Tris Speaker, the all-time leader in career assists by an outfielder
Tris Speaker, the all-time leader in career assists by an outfielder

In baseball, an assist (denoted by A) is a defensive statistic, baseball being one of the few sports in which the defensive team controls the ball. An assist is credited to every defensive player who fields or touches the ball (after it has been hit by the batter) prior to the recording of a putout, even if the contact was unintentional. For example, if a ball strikes a player's leg and bounces off him to another fielder, who tags the baserunner, the first player is credited with an assist. A fielder can receive a maximum of one assist per out recorded. An assist is also credited if a putout would have occurred, had another fielder not committed an error. For example, a shortstop might field a ground ball cleanly, but the first baseman might drop his throw. In this case, an error would be charged to the first baseman, and the shortstop would be credited with an assist. Unlike putouts, exactly one of which is awarded for every defensive out, an out can result in no assists being credited (as in strikeouts, fly outs and line drives), or in assists being credited to multiple players (as in relay throws and rundown plays). An outfielder (OF) is a person playing in one of the three defensive positions in baseball farthest from the batter, who are identified as the left fielder (LF), the center fielder (CF), and the right fielder (RF). An outfielder's duty is to try to catch long fly balls before they hit the ground, or to quickly catch or retrieve and return to the infield any other balls entering the outfield. Outfielders normally play behind the six other members of the defense who play in or near the infield; unlike catchers and most infielders (excepting first basemen), who are virtually exclusively right-handed, outfielders can be either right- or left-handed. In the scoring system used to record defensive plays, the outfielders are assigned the numbers 7 (left field), 8 (center field) and 9 (right field).

Outfielders are most commonly credited with an assist when they throw the ball to an infielder who tags a runner attempting to advance on the basepaths, even on a caught fly ball that results in an out (see tag up); of special importance are throws to the catcher if the runner is trying to reach home plate to score a run, perhaps on a sacrifice fly. Outfielders will often record assists by throwing out runners who try to advance farther than the batter, such as going from first to third base on a single, or batter/runners who try to stretch a hit into a longer one. Outfielders also earn assists on relay throws to infielders after particularly deep fly balls, by throwing to a base to record an out on an appeal play, or in situations where they might deflect a fly ball before another defensive player makes the catch; in extraordinary instances, right fielders have occasionally recorded assists by throwing out batters at first base after fielding uncaught line drives that reached them quickly. Outfielders record far fewer assists than other players due to the difficulty of making an accurate throw in time to retire a runner from a great distance; middle infielders routinely record more assists in a single season than outfielders do in their entire careers. Assists are an important statistic for outfielders, giving a greater indication about an outfielder's throwing arm than assists by infielders do. In recent years, some sabermetricians have begun referring to assists by outfielders as baserunner kills.

The list of career leaders is dominated by players from the 1890s through 1920s, including the dead-ball era, due to that period's emphasis on more aggressive baserunning. None of the top 16 players were active after 1934, and only one of the top 50 was active after 1947; none of the top 80 has been active since 1983. Only five of the top 29 single-season totals were recorded after 1894, and only one of the top 157 was recorded after 1936; only four of the top 445 have been recorded since 1963, none of them since 1983. Because game accounts and box scores often did not distinguish between the outfield positions, there has been some difficulty in determining precise defensive statistics prior to 1901; because of this, and because of the similarity in their roles, defensive statistics for the three positions are frequently combined. Tris Speaker is the all-time leader in career assists as an outfielder with 449,[1][2][3] nearly 200 more than any player whose career began after 1920; he is the only outfielder with more than 400 career assists. Starling Marte, who had 92 assists through the 2022 season to place him tied for 357th all-time, is the leader among active players.

Key

Rank Rank amongst leaders in career assists. A blank field indicates a tie.
Player Name of player
Main pos. Primary outfield position played during career (LF, CF or RF)
MLB Total career assists as an outfielder in Major League Baseball
* Denotes elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame

List

Starling Marte, the active leader in assists by an outfielder and 357th all-time
Starling Marte, the active leader in assists by an outfielder and 357th all-time
Jimmy Ryan held the major league record for 24 years.
Jimmy Ryan held the major league record for 24 years.
Max Carey holds the National League record.
Max Carey holds the National League record.
Orator Shafer's 50 assists in 1879 remain a record for outfielders.
Orator Shafer's 50 assists in 1879 remain a record for outfielders.
Roberto Clemente's 266 assists are the most by an outfielder since 1920.
Roberto Clemente's 266 assists are the most by an outfielder since 1920.
Carl Yastrzemski led the American League in assists a record seven times.
Carl Yastrzemski led the American League in assists a record seven times.
Rank Player (2022 As) Main
Pos.
Assists as an outfielder Other leagues, notes
MLB American League National League
1 Tris Speaker * CF 449 449 0 Holds the American League single-season record (35 in 1909 and 1912)
2 Ty Cobb * CF 392 392 0 Held American League record, 1912-1916, 1917-1918
3 Jimmy Ryan CF 375 23 327 Includes 25 in Players' League; held major league record, 1900-1924; held National League record, 1898-1927
4 Tom Brown CF 349 0 186 Includes 131 in American Association, 32 in Players' League; held major league record, 1894-1900
George Van Haltren CF 349 0 312 Includes 21 in American Association, 16 in Players' League
6 Harry Hooper * RF 344 344 0
7 Max Carey * CF 339 0 339
8 Jimmy Sheckard LF 307 0 307 Held the modern (post-1900) single-season record, 1903-1907
9 Clyde Milan CF 294 294 0
10 Orator Shafer RF 290 0 244 Includes 24 in Union Association, 21 in American Association, 1 in National Association; held major league record, 1879-1889, 1890-1894; held National League record, 1878-1887; holds the single-season record of 50 (set in 1879)
11 King Kelly * RF 285 0 282 Includes 2 in Players' League, 1 in American Association; held major league record, 1889-1890; held National League record, 1887-1898
12 Sam Thompson * RF 283 0 283
13 Sam Rice * RF 278 278 0
14 Dummy Hoy CF 274 16 209 Includes 26 in American Association, 23 in Players' League
15 Jesse Burkett * LF 270 62 208
16 Sam Crawford * RF 268 197 71
17 Roberto Clemente * RF 266 0 266
Tommy McCarthy * RF 266 0 132 Includes 123 in American Association, 11 in Union Association
19 Patsy Donovan RF 265 15 233 Includes 17 in American Association
20 Willie Keeler * RF 258 90 168
21 Mel Ott * RF 256 0 256
22 Fred Clarke * LF 254 0 254
23 George Gore CF 243 0 232 Includes 11 in Players' League
Mike Griffin CF 243 0 153 Includes 57 in American Association, 33 in Players' League
25 Hugh Duffy * CF 241 5 179 Includes 34 in Players' League, 23 in American Association
Paul Waner * RF 241 0 241
27 Ed Delahanty * LF 238 17 216 Includes 5 in Players' League
28 Paul Hines CF 237 0 213 Includes 16 in National Association, 8 in American Association
29 Zack Wheat * LF 232 8 224
30 Jim O'Rourke * LF 228 0 191 Includes 25 in Players' League, 12 in National Association
Chicken Wolf RF 228 0 0 Includes 228 in American Association (league record)
32 Hugh Nicol RF 226 0 46 Includes 180 in American Association
Cy Williams CF 226 0 226
34 Fielder Jones CF 225 150 75 Held American League record, 1906-1912
35 Pop Corkhill CF 224 0 28 Includes 196 in American Association
36 Dode Paskert CF 223 0 223
37 Edd Roush * CF 222 0 197 Includes 25 in Federal League
38 Goose Goslin * LF 221 221 0
Tillie Walker LF 221 221 0
40 Paul Radford RF 217 0 169 Includes 32 in American Association, 16 in Players' League
41 Joe Kelley * LF 212 7 205
42 Duffy Lewis LF 210 210 0
43 Steve Brodie CF 209 4 205
Ned Hanlon * CF 209 0 193 Includes 16 in Players' League
45 Bob Johnson LF 208 208 0
46 Bobby Veach LF 207 207 0
Curt Welch CF 207 0 8 Includes 199 in American Association
48 Babe Ruth * RF 204 203 1
49 George Wood LF 203 0 143 Includes 35 in Players' League, 25 in American Association
50 Jack Tobin RF 202 150 0 Includes 52 in Federal League
51 Hank Aaron * RF 201 0 201
John Titus RF 201 0 201
53 George Burns LF 197 0 197
Elmer Flick * RF 197 106 91
Kip Selbach LF 197 54 143
56 Charlie Jamieson LF 196 196 0
Willie Mays * CF 196 0 195 Includes 1 in Negro American League (incomplete)
58 Carl Yastrzemski * LF 195 195 0
59 Chuck Klein * RF 194 0 194 Holds the modern (post-1900) single-season record of 44 (set in 1930)
Frank Schulte RF 194 10 184
61 Kiki Cuyler * RF 191 0 191
Ross Youngs * RF 191 0 191
63 Tommy Griffith RF 189 0 189
64 Cy Seymour CF 188 32 156
Roy Thomas CF 188 0 188
66 Harry Heilmann * RF 183 167 16
Shoeless Joe Jackson RF 183 183 0
68 Billy Hamilton * CF 182 0 158 Includes 24 in American Association
69 Max Flack RF 181 0 139 Includes 42 in Federal League
70 Mike Mitchell RF 180 11 169 Held the modern (post-1900) single-season record, 1907-1930
71 Richie Ashburn * CF 178 0 178
72 Shano Collins RF 177 177 0
Chief Wilson RF 177 0 177
74 Gavvy Cravath RF 176 8 168
Joe Hornung LF 176 0 144 Includes 32 in American Association
Nemo Leibold CF 176 176 0
Sherry Magee LF 176 0 176
Red Murray RF 176 0 176
79 Johnny Callison RF 175 11 164
80 Emmett Seery LF 174 0 110 Includes 26 in Union Association, 21 in Players' League, 17 in American Association
81 Barry Bonds LF 173 0 173
Les Mann LF 173 0 156 Includes 17 in Federal League
Burt Shotton CF 173 152 21
84 Doc Cramer CF 172 172 0
Dick Johnston CF 172 0 123 Includes 30 in American Association, 19 in Players' League
Vada Pinson CF 172 56 116
87 Jim Fogarty RF 171 0 154 Includes 17 in Players' League
88 Al Kaline * RF 170 170 0
89 Al Simmons * LF 169 161 8
90 Jimmy Slagle CF 168 0 168
91 Ginger Beaumont CF 167 0 167
Ken Williams LF 167 154 13
93 Dave Winfield * RF 166 74 92
94 Rusty Staub RF 165 12 153
Harry Stovey LF 165 0 54 Includes 87 in American Association, 24 in Players' League
96 Pete Hotaling CF 163 0 113 Includes 50 in American Association
Charley Jones LF 163 0 66 Includes 95 in American Association, 2 in National Association
98 Jesse Barfield RF 162 162 0
Johnny Bates CF 162 0 155 Includes 7 in Federal League
Chick Stahl CF 162 83 79

Other Hall of Famers

Player Main
Pos.
Assists as an outfielder Other leagues, notes
MLB American League National League
Tony Gwynn * RF 160 0 160
Andre Dawson * RF 157 0 157
Ken Griffey Jr. * CF 154 109 45
Larry Walker * RF 154 0 154
Joe DiMaggio * CF 153 153 0
Enos Slaughter * RF 152 10 142
Lloyd Waner * CF 151 0 151
Casey Stengel * RF 147 0 147
Billy Williams * LF 143 0 143
Lou Brock * LF 142 0 142
Kirby Puckett * CF 142 142 0
Ted Williams * LF 140 140 0
Joe Medwick * LF 139 0 139
Minnie Miñoso * LF 139 137 2
Jim Rice * LF 137 137 0
Frank Robinson * RF 135 40 95
Tim Raines * LF 134 46 88
Reggie Jackson * RF 133 133 0
Rickey Henderson * LF 131 118 13
Stan Musial * LF 130 0 130
Billy Southworth * RF 127 7 120
Vladimir Guerrero * RF 126 42 84
Duke Snider * CF 123 0 123
Mickey Mantle * CF 117 117 0
Earl Averill * CF 115 113 2
Chick Hafey * LF 106 0 106
Heinie Manush * LF 105 97 8
Willie Stargell * LF 102 0 102
Hack Wilson * CF 98 0 98
Larry Doby * CF 88 88 0
Ralph Kiner * LF 80 2 78
John Montgomery Ward * CF 77 0 77
George Davis * CF 74 0 74
Oscar Charleston * CF 71 0 0 Includes 46 in Negro National League (first), 17 in Eastern Colored League,
8 in American Negro League (incomplete)
Tony Oliva * RF 71 71 0
Harold Baines * RF 69 69 0
Earle Combs * CF 69 69 0
Cool Papa Bell * CF 67 0 0 Includes 38 in Negro National League (first), 22 in Negro National League (second),
7 in East–West League (incomplete)
Turkey Stearnes * CF 59 0 0 Includes 41 in Negro National League (first), 14 in Negro National League (second),
4 in Negro American League (incomplete)
Honus Wagner * RF 56 0 56
Robin Yount * CF 54 54 0
Monte Irvin * LF 52 0 45 Includes 7 in Negro National League (second) (incomplete)
Freddie Lindstrom * CF 49 0 49
Roger Bresnahan * CF 47 4 43
Cristóbal Torriente * CF 39 0 0 Includes 39 in Negro National League (first) (incomplete)
Deacon White * RF 31 0 27 Includes 4 in National Association
Mule Suttles * LF 28 0 0 Includes 22 in Negro National League (first), 6 in Negro National League (second) (incomplete)
Willard Brown * CF 25 0 0 Includes 25 in Negro American League (incomplete)
Harry Wright * CF 23 0 1 Includes 22 in National Association
Cap Anson * LF 21 0 6 Includes 15 in National Association
Craig Biggio * CF 21 0 21
Pete Hill * LF 19 0 0 Includes 19 in Negro National League (first) (incomplete)
Hank Greenberg * LF 17 17 0
Orlando Cepeda * LF 15 0 15
Willie McCovey * LF 14 0 14
Martín Dihigo * CF 9 0 0 Includes 5 in Eastern Colored League,
4 in Negro National League (second) (incomplete)
Paul Molitor * CF 5 5 0

References

  1. ^ "Tris Speaker Career Stats". Baseball Reference. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Jensen, Don. "Tris Speaker Bio". Society For American Baseball Research. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  3. ^ "Tris Speaker Hall of Fame Profile". National Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 1, 2021.