Red Sox outfielder Tris Speaker
Tris Speaker‘s production at the plate is harder to quantify in comparison to modern hitters due to the dead-ball era that he played in. Baseball was a different game in the early 1900s, one that relied heavily on speed and strategy over power. Speaker was undoubtedly one of the greatest hitters of that generation.
During his nine seasons in Boston, Speaker only tallied 39 home runs, fewer than many hitters on this list have produced in a single season. The low total is a product of the era he played in. Speaker led the league with 10 home runs in 1912 when he captured the AL MVP award.
He wasn’t bashing many homers but Speaker was an extra-base hitting machine. He led the league in doubles twice and routinely cracked double-digits in triples, including a career-high 22. Speaker had a .500 slugging percentage for his career, topping that figure four times with the Red Sox, which was no easy task without the benefit of high home run totals.
Speaker was an excellent base runner, stealing 25+ bases in seven consecutive seasons with the Red Sox. Many of his base hits quickly turned into extra bases with a steal.
What stands out most about Speaker is his batting averages. He hit well over .300 in every full season he spent in Boston. His .337 average with the Red Sox ranks third in franchise history.
High batting averages were common in those days when hitters weren’t swinging for the fences and rarely struck out. Speaker’s 3.2 K% is the best in franchise history among hitters with 800+ games played. Pitchers weren’t striking out a batter per inning in those days though.
Speaker never won a batting title in Boston despite hitting over .320 in six consecutive seasons with a high of .383. He did lead the league in hits once. Speaker finally led the league in batting average in his first season after leaving Boston and remained an elite hitter for over a decade in Cleveland.