MLB Postseason: Top 50 All-Time Hitters You'd Want Up with the Game on the Line
OK, here's the situation.
No, your parents didn't go away on a week's vacation.
Welcome to Game 7 of the World Series.
It's the bottom of the ninth, two outs, and your team is down by one with two runners in scoring position.
If you had your choice of anyone, including the legends of the game, to come to the plate, who would you pick?
Major League Baseball recognizes the 1903 World Series as the first World Series, so players must have played from 1903 on. Additionally, the player must have been a starter in at least one postseason series at some point in his career.
How would you pick 50 from that list of icons, legends and current superstars?
As baseball has evolved, so have the regular season and postseason—from the number of games played to the number of rounds in the playoffs, creating an uneven playing field when comparing the players of today to those from yesteryear.
By comparing their regular and postseason statistics over a 162-game season, you can put everyone on even footing.
We can figure those out by using a simple formula:
162-game average = (statistic total/games played)*162
For example, if someone played in one seven-game postseason series and hit two home runs, the formula would work like this:
162-game average = (2/7)*162
162-game average = .2857*162=46.28
Over a 162-game season based on his postseason numbers, that player would average 46 home runs a year.
Still with me?
We will look primarily at five statistics: batting average, OPS, hits, home runs and RBI.
By comparing the differences in a player's regular season performance and postseason performance, it will allow us to see who really elevated their games when it mattered most.
Of course, their history of coming through in the clutch will play a role in our decision-making process as well.
Without further ado, in what order would we send these 50 greats to the plate?
50. Barry Bonds
**162 RS Avg: .298 BA, 1.051 OPS, 159 H, 41 HR, 108 RBI**
**162 PS Avg: .245 BA, .936 OPS, 125 H, 30 HR, 81 RBI**
"Sometimes I surprise my own damn self."—Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds belongs somewhere on this list.
Where, exactly, is uncertain due to the steroid cloud that has hung over his head for over a decade.
While some, like Alex Rodriguez, have admitted to their past use, Bonds has remained silent on the matter.
Since there is no way to actually know when he may have started using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), there is no way to put him on a level playing field with others.
So Bonds sits behind everyone else, as it's the only fair thing to do.
49. Alex Rodriguez
**162 RS Avg: .301 BA, .891 OPS, 147 H, 32 HR, 100 RBI**
**162 PS Avg: .290 BA, .925 OPS, 172 H, 33 HR, 98 RBI**
"He learned in one or two years what it took me 10 years to learn. He uses the whole field, foul line to foul line."—Edgar Martinez
Alex Rodriguez admitted to using "a banned substance" from 2001 through 2003, so I have removed those seasons from his statistics.
But we don't know if that's really the only time frame in which he was using, so like Bonds, he sits at the back of the list because there are simply too many questions surrounding him.
48. Manny Ramirez
162 RS Avg: .312 BA, .996 OPS, 181 H, 31 HR, 129 RBI
162 PS Avg: .285 BA, .937 OPS, 171 H, 42 HR, 114 RBI
"I haven’t been right all year. I guess, you know, when you don’t feel good, and you still get hits, that’s when you know you are a bad man."—Manny Ramirez
Like Bonds and A-Rod, there are questions surrounding Manny Ramirez and his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Like Bonds and A-Rod, Manny finds himself at the back of the line.
47. Joe Morgan
162 RS Avg: .271 BA, .819 OPS, 154 H, 16 HR, 59 RBI
162 PS Avg: .182 BA, .671 OPS, 107 H, 16 HR, 42 RBI
"I'm not bad (his speed). I'm no Joe Morgan, but I'm pretty good for a white guy."—Pete Rose
An 11-time All-Star and two-time National League MVP, Joe Morgan was one of the game's preeminent players of the 1970s.
Part of the fabled "Big Red Machine," Morgan reached the World Series four times, winning the championship twice.
In Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, Morgan would hit a fly-ball single to center field off Boston Red Sox pitcher Jim Burton that scored Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Sr., ultimately being the hit that won the first of back-to-back World Series championships for the Cincinnati Reds.
46. Rod Carew
162 RS Avg: .328 BA, .822 OPS, 200 H, 6 HR, 67 RBI
162 PS Avg: .220 BA, .591 OPS, 127 H, 0 HR, 11 RBI
"He's the only guy I know who can go four for three."—Alan Bannister
Named AL Rookie of the Year in 1967 and AL MVP a decade later, Rod Carew was one of the best players of the 1970s.
A seven-time batting champion and 18-time All-Star, Carew's 1977 MVP season was his best: .388 average, 1.019 OPS, 239 hits, 14 home runs and 100 RBI.
When it came time for the postseason, Carew was atrocious.
Other than the 1979 ALCS between his California Angels and the Baltimore Orioles that saw Carew hit .412 with a 1.000 OPS, he was a .121 hitter in just over 30 plate appearances.
45. Rogers Hornsby
162 RS Avg: .358 BA, 1.010 OPS, 210 H, 22 HR, 114 RBI
162 PS Avg: .245 BA, .615 OPS, 162 H, 0 HR, 68 RBI
"I don't like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pitcher."—Rogers Hornsby
A man that teammates didn't like, opposing players hated and as a manager was despised by his own players, there is no question that Rogers Hornsby is simply one of the greatest hitters in baseball history.
Hornsby won two Triple Crown awards and hit over .400 on three different occasions. His best season may have been in 1922, when he hit .401 with a 1.181 OPS, 250 hits, 42 HR and 152 RBI, becoming the only player in history to hit .400 and 40 home runs in the same season.
His .424 average in the 1924 season has never been bested in the nearly 90 years since.
Hornsby only appeared in two World Series, winning one with the St. Louis Cardinals and losing another with the Chicago Cubs.
His "prime time" postseason moment came in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series, when he tagged out Babe Ruth as he tried to steal second base, ending the series and securing the championship for the Cardinals.
44. Dave Winfield
162 RS Avg: .283 BA, .827 OPS, 169 H, 25 HR, 100 RBI
162 PS Avg: .208 BA, .641 OPS, 131 H, 12 HR, 56 RBI
"Good hitters don't just go up and swing. They always have a plan. Call it an educated deduction. You visualize. You're like a good negotiator. You know what you have, you know what he has, then you try to work it out."—Dave Winfield
One of the greatest natural athletes to ever play the game and a 12-time All-Star, Dave Winfield was a 12-time All-Star and one of the most consistent stars of the game from the 1970s through the mid '90s, hitting at least 20 home runs and collecting 100 RBI on eight occasions.
While his postseason numbers are awful when compared to his regular season averages, Winfield came through in a big way during the second World Series he appeared in.
His two-run double in the top of the 11th inning in Game 6 of the 1992 World Series would end up being the championship-winning hit for the Toronto Blue Jays.
43. Frank Thomas
162 RS Avg: .301 BA, .974 OPS, 172 H, 36 HR, 119 RBI
162 PS Avg: .224 BA, .870 OPS, 111 H, 30 HR, 51 RBI
"I think respect is what you earn on the field. I just think a lot of people have taken for granted what I've done on the field and think, 'Oh, he just naturally does that.' I've worked my butt off, and at times we all want to be rewarded, but we all know sometimes things aren't fair."—Frank Thomas
A five-time All-Star and two-time American League MVP, as well as the AL batting champion in 1997, Frank Thomas spent the 1990s terrorizing opposing pitching.
The second of his two home runs in Game 1 of the 2006 ALDS as a member of the Oakland Athletics, including one in the top of the ninth inning, propelled the A's to a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins.
42. Jackie Robinson
162 RS Avg: .311 BA, .883 OPS, 178 H, 16 HR, 86 RBI
162 PS Avg: .234 BA, .679 OPS, 136 H, 9 HR, 51 RBI
"He was the greatest competitor I've ever seen. I've seen him beat a team with his bat, his ball, his glove, his feet and, in a game in Chicago one time, with his mouth."—Duke Snider
Everyone knows the story of Jackie Robinson and why he transcends the game itself, but the fact that he was a fantastic baseball player often gets overlooked.
A five-time All-Star, he was the 1947 National League Rookie of the Year as well as the 1949 National League MVP and batting champion.
His RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 5 of the 1955 World Series against the New York Yankees gave the Brooklyn Dodgers a two-run cushion against the high-powered Yankees.
The Dodgers would go on to win the series in seven games.
41. Eddie Murray
162 RS Avg: .287 BA, .836 OPS, 174 H, 27 HR, 103 RBI
162 PS Avg: .258 BA, .825 OPS, 151 H, 33 HR, 92 RBI
"Eddie (Murray) just didn't like to talk about what he did. He didn't care to give up his little secrets. He was the best clutch hitter that I saw during the decade that we played together. Not only on our team, but in all of baseball."—Mike Flanagan
The 1977 American League Rookie of the Year and an eight-time All-Star, Eddie Murray was one of the most consistent power hitters of the 1980s.
In Game 2 of the 1979 World Series, Murray did everything he could to give Orioles a two-game advantage over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Down 2-0 entering the bottom of the second inning, Murray's solo HR cut the Pirates lead in half. His RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning would score Ken Singleton, tying the game at two.
Orioles reliever Don Stanhouse couldn't keep the Pirates in check, as the Pirates would go on to win the game 3-2 and the series four games to three.
40. Frank Robinson
162 RS Avg: .294 BA, .926 OPS, 170 H, 34 HR, 105 RBI
162 PS Avg: .238 BA, .887 OPS, 139 H, 46 HR, 88 RBI
"Pitchers did me a favor when they knocked me down. It made me more determined. I wouldn't let that pitcher get me out. They say you can't hit if you're on your back, but I didn't hit on my back. I got up."—Frank Robinson
An MVP in both leagues and a 12-time All-Star, Frank Robinson won the AL Triple Crown in 1966 with the Baltimore Orioles.
In Game 4 of the 1966 World Series, Robinson's solo HR off Los Angeles Dodgers starter Don Drysdale in the bottom of the fourth inning would prove to be the series-winning hit, as the Orioles would win their second consecutive 1-0 game to end the series.
The man they called "The Judge" would be named World Series MVP.
39. Vladimir Guerrero
162 RS Avg: .318 BA, .931 OPS, 195 H, 34 HR, 113 RBI
162 PS Avg: .263 BA, .664 OPS, 166 H, 7 HR, 74 RBI
“If something looks good, I'm swinging. They pay me to hit. I look at the ball and swing.”—Vladimir Guerrero
A nine-time All-Star and the 2004 AL MVP, Vladimir Guerrero has been one of the most complete players the game has seen since the mid 1990s.
Four times "Vladdy" has reached the 200-hit mark, and eight times he has had over 30 HR and 100 RBI.
As a member of the Los Angeles Angels, Guerrero stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox.
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon had already allowed a run to score earlier in the inning and had just intentionally walked Torii Hunter to get to Guerrero.
With the bases loaded and the Angels trailing 6-5, Guerrero would line Papelbon's first pitch into center field, scoring the game-tying and series-winning runs.
It has been called the biggest hit of Guerrero's career.
38. Chipper Jones
162 RS Avg: .304 BA, .935 OPS, 177 H, 31 HR, 106 RBI
162 PS Avg: .288 BA, .871 OPS, 169 H, 23 HR, 83 RBI
“I think Chipper Jones is not human. I think he’s been created by Ted Turner and some scientists.”—Lenny Dykstra
One of the best switch-hitters of all time, Chipper Jones is a seven-time All-Star, a batting champion and the 1999 NL MVP.
As a rookie in 1995, Jones was an integral part of the Braves march to a World Series championship, going 20-for-55 (.363) with three home runs and eight RBI in the postseason.
37. Ty Cobb
162 RS Avg: .366 BA, .945 OPS, 224 H, 6 HR, 103 RBI
162 PS Avg: .262 BA, .668 OPS, 162 H, 0 HR, 86 RBI
"(Ty) Cobb is a prick. But he sure can hit. God Almighty, that man can hit."—Babe Ruth
We could go on and on about Ty Cobb's regular season successes on the field, from the nine seasons of at least 200 hits to the 11 batting crowns he won.
But when it came to the postseason, Cobb was a different player.
Cobb and his Detroit Tigers appeared in three consecutive World Series from 1907 through 1909, losing twice to the Chicago Cubs and once to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Against the Cubs in 1908, Cobb hit .368 with a .821 OPS and four RBI.
In 1907 and 1909 combined, Cobb hit .217 with a .597 OPS.
For the man dubbed "the Georgia Peach," the postseason was anything but peachy,
36. Tony Gwynn
162 RS Avg: .338 BA, .847 OPS, 209 H, 9 HR, 76 RBI
162 PS Avg: .306 BA, .737 OPS, 198 H, 6 HR, 66 RBI
"Remember these two things: Play hard and have fun."—Tony Gwynn
A 15-time All-Star and nine-time batting champion—including four years straight from 1994 through 1997—Tony Gwynn was one of baseball's preeminent hitters of the 1980s and '90s.
Gwynn came through in the World Series when it mattered most, even though the Padres lost both that Gwynn played in.
His World Series stats, over a 162-game season: .371 BA, .893 OPS, 234 H, 18 HR and 54 RBI.
35. Tris Speaker
162 RS Avg: .345 BA, .928 OPS, 204 H, 7 HR, 89 RBI
162 PS Avg: .306 BA, .856 OPS, 178 H, 0 HR, 24 RBI
"It would be useless for any player to attempt to explain successful batting."—Tris Speaker
Baseball's unquestioned doubles champion—Ivan Rodriguez, the closest active player, is more than 200 behind him—Tris Speaker was, like Ty Cobb, not a well-liked guy.
A three-time World Series champion, Speaker's four career triples in the World Series are tied for the most in Series history.
Game 2 of the 1912 World Series ended in a tie after it was called on account of darkness, so Game 8 had to be played to break the series tie between the New York Giants and Speaker's Boston Red Sox.
Speaker's 10th-inning RBI single off Christy Mathewson would tie the game, and two batters later the Red Sox would win the championship.
34. Willie Mays
162 RS Avg: .302 BA, .941 OPS, 178 H, 36 HR, 103 RBI
162 PS Avg: .247 BA, .660 OPS, 143 H, 6 HR, 65 RBI
"As a batter, his only weakness is a wild pitch."—Bill Rigney
A 20-time All-Star, 1951 NL Rookie of the Year and two-time NL MVP, Willie Mays, the greatest center fielder that baseball has ever seen, was surprisingly ineffective in the postseason.
While Game 1 of the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians is most remembered because of Mays making "The Catch," arguably the most impressive defensive play in the history of baseball (and one that saved two runs from scoring), what is overlooked is that Mays would actually score the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, being the first to cross home plate after Dusty Rhodes, pinch-hitting for Monte Irvin, hit a game-winning three-run home run.
33. Wade Boggs
162 RS Avg: .328 BA, .858 OPS, 200 H, 8 HR, 67 RBI
162 PS Avg: .273 BA, .720 OPS, 174 H, 8 HR, 66 RBI
"A woman will be elected President before Wade Boggs is called out on strikes. I guarantee that."—George Brett
A 12-time All-Star and five-time batting champion, including a four-year stretch from 1985 through 1988, Wade Boggs is one of the preeminent hitters of the 1980s.
Boggs appeared in his second World Series in 1996 as a member of the New York Yankees.
In Game 4, with two outs and the bases loaded, Boggs stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter in a tie game.
Against Braves starter-turned-reliever Steve Avery, the impeccable batting eye that had made him a great hitter took over, and Boggs drew a six-pitch walk, earning himself the game-winning RBI.
32. Honus Wagner
*The first six seasons of Wagner's career came pre-1903, so they have been removed from his career totals and for this piece essentially never took place.*
162 RS Avg: .323 BA, .849 OPS, 192 H, 6 HR, 93 RBI
162 PS Avg: .275 BA, .766 OPS, 151 H, 0 HR, 97 RBI
"I don't make speeches. I just let my bat speak for me in the summertime."—Honus Wagner
A seven-time National League batting champion, Honus Wagner's incredibly rare and valuable baseball card may be more well known than the player himself.
Wagner hit .300 or better for 11 consecutive seasons, from 1903 through 1913, and appeared in two World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, including in 1903, the first one in history.
His six stolen bases in the 1909 World Series would stand as the single-series record for nearly 60 years until Lou Brock would swipe seven bags in both the 1967 and '68 World Series.
31. Ken Griffey Jr.
162 RS Avg: .284 BA, .907 OPS, 169 H, 38 HR, 111 RBI
162 PS Avg: .290 BA, .947 OPS, 180 H, 54 HR, 99 RBI
"The other guys, all they have to do is use their big butts and big python arms to hit homers. Me, I'm the little guy in the group. People always root for the little guy."—Ken Griffey Jr.
A 13-time All-Star and 1997 AL MVP, Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the greatest sluggers baseball has ever seen.
Had injuries not derailed his career, there is no telling how much gaudier his career numbers would have been.
In Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS against the New York Yankees, Griffey would score the series-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning on a two-run double by Seattle Mariners DH Edgar Martinez.
30. Yogi Berra
162 RS Avg: .285 BA, .830 OPS, 164 H, 27 HR, 109 RBI
162 PS Avg: .274 BA, .811 OPS, 154 H, 26 HR, 84 RBI
"I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?"—Yogi Berra
One of the greatest catchers of all time, Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra is a 17-time All-Star and three-time AL MVP, including back-to-back awards in 1954 and 1955.
A 13-time World Series champion, Yogi's most impressive performance came in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Yogi would hit .360 with a 1.248 OPS, nine hits, three home runs and 10 RBI.
Of his nine hits, five went for extra bases, including a pair of two-run home runs in Game 7, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead and more than enough to win another championship.
29. Charlie Gehringer
162 RS Avg: .320 BA, .884 OPS, 198 H, 13 HR, 100 RBI
162 PS Avg: .321 BA, .782 OPS, 211 H, 8 HR, 57 RBI
"You can wind him up in the spring and he'll hit .320 with 40 doubles."—Lefty Gomez
Named American League MVP in 1937, when his .371 average led the league, Charlie Gehringer was one of the more consistent players in history. Seven times he accumulated at least 200 hits, and 13 times he hit over .300.
The "Mechanical Man" almost accomplished the feat for 14 consecutive seasons but fell short in 1932, finishing the year at .298.
In Game 6 of the 1935 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, Gehringer would come to the plate in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game with one out and Detroit Tigers catcher Mickey Cochrane on first.
Gehringer would ground out to first base but advanced Cochrane to second.
Goose Goslin would follow Gehringer with a single to right field, and Cochrane would score the series-winning run from second.
Even when making an out, Charlie Gehringer was productive.
28. Tony Perez
162 RS Avg: .279 BA, .804 OPS, 159 H, 22 HR, 96 RBI
162 PS Avg: .238 BA, .625 OPS, 141 H, 16 HR, 86 RBI
"Tony cast a net over the entire team with his attitude. He was always up, always had a sense of humor."—Johnny Bench
The unquestioned leader of the Cincinnati Reds for nearly 20 years, Tony Perez is a seven-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion.
In Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, the Reds found themselves down 3-0 when Perez came to the plate in the top of the sixth inning.
With a swing of the bat he changed the path of the game, as his two-run shot to deep left field put the Reds on the board and back in the game. Pete Rose and Joe Morgan would eventually drive in the game-tying and winning runs, as the Reds won the series.
27. Al Simmons
162 RS Avg: .334 BA, .915 OPS, 214 H, 22 HR, 134 RBI
162 PS Avg: .329 BA, 1.033 OPS, 205 H, 51 HR, 145 RBI
"I was a great ballplayer under Mr. (Connie) Mack's guidance. After I left, I was just another ballplayer. Mr. Mack was the greatest man I ever met in my life. I owe a lot to Ty Cobb, too. I learned a lot from him when we were roommates the last two years he played for Mr. Mack."—Al Simmons
Al Simmons knew how to make an impression. For each of the first 11 seasons of his career, he hit .300 or better and drove in at least 100 runs. Simmons has six seasons of at least 200 hits and won back-to-back American League batting crowns in 1930 and '31.
Patrolling left field for the Philadelphia Athletics, Simmons won two World Series championships out of the four he appeared in. The three he played as a member of the A's, Simmons never hit below .300 and hit two HR in each series.
*There is no sound on the video; Simmons doubles around the two-minute mark.*
26. Eddie Collins
162 RS Avg: .333 BA, .853 OPS, 190 H, 3 HR, 75 RBI
162 PS Avg: .328 BA, .790 OPS, 200 H, 0 HR, 52 RBI
"(Eddie) Collins sustained a remarkable level of performance for a remarkably long time. He was past thirty when the lively ball era began, yet he adapted to it and continued to be one of the best players in baseball every year...his was the most valuable career that any second baseman ever had."—Bill James
Named the 1914 American League MVP, Eddie Collins hit over .340 an impressive 10 times.
He would split his 25-year career between two teams: the Philadelphia Athletics, with whom he would win three out of four World Series appearances, and the Chicago White Sox, where he would have a .500 record in the two World Series he played in for them.
In Game 5 of the 1910 World Series, Collins' RBI double in the top of the eighth inning would turn out to be the series-winning hit for the Philadelphia Athletics against the Chicago Cubs.
25. Ted Williams
162 RS Avg: .344 BA, 1.116 OPS, 188 H, 37 HR, 130 RBI
162 PS Avg: .200 BA, .533 OPS, 116 H, 0 HR, 18 RBI
"He could hit better with a broken arm than we could with two good arms."—Jerry Coleman
Twice the AL MVP, 17 times an All-Star, Ted Williams is one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game.
In 1941, Williams hit .406 (the last player to hit over .400) with a 1.287 OPS, 185 hits, 37 home runs and 120 RBI.
Try as I might, "The Kid" did not have that signature postseason moment to glorify here.
24. Joe DiMaggio
162 RS Avg: .325 BA, .977 OPS, 207 H, 34 HR, 143 RBI
162 PS Avg: .271 BA, .760 OPS, 172 H, 25 HR, 95 RBI
"There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best."—Joe DiMaggio
Owner of one of the most unbreakable records in all of professional sports, his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, "Joltin'" Joe DiMaggio is one of the all-time greats of the game.
Three times a MVP, two times a batting champion and a 13-time All-Star, DiMaggio is at the center of an argument that will never be resolved: Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams—who was better?
A member of nine World Series-winning teams, DiMaggio was surprisingly nowhere near as potent a hitter when the pressure was at its highest, as his average is over 50 points lower and his OPS drops over .200.
DiMaggio is in the top 10 of multiple categories on the World Series career leaderboard.
23. Mel Ott
162 RS Avg: .304 BA, .947 OPS, 171 H, 30 HR, 110 RBI
162 PS Avg: .295 BA, .901 OPS, 182 H, 41 HR, 101 RBI
"Look over there. Do you know a nicer guy than Mel Ott? Or any of the other Giants? Why, they're the nicest guys in the world, and where are they? In last place!"—Leo Durocher
An 11-time All-Star, Mel Ott spent his entire career with the New York Giants, leading the National League in home runs six times and becoming the first National League player to reach the 500 career home run plateau.
His postseason play was as consistent as his regular season play was, and his 10th-inning home run in Game 5 of the 1933 World Series would end up winning the championship for the Giants.
22. Stan Musial
162 RS Avg: .331 BA, .976 OPS, 194 H, 25 HR, 104 RBI
162 PS Avg: .256 BA, .742 OPS, 155 H, 7 HR, 56 RBI
"Once (Stan) Musial timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."—Bob Feller
A three-time NL MVP, seven-time batting champion and 20-time All-Star, Stan "The Man" Musial is a player who never got as much attention as he deserved. He spent his entire 22-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, reaching the World Series four times.
His best season came in 1948, when he hit .376 with a 1.152 OPS, 230 hits, 39 home runs and 131 RBI.
A member of three world championship teams, Musial was mediocre in the postseason except for the 1944 World Series, where the Cardinals beat their rivals the St. Louis Browns in six games.
Musial's two-run shot in the top of the first inning of Game 4 would end up being the game-winning and series-tying hit as the Cardinals went on to win 5-1.
21. Duke Snider
162 RS Avg: .295 BA, .919 OPS, 160 H, 31 HR, 101 RBI
162 PS Avg: .286 BA, .945 OPS, 171 H, 50 HR, 117 RBI
"(Duke) Snider, (Mickey) Mantle and (Willie) Mays. You could get a fat lip in any saloon by starting an argument as to which was best. One point was beyond argument, though. Willie was by all odds the most exciting."—Red Smith
An eight-time All-Star, Duke Snider was one of the top run producers of the 1950s, as he and his Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Gil Hodges are the only two players to accumulate over 1,000 RBI during the decade.
He hit four home runs in two different World Series (1952 and 1955), a feat that no other player has ever matched.
20. Roberto Clemente
162 RS Avg: .317 BA, .834 OPS, 200 H, 16 HR, 87 RBI
162 PS Avg: .318 BA, .803 OPS, 212 H, 19 HR, 87 RBI
"If I could sleep. I could hit .400."—Roberto Clemente
A 12-time All-Star and 1966 NL MVP, Roberto Clemente reached the 200-hit plateau four times in his career.
Crowned National League batting champion on four different occasions, Clemente never wavered under pressure, winning both World Series that he took part in.
His 12 hits and 22 total bases in the 1971 World Series are among the most for any player in a single series.
19. Hank Greenberg
162 RS Avg: .313 BA, 1.017 OPS, 189 H, 38 HR, 148 RBI
162 PS Avg: .318 BA, 1.044 OPS, 190 H, 35 HR, 155 RBI
"The more pressure you’re under, the better ball player you’ll become—I know.”—Hank Greenberg
Before there was Jackie Robinson there was "Hammerin'" Hank Greenberg, a powerful man who was antagonized on a daily basis for being a Jewish baseball player. It should come as no surprise to anyone that when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1942, Greenberg was one of the first people to reach out to him offering advice and support.
A two-time MVP and five-time All-Star with three seasons of at least 200 hits under his belt, Greenberg was a RBI machine, driving in at least 150 runs in three different seasons.
His Detroit Tiger teams went .500 in the four World Series he played in, and their success was largely due to the fact that they never had to question how Greenberg was going to perform.
There is one word that best describes the original "Hebrew Hammer"—consistent.
18. Shoeless Joe Jackson
162 RS Avg: .356 BA, .940 OPS, 216 H, 7 HR, 95 RBI
162 PS Avg: .345 BA, .823 OPS, 220 H, 12 HR, 93 RBI
"He (Shoeless Joe Jackson) was the finest natural hitter in the history of the game."—Ty Cobb
Everyone knows the story of Shoeless Joe Jackson, about the 1919 World Series and the Black Sox scandal. Regardless of what accounts of the story people choose to believe, there is no denying that Jackson was one of the best hitters of his era.
While he never led the league in batting or won an MVP award, Jackson's statistics speak for themselves.
His best season came in 1911, when he hit .408 with a 1.058 OPS, 233 hits, seven home runs and 83 RBI.
Jackson played in two World Series for the Chicago White Sox, beating the New York Giants in 1917 and then losing to the Cincinnati Reds in the infamous 1919 series.
Ironically, Jackson was the best player on either team in that matchup, hitting .375 with a .956 OPS, 12 hits, one home run and six RBI.
17. Albert Pujols
162 RS Avg: .328 BA, 1.037 OPS, 197 H, 42 HR, 126 RBI
162 PS Avg: .322 BA, 1.009 OPS, 185 H, 38 HR, 104 RBI
“He has a passion for the game, a love for the game. You can see it. You can sense it. He’s got natural God-given ability. A natural baseball player. A warrior. The man is good at every little thing he does.”—Mike Easler
Without question the best player in the game today, Albert Pujols truly approaches hitting like a machine, as evidenced by his three NL MVP awards. If he is able to maintain his health and high level of play, there is no reason to doubt that Pujols will rewrite parts of baseball's record book.
His best season came in 2003, a year he did not win the MVP award, when he hit .357 with a 1.106 OPS, 212 hits, 43 home runs and 124 RBI.
In 2004, Pujols was named the MVP of the NLCS against the Houston Astros. In a seven-game series, Pujols batted .500 with a 1.563 OPS, 14 hits, 10 runs scored, four home runs and nine RBI. His 14 hits in the series are tied with Hideki Matsui and Kevin Youkilis for the most in a single LCS.
16. Willie McCovey
162 RS Avg: .270 BA, .889 OPS, 138 H, 33 HR, 97 RBI
162 PS Avg: .310 BA, 1.101 OPS, 182 H, 61 HR, 142 RBI
"Guys used to kid [Don] Drysdale about (McCovey). Willie was the one guy Don was reluctant to face. In the four and a half years I played with Don, I think McCovey is the only player he was afraid of physically."—Don Sutton
Named National League Rookie of the Year in 1959 and MVP in 1969, Willie McCovey was an awesome physical presence who generated unbelievable power with his swing.
His 18 grand slams are a National League record and only speak to how clutch the man they called "Stretch" was.
In Game 7 of the 1962 World Series in the very situation we spoke about in the beginning, McCovey hit a screaming line drive towards second base. New York Yankees 2B Bobby Richardson snared it, robbing McCovey of a World Series-winning hit.
15. Cal Ripken Jr.
162 RS Avg: .276 BA, .788 OPS, 172 H, 23 HR, 91 RBI
162 PS Avg: .336 BA, .866 OPS, 214 H, 6 HR, 46 RBI
"He is the man. He is the man."—Sammy Sosa
A participant in 19 consecutive All-Star games and twice named the American League MVP, Cal Ripken Jr. is known primarily because of "the streak."
Yet from 1982 through 1991, Ripken never hit less than 20 HR or 80 RBI in a season, which as a shortstop was virtually unheard of.
Ripken raised his game in the postseason with the Baltimore Orioles, though his one appearance in the World Series was unimpressive, hitting .167 with a .452 OPS.
14. Mickey Mantle
162 RS Avg: .298 BA, .977 OPS, 163 H, 36 HR, 102 RBI
162 PS Avg: .257 BA, .908 OPS, 147 H, 45 HR, 100 RBI
"Hitting the ball was easy. Running around the bases was the tough part."—Mickey Mantle
A three-time MVP, 20-time All-Star and winner of the 1956 AL Triple Crown, the name Mickey Mantle has been synonymous with greatness for decades. With an obscene combination of power and speed, Mantle is arguably the greatest switch-hitter of all time.
In Game 3 of the 1964 World Series, Mantle would hit a game-winning HR off St. Louis Cardinals reliever Barney Schultz, giving the Yankees the lead in the series, though they would ultimately lose in seven games.
Mantle holds six World Series records for a career: 42 runs scored, 123 total bases, 18 home runs, 40 RBI, 43 walks and 54 strikeouts.
13. Pete Rose
162 RS Avg: .303 BA, .784 OPS, 194 H, 7 HR, 60 RBI
162 PS Avg: .321 BA, .828 OPS, 208 H, 12 HR, 68 RBI
"Does Pete (Rose) hustle? Before the All-Star game he came into the clubhouse and took off his shoes and they ran another mile without him."—Hank Aaron
One of the most hard-nosed players to put on a uniform, Pete Rose, aka "Charlie Hustle," is baseball's all-time hit leader with 4,256 hits. He also holds the record for most games played, most plate appearances and most at-bats.
NL Rookie of the Year in 1963 and the NL MVP in 1973, Rose was a member of three World Series championship teams, two with the Cincinnati Reds and one with the Philadelphia Phillies.
His 10 hits and five walks in the 1975 World Series helped pace the Cincinnati Reds and earned Rose the 1975 World Series MVP award.
12. David Ortiz
162 RS Avg: .283 BA, .922 OPS, 164 H, 35 HR, 118 RBI
162 PS Avg: .283 BA, .908 OPS, 169 H, 29 HR, 115 RBI
"He's got a knack, he sure does. We feel very confident and we feel very good when he's at the plate in those situations. He keeps coming through. We almost expect it out of him now, so he better not pop up—ever."—Mike Lowell
A seven-time All-Star, David Ortiz has made a career with the Boston Red Sox by getting big hit after big hit.
In Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, his 12th-inning game-winning two-run home run against the New York Yankees started one of the most unlikely comebacks in the history of the game.
11. Al Kaline
162 RS Avg: .297 BA, .855 OPS, 172 H, 23 HR, 90 RBI
162 PS Avg: .333 BA, .935 OPS, 216 H, 41 HR, 108 RBI
"There's a hitter. In my book he's the greatest right-handed hitter in the league."—Ted Williams
A 16-time All-Star who is the youngest player to win a batting title—he won the AL crown at the age of 20 in 1955—Al Kaline rose to the occasion in the postseason.
Down three games to one in the 1968 World Series and losing 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 5, Kaline came to the plate with the bases loaded. His two-run single not only gave the Detroit Tigers the lead but changed the tone of the series, as they would come back to win the championship in seven games.
10. George Brett
162 RS Avg: .305 BA, .867 OPS, 189 H, 19 HR, 96 RBI
162 PS Avg: .337 BA, 1.023 OPS, 211 H, 38 HR, 87 RBI
"The only way to pitch to him is way inside so you can force him to pull the ball. That way the line drive won't hit you."—Rudy May
A participant in 13 consecutive All-Star games, a three-time AL batting champion and the 1980 American League MVP, George Brett was the first player in history to accumulate 3,000 hits, 300 home runs, 600 doubles, 100 triples, 1,500 RBI and 200 stolen bases.
Brett and his Kansas City Royals reached the World Series twice, winning it all in 1985. In the postseason, Brett took his already intense game to another level, putting up an OPS of more than 1.000 in five of the nine playoff series he took part in.
9. Paul Molitor
162 RS Avg: .306 BA, .817 OPS, 200 H, 14 HR, 79 RBI
162 PS Avg: .368 BA, 1.050 OPS, 240 H, 34 HR, 123 RBI
"I had him (Paul Molitor) in the sixth grade at St. Luke's grade school, and he played in the eighth-grade program. I remember when Paul was in the fifth grade, our phys ed teacher (Dennis Denning) came up and said, 'Westy, I got a kid who's going to go all the way to the majors.' That was a pretty good call"—Coach Wally Wescott
A seven-time All-Star, Paul "The Ignitor" Molitor was one of the most consistent players of the 1980s and '90s.
In his 21-year career, Molitor hit over .300 12 times and collected over 200 hits four times.
Twice a participant in the World Series, winning in 1993 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, his performance in that series ranks among the best in a single World Series by any player, as Molitor hit .500 with a 1.571 OPS, 12 hits, two home runs, eight RBI and 10 runs scored.
*Molitor comes in around the 5:30 mark on the video*
8. Ichiro Suzuki
162 RS Avg: .326 BA, .791 OPS, 225 H, 9 HR, 56 RBI
162 PS Avg: .421 BA, .962 OPS, 259 H, 0 HR, 49 RBI
"The way he hits is just like a samurai. I'll bet he could split a mosquito with a sword."—Isao Ogata
The most successful Japanese player to transition to the major leagues, Ichiro could be the best pure hitter in the history of the game.
Winner of the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in 2001, Ichiro has won two batting titles and appeared in 10 All-Star games, though his Seattle Mariners have only advanced to the playoffs once since his arrival.
He raised his game in the 2001 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, hitting .600 with 12 hits and earning himself a spot among the all-time leaders in a single Division Series.
7. Reggie Jackson
162 RS Avg: .262 BA, .846 OPS, 148 H, 32 HR, 98 RBI
162 PS Avg: .278 BA, .885 OPS, 164 H, 38 HR, 101 RBI
"God do I love to hit that little round son-of-a-bitch out of the park and make 'em say, 'Wow!'"—Reggie Jackson
American League MVP in 1973 for the Oakland A's, Reggie Jackson is a 14-time All-Star and one of the premier power hitters in the history of the game.
While he only hit over .300 once, Jackson put together a string of solid seasons highlighted by his tremendous power.
His best year came in 1969, when he hit .275 with a 1.018 OPS, 151 hits, 47 home runs and 118 RBI.
A five-time World Series champion and two-time World Series MVP, Jackson is best remembered for his epic performance in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series as his New York Yankees took on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jackson would walk in his first at-bat and proceed to hit the ball deeper and deeper into the stands with each consecutive at-bat. By the end of the night Jackson had gone 3-for-3 with five RBI, four runs scored and three consecutive home runs.
Jackson holds or shares the records for runs scored, total bases and home runs in a single World Series.
While his penchant for striking out is troublesome—Jackson led the league in strikeouts five times and struck out over 100 times in a season in 18 of the 21 he played—his World Series heroics make him an intriguing choice.
6. Carl Yastrzemski
162 RS Avg: .285 BA, .841 OPS, 167 H, 22 HR, 90 RBI
162 PS Avg: .369 BA, 1.047 OPS, 229 H, 38 HR, 105 RBI
"I was a lousy hitter in May doing the same things that made me a great hitter in June."—Carl Yastrzemski
A three-time American League batting champion, 18-time All-Star and the last player to win the Triple Crown, a feat he accomplished in 1967, Carl Yastrzemski was one of the most tenacious players of his generation.
"Yaz" epitomized the word "clutch" during the 1967 season, which saw one of the most contested pennant races in history (as we see in the video above).
While he would lose both World Series that he appeared in with the Sox, it was due to no fault of his own, hitting a combined .352 with a .993 OPS and nine RBI in 14 games.
It's ironic that the son of a potato farmer from Eastern Long Island would become one of Boston's most beloved athletes.
5. Jimmie Foxx
162 RS Avg: .325 BA, 1.038 OPS, 185 H, 37 HR, 134 RBI
162 PS Avg: .344 BA, 1.034 OPS, 198 H, 36 HR, 99 RBI
"He has muscles in his hair..."—Lefty Gomez
Often referred to as the "right-handed Babe Ruth," Jimmie "The Beast" Foxx is one of the most prolific sluggers in the history of the game.
From 1929 through 1940, Foxx hit at least 30 home runs a season, and from 1929 through 1941 he drove in at least 100 runs a year. A Triple Crown winner and three-time American League MVP, Foxx had over 200 hits twice and won the 1933 AL batting title with a .356 average.
Foxx and the Philadelphia Athletics would go to three straight World Series from 1929 to 1931, wining the first two.
4. Derek Jeter
162 RS Avg: .313 BA, .832 OPS, 206 H, 16 HR, 80 RBI
162 PS Avg: .309 BA, .850 OPS, 204 H, 22 HR, 63 RBI
"Jeter is a six-tool player. I've never eaten with him so I can't tell you if he has good table manners, but I would imagine he has those too."—Johnny Oates
An 11-time All-Star, Derek Jeter has never led the league in hitting or won an MVP award, yet when people think of baseball over the past 15 years, his name is one of the first to come to mind.
The newest member of baseball's 3,000-hit club, Jeter is arguably the best shortstop who ever played the game.
A member of five World Series championship teams, Jeter was named MVP of the 2000 World Series against their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets, after hitting .409 with a 1.344 OPS.
The face of the last dynasty the game has seen, there are virtually no other players that you could count on with the game on the line more than "Captain Clutch."
3. Babe Ruth
162 RS Avg: .342 BA, 1.164 OPS, 186 H, 46 HR, 143 RBI
162 PS Avg: .326 BA, 1.211 OPS, 166 H, 59 HR, 130 RBI
"Hell, I could have hit .600 myself! But I'm paid to hit homers."—Babe Ruth (to Ty Cobb)
Can we really doubt that Babe Ruth could have hit .600 in a season?
For as far-fetched as that sounds to us, that's how far-fetched someone hitting 30 home runs in a season sounded back in the 1910s and '20s. Yet Ruth changed people's perspectives almost as quickly as he hit balls out of Yankee Stadium.
You may be surprised to see his average in the postseason is nearly 20 points lower than his regular season average, but keep in mind that number includes five games with the Boston Red Sox where he was a pitcher and not focusing on hitting.
If we remove those games from the equation, his postseason numbers are even more impressive:
.347 BA, 1.275 OPS, 162 H, 68 HR, 135 RBI
They don't call them "Ruthian" numbers for nothing.
2. Hank Aaron
162 RS Avg: .305 BA, .928 OPS, 185 H, 37 HR, 115 RBI
162 PS Avg: .362 BA, 1.116 OPS, 238 H, 57 HR, 152 RBI
"As far as I'm concerned, (Hank) Aaron is the best ballplayer of my era. He is to baseball of the last 15 years what Joe DiMaggio was before him. He's never received the credit he's due."—Mickey Mantle
A 25-time All-Star, two-time batting champion and 1957 AL MVP, Hank Aaron is one of the greatest offensive talents the game has ever seen. He is the all-time leader in total bases, RBI and, depending on which side of the fence you are on, home runs as well.
Aaron appeared in three World Series, winning only one, with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957. His .710 slugging percentage and 1.116 OPS in the World Series are among the highest in history.
1. Lou Gehrig
162 RS Avg: .340 BA, 1.080 OPS, 204 H, 37 HR, 149 RBI
162 PS Avg: .361 BA, 1.208 OPS, 205 H, 48 HR, 167 RBI
"They didn't get along. Lou (Gehrig) thought (Babe) Ruth was a big-mouth and Ruth thought Gehrig was cheap. They were both right."—Tony Lazzeri
Three-time MVP Lou Gehrig was forever the "Robin" to Babe Ruth's "Batman." That being said, Gehrig is still one of the five greatest players to ever take the field.
"The Iron Horse" truly took his game to another level in the postseason, winning each of the seven World Series he played in.
His 1928 series is a thing of legend: .545 BA, 2.433 OPS, six hits, four home runs, 11 RBI and six walks. He didn't strike out once. His OPS from this series still stands as a single World Series record.