Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw pitches against the Cleveland Indians on March 2 at Camelback Ranch. (Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports)

Editor’s note: On Opening Day, George Will answered readers’ baseball questions on Facebook Live from Nationals Park. Watch the video here.

Sportswriter: “You hit only two home runs all last year and already you’ve hit seven this year [1969]. What’s the difference?”

Reds outfielder Alex Johnson: “Five.”

See? Baseball numbers aren’t difficult. But be precise: As players say after a close play, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” And don’t be discouraged if some questions stump you. As Phillies manager Danny Ozark said in 1976, “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.” And as Brewers manager Harvey Kuenn said after losing the 1982 World Series to the Cardinals, “We’re going to hang our heads high.” Now, name the player or players who:


Had 297 three-hit games and only one three-strike-out game.

Ozzie Smith

Placido Polanco

Tony Gwynn

Juan Pierre


Struck out only 23 times in 474 at bats against Hall of Fame pitchers.

Tony Gwynn

Ozzie Guillen

Mark Grace

Gregg Jeffries


Batted .415 in 94 at bats against Greg Maddux.

Shawn Green

Andy Van Slyke

Barry Bonds

Tony Gwynn


Had at least 100 hits from both sides of the plate in a season.

Bernie Williams

Roberto Alomar

Carlos Beltran

Garry Templeton


Has the lowest career batting average among players with 3,000 hits.

Cal Ripken

Rickey Henderson

Carl Yastrzemski

Eddie Murray


Are the three players who each had an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) above 1.000 in their final season.

Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Shoeless Joe Jackson

Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Roberto Clemente

Kirby Puckett, Hank Greenberg, Shoeless Joe Jackson

Ted Williams, Will Clark, Roberto Clemente


Are the four pitchers with more than three Cy Young awards.

Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer, Roger Clemens

Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Tom Seaver

Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux

Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez


Are the seven starting pitchers with two seasons with a sub-0.9 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched).

Cy Young, Mordecai Brown, Ed Walsh, Christy Mathewson, Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, Clayton Kershaw

Cy Young, Guy Hecker, Mordecai Brown, Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, Zack Greinke

Guy Hecker, Walter Johnson, Mordecai Brown, Ed Walsh, Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal, Greg Maddux

Cy Young, Mordecai Brown, Ed Walsh, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Greg Maddux, Zack Greinke


Are the three hitters to have at least 40 home runs and 100 walks in a season before turning 23.

Mel Ott, Tony Conigliaro, Alex Rodriguez

Mel Ott, Eddie Mathews, Bryce Harper

Eddie Mathews, Andruw Jones, Bryce Harper

Tony Conigliaro, Andruw Jones, Alex Rodriguez


Have the three best OPS seasons at age 20 playing at least 100 games.

Joe DiMaggio, Frank Robinson, Carlos Correa

Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Kelly

Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Carlos Correa

Mel Ott, Alex Rodriguez, Ted Williams


Are the four hitters with more than 500 home runs and 600 doubles.

Barry Bonds, Stan Musial, Eddie Murray, Carl Yastrzemski

Albert Pujols, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, David Ortiz

Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Eddie Murray, Hank Aaron

Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz


Has the best stolen-base percentage with at least 500 steals.

Tim Raines

Willie Wilson

Davey Lopes

Jimmy Rollins


Was the Hall of Famer who won three MVPs and finished second four times.

Roy Campanella

Mike Schmidt

Stan Musial

Barry Bonds


Was the youngest 20-game winner.

Bob Feller

Dwight Gooden

Christie Mathewson

Wes Ferrell


Set the rookie record for strikeouts. 

Dwight Gooden

John Montefusco

Herb Score

Hideo Nomo


Holds the record for most extra-base hits by a third baseman in a single season.

Chipper Jones

Eddie Mathews

Alex Rodriguez

Nolan Arenado


Among pitchers in the live ball era (post-1920) with at least 900 innings, had the lowest opponents' batting average and most strikeouts per nine innings.

Mariano Rivera

Nolan Ryan

Billy Wagner

Bret Saberhagen


Is the only player in the top 10 all time in runs, hits, home runs, RBI, total bases and extra-base hits.

Hank Aaron

Willie Mays

Alex Rodriguez

Lou Gehrig


Is the pitcher with the most strikeouts in his first 100 major league games.

Tim Lincecum

Dwight Gooden

Yu Darvish

Clayton Kershaw


Is the only first baseman to have 40 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season (he did it twice).

Carl Yastrzemski

Jeff Bagwell

Joe Carter

Rafael Palmiero


Are the three pitchers with six seasons with at least 200 strikeouts and no more than 175 hits.

Tom Seaver, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson

Tom Seaver, Sam McDowell, Randy Johnson

Nolan Ryan, Sam McDowell, Clayton Kershaw

Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw


Had the longest hitting streak by a catcher.

Gabby Hartnett

Ray Fosse

Benito Santiago

Rico Carty


In 1930, hit .386, had 250 hits, hit 40 home runs and drove in 170 but led the league in none of these four categories.

Lou Gehrig

Chuck Klein

Babe Herman

Lefty O'Doul


Had a higher batting average than Joe DiMaggio's .408 during DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941.

Cecil Travis

Jeff Heath

Ted Williams

Dick Siebert


Was the MVP in two consecutive All-Star games. 

Mike Trout

Willie Mays

Roberto Alomar

Cal Ripken


Were the two to win rookie of the year, MVP and Cy Young awards (not all in the same season).

Bob Gibson and Clayton Kershaw

Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw

Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela

Don Newcombe and Justin Verlander


Lost no-hitters with two outs in the ninth inning in consecutive games.

Randy Johnson

Dave Stieb

Nolan Ryan

Phil Niekro


Is the only player to finish first or second in MVP voting in his first five full seasons.

Mike Trout

Don Mattingly

Hank Aaron

Jose Canseco


Are the five centerfielders elected to Cooperstown in their first year of eligibility.

Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, Kirby Puckett, Ken Griffey, Jr.

Ty Cobb, Richie Ashburn, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson

Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Kirby Puckett, Ken Griffey Jr.

Richie Ashburn, Mickey Mantle, Kirby Puckett, Andre Dawson, Ken Griffey Jr.


Has the most World Series hits.

Lou Brock

Lou Gehrig

Paul Molitor

Yogi Berra


Bonus question: Which broadcaster said, "Ozzie Smith just made another play that I've never seen anyone else make before, and I've seen him make it more than anyone else ever has"? 

Hint: He also said, "There's a fly ball to deep center field. Winfield is going back, back. He hits his head against the wall. It's rolling toward second base."

Harry Caray

Jerry Coleman

Mike Shannon

Jay Randolph

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