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RBI Record Inaccurate?

By Mike Silva ~ July 11th, 2011. Filed under: Statistical Analysis.

It’s been a long believed that Hack Wilson holds the record for RBI in a season with 191 in 1930 while playing for the Chicago Cubs. This weekend, a presentation at SABR41 recreated the play-by-play account of that year and it was discovered that Wilson’s real RBI total was 184.

That means that Lou Gehrig and Wilson share the record with 184 RBI. Gehrig achieved his total the following season in 1931.

How did this happen? Apparently, some official scorers in the 1930s did absolutely atrocious jobs and made numerous errors each season, arbitrarily and inaccurately assigning RBIs to the wrong players on a regular basis.

Hank Greenberg just misses the cut with 183 in 1937.

There are two modern day players in the top 20: Manny Ramirez (1999 with Cleveland) with 165 and Sammy Sosa (2001) with 160.

Of course, this gives the sabermetrically inclined more ammunition towards their theory that RBI are a meaningless statistic. If Wilson’s total was skewed, then all the other big run producers of the thirties (Foxx, DiMaggio, Ruth) probably was off as well.

Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times recaps the SABR41 weekend with some of his favorite presentations.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to RBI Record Inaccurate?

  1. Chris J.


    That’s not quite what I said. The presentation had nothing to do with Hack Wilson, just AL hitters. The AL RBI record should be jointly held by Gehrig & Greenberg at 184. Currently it’s just Gehrig at 184.

  2. Mike Silva

    @Chris – will adjust, but interesting post btw – I am amazed at the Dodger Stadium crowd picture

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