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.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.