Comments on The SABR Baseball List and Record Book, Part 4
Here is PartÂ 4 of my postings (updated from original posting at my personal blog in 2007) on what I find interesting and worthy of comment while browsing through the 2007 SABR book, The SABR Baseball List and Record Book (available at Amazon). This time around I comment on some lists about Walks and HBPs.
List 078 “Most Career Hit by a Pitch” shows how close Craig BiggioÂ came to breaking the all-timeÂ HBP record! Assuming 2007 is his last season, he ended up with 285, just two behind turn-of-the-century player Hughie Jennings’ lifetime mark of 287. And if you exclude Jennings, and look only at the “modern era”, then Biggio is well ahead of former leader Don Baylor’s 267 HBP. Biggio’sÂ career single-season high was 34 in 1997. Jennings’ career total is what it is because he got nailed a large number of times in three seasons from 1896-1898: 51, 46, and 46. In fact, as list 253 Most Hit By Pitch in a Season indicates, those are three of the top four single-season tallies of all time (Ron Hunt’s 50 in 1971 comes in at second place all-time).
List 079 “Most Career Batter Walks” shows that Barry BondsÂ was just padding his all-time lead inÂ the category before teams lost interest in him.Â He had 2,426 before the 2007 season started, and was given 132 free passes that year, so his lifetime mark stands at 2558 at this point. Second place is Rickey Henderson with 2,190 and third place is Babe Ruth with 2,062. We all thought it impressive when Bonds broke the record for walks in a season in 2001 with 177, and then again in 2002 with 198. But in 2004 he shattered those marks with 232!Â At this point I consider it an fair question whether his career total should be considered “nearly out of reach”, kinda like Henderson’s career SB total seems to be, or Nolan Ryan’s career strikeout record seems to be?
And speaking of out of reach career totals, list 083 “Most Career Batter Intentional Walks, since 1955” reiterates just how many of Bond’s free passes truly were free. Going into 2007 he had 645, but then got 43 more that season for a lifetime total of 688. Now, get ready for this: Hank Aaron is second (post-1955, which means only his rookie season is missing) with 293, and Willie McCovey is third with 260. Going into 2007 only 10 players were on this list with a career total of 200 IBBs or more. Like his string of record-breaking single-season walk totals, since intentional walks are a component of total walks, it should be no surprise he did the same thing a few years ago for IBB. The record (since 1955) had been Willie McCovey’s 45 in 1969, but then Bonds got 68 in 2002, slipped a bit with “only” 61 in 2003, and then got an incredible 120 free passes in 2004! Will anyone ever reach Bonds’ level in this category? I doubt it.
And then consider the very interesting list 270, “Batters who Led the League in Hits and Walks in the Same Season.” There are six such players, five in the NL and only one in the AL. Can you name them? Two are old-timers, from pre-1900. Ross Barnes in 1876 had 138 hits and 20 walks, both good enough to lead the NL, so that isn’t very impressive really. Then in 1891 Billy Hamilton had 179 hits and 102 walks. The great Rogers Hornsby did it in 1924 with 227 hits and 89 walks. Richie Ashburn managed this feat in 1958 leading with 215 hits and 97 walks. Then Carl Yastrzemski is the lone player to ever do it in the AL, getting 183 hits and 95 walks in 1963. And lastly, Lenny Dykstra did it in 1993 with 194 hits and 129 walks. An interesting group of guys!