Some consider him the greatest overall baseball player of all-time. He could hit for power, average, field, run, etc. This man, Willie Mays, was truly one of baseball’s best and the need to deliver any statistical facts about his career is unnecessary. However I will anyone because it’s important to know just how great he was.
20 Consecutive All-Star Games
From 1954-1973, Mays was an All-Star. The only years he didn’t make the All-Star team were his first two seasons and the 1953 that he missed due to military service. The final few seasons Mays probably didn’t deserve the nod however he’s Willie freakin’ Mays and how can you leave him off the roster?
A League Leader
Mays led the league in multiple categories in many different seasons. He led the league in runs twice, hits once, triples three times, home runs four times, stolen bases four times, and even won a batting title. What I enjoy most about all of these league leading categories was that he scattered them through his career. From 1954-1965, Mays led the league in at least one of the previously mentioned categories except in 1963 where he still finished fifth in the MVP voting.
12 Consecutive Gold Gloves
Try hitting a ball into center field against the Giants between 1957 and 1968 and chances are Mays was there to catch it. We know his most iconic over-the-shoulder catch, but he made plenty of other key defensive plays too. Because of this, Mays was awarded 12 consecutive Gold Gloves to further fulfill his status.
One of the few things Mays never excelled at was hitting in the postseason. The majority of Mays’ career there was only a World Series so unless the Giants got to the finals there was a very limited opportunity for Mays to get his at-bats. In 25 postseason games Mays hit only .247. His lone postseason home run took place in the 1971 NLCS when the San Francisco Giants lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
His Two MVP Seasons
Mays was consistently in the MVP talks however he only ever won the award twice. The first time was in 1954 and the second was in 1965. Here is how the two seasons compare:
1954: 195 Hits, 119 Runs, 33 Doubles, 13 Triples, 41 Home Runs, 110 RBIs, .345 Batting Average
1965: 177 Hits, 118 Runs, 21 Doubles, 3 Triples, 52 Home Runs, 112 RBIs, .317 Batting Average
No matter which season you prefer, both were deserving.
The career of Pedro Alvarez has been a roller coaster. The problem, though, is nobody is quite sure if that roller coaster is complete or if the car is about to dive off the tracks.
Injuries as well as poor production kept Alvarez out of the lineup a little more than he was used to in 2014. After leading the league in home runs on year earlier, the Pirates realized that sometimes extreme power comes with an extreme inability to make contact. Although his 36 home runs was tied for the most in 2014, Alvarez also had 186 strikeouts. Both led the league and both were career highs.
Alvarez is now the first baseman for the Pirates. In leagues where errors count against you, this should be a little helpful. Alvarez will no longer call third base his main position so throwing the ball is less of a worry. Hopefully he takes his time more when playing defense since an out is only a short jog away.
By the end of the 2014 season, Alvarez was pretty much on par with what he did in 2013. His on-base percentage was actually better and he seemed to cut down on the strikeouts ever so slightly. The Pirates also have a better lineup that goes deeper than Andrew McCutchen. Neil Walker has developed nicely and Josh Harrison has a batting title in his future.
The moves the Pirates made, they’re showing Alvarez they have faith in him. They are willing to accept 180 strikeouts if they can get 35 home runs and 100 RBIs from him on a yearly basis. It’s also a sacrifice on defense at first base having him there. My hope is this subtle praise helps him relax and play his best baseball.
The unfortunate thing for Alvarez in fantasy baseball terms is that he’s probably not the best choice as your starting first baseman. Because of this, it’s going to be on owners to try to figure out when is a good time to play him. You don’t want to miss out on those 5 RBI games and only play him on the nights he wins a Golden Sombrero. You should absolutely not play Alvarez against left-handed starters. His .196 lifetime average against them is your warning. This is still no guarantee that against right-handed pitchers he’ll succeed since his career average against them is just .247.
It’s a chore to have Alvarez on your team. You can’t put him in the lineup and not look at who he’s facing. For the most success, be very precise when you do and do not start him.
Whenever Brady Anderson is brought up in conversation, immediately the topic somehow goes toward his 1996 season. That year, Anderson did something remarkable. He hit 50 home runs batting leadoff for the Baltimore Orioles completely shattering his previous career high of 21.
At the time it looked like Anderson was just swinging harder and doing a few more dips in the gym. In hindsight, with what we know about all of the players using steroids back then, Anderson is often accused of using PEDs because of his one great home run season.
There’s actually no data that links Anderson to any use of PEDs. The same can be said about several others, but we live in a “innocent until proven guilty” society where it’s always Opposite Day.
Curious, I looked closely at Anderson’s 1996 season and the others around it.
In addition to home runs, Anderson also set a new career high in doubles with 37. The next season, he beat it by recording 39. Anderson also set a new high in hits with 172 in 1996.
Going into the 1996 season, Anderson was a lifetime .250 hitter. In 1996, he hit .297.
The thinking behind steroids and most other PEDs is that they add muscle. The added muscle increases a player’s strength thus letting them hit the ball further aka equaling more home runs – I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know.
So why, even if he was using steroids, would his career average go up nearly 50 points? It was also almost 30 points higher than his previous best. Suddenly, Anderson is making more contact and the result is a lot more home runs.
In 1997, Anderson played most of the season with a broken rib. The result was still pretty good, but with far less home runs. Anderson only knocked 18 home runs, which was far closer to his average before 1996. He also had 170 hits, only two less than the season prior. Suddenly Anderson is still getting about as many hits with the new ones going for singles rather than home runs. It’s strange and making anything of it is purely speculation.
I believe the singles were a result of the rib injury. This decreased his power significantly. It would be very strange if Anderson was on steroids for only one year then got off them and his numbers changed drastically. Really, there’s not any significant proof that using them has any effect on a baseball player’s skills. More than anything, it helps with the healing process. I’m no expert on any of this so please excuse any misinformation. All I do know is that it’s very peculiar how the numbers worked.
If Anderson was using steroids then got off of them, I’d expect his doubles to go down. Although they only went up by 2 in 1997, they still did increase.
Unfortunately Anderson only had two more productive seasons before retiring after the 2002 season so it’s difficult to go too deep into my uninformed theories.
One thing that is clear to me is Anderson’s approach at the plate changed in 1995. This was the first season he struck out 100+ times and I speculate this was due to a change in his swing.
My last point about Anderson is in relation to his walks in 1996. He walked 76 times that year which just happened to be one of this lowest. Call me crazy, but maybe Anderson just had some confidence to swing harder and more often with the result being lots of home runs?
You don’t need to know a thing about Mickey Mantle other than his nickname “The Mick” to know how great he was. When your real name is still your nickname, it means you stand above all those who share your given name. Everyone who knows a thing about baseball also just happen to be familiar with Mantle on a larger level as he was the face of the New York Yankees throughout the 1950s and 1960s; immediately replacing Joe DiMaggio. Looking specifically at his statistics, here are five facts about Number 7.
16 out of 18 for All-Star Appearances
Mantle played in the major leagues for 18 seasons; all with the New York Yankees. Only his rookie season in 1951 and the injury plagued 1966 season was Mantle not invited to the All-Star Game. Certainly in the last few years of his career the invitation was more based on reputation and goodwill than actual success.
Runs Scored vs. Runs Batted In
We usually think of Mantle as a slugger who was constantly driving in runs when in actuality he scored more runs than he knocked in. Mantle finished his career with 1676 runs scored and 1509 RBIs. This is a difference of almost 200. Mantle actually led the league in runs scored 5 times and only ever did once in RBIs when he had 130 in his Triple Crown winning 1956 season.
Mantle won the World Series seven times. The Yankees were far and away the best team during this time and in the World Series it wasn’t necessarily Mantle contributing the most. In 12 appearances in the World Series, aka the only postseason series played back then, Mantle hit only .257. However he did have a very good .374 on-base percentage because most teams would rather walk him than risk a home run. Mantle was such an inconsistent hitter in the postseason that he only ever hit above .270 in 3 of the 12 World Series he participated in.
Which Season Was His Best?
The 1956 season for Mantle was outstanding. As previously mentioned, he won the Triple Crown. He did this with 52 home runs, 130 RBIs, and a .353 batting average. This was probably his best season, but the 1962 campaign could have been even better if he was healthy. Mantle played in 27 fewer games this season which does not take away from his .486 on-base percentage. This means in almost half of his plate appearances Mantle got on base! This still does not match his 1957 on-base percentage when it was at .512 thanks largely to his 146 walks. As remarkable as that may look, Ted Williams had a better on-base percentage at .526.
A Better Right Handed Hitter
Mantle is often regarded as the best switch hitter in baseball history. Taking a look at his splits, he was a much better hitter from the right side. Mantle had a career .330 batting average from the right side as opposed to a .281 average when batting left-handed. There’s of course no telling how these numbers may have appeared if Mantle was batting right-handed against righties. Still, I remain confident that Mantle would have still been a Hall of Fame player no matter which batter’s box he stood in.
Far from a state known for anything related to baseball, New Mexico does have two very good players who call it their home.
Kiner had fewer hits than Stephens, but also played in fewer games and hit a lot more home runs. From his rookie season in 1946 until 1952, Kiner led the league in home runs each season including two seasons of hitting over 50. A very short ten-year career may be why we often forget about Kiner. The numbers don’t lie and the fact that he’s in the Hall of Fame certainly helps make him the best baseball layer born in New Mexico.
Don’t blame him! That’s just Manny being Manny. The only man in the world who could get away with almost anything because we expect him to misbehave, Manny Ramirez punished baseballs for two decades. He’s still kind of clinging onto baseball life somewhere I’m sure, but for now these five statistical facts are how his Major League Baseball career will end.
100+ Runs, 100+ RBIs, .300 Batting Average
It’s a lot to ask of anybody, but Ramirez was able to have some phenomenal seasons where he scored 100 runs, knocked in 100, and had a batting average over .300. He first did this in 1999, again in 2003, a repeat in 2004, and finally once more in 2008. Several other seasons throughout his career he just came up short on one of the categories.
Leading the League
Ramirez consistently finished near the top in the important offensive categories yet in the big three: home runs, RBIs, and batting average he only led the league once in each. First came the 1999 season when Ramirez led the league with 165 RBIs. In 2002, Ramirez won his lone batting title when he hit .349. Finally in 2004 Ramirez would lead the league in home runs when he hit 43 of them.
From his days with the Cleveland Indians, through his time with the Boston Red Sox, and finally as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers Ramirez played in 111 postseason games. He would finish with a .285 batting average along with 29 home runs and 78 RBIs. In the 4 World Series he played in, Ramirez hit only .247, but with 4 home runs.
Natural Born Yankee Killer
Ramirez’s first home run came against the team that would ultimately become his biggest enemy: the New York Yankees. He took Melido Perez deep on September 3, 1993 for his first big league home run. Two innings later he did the same against pitcher Paul Gibson. When his career was all said and done, Ramirez finished with 55 home runs against the Yankees. This is more than he hit against any other team.
There was never a trial or conviction, but a look at his statistics and the proof is there. Ramirez absolutely murdered left handed pitchers. In 2088 at-bats against south paws he hit .335 with 141 home runs. Lefties were able to strike him out 357 times, but they also gave up 404 walks including 101 intentionally. In 6156 at-bats against right handed pitchers, Ramirez only sequestered 115 intentional walks.
Skipping over the fact that Baseball Reference still lists Mark McGwire at 215 pounds, I am ready to look up a few statistical facts about the one baseball player I rooted for most in my youth. The 1998 Home Run Chase occupied my entire summer and my family even named our dog after McGwire. We dug the long ball just like I hope you will dig these five statistical facts about Big Mac.
Let’s get right into the middle of this. McGwire hit some huge home runs in his career, none bigger than the 62nd off of Steve Traschel in 1998. McGwire would finish his career with 583 dingers. In total, McGwire led the league in home runs 4 times and nearly in three different decades: 1987, 1996, 1998, and 1999.
Lack of Doubles
Gap power was not something McGwire had a ton of. While some power hitters will have nearly equal the amount of doubles as they do home runs, McGwire had more than twice as many balls travel over the fence. His career high in doubles for a single season was in 1987 when he had 28 of them. In several seasons, McGwire didn’t even reach 20.
I would bet nobody has a better 162-game average of home runs than McGwire whose total is 50. Basically this would mean if he had a little more Cal Ripken Jr. in him, playing every game, it would have taken McGwire only 10 seasons to reach 500 home runs. Of course that’s a silly notion anyway. Another statistic from his 162-game average worth noting is his average of only 138 strikeouts. Oddly, McGwire struck out the most in 1997, 1998, and 1999 when he hit 58, 70, and 65 home runs. I don’t think anyone was complaining.
As great as he was for a time, McGwire never won an MVP Award. The closest he came was in 1998 when fellow record-breaker Sammy Sosa beat him out. McGwire did however win the 1987 Rookie of the Year so at least his mantle isn’t completely void of personal awards unrelated to simply hitting more home runs than everybody else.
More on His Home Runs
Here are a few random statistics about McGwire’s home run totals because I could never stop writing about them:
-McGwire hit 427 off of right handed pitchers and 156 off of left handed pitchers
-298 of his home runs occurred on the road and 285 happened at home
-The most McGwire hit against any team was the Detroit Tigers (43)
-The most McGwire hit against any pitcher was Frank Tanana (7), a member of the Detroit Tigers
-124 of McGwire’s home runs came on the first pitch, more than any other
-98 of McGwire’s home runs came in the first inning, more than any other
Visit any classroom in the late 1990s and you would be hard-pressed to not find at least one kid with Chipper Jones on a notebook, binder, or book cover. I had them all I loved him so much. A surefire Hall of Famer once eligible, these are five statistical facts worth knowing about Larry Wayne Jones, the man we call Chipper.
All-Star Selections: 8
We think of Jones as one of the elite players from the 1990s and 2000s however he was only ever selected to 8 All-Star games. This is not bad, but for a guy of his caliber I’m a little disappointed. Jones received the selection every year from 1996-2001 except for 1999 when he should have as he happened to hit a career high 45 home runs that season along with winning the NL MVP. Jones went again in 2008 and for a final time in 2011 then again in 2012.
Jones won his lone batting title in 2008 at the age of 36. He did so with a .364 batting average and an even more impressive .470 on-base percentage. His time was limited as it had been in recent years, only playing in 128 games. Jones still managed to draw 90 walks which helped the high on-base percentage rise even more.
Walks to Strikeouts Ratio
Here’s something we could have never expected from a guy who hit 468 home runs in the era he did: Jones finished his career with 103 more walks than strikeouts. Jones came close several times, but he never actually struck out 100 times in any season.
100+ Runs and 100+ RBIs
Whenever a player scores 100 runs and knocks in 100 in the same season you better not ignore it. Jones did this 8 times in his career. The most runs he scored in any season were the 123 in 1998. His highest RBI total was 111, which he had in 1997 and 2000.
Switch Hitting Splits
The greatest switch hitter of the century, Jones was equally as dangerous from the left side as he was the right. As a left handed hitter he had a career .303 batting average. Batting right handed he hit .304. His home run totals were equally proportional in comparison to his at-bats. Jones had 361 home runs from the left side compared to 107 from the right. His at-bat totals were about 3 times more as a left handed hitter so they were pretty close.
A career highlighted by lots of home runs, steroids, a ball bouncing off his head, helping the Springfield Power Plant get to the championship game, shooting off his own finger, and more–Jose Canseco has done just about everything there is to do. He’s an author and as far from a philanthropist as possible. In my opinion he is the greatest heel in baseball since Ty Cobb maybe only surpassed by Alex Rodriguez. All the crazy stunts off the field, these are five statistical facts from his days on it.
Home Run Totals
One half of The Bash Brothers with former buddy Mark McGwire, Canseco was best known for his home run power. He hit 462 total in his career including hitting over 40 three times. Canseco led the league twice in 1988 (42 home runs) and again in 1991 (44 home runs). The last time he would hit over 40 was in 1998 when he set a new career high with 46.
Canseco owns one MVP Award which he won in 1988. This was a season where he had a career high .307 batting average and led the league with 42 home runs and 124 RBIs. He also happened to score 120 runs and steal 40 bases. The award was given to him unanimously, earning every first place vote available.
Canseco won the World Series twice in his career. The first was in the 1989 season with the Oakland Athletics and the second was with the 2000 New York Yankees. Yeah, I forgot he played for them too. To be fair, he only had one plate appearance and he struck out in it. This one at-bat is actually a good sample of how Canseco performed in the playoffs overall. In 30 games he hit only .184. He did have 7 home runs, 3 coming in the 1988 ALCS which happened to be the first playoff series he participated in. Canseco had some historically bad playoff series including the 1988 World Series where he was 1 for 19, the 1990 World Series where he was 1 for 12, and the 1995 ALDS where he was 0 for 13.
30+ Home Runs for 4 Teams
Seven teams were lucky enough to give Canseco a paycheck. For 4 of them Canseco provided a season with 30 or more home runs. There were the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and Toronto Blue Jays. He would have done it for the Boston Red Sox in 1996 if he was able to play in more than 96 games, finishing his shortened season with 28 home runs.
More on Home Runs
With 462 career long balls there has to be more to discuss with Canseco and the home run. Here is a little more information on them:
-He hit 42 against the Boston Red Sox, more than any other team
-He hit the most off of Todd Stottlemyre, 8
-His first home run was hit in a 0-0 game off of Jeff Russell of the Texas Rangers
-His last home run was hit in a 0-0 game off of Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees