The Best 30 MLB Hitters, Ranked
Now that the 2022 season is underway, it’s easy to forget that the lockout between MLB owners and players almost prevented us from having a season at all. Instead of a season characterized by labor disputes, we have a season where the best players are already beginning to shine.
Some statistics make it easy to define a good hitter — batting average, home runs, and extra base hits — but other factors play into a hitter’s success too. Here are the best 30 hitters in MLB, ranked using stats and some of those measurements from Bleacher Report, The Athletic, and Fan Graphs.
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
Juan Soto tops almost every list of the best hitters in baseball, and it’s easy to see why. At just 23 years of age, Soto became the eighth-youngest player in history to hit 100 home runs. He’s one of those hitters who can intimidate pitchers with his antics in the batter’s box, but his numbers tell the real story.
One major leaguer told the reporters at The Athletic, “If we’re talking strictly hitting, Soto is the best on the planet.” In 2021, Soto hit .313, and he topped the majors in three key categories: walks (145), intentional walks (23), and on-base percentage (.465).
Trea Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Trea Turner is one of those less-flashy players who still delivers when he’s at the plate. He led the major leagues in hits for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and last year, he performed well for both the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, helping the Dodgers make the playoffs.
Turner is often overlooked because he doesn’t make a splash off the field but lets his solid play do the talking. One coach told The Athletic, “I think Trea Turner is one of the most slept-on players in the game.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
Vladimir Guererro Jr. is one of those hitters that his team can count on for power hitting (he hit the ball hard 55.8% of the time in 2021) and for making contact, 73.9% in 2021. Plus, he only strikes out 15% of the time. He’s also popular with fans, receiving the most votes for the 2021 All-Star Game. He and his dad are the third father-son duo to hit home runs in All-Star Games, and Guererro Jr. became the youngest All-Star Game MVP.
At only 23 years of age, Guerrero should be around the major leagues for a long time, provided he stays healthy. One current player told The Athletic that Guerrero should be one of the best hitters in baseball for the next decade to come.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani is a true beast as an MLB player: a star pitcher and top hitter. With a .257 batting average and 46 home runs in 2021, Ohtani was a solid hitter, but combining his work as a designated hitter with his 9-2 win-loss record and 3.18 ERA as a pitcher, it’s easy to see how he has become such a sensation.
The Associated Press named him Male Athlete of the Year in 2021, and the fact that the MLB created a rule just for Ohtani that a pitcher can remain in the game as a DH even after the manager takes him off the mound demonstrates the impact that Ohtani continues to make.
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians
Jose Ramirez has a smaller build than many MLB players these days, but he makes a difference as a hitter. With 35 home runs and 94 RBI in 2021, Cleveland can count on Ramirez to deliver at the plate.
He’s finished in the top three MVP vote-getters three times. At 29, he’s not among the younger players in the majors, which makes him an often-overlooked performer. “If anything, Ramirez doesn’t get the love and respect he deserves,” said one current player to The Athletic.
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Fernando Tatis Jr. is an electrifying player that fans love to watch. Even though injuries plagued his season in 2021, he hit a whopping 42 home runs during the 130 games he played. He’s also fun to watch, which is part of what contributes to his popularity.
Tatis has some drawbacks that give some analysts pause. He strikes out more often than many of the players on this list, and some of his injury problems have stemmed from his activity outside of baseball. As one scout said of Tatis, “The talent is there, but the maturity, the long-term health? I’m not sure.”
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
One of the most solid players of his generation, Bryce Harper won the National League MVP in 2021 — his second. He continued to deliver solid stats all year, tying for first in doubles, leading in slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging, and finishing second in walks.
Over his career, Harper has averaged 34 home runs and 14 stolen bases per season, so it’s easy to see why he’s consistently one of the top hitters in the majors. This year should bring continued success for the superstar.
Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
At only 21 years of age, Wander Franco represents the future of the major leagues. With a .288 batting average and 39 RBI, Franco delivered at the plate even if he only hit seven home runs all season. He set the record for reaching base the most consecutive games for a player under 21 with 36 straight games.
His stats for 2022 to date are even better, with a .338 batting average, 12 RBI, and 4 home runs in April alone. If he can stay healthy, his future looks bright.
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves
It may seem strange to include a player who’s currently injured on the list of the best hitters in baseball, but not only will he be back with the Braves soon, but Ronald Acuña Jr. has a half-season to remember in 2021.
His 24 home runs over 82 games last season trends with his average of 43 homers per season. So, as long as he stays healthy, there’s plenty of reason to expect some impressive numbers, and the reigning World Series champions will count on him to keep up stats like those.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Even though his last two seasons have been cut short — the 2020 season by a global pandemic and the 2021 season by an injury — Mike Trout has had more than a decade of impressive stats that suggest that his best years are still ahead.
At age 30, a healthy Trout is still a force to be reckoned with anytime he steps up to the plate. The Athletic ranked him in their highest tier of the best hitters in the majors, which goes to show that he’s capable of more impressive production.
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
Kyle Tucker is only 25 years old, but he has demonstrated maturity beyond his years. After a slow start, he turned his stats around and finished the season with 30 home runs, an impressive slash line of .329/.394/.620, and the fourth-highest on-base average plus slugging percentage (OPS) of any player in the majors. That’s in his first full year in MLB.
Tucker also finished the season with 177 weighted runs created. The two hitters ranked above him? Bryce Harper and Juan Soto. That’s great company to be in, and he’s sure to be mentioned in the highest circles for years to come.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
In 2021, Aaron Judge proved himself to be one of the hardest hitters in the major league. His hard-hitting percentage (57.9%) and average exit velocity (95.8 MPH) topped the majors. He had his second-highest home run total at 39, and his strikeout rate has gone down throughout his career.
Bleacher Report particularly praises his improving discipline at the plate, and if he can combine that discipline with his power hitting, he’ll have another stellar season.
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mookie Betts has some career stats that some hitters would kill for: a career .518 slugging percentage and two 30-homer seasons — not to mention an impressive 13.3% career strikeout rate. He also managed to improve on his struggles during the first half of the 2021 season, bringing his slash line up to .280/.369/.516 by the end of the season.
Betts is healthier than he was in 2021, so look for his numbers to stay high, and expect his team leadership to continue as well.
Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers
In his first full season in the majors, the Dodgers' catcher had an impressive year. With 25 home runs, 76 RBI, and a .258/.365/.495 slash line in 130 games, Smith played third base, first base, and designated hitter as well as catcher.
Smith started at catcher for every game of the Dodgers’ postseason, where he also had 10 hits in 41 at-bats, including three home runs. Smith may well be the catcher of the present for the Dodgers, but he also has a tremendous future with the team.
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
Manny Machado is both a powerful slugger and an accurate hitter. He wrapped up his 2021 season with the Padres with an astounding 278/.347/.489 slash line, 28 home runs, and 106 RBI. In July alone, he hit eight home runs and posted a slash line of .371/.448/.742.
Throughout his career, he’s had a strikeout rate below 20% every season. At only 29, Machado has some good years left in him, and he should continue his power-hitting ways in 2022.
Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers
Throughout his career, which before this year had been with the Atlanta Braves, Freddie Freeman earned the reputation of what Bleacher Report calls “unquestionably one of baseball's best all-around hitters.” His prowess at both the plate and in the field earned him National League MVP honors in 2020, and a strikeout rate of 15.4% in 2021 was the best of his career.
Freeman also recorded his third 30-homer season on his way to a World Series win, and he looks to continue his heavy-hitting ways in his new home with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
Rafael Devers is one of the most electrifying young hitters in the American League. His home run totals have increased every full season of his career. His .295 postseason batting average in 2021 bested his regular-season average of .279, but one of his most impressive stats was his 113 RBI, his second time topping 100.
He’s also on this list because, at only 25 years of age, he stands to become one of the best hitters in the near future as well. He’s one of the new generations of young hitters who will define the game for years to come.
Corey Seager, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers believed enough in Corey Seager to sign a 10-year contract worth $325 million, and his skill as a contact hitter was a big reason for that contract. He has an impressive strikeout rate of only 16.1% and a 73.6% contact rate.
Seager hit 16 homers — including the 100th of his career — and 57 RBI with a batting average of .306. If he can stay healthy, he can improve on those numbers and give the Rangers a good return on their investment.
Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox
Yasmani Grandal didn’t have the best batting average on his team in 2021 at only .240, but when he did hit, he made it count. With an impressive 23 home runs and 62 RBI, Grandal proved himself valuable at the plate, and those numbers came despite tearing a tendon in his knee and missing much of the season.
If he can stay healthy throughout the 2022 season, Grandal can improve on last year’s statistics and continue to be more productive.
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
Luis Robert suffered a devastating hip injury in the early days of the 2021 season, which required him to undergo rehab and miss time. When he came back, he made up for that lost time with 13 home runs, 43 RBI, and a .338 batting average in only 62 games.
Now that he’s healthy, Robert can continue in his productive ways. Fan Graphs predicts that he’ll finish the year with a .283/.341/.518 slash line and 31 homers.
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts had an impressive year in 2021, playing in 144 games, despite missing a week and a half with COVID-19, and racking up 23 home runs and 79 RBI and finishing the year with a .295 batting average. His production dipped slightly during the postseason, where he batted .261.
Bogaerts will turn 30 near the end of the season, but Fan Graphs predicts that his numbers will be close to what he produced in 2021, which means he’ll continue to be a solid presence at the plate.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Byron Buxton saw limited playing time in 2021, but when he did play, he made his presence known, hitting 42 extra-base hits in 254 plate appearances. He earned the title of American League Player of the month in April 2021, when he put up a .426 average with eight home runs and 14 RBI.
If Buxton sees more playing time in 2022, you can expect these numbers to rise. He’s on pace for a .276 batting average and 31 homers this year.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
Alex Bregman is a veteran hitter who Bleacher Report says “possesses a rare mix of power, contact ability, and plate discipline.” It’s easy to see why, since throughout his career he has had multiple seasons with more walks than strikeouts.
Despite dealing with an injury much of 2021, Bregman finished the year .270/.355/.422 with an impressive 55 RBI and 12 home runs. He started 2022 with a bang, batting .429 with a pair of home runs and six RBI during the opening weekend.
J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
Catcher J.T. Realmuto has a reputation as a better hitter than most catchers in the majors. His 2021 season featured a slash line of .263/.343/.439 with 17 home runs, 13 stolen bases, and 73 RBI. He has had consistent strikeout and walk percentages throughout his career as well.
Fan Graphs predicts an improved slash line to the tune of .268/.339/.460 in 2022 with similar homer and RBI numbers. His speed and hitting prowess should continue to help the Phillies in 2022.
Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins
When Carlos Correa comes to the plate, opposing teams try to use the shift to neutralize him, yet he often overcomes it. He had an impressive 2021 season as a hitter, with a .279/.366/.485 slash line, 26 home runs, and 92 RBI — scoring 104 runs in total.
Correa continued to continue his heavy-hitting ways in the postseason. With his new team, Fan Graphs projects him to hit 23 home runs and 76 RBI, but he could be good for even more.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
In 2021, Bo Bichette led the American League with 191 hits and became a first-time All-Star. He finished the year with a .298/.343/.484 slash line, including 29 home runs and 102 RBI, with 25 stolen bases to boot.
His strikeout rate is relatively high at 19.9%, but his contact rate is an impressive 79.8%. At only 24 years of age, Bichette has plenty of years to hit hard and get even better at the plate.
Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
With the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021, Marcus Semien boasted an impressive slash line of .265/.334/.538 with 45 home runs and 102 RBI. Those stats were enough to earn him an All-Star spot for the first time in his career.
At 31, Semien’s age could be a factor in his performance but Fan Graphs predicts that he’ll hit nearly as well in 2022 as he did last year. If he does, another All-Star spot might be in the cards for him.
Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
The 2021 season was a year of milestones for Ozzie Albies. He accomplished 500 hits and reached the 30-homer and 100-RBI thresholds for the first time. He batted .259/.310/.488 for the season with impressive numbers: 30 home runs and 106 RBI, and he swung at pitches in the strike zone a whopping 83.4% of the time.
As he helps the Braves defend their World Series title, he should see similar numbers. Fan Graphs has Albies on target for a .277/.334/.506 slash line with similar predictions for RBI and homers.
Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
Brandon Lowe played in nearly every game in 2021, and he finished the season with 39 home runs, 99 RBI, and a slash line of .247/.340/.523. One week in May, his performance was impressive enough to earn him American League Player of the Week honors, with a .437 batting average, three homers, and 6 RBI — and he finished in the top ten in AL MVP voting.
Lowe is on track to hit at least 30 home runs and 86 RBI in 2022, and if he can match his 2021 output, more honors could come his way.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Jose Altuve is the shortest active player in the major leagues at 5-feet, 6-inches tall, but don’t let his small stature fool you. He’s a force to be reckoned with behind the plate. In June 2021, he hit a walk-off grand slam in one game and led the next game off with a home run.
He finished off 2021 with 31 homers and 83 RBI, along with a .278/.350/.489 slash line. At nearly 32 years old, his age is catching up with him, but he’s expected to put up similar numbers in 2022.