Juan Pierre's 500th RBI Leaves Maury Wills in a Class by Himself

Randy S. RobbinsContributor IIIJune 29, 2012

Hit No. 4174 should give Juan Pierre an even 1000 RBI for his career.
Hit No. 4174 should give Juan Pierre an even 1000 RBI for his career.Hunter Martin/Getty Images

On Wednesday night, the Philadelphia PhilliesJuan Pierre recorded his 500th career RBI, driving home Jimmy Rollins with a sharp single to left field.

This in itself denotes nothing remarkable, as more than a thousand players in baseball history have reached this plateau. But when one considers that Pierre notched his 500th RBI on his 2087th hit, well, one can’t help but notice how few RBI he has collected as a member of the 2000-hit club.

Sure, Pierre has spent the majority of his career as either a leadoff or No. 2 hitter, which, of course, strongly limits the amount of RBI opportunities across a career. But with more than 1000 players having amassed 500 RBI, but only 270 belonging to the 2000-hit club (including Carlos Beltran, who will reach the milestone with his next safety), more than 730 players were able to achieve 500 RBI on fewer than 2000 hits (some never even coming close to 2000).

Pierre actually had only 477 RBI when he achieved his 2000th hit last season, coming up just short of Larry Bowa, who knocked in his 480th RBI with hit No. 2000 in 1983, before cracking the 500 mark during the following season.

Such disparate totals generally belong only to slap hitters, whose role it is to get on base or who bat deep in the lineup. So it’s no surprise that the king of this category is one of the ultimate slap hitters, Maury Wills, whose 2000th hit drove in but his 421st career RBI.

Wills is the only member of the 2000-hit club not to reach 500 RBI, topping out at 458 RBI on 2134 career hits. He did play the bulk of his career in the latter-day Dead Ball era of the 1960s, but this is still an extraordinarily modest RBI total, owed in part to Wills’ phenomenal absence of power (a .331 slugging percentage, including an average of only 15 doubles a year by one of the speediest men in the game).

It wasn't Maury Wills' job to drive in runs—and he didn't.
It wasn't Maury Wills' job to drive in runs—and he didn't.

Other relatively punchless hitters in this class—all of whom possess slugging percentages below .400—include Richie Ashburn (2574 hits/586 RBI), Lloyd Waner (2459/598), Brett Butler (2375/578), Willie Wilson (2207/585), Tony Taylor (2007/598) and Dave Bancroft (2004/591).

Interestingly, Waner’s 2000th hit drove in his 499th RBI (his 500th RBI came three hits later).

At the time of Ashburn’s 2000th hit, in 1958, he had collected 475 RBI, which stood as the paltriest RBI total for a player with 2000 hits—until Wills seemingly put the dubious mark out of reach.

So congratulations to ever-hustling Juan Pierre for leaving behind Maury Wills and joining the ranks of the completely meaningless 2000-500 club.