After previously looking at each position’s top all-time home run hitter, we now turn our focus to the overall hits leader at each spot on the diamond.
As you’ll see below, just two players lead their respective positions in both categories.
For the purposes of this story, a player must have played at least two-thirds of his games at a position in order to qualify as its leader. Any player who played at least two-thirds of his career in the outfield (regardless of the specific outfield position) qualified in the outfield spot at which he played the most. This is for the Modern Era (since 1900) only.
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez, 2,844
While Mike Piazza holds the lead in the home run department among catchers, Rodriguez is the hit king at the position with 2,844, ahead of Ted Simmons (2,472), Carlton Fisk (2,356), Jason Kendall (2,195) and Yogi Berra (2,150). Piazza ranks sixth with 2,127 hits. Pudge collected the majority of his hits with the Rangers from 1991-2002, a span in which he made 10 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Glove Awards and earned the '99 American League MVP Award.
Active leader: Yadier Molina, 2,112
First base: Eddie Murray, 3,255
Murray is one of six players in history with 500-plus home runs and at least 3,000 hits, along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, who is just 54 hits away from overtaking Murray for the first-base lead. Murray never tallied 200 hits in a season, but he had 170 or more 12 times en route to 3,255 hits in his career.
Active leader: Pujols, 3,301
Second base: Eddie Collins, 3,315
One of the top hitters of the Dead Ball Era, Collins posted a .333 average while notching 3,315 hits in his 25-year career. Collins was the sixth member of the 3,000-hit club, joining a couple of weeks after Tris Speaker in 1925. He’s one of three second basemen in the club, along with Nap Lajoie and Craig Biggio.
Active leader: Robinson Canó, 2,570
Third base: Adrián Beltré, 3,166
With a double on July 30, 2017, Beltré became the 31st member of the 3,000-hit club. Two weeks later, he passed Wade Boggs for the all-time lead among third basemen with his 3,011th career knock. In his 21-year career, which he finished with 3,166 hits, 477 homers and five Gold Glove Awards, Beltré made only eight appearances at a defensive position other than third base.
Active leader: Ryan Zimmerman, 1,846
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, 3,465
Jeter, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2020, ranks seventh all time in hits with 3,465, edging Honus Wagner (3,420) and Cal Ripken Jr. (3,184) for the positional lead. The longtime Yankees captain notched eight seasons with 200-plus hits, leading MLB in 1999 (219) and 2012 (216). A five-time World Series champion, Jeter also had 200 hits in the postseason, 72 more than any other player.
Active leader: Elvis Andrus, 1,864
Left field: Rickey Henderson, 3,055
Stan Musial (3,630) and Carl Yastrzemski (3,419) had more overall hits than Henderson, but both fell just short of the two-thirds threshold, giving Henderson the left-field crown. Henderson, who ranks first on the all-time leaderboard in steals (1,406) and runs (2,295) and second in walks (2,190), joined the 3,000-hit club in 2001 and finished with 3,055 knocks.
Active leader: Justin Upton, 1,748
Center field: Ty Cobb, 4,189
Cobb and Pete Rose are the only two players in history with more than 4,000 hits, and Cobb leads all center fielders with 4,189. The Georgia Peach posted an astonishing .366 average in his career, collecting 200-plus hits in nine seasons. Cobb won the Chalmers Award -- an early version of the MVP -- in 1911 after hitting .419 with 248 knocks and 83 stolen bases.
Active leader: Andrew McCutchen, 1,826
Right field: Hank Aaron, 3,771
Hammerin’ Hank is the first player on this list who also leads his position in home runs. Aaron not only ranks second among all players in homers (755) but also third in hits (3,771) and first in RBIs (2,297). Six other right fielders -- Paul Waner, Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, Ichiro Suzuki, Al Kaline and Roberto Clemente -- had more than 3,000 hits, but none is close to Aaron.
Active leader: Jason Heyward, 1,394
Designated hitters: David Ortiz, 2,472
Ortiz leads all designated hitters in homers with 541 and also has the advantage in hits, though this category is much closer than the first. Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez amassed 2,247 hits, while Big Papi finished with 2,472. Harold Baines has more (2,866) than Ortiz, but he played 58% of his games at designated hitter, falling short of the two-thirds threshold.
Active leader: Shohei Ohtani, 370
Pitcher: Walter Johnson, 547
Part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class alongside Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson, Johnson ranks second all time in wins (417) and bWAR (164.5), first in shutouts (110), ninth in strikeouts (3,509) and 12th in ERA (2.17). The Big Train was also a capable batsman, tallying 547 hits with 24 homers in 2,324 at-bats.
Active leader: Adam Wainwright, 143