Stark: Tony Gwynn’s incredible numbers

From SABR member Jayson Stark at on June 16, 2014:

What Rogers Hornsby and Honus Wagner were to their generation, that’s what the late, great Tony Gwynn was to his generation.

He didn’t play baseball in an age when men routinely hit .424 or .404. He played in an era when it was big news if anyone even got within 50 points of that. Except for the fact he did that every darned year, no matter what.

Then again, he also didn’t play baseball in an age when we were obsessed with walks, or on-base-percentage, or wRC+. So maybe, if someone like Tony Gwynn arrived in the big leagues tomorrow, we wouldn’t value him quite the way we appreciated him in his own time.

But all I know is this: I’ve never seen anyone, in my years covering baseball, who mastered the art of bat meeting ball as brilliantly, or as artfully, as Tony Gwynn.

On the day he retired 13 years ago, I took a look at his incredible hitting genius, measured through the columns on the stat sheet he owned like no one else — the batting average column, the hits column and the strikeouts (or lack thereof) column.

I’ve updated those numbers now, in the wake of the awful news of Tony Gwynn’s death. But his feats are as amazing today as they were back then. And I have a feeling that won’t change — for about the next 12 centuries.

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Originally published: June 17, 2014. Last Updated: June 17, 2014.