A year ago, we challenged all you Useless-Infomaniacs out there to come up with one brilliant, catchy nickname for the sensational decade of the 2000s. Well, we're still waiting, even though the possibilities are truly limitless:
The Double Zeroes? The Dazzling Donuts? The Nothings? The Nadas?
Come on, friends. We're four years into this decade, and it's time to settle on something before it's too late.
But whatever we call it, it's sure been one entertaining decade -- all 40 percent of it. So here's our annual look at the best and worst of everyone's favorite Decade To Be Named Later:
The Hit Men
Only three players in history have ever averaged 200 hits a year in any decade. Perhaps you've heard of them. The first was Sam Rice in the 1920s (2,010 hits), the second was Rogers Hornsby, in the 1920s (2,085 hits). The other was that best-selling author, Peter E. Rose, in the '70s (2,045 hits).
But four years into the 2000s, Todd Helton is averaging 201 hits per season. And it isn't unreasonable to wonder if he could keep this up. He's only 30 years old. He plays half his games in hospitable Denver, Colorado. And he's probably the least-ballyhooed great hitter alive. So it ain't impossible. Here's your fascinating list of 2000s hit leaders:
Helton also could put himself in a very cool group of men whose batting average reached .350 over an entire decade (minimum: 2,000 AB). The live-ball members of that club are Hornsby in the '20s (.382), Bill Terry in the '30s (.352), Ted Williams in the '40s (.356) and Wade Boggs in the '80s (.352). Back here in the 2000s, here are the eight men with .320 averages or better (minimum 800 AB):
Nobody has ever averaged 50 homers a season for a whole decade. But Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa have done it so far in the 2000s. The guy with the best shot, though, is A-Rod, who doesn't even turn 30 until July, 2005. Your leaders:
It sure is too bad that Bonds' 40th birthday is charging at him like Tedy Bruschi -- because if he were just a few years younger, the amazing Mr. Bonds would be well on his way to the most eye-popping decade any man has ever had, at least by the numbers:
Bonds has racked up 136 more walks than anyone else, 85 more intentional walks than anyone else, an on-base percentage 66 points higher than anyone else and a slugging percentage 127 points higher than the next closest human. So comparing him to his peers isn't nearly as interesting as comparing him to the legends of yester-decade. But he's blowing all of them away, too.
Nobody has ever been on base in half his trips to the plate over a whole decade, although the esteemed Theodore Williams just missed (.496 in the '40s). No one has ever slugged .750 for a decade, either -- even that Ruth guy (.740 in the '20s). But Bonds' intentional-walk total is the most mind-warping of all. Since intentional walks became an official stat in 1955, Bonds' four-year total in the 2000s is more than anyone's 10-year total for a decade -- except (who else) himself in the '90s (when he drew 257).
Bonds is already beyond the 2,000-at-bat minimum we've established for feats in a decade. So if he can just avoid a massive statistical cliff dive in his 40s, he's going to go down as the perpetrator of a decade for the ages, even if he quits in 2006.
The Defense Rests
The dubious leaders in the fine art of fielding:
Most errors (infield) -- Rafael Furcal 92, Aramis Ramirez 91 (AL leader -- Troy Glaus, 88)
Most errors (outfield) -- Vladimir Guerrero 39 (AL leader -- Terrence Long, 29)
Most errors (catcher) -- Jason Kendall 41 (AL leader -- Ramon Hernandez, 39)
Most errors (pitcher) -- Kip Wells 16 (AL leader -- Ramon Ortiz 14)
Wait. We're not done. For the 2000s pitching leaders, click here.