The Best Hitters in Baseball History

Over 20.7K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Hitters in Baseball History
Voting Rules
MLB players with the best batting performance

The best hitters in baseball history are those who hold the all-time hitting records in Major League Baseball, change the game as we know it, and are amongst the greatest baseball players of all time. These sluggers dominated during their respective eras and captivated audiences at the same time. If you were to pick a top hitter for your all-time top baseball fantasy team, you'd be silly not to select these best baseball hitters as soon as possible.

Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial all hold the top spots among the MLB all time hits, with Rose leading the pack at 4,256 over his career. Rose finished his career in 1986 and his record has withstood the time since.

But the best hitters cannot be defined by the number of career hits alone. On that stat, Babe Ruth, arguably the best baseball hitter of all time, would rank in the 40s. Ruth holds top numbers for his home runs, slugging percentage, runs batted in and on-base percentage stats. Lou Gehrig is another who'd fall into that category with his major league records for the most grand slams - a figure since topped by a great modern slugger, Alex Rodriguez.

So we're left with a conundrum. Do we deem those great players from yesteryear, like Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Shoeless Joe Jackson the best baseball hitters of all time? Do we give some love to current top baseball players like Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter? Tell us how you feel by voting for the best hitters in baseball history below!

Most divisive: Nap Lajoie
Ranked by
  • Ted Williams
    1
    8,229 votes
    Boston Red Sox

    The aptly nicknamed "Splendid Splinter," Ted Williams was a master at hitting for both power and average, known for his intense work ethic, disciplined plate discipline, and perfect swing mechanics. A centerpiece of the Boston Red Sox's lineup for 19 seasons, Williams' career included two Triple Crown wins, 521 home runs, and being the last player to hit over .400 in a single season. His extraordinary talent at the plate, combined with his service as a US Marine Corps pilot, made Williams a true American icon revered by generations of baseball fans.

  • Hank Aaron
    2
    5,140 votes
    Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Braves

    The legendary Hammerin' Hank Aaron is widely regarded as one of the all-time greats, largely due to his consistency and sheer power at the plate. Aaron spent the majority of his career with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, where he racked up a record-breaking 755 home runs and a staggering 2,297 runs batted in, achievements that forever etched his name in the annals of baseball history. Moreover, Aaron's poise, grace, and perseverance in the face of adversity – particularly during his pursuit of Babe Ruth's home run record amidst racial tension – further enshrined his status as a trailblazer and role model for generations to come.

  • Lou Gehrig
    3
    5,056 votes
    New York Yankees

    The Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, was a cornerstone of the 1920s and '30s New York Yankees' feared "Murderers' Row" lineup, renowned for his incredible consistency and durability at the plate. Over his 17-season career, Gehrig maintained a remarkable .340 batting average, hit 493 home runs, and drove in nearly 2,000 runs. Tragically forced into early retirement due to the onset of ALS – later named after him – Gehrig's selflessness, grit, and unwavering pursuit of excellence remain an enduring testament to his character and impact on the sport.

  • Willie Mays
    4
    4,802 votes
    New York Giants, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets

    The Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays, was not only a prodigious hitter but a true five-tool player, dazzling fans and opponents alike with his all-around skills on both offense and defense. Playing mainly for the New York and San Francisco Giants, Mays accumulated over 3,000 hits, 660 home runs, and 1,903 runs batted in over his illustrious career, while consistently displaying tremendous speed, range, and arm strength in center field. Mays' combination of charisma, style, and prowess on the field left an indelible mark on the game of baseball and continues to inspire future generations of players.

  • Babe Ruth
    5
    7,651 votes
    Boston Red Sox, Boston Braves, New York Yankees

    The Great Bambino, Babe Ruth, revolutionized the game of baseball with his prodigious power and larger-than-life persona, making him arguably the most iconic figure in the sport's history. In his storied career – spent largely with the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees – Ruth amassed an astounding 714 home runs, forever reshaping the offensive landscape of the game. Ruth's unparalleled status within baseball's pantheon is further reinforced by his connection to countless myths, legends, and memorable moments, ensuring that his legacy will endure as long as the game itself is played.

  • Tony Gwynn
    6
    4,422 votes
    San Diego Padres

    Often referred to as Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn was the epitome of a pure hitter, known for his extraordinary ability to spray line drives all over the field while rarely striking out. Gwynn spent his entire 20-season career with the San Diego Padres, accumulating over 3,000 hits and maintaining a remarkable .338 lifetime batting average, achievements that place him firmly among the game's all-time greats. His dedication to his craft, combined with his affable and humble nature, earned Gwynn the admiration of fans everywhere and cemented his place in baseball lore.