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  • Hank Aaron thread.

    From ESPN.com


    Alphabetically and arithmetically, what could be finer than having "Aaron, Hank" as the first name listed in The Baseball Encyclopedia? The book's leadoff man is better recognized as the cleanup hitter who holds the Cadillac of baseball records: His 755 home runs are the most by a major leaguer.

    Hank Aaron saw his name bypass Babe Ruth's on this April 8, 1974 swing of the bat.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Aaron also hammered his way into the record book for knocking in the most runs (2,297), total bases (6,856) and extra-base hits (1,477). He ranks second in at-bats (12,364), tied for second with Babe Ruth in runs (2,174), and third in hits (3,771) and games played (3,298). He is the only player to hit at least 30 homers in 15 seasons and at least 20 homers in 20 seasons. He hit at least 40 homers eight times, with a career-best of 47. He is the first player to reach 3,000 hits and 500 homers. He led the National League in homers and RBI four times each and played in 24 All-Star Games.

    A lifetime .305 hitter, Aaron did most his damage for the Braves, first in Milwaukee (1954-65), then in Atlanta (1966-74), before finishing his 23-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers (1975-76).

    "The thing I like about baseball is that it's one-on-one," Aaron said. "You stand up there alone, and if you make a mistake, it's your mistake. If you hit a home run, it's your home run."

    Aaron's crowning moment was, of course, a home run. It came when he surpassed what had seemed like an unbreakable record only a decade earlier. That was the night in 1974 he walloped No. 715 and trotted around the bases past the Babe and into history.

    While Aaron had the numbers, he didn't have much fan appeal. He was considered hard working, humble and shy, just as Joe DiMaggio was. But while those qualities made DiMaggio a hero, they made Aaron an enigma. Aaron was often overlooked as one of the game's greats until he took off on his chase of the Bambino. Racism had something to do with it, as well as his playing in the Atlanta and Milwaukee markets.

    Aaron was born Feb. 5, 1934, in a part of Mobile, Ala., called Down The Bay, a poor area of town populated mostly by blacks. The family moved to a better area of Mobile called Toulminville, where he was raised. In high school, Aaron played shortstop and third base and was an outstanding hitter though he batted cross-handed.

    ZONE POLL

    In 1952, he quit high school and joined the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. After a brief stay as their shortstop, he was sold in June for 10,000 dollars to the Braves, who beat out the Giants. (can you imagine an outfield with Mays and Aaron?). That summer, he was the Northern League's Rookie of the Year for Eau Claire,Wis., despite playing only 87 games. In 1953, Aaron was one of the first five black players in the South Atlantic League. He moved from shortstop to second base, but it didn't affect his hitting. Though faced with the racism of the south, he sparked Jacksonville to the Sally League pennant by leading the league in batting (.362), RBI (125), runs (115) and hits (208). He was voted the league's MVP. "Henry Aaron led the league in everything except hotel accommodations," one writer said.

    At spring training the next year, it didn't look like the 20-year-old Aaron would make the Braves. But then Bobby Thomson (yes, the Bobby Thomson of Ralph Branca fame) suffered a broken ankle sliding into second. The Braves needed an outfielder to replace Thomson, and the 6-foot, 160-pound Aaron won the competition, taking over as the regular left fielder.

    He hit his first home run on April 23, 1954 off of the Cardinals' Vic Raschi. In 122 games, he batted .280 (he wouldn't hit that low again until 1966) with 13 homers (he wouldn't go below 20 for the next 20 years) before suffering a broken ankle on Sept. 5.

    In 1955, Aaron moved to right field, where he remained for most of his career (and won three Gold Gloves). He batted .314 with 27 homers and 106 RBI. This was just the start. The next season, he won his first of two National League batting titles with a .328 average. (In 1959, he won the crown with a career-best .355.)

    Two changes were made in 1957. Aaron went from second in the batting order to fourth, behind Eddie Mathews instead of in front of him, and he switched from a 36-ounce bat to a 34-ounce model. Aaron responded by leading the league with 44 homers (one of four times he would hit his uniform number) and a career-high 132 RBI while batting .322.

    When Aaron drilled a pitch from the Cardinals' Billy Muffett for a two-run homer in the 11th inning of a game in late September, it clinched the Braves' first pennant in Milwaukee and Aaron was carried off the field by his teammates. Aaron, 23, won his lone MVP that year.

    Milwaukee registered its only World Series behind right-handed pitcher Lew Burdette, who defeated the Yankees three times. Aaron did his part by hitting .393 with three homers and seven RBI.

    Aaron (.326, 30 homers, 95 RBI) led the Braves to another pennant in 1958, but this time the Braves lost a seven-game Series to the Yankees. As the years went on, so did the homers. While the 6 foot Aaron would fill out -- he would reach 190 pounds -- he never was a heavy man. The key to his hitting seemed to be his supple, powerful wrists that allowed him to crack his bat like a buggy whip.

    The chase to beat the Babe heated up in the summer of 1973. So did the mail. Aaron needed a secretary to sort it as he received more than an estimated 3,000 letters a day, more than any American outside of politics. Unfortunately, racists did much of the writing. A sampling:

    "Dear ****** Henry,
    You are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it. ... Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. . My gun is watching your every black move."

    "Dear Henry Aaron,
    How about some sickle cell anemia, Hank?"

    The letters came from every state, but most were postmarked in northern cities. They were filled with hate. More hate than Aaron had ever imagined. "This," Aaron said later about the letters, "changed me."

    The summer of '73 ended with Hammering Hank at 713 homers after hitting a remarkable 40 in just 392 at-bats. He was 39.

    In his first at-bat in 1974, Aaron homered off Cincinnati's Jack Billingham, tying Ruth. His eyes got teary as he rounded third base. That night he called his mother. "I'm going to save the next one for you, Mom," he said.

    On April 8, 1974, the largest crowd in Braves history (53,775) came out to witness history. Aaron didn't disappoint. In the fourth inning, he ripped an Al Downing pitch into the Braves bullpen, where it was caught by reliever Tom House. As Aaron rounded second base, two college students appeared and ran alongside him before security stepped in. The new home run king was mobbed at home by his teammates.

    A quarter of a century later, Aaron still has the record -- and the hate mail. "I read the letters," he said, "because they remind me not to be surprised or hurt. They remind me what people are really like."

    After retiring as a player, Aaron became one of the first blacks in Major League Baseball upper-level management as Atlanta's vice president of player development. Since Dec. 1989, he has served as senior vice president and assistant to the president, but he is more active for Turner Broadcasting as a corporate vice president of community relations and a member of TBS' board of directors. He also is vice president of business development for The Airport Network.



    "As far as I'm concerned, (Hank) Aaron is the best ball player of my era. He is to baseball of the last fifteen years what Joe DiMaggio was before him. He's never received the credit he's due." - Mickey Mantle

    "I don't know where Hank Aaron will break (Babe) Ruth's record but I can tell you one thing - ten years from the day he hits it three million people will say they were there. - Eddie Mathews


    "When Henry (Aaron) came up, I heard fans yell, 'Hit that ******. Hit that ******.' Henry hit the ball up against the clock. The next time he came up, the said 'Walk him, walk him." - Herb Aaron (Aaron's Father)


    It's a shame Aaron had to overcome racism, but nonetheless, he did.


    If you ask me, Hank Aaron is the most underrated baseball player in history. When you think Hank Aaron. You think: Homerun King, or Racism Victim. Both of these I would think of him most. However, he also leads all with runs driven in, and only two more people have more base hits. AND- besides Stan Musial, he's the only person with 400 homers, 3500 hits. One of four with 500 HR/3000 hits. 1 of 1 people with 500 homers, 3500 hits. And so on and so fourth. He carried the Braves to their only championship in Milwaukee, and deservedly won the 1957 NL MVP. I think the main reason he is wearing an "A" and not an "M" in the HOF is because that's where he broke the record. Did you know: The Braves wanted him to break the record in Atlanta, however, comissioner Bowie Kuhn said he had to play 2 of the 3 games in Cincinnatti. He tied the record off of Jack Billingham. But, he broke the record against Al Downing and the Dodgers. And, for an old man and for a decline, he hit ten homeruns in just 85 games for the Brewers in his final season in 1976. Possibly the most successful decline ever. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982, and sadly, Barry Bonds will likely break his homerun record. But Aaron was a great player. Including pitchers, I rank him #4. Postional Ajustment freaks will likely disagree, but I don't use Position Ajustment to judge a player.
    54
    I rank Hank Aaron #1-10 (position players only)
    61.11%
    33
    I rank Hank Aaron #1-10 (including pitchers).
    44.44%
    24
    Discounting pitchers, I have Hank Aaron past my top ten.
    5.56%
    3
    Including pitchers, I have Hank Aaron past my top ten.
    12.96%
    7
    I rank Hank Aaron 11-20 all time.
    12.96%
    7
    I rank Hank Aaron 21-30 all time.
    0%
    0
    I have Aaron past 30.
    1.85%
    1
    I think of Hank Aaron as more than a player.
    48.15%
    26
    I think of Aaron as mainly a player
    27.78%
    15
    I was alive when Hank Aaron broke the record.
    42.59%
    23
    I was not alive when Hank Aaron broke the record.
    29.63%
    16
    I consider Hank Aaron an all time historic player
    79.63%
    43
    I do not consider Hank Aaron an all time historic player
    1.85%
    1
    I think Ty Cobb would've went nuts if he saw Aaron break the record.
    31.48%
    17

  • #2
    Not to mention his 6856 total bases ranks first all time. Aaron is the absolute model of consistency and longevity. I think Aaron gets underrated in some circles because he continually put up great numbers, yet didn't have the kind of mind-bending peak that, say, Mickey Mantle had. What is Hank Aaron's best year? It's tricky to identify.
    Aaron's single season best in hits is 223, which ranks 67th all time. He's third best career wise. The leading RBI man in baseball topped out at 132 for a season, which doesn't crack the top 100. His 2174 runs ranks third, but his season best 127 isn't really close to the top 100. Aaron's most famous record, 755, has a season best of 47. That ranks 69th on the single season leaderboards. And finally, his best in total bases is 400, in which he does a little better, ranking 29th.
    These season bests are affected by Aaron's playing in a depressed era for offense, as that often happens to counting stats in those eras. But he was constantly great, constantly among the top ten in the leaderboards. A glance at his Baseball Reference page shows that. Black Ink and Gray Ink show him to be very productive in those areas, ranking 8th and 2nd, respectively, and even that doesn't do him justice, as he was a leader or among them in other important categories not accounted for in those measures.
    Most systems of ranking players try to achieve a balance between peak, career value, and production rate. Aaron is great on all of them, but he falls behind some players because he lacks the kind of peak a Williams or Mantle had. I would argue that it is necessary to include a method in which consistent excellence, like the kind Aaron displayed throughout his career, is rewarded, in order to get a better grasp of a player's greatness or value.

    I picked up a copy of Hank Aaron and the Home Run That Changed America by Tom Stanton. Got it at a discount. Right now, I'm trying to read as many of the baseball books at the school library as I can, but I'll get around to it soon enough.
    "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

    - Alvin Dark

    Comment


    • #3
      It was a joke because Cobb is racist.
      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-16-2009, 02:27 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948
        400 is extremely impressive but total bases is one of those AB dependent numbers. Aaron had 629 that year.

        The only player with at least 400 TB who had less than 550 AB is Ruth, who did it twice (540 with 457 in '21 and 540 with 417 in '27).

        The only other players to have at least 400 TB with less than 575 AB are:

        Walker - 568 AB/409 TB
        Foxx - 573 AB/403 TB

        Neither walked 100 times in those years and both were helped greatly by home parks.
        Ruth's huge walk totals greatly lowered his ABs. In 1921 he had 693 plate appearances and in 1927 he had 691. Aaron had 693 plate appearances in 1959.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
          Ruth's huge walk totals greatly lowered his ABs. In 1921 he had 693 plate appearances and in 1927 he had 691. Aaron had 693 plate appearances in 1959.
          Hence the 210 point difference in SLG%
          Last edited by GiambiJuice; 03-06-2007, 12:09 AM.
          My top 10 players:

          1. Babe Ruth
          2. Barry Bonds
          3. Ty Cobb
          4. Ted Williams
          5. Willie Mays
          6. Alex Rodriguez
          7. Hank Aaron
          8. Honus Wagner
          9. Lou Gehrig
          10. Mickey Mantle

          Comment


          • #6
            I only brought up Aaron's career bests to show how low they rank compared to his rankings on the career lists. Let's not try to lessen Aaron's achievements as a hitter by comparing him to Ruth.
            "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

            - Alvin Dark

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by GiambiJuice
              Hence the 210 point difference in SLG%
              Sure, but we are not talking about slugging percentage. We are talking about TOTAL BASES.
              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by AstrosFan
                I only brought up Aaron's career bests to show how low they rank compared to his rankings on the career lists. Let's not try to lessen Aaron's achievements as a hitter by comparing him to Ruth.
                Aaron's greatness lies in his incredible year-to-year consistency. He was never a 140 BB per year kind of hitter so he was never destined to have supper high OBPs and slug%. His career high was 92 BBs.
                Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                Comment


                • #9
                  Where do you rank Henry Aaron? And I say "you" as in "all of BBF"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
                    Aaron's greatness lies in his incredible year-to-year consistency. He was never a 140 BB per year kind of hitter so he was never destined to have supper high OBPs and slug%. His career high was 92 BBs.
                    Really. I never thought of that.

                    Originally posted by AstrosFan
                    Aaron is the absolute model of consistency. . .
                    "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

                    - Alvin Dark

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948
                      400 is extremely impressive but total bases is one of those AB dependent numbers. Aaron had 629 that year.

                      The only player with at least 400 TB who had less than 550 AB is Ruth, who did it twice (540 with 457 in '21 and 540 with 417 in '27).

                      The only other players to have at least 400 TB with less than 575 AB are:

                      Walker - 568 AB/409 TB
                      Foxx - 573 AB/403 TB

                      Neither walked 100 times in those years and both were helped greatly by home parks.

                      I assume you're not counting Barroid Bonds, who had 411 TB in 476 AB in 2001.
                      "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

                      - Alvin Dark

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by AstrosFan
                        Really. I never thought of that.
                        Well, good for you...
                        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hank Aaron has to be considered a top 10 player by everyone. He was so great at so many things, that it is a very unreasonable view to not put him in the top 10. Let's start by looking at career value. I'll throw out one number for you.

                          2. What is that number? It's an important number. 2nd. All-Time. 2nd all-time in gray ink. A number that we all know attempts to measure how valuable someones career was. He is behind only Ty Cobb in this statistic. But there's an even more important number.

                          1. It's the number that he stands at in Home Runs, RBI's, and Total Bases. It's also the number that Hank Aaron should be slotted at in peoples rankings if you only go by his career. Hank Aaron played 18 full seasons and 5 pretty good half or more seasons. Many players have played this long and rank on peoples lists pretty high. People like Al Kaline or Dave Winfield. You know where those guys rank in those lists? Not close to Aaron, that's for sure. Lets say this. If you're going to draft a team that you're going to have for 20 years, one would logically take Hank Aaron first. Because he's going to hit 40 home runs or so a year for you and knock in 100 RBI's. Babe Ruth would be awesome. 60 HR's and massive RBI totals. But you know what, I could probably pick up someone who had a few 45+ HR seasons later in the draft who will play just as long as Babe the positional player, and I got him rounds later. But how many guys last 20 years and hit 40 HR's almost every year? Hank Aaron? I can't think of any more. Ruth might have a higher 162 game average for HR's, but take away his pitching years and his value goes down, because you don't have him for nearly as long. People who hit 45+ hr's for a number of years come and go, but Hank Aaron is a once in a lifetime kind of guy. I mean, I could take Ralph Kiner instead of Babe Ruth and I'd be in the same position with either guy if I had Hank Aaron. Ruth had what 13, 14 years? Kiner had 10? Aaron had 20.

                          Now when it comes to peak, Aaron had a great peak. Was it the greatest of all time? I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would say that. It's also hard to identify what his peak is. You could go buy the 3 or 5 year WS method (Which I sadly can't do right now, as all my baseball books are at home ), or you could use the best years methods. Well, I'm just going to use a quick OPS+ Method here for you. During Aaron's career, the lowest OPS+ to lead the NL was 156. He was over that mark 10 times during his career, but the longest streak was only 3 years. Now, his peak isn't Stan Musial's or Ted Williams, and it sure as hell isn't Ty Cobb or Babe Ruths. But it's up there. I would compare him to Pujols right now. Pujols is tearing it up every year, and we're calling him the best player in baseball aren't we? But how many times has he led his league in something? He hasn't led in HR or RBI yet. But Pujols has led in XBH and TB twice. Guess who led in TB 8 times. Hank Aaron. How about 5 times in XBH. Hank Aaron. We voted in Current Events who the best player in the majors was right now. Albert Pujols won with 75% of the vote. A-Rod was 2nd with 7%. What this says to me, is we as a group are saying that someone who doesn't lead the league in stats like HR or RBI, and who is entering the "ideal" peak of his career is the best player in the majors. Some already rank him as an all-time great player. What does this say? It says a player who is much like Hank Aaron was is being given far more peak respect that Hank Aaron is. I would conclude from this that one who doesn't look at Aaron's peak as great, would have to treat it as a great peak if they would consider Pujols' current state great. Easily not 1 or 2 or 3 or hell top 5. But He would have to be at 9 or 10 or maybe just outside, but the longer you make your peak consideration, 7, 10 years, Aaron moves up drastically. But even if you're a peak person, you must include some career value, therefor Aaron should move up into the top 10.

                          Either way, peak or career, I don't see how Hank Aaron is outside the top 10, unless you only have one person from each position in your top 10 and you're a peak guy.
                          AL East Champions: 1981 1982
                          AL Pennant: 1982
                          NL Central Champions: 2011
                          NL Wild Card: 2008

                          "It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time you don't think much of it; you know, we just don't recognize the significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day." - Moonlight Graham

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dudecar00
                            Hank Aaron has to be considered a top 10 player by everyone. He was so great at so many things, that it is a very unreasonable view to not put him in the top 10. Let's start by looking at career value. I'll throw out one number for you.

                            2. What is that number? It's an important number. 2nd. All-Time. 2nd all-time in gray ink. A number that we all know attempts to measure how valuable someones career was. He is behind only Ty Cobb in this statistic. But there's an even more important number.
                            Good post, well reasoned and thought out. When you rank players how much emphasis do you put on career value?
                            Last edited by Bill Burgess; 03-06-2007, 07:51 AM.
                            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I would say I lean heavily on peak (Which would be another good reason as to why I'm a big hall guy), but even so, the last time I ranked my top 250 or so, I had Aaron at 7 or 8 I believe.
                              AL East Champions: 1981 1982
                              AL Pennant: 1982
                              NL Central Champions: 2011
                              NL Wild Card: 2008

                              "It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time you don't think much of it; you know, we just don't recognize the significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day." - Moonlight Graham

                              Comment

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