clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Derek Jeter ties Honus Wagner for 6th on all-time hit list, or does he?

New, comments

The future Hall of Fame shortstop definitely collected his 3,430th hit. Whether or not he tied Honus Wagner by doing it is the question.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In the bottom of the first inning of Friday night's game against the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter hit an infield single that looked something like this:

The hit was the 3,430th of Jeter's career, which according to the MLB Twitter feed, tied Honus Wagner for sixth all-time. Key to that distinction, however, is "according to MLB". Either way, Jeter will likely leave Wagner behind by the end of the weekend, but if the numbers that Baseball Reference has for Honus are correct he actually passed him several days ago.

In a post on Sports Reference entitled "Explaining the Honus Wagner Career Hits Discrepancy," Baseball Reference's Mike Lynch explains that their number for Wagner's career hits -- 3,420 -- is not a typo, as some readers had apparently believed. Instead, it is an intentional discrepancy in the records between Baseball Reference and the official stats kept by Major League Baseball, which has its own complicated back story.

The short version of the story involves a dispute over games counted by the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statisticians of the MLB, that are not counted by Baseball Reference. The latter group uses Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia as its primary source for games before 1903, since the encyclopedia doesn't count stats from games which were replayed after disputed results and has a day-to-day account of each game. Wagner's is just one of many resulting discrepancies.

While there are other reasons for discrepancies -- Lynch cites a massive 400-hit difference for Cap Anson with MLB not considering the National Association a major league  -- this one exclusively falls in the Macmillan-Elias chasm.

Despite the approval of an official MLB committee created to choose what would be included in the encyclopedia in 1969, Elias never accepted the ruling, forever leaving a gap between what actually happened and what the official record says.