Greatest Hitters Ever

I've completed my analysis for the title of Greatest Hitter Ever.

I've updated my list of suspects to include Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Jimmy Foxx, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodiguez. Let me know if you think anyone else deserves to be added to the list.

To determine the winner of this title, I used the formula described below and used the top 15 productive years of each hitter's career.

Here are some interesting tidbits from my research...

Top 10 best hitting seasons ever:

  1. Ted Williams, 1941, 37 HR, 120 RBI, .406 BA, 145 BB, 27 SO [681]

  2. Barry Bonds, 2002, 46 HR, 110 RBI, .370 BA, 198 BB, 47 SO [677]

  3. Babe Ruth, 1921, 59 HR, 171 RBI, .378 BA, 145 BB, 81 SO [672]

  4. Ted Williams, 1949, 43 HR, 159 RBI, .343 BA, 162 BB, 48 SO [659]

  5. Babe Ruth, 1931, 46 HR, 163 RBI, .373 BA, 128 BB, 51 SO [659]

  6. Lou Gehrig, 1934, 49 HR, 165 RBI, .363 BA, 109 BB, 31 SO [655]

  7. Babe Ruth, 1923, 41 HR, 131 RBI, .393 BA, 170 BB, 93 SO [642]

  8. Lou Gehring, 1936, 49 HR, 152 RBI, .354 BA, 130 BB, 46 SO [639]

  9. Babe Ruth, 1920, 54 HR, 137 RBI, .376 BA, 150 BB, 80 SO [637]

  10. Babe Ruth, 1930, 49 HR, 153 RBI, .359 BA, 136 BB, 61 SO [636]

Top 10 Seasons:
Babe Ruth: 5
Lou Gehring: 2
Ted Williams: 2
Barry Bonds: 1

Top 25 Seasons:
Babe Ruth: 8
Lou Gehring: 6
Ted Williams: 4
Rogers Hornsby: 2
Barry Bonds: 2
Jimmy Foxx: 2

Top 50 Seasons:
Babe Ruth: 11
Lou Gehring: 9
Ted Williams: 9
Rogers Hornsby: 6
Barry Bonds: 3
Jimmy Foxx: 3
Joe DiMaggio: 3
Todd Helton: 3
Stan Musial: 2
Mickey Mantle: 1

Check out these tidbits...

74. Willie Mays, 1955, 51 HR, 127 RBI, .319 BA, 79 BB, 60 SO, [516]
80. Henry Aaron, 1959, 54 HR, 128 RBI, .317 BA, 126 BB, 112 SO, [513]
87. Manny Ramirez, 1999, 44 HR, 165 RBI, .333 BA, 96 BB, 131 SO, [507]
121. Alex Rodriguez, 1996, 36 HR, 123 RBI, .358 BA, 59 BB, 104 SO [472]

I found it very odd that Aaron and Mays didn't make any of the top 50 seasons. I guess not high enough batting averages to qualify. A-Rod has too many SO and too few BB to rank very high on the list.

Todd Helton - After only 7 seasons, including a first season of 26 games and [293] rating, is #5 All Time Greatest Hitter (Lifetime Stats)... ahead of Bonds, Mays, Aaron! Let's see if he can continue this pace for 10 or so more years.

If Babe Ruth's 1921 season would have turned 5 SO into 5 BB, he would had scored out at [682] for the Greatest Hitting Season Ever!

In 1927, Ruth at #15 and Gehring at #19 best hitting seasons ever!

In 1931, Ruth at #5 and Gehring at #12 best hitting seasons ever!

Best two back to back seasons were Ruth in 1921 #3 and 1920 #9.

Best back to back to back seasons were Gehrig 1930 #13, 1931 #12, 1932 #25.

Best five consecutive season run was for Ted Williams over 1941, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948. Don't forget that Ted's career was inturrupted by the Korean war, depriving Ted of the chance to become the undisputed best all-time hitter. It would be interesting to do an analysis on how his projected totals over those years would have affected his final carrer totals.

by Madfish Willie on March 23 :: Permalink :: Comments (5) :: Baseball


I dont understand how you're weighting these stats. While your criteria are good, there's no comparing RBIs to BBs and SOs, because both are already reflected in the BA. Therefore you may be giving them too much weight

The RBI is the only number that matters on gameday. With high RBIs, and a high batting average, who really cares whether or not they were home runs?

You should be looking for a "productivity factor" which could even include such minutiae as comparing RBIs in games won to those in games lost.

The best overall hitter will be the guy who put his team on top, year after year.

Posted by: L. Camino on March 25, 2004 06:56 AM

Hitting is a different thing than total offensive production. Offensive Productivity would include, in my opinion, Runs Scored, RBI, Stolen Bases, Batting Average, Walks. In short, all the things necessary to score runs.

My criteria is outlined in the post below, but I'll try to explian a little better here.

The best hitter will hit with a combination of power (HR) and average (BA). He needs to drive in runs (RBI) as that is THE name of the game. A good hitter will walk (BB), not included in BA, whether intentional or not, showing that he can manage the strike zone and has an "good eye". The best hitter will rarely srtike out (SO), see Ted Williams vs A-Rod or Mantle or Reggie Jackson or Sammy Sosa.

HR are weighted a little heavier in this equation because they are in HR, RBI, BA. BB are not accounted for in BA so they get added to the numbers. SO is weighted negatively because it is included in BA and then subtracted again from the numbers. Everything else has an equal weight factor in the total number.

Add all these numbers and get the greatest overall hitter. I'm using the top 15 seasons of each player's career to account for longevity and to get an apples to apples comparison. There are too many short seasons at the beginning and at the end of the career with injuries, etc that would skew the results. Babe Ruth's numbers would be really skewd, because he was a pitcher at the beginning of his career (and a damn fine one at that). Unfortunately, Ted Williams lost 3 prime seasons of his career to the Korean War. The season before he went to service he won the Triple Crown and the second season back he won the Triple Crown again!

I'll maybe do an Offensive Production comparison after I finish this. I think that most of the names will be the same with the addition of some high BA and SB players: Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, etc.

Posted by: Madfish Willie on March 25, 2004 07:47 AM

I still say RBI's are the key, and BB's and SO's pale in comparison to "at the plate" run production. Granted, offensive production is a different question that must include stolen bases..

Still its a statistical clusterfuck either way.

'Nother Newcastle?

Posted by: F. Ranchero on March 25, 2004 01:29 PM

Ok... What we are talking about here is Madfish Willie's Greatest Hitter Ever analysis... not L Ranchero or F Camino or anyone else... so just read it and be quiet or better yet, do one on your site so I can come over there and make fun of you for a change!

Posted by: Madfish Willie on March 25, 2004 09:17 PM

Nah, that would be gay...

Posted by: Gran Torino on March 26, 2004 05:01 PM
Let's hear your bullshit

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