Baseball BeatJuly 13, 2003
The Quad, Part III
By Rich Lederer

As promised, I have compiled the single season, career leaders, and number of times leading the league in the four Quad categories. In addition, I created an overall ranking in terms of the total number of times having led the league in all four categories.

Babe Ruth shows his might by being the only player making each of the top ten single season and career lists. Not surprisingly, Ruth also ranks number one overall with 36 career top ten finishes in these four categories. Ted Williams is right behind Ruth with 35. Barry Bonds is the only active player among the overall leaders, ranking eighth. However, his place needs to be put in perspective because, as mentioned in an earlier article, the number of teams and players has essentially doubled in the post-expansion. As a result, leading the league today is a more difficult accomplishment than in the pre-expansion years. Nonetheless, Bonds has the potential of moving into sixth place overall by the end of next year (behind only Ruth, Williams, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, and Ty Cobb).

By the time Bonds retires, he is likely to end up in each of the top ten lists other than single season total bases. Bonds' all-time high is 411 TB (reached in 2001), good enough for 16th on the single season list (eight TB from placing in the top ten). In fact, Bonds, with continued good health and production over the next few years, may rank among the top four in career totals in each of the Quad categories (behind only Ruth, Williams, and Lou Gehrig in SLG and OBP; Pete Rose and Cobb in TOB; and Hank Aaron, Musial, and Willie Mays in TB).

As I see it, Bonds could wind up his career ranked fourth in OBP, fourth in SLG, second in TOB, and second in TB. If so, Bonds would rank behind only Ruth, Williams, and Gehrig in career rate stats but ahead of all three in career counting stats. It is the combination of qualitative and quantitative performance which separates the greatest from the great, the great from the very good, and the very good from the good. There are many players who rank among the best in one or the other (Hank Greenberg comes to mind with rate stats, Rose and Eddie Murray with counting stats), but only a very select number who have produced extraordinary qualitative and quantitative stats in the on base and slugging areas. Greenberg's career counting stats come up short of the all time greats, almost entirely due to missing more than four seasons near the peak of his career while serving in the military before and during World War II. Not to take anything away from Rose and Murray--both of whom were outstanding players--but they accumulated massive counting stats based on two of the longest playing careers ever (with each ranking among only eight players having played in more than 3,000 games).

The only other active players in major league baseball today on these top ten lists in addition to Bonds are Jeff Bagwell (single season SLG), Sammy Sosa (single season TB), Luis Gonzalez (single season TB), Frank Thomas (career OBP), and Manny Ramirez (career SLG). [Editor's note: With the Dodgers having signed Rickey Henderson (career TOB) on Monday, July 14, the 44-year-old outfielder now qualifies as an active player as well.]



                              YEAR      OBP
1    Barry Bonds              2002     .582   
2    Ted Williams             1941     .553   
3    Babe Ruth                1923     .545   
4    Babe Ruth                1920     .532   
5    Ted Williams             1957     .526   
6    Babe Ruth                1926     .516   
7    Barry Bonds              2001     .515   
8    Ted Williams             1954     .513   
9    Babe Ruth                1924     .513   
10   Babe Ruth                1921     .512

Bonds, Williams, and Ruth hold all ten spots in single season on base percentage--an indication of their complete superiority in this all important stat. Bonds' 2002 season ranks number one with an almost unbelievable mark of .582--a level .029 (or more than 5%) ahead of Williams' previous all-time high.


                              YEAR     SLG
1    Barry Bonds              2001     .863   
2    Babe Ruth                1920     .847   
3    Babe Ruth                1921     .846   
4    Barry Bonds              2002     .799   
5    Babe Ruth                1927     .772   
6    Lou Gehrig               1927     .765   
7    Babe Ruth                1923     .764   
8    Rogers Hornsby           1925     .756   
9    Mark McGwire             1998     .752   
10   Jeff Bagwell             1994     .750

Bonds is also number one in single season slugging average (.863 in 2001). It is interesting to highlight that Bonds and Ruth hold the top five places in SLG. Bonds and Ruth are also the only players with top ten seasons in both OBP and SLG.


                              YEAR      TOB
1    Babe Ruth                1923      379
2    Ted Williams             1949      358
3    Barry Bonds              2002      356
4    Babe Ruth                1921      353
5    Babe Ruth                1924      346
6    Ted Williams             1947      345
7    Wade Boggs               1988      342
     Barry Bonds              2001      342
     Lou Gehrig               1936      342
10   Wade Boggs               1985      340

Notice a pattern here? Ruth, Williams, and Bonds hold the top six spots in single season TOB and seven of the top ten. Common thread among the top ten players in both OBP and TOB? All of them bat lefthanded--a trait that runs throughout the all-time leaders in The Quad, whether it be single season, career, or number of times leading the league.


                              YEAR       TB
1    Babe Ruth                1921      457   
2    Rogers Hornsby           1922      450   
3    Lou Gehrig               1927      447   
4    Chuck Klein              1930      445   
5    Jimmie Foxx              1932      438   
6    Stan Musial              1948      429   
7    Sammy Sosa               2001      425   
8    Hack Wilson              1930      423   
9    Chuck Klein              1932      420   
T10  Lou Gehrig               1930      419   
T10  Luis Gonzalez            2001      419

Hornsby and Jimmie Foxx, perhaps the two greatest righthanded hitters ever, rank second and fifth, respectively, in single season TB. Bonds falls out of the top ten for the first time, leaving Ruth as the lone survivor in each of the single season top ten lists.



1    Ted Williams               .482   
2    Babe Ruth                  .474   
3    Lou Gehrig                 .447   
4    Rogers Hornsby             .434   
5    Ty Cobb                    .433   
6    Frank Thomas               .432   
7    Jimmie Foxx                .428   
8    Barry Bonds                .428   
9    Tris Speaker               .428   
10   Eddie Collins              .424

Williams, Ruth, and Bonds are the only players among the top ten in single season and career OBP.


1    Babe Ruth                  .690   
2    Ted Williams               .634   
3    Lou Gehrig                 .632   
4    Jimmie Foxx                .609   
5    Hank Greenberg             .605   
6    Manny Ramirez              .599   
7    Barry Bonds                .595   
8    Mark McGwire               .588   
9    Joe DiMaggio               .579   
10   Rogers Hornsby             .577

Ruth, Gehrig, Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Hornsby are the only repeats in single season and career SLG.


1    Pete Rose                  5929
2    Ty Cobb                    5532           
3    Rickey Henderson           5316
4    Carl Yastrzemski           5304
5    Stan Musial                5282
6    Hank Aaron                 5205
7    Tris Speaker               4998
8    Babe Ruth                  4978
9    Eddie Collins              4891
10   Willie Mays                4791

Ruth is the only player ranking in the top ten in single season and career TOB. Also noteworthy is the fact that only Ruth, Cobb, and Eddie Collins rank among the top ten in career OBP and TOB--a tribute to their ability to get on base measured by rate and counting stats.


1    Hank Aaron                 6856   
2    Stan Musial                6134   
3    Willie Mays                6066   
4    Ty Cobb                    5854   
5    Babe Ruth                  5793   
6    Pete Rose                  5752   
7    Carl Yastrzemski           5539   
8    Eddie Murray               5397   
9    Frank Robinson             5373   
10   Dave Winfield              5221

Ruth and Musial are the only two ranking in the top ten single season and career TB. Ruth is the only player in career SLG and TB--a tribute to his slugging in terms of rate and counting stats.

* All statistics are through 2002. The single season and career leaders are from 1900-on. The single season rate stats are based on a minimum of 3.1 PA/G and the career rate stats are based on a minimum of 5000 PA.



1    Ted Williams                 12
2    Babe Ruth                    10
3    Rogers Hornsby                8
4    Wade Boggs                    6
     Barry Bonds                   6
     Ty Cobb                       6
     Stan Musial                   6
8    Lou Gehrig                    5
     Carl Yastrzemski              5
10   Richie Ashburn                4
     Rod Carew                     4
     Joe Morgan                    4
     Mel Ott                       4
     Frank Thomas                  4
     Honus Wagner                  4


1    Babe Ruth	                  12
2    Rogers Hornsby	          10
3    Ty Cobb	                   9
     Ted Williams	           9
5    Stan Musial	           6
     Honus Wagner	           6
7    Barry Bonds	           5
     Jimmie Foxx	           5
     Willie Mays	           5
     Mike Schmidt	           5


1    Pete Rose                     9
2    Wade Boggs                    8
     Stan Musial                   8
     Babe Ruth                     8
     Ted Williams                  8
6    Lou Gehrig                    6
7    Richie Ashburn                5
     Roy Thomas                    5
9    Barry Bonds                   4
     Rod Carew                     4
     Ty Cobb                       4
     Rogers Hornsby                4
     Paul Waner                    4
     Carl Yastrzemski              4


1    Hank Aaron                    8
2    Rogers Hornsby                7
3    Ty Cobb                       6
     Stan Musial                   6
     Babe Ruth                     6
     Honus Wagner                  6
     Ted Williams                  6
8    Lou Gehrig                    4
     Chuck Klein                   4
     Jim Rice                      4


Babe Ruth        10      12       8      6       36	
Ted Williams	 12	  9	  8	 6       35
Rogers Hornsby	  8	 10	  4	 7	 29
Stan Musial	  6	  6	  8	 6	 26
Ty Cobb	          6       9	  4	 6	 25
Honus Wagner	  4	  6	  2	 6	 18
Lou Gehrig	  5	  2	  6	 4	 17
Barry Bonds	  6	  5	  4	 1	 16
Hank Aaron	  0	  4	  2	 8	 14
Wade Boggs	  6	  0	  8	 0	 14
Jimmie Foxx	  3	  5	  3	 3	 14
Carl Yaz	  5	  3	  4	 2	 14
The distinguishing feature of the top eight players is the fact that they have led the league in each of the four Quad categories, reflecting their greatness qualitatively and quantitatively in their ability to get on base and drive baserunners home--the two most important components of run production. In fact, the top five players all led in each of the four categories at least four times, a true sign of dominace. Aaron, #1 all time in career TB, never led the league in OBP (although he led twice in TOB). Wade Boggs, tied for second all time in number of times leading the league in TOB, never led in SLG or TB. Boggs was more of a specialist at getting on base rather than a slugger but one of the greatest ever nonetheless at what he did best.

Note: These lists would be nearly impossible to compile without the assistance of the sabermetric baseball encyclopedia and Thanks to Lee Sinins and Sean Forman for their great work.