1986 fleer baseball cards Hank Aaron, 1,000-home-run hitter? Verify. A player who may have emerged from the Atlantic Ocean? Double verify. In nowadays without MLB, our workers writers went on a deep dive of baseball’s most complete database to find things that remind them of what makes the sport so great.

Baseball-Reference is the eighth wonder of the world, and frankly, it’s superior to a few of the better-known seven, too. Who wants the Colossus of Rhodes, in spite of everything, when you've gotten the player web page for Tuffy Rhodes, onetime dwelling run king of Japan?

One of the qualities that defines baseball’s corner of the internet is the quirkiness inherent in appreciating its historical past. Much of that pleasure is tied in with searching Baseball-Reference pages, which expose weird stats and enjoyable names and improbable accomplishments and all of these quirky histories. Baseball-Reference is already a year-round deal with, but in a time absent of actual games—Opening Day was originally slated for Thursday—it turns into counterintuitively much more central for followers: Solely the strangeness can slake our baseball thirst; the one new discoveries can come from mining the depths of already existing pages.

The positioning has more info available than anybody has time to learn, social distancing or not. There are pages for each player, group, and season; for leagues ranging in skill degree across four continents; for each doable statistical search a baseball fan would hope to answer. So to rejoice the breadth of the location’s riches, we held a miniature draft, selecting our five favorite B-Ref pages apiece, selected from anywhere on the site. As befits this eighth surprise, we got bizarre—and in so doing, found room for some baseball smiles even when the parks are closed, the mounds simply ready for the first real pitch of spring. —Zach Kram.

One of the vital distinctive bits of Baseball-Reference branding is “black ink.” Whenever a participant leads his league in a statistical class, the quantity on his page is displayed in daring. If he leads all of Major League Baseball, it’s each bolded and italicized. B-Ref even tracks black ink on a participant’s page, with sure classes weighted to emphasise their significance, and publishes the participant’s rating at the bottom of his web page as a fast and soiled estimation of his worthiness for the Corridor of Fame.

When most statheads talk about gamers with loads of black ink, they go to favorites from the current past, like Barry Bonds or Pedro Martínez. However my personal favorite smattering of black ink belongs to Rogers Hornsby. The Rajah was an actual asshole, God rest his soul, however he could absolutely rake. If you recognize anything about Hornsby, other than his winning persona, it’s that his career batting common, .358, is the highest ever for a right-handed hitter and second solely to Ty Cobb overall. That undersells his offensive prowess somewhat.

That’s right, from 1920 to 1925, Hornsby led the Nationwide League in batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage (and by extension OPS and OPS+) every single 12 months. Bonds and Ruth swept the triple-slash categories thrice mixed, while Hornsby did it six years in a row. As much as I like the nooks and crannies of Baseball-Reference, sometimes you simply desire a stats website to play the hits. Literally, in Hornsby’s case.

The 1899 Spiders are the worst workforce in MLB history. They're also my favourite workforce in MLB historical past. (I like them so fervently that early on in my relationship, my girlfriend purchased me a vintage Spiders T-shirt as a birthday current.) And their Baseball-Reference web page exhibits why.

The backstory right here is that earlier than the season, the Spiders’ owners also purchased the St. Louis Perfectos (later the Cardinals) and traded all their good players—including Cy Younger and two different future Corridor of Famers—to St. Louis to attempt to type a superteam. But that context isn’t immediately apparent on the web page. One of many solely indications of one thing unusual comes on the prime of the page, when B-Ref gives an choice to see the Spiders’ previous season however not their subsequent. That’s because the Spiders franchise folded after 1899.

The other indication of one thing unusual is the info itself; B-Ref is, firstly, a treasure trove of information. For example, every workforce page includes a fast visible representation of the game-by-game outcomes. Green means a win, pink means a loss, and the height of the bar signifies the margin of victory. Right here is the Spiders’ graph of 20 green bars and 134 purple.

Each web page is crammed with storytelling statistics. So it’s straightforward to see that, say, Jim Hughey was the Spiders’ ace but finished the season with a 4-30 file, and that the pitching staff as a whole finished with a 6.37 ERA and didn’t feature a single participant with a league-average mark or higher.

The Spiders additionally exemplify the uncertainty of early baseball record-keeping, which wasn’t practically as exact as it is at the moment. Six players have a “?” subsequent to their names, which signifies that baseball historians are not sure of their handedness on the plate. And so they highlight the wonders of old-timey baseball names, with players like Sport McAllister, Ossee Schrecongost, and Highball Wilson. Harry Colliflower was on this staff, too, with a fun title and a hilarious participant picture—another delight of early-years Baseball-Reference—besides.

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