Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog that is published every Wednesday and Friday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.
With his three HRs in Game Three of the World Series, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols continues to build an impressive resume that will likely get him into baseball’s Hall of Fame five years after his retirement. He has won three National League MVP awards (and finished second in the balloting three times), was the N.L. Rookie of the Year in 2001, and has been selected to nine N.L. All-Star teams.
But here’s the question: Where does Pujols rank among baseball’s all-time greatest hitters? Consider… a .328 career batting average, 445 homers and 100 or more RBIs in ten of his 11 seasons. Great credentials and numbers!
Let me offer the following criteria to analyze Pujols and how he compares with the other great hitters in the game’s history. My definition of a great hitter would include a player who hits for a high average, someone who hits for power, and a hitter with a great eye at the plate. To quantify what I just said, let’s look at how many hitters have accomplished the following in a season (Why the following criteria? It’s my blog!):
* Hit .300 or better
* Hit 30 or more home runs
* Walk 100 or more times
* Strike out less than 100 times.
With these numbers as a definition of a player who had a “great hitter” season, we see that only 28 players have had one or more “great hitter” seasons in major league history. In fact, this year only one player met the above criteria: Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Cabrera hit .344, slugged 30 home runs, walked 108 times and struck out 89 times.
Following are the players in baseball history who had one or more seasons where they batted over .300, hit 30 or more HRs, walked 100 or more times, and had less than 100 strikeouts.
‘Great Hitter’ Seasons, Player
11….. Babe Ruth
9….. Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds
8….. Ted Williams
5….. Jimmie Foxx, Frank Thomas
4….. Mel Ott, Mickey Mantle
3….. Stan Musial, Gary Sheffield, Albert Pujols
2….. Ralph Kiner, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton
1….. Hack Wilson, Hank Greenberg, Duke Snider, Norm Cash, Willie McCovey, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, George Brett, Dwight Evans, Jeff Bagwell, Chipper Jones, Brian Giles, Luis Gonzales
There’s no doubt that Pujols is one of the game’s greatest players and is definitely one of its great hitters. Exactly where does he rank among the greatest hitters? You be the judge! In fact, send me your ranking of your three greatest hitters in major league history. We’ll see how the voting plays out.
ASPJ, maybe you could add to the criteria – “those who achieved success without the use of steroids”
Very good point, Jim. I actually thought about that when I was doing this stat because there were names of players who have been mentioned with regards to PEDs… Bonds, Giambi, Sheffield. The only thing that might not come into play is that I don’t think (just my opinion) that PEDs would enhance your eye, i.e., help you increase walks and lessen strikeouts. Could make for an interesting debate.
What about the absence of African American and Latino players. Does that not require
the numbers to benefit earlier players as well?
That’s a really good point, Andrew. Not sure that you can adjust for that fact, but it certainly is part of the reality of what the game was all about in the early days. Thanks for reading.
Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over
again. Anyhow, just wanted to say wonderful blog!