You know, my friend told me that he thought Hank Aaron was underrated once upon a time. I thought it was a crazy statement because how in the hell can the MLB leader in HR’s be underrated?
Then I looked at this BBRef page.
Look, it’s really hard to underrate a legend. The man passed Ruth in career HR’s. And yet he rarely ever gets serious consideration when it comes to talking about who would start on the “All Time team.”
Well I would start Aaron over Babe Ruth.
It’s not that controversial of a statement, Babe Ruth did some historic things and he’s the Babe Ruth of baseball. I mean, it doesn’t get more elite than that.
Except that it does because Babe didn’t play against the best competition out there, IMO. I’m not going to argue that Ruth would be a .270/25 HR guy in post-segregation baseball. What I will argue is that if they both played at the same time in any era, Hank Aaron would prove to be the better player.
And even if you think I’m wrong you have to admit the chasm between Ruth and Aaron isn’t as big as it seems on the surface. Aaron played the bulk of his career in a pitching dominated era and still put up some monster numbers.
Aaron vs. Ruth is closer than you think, and for me he is the best RF in baseball history.
Hank Aaron was a cross-handed hitter in the Negro Leagues – If you are unfamiliar with the term here is a visual of what cross-handed hitting looks like:
That would be the traditional bottom hand on top. This was not a rare batting style in the Negro Leagues, many batters used it for bat control and it was fairly popular in MLB during its early years. There is a theory that Aaron developed his strong wrists because of this batting style, which helped him better whip the bat head through the zone at ridiculous speeds.
Hank Aaron hit 70 HR’s against HOFers over the course of his career – Those players (and total HR’s allowed against Aaron) are:
- Don Drysdale – 17
- Robin Roberts – 9
- Bob Gibson – 8
- Juan Marichal – 8
- Sandy Koufax – 7
- Steve Carlton – 6
- Tom Seaver – 4
- Gaylord Perry – 3
- Don Sutton – 3
- Fergie Jenkins – 2
- Nolan Ryan – 2
- Hoyt Wilhelm – 1
If you took away all of Hank Aaron’s 755 HR’s he still has over 3,000 hits – This one boggles my mind. He had 3,771 hits in his career. Hank led the league in hits twice (1956, 1959), and he led the league in average twice (1956, 1959). His career slash line is .305/.374/.555.
Dusty Baker was on deck when Aaron passed Ruth – One of those rare fun facts.
Hank Aaron, American badass.