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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bob Allison

Eligible in 1976.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 30, 2006 at 08:08 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 30, 2006 at 08:12 PM (#1997994)
Allison. Maris. Allison. Maris.

I think you see where I'm going with this.
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: April 30, 2006 at 09:49 PM (#1998144)
Well, maybe. Both were outstanding players in their prime, but both had very very short primes. Allison played football at Nebraska and only made it to the bigs at age 24, and even then for only 11 games. But in 1959 at age 25 he went .261/.333/.482/122 and won Rookie of the Year honors playing CF for the Senators. (30-85-.261 with 83 runs scored for you, the more traditionally minded.)

The following year Albie Pearson won RoY honors playing CF for the Senators, meaning that Allison moved to RF. He slumped to 15-69-.251/.367/.413/113, but oh, hey, look his BB went from 60 to 92.

Then in Minnesota he played RF for 3 years before getting bumped by Tony O in 1964, whereupon he played 1B for a season, but then swapped positions with Harmon Killebrew, and moved out to LF. By then, age 31, he was not the player he had been in '62-'63-'64, and then missed half of '66 with injuries.

Still his career OPS+ is 126. Yes, you read that right, one hundred and twenty six. Two points shy of Maris' 128. Four points shy of Oliva's 130.

His prime in Minnesota:

1961 29-105-83 R-.245/.363/.450/111 (103 BB)
1962 29-102-102 R-.266/.370/.511/130
1963 35-91-99 R*-.271/.378/.533/150* (*led league in R and OPS+)
1964 32-86-90 R-.287/.404/.553/163!
1965 23-78-71 R-.233/.3342/.445/118 (did he fall off a cliff, or the whole league?)
1966 played 70 games due to injury
1967 24-75-73 R-.258/.356/.470/132
1968 22-52-63 R-.247/.324/.456/128
1969 81 games at 107
1970 47 games at 83

At least 84 walks every year from '60 to '64, more than 70 in '65 and '67
At least 79 R '60 to '64
Regarded as a fine OF, made a famous catch off the top of the grass while sliding over the LF foul line in the '65 WS to save Game (was it 6?)
Regarded as the player a MIF would least like to see bearing down on them to break up a 2B--like I said, played FB (that is, football and fullback) at Nebraska

Allison 13 yrs/1541 G/5827 AB + BB/.255/.358/.471/126
Maris 12 yrs/1463 G/5952 AB + BB/.260/.345/.476/128

Allison was in fact 2 months older than Maris. Maris debuted a year-and-a-half earlier than Allison, but Bob lasted 2 years longer.

And for a couple of years there--in 1963 and 1964--we really thought Allison was better than Killebrew. And maybe he was. In '63 Allison's OPS+ was 150 (led the league), Killebrew's was 147. In '64 Allison's was 163 while Killebrew's was 153. Just for perspective, Tony Oliva came along and for a couple years stole both of their thunder. His OPS+ in his most celebrated seasons of 1964 (RoY) and 1965 (just lost the MVP to teammate Zoilo Versalles) was 150 and 141. (His best ever was 152 in 1971 when he led the league in BA and SA but walked 25 times.)

Allison worked for the local Coca-Cola bottler after his playing career. He played in the days IOW when players actually had to work after their careers were over. I cleaned his office when I was in college. He developed ataxia over time, became disabled and died of the disease in 1995 at the age of 61.

There is a Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center at the University of Minnesota (Minnesota Medical Foundation).

Ataxia is a brain disease of the cerebellum that slowly destroys the functions of the affected region. This progressive neurological condition robs individuals of their ability to make coordinated movements, including walking, talking, holding objects, and even swallowing. Ataxia is in the same family of disease as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Ataxia currently affects at least 150,000 Americans — three times the number affected by Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). There are nearly 30 generic forms of ataxia identified at this time. Much progress has been made in understanding the generic and sporadic forms of ataxia, but there is still no prevention method or cure for the most prevalent forms.

I met Bob once or twice while doing my cleaning duties, but usually I worked after hours. I was of course in awe of him. I didn't try to chat him up or anything, so I have no personal experience in the matter, but people said he was a wonderful, with not a vain or self-important bone in his body. And for a year or so he was bigger than Killebrew, bigger than Oliva, and for about 3 years there he was pretty much the equal of Roger Maris. Well, for 12-13 years, he was the equal of Roger Maris. For 3 years, well, maybe not quite.

Allison (100 game seasons) 163-50-32-30-28-22-18-13-10
Maris (100 game seasons) 170-64-28-27-23-17-6-1-(97)

Er, well, maybe he was better.

Of course, Maris is not now in my top 50 consideration set. Sorry, Bob. But, RIP, we loved you.
   3. DavidFoss Posted: April 30, 2006 at 09:59 PM (#1998151)
They are each other's most similar and in this case, its not a red herring. They each have identical OPS+'s of 127 and both have around 5900 PA.

Maris leads in Win Shares 223-203, though. Its not defense, Win Shares has them about the same (tiny lead for Allison actually). In terms of BWS, I dunno where the difference is exactly. Could be Allison's weak SB% or higher GIDP, or perhaps just random pythagorean stuff. Maris has the better peak by WS and probably almost all the other measure too, but Allison's 1963-64 was very nice. He was the 1963 AL OPS/OPS+ Champ thanks to Mantle's injury.

Growing up in the 80s in MN, Bobby was remembered very fondly by the older generation. Killebrew & Oliva were remembered more by history, but I really got the impression that Bobbly Allison was a fan favorite. If sunnyday2 could fill a screen with Pedro Ramos stories, I bet he could fill this whole thread with Bobby Allison stories.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: April 30, 2006 at 10:03 PM (#1998158)
I bet he could fill this whole thread with Bobby Allison stories.

He beat me to it. :-)
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 30, 2006 at 10:24 PM (#1998175)
Maris has the better peak by WS and probably almost all the other measure too,

The peak is what pushes him ahead of Allison for me, but not by a great deal.

My chief point (and not to any of our electorate, BTW) is that if any BBWAA or Vets' Committee voter thinks Maris is a no-brainer, Allison's name better be on the ballot, too. Alas, that's not the case.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 30, 2006 at 10:26 PM (#1998176)
He beat me to it. :-)

I would have bet money on that fact, David. :-)
   7. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 30, 2006 at 10:28 PM (#1998177)
My chief point (and not to any of our electorate, BTW) is that if any BBWAA or Vets' Committee voter thinks Maris is a no-brainer, Allison's name better be on the ballot, too. Alas, that's not the case.

Okay, it's not like I don't know that about Maris' '61 and the two MVPs, but...
   8. DavidFoss Posted: April 30, 2006 at 11:00 PM (#1998205)
I would have bet money on that fact, David. :-)

His post wasn't there when I started my comment (hence how my comment was phrased). His post went in while I was composing it up. I got a good chuckle about that. :-)

Their career totals are uncannily similar. Pretty much the same PA and OPS+, close in most other stats.
   9. KJOK Posted: May 02, 2006 at 01:09 AM (#1999838)
Given the outfielders in the backlog, I don't see Allison as a serious candidate.
   10. DL from MN Posted: May 02, 2006 at 11:53 AM (#2000546)
Not a serious candidate for the HoM but a worthy inductee of the Twins Hall of Fame. He's not in my top 50.
   11. sunnyday2 Posted: May 02, 2006 at 12:11 PM (#2000554)
DL, yeah, absolutely. To me he is still in the Twins all-time 9 in LF (Killebrew is DH). There are other LF who had bigger years, mainly Larry Hisle, but the Twins have had precious few OF not named Oliva or Puckett who put in as much time with the Twins as Allison. And clearly he played at an all-star level. He was definitely a cut, maybe two, above the Shannon Stewarts, Jacque Jones and Tom Brunanskys of the world.

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