Hit records are some of the best-known marks in the game. Most hits all-time: Pete Rose with 4,256. Most hits in a season: Ichiro with 262. Longest hitting streak: Joe DiMaggio with 56 games. However, I don't think it takes much argument to this community to explain why base hits alone should not be used. Could anyone, off the top of their head, tell me the same records for times reaching base?
There are 28 members of the 3,000 hit club, so I want to create a similar size group for Times Reaching Base. Including errors, 25 players have reached base 4,500 times in their career, so that will be our new benchmark. Here is that list:
|1||Pete Rose||6168||8||Tris Speaker||4998||14||Eddie Murray||4727||20||Cal Ripken||4546|
|2||Barry Bonds||5696||9||Babe Ruth||4978||15||Derek Jeter||4689||21||Rafael Palmeiro||4544|
|3||Ty Cobb||5532||10||Willie Mays||4960||16||Craig Biggio||4679||22||Joe Morgan||4544|
|4||Rickey Henderson||5503||11||Eddie Collins||4891||17||Mel Ott||4653||23||Al Kaline||4512|
|5||Carl Yastrzemski||5442||12||Ted Williams||4773||18||Paul Molitor||4622||24||Honus Wagner||4508|
|6||Hank Aaron||5405||13||Frank Robinson||4728||19||Wade Boggs||4576||25||Dave Winfield||4501|
While guys like Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew, and others are now out of the "legendary" club, getting guys like Bonds, Williams, and Ruth in solidify the status of true offensive ability. This list is likely not complete, as Reached on Errors have only been compiled (as of now) back to 1946, so earlier players will not have those added times on base.
Cap Anson is the first off the list, only 49 TOB short, and considering how often errors were made before the turn of the century, it seems safe to call him a shoo-in for the club. Paul Waner and Lou Gehrig are the other two pre-WWII players within 350 TOB of making the list, each about 220 away. The four modern players to miss the list by less than 150 TOB are Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, George Brett, and Chipper Jones.
Moving on to the single-season list, here are the top 21 seasons of all-time:
|1||Barry Bonds||382||2004||8||Wade Boggs||350||1988||15||Ted Williams||336||1946|
|2||Babe Ruth||379||1923||9||Ted Williams||348||1947||16||Ty Cobb||336||1915|
|3||Ted Williams||363||1949||10||Babe Ruth||346||1924||17||Ted Williams||335||1942|
|4||Billy Hamilton||362||1894||11||Barry Bonds||343||2001||18||Ted Williams||335||1941|
|5||Barry Bonds||359||2002||12||Jeff Bagwell||343||1999||19||Lefty O'Doul||334||1929|
|6||Babe Ruth||353||1921||13||Lou Gehrig||342||1936||20||Wade Boggs||333||1989|
|7||Wade Boggs||352||1985||14||Carlos Delgado||338||2000||21||Todd Helton||332||2000|
Here we find a couple surprising names with O'Doul and Delgado, though those totals came during a couple of the best offensive eras in history. It is likely Ruth's '23 season is the true all-time leader, due to the lack of ROE listed.
Ichiro's 262-hit '04 season falls one TOB short of making the list, along with Jeter in '99, Gehrig in '37, and Ruth in '26. Some non-HOF'ers just missing the list are Lenny Dykstra in '93, Eddie Yost in '50, Norm Cash in '61, and Chuck Knoblauch in '96. Prince Fielder led the majors last season, reaching base 284 times.
There have been 12 official reaching-base streaks of at least 60 games since 1916, the beginning of B-R's Play Index. Here is the list:
|Rk||Strk Start||End||Games||Rk||Strk Start||End||Games|
|1||Ted Williams||7/1/1949||9/27/1949||84||7||Derek Jeter||8/17/2006||5/3/2007||67|
|2||Ted Williams||9/16/1942||7/5/1946||83||8||Jim Wynn||5/18/1969||8/3/1969||66|
|3||Wade Boggs||5/27/1985||8/27/1985||81||9||Orlando Cabrera||4/25/2006||7/6/2006||63|
|4||Dale Murphy||4/7/1987||6/28/1987||74||10||Mark McGwire||9/16/1995||6/18/1996||62|
|4||Ted Williams||7/19/1941||4/18/1942||74||11||Jim Thome||7/28/2002||4/5/2003||60|
|4||Joe DiMaggio||5/14/1941||8/2/1941||74||11||Solly Hemus||5/1/1953||6/30/1953||60|
I have a feeling I know the two names that stick out on this list. Most of us here know quite a bit about Cabrera, but very few have even heard of the name Solly Hemus. The only other time I ran across this name was during a search for a Ben Zobrist historical comp. He didn't get any significant playing time until age 28, played SS, 2B, and some 3B in his career, and he combined decent power and a high walk rate to put up some nice seasons. His career .273/.390/.411 slash line is probably one of the best of any relatively unknown player during an offensively neutral era.
Reaching base is the true goal of every hitter that steps to the plate, so I feel like these accomplishments should be celebrated more than just one specific way of getting on base. Obviously, walks don't have the same value as hits, but each of them are a positive contribution that extend the game. Nearly all followers of the game, saber-slanted or not, are getting better at looking towards OBP as a main metric for offensive production, so let's hope Times On Base can replace hits in the same manner.