Jaffe: Tony Gwynn, 54, was an anachronism and pioneer

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at on June 16, 2014:

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who won eight batting titles and racked up 3,141 hits while earning All-Star honors 15 times in a 20-year major league career with the Padres, passed away early Monday morning. Just 54 years old, Gwynn had been on leave from his job as the head baseball coach at San Diego State University to battle a recurrence of salivary gland cancer.

Viewed from a distance during an age where the home run and the strikeout have become the game’s signature events, Gwynn stands as an anachronism. With a sweet lefthanded swing and a knack for hitting to the opposite field – he made “the 5.5 hole,” the gap between the shortstop and third baseman, famous — Gwynn racked up single after single. In fact, his 2,378 singles rank as the 10th-most in history and the fourth-highest since World War II behind only Pete Rose, Derek Jeter and Rod Carew. Gwynn never homered more than 17 times in a season and reached double digits in just two of the eight seasons in which he won a batting title. Meanwhile, he had six seasons where he qualified for a batting title while striking out fewer than 20 times, more than any player in the post-1960 expansion era.

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This page was last updated June 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm MST.

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