What makes a great MLB hitter? Is it power? Is it contact? There are many intangibles to take into consideration when putting together a ranking of the best hitters. Especially when you have so many consistent and efficient sluggers nowadays.
Obviously, we could all put together a list of the best hitters in the world and no one could argue our judgment, as there are just too many stats and metrics to compile the best among the best.
However, if you take a deeper look at all the stats that matter, both traditional and advanced, you may be on to something. That’s why today, we put together the ultimate ranking of the top 25 mosts dominating MLB hitters of the decade:
Note: for obvious reasons, we’re not counting players with fewer than 810 games played over the decade, so that would take out stars like Aaron Judge or Yoenis Céspedes.
25. Adrián González
Adrián González’ didn’t finish off the decade the way he would’ve wanted after being released by the New York Mets in 2018 but still, he had a hell of a run as one of the most powerful hitters in the world.
González posted a batting average of .287, slugging percentage of .485, OPS of .843, and OPS+ of 129. He also hit 180 home runs and led the league in hits in 2011, winning a couple of Silver Sluggers in the meantime.
24. Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun has made 5,336 plate appearances in the decade with 241 home runs and 811 RBIs. He’s quickly climbing the ladder as one of baseball’s biggest stars since winning the MVP award back in 2011.
His career .533 slugging percentage demonstrates how well he’s been able to hit both for power and average and lead a Brewer’s offense that has lacked more talent for years. Also, he always comes huge when his team needs him the most.
23. Justin Turner
Justin Turner has posted an OPS+ of 128 through a decade, which is tied for the 23rd best in Major League Baseball ever since. Also, he’s earned a reputation for being incredibly productive and clutch in the postseason.
He’s not much of a power hitter but his ability to make contact has taken the Dodgers out of hundreds of bad situations. Thus far, he holds a .292 batting average on the decade with just 554 strikeouts in 3,805 plate appearances.
22. Prince Fielder
Not so long ago, Prince Fielder was considered to be one of the most powerful hitters in the world. However, most pitchers couldn’t do anything to keep him on hold, as they also had to deal with Miguel Cabrera either before or after him.
Fielder was a master at taking balls out of the dirt and knocking them out of every ballpark. He had 159 home runs over a 6-year span and was a two-time Silver Slugger from 2011 to 2016. Also, he was incredibly durable, playing all 162 games for three straight seasons.
21. Buster Posey
Buster Posey isn’t human. There’s nothing you could tell me to convince me otherwise, as there’s no way on earth a catcher with over 8,300 innings behind the plate could be as durable and productive as him when it came to hitting.
Posey won the MVP in 2012 after averaging .336/.408/.549 on a league-leading 171 OPS+ and hasn’t taken his feet off the gas ever since, posting an OPS+ of over 108 on every season but the last one.
20. Matt Holliday
Matt Holliday had 4,343 plate appearances on the decade and struck out 756 times but he had 1,066 hits, which is 22nd best among qualifying players over that span. He’s flirted with .300 while hitting over 300 home runs and 2,000 hits per his career.
Most importantly, Holliday is bouncing back from his failed stint with the New York Yankees by helping carry the offensive load for the struggling Colorado Rockies. He also batted for .435 with a .652 SLG to lead the Cardinals to the World Series in 2011.
19. Albert Pujols
Don’t get me wrong, I actually think Albert Pujols is a top-3 hitter in the history of the game. This is by no means disrespect towards him, it’s just that he’s slow down a bit during the second half of the decade. That’s why he’s not ranked higher.
The lone fact that Pujols is still on this list after 19 years should tell you just enough about his resume. He led the league in homers, RBIs, and intentional walks in 2010, and even though he hasn’t been the same lately, he deserves his spot on this list.
18. Robinson Canó
Robinson Canó’s name and legacy suffered a major bump due to his recent PED use scandal but his numbers are still official and thus, we can’t objectively take him out of this ranking.
He ranks first in hits this decade with 1,695, 4th in runs scored (828), 1st in doubles (363), and 4th in RBIs (878) while being 18th in strikeouts (830) among 29 qualifying players. He could’ve been considered a top-5 hitter of the decade if it weren’t for the aforementioned reasons.
17. J.D. Martínez
J.D. Martínez had an MVP-caliber season back in 2018 but you know how reluctant media is to give the award to designated hitters. Still, he ranks 8th in OPS+ in the decade (138), 11th in home runs (231), despite striking out the 8th most among qualifying players (1,070).
Martínez is one of the most powerful hitters in the world and has won 3 Silver Sluggers over the decade while batting .294. He led the league in RBIs (130) and Total Bases (358) back in 2018 and will now have the huge responsibility of lifting the Red Sox’s offense without Mookie Betts.
16. Edwin Encarnación
Edwin Encarnación has struggled mightily with injuries lately but there’s no denying that he’s one of the deadliest hitters in the league, as you can tell by his OPS+ of 134 during a 9-year span, which would be 15th among qualifying players.
He’s made the 6th most plate appearances (5,764) and while his .264 batting average is far from impressive, his .519 slugging percentage surely makes up for it. Also, he led the American League with 127 RBIs in 2016 and has had 8 30+ home run seasons over that span.
15. Adrián Beltré
Adrián Beltré had .307 batting average from 2010-18, which would rank 3rd higher among all qualifying players. He did so while making 5,253 plate appearances and only striking out 648 times, which tells you just enough about how much of a badass he was on every at-bat.
Beltré won 4 Silver Slugger awards with 801 RBIs (8th best) over an 8-year span. Also, he never had a batting average of less than .287 in the decade, led the league in hits (199) in 2013. He still had a lot left in the tank when he decided to retire, for sure.
14. Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen was one of the most dominant five-tool players of the early 2010s. He’s cooled off a bit since leaving the Pittsburgh Pirates, for sure, but his ability to make contact, speed, and athleticism made him a huge threat as a base-runner.
He won the MVP in 2013 and finished in the top 5 for four straight seasons, while also winning 4 Silver Slugger awards. He also posted an OPS+ of 135 with a .286 batting average and 1,540 hits (4th best).
13. Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson didn’t get off to the best start of the decade but has quickly climbed the ladder recently as a huge threat in the plate. He’s won 1 MVP with a couple of Silver Slugger awards and while he may not be the most efficient batters, he sure is a top-tier base-runner.
Donaldson has scored 652 runs with 219 home runs, 226 doubles, 12 triples, and averages of .273/.369/.509 and he led the league in runs scored (122) and RBIs (123) in 2015 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
12. Christian Yelich
Christian Yelich sits at the 12th spot among qualifying players with an OPS+ of 137 since entering the league in 2013 and is pretty clear to tell why he’s quickly become one of the fan favorites and most impactful players.
Despite playing just 6 years, he’s already 6th in the league with 24 triples to go along with 209 doubles, 139 home runs, and 500 RBIs. He won one MVP and finished in second place last season despite leading the NL in average, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ for the second straight year.
11. Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper hasn’t been around for as long as most of the players on this list but you can already tell he’s a game-changer. He won the MVP in just his fourth season in Major League Baseball and hasn’t cooled off ever since.
Harper is a major threat in the plate and led the league in walks with 130 in 2018. He’s been intentionally walked 81 times in the decade. Thus far, he’s posted an OPS+ of 137 with 19 triples, 635 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .512.
10. José Bautista
It’s crazy to think that José Bautista can’t make an MLB roster at this point in his career, considering he was one of the most deadly hitters in the league for years. Perhaps there’s much more than what we’re just being told here.
I mean, this guy posted an OPS+ of 137, led the league in home runs twice (including a 54 homer season), with two seasons of a slugging percentage above .610 and a league-leading OPS of 182. He also won 3 Silver Slugger awards over that span before his downfall.
9. Freddie Freeman
Freddie Freeman hasn’t found the success he should’ve already because of how poorly managed the Atlanta Braves were during his early years. Still, he embraced his role as the face of the franchise and turned them around with his impressive offense.
Freeman’s unorthodox stance has proven to be quite effective thus far, as he’s posted an OPS+ of 137 with 227 home runs, 805 RBIs, and averages of .293/.379/504 with one Silver Slugger award.
8. David Ortiz
The only reason why David Ortiz didn’t make the top 5 is that he retired in 2016. Still, he ranks 4th in OPS+ with a shocking 151, while being intentionally walked 119 times (3rd best) in 4,036 plate appearances. He was just a menace.
Big Papi posted averages of .292/.383/.562 and had 700 RBIs in just 957 games played during the decade. He won 3 of his 7 Silver Sluggers awards over that span and will go down as one of the greatest DHs in baseball history.
7. Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz ranks 7th in OPS+ among qualifying players with 138 and while some people may be shocked to see him ranked this high in our list, he’s been by far one of the most efficient and consistent hitters in all baseball for years.
Also, the Dominican slugger hit 346 home runs during the decade, the most among all players on this list. All that while maintaining a .286 batting average. He does have 1,302 strikeouts (2nd), though.
6. Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt never won an MVP because he didn’t play for a bigger market but he was a bad man, for sure, especially during the first half of the decade, as you can tell by his 141 OPS+ since 2011.
Goldschmidt ranks 6th in runs scored (806), 7th in home runs (243), 6th in RBIs (807), and 5th in walks (733). He’s also a 4-time Silver Slugger and finished in the MVP’s top-3 voting 3 times on his career.
5. Giancarlo Stanton
We can talk non-stop about how Giancarlo Stanton has underperformed for the New York Yankees thus far but there’s no denying that he’s one of the most dominant hitters in MLB history, let alone this past decade.
The former MVP ranks 5th in OPS+ with 144, 3rd in home runs (308), 9th in RBIs (785), and third in slugging percentage (.547). On a less positive note, he’s also 1st in strikeouts with 1,375, which has been the biggest issue with him aside from his injuries.
4. Joey Votto
Even though he’s always among the league’s leaders in almost every single category it still feels as if we don’t talk enough about Joey Votto but truth to be told, he’s been a synonym of consistency and production since the start of the decade.
He started off the decade with an MVP campaign and has led the league in OBP 7 times and 5 times in walks ever since. Also, his 152 OPS+ is ranked 3rd among qualifying players. He has 1,532 hits and ranks 1st in OBP with .428.
3. José Altuve
José Altuve’s MVP campaign will always have an asterisk next to it due to the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal. However, stats prove that he didn’t actually benefit from their sign-stealing, believe it or not.
Altuve isn’t exactly a power-hitter and was a bit of a late bloomer, but he’s become a nightmare for opposing pitchers with his batting average of .315. He’s won 5 Silver Sluggers and 3 Batting Titles in just 8 years as a full-time player.
2. Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera has drawn a lot of criticism for the huge deal he signed with the Detroit Tigers as he’s struggled with injuries lately. It seems like people forget he's the first player in 45 years to win the batting triple-crown, and the last one to do it.
Cabrera is one of the best 5 hitters in baseball history. He ranks first in average last decade with .317 and intentional walks (144) to go along with 268 home runs, 941 RBIs, and an OPS+ of 153 while just striking out 936 times (14th best). He also won 5 Silver Slugger awards and 2 MVPs this decade before his production took a major dip due to age and injuries.
1. Mike Trout
And obviously, Mike Trout sits at the top of yet another ranking. Even though he’s just been around since 2011, there are still serious considerations about if whether Trout is already the greatest baseball player in history. And while he lacks the World Series’ rings to back that statement, he’s surely put together quite a resume.
He’s 1st in OPS+ with 176 (which is also the 5th best ever), 1st in runs (903), slugging percentage (.581), OPS (1.000), and triples (46), while being 3rd in walks (803) and 5th in batting average (.305). He’s already a 3-time MVP, 7-time Silver Slugger, and has led the league in OPS 6 times in 9 years. Also, he’s never finished out of the top-5 in MVP voting since his sophomore year.