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By The Numbers: No Chemical Issues Today... Just Numbers

By Father Gabe Costa
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As an undergraduate at Stevens Institute of Technology, I remember reading a book which alluded to a legend which claimed that the great scientist and mathematician, Karl F. Gauss, once computed the decimal expansions of the reciprocals of first thousand "natural numbers" (1/1, 1/2, 1/3,…, 1/1000) to get an insight into the pattern of these ratios. For example, the reciprocal of 17 has a "block" of fifteen numbers before it repeats itself. That is, 1/17 =.058823524117647…

The author indicated that Gauss did this monumental task for the sheer joy of calculating. Whether this part of math folklore is true or not, numbers can provide a "soothing escape"

And everybody is looking for an escape from A-Rodgate!

For today's By The Numbers, I thought I would take a look at the eight sluggers in history who have, thus far, clubbed 600 or more home runs. There will be no references to Steroids, HGH, PED, amphetamines, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Bud Selig, Randy Levine, binding arbitration, chemists, lawyers or doctors.

Just numbers. Numbers for Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome and Sammy Sosa.

The following statistics will be used: Homeruns (HR), Wins Above Replacement (WAR), At-Bats (AB), Runs-Batted-In per AB (RBI/AB), On Base Percentage (OBP), Slugging Percentage (SLG), On-Base-Plus-Slugging (OPS), On-Base-Times-Slugging (SLOB), Walks (BB), and Strikeouts (K).

baseball chart

The sheer joy of numbers. No matter how you slice it, one name always seems to lead the rest.

Speaking of which, several summers ago, an announcer for the Yankees was in the process of introducing the starting lineup for the Bombers at the beginning of a Saturday afternoon game. When he arrived at the Yankees' cleanup hitter, Alex Rodriguez, he referred to A-Rod as "arguably the greatest player ever."

Do the math. It made no sense then. And it makes no sense now.

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