His consistency has been incredible, part of the reason his name is all over the Twins overall record books too. One of the glue guys that helped the Twins earn their two World Series titles, Gene Larkinwas one of the most likable players from the late eighties. His stats didn’t stand out when compared to most major leaguers, but when you compare him to other Twins switch-hitters, he’s easily one of the best.
Even after removing all of Raines’ steals from the equation , his offensive resume is still an impressive one. The Rock batted .294 for his career and was the 1986 NL batting champion. He also led the league in OBP that year, one of 11 times he reached base more than 39 percent of the time. Larkin’s 2 seam grip OPS is the fifth-highest of the Twins switch-hitters who played more than 300 games, and his 175 extra-base hits are fourth. Similar to Guzman, he didn’t have great power numbers, but differing from Guzman, he could get on base. Washington, who also homered from both sides of the plate in 1979.
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He’s also the No. 2 catcher overall on the switch-hitter list. Interestingly, he seemed to hit for power far better right-handed, hitting 15 of his 20 HR there as well as nearly half of his doubles, despite mostly batting left-handed in his career. While he was mainly known for his power hitting in the 1980s and ’90s, he did have 142 stolen bases in his career and was able to be productive equally from both sides of the plate.
Because of this he would switch to southpaw stance on many occasion to land his power punches. Switch hitters in boxing for the most part are a rare entity. Boxers will of course change stance from time to time, to get a different angle on their opponent to create an opening to attack. But there have been some notable fighters in boxing history and even currently that have done this more often than not to great success. Our list of current best switch-hitters includes a lot of younger players who have put up good numbers but not for a long period of time. A bat-first left fielder for the late stage Cap Anson teams, Wilmot had great speed and good power for the era.
But for those blessed with enough talent, they will be remembered forever in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. With such great careers, it’s hard to remember what these players did as a rookie. The main benefit of switch-hitting is having the platoon advantage in every at-bat; giving up that edge should be a difficult decision. For switch-hitters who excel against right-handed pitching but struggle against lefties, that decision is made a little easier.
But most big leaguers wouldn’t mind batting .267, much less doing so from their weaker side. “The disadvantage is you have two different swings to worry about,” six-time All-Star switch-hitter Lance Berkman told MLB.com near the end of his 15-year career. “It’s hard to keep one swing tuned up, much less have two.” In nearly two decades in Atlanta, Chipper Jones has established himself as not only one of the top third basemen of all time, but he’s easily become one of the top three switch-hitters of all time .
It is also a switch hitter who holds the career record for fewest times grounding into double plays. Don Buford hit into only 33 double plays in 4553 at bats or once every 138 times at the plate. His frequency rate is lower than that of all left-hand batters, such as Lou Brock, Joe Morgan, and Richie Ashburn, who have that extra step advantage. Augie Galan, another ambidextrous batter, played the full schedule for the Cubs in 1935 and never grounded into a double play.
Guzman’s overall numbers are good, but when you play the third most games, it’s expected that you have higher numbers. Because of this, Chili Davis, Luis Castillo, Bobby Kielty, and Ryan Doumit all aren’t included on this list. Davis and Castillo were the hardest to leave off and both will earn honorable mentions despite not having enough games, but two really good years is not quite the same as three or more years for a team. With that in mind, we’ll start off with the honorable mentions. Catcher is another slot where the choices are few, but Brayan Peña provides a respectable option with his .251 average, 12 home runs and 86 RBIs, mostly in a reserve and platoon role over four seasons. Bob Stinson is our reserve catcher with three home runs and a .264 average over two seasons with the club.
But hitting over .280 from both sides of the plate is no small feat. Plus, if it wasn’t for that shoulder injury hindering him late in his career, there’s no question Mantle would have finished his career hitting over .300. George Davis is a true old-timer who played from 1890 to 1909. He was a versatile player who was primarily a shortstop but could play just about anywhere on the diamond. Simmons finally was voted into Cooperstown by the Modern Baseball Era Committee in 2019.