Tony Gwynn, Ivan Rodriguez

Tony Gwynn’s Hall of Fame career, by the numbers

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One of the greatest hitters for average the game has ever seen, Tony Gwynn spent his entire 20-year big-league career with the Padres before retiring in 2001. Here’s a look at some of his career highlights, by the numbers:

– Eight batting titles, tied for second most in major league history with Honus Wagner (Ty Cobb had 11). He’s the only player to win four in a row (1994-97) since Rogers Hornsby won six straight from 1920-25.

– Excluding his 54-game rookie season in 1982, he hit better than .309 every year of his career, topping out at .394 in 110 games in the strike year of 1994 (one of his few completely healthy seasons in the second half of his career, he missed just one of the Padres’ 111 games that season and was in position to make a run at a .400 campaign).

– Finished his career with 3,141 hits, putting him in 19th place all-time.

– His .338 average is the fourth highest among players with 3,000 hits, trailing Cobb (.366), Tris Speaker (.345) and Nap Lajoie (who edged Gwynn .33820 to .33818).

[MORE: What they’re saying about Tony Gwynn]

– Since the beginning of the expansion era in 1961, his .338 average is easily the highest among all players with 2,000 hits. The next highest averages are the .328 marks of Wade Boggs and Rod Carew.

– Struck out just 434 times in 10,232 plate appearances. It’s the lowest total of anyone with at least 2,000 hits since the beginning of the expansion era.

– Never struck out more than 40 times in a season. In 1995, he fanned a total of 15 times in 577 plate appearances.

– 15 All-Star Games, including 11 voted in as a starter. Only nine players had more All-Star seasons. For players who debuted after 1970, Gwynn is tied for second with Ozzie Smith behind Cal Ripken Jr.’s 19 appearances.

– First in the National League in WAR in 1987 and also first among position players in 1986.

[MORE: Gwynn was one of the game’s most-loved players]

– Led the NL in hits seven times.

– Finished in the top 10 in the NL in OBP 10 times, leading the league in 1994, and finished in the top 10 in slugging twice (10th in 1994, ninth in 1997).

– Even including his partial seasons at the beginning and end of his career, his worst ever OPS+ was a 105. He was never anything less than an above average hitter.

– Seven Silver Sluggers

– Five Gold Gloves

– Stole as many as 56 bases in a season, topping 30 four times. Ended his career with 319 steals in 444 attempts.

– Hit .415 with no strikeouts in 94 at-bats against Greg Maddux and .444 with one strikeout in 72 at-bats against John Smoltz. The only pitcher to strike him out more than six times was Nolan Ryan, and he still hit .302 (with nine strikeouts) in 63 at-bats against him.

– Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007 with the seventh highest percentage of the vote ever, a cool 97.6.

A-Rod to host a reality show featuring broke ex-athletes

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees answers question in a press conference after the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Alex Rodriguez’s transition into retirement has featured a serious move into the business world. He has gone back to school, worked seriously on investments and has started his own corporation. Yes, he’s set for life after making more money than any baseball player in history, but even if his bank account wasn’t fat, you get the sense that he’d be OK given what we’ve seen of his work ethic and savvy in recent years.

He’s going to be getting another paycheck soon, though. For hosting a reality show featuring athletes who are not in as good a financial shape as A-Rod is:

Interesting. Hopefully, like so many other reality shows featuring the formerly rich and famous, this one is not exploitative. Not gonna hold my breath because that’s what that genre is all about, unfortunately, but here’s hoping A-Rod can help some folks with this.

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

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Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.