Legendary MLB star Hank Aaron passed away Friday at the age of 86. His career was marked with incredible accomplishments, including passing Babe Ruth’s long-standing home run record. Now, his 755 home runs in MLB rank second all-time behind Barry Bonds and his name is all over the record books in almost every statistical category.
Here are the most impressive stats and achievements in Hank Aaron’s career:
Even without the home runs, Hank still had 3,000 career hits
Aaron’s combination of home run power and ability to get on base was second to none. He is the only player in the 500 home run club who would still have 3,000 hits without his home runs. Eddie Murray is the only other player who even surpasses 2,500 career hits after taking out his homers.
He led the league in home runs over the five-year stretch that spanned his 35-39 year old seasons
Hammerin’ Hank’s power didn’t disappear with age. Per Baseball Musings, Aaron hit 203 home runs from 1969-73—his age-35 to age-39 seasons—which was the most of any player over that five-year stretch. He did so with ease too, hitting 18 more homers than the second-highest finisher in that period Willie Stargell.
He hit his 755 career homers without ever hitting 50 in a single season
What allowed Aaron to surpass Babe Ruth was his longevity and consistency as much as his dominance. Aaron never hit more than 50 home runs in a single season and reached 45 just once, in 1971. He hit 30 or more home runs in 14 seasons.
Aaron made the All-Star team every season but the first and last season of his career
Aaron's 21 straight years as an All-Star is one of the most impressive achievements in sports history. Every season from the time he was 21 to 41 years old, Aaron earned All-Star honors. He was in the top 10 of the MVP voting in 13 of those seasons.
He played in 145 or more games in 16 consecutive seasons
Hank was quite the iron man. From 1955-70, Aaron played in 145 games or more in every single season. He played in 150 or more games in all but two of those years. If the best ability really is availability, then it makes sense that Aaron is one of the game's greatest players.
He walked more times than he struck out in his career
Aaron had a great eye at the plate. For his career, he walked 19 more times than he struck out. Aaron had 10 different seasons where he had more base-on-balls than strike outs, including in 1969 when he walked 40 more times (87) than he struck out (47).
Hank won only one MVP award
Perhaps the most insane statistic about Aaron’s career, given his consistent dominance, is that he won the MVP award just once! Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan all won NL MVP twice during Aaron’s career, while arguably the greatest player of all time won it just once.
He had 10 seasons of 30+ home runs and fewer than 65 strikeouts
While many home run hitters are known to strike out in bunches, Aaron was great at putting the ball in play. His 10 seasons with 30 or more home runs and fewer than 65 strikeouts are the most in MLB history.
His 6,856 total bases are by far the most all-time
While Aaron owns many seemingly unbreakable records, his career mark for total bases might be the most difficult to beat. His 6,856 career total bases is 722 more than the next-highest, 6,134 from Stan Musial. For reference, the gap between Musial and Carl Yastrzemski (10th all-time) is 595. Or, as Tom Verducci put it, the gap between Aaron and Musial is more than 12 miles worth of bases. Albert Pujols, the active total-bases leader, ranks fifth on the all-time list, but he's still more than 900 bases behind Aaron.
Aaron appeared in more All-Star games than he did seasons
Thanks to a quirk in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Aaron was a 25-time All-Star despite playing in 23 seasons in the big leagues. How? From 1959 to 1962, MLB played two All-Star Games a year because the players wanted more money for the pension fund. Aaron played in seven of the eight games during that four-year period and was on the roster for all eight.
More Hank Aaron Stories From the SI Vault and SI.com:
• Hank Aaron Transcended Baseball Like Few Ever Have—or Will - Tom Verducci, 2021
•At 23, Hank Aaron Is Already the League's Best Right-Handed Hitter - Roy Terrell, 1957
• Henry Raps One for History: Aaron Collects Hit No. 3,000 - William Leggett, 1970
• Despite Losing the Home Run Record, Hank Aaron Will Always Be "The People's King" - Tom Verducci, 2007
• Where Are They Now: The People Behind Hank Aaron's Record 715th Home Run - Stephanie Apstein, 2014