It’s hard for many people not to first think of Christmas Day when someone talks about December 25th. However, a lot of other important stuff has also happened on that day.
You know, like Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson celebrating his own birth. The 25-year MLB veteran just finished celebrating his 59th birthday, and while we don’t exactly know how the former — yet always colorful — leadoff hitter went about enjoying his special day, there was only one true way for us baseball fans to honor him, and that’s by drooling over the stats he produced.
It’s always more helpful when someone else does the researching and shares some incredible stats, like Ryan Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder on the Twitter machine) did Monday. Most of us are aware of the crazy cumulative stats Henderson owns — he’s currently the all-time leader in both stolen bases (1,406) and runs scored (2,295) while racking up 3,055 hits and drawing 2,190 walks (second only to Barry Bonds‘ 2,558) — but those gaudy numbers makes it easy to forget exactly how elite he was on a season-by-season basis.
Henderson’s power/speed combo was unmatched by anyone out of the leadoff spot during his time. The following series of three tweets also puts any debate of that (if there ever was one) to bed.
Man, this is just bonkers. Being in the Hall of Fame already puts him among the elite, but stats like this put him in the next tier of elite. And although his entire career is an impressive body of work, it was the early part that helped it be a no-brainer decision in 2009 to gain election into the Hall by garnering nearly 95% of the vote.
Upon becoming a true every-day player in 1980, Henderson’s wRC+ didn’t dip below 127 until the strike-shortened season of 1994, when it settled in at 117. During this 14-year stretch, his lowest stolen base total was 41 for the New York Yankees in 1987, which was just one of two years where he swiped fewer than 50 bags. And as you’d imagine, his fWAR dipped below 5.0 in a single season just twice (3.8 in 1991 and 4.8 in 1993).
So, December 25th is a day to do a lot of things (most of them being related to Christmas), but it’s the perfect time to take a quick step back and appreciate how ridiculous Rickey Henderson was as a pro ballplayer.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at FanDuel Insider, numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s a lover of all baseball, especially the Mets.