The legendary Cal Ripken Jr. is best known for one thing: his perfect attendance. Given the nickname “Iron Man” thanks to his invincibility and availability of always being ready to take the field, Ripken famously broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak in 1995. The new record was set at 2,632 when Ripken voluntarily sat out a game in 1998. This is one of the sports records nobody ever expects to be broken.
To Ripken’s credit he was actually a good player too. For a manager to put a player’s name in the lineup every night for nearly two full decades, he better be good.
In his 21 year career Ripken hit 431 home runs and had 3,184 hits through 3001 games. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1982, the MVP in 1983 and 1991, and was an All-Star every season from 1983 until he retired in 2001. His numbers are certainly great and the prestige has been earned, but do Ripken’s numbers only appear better because of longevity and the amount of games he was able to play in?
All-Time Leader in Double Plays Grounded Into
There is only one single season statistic Ripken has more of than anyone else: double plays grounded into. Ripken hit into 350 double plays in his career, averaging 19 a season. Hank Aaron, who played in almost 300 more games than Ripken did, hit into fewer double plays. Even if he had hit into more, there would be less of an excuse as he hit far more home runs and had a much higher batting average.
Lowest Batting Average for 3,000 hits
Reaching 3,000 hits in a career is something few players ever do. A combination of longevity and skill is necessary to reach this goal. Of the members of the 3,000 Hits Club, Ripken has the lowest batting average at .276. Even Craig Biggio, the only man in this elite group not directly associated with a major controversy excluded from the Hall of Fame, has a career batting average higher.
162 Game Average
Thankfully because he consistently played in 162 games per season, Ripken’s 162 game average is as accurate to his actual statistics. Ripken managed to average 89 runs, 172 hits, 23 home runs, and 91 RBIs throughout his career. Although good numbers, none of these standout. For instance, this is a comparison to Biggio on these statistics:
Ripken – 89 Runs
Biggio – 105 Runs
Ripken – 172 Hits
Biggio – 174 Hits
Ripken – 23 Home Runs
Biggio – 17 Home Runs
Ripken – 91 RBIs
Biggio – 67 RBIs
Still one of the all-time greats, Ripken needs to thank his incredible ability to stay healthy and strong for his unquestioned fame. Even if a few demons about Ripken have come out on how the streak was more important than winning, Ripken was a talented player whose credibility can never be called into question. He helped bring back baseball after the 1994 strike. Thankfully he didn’t hit too many home runs to make us wonder how only he could play in so many consecutive games.