The game of baseball is loaded with a wide range of elements, all coming together to allow the game to be played. From pitching to catching to running the bases and hitting the ball, each part plays a role in the outcome of any baseball game. Of those elements, hitting might be the biggest and one of the most essential abilities.
Many tremendous hitters have played the game, and many a debate can be made over how to rank them. Some focus on the number of home runs racked up, others look at the number of runs batted in, while others look at the lifetime batting average of the baseball player. In theory, a great baseball player must be able to perform exceptionally well, with that one thing being able to hit the baseball and get on base. All the other tangibles then add up.
Some of the best hitters of all time include Ted Williams, considered one of the greatest all-rounders to play the game. Then you have Babe Ruth, one of the best power hitters of all time, and all-time greats like Tony Gwynn and Shoeless Joe Jackson, to name a few.
Here is a look at our 10 best mlb hitters of all time of all time rankings list:
1. Ted Williams
Former Team: Boston Red Sox
Williams spent his entire career with the Boston Red Sox and finished with a .344 career batting average, 2,654 hits, 521 home runs, and 1,839 runs batted in.
Williams was one of those rare players who could hit for average, hit for power, and work the count helping him post a .482 batting average mark.
In addition, Williams is the last player to post a batting average of at least .400, accomplishing the feat back during the 1941 baseball season. It’s not hard to see why Ted Williams lands as our number 1 pick for best hitters of all time.
2. Tony Gwynn
Former Team: San Diego Padres
Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres gets the slight nod over the other best MLB hitters of all-time, despite not being the power hitter of some of the other players on this list.
The long-time San Diego Padres Hall of Famer was as good of a hitter as any and one that was nearly impossible to get out during the prime of his baseball career.
Playing in an era when the game was evolving, the pitching mounds were being adjusted, and steroids were involved, Gwynn just kept hitting. Gwynn finished his career with a .338 batting average mark while leading the league in hits in seven different seasons.
Over his entire career, Gwyn struck out at most 40 times in any given season, with 12 seasons being fewer than 30 strikeouts.
3. Ty Cobb
Former Team: Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics
Another great hitter who didn’t post the power numbers of many on the list was the long-time Detroit Tigers great Ty Cobb. Cobb, who spent nearly his entire career with the Tigers, finished with a career .366 batting average to go along with 4,189 career hits, 2,245 runs scored, 1944 runs batted in, and 897 stolen bases.
Cobb was one of those players who was always on base while posting a Career .433 on-base percentage. His .366 batting average remains the highest batting average in baseball history.
To go along with those numbers, Cobb hit for the Triple crown during the 1909 season, won the AL MVP in 1911, was a 12-time AL batting champion, and led the league at various times in runs batted in, stolen bases, and home runs.
4. Rogers Hornsby
Former Team: St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, Boston Braves, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Browns
Another impressive baseball player among the best hitters of all time is the great Rogers Hornsby. Hornsby, who played from 1915 to 1937, racked up a long list of accolades and statistics over his storied baseball career.
Over his 23-year baseball career, Hornsby hit for the Triple crown twice, posted a plus .400 batting average in three seasons, and had seven seasons with at least 200 hits. When his career was over, Hornsby finished with 1,579 runs scored, 2,930 career hits, 301 home runs, 1,584 runs batted in, a .358 batting average, and a career .434 on-base percentage.
The long-time St. Louis Cardinals slugger led the NL in batting in seven different seasons, home runs in two different seasons, and winning two NL MVP Awards.
5. Stan Musial
Former Team: St. Louis Cardinals
At number five on the best hitters of all time list is the St. Louis Cardinals’ great Stan Musial. Musial is considered one of the greatest Cardinals of All Time, alongside other greats such as Albert Pujols and Rogers Hornsby.
Musial was an all-around great hitter who could hit for average, for contact, for extra base hits, and even for power. The Cardinals’ first baseman and outfielder ended his baseball career with a career .331 batting average with 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, and 1,951 runs batted in.
Over his career, Musial surpassed a .400 on-base percentage in 11 different seasons while helping him post a Career .417 on-base percentage mark.
6. Babe Ruth
Former team: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Boston Braves
The great Babe Ruth has always been atop the list of the best baseball players ever, known for his 714 career home runs, making him one of the greatest power hitters of all time.
The former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees outfielder and pitcher could hit. Ruth slugged a career-high 714 home runs by his retirement but could also just hit for average, posting a career .342 batting average while also being an excellent pitcher on the mound.
Ruth hit at least 40 home runs in 11 different seasons, led the league in runs scored in eight different seasons, and posted a batting average of at least .340 in 10 different seasons.
7. Shoeless Joe Jackson
Former Teams: Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Naps, Chicago White Sox
While before black and white televisions and before anyone had the luxury of watching baseball on tv, Shoeless Joe Jackson was the best hitter of his generation.
He earned his name from playing in a game in his socks after dealing with blisters. Over his career, Jackson led the league in triples three different times with 20 plus per season while also posting at least 40 doubles in five different seasons.
While playing in a different era of baseball, Jackson could plain out hit, finishing with a .423 career on-base percentage to go along with a .356 career batting average.
8. Tris Speaker
Former Team: Boston Americans, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, Philadelphia Athletics
When it comes to hitting a baseball Tris Speaker was as good as any, and known for his ability to get on base.
Speaker, currently the MLB record holder with 792 career doubles, was a three-time World Series Champion, led the league in batting average in one season, and won one AL MVP Award.
Speaker elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937, finished his career with 3,514 hits, 1,529 runs scored, 792 doubles, and a career .345 batting average.
9. Rod Carew
Former Teams: Minnesota Twins, California Angels
Depending on what you are looking for in a hitter, Carew was often talked about in a different breath than others on the list, including Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, and Babe Ruth. But Carew was a great hitter during his career and opposing pitchers struggled to get him out.
Over his 19-year Career, Carew posted at least 200 hits in four different seasons while finishing his career with a .328 batting average mark and a .393 on-base percentage.
To go with the statistics, Carew was named to 18 All-Star teams, won the 1977 AL MVP Award, and won seven batting titles while leading the AL in batting average.
Additional reading: Best black baseball players
10. Wade Boggs
Former Team: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays
Number 10 on the best hitters of all time list is the oft-overlooked former Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays star, Wade Boggs.
The Boston Red Sox great third baseman gets overshadowed for playing in an era of the home run and inflated power-hitting statistics.
However, when it comes to the ability to hit, no one during the 1980s outside of Tony Gwynn could pure out hit like Boggs.
Boggs was a 12-time All-Star while taking home five AL Batting Championships. When his MLB career was over, Boggs posted a .328 career batting average alongside a .415 on-base percentage mark and 3,010 career hits.