Top 6 Best MLB Right Fielders of All Time

Best MLB Right Fielders of All Time

Baseball is one of the most statistics-oriented sports in the modern world, and almost every fan of baseball loves to analyze and compare the great players of its history by their performances on the diamond. Throughout baseball’s long history many great players have distinguished themselves not only at bat, but in the field. Here, we take a look at the top six best MLB right fielders of all time.


Who are the best MLB right fielders of all time?

  1. Babe Ruth
  2. Hank Aaron
  3. Frank Robinson
  4. Roberto Clemente
  5. Ichiro Suzuki
  6. Tony Gwynn

1. Babe Ruth

  • 2,873 hits
  • .342 career batting average
  • 714 career home runs (former all-time record)
  • Seven-time World Series Champion (1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932)
  • Former single-season home runs record holder (60)

Without a doubt one of the most famous baseball players of all time, Babe Ruth was the nickname of George Herman Ruth, Jr., and was but one of his many nicknames, which also included “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat.” Born in 1895 to a working-class family, Babe Ruth had a modest and difficult childhood. Being one of eight siblings to a busy father and an ailing mother caused him to have a rough-and-tumble upbringing of wandering and mischief. When his parents sent him to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore, Maryland, in order to curb his behavior, Ruth discovered his talent for baseball, and used it to escape his life of poverty. He was offered a $600 contract for his talents and impressed so much in his first season that in 1914, he was employed by the Boston Red Sox. Ruth played as a pitcher for the Red Sox, becoming one of the best in the world, and also dominated at bat, hitting 29 home runs in 1919, which was unheard of at the time. 

In 1920, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee made a stunning and historic move by selling Ruth to the New York Yankees, which many Boston fans claim was the cause of the 86-year-long “Curse of the Bambino,” in which the Red Sox did not win a single World Series for 86 years after Ruth’s departure. On the Yankees, Ruth excelled as a right fielder, and also continued his domination of home plate, breaking his own 1919 record in 1920 by hitting 54 home runs in one year. He then broke the record again the following year, with 59 home runs. Ruth’s career continued until 1934, after which he enjoyed a comfortable retirement and many advertising deals but was not very active in baseball. When all was said and done, Ruth was the greatest home run hitter the world had ever seen, holding the record for single-season home runs (60) and all-time home runs (714). He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class in 1936.

2. Hank Aaron

  • 3,771 hits
  • .305 career batting average
  • 775 career home runs (former all-time record)
  • 25-time All-Star (1955–1975)
  • National League MVP (1957)

Born in 1934, the year Babe Ruth retired, Hank Aaron became a worthy successor to the Bambino as an outfielder and contributed to baseball history as one of the many trailblazing athletes of color to make his way into baseball. Aaron began his career in 1952, with a few-month stint as a member of the Indianapolis Clowns, a team that played for the now-disbanded Negro American League, which existed when racial segregation was still in force in America. However, Aaron’s prowess led him to be employed by the Boston Braves, who started him off as a minor league player before moving him up to the major leagues in 1954. There, he joined the major league Braves, who had moved to Wisconsin in 1953. 

Like Babe Ruth, Aaron excelled as a hitter, winning the league batting championship in 1956, and league MVP in 1957. By 1965, Aaron had racked up a stellar 398 home runs, and in 1974, he broke Babe Ruth’s all-time record by hitting his 715th home run. That same year, Aaron was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, playing for them for two years until his retirement in 1976. After retiring, Aaron rejoined the Braves as an executive. In 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, by President George W. Bush. Aaron’s overall career statistics included 1,477 extra-base hits, 2,297 runs batted, 755 home runs, 2,174 runs scored, 12,364 at bats, 3,771 total hits, a lifetime batting average of .305, and a lifetime fielding percentage of .980. In 1982 Hank Aaron was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Frank Robinson

  • 2,943 hits
  • .294 career batting average and 586 career home runs
  • 14-time All-Star (1956, 1957, 1959, 1959 (x2), 1961 (x2), 1962 (x2), 1965–1967, 1969–1971, 1974)
  • National League MVP (1961) and American League MVP (1966)
  • Triple Crown (1966)

Another notable athlete of color, Frank Robinson was not only a historic baseball player but made history in management as well, becoming the first-ever black manager in Major League Baseball. Born in Texas in 1935, Robinson grew up in Oakland, California, where he played sandlot baseball and played in the American Junior League, as well as playing football and basketball. After graduating high school, he was signed by the Cincinnati Reds for the minor leagues, where he played until joining the major league squad in 1956. In that year, Robinson received the Rookie of the Year Award, and in the ten years that followed, he had a batting average of over .300 five times. 

In 1966, Robinson joined the Baltimore Orioles, winning the baseball Triple Crown in his first year by leading the league in home runs (49), runs batted in (122), and batting average (.316). He also earned the American League MVP Award, becoming the first player to win the MVP Award for both leagues, as he had won the National League MVP Award in 1961. In 1972, Robinson moved to the Los Angeles Dodgers, then to the California Angels from 1973-1974, then to the Cleveland Indians from 1974-1976. In 1976, Robinson retired, ranking fourth overall in all-time home runs, behind Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays. Robinson had already made history before his retirement in 1975 when he became the player-manager for the Cleveland Indians, the first-ever African American to earn a managing post. After leaving the Indians, Robinson managed the San Francisco Giants (1981-1984), the Baltimore Orioles (1988-1991), and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals (2002-2006). Robinson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 and died in 2019.

4. Roberto Clemente

  • .317 career batting average, 240 home runs, 1,416 career runs, 1,305 RBI
  • 15-time All-Star (1960–1967, 1969–1972)
  • Two-time World Series champion (1960, 1971)
  • National League MVP (1966)
  • 12-time Gold Glove Award (1961–1972)

One of the first Latin American baseball stars in the United States, Roberto Clemente was, and still is, an idol in his native homeland of Puerto Rico. Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954, at the age of 20, Clemente was given a very high $10,000 bonus, unusual for the times, but was sent to the minor leagues. As a result, the Dodgers lost Clemente, as they had violated a league rule which stated that any player given a bonus in excess of $4,000 had to be placed on a major league roster for his first season or be subject to draft. Thus, Clemente was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he would play throughout the entirety of his career. 

Clemente became an instant favorite among Pittsburgh fans as a result of his prowess at hitting, throwing, and base running. He won 12 Gold Gloves in his career, performing as the best outfielder in the league and a player that many prominent right fielders are still compared to today. He also amassed a lifetime batting average of .317, and on his last at-bat in 1972, he scored his 3,000th base hit, one of only ten players at the time to reach that number.

Unfortunately, Clemente was often the target of mockery and discrimination in his career, with the media frequently mocking his heavy accent and referring to him by nicknames like “Bob” and “Bobby,” rather than his preferred full name Roberto. Nevertheless, Clemente persevered despite these discriminations, and he is often cited as a player who helped pave the way for other Latin American players and players of color. In 1972, after a massive earthquake struck the Central American nation of Nicaragua, Clemente captained relief efforts, and attempted to offer personal aid by boarding a supply plane when he heard rumors that the Nicaraguan Army was stealing supplies from the survivors of the quake. However, the plane Clemente boarded crashed soon after takeoff on December 31, 1972, and Clemente was killed in the crash. In honor of his passing, the MLB immediately inducted him into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, waiving the normal five-year rule, and also renamed its sportsmanship and community service award the Roberto Clemente Award.

5. Ichiro Suzuki

  • .311 career batting average and 3,080 career hits
  • 10-time All-Star (2001–2010)
  • American League MVP (2001)
  • 10-time Gold Glove Award (2001–2010)
  • MLB record 262 hits in a single season

Commonly known solely by his first name, Ichiro Suzuki has set records as one of the most notable Japanese players in the MLB and stands as the player with the most total hits across all professional leagues in baseball history. A baseball player from an early age, Ichiro got his start in the Japanese Major Leagues, signing with the Orix Blue Wave after finishing high school. He did not play often due to his unorthodox style of hitting, which his manager disliked, but in 1994, a new manager arrived and permitted Ichiro to hit as he liked. After this, the young player’s batting record exploded, reaching .400 during the season and ending at .385. 

By 2000, Ichiro had become Japan’s top baseball player and looked to transfer to the American Major Leagues. In November of that year, he signed with the Seattle Mariners, debuting in 2001 with a stellar season that earned him both a Gold Glove and the Rookie of the Year Award. In 2004, Ichiro earned the record for the most hits by one player in a single season, earning 262 hits and a .372 batting average. In 2009, Ichiro earned his 2,000th major league hit, becoming the fastest player to reach that mark besides Al Simmons. Ichiro’s play fell off slightly in 2011, and in 2012 he was traded to the New York Yankees. The following year, he reached 4,000 career hits between Japanese professional baseball and Major League Baseball, becoming the third person in baseball history to achieve the feat. In 2015, Ichiro joined the Miami Marlins, slowly transitioning to a substitute player before moving to the team’s front office in 2018. In 2019, Ichiro signed a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners, which required that he appear in the team’s two major-league openers in Japan. After the two games, Ichiro retired, finishing his baseball career with 3,089 hits (with a combined professional total of 4,367), 509 stolen bases, and a .311 lifetime batting average. While Ichiro is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame, he will almost certainly make it there one day.

6. Tony Gwynn

  • .338 career batting average, 135 home runs, 1,383 career runs, 1,138 RBI
  • Eight-time National League Batting Champion (1984, 1987–1989, 1994–1997)
  • 15-time All-Star (1984–1987, 1989–1999)
  • Five-time Gold Glove Award (1986–1987, 1989–1991)
  • Seven-time Silver Slugger Award (1984, 1986–1987, 1989, 1994–1995, 1997)

One of the all-time best contact hitters in baseball, Tony Gwynn was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1960 and initially played basketball, earning a scholarship for the sport at San Diego State University. However, while in college, he also played and excelled in baseball, and in 1981, he was offered the choice of either being drafted by both the San Diego Clippers of the National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres. Gwynn chose the Padres, playing in the minor leagues for one year and then moving up to the majors in 1982. Gwynn spent his entire career as an outfielder for the Padres, helping the team reach the World Series in 1984 with a .351 batting average. In 1994, Gwynn earned a .394 batting average, the best in the league since Ted Williams’ 1941 average of .401. In 1998, Gwynn again joined the Padres in the World Series, but the team lost to the New York Yankees. Over the course of his career, Gwynn set the National League record for most consecutive seasons hitting at .300 or better, doing so 19 times, and also tied the NL record for most batting titles, winning eight. He also became the 22nd baseball player ever to reach 3,000 hits. Though he initially struggled as an outfielder, he became one of the best in the league, winning five Gold Gloves. Gwynn retired from baseball in 2001 and became the baseball coach for his alma mater, San Diego State University, in 2002. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.

FAQ

Who is the greatest MLB right fielder of all time?

Babe Ruth is widely considered the greatest MLB right fielder of all time. An overall leader among right fielders, Ruth earned top stats in most every new-age category in his career, earning a 1.164 OPS, a 206 OPS+, a 154.4 offensive WAR, and a 168.4 fWAR. Ruth was a stellar hitter, finishing his career with a once mind-blowing 714 home runs, 2,214 RBIs, 2,873 hits, and 2,062 walks, stats which easily earn him the distinction of not only one of the best outfielders ever but one of the best baseball players of all time. 

What MLB right fielder has won the most Gold Glove awards all time?

Pittsburgh Pirates and Puerto Rican baseball legend Roberto Clemente is recorded as the right fielder with the most-ever Gold Glove Awards in MLB history. Over the course of his career, Clemente won 12 Gold Gloves, earning the award each year from 1961 to 1972, the year of his death. Clemente also had a stellar hitting career, with 3,000 career hits, a 1966 NL MVP Award, two World Series championships, and 12 MLB All-Star appearances in his 18 seasons.

What MLB right fielder hit the most career home runs?

The MLB right fielder with the most career home runs is Hank Aaron. In his long career, Aaron shattered dozens of records, including the home run record of the great Babe Ruth. In all, Aaron hit a whopping total of 755 home runs in his career, making him the right fielder with the most home runs. However, because Aaron did not hit all of his home runs as a right fielder, the record for the most home runs hit solely by a player playing right field belongs to Sammy Sosa. While Aaron scored more runs than Sosa overall, only 520 of them were as a right fielder, while Sosa hit 538 while playing the position. Nevertheless, in terms of pure numbers, Hank Aaron remains the MLB right fielder with the most home runs in his overall playing career.