Welcome back to Game of Numbers, the segment in which we look at the best players to have ever worn every number in baseball. The segment looks a little different in this edition — gone are the long, rambling player histories that were as hard to read as they were to write. Rather than long paragraphs that include information you likely already know, we have included only the relevant player statistics, interesting facts, and a video highlight of every player for which a highlight exists. This edition covers the best players to have worn the numbers 40 through 44.
#44 Henry Aaron — number retired by Brewers and BravesHonorable Mentions: Reggie Jackson, Willie McCovey, Roy Oswalt
Years Wearing Number: 1955-1976
Teams Played For: Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1954-1974), Milwaukee Brewers (1975-1976)
Career Statistics: 3298 games played (3rd all-time), .305/.374/.555 triple-slash, 755 home runs (2nd all-time), 2297 RBI (1st all-time), 6856 total bases (1st all-time), 142.4 WAR (5th all-time among position players), 155 OPS+, 1477 extra-base hits (1st all-time), 15 seasons with 30+ home runs (most all-time), 25 all-star selections (most all-time), 3-time Gold Glove Award-winner, 2-time NL batting champion, 1957 World Series champion, 1957 NL MVP. Elected to Hall of Fame in 1982 (first ballot).
Also Wore: #5 in 1954, his rookie season. Switched to #44 in 1955, and hit exactly 44 home runs in a season four times in his career
Video Highlight: Aaron hits home run #715 (Milo Hamilton on the call)
#43 Dennis Eckersley — number retired by AthleticsHonorable Mentions: Gary Peters, Raul Mondesi, Ken Forsch
Teams Played For: Cleveland Indians (1975-1977), Boston Red Sox (1978-1984, 1998), Chicago Cubs (1984-1986), Oakland Athletics (1987-1995), St. Louis Cardinals (1996-1997)
Career Statistics: 1071 career games (710 in relief), 197 wins, 390 saves (6th all-time), one of only 2 players (John Smoltz) to have both a season with 20 wins (20 in 1978) and 50 saves (51 in 1992). Posted 7.3 bWAR seasons in both 1978 and 1979, 4th in the MLB both years. From 1987 (first season in relief) to 1993, had a 2.42 ERA, strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8.40, and 272 saves. In 1990, had 48 saves, a 0.61 WHIP and a 0.61 ERA — WHIP is third-lowest all-tim (min. 50 IP), ERA second-lowest. 62.5 bWAR, most all-time for relief pitcher. 6-time all-star, 1992 AL Cy Young Award winner, 1992, AL MVP Award winner, 1989 World Series champion. Elected to Hall of Fame in 2004 (first ballot).
Also Wore: #37 from 1975-1977 (his tenure with Cleveland), #40, briefly, in 1984 (with Cubs)
Video Highlight: Eckersley’s 50th save of 1992
#42 Jackie Robinson — number retired by Dodgers, MLBHonorable Mentions: Mariano Rivera, Dave Henderson, Bruce Sutter
Years Wearing Number: 1947-1956
Teams Played For: Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-1956)
Career Statistics: Career triple-slash of .311/.409/.474, led baseball in batting average in 1942 (.342), OBP in 1952 (.440). 197 career stolen bases, most in the major leagues over the course of his career (70 ahead of Minnie Minoso over that same time period). Rated positively (according to DRS) at four different positions — 1B, 2B, 3B, and LF — over the course of his career. Led all position players in bWAR three times (1949, 1951, 1952), and was in the top ten in the league three other times. 61.4 career bWAR in 10 seasons, better than 8 of 17 Hall of Fame second baseman. 6-time all-star, 1947 Rookie of the Year, 1949 NL MVP Award winner, 1955 World Series champion. Elected to Hall of Fame in 1962 (first ballot).
Also Wore: N/A
Video Highlight: Robinson steals home, Game 1, 1955 World Series
#41 Tom Seaver — number retired by MetsHonorable Mentions: Eddie Mathews, Darrell Evans
Teams Played For: New York Mets (1967-1977, 1983), Cincinnati Reds (1977-1982), Chicago White Sox (1984-1985), Boston Red Sox (1986)
Career Statistics: 4,783 innings pitched (19th all-time), 311 wins (18th all-time) 2.86 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 3640 strikeouts (6th all-time). Led major leagues in strikeouts 5 times, and strikeouts per nine innings 6 times. Led the MLB in ERA three times over a four-year stretch from 1970 to 1973 (2.38 ERA over that four-year period). Threw more than 250 innings every year from 1967 to 1973, and again from 1974 to 1978. 61 career shutouts (7th all-time). Compiled 106.3 WAR as a pitcher over 20-year career (7th all-time). 12-time all-star, 1967 NL Rookie of the Year, 3-time NL Cy Young Award winner (1969, 1973, 1975, and received votes in 7 other seasons), 1969 World Series champion. Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1992 (first ballot).
Also Wore: N/A
Video Highlight: Seaver’s No-Hitter (6/16/1978 against Reds). Full game is below — skip to 1:39:00 for 9th inning
#40 Bartolo ColonHonorable Mentions: Rick Wise, Rick Sutcliffe, Rick Honeycutt
Teams Played For: Cleveland Indians (1997-2002), Montreal Expos (2002), Chicago White Sox (2003, 2009), Anaheim Angels/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2004-2007), Boston Red Sox (2008), New York Yankees (2011), Oakland Athletics (2012-2013), New York Mets (2014-present)
Career Statistics: 2583.2 innings pitched and 1950 career strikeouts, both 7th-most among active pitchers. 189 career wins, .596 winning percentage, 3.94 ERA (113 ERA+). Won 20 games in two seasons (2002 and 2005). From 1998 to 2005, averaged 216 innings pitched and 17 wins a season, with an ERA+ of 119 over that period. Since returning from injury in 2011, has walked 1.63 batters per nine innings, third-fewest in baseball (among starting pitchers). In 2013, posted a 2.65 ERA, seventh-best for a starting pitcher over the age of 40. Compiled 44.6 career bWAR (9th among active pitchers). 3-time all-star, 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner (and received votes in 3 other seasons).
Also Wore: #21 in both 2004 (with Anaheim) and 2012 (in Oakland)
Video Highlight: Colon throws 38 consecutive strikes, most ever recorded