In the past 15 years, there have been some talented switch-hitters in the Big Leagues. But slowly, the better-known switch-hitters have retired, including Mark Teixeira, Lance Berkman and Chipper Jones.
Each of those players was a solid switcher. Jones, who retired in 2012, was clearly the best of that group and is considered one of the all-time greatest switch-hitters.
Here’s a look at the top four players considered by most baseball experts to be the greatest switch-hitters, and why each deserves consideration for being at the top of the short list. These names are in no particular order.
How you would rank these consensus top four switch-hitters of all time?
Pete Rose. All-time MLB hits leader (4,256). 44-game NL hitting-streak record.
Pete Rose, who started his career with Cincinnati Reds, is an all-time hits leader with 4,256. But how many recall that he was a switch-hitter? Many fans forgive his gambling flaws (which cost him election to the Hall of Fame) because they appreciate his dedicated approach to the game. His nickname, Charlie Hustle, is probably the most fitting in baseball. During a 17-season stretch of his career, he hit over .300 15 times and wound up with a lifetime average of .303. He batted .307 as a lefty and .293 from the right side of the plate. He was a Rookie of the Year (1963), NL MVP (’73), won three batting titles and led the League in hits seven times. He made the All-Star team 17 times, playing five different positions. He also is the all-time leader in singles and games played. It’s easy to make a case for Pete being the best hitter from both sides.
Lifetime average: .303. He hit .297 from the right side, .304 from the left.
Mickey Mantle. Most home runs (536) all-time by a switch-hitter.
Mickey Mantle played 18 seasons with the New York Yankees and is a legend for the player he was…and could have been. Injuries hampered him throughout his career, and a shoulder injury in the late ’50s affected his swing as a left-handed hitter. Still, Mantle was an incredible batter who proved he could hit for both average and power. His 536 home runs are the most by any switch-hitter in baseball history. He batted over .300 10 times. In 1956, he hit 52 home runs, drove in 130 runs and batted .365, winning the Triple Crown and the first of his three MVP titles. Mantle said he was a better right-handed hitter, but stats reveal that he had 372 home runs from the left side of the plate, compared to 164 from the right. Plus, he was on the great Yankees teams and played a role in 12 World Series Championships, winning seven rings. He holds World Series records for most home runs, RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. The Society of Baseball Research (SABR) conducted a survey that placed Mantle as the best switch-hitter ever, based on his slugging ability.
Lifetime average: .298. He hit .330 from the right side, .281 from the left.
Eddie Murray. Only switch-hitter with 500+ homers and 3,000+ hits.
A Hall of Fame inductee, Murray was one of the most consistent hitters of his era. He never hit more than 33 home runs in a season, but managed to hit 504 in his career, and also had an average over .300 seven times in a career that spanned five teams and 21 seasons. He helped the Orioles win the 1983 World Series. That season, he hit 33 homers, drove in 111 runs and batted .306. In 20 of his 21 seasons, he hit at least 10 home runs. He belted 362 of his 504 home runs as a left-handed hitter, more than 70%. Only Mickey Mantle had more homers as a switch-hitter, and only Alex Rodriquez, Rafael Palmeiro, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron have also had at least 3,000 hits and 500 home runs—Murray is the only switch-hitter in this latter group, which is a great reason to consider him as one of the greatest ever.
Lifetime average: .287. Murray hit 17 percentage points higher as a left-handed hitter.
Larry“Chipper” Jones. The only switch-hitter with 400+ homers and a .300+ average.
Like Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones quietly racked up impressive statistics over his career, yet few people would remember that he was a switch-hitter and one of the best ever. He had more RBIs than Mickey Mantle and more than any other third baseman in history, including Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson. He was the only switch-hitter with more than 400 homers (468) and at least a .300 lifetime average, .303 (the same as Rose). He hit for virtually the same average from both sides of the plate, and Jones has more hits as a Brave than the great Henry Aaron. Jones is the National League’s career leader in home runs by a switch-hitter (468) and holds the NL record for the most home runs in one season, belting 45 in 1999. You could look at Chipper Jones as the National League’s version of Mickey Mantle when it comes to switch-hitters.
So there it is. A breakdown of how the greatest switch-hitters of all time compare to each other. But they’re not just great switch-hitters—they’re also four of the greatest players of all time.
How would you rank them?