As we were scrolling yesterday through the PDF pages of SABR's awesomely free Emerald Guide to Baseball, we found lots of informational nuggets that could have been turned into some sort of trivia challenge, if we were so inclined. (Of course, the most amazing prize that we could offer is probably the opportunity to share a six-pack of Carling with you on your front step, so it hardly seems worth the time to set up any such game.)
Amongst the more interesting things that we noticed in combing through the Blue Jays' career leaders in a number of statistical categories was the number of places where Vernon Wells is poised to leapfrog over some of the greatest names in the Jays' pantheon in the coming year. The categories in which he's ready to bound ahead are all counting stats, so they are as much a tribute to Wells' staying power as much as his performance.
Here's some of the milestones that we can expect Vernon to pass in the coming season:
Games Played: Vernon (1236) currently sits 156 games behind Lloyd Moseby (1392) for third on the Jays All-Time list. A healthy season from V-Dub - which is by no means a given - will put him over in line to take over the Shaker and will set him up to pass Carlos Delgado (1423) and Tony Fernandez (1450) for first place in 2011.
At Bats: Wells currently sits fourth with 4880 ABs, behind Fernandez (5335), Moseby (5124) and Delgado (5008). Even with some time missed, Wells could easily reach the 456 at bats necessary to move ahead of Fernandez. (Supposing that Tony doesn't have one more comeback in him.)
Runs: Wells (710) has a ways to go to catch Delgado (889), but given his 162 game average of 93 runs scored per season, he should easily pass Moseby (768) for second on the all time list.
(A quick break to mention this: We're really starting to miss Lloyd Moseby right about now. A pretty great player with the greatest nickname in Jays history. And now, on with the countdown.)
Hits: Vernon (1368) should move ahead of his old pal Delgado (1413) for second place if he comes anywhere near his 162 game average of 179 hits. It would take Wells matching his all time best season of 215 hits to tie Fernandez (1583) for first all time.
Home Runs: Wells (192) needs just 11 homers to pass George Bell (202) and 12 to pass Joe Carter (203) for third and second place all time in dingers. It would take Wells close to six seasons of average (25) output to reach Delgado's 336 for first all-time.
RsBI: Wells (725) should again easily move past Carter (736) and Bell (740) to move into second place all time behind Delgado (1058).
(Another brief pause just to say: We are now kinda wishing the Jays had grabbed Delgado off the free agent scrap heap this season, if only so that he could put a little extra daylight between himself and Wells in some of these categories. Because it just seems to us as though Carlos deserves to be at the top. Let's soldier on, shall we?)
Stolen Bases: Surprising (to us, anyways) is the fact that Wells (84) currently sits outside to top ten in steals. A couple of swipes this year will move him ahead of Handsome Alex Gonzalez (85) and José Cruz Jr. (85) for 10th spot, far behind all-time leader Moseby's 255.
Walks: A full, healthy and patient season from Vernon could push him (356) past Willie Upshaw (390) for seventh on the all-time list. Barring a contract extension for Wells through 2020 (*shudder*), Delgado's mark of 827 walks seems safe.
Vernon's place in history
We're not sure if this is sad or not, but given his contract, we assume that Wells will fumble his way to the top of most of these categories by the time he's done stealing money from this franchise. (Actually, we're pretty sure that we're sad about that.)
If Vernon can bounce back to a form which somewhat resembles his All-Star days of yore, we can see these milestone moments being celebratory over the next two years. But if he limps over the line and stumbles his way into history, we could see his achievements being greeted with a funereal resignation.