Simply the Best

How is it possible that the best hitter of the past 25 years is retiring in the shadow of another player? It's hard to believe, but that's exactly what is happening in the 2001 baseball season. This week's All-Star game showcased this fact on a ridiculous level. It was practically a Cal Ripken Memorial Game, which added even more "legacy" to the single, most overhyped player ever to play the game of baseball. Cal's a great guy and has been good for baseball, but there is absolutely no comparison with him and the great Tony Gwynn. Statistics can be skewed many ways, but here are the cold, hard numbers comparing these two players.



 Career Batting Average


 Consecutive .300 Seasons


 Batting Titles


 At Bats to Reach 3,000 Hits


 Seasons of .370 or Better


 Gold Gloves



Some more information about Gwynn:

The numbers are amazing. Gwynn never came close to hitting as low Cal's career average of .276 in any season. Ripken, on the other hand, hit higher than Gwynn's career average only one time and that was a .340 season in which he had only 332 at bats. For Gwynn's average to dip below Cal's career average, he would have to go 0 for his next 2,091. It's almost unbelievable to see the numbers that Gwynn has put up over his career. Even more impressive is the fact he did it in the National League - without the benefit of the designated hitter. Nor does he want to pad his stats by playing two or three more years in the American League, where he could easily reach 3,300-3,400 hits. For all those Cal lovers that talk about his great defense at shortstop, it should be noted that Gwynn has 5 gold gloves and Cal has just 2. In fact, besides the consecutive games played streak, the only other record Cal owns is that for most times grounding into a double play in the American League with 324. Sure the games streak is impressive, but that doesn't make him a legandary player. As we've said before, A.C. Green has the record for consecutive games played in the NBA, and we don't hear the league knocking down the door to the Hall of Fame for him.

For every feel-good story about how great of a man Cal Ripken is, you can tell one that's just as impressive about Gwynn. He has continuously brought along young players and is always willing to help opposing hitters better themselves. Also, Gwynn refused to take a spot on the All-Star team because he "didn't want to take the spot of a deserving player" - a remarkable story in this day in age. Gwynn has spent his entire career out of the limelight playing in one of the lowest profile cities in MLB. But that shouldn't take away from those amazing numbers he's compiled with the lumber. So it looks like Gwynn will leave professional baseball the same way he's played for 20 years - in practical anonymity.