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Lyle Spencer

Runs scored can be overshadowed by other stats

All-time king Henderson valued crossing home plate more than driving in runners

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MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Rickey Henderson was known as the "Man of Steal" for breaking all the records in that fine art, but he was more than a thief of bags. He was the run-scoring machine without equal, crossing home plate 2,295 times, more than any player in history.

It was Henderson's view that runs scored was the most overlooked of all statistics. He talked about how home runs and runs batted in drew the attention of fans and media, but it just made common sense that runs scored was the most important number.

"To win the game, you've gotta score more runs than the other team," Henderson said with irrefutable logic late in his career as he was chasing down Ty Cobb, now second all-time with 2,246. "You can get RBIs two, three, four at a time, with one swing. Runs scored are one at a time. That's why they're harder to get. One at a time."

Derek Jeter, on the verge of passing teammate Alex Rodriguez for 10th place in runs scored, is a man after Henderson's heart. So is Craig Biggio, the former Astros star who fell just two votes short of the required 75 percent (getting 74.8) in the most recent Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot that produced Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.

By Henderson's definition, Biggio is a slam dunk for Cooperstown. His 1,844 runs scored have him at No. 15 on the all-time list, ahead of Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Eddie Collins, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Paul Molitor, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, Honus Wagner, Mickey Mantle and Dave Winfield, among others.

The Angels' Mike Trout is bidding to lead the American League in runs scored for a third consecutive season. He scored 129 runs in his 2012 rookie year and 109 last year. If he succeeds, Trout will match one of teammate Albert Pujols' achievements in St. Louis. King Albert led the National League in runs scored from 2003-05 with 137, 133 and 129. Pujols also led the NL in 2009 (124) and '10 (115).

This is one category in which Bobby Bonds, a pure athlete with few peers, held his own with son Barry. Bobby had a career-high 134 runs scored in 1970 for the Giants and led the NL twice, with 131 in '73 and 120, tying Pete Rose, in '69.

Third all-time in runs scored with a much longer career than his father, Barry oddly led his league only once, in 1992 as a Pirate, with 109. Barry scored a personal-best 129 runs four times.

In a fascinating twist, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, the man who eclipsed the Bambino's cherished home run record of 714 and took it to 755, finished their careers having scored an identical 2,174 runs.

All-time runs scored leaders
1. Rickey Henderson, 2,295
2. Ty Cobb, 2,246
3. Barry Bonds, 2,227
4. Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, 2,174
6. Pete Rose, 2,165
7. Willie Mays, 2,062
8. Cap Anson, 1,999
9. Stan Musial, 1,949
10. Alex Rodriguez, 1,919
11. Derek Jeter, 1,914
12. Lou Gehrig, 1,888
13. Tris Speaker, 1,881
14. Mel Ott, 1,859
15. Craig Biggio, 1,844
16. Frank Robinson, 1,829
17. Eddie Collins, 1,821
18. Carl Yastrzemski, 1,816
19. Ted Williams, 1,798
20. Paul Molitor, 1,782

Active leaders
1. Alex Rodriguez, 1,919
2. Derek Jeter, 1,914
3. Albert Pujols, 1,493
4. Bobby Abreu, 1,453
5. Carlos Beltran, 1,383
6. Jimmy Rollins, 1,312
7. Ichiro Suzuki, 1,290
8. David Ortiz, 1,255
9. Adrian Beltre, 1,239
10. Jason Giambi, 1,226
11. Torii Hunter, 1,209
12. Paul Konerko, 1,162
13. Alfonso Soriano, 1,152
14. Miguel Cabrera, 1,141
15. Adam Dunn, 1,090
16. Rafael Furcal, 1,063
17. Raul Ibanez, 1,054
18. Aramis Ramirez, 1,048
19. Matt Holliday, 1,012
20. Mark Teixeira, 990

Single-season leaders since 1900
1. 177: Babe Ruth, 1921
2. 167: Lou Gehrig, 1936
3. 163: Gehrig, 1931; Ruth, 1928
5. 158: Chuck Klein, 1930; Ruth, 1920, 1927
8. 156, Rogers Hornsby, 1929
9. 155: Kiki Cuyler, 1933
10. 152: Jeff Bagwell, 2000; Woody English, 1930; Klein, 1932; Lefty O'Doul, 1929; Al Simmons, 1930

Single-season leaders since 1947
1. 152: Jeff Bagwell, 2000
2. 150: Ted Williams, 1949
3. 146: Craig Biggio, 1997; Rickey Henderson, 1985; Sammy Sosa, 2001
6. 143: Bagwell, 1999; Lenny Dykstra, 1993; Alex Rodriguez, 2007; Larry Walker, 1997
10. 142: Ellis Burks, 1996

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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