Thursday, June 21, 2012

Magic Numbers Aren't Always Round Numbers

Ichiro Suzuki got his 2,500th hit last night. It should be about two or three more seasons before he reaches 3,000, and unless his body completely and catastrophically breaks down between now and then- he is 38, but there's nothing to suggest right now that it'll break down quite that badly- the only other question is how far beyond 3,000 he'll get. And once he reaches 3,000, of course, that's the magic number to guarantee a trip to Cooperstown, as if he wasn't Cooperstown-bound already.

That's one of the three generally-accepted milestones: 500 home runs, 300 wins and 3,000 hits. But really, only 3,000 hits seems at all valid anymore. Nor does it really get talked about as to whether those numbers are the threshold... or whether it's actually somewhere else and we just don't mention it because it's not a nice round number. Perhaps it's time we re-examined some numbers and determined where exactly the Cooperstown threshold is.

What I present are 11 major statistics, the active leader, the five highest-placing Hall of Fame-eligible players in each who are not yet in (translation: nobody that is active, banned or has not faced a ballot), and the Hall of Famer that sits immediately above the highest-placed non-Hall of Famer, according to Baseball Reference.

Hits (active leader: Derek Jeter, 3,178)
Threshold HOFer: Lou Brock (3,023)
3,020- Rafael Palmeiro
2,866- Harold Baines
2,757- Vada Pinson
2,743- Al Oliver
2,716- Rusty Staub

Home runs (active leader: Alex Rodriguez, 640)
Threshold HOF'er: Frank Robinson (586)
583- Mark McGwire
569- Rafael Palmeiro
493- Fred McGriff
462- Jose Canseco
442- Dave Kingman

RBI's (active leader: Alex Rodriguez, 1,925)
Threshold HOF'er: Ted Williams (1,839)
1,835- Rafael Palmeiro
1,628- Harold Baines
1,550- Fred McGriff
1,493- Dave Parker
1,466- Rusty Staub

OPS (on-base plus slugging, minimum 3,000 PA) (active leader: Albert Pujols, 1.0257)
Threshold HOF'er: Rogers Hornsby (1.0103)
.9823- Mark McGwire
.9740- Frank Thomas
.9674- Larry Walker
.9451- Lefty O'Doul
.9333- Albert Belle, Edgar Martinez

Stolen bases (active leader: Juan Pierre, 568)
Threshold HOF'er: Ty Cobb (897)
808- Tim Raines
752- Vince Coleman
742- Arlie Latham
668- Willie Wilson
657- Tom Brown

Position-player WAR (Wins Above Replacement) (active leader: Alex Rodriguez, 110.6)
Threshold HOF'er: Johnny Bench (72.3)
71.4- Lou Whitaker
70.9- Bill Dahlen
69.7- Frank Thomas
69.7- Larry Walker
67.3- Bobby Grich

Wins (active leader: Jamie Moyer, 269)
Threshold HOF'ers: Lefty Grove and Early Wynn (300 each)
297- Bobby Mathews
288- Tommy John
284- Tony Mullane
283- Jim Kaat
265- Jim McCormick

Strikeouts (active leader: Jamie Moyer, 2,441)
Threshold HOF'er: Jim Bunning (2,855)
2,832- Mickey Lolich
2,773- Frank Tanana
2,668- David Cone
2,610- Chuck Finley
2,556- Jerry Koosman

Complete game shutouts (active leader: Roy Halladay, 20)
Threshold HOF'ers: Rube Waddell and Vic Willis (50)
49- Luis Tiant
46- Tommy John
46- Jack Powell
45- Doc White
44- Babe Adams

WHIP (Walks/Hits per Inning Pitched, minimum 1,000 IP) (active leader: Mariano Rivera. 0.9978)
Threshold HOF'er: Mordecai Brown (1.0658)
1.0673- Charlie Sweeney
1.0800- Reb Russell
1.0868- Jim Devlin
1.0869- Smoky Joe Wood
1.0887- Jack Pfeister

Pitching WAR (active leader: Roy Halladay, 63.0)
Threshold HOF'er: Robin Roberts (77.3)
72.2- Jim McCormick
65.6- Bobby Mathews
64.6- Rick Reuschel
64.5- Kevin Brown
61.8- Luis Tiant

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