Who Is Baseball's Greatest Hitter?

Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers jokes with second base umpire Marvin Hudson between innings against the Houston Astros during interleague play at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Josh Hamilton has a lot to smile about this season. But does he have a claim to the title, Baseball's Greatest Hitter? Let's find out together.

This isn't about fielding, or throwing, or even running.

This is about hitting. Purely hitting.

Ask the question 10 years ago, and the answer would have been Barry Bonds.

Ask the question five years ago or even two years ago, and the answer would have been Albert Pujols.

But Bonds is now looking for a sinecure, and Pujols hasn't been truly Pujolsian since 2010.

So who's left? And should durability count? Or are simply looking for the hitter you would want right here, right now, for a single at-bat against a perfectly ambidextrous pitcher?

I'm sure you'll come up with another name or two, but I see five prime candidates:

Joey Votto
Josh Hamilton
Matt Kemp
Miguel Cabrera
Ryan Braun

Kemp, Cabrera, Braun and Votto rank first, second, third and fifth in OPS+ over the last two seasons (including this one); Hamilton's well behind those four, but has been so fantastic this season that he probably belongs square in the middle of this conversation.

That said, we can't focus just on this season, only two months old. Last season sure has to count for something, although we can argue all day long about the degree. Does anyone know the perfect number of previous plate appearances to consider, when it comes to predicting the next plate appearance? Because I sure don't.

I'm happy with this quintet, but beyond that ...

Kemp seems to have some trouble staying in the lineup, at least lately. Do we count that against him? Hamilton was merely excellent last season, rather than Hamiltonian. Do we count that against him? Votto and Braun both play in the easier league; how much do we count that against them?

I've got my own favorite, which I'll reveal in the comments. Please vote in the poll, then join me there and we'll spend the week-end hashing this thing out. And by Monday morning we'll all be in agreeance!

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