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6/20/2007 12:03:00 PM
Mattingly's Five Best Hitters
Manny Ramirez is a career .313 hitter.
Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images
By Richard Deitsch, SI.com
Cover your ears, Yankee fans: Don Mattingly says the best right-handed hitter he's ever seen is a Red Sox. "There's really nowhere to pitch to Manny Ramirez," says the Yankees' bench coach. "He's solid mechanically, he can hit the fastball, he'll hit the ball the other way, and he'll hit the breaking ball. Honestly, I think Manny is probably the best right-handed hitter I've ever seen."
Mattingly, who finished with a .307 career batting average, is a connoisseur of fine hitting. Here, he offers SI.com the five best hitters, in no particular order, he's seen from the start of his pro career in 1982:
1. Manny Ramirez: You can't just go pitch to him one way and think, 'Oh, you can get him here.' You've got to get him off balance somehow, and that's a very hard thing to do.
2. Edgar Martinez: He's right up there with the great right-handed hitters. He's tough to get out. Edgar seemed like he was always driving in big runs. I always look at the RBI guys. Guys that drive in runs, hit for average and power, well, they hurt you bad.
3. George Brett: You feared him. You looked at him as a guy that could hurt you in RBI situations. He could get a hit when he needed one. And he could get a hit the other way if he had to, even off a lefty. Then if you came in and tried to mess with him inside, he could hurt you deep.
4. Paul Molitor: One of the best hiitters I've ever seen. He didn't feel dangerous, but he was going to hurt you with hits.
5. Rickey Henderson: Maybe the player that impacted the game as much as anybody. He really changed the game. When he was going, he would walk and steal second and then he could go deep on you. He's another guy with great mechanics that was tough to get out. But I don't want to leave out guys like Dave Winfield and Cecil Cooper. They were great hitters. Even Derek Jeter. Jete is dangerous. He's one of those guys that always gets big hits.
Agree with Mattingly? Give us your list of the game's best hitters since '82.
1. Tony Gwynn 2. Mike Piazza (.362 one year as a Catcher for crying out loud!) 3. Jack Clark (for 3 years-the scariest bat in MLB) 4. John Olerud 5. Wade Boggs (not just the President; but a member too)
I know that this is a very subjective question. But has Don Matingly ever seen Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, or Barry Bonds play? You'd certainly think so considering he came up in the early 80s. I don't see how in the world Rickey Henderson makes his list before the likes of Gwynn or Boggs. Imagine how many hits those two would have had if they had Rickey's speed! More contemporary players that he could have included are Ken Griffey Jr, A-Rod, and Ichiro.
You guys keep saying Boggs. Did he ever scare anyone. Did an opposing manager ever say "don't let Boggs beat you". Don't think so. Keep the players that were good for 3 years off the list please...Jack Clark. I agree Piazza was dangerous while he was on the juice. John Olerud, c'mon dude! Barry Bonds juice or no juice could be on the list. I think Donnie baseball could be on the list. For 8-10 years they guy was a stud.
Donny has always been an AL guy obviously, so his picks are all guys who played at least mostly in the AL. Carew was toast by '82, half of Ichiro's hits are infield hits & Boggs was a singles machine. The Don is looking for a solid average/tough out/extra base hit threat/clutch hitter. But I'd take a healthy Mattingly over anybody....
So the best hitters came from the old AL East (with the exception of Brett) or were team-mates of Mattingly. He needs to get his head out his Pinstriped butt!! How can you leave out Gwynn and Boggs out of his list. What about George Bell..he played in the AL East?
Okay now that the Manny stats have been updated there is no way that Tony Gwynn or Wade Boggs should be left off of this list. In addtion there is a strong case that can be made for Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, and Vladimir Guerrero. Julio Franco deserves an honorable mention the guy is 48 and has a career .298 batting average!
I'm sure he left of his own player because he sees him every day. You are always more critical of guys you see swing everyday as a coach. I agree I don't know how he left off Tony Gwynn, but he is dead on with Manny Ramirez. He always gets voted the most feared hitter in the league by the players. Pujols and Vlad are 2 that are amazing hitters now. I think Mattingly just wanted to get some older players involved. It is a tough question to change eras like that. Mine would be Ramirez, Gwynn, Brett, Bonds, and Pujols.
Donnie is just being modest when he leaves himself out. He was nicknamed "The Hit Man" for a reason ... but maybe he didn't feel that he played long enough to get into the top 5. Ask any Yankee fan who was watching in the 80's and Mattingly is at the top of the list.
its pretty sad that as we look back at all the supposed great hitters that have come about in the 25 years since mattingly started out in the league that all we can come up with is a list of hacks that pale in comparision to the all time greats in baseball
Just by reading again, is he only talking about right handed hitters? It's a little vague but I get that from reading the intro...That could help to make a little more sense about a couple of the people left off the list.
I'm glad he mentioned Paul Molitor. The man got his 3000th his on a triple, in the midst of a 200 hit season. Most players are winding down at that point, and are struggling to the finish line. Molitor blew right past it.
based on his list it looks like Donny Baseball is looking at RBI hitters........NOT necessarily pure hitters. I absolutely agree with Gwynn and Boggs....but he keeps mentioning RBI in his comments so I would guess we're not talking about pure hitters.
Bonds Should be on anything ranking hitters, watch his at bat against Eric Gagne a couple of yrs ago when Gagne was as good as any pitcher in baseball, Bonds pulls a 101 mph fastball into the bay foul, then stays on a change up and hits it 440 feet out to center, best at bat ive ever seen
When I found the article, the first person I thought of was Paul Molitor and he made this list. I would say:
1. Paul Molitor (always had the big hit and a sweet swing) 2. George Brett (always killed my Red Sox) 3. Don Mattingly (If he didn't ger hurt, he was Hall bound.) 4. Andre Dawson (played too long in Baseball Syberia aka Montreal.) 5. Tony Gywnn (Just couldn't get the man out.)
Maybe Mattingly, like myself, didn't pick players from his team (NYY.) I picked players from my youth who I used to cringe when they came to the plate to play Boston. 4 and 5 were picked because they always seemed to come through.
1. David Eckstein (Has a slugging percentage of +0.900) 2. Alex Rodriguez (Leads AL in HRs) 3. Prince Fielder (Leads NL in HRs) 4. Chris Duncan (1 of the best hitters on the Cardinals roster) 5. Big Papi (Just because)
To be considered in this discussion of "best hitters" in the past 2+ decades you have to consider what makes a hitter so great. 1) OBP 2) Avg 3) Power/Slg. #. By looking at these variables it has to be: 1) Manny 2) Bonds 3) E.Martinez 4) Henderson 5) Griffey
George Brett was a left-handed hitter, so the list is inclusive. And it doesn't make much sense; I don't see how you would make the argument Edgar was a better hitter than Griffey in their primes. Same goes to you, Olerud fans.
Gwynn's my favorite player ever, but as time passes I wonder maybe if he'd been one of those 1.000 OPS guys maybe my favorite team might have won more games over the years. I mean, once he had a half-dozen batting titles I wouldn't have traded him for anybody in the world, either. I think of the question like this: If all the guys were the same age and my team could have its pick, which one would I want for the first dozen or so years of their career?
1. Bonds 2. A-Rod 3. Griffey 4. Manny 5. Rickey
I might throw in Piazza, since we booed him every time he came to bat in San Diego for years; I can admit now it was because we had great fear. Ichiro? Boggs? Molitor? Gwynn? The word doesn't come to mind.
To anonymous that stated it was only right handed hitters he was just talking about Manny. Look: "Here, he offers SI.com the five best hitters, in no particular order, he's seen from the start of his pro career in 1982"
I was not shocked Manny made the top of the list, since he's one of the only ones that hits for both Power and Average. Here are the best as seen by a Red Sox fan:
1. Gwynn 2. Ichiro 3. Will Clark 4. Mattingly 5. Then Manny
You have to remember that manny hasn't been around for all those years, yes he has that nice little streak of years with 30 hommers and a .300 avg. but all the other great hitters that there have been it's so hard to break it down to just 5 hitters. you'd need a list of about 20 for the last 20 years to fill in all the tangibles.
Ummm, how about Barry Bonds, the greatest hitter since probably Ted Williams or Joltin Joe or the Mick. Has anyone in the last 50 years seen more intentional balls? Who has inspired more fear from opposing pitchers? Who still dominates at age 42? Who has the quickest hands I've ever seen. All the same answer - Barry. Honestly, I dont even care to rank the rest. (And I am a Seattle guy who is not a Giants fan)
Avg. Power. RBI. A-Rod, Big Hurt, Man Ram. Guys who seem just impossible to get out: Brett and Suzuki. But if you want to talk about FEAR. Jim Rice must not be overlooked. Mean SOB at the plate for 10 years.
Jack Clark? Give me a break. And Olerud struck fear in no one. He could go up to the plate 4 times a game and never swing at a pitch.
Manny has a much better eye than A-Rod. When was the last time Manny looked foolish striking out? Gwynn and Boggs were solid but no power. My top 5 1. Manny 2. Mattingly (true triple crown threat) 3. Brett 4. Pujols 5. Ichiro
As for Jack Clark ... three years does not get you on a list with sure fire HOFers.
Kirby Puckett and Barry Bonds HAVE to be on this list. I would also include Boggs and Gwynn. Even though he has only played about five years, it is also difficult to keep Pujols off (who may be the best of them all before he is finished).
How can you guys say Piazza is on the juice? He is one of the only power hitters who I have never heard is name called as a steroid user. And overated? How can you say that? The guy hit .362 40HR and 124RBI one year as a catcher. He is the BEST HITTING CATCHER OF ALL TIME and ur saying he is over rated. My top 5 are... Bonds Brett Pujols Helton Piazza
He says nothing about listing just right handed hitters. He says that Manny was the best right handed hitter he has seen. If you read down a little farther past the 1st paragraph you will see this...Here, he offers SI.com the five best hitters, in no particular order,...
The idiots are the ones who called people idiots for saying it was a list for right hnaded hitters
I am not saying he was the best hiter but Ricky got a single or a walk it was like giving up a double or triple. (speed kills and power helps.
In short, all 5 (in their primes) can get to any pitch regardless of location, and with the exception of Gwynn can hit any pitch out. There are no "safe zones" for any of these guys, and none of them strike out a lot.
as far as all time greats, i'd have to go with some order of:
-ted williams (greatest hitter that ever lived) -joe dimaggio (his k/hr ratio is insane) -stan musial (just look at the #s) -tony gwynn (best hitter that i've personally seen) -hank aaron (again, for as many homers as he hit he is also right up there on career hits)
totally agree with donnie about manny ramirez though. being a yankee fan i have to root against him, and he is a total clown, but he's a great hitter, both through natural ability and hard work. get's alot of tourque in his swing, quick bat allows him to cover both sides of the plate, keeps his front shoulder closed as long as possible, fluid swing. there isn't any one spot in the zone you can pitch him to get him out. hits high balls, low balls, inside, outside... just gotta try and keep him guessing on pitch selection. don't really respect him as a person, but i do as a hitter.
How can anyone have "A-Rod" on their list. In 14 seasons, he has 1461 strike-outs. He's not a pure hitter like Gwynn, Brett or Carew. To add perspective, Tony Gwynn had only 434 strike-outs in 20 seasons. George Brett had 908 strike-outs in 21 seasons. Carew had 1028 s/o's in 19 seasons. Gwynn is the best pure hitter ever. A-Rod is a strike out king.
Half the people posting on this list have to realize that baseball did exist prior to 1995... also, Barry Bonds was a great hitter before there was any suspicion of steroid use. Also, two of the more dominant AL players of Mattingly's time are Jose Canseco and Joe Carter.
I respect the numbers that guys put up during the regular season, but I like my guys that do it in October. So I include how guys have contributed in the postseason.
Ortiz Pujols Jeter Puckett Brett
Aaron Teddy Ballgame Stan the Man Micky Babe
Regarding Molitor, how can he be a good leader off the field? Didn't he have a little coke issue in the 80's? Also, people, you should look up the numbers on Stan Musial. This guy put up insane all around numbers in every category.
i know this is all RHHs, but if leftys were on there too no way Junior Griffey doesnt make the list. also Ted Williams, who's maybe the best baseball player ever, and definitely the best hitter ever, 3 seasons at .400 or better for G-d sakes. Anyway Donny Baseball knows his hitters so I trust the guy, look what he's doing with Jorge Posada this year
Pete Rose??? Question is who are the game's best hitters since '82. Rose retired in 86 and had a whopping total of 373 hits during that span (and a BAD haircut) You want "pure"? Gwynn, Boggs, Brett, Ichiro,Molly. You want "best overall"? Bonds, Griffey, A-Rod, Pujols & Vlad.
He did best right handed hitter. In that most of the guy's everybody is mentioning is based on averges. I think you have to base it on the the all a round hitting. While I don't agree with his list it's his opinion.
What loser said that Puckett didn't have the stats? 2000 hits in his first ten years - 234 hits in 1988 - 112 RBIs in 108 games in '94 - 6 for 6 with 14 total bases in one game - a World Series game with a single, a triple, a sacrifice, and a game winning homer - he was a first ballot hall of famer, and he only played for twelve years, for crying out loud. Don't diss the Puck's numbers!
What I find interesting about this whole debate is this:
Don Mattingly is on alot of the lists, yet he was the best fielding first baseman of all time. So if he is one of the five or ten best hitters since '82 and he is the best at fielding at his position ever, how in the heck could he not be in the hall of fame?
The HOF is a joke now with players on roids in, and guys who could not hold The Hit Man's jock strap (and when I say THE HIT MAN, I am NOT talking about Mike Easler)
Mattingly was my favorite player growing up, but I have to completely disagree with his choices. To me the top five sine 1982 have to be as follows:
1. Barry Bonds: He could hit for power and contact, and is maybe the hardest player to pitch to ever.
2. Tony Gwynn: .338 lifetime batting average: nuff said
3. Wade Boggs: Life time batting average of .328, five batting titles, and he was able to consistently hit for extra bases.
4. A-Rod- Lifetime batting average .308, 491 HRs, and 1,420 RBIs... oh yeah and he is only 31 years old.
5. Derek Jeter: Lifetime batting average of .318, consistently hits 30 doubles in a year, and has 188 HRs as a lead-off/ #2 hitter. What also makes Jeter a great hitter is his patience that forces pitchers to throw a lot of pitches to him, and has led to his career .390 OBP.
He says Manny is the best right handed hitter he's seen, but the list just says best hitters since '82, period. So, using his criteris of hitting for rbi's, being well rounded, here is a good list, in no particular order:
Mattingly Manny Bonds Griffey (pre Cincinatti of course) ARod
1. PETE ROSE (MOST HITS EVER) 2. TY COBB (HIGHEST CAREER BATTING AVERAGE) 3. TONY GWYNN (WON THE BATTING TITLE 8 TIMES) 4. ICHIRO 5. CAL RIPKIN JR. (GUY HAD 3000 HITS ALMOST 500 HOME RUNS AND PLAYED EVERYGAME)