On Weird Records

Eddie Collins, Sacrifice Hits

Bunting was much more common a century ago than it is today, so it’s not all that surprising that an old-time player holds this record. Even by the standards of his day, though, Collins was a tremendously talented bunter. He’s been credited with 512 sacrifice hits, well ahead of second-place Jake Daubert (392).

Arguably the greatest second baseman of all time, Collins started his career with the Athletics, where he teamed with Stuffy McInnis (who, incidentally, is third all-time in sacrifices), Jack Barry (sixteenth) and Frank “Home Run” Baker to form the famed “$100,000 infield.” Later in his career, he moved on to the White Sox, where he remained an elite batter and basestealer. He’s the holder of two other odd distinctions as the only player ever to play at least 12 seasons for two different teams and one of few players ever to steal six bases in one game.

Since Collins’ era, teams have started to de-emphasize the sacrifice bunt, especially for non-pitchers. The leader among recent players is Omar Vizquel, who finished his long career with 256 sacrifices, exactly half of Collins’ mark. The active leader is Juan Pierre, with “only” 167.

As teams are becoming more and more conscious of the costs of giving away outs, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will ever approach Collins’ record. It may not be his most famous achievement, but it is his most enduring.

Barry Bonds, Power-Speed Number

From the Department of Stats You’ve Never Heard Of, we have this Frankenstein creation from Bill James. Here’s how it’s calculated: multiply the player’s home runs by his stolen bases, double that, and divide by the sum of his home runs and stolen bases. (This is a statistical tool called the harmonic mean.) The idea is to capture the standards of greatness described by “clubs” like the 30-30 and 40-40 clubs.

In principle, this stat is designed to highlight great players who displayed tremendous power and blazing speed. In practice, well, it doesn’t show much of anything. At the top, of course, we have Bonds, arguably the greatest player (PEDs aside) of all time. Coming in right behind him are Rickey Henderson, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez. Then, in fifth place, we have… Bobby Bonds, a great player, but nowhere near that great. (The elder Bonds was actually the original inspiration for the stat.)

The next four spots belong to Joe Morgan, Andre Dawson, Hank Aaron and Craig Biggio, all current or future Hall of Famers. The next five belong to some recent guys: Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Abreu and Carlos Beltran. Numbers 15 and 16 are Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Reggie Jackson. Numbers 17 and 18 are Eric Davis and Steve Finley.

Number 19 is Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. Number 20 is Don Baylor. You get the idea.

Still, Bonds reigns supreme on this crazy list with his record 762 home runs and 514 stolen bases. His 613.90 power-speed number beats Rickey’s second-place mark (490.41) by over 120 points. That record isn’t likely to ever be broken.

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