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Willie Mays, possibly the greatest player in baseball history, died on Tuesday afternoon. He was 93 years old. For various reasons, Mays' career cannot be justly summarized by reciting his statistics or reveling in his on-the-field accomplishments; he was, and frankly should remain, larger than that treatment allows. As veteran scribe Joe Sheehan wrote: "if you love baseball, there's a little piece of you missing today."

Still, baseball is the numbers game. For many observers, a player's statistics serve as an entry point to their career, a Rosetta Stone for understanding what the fuss is about. More than 50 years have passed since Mays took his final big-league at-bat; while he's an inner-circle legend, it's unreasonable to expect every fan to have boundless knowledge of his triumphs. That's where the statistics come in handy. They can fill in gaps, and kindle the curiosity required to dig deeper, to learn more about a player and their story. 

Everyone should know Mays' story.

With that in mind, we here at CBS Sports wanted to honor Mays' life by honoring his career in a small way. Below, then, you'll find five numbers that help contextualize his ballplaying genius.

1. 24 All-Star Games

Ted Williams, a legend in his own right, once said, "They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays." It's hard to argue with that assertion. Mays finished his career with a record 24 All-Star Game appearances. While that number is slightly inflated since MLB, for a time, played two All-Star Games a season, Mays nevertheless made the Midsummer Classic every season from 1954 through 1973, or what served as his final season in the majors. 

Mays was also named All-Star Game MVP in both 1963 and 1968. 

It's almost unfathomable these days, making every All-Star Game for two decades; it's hard enough to make them for a decade-straight. Barry Bonds never did it; Shohei Ohtani may never do it; Mike Trout did it, if you give him a pass for the COVID-19 year, but even his run will fall short of Mays'. 

To earn a spot year after year, for two decades straight, requires an otherworldly amount of consistency and focus, and yes, some good old-fashioned luck -- all the conditioning in the world doesn't make one immune to pulling a hamstring, or tearing a labrum. That last point shouldn't diminish Mays' accomplishment, it should enhance the run: everything had to be in precise alignment for him to do what he did. That kind of syzygy is rare, making it all the more special. 

2. 660 home runs

The subsequent rise of Henry Aaron (and later of Barry Bonds) overshadows the fact that Mays was the second player in baseball's history to clear the 600-homer threshold. (Babe Ruth was the first.) Mays would finish with 660 home runs for his career, a figure that even now ranks sixth.

Mays didn't just slug, either. He led his league in batting average once, and in on-base percentage twice. He also established the pace for stolen bases four times, speaking to his great speed.

What's more is that Mays was also one of four players to record 600 home runs and 3,000 hits, alongside Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols

3. 12 Gold Glove Awards

Mays wasn't just a great hitter, of course. He was also one of the most impressive and accomplished individual defenders in the sport's history. It's fitting that Mays' trademark play was tagged as "The Catch" -- no further specificity needed, for everyone knows the exact play. Can you imagine that happening in today's debate-obsessed world? No chance.

While Mays' running basket catch during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series has and will continue to endure -- even now, nearly 70 years on, similar plays prompt a reference to Mays' -- his defensive legacy is much larger than any single play.  Los Angeles Dodgers executive Fresco Thompson once said that Mays' glove was "where triples go to die." That skill and reputation helped Mays earn 12 Gold Glove Awards during his career, the most of any center fielder in MLB history.

4. 156.2 Wins Above Replacement

We've established that Mays was an elite hitter and an elite defender at a premium position for a longer time than most players can dream. It should come as no surprise, then, that he ranks highly in terms of estimated Wins Above Replacement -- after all, you can make a strong case that he was the most well-rounded player in baseball's history, and they've played the game for a long time.

Baseball Reference's calculations, to cite one source, have Mays with the fifth-most WAR of all-time:

1. Babe Ruth, 182.6

2. Walter Johnson, 166.9

3. Cy Young, 163.6

4. Barry Bonds, 162.8

5. Willie Mays, 156.2

It wasn't just that Mays compiled WAR over a long time. He did it with brilliant season after brilliant season. As our Matt Snyder detailed on Tuesday:

A season of 8.0 WAR is generally considered MVP-caliber. Mays had 11 of those, trailing only Ruth and Bonds' 12. No one else has more than nine. If we set the criteria to 9-WAR seasons, Mays was second with nine (Ruth had 10, no one else has more than eight). If we went to 10-WAR seasons, Mays and Rogers Hornsby had six. Ruth had nine. No one else has more than three. 

Whatever you think about WAR's value, you have to admit that Mays' dominance sure feels right.

5. 168 AL/NL games entering age-23 season

We'll conclude this exercise by noting that Mays' statistics could have been even more impressive were it not for circumstances beyond his control.

Remember, Mays began his career as a member of the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues before signing with the then-New York Giants. Mays would go on to appear in 155 MLB games with the Giants before reporting for military service in 1952 after being drafted during the Korean War. He wouldn't return to a MLB field until 1954, his age-23 season.

MLB only recently incorporated Negro League statistics as "big-league" numbers. While that decision was long overdue, it barely impacted Mays, whose time with the Black Barons was limited. 

Still, given that Mays had instant success as the MLB level -- he won the 1951 Rookie of the Year Award after hitting .274/.356/.472 with 20 home runs and seven stolen bases in 121 games -- it's worth wondering if he would've found his way into the 700-homer club had he been able to play and focus exclusively on his baseball career during the 1952-53 campaigns.

We'll never know the answer for sure. And, in a sense, consider it a testament to Mays' brilliance that it hardly matters to his reputation as perhaps the greatest player of all time.