Jake Stenzel vs The World

During today’s this date article, in the short bio for Jake Stenzel, I mentioned that he put together three straight seasons with the Pirates in which he reached at least .350 average, 80 RBI’s, 100 run scored and 50 stolen bases. It wasn’t until after I was done with the article that I stopped and thought about those minimum standards. My best guess was that the only other Pirates player to reach all of those marks in the same season was Honus Wagner and I turned out to be correct. Wagner did accomplish it during his 18 years in Pittsburgh, twice.

Think about that for a second. The greatest player in team history did that twice over his long career, even prior to joining the Pirates while he played with the Louisville Colonels for three seasons, he was still only able to pull off that feat in 1905 and 1908. Stenzel did it three years in a row with the Pirates, which is one more than everyone else in team history combined! Just for good measure, the year after the Pirates traded Stenzel to the Baltimore Orioles, he did it again, hitting .353 with 69 steals, 116 RBI’s and 113 runs scored.

I did a quick search among other players who I thought may have reached those minimums all in the same season, with my best guess being Ty Cobb. This isn’t a complete list, but Cobb seems like a good place to start, all-time hits leader, tons of steals, runs and RBI’s and it turns out Cobb did it three times during his career. A few other players I checked turned up either one or no matches. Hall of Famer Joe Kelley accomplished it twice during his career, with the first time coming only a few years after the Pirates regrettably traded him away at age twenty, just 68 games into his career.

Just wanted to point out that footnote on Stenzel, because his career seems to get lost due to being short and it ended well over 100 years ago now. It is likely something we won’t see again from a Pirates player, after all even Wagner last did it 104 years ago. It is hard enough to hit .350, but most guys who do, either don’t steal bases at a high clip or they don’t drive in enough runs because they hit at the top of the order. The last .350 hitter in team history? Roberto Clemente in 1970 and he didn’t steal many bases. The last player to reach 50 steals in a season? Tony Womack in 1998 and he didn’t drive in runs or hit for average.

Stenzel isn’t just the franchise’s leader in batting average, on base percentage and the single season runs scored leader, he also accomplished something that all the other players combined in team history couldn’t do.