Two numbers will be tied to Hank Aaron forever.
There was 715, the number of career home runs he reached to dethrone Babe Ruth as the all-time big fly king in 1974, in one of the most iconic moments in sports history. And then there was 755, Aaron’s ultimate total, and a record that stood for another 31 years.
Aaron, who died Friday at the age of 86, crafted a legacy that is about so much more than numbers, of course. But even focusing on the statistical side of the ledger, 715 and 755 only scratch the surface of what he accomplished over his long and legendary career.
Here is a look at 13 facts and figures to know about one of the greatest players to pick up a bat:
1. No off years: 20 seasons of 20 homers
One surprising aspect of Aaron’s 755 career home runs is that he produced them without hitting more than 47 in a single season. A total of 47 players have produced a higher single-season total than Aaron ever did -- 15 of them multiple times -- and yet Aaron sits second on the all-time list behind Barry Bonds.
Aaron managed that through his relentless consistency. He is one of five players to post at least eight 40-homer seasons, one of two (along with Alex Rodriguez) to have 15 30-homer seasons and is the only player to go deep 20-plus times in 20 different years. Those years came consecutively from 1955-74. Aaron failed to reach that threshold only as a 20-year-old rookie in 1954, and as a 41- and 42-year-old in 1975-76.
2. Built to last: nearly 3,300 games
You don’t hit 755 home runs without being a paragon of durability and longevity. Aaron’s 3,298 games played puts him 10 behind Carl Yastrzemski for second all time. (Pete Rose is No. 1 with 3,562 games.) Aaron played at least 150 games 14 times and at least 120 games 21 times, tying Rose for the most such seasons in MLB history. Aaron also ranks third in plate appearances (13,941).
3. Age is just a number: productive at 20 and 40
One thing that stands out about Aaron is that he was a tremendous young player and a tremendous old player. As for the former, he is one of 24 position players to produce a 6-WAR season at age 21 or younger, per Baseball-Reference, and ranks 10th in total WAR through age 25 (38.8). But he is also seventh in WAR at age 35 or older (31.4). Aaron’s two highest single-season OPS figures actually came at ages 37 (1.079) and 39 (1.045, albeit in only 120 games). In the five seasons from 1969-73, when Aaron was 35-39 years old, he led all Major Leaguers in slugging (.601) and OPS (.997).
4. Leaderboard legend: top 5 in many categories
In addition to home runs, games and plate appearances, Aaron ranks third all-time in hits (3,771), fourth in runs scored (2,174), first in total bases (6,856), first in extra-base hits (1,477), first in RBIs (2,297), fourth in intentional walks (293) and fifth in WAR for position players (143.1). He is one of six players to reach the hallowed milestones of 3,000 hits and 500 homers.
5. A hit machine: 3,000 hits without the HR
Take another look at that hit total: 3,771. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out what that means. Even if you took away each and every one of Aaron’s 755 home runs, he still would have cracked the 3,000-hit mark -- one of the most celebrated in baseball. Homers aside, Aaron’s 3,016 hits would rank 29th in MLB history. The player who would be behind him? Wade Boggs, a Hall of Famer who batted .328 over 18 seasons, with a total of 3,010 hits.
6. Total domination: the king of total bases
Think about those 6,856 total bases, too. That total is 722 more than second-place Stan Musial -- about twice the amount produced by 2019 Major League leader Rafael Devers (359). How much is 6,856? It equates to 1,714 home runs, 2,285 triples or 3,428 doubles. If a player matched Ruth’s single-season record of 457 total bases and kept that up for 15 years, he would still be one base short of Aaron.
7. K’s under control: Just 112th in strikeouts
As mentioned, Aaron went to the plate more times than all but two players in baseball history, and he hit more home runs than all but one. Despite that, his lack of strikeouts is stunning -- especially by modern standards. Aaron finished with 1,383 K’s (fewer than his 1,402 walks), which is only the 112th most in MLB history, through the 2020 season. Several active players have more, including Giancarlo Stanton, Evan Longoria and Justin Upton. Of course, Aaron played in a lower-strikeout environment in which pitchers did not have the caliber of stuff they do today. Even so, Aaron also struck out far less than fellow Hall of Famers such as Reggie Jackson (the all-time leader, with 2,597), Willie Stargell (1,936) and Mickey Mantle (1,710).
8. Afraid of no one: taming HOFers
Aaron’s most-faced pitcher was, by far, Hall of Famer Don Drysdale. The two matched up 249 times, or 51 more than any other opponent against Aaron. In his career, Drysdale allowed only a .645 OPS, yet Aaron was not the least bit bothered by the intimidating Dodgers right-hander. He homered 17 times and hit .267/.345/.579, good for a .925 OPS that almost exactly matched Aaron’s career mark of .928.
9. Shining bright: an annual All-Star
Aaron is the all-time All-Star, with a record 25 selections. The caveat to that number is that it includes four seasons (1959-62) in which there were multiple games. Still, Aaron was selected as an All-Star in 21 seasons (1955-75), more than any other player. He started a Midsummer Classic 17 times, behind only Willie Mays (18).
10. A high floor: 15 straight years of 6 WAR
Aaron wasn’t making all of those All-Star teams just from inertia. Beginning with his second season in 1955, he produced at least 6 WAR in 15 straight years through 1969. For context, only 13 position players reached that mark in 2019, which is about average for a single season. That 15-season streak is a record, and Aaron’s 16 total seasons meeting the 6-WAR threshold ties Bonds for the most by a position player.
11. October excellence: 1.116 postseason OPS
Aaron didn’t get many chances to play in the postseason, but when he did, he took advantage by batting .362/.405/.710 with six homers and 16 RBIs in 17 games. In two of his three series (1957 World Series, 1969 National League Championship Series), he homered three times. Among those with at least 70 career postseason plate appearances, he ranks sixth in average, fifth in slugging and fifth in OPS.
12. Hard-to-get hardware: always in the MVP conversation
Despite all the production and accolades, it’s a bit shocking that Aaron is not among the 31 players to capture multiple MVP Awards. He won for the only time in 1957, which was his fourth season. Aaron never finished as the runner-up, either. But he placed third a whopping six times, received votes in 19 straight seasons (1955-73) and is tied for eighth all-time in “MVP shares,” per Baseball-Reference.
13. The ultimate big brother: first in sibling homers
Baseball has seen its fair share of impressive brother tandems (or trios), from the Waners to the DiMaggios to the Alous to the Alomars to the Uptons to the Seagers. Yet it’s the Aarons who hold the record for the most home runs by any brother combo, and it’s not especially close. This despite the fact that Hank’s younger brother, Tommie, hit just 13 big flies over parts of seven seasons with Hank’s Braves between 1961-71. That means Hank accounts for 98.3% of the Aaron brothers’ total of 768.