THREE FOUR FIVE CLUB

INTERPRETATION OF CAREER STATISTICS

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Statistically, Major League Baseball’s greatest hitters have traditionally been highlighted by reaching milestone numbers. For example the 3,000 hit club, the 500 or even the 600 home run clubs etc., at www.baseballsgreatesthitters.com we do agree that these are very impressive statistical clubs but not enough to fairly evaluate the greatest hitters in baseball history. There are many players in the Hall of Fame who have compiled impressive career numbers due to longevity, but some of these players were not the most dominate players in their era.

Keep in mind there are many of the greatest hitters in baseball are not in the 3,000 hit club and some of the games greatest sluggers never passed the career 500 home run plateau. Some of the games greatest hitters not in the 3,000 hit club include: Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Edgar Martinez, and Manny Ramirez. Absent sluggers from the 500 home run club include Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Mize, Ralph Kiner, Frank Howard, Willie Stargell, Fred McGriff, Mike Piazza just to name a few.

Single season numbers and lists are interesting and make for some good sports talk, however when evaluating the career of the player single season stats are in many ways overvalued. For example, in the history of baseball only 26 players have had 50 plus home run seasons. Some of the games greatest home run hitters never made this list include Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson, and Mike Schmidt. On the other hand Greg Vaughn, Andruw Jones, Luis Gonzales, Brady Anderson and Chris Dayis have all hit the 50 mark in a season. The most recent example of how single season stats can be mis-interpreted is, Mark Teixeira, who passed the 30 home run/100 RBI mark for the 8th consecutive season in 2011. This impressive accomplishment recently raised the question in sports media “Is Mark Teixeira the one of the greatest switch hitter in the history of the game?” Once again, here is another example of how statistics and numbers can be interpreted incorrectly and in turn create an inaccurate evaluation of a players career. Clearly Mark Teixeira is one of the best hitters in the game today and could possibly be on his way to Cooperstown, but when compared to the all-time greatest switch hitters, he is not at the same level as Mickey Mantle or Eddie Murray.

At www.baseballsgreatesthitters.com, we do put a very strong emphasis on the era the hitter played in and the dominance of the player in his era. We also carefully examine the player’s home/away splits, and recognize “productive” longevity as opposed to the player who compiled impressive numbers as a result of longevity.

At www.baseballsgreatesthitters.com, through much research, we have developed four new hitting clubs (The Three-Four Club, The Three-Five Club, The Four-Five Club, and the Three-Four-Five Club) With the current 500 Home Run Club, the 3,000 Hit Club and the addition of the four new hitting clubs that we have developed, we feel most of the greatest hitters in baseball history will be found in or more of these clubs.

The .300 Club (AVG.)

  • .300 Career Lifetime Batting Average
  • Minimum 5,000 career at bats
  • Only 113 retired players since 1901 have finished their career with 5,000 at bats and a.300 batting avg.
  • Of those 113 players 68 are in the Hall of Fame

The .400 Club (OBP.)

  • .400 Career Lifetime On Base Percentage
  • Minimum 5,000 career at bats
  • Only 29 retired players since 1901 have finished their career with 5,000 at bats and a .400 on base percentage
  • Of those 29 players 22 are in the Hall of Fame

The .500 Club (SLG.)

  • .500 Career Lifetime Slugging Percentage
  • Minimum 5,000 career at bats
  • Only 80 players since 1901 have finished their career with 5,000 at bats and a .500 slugging percentage
  • Of those 80 players 37 are in the Hall of Fame

CHART

Players with 500 Home Runs +…….. Players with 3,000 Hits *

Three-Four Club Three-Five Club Four-Five Club Three-Four-Five Club
25 – Players 39 – Players 23 – Players 17 – Players
Babe Ruth + Babe Ruth + Babe Ruth + Babe Ruth +
Lou Gehrig Lou Gehrig Lou Gehrig Lou Gehrig
Ted Williams + Ted Williams + Ted Williams + Ted Williams +
Jimmie Foxx + Jimmie Foxx + Jimmie Foxx + Jimmie Foxx +
Hank Greenberg Hank Greenberg Hank Grenberg Hank Greenberg
Chipper Jones Chipper Jones Chipper Jones Chipper Jones
Stan Musial * Stan Musial * Stan Musial * Stan Musial *
Rogers Hornsby Rogers Hornsby Rogers Hornsby Rogers Hornsby
Ty Cobb * Ty Cobb * Ty Cobb * Ty Cobb *
Tris Speaker * Tris Speaker * Tris Speaker * Tris Speaker *
Mel Ott + Mel Ott + Mel Ott + Mel Ott +
Harry Heilmann Harry Heilmann Harry Heilmann Harry Heilmann
Frank Thomas + Frank Thomas + Frank Thomas + Frank Thomas +
Edgar Martinez Edgar Martinez Edgar Martinez Edgar Martinez
Manny Ramirez + Manny Ramirez + Manny Ramirez + Manny Ramirez +
Larry Walker Larry Walker Larry Walker Larry Walker
Todd Helton Todd Helton Todd Helton Todd Helton
Joe Kelley Albert Pujols Mickey Mantle +
Mickey Cochrane Joe DiMaggio Barry Bonds +
Jessie Burkett Hank Aaron +* Brian Giles
Wade Boggs * Willie Mays +* Jim Thome
Jackie Robinson Goose Goslin Jeff Bagwell
Arky Vaughan Johnny Mize Lance Berkman
Paul Waner Hack Wilson
Charlie Gehringer Chuck Klein
Al Simmons
Earl Averill
Babe Herman
Wally Berger
Hal Trosky
Bill Terry
Joe Medwick
Jim Bottomly
Mike Piazza
Moises Alou
Vladimir Guerrero
Miguel Cabrera
Ryan Braun
Nomar Garciaparra

Player Comparisons of current Hall of Fame Players and some of the players who have fallen short.

Please note, when we examine the clubs developed by baseballsgreatesthitters.com, we will focus on the three factors listed below:

Players who are admitted or suspected steroid users.
Players whose career home/away splits are highly unbalanced.
Players who have had their careers overshadowed by other greats in the same era.

The Three-Four-Five Club: Currently there are 17 players listed in this club, five players are members of the 500 home run club, three players are members of the 3,000 hit club and three players are active.

  • Manny Ramirez is the only player of this club to have been found guilty of steroid use.
  • Three players Mel Ott, Larry Walker and Todd Helton are the players we have found to be in the category of having very unbalanced home/away splits.
  • There are five players on our list, Harry Heilmann, Hank Greenberg, Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez and Chipper Jones, who we feel, fall into the category as players who have had their careers overshadowed by other great hitters of their era.

The Four-Five Club: Currently there are 23 players listed in this club, eight players are members of the 500 home run club, three players are members of the 3,000 hit club and five players are active.

  • Four players Jeff Bagwell, Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi have been found guilty or suspected of steroid use.
  • Three players, Mel Ott, Larry Walker and Todd Helton are players we have found to be in the category of having very unbalanced home/away splits.
  • There are nine players on our list, Harry Heillmann, Hank Greenberg, Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Lance Berkman and Brian Giles, feel, fall into the category of players who have had their careers overshadowed by other great hitters of their era.

The Three- Four Club: Currently there are 26 players listed in this club,six players are members of the 500 home run club, four players are members of the 3,000 hit club, and no players are active.

  • Manny Ramirez is the only player of this club to have been found guilty of steroid use.
  • Three players, Mel Ott, Larry Walker and Todd Helton are players we have found to be in the category of having very unbalanced home/away splits.
  • There are five players on our list, Harry Heillmann, Hank Greenberg, Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez and Chipper Jones, who we feel, fall into the category of players who have had their careers overshadowed by other great hitters of their era.

The Three- Five Club: Currently there are 39 players listed in this club eight players are members of the 500 home run club, five players are members of the 3,000 hit club and three players are active.

  • Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez are the only players of this club to have been found guilty of steroid use.
  • Three players Mel Ott, Larry Walker and Todd Helton are players we have found to be in the category of having very unbalanced home/away splits.
  • There are a number of players, Hank Greenberg, Harry Heillmann, Goose Goslin, Johnny Mize, Hack Wilson, Chuck Klein, Al Simmons, Earl Averill, Babe Herman, Wally Berger, Hal Trosky, Bill Terry, Joe Medwick, Jim Bottomley, Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez and Moises Alou, who we feel, fall into the category of players who have had their careers overshadowed by other great hitters of their era.

STEROIDS, SPLITS, SINGLE SEASON NUMBERS, AND OVER-SHADOWED GREATS.
STEROIDS
When looking back at baseball history, the Hall of Fame and statistics, we all very familiar with the negative effects the steroid era has had on the game. At baseballsgreatesthitters.com, we feel our Home Run Curve did an adequate job in evaluating the careers of baseballs top hitters.

SINGLE SEASON NUMBERS
Single season numbers and milestones are very impressive, and by no means should be over-looked, but in many cases they do not properly evaluate the full career of a player. Single season accomplishments do make very interesting sports talk, but they do not define a player’s career and in some cases can even be meaningless in player career comparisons. Numbers and statistics are only useful if used properly Here are a few of many examples.

  • In 2011, Mark Teixeira had his 8th consecutive 30 home run ,100 R.B.I. season, while Mickey Mantle surprisingly in his career, had only four 100 R.B.I.seasons in his 18 year career, Bobby Abreu has eight 100 R.B.I. seasons twice as many as Mantle.
  • Andrew Jones and Carlos Lee in their careers, have topped the 30 home run mark in 4 consecutive seasons… In 21 seasons, Reggie Jackson has never once topped the 30 home run mark in consecutive seasons.
  • Adam Dunn, in 11 seasons, has had five 40 plus home run seasons, matching the combined total of Hall of Fame sluggers Willie McCovey (2), Reggie Jackson(2), and Frank Robinson(1).
  • George Foster, a very good power hitter, hit 52 home runs in the 1977 season and Mike Schmidt, who we consider to be one of the 10 greatest home run hitters of all-time, played in the same era, never topped the impressive mark of a 50 plus home run season.
  • Don Mattingly, who played 14 seasons and did put together 6 Hall of Fame seasons between 1984 and 1989, falls short of the Hall of Fame because his career did not have productive longevity.

OVERSHADOWED GREATS
Over the years, many of baseballs greatest hitters, some are even listed in our top 20, have had their careers overshadowed by other great hitters who played in the same era. Listed below are some examples:

  • Lou Gehrig, our number one ,had his career over-shadowed by Babe Ruth. Baseball fans seem to forget that Lou Gehrig also out- homered teams in his career. At baseballsgreatesthitters.com we feel, had there been no Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig would have possibly been considered the greatest hitter who ever lived and his numbers would have set the standard of greatness for all the future players to follow.
  • Hank Greenberg, listed as one of our top 20 hitters, played the first part of his career behind Gehrig and Foxx and the second part of his career behind DiMaggio and Williams.
  • Stan Musial, who listed in our top 10, held most National League hitting career numbers when he retired in 1963. When looking back at this great career, the first part he played behind Williams and DiMaggio and the second half once again behind Williams as well as Mantle and Mays.
  • In the 50’s, while the Mantle- Mays debates captured the media attention, keep in mind at the end of the 1960 season, Eddie Matthews had more career home runs than both Mickey and Willie.
  • Frank Robinson, another of our top 20 hitters, might be one of the most under-rated hitters in the history of baseball history. Unfortunately for Robinson he played in the same era as Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
  • Billy Williams, who is very seldom mentioned, may not be at the same level as Mantle, Mays, Aaron and Robinson, but he is one of baseballs all-time greatest hitters that have been forgotten.
  • Two of the most feared hitters in baseball history, Richie Allen and Jim Rice, have definitely been under-rated. Richie Allen, a great slugger, who played most of his career in the pitching era, was surrounded by a number of top sluggers. In his career Richie Allen competed with 10 0f the 25 members of the 500 home run club. Jim Rice, who also spent part of his career in the pitching era, had his career over-shadowed by his teammate Carl Yazstremski as well as other great hitters of his era that include, Schmidt, Jackson, Morgan, Brett and Winfield to name a few.
  • Currently we have Jim Thome, who we think has been one of the most under-rated players in the last 20 years. In his career Jim Thome, for some reason has had his impressive career statistics downplayed because he played in the steroid era, though he has never been suspected of steroid use. We feel Jim Thome, who is one of the games greatest hitters as well as one of only 8 players to have hit 600 career home runs, should without a doubt be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

HOME – AWAY SPLITS
At baseballsgreatesthitters.com we do not have a baseball park factor in our rating system, but instead we factor in the home/away splits of the players career. When doing a players hitting ranking, the ball park factor may not be very accurate since in the last 40 years, many of the top players have played for multiple teams. The chart below clearly shows how unbalanced splits should be factored in when we are evaluating a players hitting career.

PLAYER SPLITS RUNS H.R. R.B.I. AVE. O.B. % SLG %
Paul Konerko Home 632 261 757 289 368 531
Away 530 178 655 269 341 444
Todd Helton Home 874 227 859 345 441 607
Away 527 142 547 287 386 469
Larry Walker Home 789 215 747 348 431 637
Away 566 168 564 278 370 495
Ryne Sandberg Home 726 164 607 300 361 491
Away 592 118 454 269 326 412
Kirby Puckett Home 626 113 601 344 388 521
Away 445 94 484 291 331 430
Ernie Banks Home 722 290 909 290 348 537
Away 584 222 727 259 311 462
Carl Yazstremski Home 994 237 1063 306 402 503
Away 822 215 781 264 357 422
Mel Ott Home 954 323 947 297 422 558
Away 905 188 917 311 408 510
PLAYER SPLITS RUNS H.R. R.B.I. AVE. O.B. % SLG %
Albert Pujols Home 832 290 964 310 393 562
Away 891 324 954 301 380 560
Derek Jeter Home 1013 138 666 313 384 448
Away 910 122 645 306 370 431
Ryan Howard Home 446 198 580 262 352 532
Away 402 184 614 255 335 499
Manny Ramirez Home 778 282 947 311 413 591
Away 766 273 884 314 409 580
Barry Bonds Home 1105 379 980 301 449 618
Away 1122 383 1016 296 440 597
Cal Ripken Home 777 214 841 267 336 435
Away 870 217 854 283 344 459
Hank Aaron Home 1081 385 1117 303 379 557
Away 1094 370 1180 306 369 552
Mickey Mantle Home 825 266 744 305 428 569
Away 850 270 765 291 413 545
Willie Mays Home 1017 335 929 302 387 567
Away 1043 325 974 301 382 549
Mike Piazza Home 477 195 623 294 364 515
Away 571 232 712 320 388 572
Joe DiMaggio Home 648 148 720 315 391 546
Away 742 213 818 333 405 610

When checking the home/away splits, the chart speaks for itself. At baseballsgreatesthitters.com we would like to bring out a few points: Many of the greatest hitters in baseball history with long careers, players such as Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Bonds, Ramirez, etc. incredibly have equal home and away numbers. Examining the home/ away splits of players such as Larry Walker, Todd Helton, Paul Konerko and Carl Yazstremski etc. it is very clear that some of these players benefited from there home numbers. Looking at the splits of some of theses players, there home away numbers look like two different careers.

  • Todd Helton has a .620 home Slg.% while his slugging pct. on the road is .478, a .140 difference !! and the slugging pct. numbers for Larry Walker are .637 home and .495 away also the home number of a plus .140
  • Carl Yazstremski is a 285 career hitter but when we break down his splits, his career batting average at home is .306 and only .264 in his career away games… 42 points lower. When rating the hitting career of Carl Yastremski, his career splits have to be considered as well as compiling great lifetime numbers due to longevity.
  • Mel Ott, a hall of fame member and the 3rd player in baseball to enter the 500 home run club, has the largest home/away home run differential. As a left-handed pull hitter, Mel Ott definitely used the 258 ft. right field line at the Polo Grounds to his advantage. His home run number of 323 home runs at home to 188 away home runs represents the largest split of any player in the 500 home run club.
  • We will now turn to two players, Joe DiMaggio, one of our top ten hitters, and Mike Piazza rated as top hitting catcher on baseballsgreatesthitters.com. Joe DiMaggio, as a right handed hitter in Yankee Stadium, dealt with dealt with the center/left-centerfield dimensions of 461ft. 457ft. 402ft. but as a great hitter he made the proper home field adjustments. DiMaggio’s home run numbers at Yankee Stadium were lower than those hit on the road but he still managed to put up Hall of Fame statistics at home with his .315 batting average to go along with his .391 on base pct. and .546 slugging pct.
  • Mike Piazza , despite putting up better numbers on the road, made adjustments to his home field and put up Hall of Fame numbers. Currently Mike Piazza currently is rated as the greatest hitting catcher on www.baseballsgreatesthitters.com.

HOME/AWAY SPLITS OF THE TOP 25 CAREER HOME RUN LEADERS

NO. PLAYER HOME RUNS H.R. HOME H.R. AWAY AWAY/HOME +
1 Barry Bonds 762 379 383 AWAY + 4
2 Hank Aaron 755 385 370 HOME + 15
3 Babe Ruth 714 347 367 AWAY + 20
4 Alex Rodriguez 696 354 342 HOME + 12
5 Willie Mays 660 335 325 HOME + 10
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 630 332 298 HOME + 34
7 Albert Pujols 614 290 324 AWAY + 34
8 Jim Thome 612 339 273 HOME + 66
9 Sammy Sosa 609 321 314 HOME + 7
10 Frank Robinson 586 321 265 HOME + 56
11 Mark McGwire 583 285 298 AWAY + 13
12 Harmon Killebrew 573 291 282 HOME + 9
13 Rafael Palmiero 569 311 258 HOME + 53
14 Reggie Jackson 563 280 283 AWAY + 3
15 Manny Ramirez 555 282 273 HOME + 9
16 Mike Schmidt 548 265 283 AWAY + 18
17 David Ortiz 541 241 300 AWAY + 59
18 Mickey Mantle 536 266 270 AWAY + 4
19 Jimmie Foxx 534 299 235 HOME + 64
20 Ted Williams 521 248 273 AWAY + 25
21 Willie McCovey 521 264 257 HOME + 7
22 Frank Thomas 521 312 209 HOME + 103
23 Ernie Banks 512 290 222 HOME + 68
24 Eddie Matthews 512 238 274 AWAY + 36
25 Mel Ott 511 323 188 HOME + 135

As we begin the 2017 baseball season, there are 27 players in the 500 home run club. The chart above lists the top 25, ( #26 Gary Sheffield with 509 and #27 Eddie Murray with 504 ) The home/away splits are as follows : 15 players have hit more home runs at home and 10 players (40%) have more home runs on the road. With further examination of the list, Aaron(15), Sheffield(15), Rodriguez(12), Mays(10), Killebrew(9). Ramirez(9), McCovey(7), Mantle(4),Bonds(4),Jackson(3) are10 players who virtually have a balanced career of home run splits. When we carefully check the total home run splits on this list, there is not much of a home field edge in 15 of the 25 (60%) players in this club.

READING THE STATISTICS… A recap of how we read a player’s lifetime statistics and properly rank baseballs all-time greatest hitters.Our formula using the player’s career statistics.

  • The addition of our Home Run Curve which deals with the steroid era.
  • Putting the emphasis on career totals and putting less focus on single season numbers and milestones
  • Strong consideration of the era that the player has played in.
  • Since we do not have a ballpark factor in our formula, we do factor in the players home/away splits.
  • Examining the lifetime statistics of the over-shadowed hitters and giving these great hitters a proper rating.

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Content copyright 2017. Joe Angelini. All rights reserved.