By PATRICK SLACK
This just in: Ty Cobb was a really good baseball player.
I mean, really, really good.
OK, so that’s not a huge revelation.
But after stumbling across the movie Cobb this weekend on the MLB Network, I wanted to take another look at his stats, particularly after some of the sportswriter characters in the film debated who the greatest hitter of all time was.
All but one said Cobb (the other Babe Ruth).
Cobb and Ruth were dramatically different types of hitters, with Ruth hitting 714 home runs in an era when long balls were scarce.
But while other hitters often come to mind, at least for me, when thinking of the top hitters ever (Ruth, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and based solely on numbers, Barry Bonds), Cobb usually eludes my mind.
Here are his career stats:
Batting average: .366
Home runs: 117
Stolen bases: 897, caught 212
He also won nine batting titles in a row and 12 of 13 at one point.
That lifetime batting average is insanely good, eight points ahead of second-place Rogers Hornsby (.358), with Tris Speaker (.345), Williams (.344) and Ruth (.342) a little ways down the list, all in the top 10.
On top of that, he is fourth all-time in doubles and second in triples.
He didn’t hit a lot of homers, but no one at that time did during the dead-ball era.
Throw in the fourth most stolen bases of all time and Cobb was a run-producing machine.
Of course, he was also reportedly the dirtiest player in history, which is probably a bigger reason his name doesn’t slip off the tongue than the time period he played in.
Baseball fans love iconic stars like Ruth, Mantle and Williams.
Kids want to think of themselves as tough, a la Pete Rose, but not as dirty.
Still, while it’s difficult to compare the numbers of Cobb’s era to those of today, he is quite likely the best pure hitter to have ever played the game.