Ty Cobb – Greatest Hitter Ever?
People from our generation remember Ty Cobb for two things. First, having the highest all-time batting average (as well as with 90 records when he announced his retirement) and second, having the all-time quickest temper. But just because Ty Cobb may never have won the common day Roberto Clemente award does not mean we should not write about him in the record books.
To put things into perspective, only 20 players in the history of baseball have hit.366 or higher in two or more seasons throughout a career. The “Georgia Peach” did so 14 times in his career, almost double the next closest player Rogers Hornsby, who did so 8 times. Perhaps this explains why he received the most votes of any player in the inaugural Hall of Fame Ballot…more votes than Cy Young, more than Honus Wagner, more votes than Christy Mathewson, and even more votes than Babe Ruth.
Baseball specialists gauge power by looking at slugging percentage and speed by looking at stolen bases. Since Alexander Cartwright invented the game there have been three players who for a season stole 40 or more bases and had a slugging percentage north of .600; Barry Bonds, George Sisler and Ty Cobb. But in 1911 Ty Cobb became the first and only player with a slugging percentage higher than .600 with 80 or more stolen bases. His 83 stolen bases doubled the total for Bonds (40) and nearly doubled the total for Sisler (42).