10 Best First Basemen in Baseball History
With eight Hall-of-Famers, plus two well on their way, our list of the 10 best first basemen in baseball history reads like a Who’s Who of the greatest hitters of all time. No other position—aside from outfielders—provides a more potent collection of bashers than the ten listed below.
- Lou Gehrig. With a .340 lifetime average and 493 home runs, Lou Gehrig ranks as one of baseball’s all time greats and is number one on our list of the ten best first basemen in baseball history. “The Iron Horse” is best remembered for playing in 2,130 consecutive games for the Yankees—a streak that ended when he was diagnosed with ALS.
- Jimmie Foxx. Blessed with enormous biceps, “The Beast” was among the game’s most feared hitters during the decade of the ‘30s. Jimmie Foxx had his biggest years with the Philadelphia A’s and Boston Red Sox, belting 534 career home runs to go with a .325 lifetime average and earning a spot on our list of the ten best first basemen of all time.
- Hank Greenberg. A two-time American League MVP, Hank Greenberg ranks high among the best first basemen in baseball history. He whacked 58 home runs for the Tigers in 1938 on his way to 331 career home runs—a number that would have been much higher had he not sacrificed 3½ years to World War II.
- Willie McCovey. The 1959 Rookie-of-the-Year from the Giants terrorized National League pitchers throughout the ‘60s and was named the league’s MVP in 1969. With 521 career home runs, Willie McCovey makes our list of the ten best first basemen in baseball history.
- Frank Thomas. The White Sox slugger won back-to-back MVP awards in ’93 and ’94. A .301 lifetime hitter with 521 career home runs, Frank Thomas belted 40 or more homers five times and exceeded 100 RBIs eleven times making him one of the ten best first basemen of all time.
- Albert Pujols. Entering the 2009 season, Albert Pujols had a .334 lifetime average, 373 home runs, and had never produced fewer than 103 RBIs in his 9-year career. Throw in three MVP awards and the Cardinals slugger easily earns a spot on the list of the 10 best first basemen ever to play the game.
- Johnny Mize. As a Cardinal, the left-handed slugger led the National League with a .349 average, hit 51 homers in 1947 for the Giants, and belted three home runs in the ’52 World Series helping the Yankees to the championship. Numbers like those put Johnny Mize on our list of the ten best first basemen of all time.
- Orlando Cepeda. In 1958, The Giants’ Orlando Cepeda was the National League Rookie-of-the-Year with 25 home runs, 96 RBI, and a .312 batting average. Nine years later, he won the league’s MVP award while leading the Cardinals to the 1967 World Series. Finishing his career with 379 home runs and a .297 batting average, the right-handed slugger ranks among the top first basemen in baseball history.
- George Sisler. Considered one of the best fielding first basemen of all time, George Sisler could hit a little bit too. The two-time .400 hitter (.407 in ’20, .420 in ’22) finished his career with more than 2,800 hits and a lifetime average of .340 making him one of the ten best first basemen ever to play the game.
- Eddie Murray. Second only to Mickey Mantle in career home runs by a switch-hitter and to Pete Rose in career hits by a switch-hitter, Eddie Murray was one of the most consistent sluggers in baseball history. With 504 career home runs, the Orioles star never hit more than 33 in a single season and led the league only once (1981), and while piling up 3,255 hits, Murray never led the league in hits in any one season. But put all those numbers together and he’s one of the greatest first basemen of all time.