Monday, May 25, 2020

The Contact Hitters that Shaped Baseball Since the 60's 5/25/20

Hey baseball fans!

Although batting averages have decreased on average ever since Hall of Famers like Ted Williams and Stan Musial retired, there are a number of notable contact hitters of the last 60 years that I'd like to point out. Yes, I am aware of the "Chicks Dig the Long Ball" philosophy, which states that homers are the quickest and easiest way to score runs and win games (which is exactly how I manage my franchises on MLB The Show 20) but, as I've said before, batting averages keep innings going. So, let's look at some of the best hit collectors since the 1960's.

Tony Gwynn
Mr. Padre and Captain Video, two of the most underwhelming nicknames for a Hall of Famer, but nicknames that are well-deserved by the 15-time All Star. Gwynn is the best hitter the San Diego Padres franchise has ever seen, contributing immensely to both of the Friars' NL pennant-winning seasons of 1984 and 1998. But to get statistical, Gwynn was the king of watching tapes of opposing pitchers and ball placement, giving him a career batting average of .338, the highest lifetime batting average of the latter half of the 20th century. Gwynn won eight batting titles (four of them consecutive when he was ages 34-37) and finished his career from 1982-2001 with 3,141 hits.

Wade Boggs
One of the greatest hitters in Red Sox history, which is certainly saying something, Boggs began his career in Fenway with five batting titles in his first seven years. He would go on to post a .328 lifetime batting average with 3,010 hits. He was a 12-time All Star who was so feared as a contact hitter that he led the AL in intentional walks for six consecutive seasons from 1987-1992. In his 18 Major League seasons, Boggs only batted under .300 in a season three times.

Rod Carew
Carew is one of my favorite hitters and Hall of Famers in baseball history because he's the greatest contact hitter in the history of two different franchises. From 1967-1978 with the Twins, he averaged 174 hits a season and never missed an All Star Game. With the Angels from 1979-1985, despite injuries, he posted a batting average of .314. One of the greatest hitters to never win a World Series, Carew finished his career with 18 All Star years, a .328 batting average, and 3,053 hits.

George Brett
You can't talk about the 1980s in baseball without mentioning Mike Schmidt's third baseman AL counterpart, along with Wade Boggs, of course, but Brett and Schmidt each won the MVP in 1980 and faced off in the 1980 World Series, so the two are pretty comparable. The best hitter in Royals history, Brett collected 3,154 career hits in 21 years from 1973-1993 and posted a .305 batting average during the span. That 1980 year in particular was his best, batting an astounding .390 while leading the AL in OPS (1.118). He couldn't help Kansas City vanquish the Phillies in 1980, but he did help the Royals win the franchise's first World Series five years later.

Kirby Puckett
Easily the most underrated hitter in this post, Puckett was an unstoppable force in the hitting department from 1984-1995, averaging a staggering 192 hits in his tenure with the Twins. He posted a .318 batting average that could've been better had he not retired early due to health concerns. Ironically, though, it's his walk-off home run in Game Six of the 1991 World Series that is his most memorable moment, a moment that only heightens the status of the '91 Series as one of the greatest ever.

Derek Jeter
A lot of people would say that Jeter is the best contact hitter I'm including in this post, even though I think it's Gwynn just based off of career batting average, but Jeter was the man. He's sixth all time in career hits at 3,465, while his .310 lifetime batting clip ain't too shabby, either. The reason why Jeter is so highly-regarded is his leadership of five World Series championship teams and 14 All Star appearances. He never won a batting title, but he led the AL in hits twice (in 1999 with 219 and in 2012 with 216).

Before I end this post, I'd like to give a quick shout-out to Vladimir Guerrero, who batted .318 lifetime, but wasn't included in this post because he had some pop in his bat, too. Still, though, what a batting average! Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

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