The Greatest Sluggers In MLB History Are Going, Going, Gone!
In Major League Baseball, one of the best ways to determine how powerful a hitter is is to look at their slugging percentage. The statistic was designed to measure a slugger’s productivity by looking at their total number of bases and comparing it to their at-bats.
By looking at doubles, triples, and home runs, slugging percentage gives us the best overall look at a batter’s skillset. These are the league’s greatest sluggers of all-time according to slugging percentage!
The only Canadian born player to make this list is Larry Walker. His MLB career spanned 17 seasons with three different teams. Three times he won the Silver Slugger Award and was named an All-Star five times.
His career numbers are simply incredible – Walker retired with a .313 batting average and .400 on-base percentage. He also slugged 383 career home runs, drove in 1,311 RBIs and recorded over 2,000 hits. We’d call that a pretty prolific career!
Mark McGwire is one of the more controversial figures to be on this list. He played during the “Steroid Era,” and at one time set the home run record. He retired with 583 long bombs with a .5882 slugging percentage.
In his rookie campaign, Big Mac hit 49 home runs, which set the record at the time. He was voted to the All-Star game 12 times, won two World Series championships, and was named to the MLB All-Century Team.
Manny Ramirez was a one-man show during his MLB career. His career .312 batting average and 555 home runs speak for themselves. Perhaps his single biggest accomplishment was setting the single-season RBI record in 1999 at 165.
Ramirez started his career with the Cleveland Indians before moving to Boston and then Los Angeles. In LA, the Manny Ramirez show became known as Mannywood. In 2011, after a 19 season career, Ramirez retired, leaving an incredible legacy behind.
What can we say about Hank Aaron that hasn’t already been said? Retiring after a 21 season career with 755 career home runs and nearly 4,000 hits, Aaron is unquestionably one of the greatest hitters of all-time.
Amazingly, Aaron only won the World Series once in his prolific career. He did lead the league four times in runs batted in, however, and earned his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 and is still the gold standard for hitters today.
Born in Southampton, New York in 1939, Carl Yastrzemski was one of the best sluggers of his generation. His MLB debut came in the same year he turned 18-years-old and turned the baseball world on its head instantly.
Yastrzemski’s best year saw him crush 44 home runs. While that number might not seem like a lot today, it was quite impressive back then. He retired with 452 career home runs and was a no-question hall of famer.
One of six MLB stars to retire with a slugging percentage of .600, Babe Ruth’s place in history was never in doubt. He was the original home run king, and still holds the MLB career record for slugging percentage.
Ruth retired in 1935 as a member of the Boston Braves. His career batting average is a staggering .342 still has us impressed today. He made his name with the Yankees, but also played for the Red Sox early as a pitcher.
If you thought Babe Ruth’s career batting average was impressive, you must have forgotten about Ted Williams. The slugging monster retired after 19 seasons with a .344 batting average and a .6338 slugging percentage.
A career full of accolades saw Williams be named an All-Star 19 times, win six AL batting titles, and two Triple Crowns. Williams played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox, and despite being one of the all-time greats of the game, never won a World Series.
Lou Gherig was nicknamed the “Iron Horse” during his career, which he played entirely with the New York Yankees. His .6324 slugging percentage is the third-best in the history of the game, which is impressive for someone who spent 17 seasons in the league.
Gherig was named an All-Star seven times and knocked in 1,995 career runs batted in. He was named to both the MLB All-Century Team and MLB All-Time Team along with Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
Roger Hornsby finished his storied 23 season MLB career with a .5765 slugging percentage. He played for four different teams and performed like a Hall of Famer with all of them. In 1924 he set the MLB single-season batting average record at .424.
Overall, Hornsby had 2,930 career hits and a .358 career batting average, which is second all-time to Ty Cobb. He won two NL MVP awards, one World Series championship, and led the NL in batting average seven times.
A true icon of the game, Willie Mays played almost his entire career with the Giants. He was with the team while they played in New York, and then helped them transition to San Francisco. At the end of his career, he returned to New York and played for the Mets.
Mays was named an All-Star 22 times and retired with a .5575 slugging percentage. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 and was named to the MLB All-Century Team and the MLB All-Time Team.
For how incredible his career was, it’s surprising to us that Jimmie Foxx is celebrated more. He played for 20 seasons, spending time with the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia A’s, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago Cubs.
While he played for the A’s and Red Sox he hit 30 home runs in 12 consecutive seasons. He also had a run of 13 straight seasons with 100 runs batted in! When he retired he was the second player in the history of the game with more than 500 home runs.
Like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds finished his career as one of the most controversial sluggers of all-time. Celebrated by Giants’ fans as an icon of the game, a steroid scandal rocked his reputation the rest of the baseball world.
By the time he retired, Bonds was the home run king, having blasted 762 career bombs. He also owned the single-season home run record with 73. Still, his place in the Hall of Fame has never been promised thanks to his involvement with the “steroid era.”
Hank Greenberg was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956 with 85% of the vote. He had the sixth highest slugging percentage all-time at .6050.
He was a two-time World Series champion, two-time AL MVP, four-time AL RBI leader, and five-time All-Star. He was the first Jewish superstar to be on an American sports team and made national headlines when he refused to play baseball on Yom Kippur.
Joe DiMaggio holds what is considered one of the MLB’s unbreakable records with 56 consecutive games with a hit. The closest any player in the modern era has gotten was Pete Rose in 1978 with 44 games.
Of course, that hitting streak wasn’t the only thing DiMaggio accomplished in his career. He retired with 2,214 hits, 1,537 runs batted in, and 361 home runs. He was also named an All-Star every season he played and was elected into the Hall of Fame with a 90 percent vote in 1955.
Mike Trout isn’t even 30-years-old and easily earns a place on this list with one of the most historic starts to an MLB career of all-time. With career slugging percentage close to .600, Trout has the chance to become the greatest hitter of his generation if he isn’t already.
The Angels are sure hoping he continues to ascend. The team made him the wealthiest player in the history of the game when they extended his contract in 2019, upping his monetary total to $426 million!
When Albert Belle played he was one of the most consistent players a team could ask for. He was always good, sometimes great, and never bad. Belle was the first player to sign a contract worth more than $10 million a season and hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in 1995
For nine straight years, Belle knocked in over 100 RBIs. He retired with a career .5638 slugging percentage, ranking him 13th all-time in MLB history. Shockingly, Belle has not yet been elected in the Hall of Fame.
Johnny Mize spent 15 seasons in an MLB, although he spent three of those seasons in the military. That means that Mize technically only had a 12-year career, making his .5620 career slugging percentage even more impressive.
Playing for the New York Yankees, Mize won five consecutive World Series championships and collected over 2,000 hits. He was sent into the Hall of Fame in 1981, having more than earned it with his hard-nosed play.
During his peak, few hitters were as feared as Juan Gonzalez. He hit 40 home runs in five different seasons and drove in over 100 runs eight times. He retired with a career slugging percentage of .5607.
Gonzalez won six Silver Slugger awards, was elected to three All-Star games and was twice named the American League MVP. Over the course of his career, if he played in 162 games every season, he averaged 42 home runs and 135 runs batted in!
Stan Musial spent the entirety of his 22 season MLB career with the St. Louis Cardinals. When called it quits, Musial had a career .5591 slugging percentage. When he left the game, Musial was considered one of, if not the greatest player ever.
How did Musial get that reputation? His 475 career home runs place him second behind Mel Ott (like we said, at the time), and he also held the record for hits with 3,620. His 1,951 runs batted in was also an MLB record.
One of the greatest switch hitter MLB has ever seen, Mickey Mantle retired with a .5568 career slugging percentage. His batting average hovers just under .300 and his 2,415 hits put him in rarified air.
Mantle was named an All-Star 20 times, won the Triple Crown in 1956, and led the American League in home runs four times. Did we mention he also won seven World Series Championships because he just hated losing that badly!
Known as “the Big Hurt” Frank Thomas was one of the most powerful sluggers of his generation. He finished his career with 521 home runs and 1,704 runs batted in. He was also walked an astounding 1,667 times!
While he was known mostly for his power, he also had enough prowess to get on base. His career batting average is over .3000 and he recorded 2,468 hits. In 2014 Thomas was rewarded for his career with an induction into the MLB Hall of Fame.
Perhaps the most controversial player in major league history is Alex Rodriguez. His power was undeniable, and neither were the steroids he used to aid him. Even without help, Rodriguez could have been one of the game’s all-time greats. With “help” he pushed himself into top-five territory.
Alex Rodriguez will probably never make the Hall of Fame, but he did earn $500 million over the course of his career. He retired with 696 home runs and 2,086 runs batted in. Today, he works as a baseball analyst for ESPN.
It took Albert Pujols a long time to slow for. For what seemed like forever in his career, it seemed like he would hit over .300 with 100 plus RBIs and 40 or more home runs. By the mid-30s, however, his bat was as dangerous.
Don’t be fooled though, he could still knock any pitch out of the park, he just wasn’t getting on base at the same clip. A sure-fire Hall of Famer, the next piece of the puzzle for Pujols is to reach 700 home runs. He already has over 3,000 hits.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Ken Griffey Jr. is undeniably one of the greatest hitters to ever step in the box. If anything held back the slugger during his career, it was a knack for injuries. After leaving Seattle to play for Cincinnati, Griffery Jr. fell victim to the injury bug.
Still, despite the injuries, he retired with 630 home runs. If he had stayed healthy his entire career who knows how much higher that number might have been! He is also one of the only athletes to play at the same time as his father.
Fred McGriff made his major league debut at a still young 22-years-old on May 17. 1986. The career that followed was nothing short of spectacular. Playing for several teams over the course of the next 19 seasons, McGriff retired with 493 home runs.
When he was asked why he loved winning so much in 1998, McGriff replied, “The bottom line is I enjoy winning. Losing is no fun. As long as you step out on to that field and you’ve got a fighting chance to win, that’s all you can ask for.”
Dale Murphy was even younger than Fred McGriff when he debuted. Just 20-years-old, he was an instant hit, literally. By the time he called it quits, Murphy had knocked 398 baseballs over the wall. He was a true one-man-show.
Speaking of Murphy, Nolan Ryan once said, “I can’t imagine Joe DiMaggio was a better all-around player than Dale Murphy.” Hank Aaron wasn’t shy to praise the star either, “Dale is probably the best all-around player in either league, probably the most valuable commodity in baseball right now.”
Dan D’Addona once wrote this about Andrew Dawson, “Determination made Andre Dawson a great player – determination to come back after more than a dozen knee operations, determination to show baseball how overlooked he was during his first 11 years playing north of the border, determination to become one of the most well-rounded players in the game’s history.”
Fighting through the pain, Dawson crushed 438 career home runs, setting himself apart from his teammates. It was his ability to endure pain and still perform at an elite level that earns him a place on this list.
After 21 seasons grinding away in Major League Baseball, Eddie Murray collected 504 home runs. He was one of the best of his era and was lucky enough to play the sport he loved over two decades.
Cal Ripken Jr., the legendary infielder for the Orioles heaped this praise on Murray in Sports Illustrated, “Eddie (Murray) was a huge part of the success of the Orioles for a lot of years. He was a great player and a great teammate. He went out and did his job every day.”
Speaking with The Sporting News, Dave Winfield once made this observation about his career, “Last year (1978) I became a lot more patient. I learned the strike zone a lot better and I realized that sometimes it’s better to take a walk than make an out on a bad pitch.”
While not every player is capable of making that adjustment, it clearly made a huge difference to the very large Winfield. He retired with over 3,000 hits and 465 runs batted in. And 1,216 walks, of course.
George Foster began his MLB career in 1969 with the San Francisco Giants before becoming a star with the New York Mets. In 18 seasons, he got nearly 2,000 hits and knocked 348 balls over the fence. Not bad for one of the league’s smaller players at the time.
Sparky Anderson was a fan, too, telling Baseball Digest, “If (George) Foster would have been playing with the Dodgers in the ’50’s they wouldn’t have had to tear down Ebbets Field. George would have demolished it with shots off his bat.”
Jim Rice was played his entire career for the Boston Red Sox. In those 20 seasons, he recorded 2,452 hits to go along with 382 home runs. While those numbers are undoubtedly great, they could have been even greater.
Ted Williams was a big fan of Rice, and believed that the player never got enough time on the field. If he had, who knows how many records he would have crushed. Maybe even the home run record!
Boog Powell was a large man. One look at his arms and you would think twice about starting a fight with him or even challenge him to an arm-wrestling match. His muscles weren’t just for show though, they also helped him hit monster home runs.
Powell played in MLB for 17 seasons and hit 339 home runs. He would have hit even more if he hadn’t gotten injured in his final season, where he only played in 50 games and stepped up to the plate 41 times.
It wasn’t until after he passed away that Chuck Klein was recognized by the MLB Hall of Fame. Michael Francis wrote about the fallacy, “It was unfortunate that it took the Hall of Fame until 1980, well after his (Chuck Klein) death on March 28, 1958, to recognize his greatness. But no longer does he go unnoticed for his greatness, and the plaque in Cooperstown is testament to that.”
Klein was 23-years-old when he debuted and didn’t hang up his glove until he was 40. In that time he amassed over 2,000 hits and 200 home runs.
Perhaps the greatest hitting outfielders of all-time, Johnny Bench is a legend in Cincinnati, and in MLB history. His final numbers might not put him up there with some others, but his 389 home runs and 2,048 hits is nothing to laugh at.
Nick Acocella once said, “Trained by his father Ted to throw 254 feet – twice the distance from home plate to second base – from a crouch, (Johnny) Bench boasted that he could, ‘throw out any runner alive.”
Ted Kluszewski never took his hitting ability for granted, “How hard is hitting? You ever walk into a pitch-black room full of furniture that you’ve never been in before and try to walk through it without bumping into anything? Well, it’s harder than that.”
Hitting looks easy if you’ve never tried it yourself, but step into the batter’s box and watch the ball whiz past you at 90 miles per hour and you might just understand what this legendary hitter was saying.
Greg Luzinski was not a small man, but he had quick hands. And when you have quick hands, it doesn’t matter how big you are because you can still get to the ball in a split-second and hit a home run.
Phil Elderkin of The Christian Science Monitor described it this way, “At 225 pounds he (Greg Luzinski) is a doorway and a half. They could hold the Winter Olympics on his shoulders, balance Rhode Island on his knees, and plug up leaky dams with his feet.”
Richie Allen played 15 seasons in Major League Baseball, starting his career with the Phillies and ending it with the Athletics. In that time he crushed 351 home runs, earning his spot in baseball history as one of the sports great sluggers.
Will Stargell was a fan, telling Baseball Digest, “Now I know why they boo Richie all the time. When he hits a home run, there’s no souvenir.” The quote was given after one especially monstrous home run was hit by Allen.
Roger Maris is mostly known for one feat – hitting 61 home runs in a season and breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record. Maris might not have the most storied career, but it was still a pretty great one.
Mickey Mantle recalled, “When he (Roger Maris) hit it (home run #61 in 1961), he came into the dugout and they were all applauding. I mean, this is something that’s only happened once in baseball, right? And the people were all applauding.”
Ernie Banks retired from MLB with 512 career home run and 2,583 hits. He was one of the game’s most exciting players but never got to show off his electricity in the World Series. Had he been on better teams who knows how history would look at his legacy.
Pitcher Goose Gossage said, “It’s a shame that a lot of GREAT ballplayers never even got a chance to play in the World Series. Players like Ernie Banks. I heard him say once that he’ll always have an open feeling in his heart because of not playing in a World Series.”
Few players have been named as appropriately as Hack Wilson. He played for the New York Giants and made his debut at 23-years-old. Born in 1900, we doubt his parents knew their baby would grow up to be one of the greatest hitters of his era.
Wilson’s career was relatively short compared to others on this list, but he managed to make the most of it. He retired with 24 home runs and the respect of his peers and fans. Did we mention he hit 56 home runs in his eighth season in the league?