Friday, March 14, 2014


Ye Olde Blogger Software™ is on record as indicating that this is our four hundredth post since being put into the witness protection program, which is certainly a shockingly higher number than anyone in the original betting pool wrote down when this little "BBB" thang reappeared.

Four hundred is one of those nice "round numbers" that doesn't mean much save for the fact that they're round numbers...while it's not quite in the high-rent district of round numbers (that would be presumably reserved for 10, 100, 1000, 10,000--you know, all that exponential schtuff...), it's certainly worthy enough for us to dally about with in an essay on the occurrences of round numbers in baseball statistics.

Unlike Bill James's old "Leaders, Lasters and Lists" mega-essay from his pre-Internet newsletter, this excursion will tell us virtually nothing about anything remotely analytical; it's pure numerical topography, so those of you who demand meaning with their numbers will probably want to push on to the next striation of the ozone layer...we'll shoot up a flare when we're done.

So let's get goofy, shall we? First up are the "round numbers" associated with hitters.

When you play exactly 2000 major league games in your career,
you get a little...giddy.
The basic measure in any baseball compendium, whether it's Forman et fils, Phangrafs, Total Baseball, Big Mac (the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia), or even the old, primordial Baseball Cyclopedia, which makes many modern day folks more than a little nauseous when they come across it, is games played.

So who has the highest "round number" of games played? That would be Ellis Burks, who participated in exactly 2000 major league games in his career.

Other round numberers in games played include:

1500--Les Mann, Eddie Foster, Juan Beniquez
1000--Brian Hunter (the speedy outfielder, not the first baseman)
500--Gene Nelson, Mike McNally, Rob Gilbreath, Whitey Ford (!), Doc Crandall, Archi Cianfrocco

This is not Matt Williams's 7001st at-bat. In fact, it's
not Matt Wiliams at all: its Washington GM Mike Rizzo
(Williams' doppelganger...) with a strange juggling act.
Next after games is at-bats. (Today we sometimes see plate appearances listed on web sites, and with respect for that innovation, we'll follow this with that.)

Top "round number" at-bat man is Matt Williams, with exactly 7000 lifetime at-bats.

Others at lesser levels of round-number ABs:

4500--Casey Blake
3500--Howie Kendrick*

[The asterisk(*) indicates that the player is still active, and will almost certainly move off this milestone.]

For plate appearances, the biggest round number belongs to Mike Lowell, with 6500. We have to drop down to 3000 before another player "round numbers" it...that player is Dan Pasqua.

Next comes run scored. Now, we'd love to find a guy who scored exactly 2000 runs in his career, but that hasn't happened. Nor is there anyone at 1500, or 1000. The top "round number" guy in baseball for runs scored is: Chone Figgins, with 700. And he might make the Dodgers this season, which would mean by-by to his "round number" record.

Other round number run scorers:

600--Felipe Lopez, Jeff King, Marlon Byrd*, Zeke Bonura
500--Brad Wilkerson, Rennie Stennett, Ollie Pickering, Brian Hunter (yep, same Brian Hunter)

On to hits. We have a gold standard in "round number" hit totals, but it was achieved due to tragedy. The top total: 3000 hits. The owner of that total: Roberto Clemente, who certainly would have exceeded it had he not gotten on that ill-fated cargo plane on December 31, 1972.

Other round number hit folk include Manny Sanguillen and Mike Bordick, 1500; Birdie Tebbetts, Orator Shaffer, Dee Fondy and Jamie Carroll*, 1000.

After hits comes singles (now, in a singles bar, the order is reversed; but we've made a vow to stay out of those places--and so should you, particularly if you're single). The record for most "round number" of singles is not singular--it's held by a troika. With 1000 singles apiece are: Jorge Posada, Bucky Harris, and Kid Elberfeld.

We added 750 as a "round number" here just to get Possum Whitted's name into this column. (Whitted was a reasonably nondescript left-handed hitting outfielder with exquisite timing--he was a member of the 1914 "miracle" Boston Braves.) Dan Ford and John Hummel also amassed 750 singles.

Doubles. Top "round number" doubles guys--John Olerud and Goose Goslin are tied with exactly 500 career doubles. After them, we have truly strange bedfellows: at exactly 350 doubles, we have Dale Murphy and Willie McGee.

Triples. Ah, yes, the dying hit type. And it's reflected in relatively low "round number" totals for 3Bs: the two hitters with exactly 100 triples are Hi Myers and Dan McGann.

Home runs, any one? The top "round number" HR man is Chili Davis, with 350. At exactly 300 dingers, we have Chuck Klein and Raul Ibanez. At 200, Don Mincher, Oscar Gamble, and Bill Freehan.

Where there are homers, there are RBI. #1 "round number" guy for RBI is Eddie Collins, with exactly 1300. #2 on the list is someone who should have had far more RBI in his career than "just" 1000: Darryl Strawberry.

Bill Lange, who would have had
far more than 400 SBs but less than
a .400 OPB had he not retired at 28.
Hey, stolen bases! Their "round number" champ is Cesar Cedeño, with 550. Next, with 400, is colorful 1890s center fielder Bill Lange.

We move on to batting average. Four players had a lifetime "round number" BA of .325: Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Earle Combs, and Bob Fothergill. .300 even? Not quite as many of 'em as you might think at first: Michael Young*, Roberto Alomar, John Kruk, Pedro Guerrero, Billy Goodman, Enos Slaughter, Wally Berger, Earl Sheely, and Oyster Burns. (We often think that this is the greatest name in baseball history, BTW.)

For on-base percentage, the "round number" leaders are all found at .400: Jason Giambi*, Brian Giles, Larry Walker, George Selkirk, and Bill Lange (again!)

Highest "round number" slugging average is currently Mark Teixeira at .525. (That's going to fall off, probably this season.) That will leave all the guys at .500: Jeff Kent, Ryan Klesko, David Justice, Ernie Banks, Roy Campanella, Goose Goslin, Jim Bottomley, and Tris Speaker.

Man, that last one is a really good list. That's a good place to stop--for now. We'll leave you with a big ol' table that summarizes what we've covered. (You may have to click on it to read it.)

There's more to come--much more, in fact, but we're going to save the rest of it for another "round number" post.