20 Biggest Bats in MLB History

John Altamura@@JohnAltamuraBRContributor IIJuly 13, 2012

20 Biggest Bats in MLB History

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    There have been many players during the 100-or-so-year history of MLB who have swung big pieces of lumber.

    Babe Ruth was once said to have used a 54-ounce hickory bat. Bryce Harper has experimented with using a 36-inch, 47-ounce Marucci bat in the batting cage before games.

    Countless other MLB stars have tried and sometimes succeeded in using bats that weigh more than the modern 32-ounce standard.

    Here is a list of 20 players who have used big bats during their MLB careers.

Babe Ruth

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    If you were going to compile a list of players who used big bats you’d have to include Babe Ruth, known as the “Sultan of Swat.” The Bambino was said to have used a 54-ounce hickory bat during the early stages of his career.

    Ruth would use different bats throughout his career—including a 36-inch, 46-ounce monster used to hit the first home run on Opening Day at the then-new Yankee Stadium in 1923.

    He would use lighter bats as his career progressed—using a 40-ounce bat during his 60-homer season in 1927. The Babe would finish his career with 714 home runs—a record which stood until 1974 when he was passed by Hank Aaron.  

Mo Vaughn

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    The Boston Red Sox of the early 1990s went through a transitional process in which established stars such as Wade Boggs and Mike Greenwell were replaced by up-and-coming farmhands by the likes of Mo Vaughn and John Valentin.

    Vaughn would have a big impact—literally—on the Red Sox during the 1990s as he would club 230 home runs in eight years with his 36-ounce bat. His best season came in 1995 when he hit .300 with 39 HR and 106 RBI, earning him his only AL MVP Award.

    He would sign a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels in 1999 and would battle injuries for the rest of his career. Vaughn finished up his career with the New York Mets, totaling 328 home runs.  

Gene Michael

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    Gene “Stick” Michael is known by contemporary baseball fans as the man who helped build the New York Yankees of the 1990’s into a dynasty. To more seasoned fans, Michael is also remembered for his managerial and 10-year baseball career.  

    The “Stick,” as he was called by his teammates because of his skinny frame, preferred to use a large 36-inch, 35-ounce bat.  The choice in lumber didn't benefit Michael as he managed a paltry .229 batting average with only 15 home runs for his career.   

Julio Franco

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    There have been many colorful and unique characters in MLB over the years. One player who is unique in his own right—and coincidentally enough carried a big stick was Julio Franco.

    Franco, who used a 36-ounce bat for most of his career, had one of the most unorthodox batting stances in the history of the game. At 6’0”, 160 pounds, Franco used his over-sized bat to smack 2,586 hits during his 25-year career.

Dick Allen

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    Dick Allen proved that you didn't have to be 6’5” and 250 pounds to carry a big stick.

    The rather diminutive Allen—who was 5’11" and 187 pounds—used his 40-ounce bat to hit 29 home runs and 91 RBI during his rookie season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Those numbers were good enough to earn him NL Rookie of the Year honors in 1964.

    The flamboyant and sometimes controversial Allen would amass 351 home runs and earn one AL MVP during his 15-year career. He was also an accomplished R&B singer, which he moonlighted in when he wasn't playing baseball.   

Edd Roush

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    Hall of Famer Edd Roush holds the distinction as the player who used the heaviest bat in MLB history. Roush, who debuted with the Chicago White Sox in 1913, used a 48-ounce behemoth.

    His power statistics by modern standards are not spectacular as he only hit 68 home runs during his 18-year career. Roush made up for his lack of power production by hitting an exceptional .323 throughout his MLB tenure.    

Roberto Clemente

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    The contributions Roberto Clemente made to professional sports far exceeds the mighty power of the 36-ounce bat he wielded for 18 seasons. He would become the first Puerto Rican to play in the major leagues when he made his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1955.

    Clemente—who was only 5’11" and 175 pounds—mastered his 36-ouncer by amassing 3,000 hits over his career. He was awarded the 1966 NL MVP for his strong season (.317 BA, 31 HR, 119 RBI).

    The 1966 Pirates finished third in the NL West, three games behind the eventual NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Clemente would die by tragic circumstances in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972. He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 1973 by special election.

     

Frankie Frisch

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    Frankie Frisch was a switch-hitter who played for the New York Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1920s and 30s. He was a unique character as he used to cure his baseball bats during the offseason in his barn.

    The Hall of Famer used two different types of bats—a 36-ounce when he batted left-handed and a 38-ounce when he batted right.

    His best season by far was in 1931 when he won the NL MVP Award. Frisch posted a .311 BA that season with a league-leading 28 steals.  He finished his 19-year career with 2,880 hits and 419 steals.

Heinie Groh

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    Baseball bats are pretty uniform nowadays. There's not much difference in variation between the models Alex Rodriguez uses compared to the piece of wood Joey Votto brings to the plate.

    This hasn't always been the case as demonstrated by Heinie Groh, who played predominately for the Cincinnati Reds during the 1910s and '20s.

    Groh used a 41-ounce “bottle bat” which looked more like a cricket paddle than anything else. It didn’t seem to deter him much as he posted .292 BA for his career.

Lou Gehrig

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    It was quite common for a player during the golden age of baseball to use a bat that weighed over 40 ounces. One of those most recognizable players during that time to use a bat of that specification was Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees.

    The “Iron Horse” used a variety of bats including a 36-inch, 41.5-ounce version during his record-breaking 2,130 consecutive games played streak.  

    The future Hall of Famer retired prematurely in 1939 due to complications from ALS—which he would succumb to in 1941. Gehrig finished his career with two AL MVPs and 2,721 total hits.  

Bryce Harper

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    Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals may be on to something.

    The 19-year-old Nationals phenom has been using a 36-inch, 47-ounce Marucci bat in the practice cage before games.

    Sound unbelievable? The YouTube video can be found here.

    It seems Harper’s creative training method is posting dividends as he played in his first All-Star game this week and has put up respectable rookie numbers. In 63 games, Harper is batting .282 with eight HR and 25 RBI.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson

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    The Black Sox Scandal of 1919 cast a dark shadow over MLB. One of the players who was said to be involved in the scandal for the Chicago White Sox was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

    Prior to the scandal, Jackson was one of the many players of the era who used heavy bats. His bat, “Black Betsy,” was 34.5 inches long and weighed 40 ounces.

    He finished his 13-year career with a Hall of Fame-worthy .348 batting average.  Unfortunately for Jackson, he is not eligible for enshrinement because of his alleged involvement in the scandal.  

Ty Cobb

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    Some consider Ty Cobb to the greatest pure hitter in MLB history. It’s pretty difficult to argue with that statement as Cobb compiled an astounding 4,189 hits during his 24-year career. He accomplished that achievement by using bats of 34.5 inches in length and 36-40 ounces in weight.

    Cobb’s hit record stood for over 50 years until Pete Rose eclipsed the mark on Sept 11, 1985 with the Cincinnati Reds.

Ruben Sierra

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    Ruben Sierra's bats did a lot of traveling over his 20-year MLB tenure. The switch-hitting outfielder used a 36-ounce bat during his career with five teams, including the New York Yankees. 

    His best season came in 1989 with the Texas Rangers. Sierra finished second in AL MVP voting that season with a .306 BA, 29 HR and 119, RBI. He also led the league in triples with 14. Sierra was a four-time All-Star and retired with 306 career home runs.

Honus Wagner

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    Honus Wagner was another golden era ballplayer who had a tremendous amount of success using a big bat. The Hall of Famer, who played 21 seasons for the Louisville Colonels and Pittsburgh Pirates, accumulated 3,420 hits using a 33-inch, 38-ounce or similar bat.

    Wagner had a great baseball career but is also treasured in the world of sports memorabilia collectors, as one of his rare 1909 baseball cards sold for $2.8 million at auction in 2007.

Eddie Collins

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    Hall of Famer Eddie Collins used all sorts of bats during his 25-year MLB career with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Sox. Collins used a 34-inch, 38-ounce bat during the 1920s. His best season came in 1914, when he won the AL MVP award with the Athletics.

    Collins amassed impressive numbers during is career—retiring with 3,315 hits, 1,499 walks and a career .853 OPS.

Alfonso Soriano

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    Alfonse Soriano has put together a respectable MLB career using a heavy bat. The 14-year veteran and current member of the Chicago Cubs has used a 35-inch, 36-ounce bat for most of his career.

    Soriano’s best year came in 2006 with the Washington Nationals. He became the fourth player to join the exclusive 40/40 club—with 46 home runs and 41 stolen bases. He signed a lucrative eight-year, $136 million contract with the Cubs in 2007.

    He is currently batting .265 in 79 games and is rumored as a potential trade chip for the Cubs as they look to rebuild for the future.  

Frank Howard

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    When you think of hulking, strong MLB players from the past you think of Frank Howard of the Washington Senators. "Hondo" as he was called used a gargantuan 37-inch, 35-ounce bat to clobber 382 home runs during his 16-year career.

    Howard was named NL Rookie of the Year in 1960 as he hit 23 homers and drove in 77 runs.

    After retirement, Howard managed the San Diego Padres in 1981 and eventually eased into a role as batting coach for several teams, including the New York Yankees.

Bobby Bonds

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    One one the most successful players of the 1970s who used a big bat was Bobby Bonds. He used 36-38-ounce bats regularly as he hit 332 home runs during his career.

    Bonds played for several teams including the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants.

    He is also the father of Barry Bonds, who hit 762 home runs during his 22-year career.

Joe DiMaggio

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    Joe DiMaggio was a fan of using large bats during his career.

    The New York Yankee "Clipper" regularly used a 42-ounce bat during his 13-year career. The bat served him well during his career as he jolted 361 home runs and captured three AL MVP awards.

    One interesting tidbit about DiMaggio is that he made the AL All-Star team each season he was on the active roster with the Yankees.