The 10 Best Players Who Didn't Hit Home Runs

The 10 Best Players Who Didn't Hit Home Runs

Can great baseball players lack the one tool that's celebrated more than the other four put together?

It’s easy to recall the best hitters of all time, even if the order isn’t exactly set in stone. The most common denominator among all of them is typically an impressive collection of home runs. But what if you removed that aspect from their game? The best non-power hitters of all-time aren’t talked about very often, so the list is a lot more debatable (and flexible) than the former.

For the inaugural post on The Index, we have the top 10 players in MLB’s DH era to never hit more than 10 home runs in a single season – excluding pitchers of course.  We use the DH era starting in 1973 because it controls for a few variables that make the comparison somewhat more context neutral.  That also means we’re only looking at stats in 1973 or more for all hitters – even the ones who debuted before 1973 and played beyond 1973.  30 years earlier and we not only lose the DH, but we also lose a comparable mound height, an integrated MLB, and 8 teams! That’s right – 16 teams in 1943 compared to 24 in 1973.  So that’s why we’re only using the DH era for this list. 

As always, the preferred methodology to objectively quantify “greatness” in terms of productivity is Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement, or fWAR. For context, the average Hall of Famer accrues 60 to 66 fWAR, with roughly two-thirds of inductees in the 40 to 80 fWAR range.

And off we go!

  1. Scott Fletcher 24.6 fWAR

Coming in at number ten is Scott Fletcher, who bounced around over a career that spanned 15 seasons.  With 24.6 WAR, he managed to sneak in some productive years, including his 1993 season with the Red Sox, his 1988 season with the Rangers, and his 1986 season with the Rangers – his best statistical season.  He’s probably best remembered by White Sox fans and Rangers fans, having spent a combined 9 years between the two teams.  While he was owner of the Rangers, future President George W. Bush admired Fletcher so much that he named his English Springer Spaniel “Spot Fletcher” after the one-time Rangers shortstop.  Fletcher never made an All-Star team, and never hit more than 5 home runs in a season.


  1. Dave Magadan 25.6 fWAR

A career .288 hitter with a .390 OBP, Dave Magadan was a steady presence of bat control and patience throughout his 15-year tenure in Major League Baseball.  Magadan was a 2nd round pick of the Mets in 1983, and he’d call New York home for his first 7 and a half seasons in the Big Leagues.  He’d conclude his career as a bit of a journeyman, playing out one-, two-, and three-year stints for the Marlins, Astros, Cubs, A’s, and Padres.   He’s perhaps best known by younger generations as a perennial hitting coach – a position built off his elite contact-patience skill combination.  Just like number 10, Magadan was never an All Star at the Big-League level. His power topped out in 1990 when he hit 6 home runs for the Mets. 


  1. Lance Johnson 26.6 fWAR

Our first All-Star selection, Lance Johnson made the Midsummer Classic in 1996 with the Mets.  He for 14 seasons, spending time with the Cardinals, White Sox, Mets, and Cubs before he retired with the Yankees in 2000, earning himself his first ring in the process.  Johnson led MLB in triples four times, and also was the league’s hit king twice.  One thing he never came close to leading the league in was home runs, however, as he topped out at 10 bombs in 1995 with the White Sox.  His 10 homers tie him for the lead among those in this list though. 


  1. Butch Wynegar 27.3 fWAR

Butch Wynegar could have played more than the 13 seasons he amassed with the Twins, Yankees, and Angels, but was forced to retire at 32 due to an arthritic toe.  Wynegar opened his career with two straight All-Star appearances as the Twins’ backstop, and built a reputation as an excellent receiver with a keen eye.  He reached ten home runs twice – his first two years. 


  1. Luis Castillo 28.4 fWAR

A Dominican speedster remembered best for his time with the Marlins, Luis Castillo managed just 28 round-trippers in his 15 seasons. He won 3 Gold Gloves at 2nd Base to go along with 3 All-Star appearances, all with the Marlins. While his hitting profile lacked much power, Castillo had excellent bat control and an even better eye. His combination of discipline and contact is why he ended his career with a .290 batting average and a .368 OBP. Perhaps even more impressive – he managed to walk more than he struck out in 7 of his final 8 seasons. 


  1. Pete Rose* 37.4 fWAR

If you’re thinking “wait a minute, Pete Rose has way more WAR than that”, then you’d be correct. However, this list is only looking at the DH era. He also hit more than 10 home runs in six different seasons – all before 1973. So why is he on the list if he’s actually had seasons with more than 10 jacks? Because the 37.4 fWAR he accumulated from 1973 to 1986 was collected without the aid of more than 10 home runs in any given season. That era alone makes him one of the most productive hitters without pop ever. Combined with his numbers before 1973, you get what would be a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career – if he weren’t banned from baseball.

Pete Rose
  1. Willie Wilson 38 fWAR

Willie Wilson played the majority of his 19-year career with the Royals before splitting his last four seasons between the A’s and the Cubs.  A similar profile to #6 on our list, Luis Castillo (though less disciplined), Wilson racked up 668 stolen bases in his career, and hit to an average of .285 by the time he hung up his spikes. His achievements earned him two All-Star appearances to go with two Silver Slugger awards. In spite of placing 12th all time in stolen bases, Wilson only led the American League in steals once – in 1979 when he racked up 83. That’s the downside of his career coinciding almost entirely with that of Rickey Henderson.


  1. Brett Butler 42.2 fWAR

Over the course of his 17-year career, Brett Butler mastered bat control, plate discipline, and baserunning well enough to dismiss his rate of 4 home runs per 162 games played. At various points in his career, Butler led his respective league in runs, hits, triples, and walks (as well as the dubious honor of leading the league in caught stealing multiple times). By the time he retired, Butler walked 1,129 times and struck out 907 – almost unheard of today; out of everyone with at least 1,000 PA who’s played as recently as 2015, only Juan Soto has more walks than strikeouts (Albert Pujols did too until the 2021 season). Despite his consistent productivity, Butler only managed a single All-Star honor in 1991 with the Dodgers. That makes it even harder to believe his 42.2 fWAR is better than 15% of Hall of Fame inductees.


  1. Willie Randolph 62.1 fWAR

Willie Randolph never hit more than 7 home runs in a season, but he was really good. Like really, really good. In his 18-year career, he amassed more fWAR than 52% of Hall of Fame inductees. He’s also one of the more bewildering Hall of Fame snubs to exist, particularly because the majority of his superb career was played with the Yankees. His 62.1 fWAR is within shouting distance of Derek Jeter, and better than his Yankee teammate Dave Winfield, as well as his 2nd base contemporary Ryne Sandberg (each of whom are in the Hall of Fame). Despite being well-qualified for The Hall, he's not only a snub - he was flat out disrecpted by voters, earning just 5 votes in 1998 (350 short of being voted in) and falling off that ballot  (, 2022). Is it the “paltry” one World Series won by Randolph’s Yankees in 1977?  Probably not; a lot of inductees never won a ring – Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr…then again, they didn’t play for the Yankees. Maybe Randolph just slid under the radar with his consistency – he accrued 4 or more fWAR in 8 seasons (on par with the average Hall of Famer) but he only led his respective league in any category once, when he led the AL in walks in 1980.

The table below shows us Willie's placement among some of his DH Era contemporaries who made The Hall with a similar fWAR:
Final Season
Hall of Fame


  1. Ozzie Smith 67.5 fWAR

In 1985, his eighth season in the Big Leagues, Ozzie Smith nearly doubled his career home run total…with 6 home runs. He had just 7 in his career prior to that season. He never hit more than 3 homers in his 11 seasons that followed. Like others on this list, the Wizard of Oz was superior in virtually every aspect of the game except power. His patience and bat control are why he walked almost twice as much as he struck out, and his 580 career stolen bases are indicative of his baserunning prowess. As the only Hall of Famer on this list (though not the only one who should be), Ozzie is living proof that you don’t need pop to be truly great on the field. Plus, when you rarely hit home runs, its pretty memorable when you do – like in the 1985 NLCS. Thankfully this happened before he disappeared off the face of the earth after visiting the Springfield Mystery Spot (we'll have more on that in a future post).


That’s it. Go crazy folks. 

References (2022). Willie Randolph. Retrieved from
FanGraphs. (2022, January). Major League Leaderboards. Retrieved from FanGraphs:

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