I always knew that Tony Gwynn was a great hitter, but after reviewing some of his ridiculous career numbers I am totally blown away. Some of these stats are just INSANE!
Gwynn hit .338 over a 20-year career. No one else whose career started after World War II has even gotten closer than 10 points of him — at least no one with 5,000 plate appearances or more.
In the 14 seasons from 1984 through 1997, Gwynn finished in the top five in the batting race 13 times. And in the only season he didn’t — in 1990 — he missed by one hit.
He had three different seasons in which he hit .370 or higher. In the 73 years since Ted Williams last hit .400, all the other hitters who passed through the big leagues — a group that includes Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Wade Boggs, yadda, yadda, yadda — combined to do it only eight times.
No hitter born after 1900 reached 3,000 hits in fewer games (2,284) or at-bats (8,874) than Gwynn. In the history of baseball, only Ty Cobb and Nap Lajoie got there faster — and when they played, the gloves were made of the same material as those trains they rode on.
No 3,000-hit man who was born after 1900 had a higher lifetime batting average than Gwynn (.338). In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau’s Steve Hirdt, no hitter born since 1918 (i.e., since Ted Williams) has even gotten 2,000 hits and had an average this high.
No hitter who has played his entire career since the invention of the designated hitter has accumulated as many hits as Gwynn (3,141) without spending a large portion of his career in the American League. But Gwynn got every one of his hits in the National League. And he was proud of that.
Gwynn had six straight seasons (and eight altogether) in which he struck out fewer than 20 times. Did you know there were 97 hitters in the big leagues who whiffed at least 20 times just last month?
Finally, what does it mean to have piled up a .338 batting average over a 20-year career, over 9,288 at-bats? It means Tony Gwynn would have had to go 0-for-his-next-1,183 to get his average to fall under .300 (and even then, it would have “plummeted” to a mere .29997). We kid you not.