Who Is The Most Difficult Baseball Batter To Pitch Against?
Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things an athlete can do. Batters often face an array of pitches from different pitchers with many different skill sets. In the MLB, the average on-base percentage (OBP) is only .330, which means that the average player reaches base only 33% of the time. The average batting average (BA) in the MLB is lower, at only .250, which means that players record a successful base hit only 25% of the time. However, there have been some outliers in the almost 150 years of the league’s history. Read on to learn about the hardest batters to pitch against in MLB history.
Ted Williams was one of the hardest hitters for pitchers to face in MLB history. He holds an unbelievable career OBP of .4817, the highest in the history of the league. He played 19 seasons, all with the Boston Red Sox, and was the league leader in OBP for 12 of them. His OBP was .500 or better in five different seasons, including a career-best .553 in 1941.
Williams is also tied for the 10th-highest career BA at .344. He led the league in that category six times. His career best batting average was .407 in 1953, but that was not the best in the MLB that year. He also earned two MVPs, two Triple Crowns, five Major League Player of the Year Awards, and made 19 All-Star appearances in his legendary career. As a player who is top 10 all-time in two major offensive categories, Williams was one of the hardest batters for pitchers to face.
Next up is Babe Ruth, who holds the second-highest career OBP of all time with .4739 and 13th highest BA at .3421. Ruth played 19 seasons in the MLB and led the league in OBP 10 times, including his career high .545 in 1923. He was also the league leader in R, HR, RBI, BP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and TB almost too many times to count! Good luck trying to retire him. Ruth is also a Hall of Famer, an MVP, and a seven-time World Series champion. A fun fact about “The Great Bambino” is that he also pitched for 10 seasons, won the ERA title in 1916, and has a career ERA of just 2.28. It might be easier to ask yourself, “What could he not do?”
It only feels right to give some love to the current generation of MLB players too. Aaron Judge had a historic 2022 campaign, setting the AL record for home runs in a season with 62. Part of the reason for this was that pitchers could not figure him out. If you threw him a fastball, it would result in a hit. Want to try a slider? Good luck. Judge had an insane .495 wOBA against them. Another reason Judge is so hard to pitch against is the fact that he is so much bigger than other hitters. At 6’7”, Judge puts pitchers out of their comfort zone by creating a whole different strike zone from what they are accustomed to.