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Test Your Knowledge: These are the All-Time Leaders in MLB's Key Categories

Test Your Knowledge: These are the All-Time Leaders in MLB's Key Categories

Most long-time baseball fans know who holds the record for most hits all time, most home runs all time, and maybe even most wins for a pitcher. 

But those are the easy stats. What happens if it goes just a little deeper than that?

For instance, do you know what batter walked the most times? And do you know that some of the all-time leaders in some of the “newer” stats like OBP (on-base percentage) and SLG (slugging percentage) are players from decades long ago…before those stats were even created?

Let’s take a closer look.

Charlie Hustle

Let’s start with Pete Rose, who holds a handful of all-time records because of his longevity as a player:

Most games played in a career: Rose - 3,562
Most career plate appearances: Rose - 15,890

But he also has a firm grasp on the leaderboard in a few categories because of his tremendous eye at the plate:

Most career hits: Rose - 4,256
Most career singles: Rose - 3,215

Now that we know that Rose was the singles leader, let’s move on.

Most career doubles: 

Tris Speaker – 792 (played from 1907-1928)

Most career triples:

Sam Crawford – 309 (played from 1889 to 1917)

Most career home runs: 

Barry Bonds - 762
Most career grand slams: Alex Rodriguez - 25

What’s interesting to note is that despite the presence of modern sluggers like A-Rod and Bonds, many records are still held by players from the first half of the 20th century.

The king of walks

Let’s talk a little more about Bonds, specifically about his top all-time position in a category other than home runs—walks.

It’s easy to call his home run record into question with the PED rumors that hovered over his career. But Bonds had a superb eye at the plate, and was a feared hitter, which is why he holds records for stats that don’t require him to launch a ball out of Candlestick.

Most career walks: 

Bonds - 2,558

Most career intentional walks: 

Bonds - 688

Incredible as it may seem, Barry Bonds has more than double the number of intentional walks than the runner-up - Albert Pujols at 309!

New stats for older stars

Statistics like on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG) were not officially used until the mid 1980s. Neither was OPS, which is OBP plus SLG. But when historians started using them to measure a hitter’s power or their ability to get on base, the leaders in the field were names from decades prior:

Highest career OBP:

Ted Williams - .482

Highest career SLG

Babe Ruth - .690

Highest career OPS:

Babe Ruth - 1.164

Yes, “Teddy Ballgame” reached base 48% of the time in his 19-year career! For perspective, the active leader in OBP is Joey Votto, with a 12-year career average of .427. And the “Sultan of Swat,” and his ridiculous slugging percentage of almost .700, just may be the greatest slugger of all time.

Let’s look at more of the all-time baseball records held by some familiar names.

Most career runs (scored):

Rickey Henderson - 2,295

Most career RBIs: 

Hank Aaron - 2,297

Most career strikeouts by a batter: 

Reggie Jackson - 2,597

Highest career batting average: 

Ty Cobb - .366

Most career stolen bases: 

Rickey Henderson - 1,406

Most career hit-by-pitch:

Hughie Jennings – 287(played from 1891-1918)

Most seasons played: 

Nolan Ryan - 27

Nolan Ryan takes us right into the all-time pitching records, where his name comes up a few times.

The Ryan Express

Ryan was the Pete Rose of the pitching categories, and Ryan logged three more seasons in the big leagues than Rose. It’s doubtful that anyone will ever top Ryan’s records for strikeouts AND walks:

Most career strikeouts: Ryan - 5,714

Most career walks: Ryan - 2,795

And while Ryan is the leader in the “K” and “BB” categories, a major name in baseball lore holds the win/loss records:

Most career wins: 

Cy Young - 511

Most career losses: 

Cy Young- 316

I think it’s safe to say that those records by Young may be the MOST unbreakable records for a starting pitcher. The lowest career earned run average (ERA) belongs to Ed Walsh, with a stunning 1.82. But Walsh’s career wrapped up in 1917.

So, who is the leader in the “live ball era” (since 1920)? It just happens to be recent Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera and his 2.21 career ERA.

New stats on old-time players.

Writer Daniel Okrent, the former New York Times public editor and one of the creators of what’s now called fantasy baseball, is also credited with inventing the WHIP stat, which determines how many walks and hits per innings pitched are given up by a pitcher.

The lower the WHIP, the fewer men a pitcher has allowed on base. So, let’s take a look at the all-time leaders:

Lowest career WHIP all time: 

Addie Joss - 0.97 (played from 1902-1910) 

Lowest career WHIP in “live ball” era: 

Mariano Rivera - 1.00

Rivera was always a reliever. What about starting hurlers?

Lowest career WHIP in “live ball” era for starting pitcher: 

Clayton Kershaw - 1.00

And just in case you’re wondering…

Here are a few more all-time pitching records for the road:

Most career home runs allowed: 

Jamie Moyer – 522

Most career shutouts: 

Walter Johnson – 110 (pitched from 1907-1927)

Most career hit batsmen: 

Gus Weyhing – 277 (played from 1887-1901)

So, there you are. You’ve just read more than 30 records with some of the greatest players in the game attached to them! How many of these did you know? How many will your softball buddies know?