Hall of Famer Tris Speaker has the most doubles in Major League Baseball history, with 792. Pete Rose (746), Stan Musial (725), and and Ty Cobb (724) are the only other men who hit at least 700 doubles during their careers.
While not as celebrated as home runs, doubles are one of baseball’s most valuable types of hits. And hitting doubles is a skill that goes beyond just tying into the ball with all your might.
Speaker played from 1907 through 1928, with the majority of those years before Babe Ruth killed the so-called Deadball Era with his home run exploits for the New York Yankees in the 1920s.
Before Ruth made everyone dig the long ball, home runs were hard to come by. To wit, Speaker himself led the American League with 10 homers in 1912 for the Boston Red Sox. By the time he hit a career-high 17 for the Cleveland Indians in 1923, though, that total was only good enough to tie him for fourth place in the A.L. with Joe Hauser of the Philadelphia Athletics.
That same season, Speaker led all of baseball with 59 doubles, a total which still ranks tied for seventh on the single-season list.
Speaker had the perfect blend of hitting skills for tagging doubles on a consistent basis. He had enough power to lead the league in home runs (at least before The Bambino came along!), but he also flashed plenty of speed on the basepaths. In fact, Speaker topped out at 22 triples in 1913 and 52 stolen bases in 1912.
The Land of Power and Speed
Speaker’s blend of power and speed is the blueprint for a doubles machine, but there have been players who excelled at just one of those aspects of the game and still collected plenty of doubles.
Albert Pujols, for example, slugged 703 home runs in his career but was about as fast on the bases as a bullpen cart with no battery. But all that power helped Prince Albert collect 686 doubles despite his lack of speed.
On the other hand, you won’t find any pure speedsters on the list of the top doubles men of all-time unless they also packed a punch with their swing. Cobb himself is the exemplar for that type of doubles hitter, of course, but a more modern example is Craig Biggio.
The Houston Astros legend and Cooperstown denizen stole 414 bases in his career, but he also banged 291 long balls. Is it any wonder he was able to crank out 668 doubles among his 3060 hits?
Reserved for Legends
Speaking of Cooperstown, the list of career leaders in doubles is no place for scrubs. Among the all-time top 20, only Rose, Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Barry Bonds, Luis Gonzalez, and Todd Helton are not in the Hall of Fame.
Rose and Bonds, of course, have their own troubles with the Cooperstown electorate that have nothing to do with their numbers.
Pujols, Beltre, Cabrera, and Helton will all end up with plaques.
That leaves only Gonzalez as a non-Hall of Famer on merit alone, and he’s not that far off if you look at his record.
Here is the full top-20 list of players with the most doubles in Major League Baseball history:
|Cal Ripken Jr.