Magic Numbers

Baseball is full of magic numbers. Some are for a season: 30 wins, 60 home runs, 200 hits. Others are for a career: 300 wins, 500 home runs, 3000 hits. It’s that last set I want to look at.

What I noticed is that the number isn’t really that magicial sometimes. What’s magical is some number short of it. That’s true of home runs where everyone with 500 home runs and who is eligible is in the Hall of Fame. The magic number here is apparently 493. That’s how many Fred McGriff has and his hall of fame vote wasn’t that great this year. But it was his first try so still he might make it someday. So the true magic number is 462. That’s the number Jose Canseco has. Everyone above him who is eligible is in the Hall of Fame (except McGriff, as noted above). You get 475, you’re in (see Stan Musial and Willie Stargell), get 465 (see Dave Winfield) and you’re in. Get 462 and, well, nope.

Same with 3000 hits. Everyone with 3000 hits who is eligible is in Cooperstown, but so is everyone above 2866. That’s the number of hits belonging to Harold Baines. His hall of fame voting numbers don’t bode well for his chances of election, so right now the cutoff isn’t 3000, it’s Harold Baines.

Just a couple of observations about how when we say 500 home runs or 3000 hits will get you to the Hall of Fame we really mean 463 homers or 2867 can actually get you there. Wonder if that will change?


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