Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
The all-time champ, as every single one of you knew, is Henry Aaron. (Although, once again, if Lou Gehrig didn't get sick...)

I resume this look at the Big Numbers. I got distracted for a while there, by some other Bright and Shiny Objects - managers of the futures, franchise all-time records, wild pitches, passed balls - it's part of being a magpie. I've learned to live with it.

There's only one active player in the Top 25 list for Career RBIs, chap named Bonds. Barry could catch Ty Cobb this year - he could come back next year and catch Lou Gehrig. But Aaron and Ruth are out of his reach, I promise. The list looks like this:

                                Best      Number  of      Age during First  Age during Last
Name Total Season 100 RBI seasons 100 RBI season 100 RBI season

1. Hank Aaron 2297 132 11 21 37
2. Babe Ruth 2217 171 13 24 38
3. Cap Anson 2076 147 7 32 39
4. Lou Gehrig 1995 184 13 23 35
5. Stan Musial 1951 131 10 25 36
6. Ty Cobb 1937 119 7 20 38
7. Jimmie Foxx 1922 175 13 21 33
8. Eddie Murray 1917 124 6 24 37
9. Willie Mays 1903 141 10 23 35
10. Mel Ott 1860 151 9 20 29
11. Barry Bonds 1853 137 12 25 39
12. Carl Yastrzemski 1844 121 5 27 37
13. Ted Williams 1839 159 9 20 32
14. Rafael Palmeiro 1835 148 10 28 38
15. Dave Winfield 1833 118 8 27 40
16. Al Simmons 1827 165 12 22 34
17. Frank Robinson 1812 136 6 23 33
18. Honus Wagner 1732 126 9 24 38
19. Reggie Jackson 1702 118 6 23 36
20. Cal Ripken 1695 114 4 22 35
21. Tony Perez 1652 129 7 25 38
22. Ernie Banks 1636 143 8 24 38
23. Harold Baines 1628 113 3 23 40
24. Goose Goslin 1609 138 11 23 35
25. Nap Lajoie 1599 127 4 22 29

Those guys at the bottom are going to be bumped from the Top 25. Who's going to do it? Here are the contenders, with their current totals and where they rank among their age group. Note - this is not the entire age group, just this group of 50 players. Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, for example, both stood very high early in their careers - but then came war and knee surgeries, and neither ended up with enough career RBIs.

Alex Rodriguez (1226 through age 29 - 3rd) - Jimmie Foxx and and Mel Ott are the only men in history who had driven in more runs than Rodriguez through age 29 - and as we noted when looking at runs scored (and will note again when we look at home runs) Foxx and Ott are two all-time great players who are especially noteworthy for piling up most of their career accomplishments before turning 30. The three players who ended up at the top of the list all drove in more runs after turning 30 than before, and obviously Rodriguez still has a chance to climb all the way to the top of this list..

Albert Pujols (621 through age 25 - 5th) - Pujols is behind what Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott had done by age 25 - he's also behind Ty Cobb and Alex Rodriguez. But he's ahead of everyone else, including Lou Gehrig. Cabrera, Pujols and Rodriguez are the only active players who are ahead of Gehrig - and Gehrig was arguably the greatest RBI man who ever lived. Gehrig was also a player whose career just stopped - he had no closing kick, and no end-of-career piling up the nunbers. To be ahead of Lou Gehrig's RBI pace is extremely, extremely impressive...

Manny Ramirez
(1414 through age 33 - 6th) - It's one thing for a young player like Pujols or Cabrera to place well - but it's much more impressive when a player like Manny Ramirez has been able to maintain a pace alongside the all-time greats through more than 10 seasons. Manny cracked the Top 50 this season, going past Joe Carter and Yogi Berra in the process, and by the end of next season he should be in the Top 25. It's hard to figure out how Ramirez is going to age - but since turning 30, his RBI totals read 104, 130, 144. I don't know what the next number in that sequence would be, except that it will be enough. Aaron is still within his reach, and it would be a surprise to me if he doesn't clear 2000. He's ahead of every 33 year old except Foxx, Gehrig, Ott, Aaron, and Simmons. He should slip behind Babe Ruth's pace next year (he needs to drive in 151 runs this season to stay ahead of Ruth) - but he's doing OK.

Miguel Cabrera
(290 through age 22 - 7th) - Cabrera is ridiculously young, but he is off to a very fine start and he is ahead of Lou Gehrig's RBI pace. In his case, though, it doesn't mean as much - Gehrig's age 22 season was his rookie year, so Cabrera has a significant head start. He's ahead of Aaron, Robinson, Ripken, Murray, Yastrzemski, Lajoie, Musial, Goslin, Anson, Simmons, Mays, Baines, Winfield, Gehrig, Jackson, Ruth, Palmeiro, Banks, Perez, Wagner.

Andruw Jones (894 through age 28 - 9th) - Jones got off to a very early start. His RBI numbers have run in very close parallel to the ones rung up by Frank Robinson at the same age, and that's very fast company indeed. His offensive skills seem to be narrowing somewhat - home runs and RBIs are coming to the fore - but there seems to be no earthly reason why he can't keep clobbering the way he's clobbering for another ten years or so. He's ahead of Simmons, Goslin, Musial, Murray, Ruth, Williams, Ripken, Lajoie, Mays, Baines, Banks, Yastrzemski, Jackson, Winfield, Wagner, Perez, Palmeiro, Anson

Ken Griffey (1536 through age 35 - 10th) - If Griffey hadn't missed about a month earlier this season, he might have caught Nap Lajoie already - as it is, he should get there by early August. Five years ago, Griffey trailed just Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott in his age group - he's lost some ground, but his early start and tremendous production still makes him a mortal lock to wind up quite high on the all-time list. He still has a realistic chance to make it to 2000 career RBIs. He's ahead of every 35 year old player ever, except for Gehrig, Foxx, Ott, Aaron, Ruth, Simmons, Musial, Goslin, and Robinson.

Vladimir Guerrero (936 through age 29, 11th) - Vlad is slightly ahead of Manny Ramirez at the same age. I don't know that he can keep with Manny, but he doesn't really need to. He's also ahead of Murray, Musial, Ruth,  Williams, Lajoie, Ripken, Mays, Banks, Yastrzemski, Baines, Jackson, Winfield, Wagner, Perez, Palmeiro and Anson. I don't really have a good sense of how he might age. For no apparent reason, he's always reminded me a bit of Andre Dawson - except Vlad's a better hitter. The Hawk did have some injury issues, but he was still able to play a long time. I'm sure Vlad will be able to if he wants, and he should crack the Top 25 without much problem.

Adrian Beltre
(597 through age 26 - 13th) - He started so young, and his free agent year was so great that his prospects look ridiculously inflated at this point. For his age group, he's ahead of Murray, Musial, Lajoie, Ripken, Simmons, Ruth, Williams, Mays, Baines, Yastrzemski, Winfield, Jackson, Banks, Wagner, Palmeiro, Anson, Perez. It will not last.

Gary Sheffield
(1476 through age 36 - 15th) - Sheffield was in great shape coming into this season - he was ahead of Palmeiro, Williams, Ripken, Winfield, Banks, Jackson, Yastrzemski, Lajoie, Wagner, Perez, Baines, and Anson. His injury season will knock him back about five notches. He doesn't just fall behind the first four retired players - he also gets overtaken by Manny Ramirez, even though Ramirez is three years younger. He's got the same problem as Thome - he basically loses an entire season. While Thome has already shown he could come back from his injury, we'll have to wait and see with Sheffield.

Miguel Tejada (852 through age 29 - 19th) - He's still a helluva hitter, and he's making pretty good progress. He's ahead of Lajoie, Ripken, Mays, Banks, Yastrzemski, Baines, Jackson, Winfield, Wagner, Perez, Palmeiro, Anson at this point. He should be able to hold that ground for the next few years at least (well, Mays is going to overtake him soon.)

Carlos Delgado
(1173 through age 33 - 20th) - Delgado's prospects look a little better than I expected. He should crack the Top 100 this season, and when his current contract runs out, he should be in the neighbourhood of 1500 career RBIs. By then, he'll be 36 years old, but he's a good enough hitter to play until he's 40 if he doesn't break down. I expect him to hold up well enough to get to around 1750-1800 career RBIs, which would leave him near the bottom of what the Top 25 will look like by then. He's ahead of the usual batch of players who piled on the numbers after turning 40 - Winfield, Banks, Jackson, Lajoie, Yastrzemski, Palmeiro, Baines, Perez, Wagner, and Anson.

Frank Thomas
(1465 through age 37 - 21st) - Too many big hurts have pretty much killed the Big Hurt's chances. The man can still hit, but the only players he's ahead of in his age group - Yastrzemski, Jackson, Lajoie, Wagner, Perez, Baines, and Anson - were all able to play well past age 40. Thomas has just crawled past 1500 career RBI, and he could very well catch some of the bottom men on the Top 25 before he finally breaks down for good. But he will certainly be overtaken by several other players now active.

Hank Blalock
(309 through age 24 - 22rd) - He's off to a good start - there is nothing like playing regularly when you're 22 years old to help you in the counting stats. His early start has him ahead of Yastrzemski, Baines, Jackson, Anson, Winfield, Ruth, Banks, Wagner, Perez. He's a good hitter, so he bears watching. It's unlikely that he's good enough.

Jim Thome
(1193 through age 34 - 25th) - His injury season in 2005 cost him dear. It knocked backwards about five notches for his age group, and it's tough to lose a year in your mid-30s in a counting stat. Coming into this season, he was ahead of Yastrzemski, Lajoie, Baines, Perez, Wagner, and Anson. He is still a great hitter and by the time this season is over he should have fought his way back ahead of at least two of the players he had fallen behind - Jackson and Banks. He should end up ahead of a couple of men at the bottom of the current Top 25, but it probably won't be enough to keep him there himself.

Adam Dunn
(374 through age 25 - 26th) - He got off to a very early start, even if he had a fair bit of difficulty claiming the entire job. He's ahead of Ruth, Jackson, Winfield, Anson, Banks, Wagner, Palmeiro. Somehow, it's hard to imagine a player who strikes out as often as Dunn being able to last long enough to crack the list. Reggie Jackson is a very comparable hitter in many ways - but Dunn's not as good a hitter, and he strikes out a little bit more.

Chipper Jones
(1111 through age 33 - 26th) - Sooner or later, he has to stop playing third base, one would think. He's spent his entire career in Atlanta - it's very difficult to imagine him moving to the AL and becoming a DH. He's the same age as Delgado, but he was 62 RBI behind when the season started, and he's falling further back. He's ahead of Yastrzemski, Palmeiro, Baines, Perez, Wagner, and Anson.

Carlos Beltran (647 through age 28 - 27th) - He lost some ground in 2005, but he's doing his best to make up for it. Beltran is a player with a pretty broad range of skills - he hits for power, average, steals bases - and these players often narrow their focus after a few years in the league. Joe Carter and George Bell, for example, eventually morphed into RBI men. It generally seems that the better the player, the longer they maintain the broad base. Willie Mays and Henry Aaron come to mind. Aaron eventually narrowed his focus into hitting home runs but not until around age 35. Mays just kept doing everything until he was too old to do anything. Anyway, Beltran is still doing everything he's ever done, and while he hasn't really made much of an impact I think it bodes well for his long-term future. At the moment, he's ahead of Jackson, Winfield, Wagner, Perez, Palmeiro, and Anson. I think he'll improve his position.

Jeff Kent
(1312 through age 37 - 30th) - He's not ahead of anybody, so his only chance is to play until he's at least 42 years old. He could overtake the pace set by Baines and Perez with a couple of good years, but those guys both played past age 43. Realistically, he has no chance whatsoever.

Mark Teixeira (340 through age 25 - 31st) - He's coming off one of the greatest RBI seasons ever by a 25 year old, which does inject him into the discussion. His career pace finds him wedged right in between Reggie Jackson and Barry Bonds. He's got an awfully long way to go, but he's ahead of Winfield, Anson, Banks, Wagner, Perez, and Palmeiro.

Shawn Green (958 through age 32 - 31st) - It's probably all over for his chances. He's still ahead of Wagner, Perez, and Anson, but they played forever. Green won't have that option - he doesn't look likely to last much past age 36 or 37.

Todd Helton (915 through age 31 - 31st) - Helton is in better shape than Green. He's a year younger, and a better hitter. He's ahead of Baines, Wagner, Palmeiro, Perez, and Anson. But he's clearly nowhere near the hitter he was and while he could conceivably hang aroung long enough to catch Lajoie, that's probably the best he can hope for.

David Ortiz (629 through age 29 - 37th) - See the damage a late start can do? He's only ahead of Perez, Palmeiro, and Anson and Big Papi sure doesn't look like someone who'll be playing when he's 40.

So - which active players can we expect to claim a spot in the Top 25? I think it's going to require 1700 career RBIs, because I think there are at least seven active players who could reasonably drive in that mnay runs. And that's without even speculating on where Cabrera or Teixeira will end up.

It seems to me that Manny Ramirez, Ken Griffey, and Alex Rodriguez are each as close to a mortal lock as one could hope to see. They've already done most of the heavy lifting. Andruw Jones is already halfway there and still on the sunny side of age 30; Vladimir Guerrero is a year older than Jones, and isn't on quite as good a pace as Andruw, but I would expect him to make it as well.. I would normally be reluctant to include Albert Pujols - ten years ago Frank Thomas looked every bit as impressive, and Thomas is not going to make the cut. But Pujols does look like a much better bet to avoid crippling injury, and he is such a great hitter. Finally, I think Miguel Tejada and Carlos Delgado will inch their way onto the bottom of the list. Delgado will be a 39 year old DH, of course. I have no idea where Tejada will be playing in ten years, but he should still be driving in runs.

Just missing the cut - Carlos Beltran and Jim Thome. They will be Top 50, maybe even Top 30 - but I can't quite see them getting to 1750 career RBIs.
Chasing the Big Numbers, Part 2: RBIs | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Jim - Tuesday, June 27 2006 @ 10:04 PM EDT (#149878) #

Good read, very interesting.   I think the most interesting aspect is A-Rod.  I'd put him at 50/50 to topple Aaron.

But Pujols does look like a much better bet to avoid crippling injury

I would disagree with this.  I don't like the minor injuries, and I don't think that the way he plays through them is conducive to getting to the top of this list. 

Possible omission with this method?

Vladimir Guerrero - 936 RBI  Age 30.  I like his chances over many of those players to get to at least the bottom of the list. Certainly higher then Green, Ortiz, C. Jones - plus some others that would be debatable.

I see Beltre, Blalock and Texieria are on good paces.  I like David Wright's chances as being better then the three of theirs combined.  





Magpie - Tuesday, June 27 2006 @ 10:29 PM EDT (#149879) #
Actually, all I meant was that Pujols has a better chance to avoid injury than Frank Thomas. And so long as Albert isn't lugging 270 pounds around...

David Wright was left off along with everyone with fewer than 400 career games played.

But Vladimir Guerrero is in my spreadsheet and on my list. I just forgot to write him up. DOH! You're right, he's in very good shape. Will make the necessary correction. Well spotted, sir!

AWeb - Tuesday, June 27 2006 @ 10:50 PM EDT (#149882) #
I love reviews like this. It's like what I used to do mentally while looking at stats as a kid.

For Jays content, how about Glaus? He's at 612 through his age 28 season, not far behind Beltran. Given his injury hstory, not so likely I guess, but I alwyas forget he's still pretty young.

Magpie - Tuesday, June 27 2006 @ 11:19 PM EDT (#149883) #
There will be Jays content, I promise! Mighty Troy is on the home run list, and V-Dub is on my career hits watch.

And Roy Halladay has more wins through age 28 than which four 300 game winners!? Not that I think he's really got a ghost of a chance, but still...

Jimbag - Tuesday, June 27 2006 @ 11:47 PM EDT (#149885) #
Jim - minor injuries actually get reported these days...when any of the top 10 were active (including Aaron), the public never heard of any "minor strains" or "stiffness" - medical science wasn't as advanced as it is now, and it was considered downright unmanly to miss a game unless there was something tangible to show the fans - like a missing limb. I exaggerate, but only for effect.

Magpie - I still consider Green, Kent and Delgado Jay's content. Kent and Green were drafted by the Jays, and Delgado might as well have been. And they all contributed in Toronto - they may be gone, but they're certainly not forgotten.

ken_warren - Tuesday, June 27 2006 @ 11:54 PM EDT (#149886) #
Eric Chavez deserves consideration......690 RBI and he won't be 29 until December.
Willy - Wednesday, June 28 2006 @ 12:10 PM EDT (#149919) #
Well, I can't *not* say it.    Looking at these numbers, you have to again wonder whether Williams might not have been at the top of the list, or very close to it,  without  those almost-five prime seasons lost to military service.

As always, Magpie, an enjoyable read.

Chasing the Big Numbers, Part 2: RBIs | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.