performance by hitting 21 home runs in 1911 and winning the MVP Award.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

1. Sam Crawford

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    Career Stats: .309/.362/.452, 97 HR, .143 ISO

    Sam Crawford not only hit the most home runs of the dead-ball era but he also hit the most triples in MLB history.

    He was the first player to lead both the National League and American League in home runs when he hit 16 home runs for the Cincinnati Reds in 1901 and seven home runs for the Detroit Tigers in 1908.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

Live-Ball Era (1920-1945)

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    The game of baseball changed significantly in 1920. With the emergence of power hitters such as Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx, the sport was now dominated by power hitters.

    Baseballs began to fly out of the park at an unprecedented rate. These displays of power had ushered in a new era of baseball.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Historian

5. Joe DiMaggio

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    Career Stats: .325/.398/.579, 361 HR, .254 ISO (13 seasons)

    Joltin' Joe DiMaggio may not have the home run totals of the other players in this era that have been excluded from the list, but DiMaggio played less than 1,000 games during the live-ball era.

    However, DiMaggio did have one of the highest ISOs of any player during this time period. As a 22-year-old, DiMaggio led the American League with 46 home runs.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

4. Mel Ott

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    Career Stats: .304/.414/.533, 511 HR, .229 ISO

    Mel Ott led the National League in home runs an impressive six times during his major league career. He surprisingly never won an MVP Award during his career.

    Ott ranks 23rd in MLB history in home runs and 12th all-time in RBI. The feared power hitter spent his whole career with the New York Giants.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

3. Lou Gehrig

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    Career Stats: .340/.447/.632, 493 HR, .292 ISO (17 seasons)

    Lou Gehrig would have been the best player on any other team in the MLB, but instead he teamed with Babe Ruth to make what is arguable the best middle of the batting order in MLB history.

    He was constantly in competition with Ruth for the AL home run crown. Gehrig led the American League in home runs three times. He is also known for his consecutive games streak.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

2. Jimmie Foxx

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    Career Stats: .325/.428/.609, 534 HR, .284 ISO

    During the live-ball era Jimmie Foxx was one of baseball's most feared hitters. He was the second player in MLB history to reach the 500 home run mark.

    Foxx won three American League MVP Awards during his career and his name was found all over the AL leader boards. He led the AL in home runs four times and had a stunning 58 home runs in 1932.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

1. Babe Ruth

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    Career Stats: .342/.474/.690, 714 HR, .348 ISO (22 seasons)

    Babe Ruth is the greatest player to ever step foot on a major league diamond. He was an incredible slugger whose power has gone virtually unmatched.

    The Sultan of Swat is third all-time in home runs, second all-time in RBI, and had the highest OPS and OPS+ in MLB history. He was the first player to reach 500, 600 and 700 home runs during his career. The Hall of Famer led the American League in home runs twelve times during his career and hit a then record 60 home runs in 1927.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

Integration Era (1946-1960)

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    The game of baseball changed for the better when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1946. There was now a much larger talent pool for teams to select players from and the game benefited.

    Robinson's accomplishment would set the the tone of the game for years to come. He helped pave the way for some of the best power hitters in the history of the game.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

5. Eddie Mathews

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    Career Stats: .271/.376/.509, 512 HR, .238 ISO (17 seasons)

    Eddie Mathews began his career on a high note by hitting 25 home runs in his rookie season. He then followed it up with three consecutive seasons of 40-plus home runs, including a 1953 season when he hit 47 home runs as a 21-year-old and led the National League. 

    The Hall of Famer would lead the NL in home runs once again in 1959 when he hit 46 long balls. Mathews is 21st all-time in career home runs.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

4. Mickey Mantle

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    Career Stats: .298/.421/.557, 536 HR, .259 ISO (18 seasons)

    Mickey Mantle earned the nickname "Muscles" as a result of his build. It is not surprising that he was also one of the game's best power hitters.

    Mantle led the American League in home runs four times during his career and hit a career high of 52 in 1956. He would go on to win the AL MVP Award and the Triple Crown that season.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

3. Stan Musial

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    Career Stats: .331/.417/.559, 475 HR, .228 ISO (22 seasons)

    Stan Musial had the most home runs during the Integration era. He managed to hit 393 home runs during the time period.

    Despite his home run total, Stan "The Man" never led the National League in home runs during his career. He did lead it in RBI and batting on multiple occasions.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

2. Ralph Kiner

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    Career Stats: .273/.398/.548, 369 HR, .269 ISO (10 seasons)

    For the first seven years of his career, Ralph Kiner led the National League in home runs. He would only play three more years in the majors as a result of injuries.

    Kiner was able to accomplish enough in his short career that he was elected to the Hall of Fame. One can only wonder what he would have been able to do if his career did not end early.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

1. Ted Williams

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    Career Stats: .344/.482/.634, 525 HR, .290 ISO (19 seasons)

    Ted Williams is 18th all-time in career home runs. He led the AL in home runs four times and was a two-time AL MVP.

    Williams would have even better career numbers but he missed a few seasons because he served in World War II. That did not hurt his game as he put up great numbers once he came back.

Expansion Era (1961-1976)

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    During the 1960's a number of new major league baseball franchises were created. More players could now play in the majors.

    Some of the game's best hitters were able to now take advantage of the fact that there were now pitchers in the league that normally would not have been there in the past.

    Photo Credit: Deadspin

5. Billy Williams

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    Career Stats: .290/.361/.492, 426 HR, .202 ISO (18 seasons)

    Billy Williams won the NL MVP Award in 1961. He continued to have that same level of success throughout the rest of his career.

    Williams would never lead the National League in home runs but he had a number of seasons where he hit at least 25 homers.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

4. Harmon Killebrew

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    Career Stats: .256/.376/.509, 573 HR, .252 ISO (22 seasons)

    Harmon Killebrew is the greatest slugger in Minnesota Twins history. He was a huge power bat in the middle of the team's lineup for years.

    Killebrew led the American League in home runs in six different seasons. He hit 49 home runs twice during his career.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

3. Frank Robinson

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    Career Stats: .294/.389/.537, 528 HR, .243 ISO (21 seasons)

    Frank Robinson is the only player to win the MVP Award in both the American League and the National League.

    Robinson was a key cog in the Cincinnati Reds lineup. He was a power bat in the middle of the lineup. He won the AL Triple Crown in his first season in with the Baltimore Orioles during a year that he hit 49 home runs.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

2. Willie Mays

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    Career Stats: .302/.384/.557, 660 HR, .245 ISO (22 seasons)

    Willie Mays is one of the top-five all-around players in MLB history. He was absolutely incredible and he could have had over 700 career home runs had he not missed two seasons early in his career to serve his country.

    The "Say Hey Kid" was feared whenever he stepped up to he plate. He was a two-time NL MVP and he led the league in home runs four times.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

1. Hank Aaron

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    Career Stats: .305/.374/.555, 755 HR, .250 ISO (23 seasons)

    Babe Ruth's home run record stood for years until Hank Aaron hit number 715. "Hammerin' Hank" was an absolute terror for opposing pitchers.

    Aaron has since seen his home run record broken, but he still holds the game's all-time RBI record. This Hall of Fame hitter only led the NL in home runs four times during his career.

    Photo Credit: Baseball Reference

Free Agency Era (1976-1994)

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    Free agency was a huge change to the game of baseball. Players could now move to whatever team that wanted.

    This meant that players could now choose to play in hitter friendly ballparks or for teams that had lineups which would provide them with a lot of protection.

    Photo Credit: Real Sports Heroes

5. Dale Murphy

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    Career Stats: .265/.346/.469, 398 HR, .204 ISO (18 seasons)

    For a four year period, Dale Murphy managed to hit at least 35 home runs in each season. He won two NL MVP Awards and led the NL in home runs twice during this time frame.

    Murphy is an Atlanta Braves legend. He was an important piece of the Braves lineup for many years during his career.

4. Dave Winfield

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    Career Stats: .283/.353/.475, 465 HR, .192 ISO (22 seasons)

    Despite hitting close to 500 home runs during his career, Dave Winfield never led either the American League or National Leagues in home runs.

    He was an example of steady production for years. Winfield eclipsed the 20 home run mark during almost every season in his career.

3. Andre Dawson

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    Career Stats: .279/.323/.482, 438 HR, .203 ISO (21 seasons)

    Andrew Dawson was an example of a player who possessed both power and speed. He had a number of 20/20 seasons during his career.

    Dawson led the NL in home runs during his first season with the Chicago Cubs when he exploded for 49 long balls. He won the NL MVP Award that year.

2. Eddie Murray

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    Career Stats: .287/.359/.476, 504 HR, .192 ISO (21 seasons)

    It is surprising that when Eddie Murray led the American League in home runs that it came in a season when he posted one of his lowest home run totals. The reasons for this was the strike in 1981.

    Murray managed to put together an outstanding career and spent most of his years with the Baltimore Orioles. He is a member of the elite 500 home run club.

1. Mike Schmidt

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    Career Stats: .267/.380/.527, 548 HR, .260 ISO (18 seasons)

    Mike Schmidt is one of the best third baseman in baseball history. He had an outstanding bat as well as a great glove.

    Schmidt led the National League in home runs eight times during his career He won three NL MVP Awards and six Silver Sluggers.

Steroid Era (1995-Present)

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    In baseball's latest era, players arms have grown almost as quickly as their home run totals. Steroids and other performance enhancing drugs became a major part of the game.

    Home run records, both single-season and career, were taken down by these players. There have been a number of impressive displays of power during this era.

5. Mark McGwire

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    Career Stats: .263/.394/.588, 583 HR, .325 ISO

    Mark McGwire is best known for his home run chase with Sammy Sosa in the summer of 1998. McGwire would win the race and hit 70 home runs. This became the single-season record.

    For an encore performance, McGwire hit 65 home runs the following season. He also led the American League in home runs during his rookie season. McGwire acknowledged using steroids during his career.

4. Albert Pujols

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    Career Stats (As of 9/20/11): .329/.421/.618, 444 HR, .289 ISO (11 seasons)

    Albert Pujols has quickly climbed his way up this list and he could move up a few more spots before his career is done. Unlike other players in this era, he has never been caught up with steroids.

    Since breaking into the league with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols has never hit less than 34 home runs in a season. He has won three NL MVP Awards in his career and their could be more in his future.

3. Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Career Stats: .284/.370/.538, 630 HR, .254 ISO (22 seasons)

    Ken Griffey Jr. could have been the best home run hitter in MLB history if his career was not interrupted by injuries. Junior was an incredible hitter who seemingly could do no wrong at the plate when he was healthy.

    Griffey Jr. led the American League in home runs four times during his career. He hit 56 home runs twice in his career. Junior also won the Home Run Derby three times.

2. Alex Rodriguez

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    Career Stats (As of 9/20/11): .302/.386/.568, 629 HR, .266 ISO (18 seasons)

    Alex Rodriguez has gotten the nicknames "A-Roid" and "A-Fraud" as a result of his steroid use. He has since cleaned up his act but his image is a bit tarnished.

    A-Rod has a chance to become the all-time home run leader depending on how much longer he plays. He also has a chance to break 800 career home runs if he can stay healthy.

1. Barry Bonds

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    Career Stats: .298/.444/.607, 762 HR, .309 ISO (22 seasons)

    No other player has been more embroiled in controversy in the steroid era than Barry Bonds. A number of his home runs were aided by both "The Cream" and "The Clear."

    Bonds set the single-season home run record when he hit 73 homers in 2001 and then he went on to break Hank Aaron's home run record. Despite his accomplishments, it is uncertain if Bonds will be elected to the Hall of Fame because of his steroid use.

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