Being able to hit at an elite level against major league pitching is one of the hardest things to do in sports. Being able to do so from both sides of the plate takes a level of skill that's unthinkable to most, even some of whom find great success from one side of the plate at the major league level.
Putting together a list of the best MLB stars to hit from both sides of the plate isn't an especially easy task, either.
As it turns out, there are enough great switch hitters in MLB history that Lance Berkman, Jimmy Rollins and Jorge Posada, among other recent stars, weren't able to crack this list. Here is RADIO.COM Sports' countdown of the nine greatest switch hitters in MLB history:
9. Bernie Williams - New York Yankees (1991-2006)
Best Season: 1999 - .342/.435/.536 with 25 home runs, 115 RBIs, 100 walks, a .971 OPS and a 6.9 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .297/.381/.477 with 287 home runs, 1,257 RBIs, 2,336 hits, 1,069 walks, an .858 OPS, a 125 OPS+ and a 63.2 offensive WAR
He was overshadowed on teams that included Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and the aforementioned Posada, but Williams hit .336 between 1997 and 1999, a period in which the Yankees won two World Series titles. Additionally, while Williams was an excellent defender, he graded out as the fifth most valuable offensive center fielder in baseball over that same period, a pretty remarkable accomplishment at the height of the Steroid Era. Though Williams hit for a higher average from the right side of the plate in his career, 180 of his 287 career home runs came while batting left-handed.
8. George Davis - Cleveland Spiders, New York Giants and Chicago White Sox (1890-1909)
Best Season: 1893 - .355/.410/.554 with 11 home runs, 119 RBIs, 42 walks, a .964 OPS and a 5.6 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .295/.362/.405 with 73 home runs, 1,440 RBIs, 2,665 hits, 874 walks, .767 OPS, a 121 OPS+ and a 70.8 offensive WAR
Projecting players that played portions of their career in the deadball era to today's game is a very difficult task. It's also nearly impossible to know whether players who never faced non-white opponents would have had as much success after baseball's color barrier was broken, and there was more of a diversity of talents in the game. What we do know, though, is that Davis was one of the first iconic switch hitters in baseball history. Davis drove in 135 runs for the New York *baseball* Giants in 1897, which makes you think that if he played in an era more predicated on hitting for power, he would have been able to adapt. Unfortunately because of the era he played in, we don't have exact statistics on how Davis fared when he hit from the right side of the plate vs. from the left.
7. Tim Raines - Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and Florida Marlins (1979-1999; 2001-2002)
Best Season: 1985 - .320/.405/.475 with 11 home runs, 41 RBIs, 81 walks, .880 OPS and a 6.7 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .294/.385/.425 with 170 home runs, 980 RBIs, 2,605 hits, 1,330 walks, .810 OPS, 123 OPS+ and a 69.3 offensive WAR
The final player to go into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Montreal Expos, Raines won the 1986 batting title, while also leading baseball with a .413 on-base percentage. He's perhaps a bit penalized because players above him on this list hit for more power, but he was one of the preeminent table setters of his era. Raines had nearly identical slash lines from both sides of the plate in his career, though much more of his power output (and at bats, in general) came when he batted left-handed.
6. Carlos Beltran - Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers (1998-2017)
Best Season: 2006 - .275/.388/.594 with 41 home runs, 116 RBIs, 95 walks, .982 OPS and a 7.0 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .279/.350/.486 with 435 home runs, 1,587 RBIs, 2,725 hits, 1,084 walks, .837 OPS, 119 OPS+ and a 66.6 offensive WAR
One of the most complete outfielders of his era, Beltran made All-Star teams as a member of the Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees. Despite only spending parts of two seasons with the team, he's likely going to be most remembered as a Houston Astro. Beltran was unconscious in the 2004 National League playoffs for Houston, hitting .435 with eight home runs and 14 RBIs. 13 years later, he returned to the Astros for the final season of his career, and seemingly had a storybook ending to his career, as he helped the franchise to win their first World Series title. However, we've since learned about his role in the team's sign-stealing scandal, which already cost him his job as Mets' manager and may very well keep his otherwise worthy resume from entering Cooperstown someday. Beltran had pretty identical splits from both sides of the plate, but got three times as many at-bats in his career from the left side of the plate, meaning 311 of his 435 career regular season home runs came while batting lefty.
5. Eddie Murray - Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Cleveland Indians and Anaheim Angels (1977-1997)
Best Season: 1984 - .306/.410/.509 with 29 home runs, 110 RBIs, 107 walks, a .918 OPS and a 6.1 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .287/.359/.476 with 504 home runs, 1,917 RBIs, 3,255 RBIs, 3,255 hits, 1,333 walks, .836 OPS, 129 OPS+ and a 62.2 offensive WAR
Murray is one of the great compilers that the game has ever seen. He never hit 35 or more home runs in a season, yet he racked up over 500 round-trippers in his 21-season career. "Steady Eddie" hit 25 or more home runs in 12 separate seasons, allowing him to reach one of baseball's most hallowed clubs, despite never putting up gaudy power numbers. Additionally, the eight-time All-Star is 13th in MLB history with 3,255 career hits. He may not have been the most dominant player on this list at his peak, but it's hard to argue with how consistent his body of work was. Despite batting 3,920 more times from the left side of the plate in his career, Murray still hit for a higher average by 17 points when he hit left-handed.
4. Roberto Alomar - San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks (1988-2004)
Best Season: 2001 - .336/.415/.541 with 20 home runs, 100 RBIs, 80 walks, .956 OPS and a 7.7 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .300/.371/.443 with 210 home runs, 1,134 RBIs, 2,724 hits, 1,032 walks, .814 OPS, 116 OPS+ and a 70.8 offensive WAR
Alomar is one of the most accomplished second baseman in MLB history, with FanGraphs saying that the only more valuable offensive player at that position in the 1990s was fellow Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. When you factor in the 10 Gold Glove Awards that he won during his illustrious career, it becomes clear that Alomar is one of the most complete players in the last 30 years. The 12-time All-Star did hit .314 in 6,465 left-handed at-bats, much better than the .276 mark that he hit in 2,608 right-handed at-bats.
3. Pete Rose - Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos (1963-1986)
Best Season: 1969 - .348/.428/.512 with 16 home runs, 82 RBIs, 88 walks, .940 OPS and 7.1 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .303/.375/.409 with 160 home runs, 1,314 RBIs, 4,256 hits, 1,566 walks, .784 OPS, 118 OPS+ and an 83.2 offensive WAR
Rose led baseball in hits seven different times during his 24-year career. He's baseball's all-time hits leader with 4,256 career hits. Over the last 70 years, the next closest player in terms of all-time hits is Hank Aaron, who had 485 less hits in his career. Rose doesn't quite have the power output as the top two guys on this list, though the amount of hits he accumulated pushed him past quite a few players with more extra-base hits. Though Rose broke Ty Cobb's hits record left-handed and did bat .307 from that side, he still hit .293 from the right side of the plate.
2. Chipper Jones - Atlanta Braves (1993-2012)
Best Season: 1999 - .319/.441/.633 with 45 home runs, 110 RBIs, 126 walks, a 1.074 OPS and an 8.0 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .303/.401/.529 with 468 home runs, 1,623 RBIs, 2,726 hits, 1,512 walks, a .930 OPS, a 141 OPS+ and an 88.3 offensive WAR
Even though he was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, it sometimes feels like Jones' greatness was underappreciated because his team was more associated with dominant starting pitching and his peak came during the Steroid Era. Between 1996 and 2003, FanGraphs says that the only offensive players in the sport that were more valuable were Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell. 361 of Jones' 468 career home runs came with his sweet left-handed swing, but he did still hit .304 from the right side of the plate as well.
1. Mickey Mantle - New York Yankees (1951-1968)
Best Season: 1956 - .353/.464/.705 with 52 home runs, 130 RBIs, 112 walks, 1.169 OPS and a 10.6 offensive WAR
Career Summary: .298/.421/.557 with 536 home runs, 1,509 RBIs, 2,415 hits, 1,733 walks, .977 OPS, 172 OPS+ and 116.2 offensive WAR
Mantle led baseball in OPS+ eight times, OPS six times, walks five times, runs five times, slugging percentage four times, home runs four times and batting average once. There's not a ton else to say - this is one of the 15 greatest offensive players in MLB history. Mantle hit .330 from the right side of the plate in his career, though 372 of his career home runs came when he batted left-handed.