when does baseball spring training start Hank Aaron, 1,000-home-run hitter? Check. A player who could have emerged from the Atlantic Ocean? Double verify. In nowadays with out MLB, our staff writers went on a deep dive of baseball’s most complete database to search out things that remind them of what makes the game so great.

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

One of the qualities that defines baseball’s corner of the web is the quirkiness inherent in appreciating its historical past. Much of that joy is tied in with shopping Baseball-Reference pages, which expose bizarre stats and fun names and implausible accomplishments and all of those quirky histories. Baseball-Reference is already a year-round deal with, however in a time absent of precise video games—Opening Day was originally slated for Thursday—it becomes counterintuitively much more central for fans: Only the strangeness can slake our baseball thirst; the only new discoveries can come from mining the depths of already current pages.

The site has more information available than anybody has time to read, social distancing or not. There are pages for each participant, crew, and season; for leagues ranging in skill level throughout 4 continents; for every doable statistical search a baseball fan would hope to answer. So to have fun the breadth of the site’s riches, we held a miniature draft, selecting our 5 favorite B-Ref pages apiece, chosen from wherever on the positioning. As befits this eighth wonder, we acquired weird—and in so doing, discovered room for some baseball smiles even when the parks are closed, the mounds just waiting for the primary actual pitch of spring. —Zach Kram.

Some of the distinctive bits of Baseball-Reference branding is “black ink.” Each time a participant leads his league in a statistical category, the quantity on his page is displayed in daring. If he leads all of Major League Baseball, it’s both bolded and italicized. B-Ref even tracks black ink on a participant’s web page, with certain classes weighted to emphasize their importance, and publishes the player’s score on the bottom of his web page as a fast and soiled estimation of his worthiness for the Hall of Fame.

When most statheads talk about players with numerous black ink, they go to favorites from the latest past, like Barry Bonds or Pedro Martínez. But my personal favourite smattering of black ink belongs to Rogers Hornsby. The Rajah was an actual asshole, God rest his soul, but he might absolutely rake. If anything about Hornsby, other than his winning character, it’s that his profession batting common, .358, is the best ever for a right-handed hitter and second solely to Ty Cobb total. That undersells his offensive prowess considerably.

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 year. Bonds and Ruth swept the triple-slash classes three times combined, whereas Hornsby did it six years in a row. As much as I really like the nooks and crannies of Baseball-Reference, sometimes you just desire a stats site to play the hits. Actually, in Hornsby’s case.

The 1899 Spiders are the worst workforce in MLB history. They are also my favorite team in MLB history. (I like them so fervently that early on in my relationship, my girlfriend bought me a classic Spiders T-shirt as a birthday present.) And their Baseball-Reference page reveals 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—together with Cy Young and two different future Hall of Famers—to St. Louis to try to kind a superteam. However that context isn’t immediately apparent on the page. One of many only indications of one thing strange comes on the high of the web page, when B-Ref offers an choice to see the Spiders’ previous season however not their subsequent. That’s as a result of the Spiders franchise folded after 1899.

The other indication of something strange is the data itself; B-Ref is, before everything, a treasure trove of knowledge. As an illustration, every crew web page features a fast visual illustration of the game-by-game results. Green means a win, pink means a loss, and the height of the bar signifies the margin of victory. Here is the Spiders’ graph of 20 inexperienced bars and 134 purple.

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

The Spiders also exemplify the uncertainty of early baseball record-keeping, which wasn’t practically as exact as it's at present. Six players have a “?” next to their names, which signifies that baseball historians are not sure of their handedness at the plate. They usually highlight the wonders of old-timey baseball names, with gamers like Sport McAllister, Ossee Schrecongost, and Highball Wilson. Harry Colliflower was on this staff, too, with a fun identify and a hilarious player photograph—another delight of early-years Baseball-Reference—to boot.

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