On Friday, Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron passed away at the age of 86. Widely considered one of the very best to ever play the game, Hank Aaron has been an ambassador for the game long after he retired from the game in 1976. Many people have been writing tributes to him for everything he did on and off the field (a few of my favorites are linked below the jump) and I found myself incapable of saying anything of value, especially on a Colorado Rockies blog. So I started thinking about his numbers, which are truly crazy both in their magnitude and their consistency. And I got to thinking, “Man, imagine if he played his home games in Coors Field.”
Fortunately, Baseball Reference doesn’t force us to wonder. They have a little tool that allows you to transmit a player’s stats into another era or stadium to see what his numbers may have looked like. I used this tool a few years back to examine what the career numbers for the 2015 Hall of Fame class might have looked like had they spent their career in early-2000’s Coors Field. So, to get a sense of just how eye-popping his numbers are, let’s give Hank Aaron the same treatment.
First, consider Aaron’s career numbers. Despite retiring nearly a half century ago, he remains the all-time leader in RBI (2297) and total bases (6856). He’s fifth all-time in bWAR (143.1) and, of course, second in home runs (755).
Hank Aaron Career Stats
What’s really incredible about Aaron is his consistency. He famously never hit 50 home runs in a single season, and his Baseball-Reference page is littered with black ink for leading the league in a category. He has only one MVP award, though he finished in the Top 5 eight times. He was an All-Star in every season but his first and last, and even did it twice in the four-year span when two All-Star teams were named each year, making him a 25-time All-Star in his 23 year career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982, being named on all but nine ballots. Oh, and not only did he rake, he raked against the best pitchers in the game.
Using a similar tool at Sports Reference, we can transmute Hank Aaron’s career to a 2000 Coors Field run environment (6.25 R/G). The charts are behind a paywall now but fortunately I’m here to tell you that Hank Aaron’s prowess would have put Pablo Sanchez to shame.
Hank Aaron in 2000 Coors Field
Seriously. That’s just stupid. Hammerin’ Hank would’ve clobbered 1,004 home runs over 23 years were he playing in a run environment comparable to 2000 Coors Field. In addition to being the All-Time home run and RBI king, he also would’ve been the all-time hit king, the all time runs-scored king (moving from fourth to well passed Ricky Henderson). And those stolen base totals are nothing to sneeze at.
Does this tell us anything we didn’t already know about Hank Aaron? Of course not. He was one of the best. But sometimes it’s fun to play around with numbers to see just how great he truly was.
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There have been a number of excellent tributes written in honor of Hammerin’ Hank, and this was one of my favorites. Hank Aaron’s greatness cannot be captured by the stat sheet. Aaron began his career the same year the landmark Brown v Board of Education ruling ended legalized segregation. He endured incredible racism as he approached—and surpassed—Babe Ruth’s career home run record. And he did it while mentoring young Black players.
Vin Scully’s call on Hank Aaron’s 715th home run: ‘What a marvelous moment for the country’ | ABC7 Los Angeles
Vin Scully has called a lot of monumental moments in baseball history, but it would be hard to beat his call on Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run. Here it is:
After allowing the moment space to breathe, Scully waxes philosophical about the significance of “a Black man...getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol.”
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