Locked In: The Most Hits in a Game, Season and Career in MLB History
After their first four games of the 2022 season, Wander Franco and Steven Kwan were leading Major League Baseball in hits.
Franco had gone nine for his first 13 at-bats for the Tampa Bay Rays and the relatively unknown Kwan of the Cleveland Guardians caught everyone’s attention by going 9 for 13 over the first five-day stretch of the lockout-delayed campaign.
But four games? Five days? Cleveland’s Johnny Burnett only needed one to record his modern-day, big league-record nine hits, though it came over 11 at-bats and 18 innings in a wild 18-17 loss to the Philadelphia Athletics on July 10, 1932.
Burnett, a shortstop who hit .284 with 521 career hits over nine seasons, became the first player to have at least seven hits in a game that day.
Since then, Rocky Colavito and Cesar Gutierrez of the Detroit Tigers, Rennie Stennett of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants have all joined the club.
But what about the most hits in a playoff game? In a season? In a career? Well, we’ve delved into the history books to bring you the answers to those questions and more.
First, let’s finish our thought on the most hits in a game. The performances by Burnett, Colavito (22 innings), Gutierrez (12) and Crawford (14) all came in extra-inning contests. So what’s the record for hits in a nine-inning affair?
Stennett holds the record, going 7 for 7 with two doubles and a triple in a 22-0 rout at Wrigley Field on Sept. 16, 1975.
Most Hits in a Playoff Game
There are 10 hitters tied with five hits on this modern-era list, with the most recent being Kiké Hernández of the Boston Red Sox against the defending American League champion Rays in Game 2 of the AL Division Series on Oct. 8, 2021.
Will Smith of the Los Angeles Dodgers also accomplished this feat versus the San Diego Padres in Game 3 of the National League Division Series exactly one year earlier.
Paul Molitor and Albert Pujols pulled off their big games on the biggest stage. Molitor helped lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 10-0 rout of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series, while Pujols did his damage – which included a Series record-tying three home runs – in the Cardinals’ 16-7 win over the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the 2011 Fall Classic.
Hideki Matsui’s five hits came in a 19-8 blowout of the Red Sox that gave the New York Yankees a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 series lead in the 2004 ALCS. Unfortunately for the Yankees, it wasn’t. Boston would win the next four games and go on to sweep the Cardinals in the World Series.
Most Hits in a Season
Pete Browning of the Louisville Colonels and Tip O’Neill of the St. Louis Browns hold the all-time single-season mark, with Denny Lyons of the Philadelphia Athletics fifth on the list because of their performance during the apparently hit-happy 1887 season.
Of course, Ichiro Suzuki holds that modern-day record, breaking George Sisler’s 83-year-old standard during his remarkable 2004 season with the Seattle Mariners.
Since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941, only Tony Gwynn (.394, 1994), George Brett (.390, 1980), Williams (.388, 1957), Rod Carew (.388, 1977), Larry Walker (.379, 1999) and Stan Musial (.376, 1948) have posted a higher batting average than the .372 Ichiro hit in 2004.
Ichiro finished with over 200 hits in 10 straight seasons between 2001-10 and became only the seventh player to end up with 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases for his career.
Most Hits in a Single Postseason
Chalk this one up to the start of the wild-card era as all the top players in this category had their big postseasons since 1995.
In albeit in an MLB-record (tied with three other teammates) 20 playoff games, Randy Arozarena strung together more hits than anyone in baseball history in a single postseason with 29 in 2020 while helping the Rays march to their first AL pennant since 2008.
He also hit a record 10 home runs that postseason and went 9 for 28 (.321) with four homers – including one in Game 7 – against the Houston Astros in the ALCS, earning MVP honors for the series.
But Arozarena wasn’t just a one-postseason wonder. He leads all active players with a .354 batting average in 96 at-bats across three postseasons between 2019-21.
Most Hits in a Postseason – Career
Again, you had to figure there’d be batters from the wild-card era here, given there have been playoff games aplenty since 1995.
And it’s probably not a surprise that Derek Jeter easily sits on top with several other former New York Yankees listed throughout the top 10.
Mr. November and the Yankees took part in the playoffs 16 times between 1996-2012 (only missing in 2008), with the star shortstop totaling 158 games and a .308 average in his 650 at-bats.
He put together perhaps his best postseason in 1999 when he went 18 for 48 (.375) with three doubles, a triple and a home run to help the Yanks go 11-1 – including a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.
Most Hits in a Career
In 2014, Jeter ended up sixth on the all-time regular-season list with 3,465 hits – still nearly 800 away from fellow perennial All-Star Pete Rose’s historic mark of 4,256 set from 1963-86.
Charlie Hustle had 10 200-hit seasons, but he never had more than three in a row. (We mentioned earlier that Ichiro had 10 straight 200-hit seasons from 2001-10. He finished with 4,367 hits if you include his 1,278 over nine years in Japan.)
Arguably Rose’s best season came in 1969 with the Cincinnati Reds. He hit .348 with 33 doubles, 11 triples, 16 home runs and 82 RBIs, and won his first of two Gold Glove Awards in the outfield.
Along with Hall of Fame ballplayer Ty Cobb (4,191), he’s one of only two players in the 4,000-hit club.
Hank Aaron is the only one in the top 10 to reach both 3,000-hit and 500-home run milestones. Of course, he finished with 755 homers and Musial’s 475 is second among this group.
Graphic design by Matt Sisernos.