In the recorded history of the game (1871-present), only four players have achieved a .400/.500/.600 (BA/OBP/SLG) split in one season. Ted Williams was the last to do it, in 1941, and Rogers Hornsby did it in 1924. Going back a ways, Hugh Duffy did it in 1894, as did “Big Ed” Delahanty in 1895.
Big Ed is the first focus of this series. He played for four teams in his 16 year career, the best eleven seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945, more than 40 years after he tragically died after falling into Niagara Falls while drunk. He was an athletic 6’1″ and 170 lbs. Not big by today’s standards, but his bat was powerful enough to earn him the name “Big Ed”.
His career actually ended in the 20th century, but from 1892-99 he was one of the best hitters in the game. He hit .400 three times and had three of the ten highest single season wRC+ scores of the 1800’s. At the close of the 1899 season, Delahanty had played in 1400 games, and had a career .345/.410/.505/141 mark.
He lead all of baseball in SLG four times and in OPS three times during the 1890’s. His best seasons:
The year before he died, Delahanty lead the league in BA, OBP and SLG. He died part way through the 1903 season. He was hitting .333/.388/.436 at the time.
Other career highlights:
7/13/1896 – Hit 4 home runs in one game vs. Chicago
Lead the league in Doubles in 1895, 1896, 1899, 1901 and 1902
Lead the league in HR in 1893 and 1896
Big Ed’s first great year was 1892. Also in 1892:
Ellis Island opened to immigrants coming to the U.S.
Tchaichovsky’s “The Nutcracker” premiered in Russia.
J.R.R. Tolkien was born.