Who is the Greatest Right Handed Hitter of All-Time? – Any time I hear the word GOAT in a sports conversation I am extremely interested to hear what people have to say. I personally feel declaring an athlete as the greatest of all time is nearly impossible. It is one of the most subjective topics in the sports world. We debate for and against players we have never seen play, the competition is completely different across time periods, and there have been so many changes to every single sport.
This is a conversation where the time period comes into play. On the career batting average list there are only 2 active players in the top 100 and none within the top 70. Greatest right handed hitter of all time is an interesting debate.
1900 – 1950 Candidates
Ty Cobb (1905 – 1928) – Ty Cobb holds the best career batting average of all time (.366) and is second to Pete Rose in all time hits with 4189.
Cobb only struck out in 3.12% of his at bats. This stat is absolutely remarkable considering Cobb had 11434 at bats. Being able to put the ball in play at such a high rate makes him a clear cut top candidate for greatest right handed hitter of all time.
Rogers Hornsby (1915 – 1937) – Rogers Hornsby comes in right behind Cobb at second on the all time batting average list (.358). Hornsby has 600 more RBIs and 180 more home runs than Cobb in around 3000 less at bats.
In 1924 Hornsby batted .424 and had a .507 on base percentage. Having a guy able to get on base in more than half of his plate appearances is remarkable.
1950 – 2000 Candidates
Hank Aaron (1954 – 1976) – Hank Aaron is the all-time RBI leader (2297), home run leader (755) amongst right handers and is 3rd on the all time hit list (2930).
Hank is one of the guys on this list who was able to hit for both power and contact. In his career he averaged 5.77 offensive wins above replacement which is extremely solid for any hitter.
However, in games that Aaron played in throughout his career his team only won 52.6% of the games he played in.
2000- 2021 Candidates
Mike Trout (2011 – 2021) – Trout is interesting because he is only 29 and here he is on my list. Trout has been top 5 in MVP voting every year besides his unofficial rookie season. Lots of people will say we cannot put someone who is not even halfway through their career in the conversation for greatest of all time.
I strongly disagree. Trout has 310 homeruns in just 11 seasons, one of which was shortened because of Covid and the current one which we are not even halfway through. Trout’s 162 game average is 29 and Barry Bonds’ is 31.
Out of every player on this list Trout has the highest 162 game total base average at 341.
Like I said from the start, discussing the greatest of all time for anything is extremely difficult. This debate is no different. In my opinion, currently, which is key, I would have to go with Ty Cobb.
Hank Aaron comes extremely close in my opinion. The reason I go with Cobb here is simply because as far as a pure hitter Cobb is just better in my opinion. Cobb had a nearly 5% lower strikeout rate than Aaron and when Cobb put the ball in play he batted .383 to Hank’s .291. Aaron was a different type of hitter than Cobb being able to hit the long ball at an outstanding rate. But, if you said to me pick one of these guys to have at the plate with two outs runner on 3rd in the bottom of the 9th I would go with Cobb.
With that being said I think in 10 years the answer will be clear cut. Mike Trout is on pace to become one of the greatest hitters of all time, not just right handers. Trout is just entering the prime of his career and if we see Trout able to make some postseason appearances we will be able to talk about him as the greatest MLB player of all time not just hiter or righty.
For this specific question I think by the time Trout’s career comes to a close there will be no question he is the greatest right handed hitter of all time. He rarely misses games due to injury and is one of the most dynamic and feared hitters in the league today.
So, for now I will stick with Cobb. I am fairly confident that Trout will convincingly take over this spot sooner rather than later.