Baseball’s untainted Home Run King. That is how most people know Henry Aaron. Lost in that assessment is just how great a player “Hammerin Hank” was. His triple slash line is nice, at .305/.377/.555. Sure, the on base percentage is maybe a tad bit low for Aaron to be ranked this high. But a lifetime .555 slugging percentage is remarkable. Aaron was, until Barry Bonds dubiously broke the record, baseball’s all time home run king, slugging 755 long balls. Aaron still holds the all time career RBI record, with 2,297. That mark, barring a healthy and productive return by Alex Rodriguez, may never be broken. Aaron also had 3,771 career hits, trailing only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb on the all-time list. Just his sheer statistics alone are staggering. In his career, Aaron complied 6,856 total bases, an average, AVERAGE, of 337 a year for 23 years!! Going with a sabermetric slant, Aaron’s career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is fifth all time at 137.3.
My favorite Aaron stat is this, and it is well documented: he hit 755 career home runs, but never once hit more than 47…and he did that at age 37! He was just a remarkably consistent offensive threat. The amount of bigotry and ignorance he had to deal with whilst chasing Ruth’s home run record also has to count for something. It could not have been easy on the man. Just look at what happened to Roger Maris when he was hunting down the Bambino’s single season home run record. Bouts of stress, anxiety, hair loss, et al. Aaron was a black man from Birmingham, Alabama, chasing down, then, the most celebrated record in all of sports. I cannot fathom the bullshit that man had to put up with.
The fact remains this with Henry Aaron: He is almost diminished by those 755 home runs. Diminished in the sense that most fans just see that number and don’t investigate into just how great a player Henry Aaron was.