The Three Eddies Who Broke Baseball

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Four players named Eddie have been inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This article concerns none of them.

Eddie Murray, Eddie Mathews, Eddie Collins, and Eddie Plank are great players, but they did not break baseball as this trio did.

Welcome to a glitch in the matrix.

Eddie Joost

Joost began his career in 1936. He played 13 games for the Cincinnati Reds. He had an uninspiring .154/.214/.192 slash line, good for an adjusted on-base-plus-slugging of 14. He went 1-for-12 in 1937, and he did not play in 1938.

In 1939, he found some traction with the Reds, and he even played 88 games for the World Series champion Reds in 1940. However, Yoost had a critical flaw. He was not good at baseball.

Through his age-27 season, Joost had a slash line of .223/.311/.301. His OPS+ of 74 was a disaster.

Over the next three years, Joost missed two full seasons in 1944 and 1946. He sandwiched 35 games into the 1945 season. Unsurprisingly, he had an OPS+ of 74 across those 159 plate appearances.

Entering his age-31 season, the future was bleak for Joost. He had some seasons that he was a solid fielder at shortstop, but his performance at the plate left a lot to be desired.

It was at this point that Joost began walking. From 1947 to 1952, Joost walked 713 times, posting an on-base percentage that was 143 points higher than his batting average. He had a 114 OPS+ in that span. For six years, it was Joost, not Ted Williams, who was the king of the walk. Joost did not receive an MVP vote before 1947, but he finished in the top 15 in five of six seasons during his streak. He also made two All-Star Games.

For six seasons, Joost turned into prime Joey Votto. He is one of 28 players in MLB history to have six 100-walk seasons. For the time being, Votto is the only active member of that club.

Eddie Stanky

Speaking of six 100-walk seasons, Stanky also fits the criteria. From 1945 to 1951, Stanky averaged 119 walks. Similar to Joost, Stanky was the king of the walk for a stretch of seasons that overlapped with Williams. Stanky slashed .272/.420/.363 en route to a 114 OPS+ in those seven seasons.

Stanky only played 11 seasons, but he made three all-star games and received Most Valuable Player Award votes three times. In 1950, he finished third in National League MVP voting. He led the NL in walks three times, twice leading the Majors in walks. He led the league in on-base percentage twice, and he even snuck the 1950 Major League crown past Williams.

Stanky had three seasons with a walk rate over 20.0 percent. He was four walks shy of 1,000 despite playing in just 1,259 games. He also nearly tripled his strikeout total with walks. Stanky finished his career with a .268/.410/.348 slash line, posting a 109 OPS+.

Eddie Yost

Hopefully, you’ve found the trend with these players. Yost walked so often that his nickname on Baseball-Reference is “The Walking Man.”

Yost made his MLB debut at 17, but he did not get regular playtime until his age-20 season. In 1950, he began his tenure as king of the walk. He walked 141 times, leading the AL. From 1950 to 1960, Yost surpassed 100 walks eight times, leading the AL six times. He led the Majors five times, and he was two on-base titles in 1959 and 1960.

Despite posting an OPS+ of 117 for 11 seasons, Yost made just one All-Star Game. He received MVP votes in 1950, 1951, and 1953. He slashed .259/.406/.384 and walked 1,310 times. Mickey Mantle was the only other player to walk 1,000 times in that stretch (1,003).

In total, Yost walked 1,614 times, the 11th most in MLB history. Other than Barry Bonds, every player with more walks than Yost is in the Hall of Fame. Only Williams and Mantle have more walks without having 10,000 plate appearances.

For 14 seasons, Yost had a walk rate that doubled the MLB average. Only four players have posted more walks in a season than Yost’s career-high of 151. Bonds did so three times. Williams also did so three times. Mark McGwire and Babe Ruth did it once each.

Final Thoughts

The three Eddies shared MLB for nine seasons. From 1947 to 1955, only four players walked 140 times in a season. Williams did so three times. Joost, Stanky, and Yost also did so, once apiece. In that span, Yost led MLB with 963 walks. Joost was seventh, racking up 785 walks in 972 games. Stanky was 15th, walking 573 times in 718 games. In the ultimate full-circle story, Williams was the only player other than Joost and Stanky to have that many walks in fewer than 1,000 games played.

There are many ways to be a productive MLB player. It just happened that three players named Eddie decided to choose the same path in the same era.

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.

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