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Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Brett's royalty extends beyond pine tar

By Paul Carr


Rich Pilling/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesGeorge Brett swings at a pitch at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri circa 1982.
Wednesday marks the 30th anniversary of perhaps the most famous tirade in baseball history, when George Brett came charging out of the dugout to dispute being called out for using too much pine tar on his bat.

The indelible visual of Brett's rage may be the first that comes to mind when his name is mentioned, but don't forget that he was one of the sport's all-time greats.

His number five has been retired by the Kansas City Royals, and Baseball-reference says in terms of WAR, Brett is the second-best player to wear number five for at least five seasons, behind only Albert Pujols.

In honor of Brett and his infamous anniversary, here are five notes from his on-the-field accomplishments...

• In his 21 seasons, Brett won three batting titles, 1 of 10 players to do that in AL history. Although it's a fluky calendar stat, he's the only player to win a batting title in three different decades (1976, 1980, 1990).

More impressively, his 14 years between his first and last batting titles are tied with Stan Musial for the second-most of any player in major-league history. Only Ted Williams has a longer span between his first and last batting titles, with 17 years from 1941 to 1958.

• Brett's finest season was 1980, when he won his only MVP award as he hit .390, the highest batting average in a full season by any player since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.

Brett reached .400 for the first time on August 17, and was hitting .400 as late as September 19, the latest any player has hit .400 since Williams in 1941.

• He remains the only player wearing a Royals cap in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Brett is Kansas City's career leader in nearly every major counting stat, including home runs, doubles, runs and RBI.

His .305 batting average makes him the only Royal over .300 for his career (min. 2,000 plate appearances), and his career WAR of 88.4 is nearly double the nearest position player (Amos Otis at 44.6).

• Brett's fame extended beyond Kansas City to the national media as well. In his first year of eligibility, he received 488 of 497 votes (98.19%). That percentage is the fifth-highest in Baseball Hall of Fame history, trailing only Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ty Cobb.

• As for the career numbers that put Brett in the Hall of Fame, they're as impressive and well-rounded as nearly anyone's. His 3,154 hits rank 16th all-time, and he's sixth with 665 career doubles.

Brett is one of four players with 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and 200 stolen bases, along with Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Dave Winfield. And Brett is the only one of those four to also have 600 doubles and 100 triples.

Today George Brett is understandably remembered for his explosive tirade. His career numbers will make him remembered for even longer in the Hall of Fame.