Team Records

I love

I learn cute little facts like these:

The team with the most games played in history:  Chicago Cubs, 20,515.  Second place is the Atlanta Braves, which are technically the older team.  They are the only remaining original national league franchises from 1876.   Another interesting thing about these two teams is their original names would later be adopted by American league teams.  The Cubs were originally the White Stockings, and the Braves were the Boston Red Stockings.

The Yankees of course have the highest winning percentage of all time: 9917-7543 for .568.   The worst? The Tampa Bay Rays at 1165-1367 .460  The worst non expansion team?  The Philadelphia Phillies at 9367-10429 for .473.  There are a number of defunct teams worse than the Rays, however they’re all 19th century or Federal League teams..

The team with the most players:  The St. Louis Cardinals have had 2017 different men play for them.

Quick.. name the only team (current) that has never had a hall of famer play for them?  It’s the Colorado Rockies, though I suspect that will eventually change with Larry Walker or Todd Helton.

Did you know Babe Ruth has hit 4.43% of all home runs ever hit by Yankee players?  Sounds impressive.. but that got me thinking.. what are the records for that peculiar stat? Well thanks to expansion team players, who dominate the

list, Ruth isn’t even in the top ten.  The all time leader is Jeff Bagwell – by a mile – with 7.37% of all Astros home runs ever hit (449/6095)

If you throw out the expansion teams (post 1961 teams) there are five players who have hit a larger percentage of their team’s home runs than Ruth:

Harmon Killebrew, Senators/Twins) 5.6826% (559/9837)

Hank Aaron, Braves 5.6773% (733/12911)

Willie Mays, Giants 4.68% (646/13812)

Mike Schmidt, Phillies 4.4907% (548/12203)

Willie Stargell, Pirates 4.4905% (475/10578)

Babe Ruth, Yankees 4.43% (659/14862)

As time goes to infinity of course, this statistic will become meaningless as every team’s home run totals will go to infinity and it will simply be a matter of who has the most home runs for one franchise (Aaron).


One last factoid..did you know only 6 times in history has a team scored at least one run in all nine innings?  Of those,  two were in the insane 1894 season, and only 3 occurred after 1900, all in the national league:

June 1, 1923 Giants at Phillies  – Baker Bowl 22-8

September 13, 1964 Cardinals at Cubs – Wrigley Field 15-2

May 5, 1999 Rockies at Cubs – Wrigley Field 13-6

Of course it’s the away team accomplishing the feat each time since for the home team to bat nine innings, they’d have to come out on the losing side, which would be hard to accomplish scoring at least one run each inning.

The interesting thing to me is the Rockies game. It wasn’t at Coors Field where they did most of their run scoring.



All Time Top Ten: Second Basemen

1. Rogers Hornsby 1915-1947  2259G, 301HR, 1584RBIs, .358BA, 175 OPS+

It’s really a four or five man race for 1st at second base. Ultimately Hornsby’s offensive stats were just too great to ignore, he leaves everyone else in the dust in that regard. Hornsby basically became a part time player after the 1929 season at the age of 33. He went 39/149/.380 that year. But he continued to play part time until 1937 in the majors, and appeared in his last game in the mexican league in 1944 at the age of 48, hitting a game winning grand slam. You could make the argument actually that Hornsby was the greatest hitter of all time, not Ruth, Williams, Bonds, or anyone else. But he didn’t draw as many walks as those guys.

2.  Eddie Collins 1906-1930 2826G, 47HR. 1300 RBIs, .333BA, 142 OPS+

Collins is one of those people who doesn’t immediately come to mind when talking about all time greats, as he more or less posted the same stats year in year out.. Eddie Murray style. Only Collin’s seasons were of the .350 batting average, .440 OBP, 50 SB, best defense in the league variety.

3.  Joe Morgan 1963-1984  2649G, 268HR, 1133 RBIs, .271BA, 132 OPS+

Before there was opinionated announcer Joe Morgan there was the most exciting player in baseball Joe Morgan. The only thing that keeps Morgan from the top spot in this list for me is consistency. From 1972-1976 he was the best player in baseball and posted possibly the greatest five year stretch of any second baseman in history (except maybe Hornsby of course).

4. Napoleon Lajoie  1896-1916 2480G, 82 HR, 1599 RBIs, .338BA, 150 OPS+

Lajoie is the only player to actually have a team named after him, as the Indians were renamed the Naps during his period there. Lajoie drew very, very few walks, so I rank him a little below the players higher up.

5. Jackie Robinson 1947-1956  1382G, 137 HR, 734 RBIs, .311 BA, 132 OPS+

Now normally I would never rank a player this high with so few games played, especially one with only 748 games played at the position. But Robinson gets a HUGE pass of course, not only because of the color line, but also because he was one of the most dynamic, exciting players of the 40’s and 50’s.. which sometimes gets overlooked in all the talk of integration. But I do rank him fifth, mostly because of his limited playing time. After Robinson there’s a huge gap between these top five and the bottom five in the top ten.

6.  Charlie Gehringer 1924-1942 2323G, 184HR, 1427 RBI, .320BA, 124 OPS+

Gehringer was just a solid all around ballplayer for Detroit for a decade and a half. Scored 100 or more runs an amazing 12 times. Only Aaron, Gehrig, Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Rickey Henderson have done it more often.

7. Bobby Grich 1970-1986  2008, 224 HR, 864 RBIs, .266BA, 125 OPS+

I love players like Bobby Grich, who were really outstanding players, had hall of fame level talent.. but just didn’t get the recognition they deserved. And most of the time it’s for the same reason.. they hit for power, but not THAT much power, they drew lots of walks, but nobody paid much attention to that when they played, they hit at or above the league average, but batting averages were generally depressed when they played, and they were among the better fielders in the league, but not THE best. That’s a good description of Grich. Ron Cey is another guy like that who also played in the 70’s .

8.  Roberto Alomar  1988-2004 2379G, 210 HR, 1134 RBIs, .300 BA, 116 OPS+

Alomar made the Hall of Fame in 2011 of course, while Grich will never get in. Where’s the justice? Anyway he gets the nod over Kent for this spot due to superior defense.

9. Jeff Kent 1992-2008 2298G, 377 HR, 1518 RBIs, .290 BA, 123 OPS+

I never really watched Kent much during his career, so I guess I never gained an appreciation of his talents. Mostly that’s because he played with barry Bonds and I avoided having to watch him like the plague. Might rank higher if everyone ahead of him weren’t much better fielders.

10. Craig Biggio 1988-2007 2850G, 291 HR, 1175 RBIs, .281BA, 112 OPS+

Biggio started out his career as a catcher.. after a few years switched to second base, which is unusual for a catcher. After ten years he moved to the outfield, and after two years shagging flies, he moved back to second base to finish his career. Good speed, good batting eye, good power, good glove. Biggio kind of snuck up on me. Seemed like one moment he was a good, but run of the mill player in the early nineties dinking 160 hits or so a year and the next thing I know it’s 2006/2007 and he’s knocking on the door of 3000 hits.

Honorable Mention (and why I didn’t pick them)

Ryne Sandberg – Sandberg was a good hitter, and great fielder.. just not enough of either to crack the top ten.

Lou Whitaker- Much as I would have loved to see Whitaker in the top ten, he just wasn’t productive enough.

Nellie Fox – Fox was just too weak a hitter.

Bill Mazeroski – Mazeroski is considered by many to be the greatest defensive player in the history of baseball. That may be, but he was an absolutely terrible hitter, probably the worst in the hall of fame.

Frankie Frisch – Frisch has always been overrated. It’s due to Frisch we have so many bad hall of fame selections from the Giants and Cardinals of the 1920’s and 30’s. I’d rate him about the 15th best second baseman of all time.

Bid McPhee – somewhat obscure 19th century player. For that reason alone he’s excluded.

Bobby Doerr – Not quite a good enough hitter.

Billy Herman – I sometimes wonder why some players hit as lightly as they do. Herman was 5’11 180lbs which was at least average size if not larger for the day, yet he only hit 47 home runs in his long career.

All Time Top Ten: Shortstops

1.  Honus Wagner 1897-1917  2794G, 101HR, 1733RBIs, .328BA, 151 OPS+

Wagner is, in my opinion, one of two players in baseball history that had absolutely no flaws as a player. Willie Mays is the other.  There just wasn’t anything he didn’t do well. As far as I can tell, Wagner didn’t really play organized ball at all until 1895 at the age of 21.  I find that amazing.

2.  Ernie Banks 1953-1971 2528G, 512HR. 1636 RBIs, .274BA, 122 OPS+

Ernie Banks had something of an odd career.  Only a shortstop until 1961, he won two MVPs, finished in the top ten three other times,  hit over 40 home runs 5 times, and won a gold glove in 1960. Injuries forced his move to first in 1962, and he became more or less an average player for the next 10 years. But he’s best known as a shortstop and this is where he ranks based off that, despite limited time there.

3.  Cal Ripken 1981-2001 3001G, 431HR, 1695 RBIs, .276BA, 112 OPS+

If Ripken had hit 5 less home runs in 1991 he would have broken Al Kaline’s record for most home runs in a career without hitting 30 in a season.  It’s little things like that I notice.

4. Derek Jeter  1995-2013 2586G, 255 HR, 1255 RBIs, .313BA, 117 OPS+

He’s not done of course,  but I don’t quite see him overtaking Ripken for 3rd, or doing anything to merit a fall in the rankings.  He’s this generation’s “Mr. Yankee”

5.  Alex Rodriguez 1994-2012 2524G, 647 HR, 1950 RBIs, .300 BA, 143 OPS+

See.. this is the problem with steroids.. where do I even put ARod?  I touched on this with the 3rd basemen article.  In a way Rodriguez’s career is similar to Ernie Banks, though he moved away from short for different reasons.  In terms of peak value, you could argue he’s even higher than Wagner.  I just can’t get over the steroid issue though. In any case while he deserved to rank high based on sheer ability, it’s my list and I’ll put him where I want to.

6.  Arky Vaughan 1932-1948 1817G, 96HR, 926 RBI, .318BA, 136 OPS+

You could probably make the  case that Vaughan belongs higher on the list.  But he had a short career and the five men ahead of him were all much better fielders.  Had a somewhat strange, premature end to his career.  A dispute with Dodgers manager Leo Durocher led to him retiring from baseball at the age of 31 after leading the National League in runs and stolen bases in 1943. When Durocher was suspended for Jackie Robinson’s debut season in 1947 (Shown in the movie “42” in 2013), Vaughan decided to make a comeback.  He hit .325 in 1947 playing part time, but only .244 in 1948 when he was released. He played one last year in the PCL hitting .288 in 1949 before retiring for good at 37.  In 1952 he was fishing with a friend in a lake and their boat capsized, drowning both men.  He was 40.

7. Barry Larkin 1986-2004 2180G, 198HR, 960 RBIs, ..295BA, 116 OPS+

With the current log jam in the hall of fame voting process Larkin is lucky to have squeaked in in 2012.  It might be a while before anyone else makes it.

8.  Alan Trammell  1977-1996 2293G, 185 HR, 1003 RBIs, .285 BA, 110 OPS+

Trammell really should be in the hall of fame.  Unfortunately he finished his career right before the juiced era, so his numbers don’t look all that great. He was kind of a jack of all trades, doing everything well, but nothing spectacular on the field.  So he tends to be a little overlooked.

9. Luke Appling 1930-1950 2422G, 45 HR, 1116 RBIs, .310BA, 113 OPS+

I remember as a kid watching Luke Appling hit a home run in the old timers game off Warren Spahn at the age of 75. Feel free to Youtube it.  Of course he wasn’t much of a home run hitter in his playing career.  Now the really interesting thing to me is that is the ONLY time the two ever faced each other in a game.  Since Spahn and Appling played in different leagues, and they never reached the postseason at the same time (Appling never did), the only time they MIGHT have was in the 1947 All Star game.  Appling however had just one at bat in the 6th inning, while Spahn pitched the 8th inning for the national league.

10. Ozzie Smith 1978-1996 2573G, 28 HR, 793 RBIs, .262BA, 87 OPS+

People may be surprised to see Smith so low on the list.. but he was an awful hitter.  Of course he’s mostly known for his fielding, but that only makes up for so much.

Honorable Mention (and why I didn’t pick them)

Joe Cronin – Honestly the more I look at Cronin the more I think he should be on this list instead of Ozzie Smith.  But I’d probably be beaten by Cards fans if I did that.  Appling and Cronin are pretty close in value I think, but I just wanted to tell my Appling-Spahn factoid.  I don’t think Cronin was quite as good as Trammell.  Call him rank 10.5 if you like.

Robin Yount- Maybe another surprise he’s not on the list.   But Yount only played half his career at short and unlike Banks and Rodriguez I don’t think his half is quite good enough.  If he had played his whole career at SS I suppose I’d rank him 5th.  Any excuse to move Alex Rodriguez farther down the list.

Bill Dahlen – Just simply  too long ago.  The game was so different, I try not to rank 19th century players unless they’re SO amazing I can’t really avoid it.

George Davis – See Bill Dahlen

Omar Vizquel – I think he’s not quite as good a fielder as Ozzie Smith, and not quite as good a hitter either.  And I barely have Ozzie ranked as it is.  So no.

Pee Wee Reese – Ultimately just not quite enough to justify a ranking.

Lou Boudreau – too short a career.

Luis Aparicio – Much like Vizquel it’s either him or Ozzie Smith, and I’ll go with Smith.

Nomar Garciaparra –  Nomar is an interesting guy, and a fun discussion is whether he belongs in the hall of fame or not.  It’s a closer call than you might suspect at first. If you give him a huge amount of consideration for what might have been you can discuss where he ranks among the all time great shortstops, but ultimately he barely played 1000 games there.. it’s too little.

All Time Top Ten: Third Basemen (Finally Finished)

In honor of Ron Santo, I’ll skip ahead to third basemen.

1.  Mike Schmidt 1972-1989  2404G, 548HR, 1595RBIs, .267BA, 147 OPS+

I’m not sure people realize how good Mike Schmidt was.  I think partially this is because he played in the “deadball” era of the 70s and 80s, wasn’t flashy, and because he had a low batting average usually, he seemed like just another muscle bound home run hitter.  But Schmidt actually hit 15-20 points above the league average in most years.  He also stole 174 bases and won 10 gold gloves.  He really had very few flaws.

2.  Eddie Mathews 1952-1968 2391G, 512HR. 1453 RBIs, .271BA, 143 OPS+

Take a look at Ed Mathew’s baseball cards year by year.  He just seems to age before your eyes..  turning into an old man before the age of 35.  After 1960, his production entered a steep decline.. had he been able to squeeze out 5 or so more productive years he might have challenged Ruth’s record before Aaron.

3.  Chipper Jones 1993-2012 2499G, 468HR, 1623 RBIs, .303BA, 141 OPS+

Had Jones been a better fielder he migh be number one on this list.  But a fine career, all with one team, nonetheless.

4. George Brett  1973-1993  2707G, 317 HR, 1596 RBIs, .305BA, 135 OPS+

Brett only played 1692 games at 3rd.  Most people might be surprised at that, But those were his best years.

5.  Brooks Robinson 1955-1977 2896G, 268HR, 1357 RBI, .267BA, 104 OPS+

Robinson of course gets most of his value from being the finest defensive 3rd baseman of all time.

6.  Wade Boggs 1982-1999 2440G, 118 HR, 1014 RBIs, .328 BA, 131 OPS+

It’s hard to describe Wade Boggs to someone today..  average looking guy with a 19th century mustache who posted batting averages that also looked like they were from 100 years ago.. but while also drawing huge numbers of walks..  I don’t really know another guy with that high average/large walks combo.

7. Ron Santo 1960-1974 2243G, 342 HR, 1331 RBIs, .277BA, 125 OPS+

It’s really a crime Santo was overlooked by the hall of fame for so many years.  He should have been a shoo in. But he was somewhat unassuming.. regionally popular, and had a somewhat short career due to diabetes, leaving at the age of just 34.

8. Frank Baker 1908-1922 1575G, 96 HR, 987 RBIs, .307BA, 135 OPS+

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about Home Run Baker.. On Jun13/14 1921 on consecutive days Baker hit home runs at the Polo Grounds while playing with the Yankees against the Tigers.  On both days Babe Ruth hit two home runs as well.  Kind of sums up Baker I suppose..  always being overshadowed by other players.

9. Ron Cey 1971-1987 2073G, 316HR, 1139 RBIs, .261BA, 121 OPS+

Bet you didn’t see this one..  6 time all star, and one of the best defensive players never to win a gold glove (thanks to Schmidt).

10.  Stan Hack 1932-1947 1938G, 57 HR, 642 RBIs, .301 BA, 119 OPS+

Hack isn’t thought of too much these days.. but he was the best 3rd baseman in either league for at least ten years..  I think that deserves a HOF nod.. but I doubt it will happen.

Honorable Mention (and why I didn’t pick them)

Dick Allen –  too few games at 3rd.  I could say a lot about Allen, since he won’t appear on any of these lists..  but he’s one of the most gifted athletes/players to ever set foot on a baseball field.  Unfortunately injuries and attitude took their toll.

Pie Traynor – Up until the 1980s virtually every all time list you’d ever see had Pie Traynor as the greatest 3rd baseman of all time.  Looked at in a modern sense.. his statistics just don’t look that good.

Graig Nettles – always sort of saw him as a poor man’s Mike Schmidt – He hit for power.. but not as much as Schmidt, was a great fielder, but not quite as good as Schmidt.. drew 1088 walks.. but not as many as Schmidt.  Was a worse baserunner than Schmidt.. I just couldn’t see him in the top ten.

Alex Rodriguez – I kind of limited the list to 1500 games played at 3rd.. If you relaxed that a bit you could plop A-Rod in 5th or 6th place..  but we’ll see how he winds up his career.

George Kell – I hated Kell as a HOF choice.. there  just were, and still are better candidates.  His stats just don’t quite measure up other than batting average.

Ken Boyer – If Graig Nettles is a poor man’s Mike Schmidt Boyer is a poor man’s Ron Santo.  Unlike Nettles I could see Boyer in the Hall of Fame.  But I don’t think he quite belongs in the top ten.