Triples hurt your Hall of Fame chances: The last player to lead the league in triples and earn eventual Hall of Fame induction was Paul Molitor, who tied Lance Johnson for the American League lead with 13 in 1991.
The Hall is more amenable to strikeouts: With a league-leading 182 Ks in 2003, Jim Thome is the most recent player to pace the loop in strikeouts and make it to Cooperstown.
Speaking of Thome: Thome, who owns 612 career home runs, feasted on star pitchers. He hit four or more home runs off 16 hurlers. They included Roger Clemens (8 home runs), Justin Verlander (7), Mike Mussina (6), CC Sabathia (4), Johan Santana (4) and Tim Hudson (4).
Why’dya quit? Thirty-three players had 150 or more hits in their final big league season, with the most belonging to Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1920. That year, he had 218 knocks, but was soon banished from the game for his alleged involvement in the 1919 Black Sox World Series scandal. Numbers 2 and 3 on the list were also Black Sox: Buck Weaver (208 H in 1920) and Happy Felsch (188 H in 1920). Number 4 was Irv Waldron, who had 186 hits, 102 runs scored and a league-leading 141 games played, 641 plate appearances and 598 at-bats between the old Milwaukee Brewers (who eventually became the Baltimore Orioles) and Washington Senators. And most incredibly—that was his only year in the big leagues! With 169 hits in 2016, David Ortiz is the most recent player to finish with 150-plus knocks in his final campaign.
No runs, no walks, no strikeouts: The last pitcher to throw a complete game shutout without walking a batter or setting one down on strikes was Detroit’s Rick Porcello, who blanked Oakland 3-0 on July 1, 2014. Before him, the last to do it was Baltimore’s Jeff Ballard on August 21, 1989. He beat Milwaukee 5-0.
What a Series: The 1946 World Series was the only postseason experience of Ted Williams’ career. He hit .200 in the losing effort, as Boston fell to St. Louis in seven games. It also featured Enos Slaughter’s famed Mad Dash, when the future Hall of Famer scored all the way from first on a Harry Walker single. It put St. Louis up 4-3 in the 8th inning; the game finished with that score and St. Louis finished with the World Series victory.
Gotta catch the fight: Bill Lange, a star centerfielder for the Cubs in the 1890s, had priorities other than spring training baseball on his mind in March 1897. Wanting to see a prize fight between boxers James Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons, he feigned injury, even having a friend in the media write a fake story about his malady. After the fight, he “recovered” and played a full season, batting .340 with a league-leading 73 stolen bases.
Scribe at the hot corner: Bo Durkac spent seven seasons in professional baseball, mostly in the indy leagues. And he was good—in 1999, with the Chico Outlaws, he batted .337 with a .441 on-base percentage in 90 games and the next year, he hit .331 with a .465 OBP. While he was playing, he contributed to Baseball America’s website and wrote 2001: A Baseball Odyssey, about his stint in the Taiwan Major League in 2001. In 2003, he wrote How to Become a Professional Baseball Player.