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Home Runs, BA, Hits, Runs, SB, RBI, Runs+RBI, OPS, H+BB+TB, H+BB+TB+SB-2*CS-.87*(AB-H)

Thanks to Mays, Aaron, and Bonds as well as a dozen sluggers in-between, ever since I was a kid the all-time home run list has been the most revered career total. Mays and Aaron moved Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams down to the four and five spots while Banks, Matthews, and especially Mantle approached them from just behind. Now that group has been knocked way down the list, while Bonds challenges the very top:


755 H. Aaron

717 Barry Bonds (June 14, ’06)

714 Babe Ruth

660 W. Mays

588 S. Sosa


586 F. Robinson

583 M. McGwire

573 H. Killebrew

569 R. Palmeiro

563 R. Jackson


548 M. Schmidt

547 K. Griffey Jr. (June 14, ’06)

536 M. Mantle

534 J. Foxx

521 W. McCovey


521 T. Williams

512 E. Banks

512 E. Matthews

511 M. Ott

504 E. Murray


493 L. Gehrig

493 F. McGriff

475 S. Musial

475 W. Stargell

465 D. Winfield


464 F. Thomas (June 14, ’06)

462 J. Canseco

453 G. Sheffield (June 14, ’06)

452 C. Yastrzemski

451 M. Ramirez (June 14, ’06)


451 J. Thome (June 14, ’06)

449 J. Bagwell

442 A. Rodriguez (June 14, ’06)

442 D. Kingman

438 A. Dawson


That is the top 35. You can see beyond Ruth, Ott, Williams, and Foxx, all of these men have played in the last 40 years. A high percentage of them are still playing or just retired. It is interesting Manny, Thome, Bagwell, and A-Rod are passed (or about to) Dave Kingman. Every Hall of Fame player higher than Kingman on this list is a member.


A hundred years ago when my grandparents were kids, Batting Average was the principle measuring tool for hitters.  This was before Babe Ruth changed the game. Although, even when I was young, Batting Average still had, at least, as much importance as home runs. Ty Cobb was 33 when Babe Ruth shocked the world with his 54 home runs as a newly full time right fielder and toast of New York. Cobb kept to his Batting Average dominance that has never been approached:


.367 T. Cobb

.358 R. Hornsby

.346 E. Delahanty

.345 T. Speaker

.344 W. Hamilton (Billy)

.344 T. Williams

. . .

.334 T. Gwynn

. . .

.323 V. Guerrero (June 14, ’06)


For many decades Cobb also held the all-time record for Hits, Runs scored, and the “modern” record for Stolen Bases - the other key career statistics of his era. Why Hits took on a greater notoriety than Runs, I don’t know, but here are the top leaders of each:



4256 P. Rose

4191 T. Cobb

3771 H. Aaron

3630 S. Musial

3514 T. Speaker

. . .

2863 C. Biggio (June 14, ’06)

2777 Barry Bonds (June 14, ’06)



2295 R. Henderson

2245 T. Cobb

2174 G. Ruth (Babe)

2174 H. Aaron

2165 P. Rose

2108 Barry Bonds (June 14, ’06)

2062 W. Mays

No one else is over 2000.


Stolen bases:

1406 R. Henderson

 938 L. Brock

 912 B. Hamilton

 892 T. Cobb

 808 T. Raines

. . .

 581 K. Loften (June 14, ’06)


Why is it that MVP voters of the last several decades consider RBI more important than any other statistic, yet pretty much disregard it when discussing career greatness? Top RBI leaders:


2297 H. Aaron

2213 G. Ruth

2076 A. Anson (Cap)

1995 L. Gehrig

1951 S. Musial


1938 T. Cobb

1922 J. Foxx

1917 E. Murray

1902 W. Mays

1881 Barry Bonds (June 15, ’06)


I gave you the top ten here since Bonds is there and so you can see that five of the top eight were primarily firstbasemen! Recently “done” Rafael Palmeiro is 14th on the list.


A list of most RBI and Runs combined makes more sense as an all around measure of greatness than either list alone. So:


4471 H. Aaron        

4387 G. Ruth                    +P

4183 T. Cobb                    CF

4072 A. Anson (Cap)

3989 Barry Bonds (June 15, ’06)


3965 W. Mays                    CF

3900 S. Musial

3883 L. Gehrig

3719 M. Ott

3673 J. Foxx


3660 C. Yastrzemski

3641 F. Robinson

3637 T. Williams

3544 E. Murray

3502 D. Winfield


3498 R. Palmeiro

3479 P. Rose                  2B-3B-OF

3468 H. Wagner                   SS

3411 T. Speaker                  CF

3410 R. Henderson


3342 C. Ripken                   SS

3334 A. Simmons

3253 R. Jackson

3205 A. Kaline

3201 C. Gehringer                2B


3186 M. Mantle                   CF

3178 G. Brett                    3B

. . .

3046 J. Bagwell

2996 K. Griffey (June 14, ’06)   CF

2925 G. Sheffield (June 14, ’06)

2859 F. Thomas (June 14, ’06)

2822 C. Biggio (June 14, ’06)    2B


I went to 27 on this list, because Gehringer and Brett were the top pure secondbaseman and thirdbasemen according to this stat. Only Rose was higher who played both. However, secondbasemen Hornsby, Collins, and Lajoie are 29, 30, and 31 on the list. Molitor is 34th.  Schmidt was right in-between at 32.  Other infielders close to this are Yount (37) and Matthews (42).


The active players listed at the end fall in a cluster, too, from 36th to 51st.


The top catchers would be much further down the list. Carlton Fisk had 2606 Runs + RBI, Berra 2565, Bench 2467, and Ted Simmons 2453.


Nowadays, the hitting measure most readily used by stat fans is OPS (which I denote as O+S). Of course, this measures frequency of success such as a batting average rather than an accumulation of success such as home run total. Well here are the top all-time O+S leaders:


1.159 G. Ruth                     +P

1.116 T. Williams

1.075 L. Gehrig

1.052 Barry Bonds (June 15, ’06)

1.034 J. Foxx


1.014 H. Greenberg

1.006 M. Ramirez (June 15, ’06)

1.000 R. Hornsby                  2B

 .992 F. Thomas (June 15, ’06)

 .982 M. McGwire


 .978 M. Mantle                   CF

 .976 J. Dimaggio                 CF

 .976 S. Musial

 .973 V. Guerrero (June 15, ’06)

 .973 J. Thome (June 15, ’06)


 .965 L. Walker

 .959 A. Rodriguez (June 15, ’06) 3B

 .958 J. Mize

 .957 Ja Giambi (June 15, ’06)

 .949 C. Delgado (June 15, ’06)


 .948 J. Bagwell

 .946 R. Kiner

 .944 W. Mays                     CF

 .943 M. Ott

 .936 T. Cobb                     CF


 .936 K. Griffey (June 15, ’06)   CF

 .936 C. Jones (June 15, ’06)  SS-3B-OF

 .933 A. Belle

 .933 E. Martinez

 .932 M. Piazza (June 15, ’06)     C


. . .

 .908 M. Schmidt                  3B

 .887 M. Cochrane                  C

 .879 C. Gehringer                3B

 .850 J. Cronin                   SS


Two more without enough at bats to officially qualify for this list (not sure what those qualifications are), who are 2nd and 3rd among active hitters:

1.045 Pujols (June 21, ’06)

1.034 Helton (June 21, ’06)


As you would expect with a rate measure, there is a disproportionate number of current players on this list, because they have not played in the decline phase of their careers which would bring them way down the list. Going back to the all-time top batting averages, though, it was the opposite. Vladimir Guerrero is currently 33rd on the all-time BA list.  No one else is in the top 50. Not until the 50-100 rankings will you find Jeter, Ramirez, Piazza, A-Rod, and Big Hurt. Obviously the style of the game as changed. Players have much more power, but don’t get nearly as many hits. I’m sure the reasons for this are complex, but I wonder if motivation to achieve excellence in the most revered statistics of the day is part of it. This reminds me of the story of Ty Cobb when pestered by the press about not hitting home runs like Babe Ruth, boasted that he could hit home runs if he wanted, then proceeded to hit four homers over the next two days.  Of course, more likely it is the other way around. Since hitting runs became such a more important talent, counting home runs and RBIs became more important.


What would a career totals list look like that was a career accumulation of getting On Base and Slugging? Most simply it would be Hits + BB + Total Bases:


12029 H. Aaron       

11574 P. Rose            2B-3B-OF

11363 S. Musial

11299 T. Cobb                  CF

10813 W. Mays                  CF


10803 C. Yastrzemski

10784 Barry Bonds (June 16, ’06)

10728 B. Ruth                  +P

 9996 T. Speaker               CF

 9885 E. Murray


 9833 R. Henderson

 9761 R. Palmeiro

 9736 F. Robinson

 9625 M. Ott

 9557 T. Williams


 9547 D. Winfield

 9481 C. Ripken                SS

 9294 G. Brett                 3B

 9289 L. Gehrig

 9267 P. Molitor            2B-3B-DH


 9240 H. Wagner                SS

 9136 A. Kaline

 9082 E. Collins               2B

 9054 J. Foxx

 8975 A. Anson


 8838 R. Yount                 SS-CF

 8793 R. Jackson

 8721 P. Waner                 SS

 8680 R. Hornsby               2B

 8659 M. Mantle


 8532 H. Baines

 8374 C. Biggio (June 16, ’06) 2B

. . .

 7294 C. Fisk                   C

 7120 T. Simmons                C


This career stat seems to do a good job of rewarding players who were good at positions other than the primary “hitting” position. You don’t have to hit as well at those other positions in order to continue playing in the majors. Meanwhile all those hits, walks, and extra bases from those extended years get accumulated. Still, when you think that some one such as Yaz is 6th on this list by extending his career a long time by playing first base at a level just barely over replacement level, this list becomes unsatisfactory. The ideal career stat would take out replacement levels of stat accumulation. That would be require a very complicated procedure of determining the replacement level for each year, each league, each position, and ideally each home stadium.


I don’t have the time or tools to do that. What would help would be to account for outs made in the process of accumulating all those walks, hits, and bases. So, I did just that – subtracted ABs and doubled the hits to account for the outs portion of the At Bats. That resulted in this top 10 (11 since there is a tie for 10th):


5202 GH Ruth                    +P

4284 Barry Bonds (June 15, ’06)

4505 T. Williams

4061 T. Cobb                    CF

4021 S. Musial


4009 L. Gehrig

3566 J. Foxx

3437 R. Hornsby                 2B

3436 H. Aaron

3315 T. Speaker                 CF

3315 W. Mays                    CF


This seems to be an excellent indication of all-time hitting greatness. However, does this look a little too slugger heavy? Is this a satisfying compromise between peak impact and career length? I only looked at the top 100 leaders in total bases and the numbers drop quite steadily. There were three of these players who only had 100-something points. I’ll guess there are no more than another 100 players who have between 100-500 points who were not in the top 100 of total bases, and maybe another 200 who have between 0-100. Everyone else comes out negative. Surely, there have been more than three to four hundred hitters in baseball who contributed overall to their teams’ line-ups during their career. If you start taking fractions of at bats and weighted factors on each type of hit, you could get more accurate, but you’re already getting too complicated for most people. However, we are not “most people”. So, I looked at the expected BA/OBA/SlgA of a typical replacement player at a typical position over the years. I used .250/.300/.350. In 100 At Bats, that would produce 65 H+BB+TB and 75 outs. If this level is worth 0, then an out is worth 65/75 of a base or .87.


And, while we are at it, let’s throw in a base for a stolen base and take two away for getting caught trying. An out committed trying to steal is more damaging than an out at the plate, as it has erased a base-runner. Now the only problem with this stat is that Caught Stealing was not recorded until about 75 years ago or so. To be fair as possible to those ancient warriors I gave an estimated 25% of the Stolen Base total for Caught Stealing of players who had, at least, 300 career Stolen Bases. Those who had less, I ignored as typically their SB success rate was not as good. Then in creating this final player offensive greatness list I ignored all Stolen Bases for players with less than a 67% success rate. Here are the top 75. Those players below with estimated Caught Stealing have an asterisk (*). ^ indicates 19th century star.


5920 GH Ruth                    +P

5353 Barry Bonds (June 15, ’06)

5300*T. Cobb                    CF

5152 T. Williams

4975 S. Musial


4695 L. Gehrig

4647 H. Aaron

4335 W. Mays                    CF

4328*T. Speaker                 CF

4279 J. Foxx


4119 R. Hornsby                 2B

3900 M. Ott

3788 M. Mantle                  CF

3691 R. Henderson

3641 F. Robinson


3559*E. Collins                 2B

3405 F. Thomas (June 15, ’06)

3377*H. Wagner                  SS

3348 C. Yastrzemski

3295 R. Palmeiro


3234 P. Waner

3204 J. Bagwell

3153 A. Simmons

3118 W. Boggs                   3B

3051 P. Rose                 2B-3B-OF


3109 H. Heilmann

3047 C. Gehringer               2B

3041 G. Brett                   3B

3007*A. Anson (Cap)^

3015 G. Sheffield (on June 15, ’06)


3008 E. Delahanty^

2999 K. Griffey, Jr.(on June 15, ’06)

2987 M. Ramirez (on June 15, ’06)

2979 E. Murray

2970 P. Molitor              2B-3B-DH


2958 A. Kaline

2956 J. Dimaggio

2925 L. Walker

2920 J. Burkett^

2911 T. Gwynn


2858 L. Goslin (Goose)

2833 N. Lajoie                  2B

2828 J. Morgan                  2B

2822 M. Schmidt                 38

2801 F. McGriff


2770 T. Raines

2711 D. Winfield

2685 E. Matthews                3B

2623*R. Connor^

2621 R. Carew                   2B-1B


2579 W. Williams (Billy)

2567 W. McCovey

2563 E. Snider (Duke)           CF

2534 G. Sisler

2515 H. Killebrew            3B-1B-OF


2498 R. Clemente

2497 R. Alomar

2426 S. Sosa

2421*S. Crawford

2404 W. Stargell


2383 M. Piazza (on June 17, ’06) C

2369 D. Evans

2302 S. Rice (not Jim 2228)

2288 C. Biggio (on June 17, ’06) 2B

2267 J. Medwick


After Piazza, probably no other catcher would even be in the top 100. I guess neither Bench nor Cochrane’s peaks lasted nearly as long as Piazza’s. Fisk wasn’t a comparable hitter. Ivan Rodriguez didn’t walk.  The ranking as far as offense goes: Cochrane leads the rest at 1919, Torre (who spent precisely half of his career catching) is at 1868, Berra, I-Rod, Simmons, and Bench are all in the 1700s,  Fisk is only 1646, and newly Hall elected Gary Carter was only 1322.


Notice Honus Wagner is the only shortstop on the list. Ripken comes very close (79th) with 2202. while Banks at 2103 and Yount at 2056 are very close behind him.


Of course, this is still not the ultimate greatness list. Lou Gehrig hit in a hitter’s era in a stadium possibly designed for him. It seems unfair he should be ahead of Hank Aaron with nearly as many points hitting mostly in a pitcher’s park in a pitcher’s era. Secondbaseman Hornsby played in a hitter’s era, while five rankings down is probably a better secondbaseman Collins who had to smack those dirty old baseballs of the century’s first decades. Besides equipment differences, park factors, there are differences in population of player pool, franchise expansion, coaching and training, etc. And, where is Ozzie? Of course, no direct defensive consideration is made. This is only career batting achievements in the context of the outs made in the process of accumulating bases. I welcome anyone trying to put those achievements in all those other contexts. I know some stats such as Win Shares have been devised to neutralize them as much as possible, but seem to have other deficiencies that I don’t wish to go into in this essay. In the meantime, I think this is a more satisfying look at how much the greatest hitters contributed to their teams’ offence than any single famous milestone list.

John Carter