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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Roberto Clemente Walker

Eligible in 1978.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 28, 2006 at 06:51 PM | 152 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. sunnyday2 Posted: August 19, 2006 at 01:19 AM (#2146931)
Did Kaline get the "Roberto Clemente Award" or something like that? Pardon my ignorance. But it seems that that may be what Kaline is talking about in the quotes above. Well, under those circumstances, if Kaline said nice things about Clemente, well, you gotta take that with a grain of salt. Besides, how often did Kaline actually see Clemente play?

OPS+

Kaline 134/176-63-61-52-49-48-45-44-42-42-39-38-34-27-20-17-8-5 (10 yrs>140, 15 yrs>120, 18 yrs>100)
Clemente 130/170-70-59-52-48-46-46-45-40-36-35-21-15-5 (9 yrs>140, 12 yrs>120, 14 yrs>100)

Only in 3 of 14 years was Clemente's OPS+ higher than Kaline. But the results are very comparable and you may want to argue that Clemente played in a better league. But better league or not, and disadvantaging Kaline by taking the extra years off the bottom of each cluster, Kaline still had (worst case) additional seasons of 142-27-20-5 when Clemente was below 100 or inactive. Four extra years above league average and not in any way inferior over the other 14 years.

Of course on the other side of the argument we've got this:

>Kaline, you poor sap! Can't you see that you're much, MUCH better than that hot dog Clemente? Surely you must know in your heart of hearts that your skills far outstrip those of that Puerto Rican pretender, Roberto 'Struggling-to-get-240-HR's' Clemente! Wait! I get it! You're sorry for him. You didn't want to hurt the feelings of the grieving widow and her fatherless children. Wow, Kaline -- now I'm really impressed -- the best right fielder of your generation and possessed of a Christlike compassion to boot... Not too shabby.

Win Shares

Kaline 443/31-31-30-29-27-26-25-24-23-22-20-20 plus 6 more years > 10 WS
Clemente 377/35-30-29-28-27-26-25-24-23-22-20-20 plus 4 more years > 10 WS

How weird is this. Clemente has the one "big year," then Kaline leads the next 3 years by 1 WS each, and after that for 8 years they have exactly the same number of WS each year, then Kaline has an extra couple of years at > 10. As a peak voter, I might be inclined to rate Clemente ahead because that one 35 means more to me than a couple of extra 12-13 WS seasons, though it is also true that Kaline ends up ahead by 66 WS, not just 20ish ([31-35] + 12 + 13). There's still another 40 WS hanging out there at that point.

But as for my second comment that was lampooned by the hero-worshiping Mr. Speed, i.e. that the idea that Clemente should have been on the all-century team is laughable, I don't aprticularly care if Kaline was better than Clemente or not. The fact that we are arguing about Kaline or Clemente pretty much puts to rest the idea that Clemente should be on the all-century team.

I still say over-rated.

But of course we did elect him on the his first ballot. I'd hate to see the post we would have gotten if we hadn't.
   102. Howie Menckel Posted: August 19, 2006 at 01:40 AM (#2146967)
David S,
The countless comments about how Clemente had sluggerific powers led me to believe that you wanted him to be called a slugger by us.
Frankly, if he could have been a slugger, but passed on that option to become an equally valuable or more valuable player by other methods, then I'd value him more than his 'slugger doppelganger.'
But since his alternative route wasn't as successful as the greatest sluggers, I can't rate him up there with those guys - although some non-sluggers are fantastic players.

This is no knock on Clemente, nor on your posts, which are appreciated by the community. But the level of success of any batting approach is pretty quantifiable. Factor in park for sure and league for sure, and fielding, and so on, and it all helps Clemente's surface stats.
It just doesn't quite get him to the ultra-elite level.

And yes, I saw him play, and he was an absolutely electric player to watch.
   103. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 19, 2006 at 11:55 AM (#2147469)
Man, I wish they'd had interleague play back then. It might have clarified a lot of our 21st century judgments.
   104. David Speed Posted: August 19, 2006 at 08:57 PM (#2148040)
By the way,
- - - - Being a virgin to posting, I was a little distracted by the slight commotion I seem to have stirred up the other day and forgot to mention that yesterday - 8/18 - was the 72nd birthday of RC [whom, just for the record, sd2, I don't worship - I'm agnostic across the board]
   105. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 19, 2006 at 10:38 PM (#2148067)
The countless comments about how Clemente had sluggerific powers led me to believe that you wanted him to be called a slugger by us.

This reminds me of the oft-heard comments of the 2000-2001 off-season that went like this made-up quote:

"Ichiro can hit for power, but he chooses not to. In batting practice, you should see the shots he hits, but in games he's focused on hitting line drives and getting on base."

Mmm hmmm. Truth be, if you look at Ichiro's JPL stats and remember that generally ballparks are a little smaller over there and that players lose points on their SLG due to migrating into a tougher league, you'll see that he hits for about the same power he did there. Which is to say, he's never been sluggeriffic. But some folks wanted to believe it then and may still wish to.

A similar thing could be true with Clemente. Actually it was also true with Wade Boggs and his famous 1987 homer outburst. Folks said that he "tried to hit homers" that year to "prove" he could do it. Well, OK, but why then didn't he try to hit homers in any other season? Homers aren't good enough? Mmm hmmm.

As Forrest Gump might say, Players is as players does.
   106. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 19, 2006 at 11:23 PM (#2148105)
Well, OK, but why then didn't he try to hit homers in any other season? Homers aren't good enough?


I don't doubt that Wade Boggs "could have hit" more home runs than he actually did. But it's questionable whether the tradeoffs that he'd have had to make would have been worth it - if he'd hit 15-20 HRs per season at the expense of losing, say 20 points off his BA and OBP, would there have been a net gain or loss to his teams?

Most hitters don't try to remake themselves for precisely that reason - they don't consider the potential extra value to be worth the cost of the things that they might no longer do.

-- MWE
   107. Paul Wendt Posted: August 19, 2006 at 11:43 PM (#2148138)
Wade Boggs is not a good case for the conventional position that Eric and Mike express. If he was not vain about his batting average and his number of hits as a rookie, and I suppose he was not, he developed that vanity quickly, especially regarding the 200-hit seasons (chasing Willie Keeler). I believe that he was anachronistically a member of the group yest often mentions, batters powerfully motivated by the good old batting race and close kin measures.
   108. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 20, 2006 at 03:11 AM (#2148383)
Most hitters don't try to remake themselves for precisely that reason - they don't consider the potential extra value to be worth the cost of the things that they might no longer do.

In a sense I agree because this is utterly logical. In another sense, this is utterly counterintuitive. One one hand we're saying that the very best hitters of all time---players so utterly skilled in their business that they leave the Rafael Ramirezes in the dust---are capable of changing their approach but they choose not to.

On the other hand, we're also saying that players have divergent home/road HR splits, and in so doing, I think, we assume a certain level of continuity between home and road performance that is shaped by the environs. That the sluggerific tendencies are hidden by park factors.

It's just my sense of it, but I don't think hitters are great because they can change their approach so dramatically that they can be utterly different hitters in a wide variety of nearly contemporaneous circumstances. Hitters seem to have a single approach that works for them that they hone to the nth degree. They do not improvise. Even guys like Cal Ripken who have a thousand stances aren't improvising their approach, only their address position.

So what I'm getting at is that at some point very early on a hitter's skills and approach must merge to form the final package of tools and mentality that get him to the big leagues. The statistical record reflects this consistency of approach---in fact our analyses are essentially grounded in this idea. If hitters could miraculously change everything about themeselves as hitters overnight or in response to every changing event, things like the age-27 assumption or the notion of a "true" level of performance would go out the window. The record and the trends viewable within it support the notion that hitters don't change much at all once they get to the show, except in as much as their physiques do with aging and training and they tend to develop old player's skills as they mature (in other words, this is a nearly universal effect, not a hitter-specific adaptation). In fact, when you think about it, as youngsters and and as minor leaguers, scouts are looking for consistency in approach, looking for guys who make adjustments within their established swing pattern instead of making wholesale changes in approach from at bat to at bat.

So when I hear that Boggs or Ichiro or Clemente had more power than the record indicates, I'm incredibly skeptical, regardless of the source. In 1987 Boggs traded nary a single or walk for his homers. His AVG and OBP were well within normal for the years surrounding 1987 and as well relative to the league fit right into his relative averages of the period. In other words, he had no reason to abandon the homers approach because he didn't abandon it---the fluky power year within the rabbit-ball context just dissipated. But the story that he was trying for homers was irresistible! Well, it's the same with the Clemente or Suzuki examples. The story that they chose to hit with less power is irresistible because it suggests something scientific and refined in their approach, an abandoment of the coarseness of the me-first athlete. But I think it's an utterly dubious scenario since their combined 15-16000 PAs strongly say that they had no more power than their numbers, viewed through the lens of park, show.

Anyway, I'm just rambling on and on. I've got to go to bed.
   109. yest Posted: August 20, 2006 at 12:09 PM (#2148486)
And the quotes that he was "the toughest out in the league"; well, c'mon, that isn't scouting or opinion, that is factual, and in fact Clemente Never lead his league in on-base average.
he could still be the toughest player to get out due to intentional walks (PS not all intetioanl walks are deemed such by offical scores) if player x has 300 times on base out of 700 PA and player Y has 310 times on base also out of 700 PA but player Y has 25 intetional walks due to thinking that it would be better for his team to walk him due to his power but if they would try to get him out he would have less then 300 times on base then player X would rightfully be called the tougher out even though he had a lower obp (I'm not getting in to weather or not player X is more valuble or not just if the statment could still be true)
   110. sunnyday2 Posted: August 20, 2006 at 02:19 PM (#2148524)
I guess I would agree with the original statement--that "the toughest out" would be the guy who in fact made the fewest of them (as a pct., that is the guy with the highest OBA).

I think was yest and others are getting at is whether he was "the most feared" or the batter you "least want to face with the game on the line." Now you're into the realm of opinion. Even then, you could argue that a smart team would fear and/or least want to face different players in different situations--if there's a RISP with less than 2 out, e.g., versus nobody on base with 2 outs and a 1 run lead, etc. etc.--and that in each situation you would most fear a guy with the highest OBA, or the highest HR rate, etc. Of course, then you'd still have to consider platoon advantage, the specific match-up, etc.

The point being: When constructing a HoM ballot, show me the objective reality, not the pure opinion, and I'll make up my own mind. It's like the nice things Kaline said about Clemente. 1) Did he really mean it? 2) Was it informed? 3) Was he citing some objective fact or mere opinion? 4) etc. etc.
   111. BDC Posted: August 20, 2006 at 03:17 PM (#2148560)
"the most feared" or the batter you "least want to face with the game on the line."

Agreed, a subjective distinction, but one that I always link to a certain kind of player, a high-average hitter with doubles/triples power who doesn't strike out at a Schmidtian rate: Brett, Molitor, Garciaparra. Clemente was certainly that kind of hitter. But that does not mean "the most productive offensive player," of course.
   112. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 20, 2006 at 04:23 PM (#2148591)
"the most feared" or the batter you "least want to face with the game on the line."

Agreed, a subjective distinction, but one that I always link to a certain kind of player, a high-average hitter with doubles/triples power who doesn't strike out at a Schmidtian rate: Brett, Molitor, Garciaparra. Clemente was certainly that kind of hitter.


Another way of looking at this is by noting which players have "holes in their swing," meaning that although their overall productivity may be high, a skilful pitcher can exploit their weakness. The most perfect example I ever saw of this was in an Orioles-Yankees game in August of 1980, where Scott MacGregor beat Luis Tiant in a 1-0 pitchers' duel, and struck out Reggie Jackson three straight times---throwing nothing but high and tight fastballs. Every single pitch. Jackson must have known what was coming, and yet he simply couldn't adjust to it, even though MacGregor's fastball never cracked 90. Batters like Brett and Molitor, OTOH, are much better at making necessary adjustments, and as a result it's much harder for even the best pitchers (think Goose Gossage) to figure out how to pitch to them, even though of the three players I mentioned, Jackson had the highest OPS+.

But that does not mean "the most productive offensive player," of course.

Agreed. Productivity is a more easily measurable skill. Though in the case of Clemente I still maintain you have to make an adjustment for league strength. I have no doubt that in a neutral league Clemente's productivity would have equaled or bettered Al Kaline's, though of course there is no way objectively to measure this.
   113. sunnyday2 Posted: August 20, 2006 at 05:06 PM (#2148610)
Yeah, that's where I said the most feared would depend on the specific match-up. I guess, however, if one were trying to define "the most feared batter," you would 1) take a poll, and/or 2) run a statistically significant number of pitchers through your match-up machine. If you did that in the '60s, would Clemente have a) won the poll, or b) match-up favorably against more pitchers than Aaron, F. Robby, Dick Allen, Mays, etc. etc?

Of course, if you took a poll, you'd still have to consider whether your subjects lied.
   114. David Speed Posted: August 21, 2006 at 02:28 AM (#2149115)
Did Kaline get the "Roberto Clemente Award" or something like that? Pardon my ignorance. But it seems that that may be what Kaline is talking about in the quotes above. Well, under those circumstances, if Kaline said nice things about Clemente, well, you gotta take that with a grain of salt. Besides, how often did Kaline actually see Clemente play?

To quote Mr.Treder [on encountering one of Maraniss' more foolhardy assertions]:
- - - - - - - - - "Oh boy."

Well, despite the rhetorical nature of these questions, you posed them and now you'll just have to suffer through my answers.

Did Kaline get the "Roberto Clemente Award" or something like that?

I believe the words, "For me, this is the finest award I have ever received...because it is named for Roberto Clemente," contained in quote #3 should come close to solving the mystery for you without third-party assistance.

Pardon my ignorance.

Would that it were true ignorance {of the matter at hand} and that you were sincerely seeking pardon. But it's not, and you're not, so we'll just let that pass.

But it seems that that may be what Kaline is talking about in the quotes above.

There are three quotes and they're all clearly sourced. #3 and only #3 was delivered in the context of an awards ceremony. #2 was spoken just after his death on 1/2/73. [Perhaps I should have specifically identified it a such, but I thought that the obit-style title [“Roberto: Blended Dignity With Skill”] combined with the date [1/2/73] would do the trick. I assumed that knowledge of the date of Clemente's passing was not the exclusive province of the 'hero-worshiping' Clemente cultist such as myself, but maybe that's just my warped perspective.] #1 is clearly excerpted from an interview contained in a 1982 oral history compilation.

Well, under those circumstances, if Kaline said nice things about Clemente, well, you gotta take that with a grain of salt.

Well, as I think we've established by now, 'those circumstances' are three separate sets of circumstances. The circumstances you're referring to apply to #3, although perhaps, by your line of reasoning, the circumstances surrounding #2 [speaking just after Clemente's death] would be just as, if not more, likely to elicit that emotionally coerced response that Al 'Soft Touch' Kaline is apparently so prone to. On the other hand, just why he should feel compelled to go the 'greatest right fielder' route rather than excercising the tried-and-true 'tremendous player and a tremendous human being' option is a conundrum perhaps soluble only to Doctor sd2. In addition, it's a little odd to find that my [admittedly heavy-handed] attempt to parody what your response might be to the Kaline quotes [which you so thoughtfully reproduced - the parody, not the quotes] has proven to be an only slightly more over-the-top version of the argument you actually resorted to. Now, the 'circumstances' surounding quote #1 seem relatively benign, although perhaps you have some inside information on the author, this Anthony J. O'Connor fellow, perhaps a closet Clemente cultist intent on poisoning the well of oral history objectivity, filling its pages with pro-Clemente propaganda ....

Besides, how often did Kaline actually see Clemente play?

Hardly at all, one would think, until 1970, outside of All-Star games, in all of which Clemente played from 1961-71, with the exception of 1968, and in most of which Kaline opposed him. In fact, Kaline singles out Clemente's final three seasons, which makes sense, since that's the only time post-1960 that Clemente got to the post-season, hence probably the only time Kaline's likely to have been able to sit down and watch the guy play - 19 games in all, plus the 1970 All-Star game, in which Kaline didn't play, and '71, in which he did.. A pity, because although Clemente was still playing at a high level in those years, his best years were clearly behind him. I'd love to see what Kaline would have to say about the pre-'68 Clemente.

After presenting the OPS+ case for Kaline, you strangely state:

Of course on the other side of the argument we've got this:

>Kaline, you poor sap! Can't you see that you're much, MUCH better than that hot dog Clemente? Surely you must know in your heart of hearts that your skills far outstrip those of that Puerto Rican pretender, Roberto 'Struggling-to-get-240-HR's' Clemente! Wait! I get it! You're sorry for him. You didn't want to hurt the feelings of the grieving widow and her fatherless children. Wow, Kaline -- now I'm really impressed -- the best right fielder of your generation and possessed of a Christlike compassion to boot... Not too shabby.


Now, while it's kind of you to give my noodlings - undeserving though they are - all this exposure, it's puzzling to hear them described as the other side of the argument, since they so clearly represent your side of the argument [an argument which - and we should be real clear about this - is with Al Kaline, not me], albeit in crudely caricatured form. I much prefer your admirably restrained version:

Well, under those circumstances, if Kaline said nice things about Clemente, well, you gotta take that with a grain of salt.

But, as elegant a construction as that is, what properly follows "Of course on the other side of the argument we've got this:" would be:

AL KALINE:
"I guess the saddest things I’ve ever seen in baseball are the guys that are cut down in mid-career by freak accidents and injuries. You may not know them personally, but as an athlete you can identify with them. Like a Roberto Clemente, who, at the time of his death, was playing the best game of baseball I’d ever seen." [Clemente was, to be accurate, hardly in mid-career at the time of his death – was, in fact, a thirty-eight-year-old eighteen-year veteran. It’s a tribute to the level of Clemente’s performance at the age of thirty-eight that Kaline’s mistake is understandable.] (1)
"I’m sorry I didn’t get to know him better. I’m sure he was the best all-around right fielder to ever play the game. For the last three years, I thought he was the best player anywhere." (2)
"For me, this is the finest award I have ever received, the finest award any player could receive. I am very grateful for it.
“First, because it comes from baseball, which has been very good to me.
“Second, because it is named for Roberto Clemente, the man I consider the greatest right fielder I ever saw play. I accept it with sincere appreciation of the man for whom it is named." (3)

(1) Anthony J. Connor, <u>Baseball for the Love of It: Hall of Famers Tell It Like It Was</u> (New York, Macmillan, 1982), p. 235
(2) Watson Spoelstra, “Roberto: Blended Dignity With Skill,” The Detroit News (Tuesday, January 2, 1973), p. 1-D
(3) Jack Lang, “Proud Mrs. Clemente Presents Award,” The Sporting News (April 7, 1973), p. 37

After concluding your Kaline-Clemente comparison by surveying the Win Shares record, you move to the second target of my none-too-subtle satirical barbs.

But as for my second comment that was lampooned by the hero-worshiping Mr. Speed, i.e. that the idea that Clemente should have been on the all-century team is laughable, I don't aprticularly care if Kaline was better than Clemente or not.

Eureka!! An area of ageement. Although you seem to be confusing me with another Mr. Speed - the hero-worshiping version - and although I might've chosen a different spelling, I don't aprticularly care either. I don't care and I have no idea. The only recollections I would have had of Kaline were from the '68 series and a handful of All-Star games, none of which seem to have gained solid purchase on the admittedly eroded banks of my memory.

From everything I've read and heard about him, he was wonderful player. My only purpose in providing the quotes relating to your Clemente/Kaline and Clemente/All-Century statements was to provide another perspective, in particular that of many of the players whom you procalimed to be clearly - in some cases vastly - superior to Clemente and who would beg to differ. But of course, it's by definition anecdotal, and if that makes it of limited or no use or even interest to you, well, so be it. If I had it to do again, perhaps I could have dispensed with some of the gratuitous swipes and let the material speak for itself. And then again, perhaps not.

The fact that we are arguing about Kaline or Clemente pretty much puts to rest the idea that Clemente should be on the all-century team.

We, Kemosabe? Once again, your argument is with one Albert William Kaline, who, to the best of my knowledge, is still kicking, so perhaps you should track him down and ask him:
1) Did he really mean it? 2) Was it informed? 3) Was he citing some objective fact or mere opinion? 4) etc. etc. Had he monitored the Win Share discrepancy... Was he aware of his favorable OPS+... or maybe... just maybe... was he sitting in front of the TV and saying... "Wow... Damn... Jeez... I wish I could do that..." Maybe? Maybe not... Just a thought...

P.S.

I still say over-rated.

But of course we did elect him on the his first ballot. I'd hate to see the post we would have gotten if we hadn't.


Let me prevent any potential nightmares on this score. It would have been precisely the same. I wasn't responding to anything but the thread which I stumbled upon a couple of weeks ago while doing a Clemente-related keyword search. I had no knowledge of the Hall of Merit, and I'm still a little vague on the subject. Anyway, here's wishing you many happy hours of research and analysis. See you down the road -- maybe I'll put my 2 - or is that 3,472 - cents in on Maraniss a little later.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Later,
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Speed
   115. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 21, 2006 at 02:40 AM (#2149134)
When did this turn into the Wes Ferrell thread?

Heh.

It's actually the opposite in a way since we were getting bombarded with anecdotes about Ferrell way in advance of his actual eligibility, while David's fine posts are a few "years" behind to have made an impact on the electorate.
   116. David Speed Posted: August 22, 2006 at 02:39 PM (#2151804)
Howie Menckel Posted: August 18, 2006 at 09:40 PM (#2146967)
David S,
The countless comments about how Clemente had sluggerific powers led me to believe that you wanted him to be called a slugger by us.


Howie M,
Sluggeric powers, eh? When first I traversed your opening line, I assumed that I had encountered a whimsical neologism of your own construction. Unless that indeed was the case [making the subsequent proliferation of posts I noticed using the s-word simply a case of a striking innovation immediately catching on and spreading like wildfire], I must assume that I have instead encountered an accepted and popular parlance in this realm. I can only plead ignorance and blame my less-than-quick-on-the-triggerific powers of deduction for my failure to realize that I had in fact arrived in 'Rome' and should proceed accordingly.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Like thus, perhaps?
Howie M,
My bad. I should have clearly focused on the 'hardly any kind of a big guy' quote [#53 - Steve Treder Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:48 PM (#2043545)] so that it would have been clear that I was not trying to demonstrate RC's sluggerific powers per se so much as attempting to showcase his raw-powerific powers. On the other hand, if the latter is not yet an officially sanctioned gradation, I certainly would have to opt for sluggerific over such well-populated perches as warning-track-powerific, Hump-backed linerific, Texas-leaguerific, to say nothing of the dread seeing-eye-twenty-five-hopperific and the ever-popular twenty-foot dribblerific... or, for that matter - departing entirely from the descriptive - the generic, one-size-fits-all compartment RC most often seems to find himself in, close-but-no-cigarific.

In any case, now I've got the idea. Next time I consider consider sticking my nose into one of these debates - perchance even an ongoing one - perhaps I'll pause... to listen and learn.
- - - - - - - - - And then again..... you guessed it - perhaps not.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Later
   117. DanG Posted: August 22, 2006 at 03:15 PM (#2151849)
It's a shame when a good discussion is sidetracked like this, with the focus displaced to the tone of the rhetoric rather than the substance of the argument.
   118. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 22, 2006 at 03:27 PM (#2151858)
DanG,

To unsidetrack the discussion...

What do you see as the substance of the discussion and how does it diverge from the tone?
   119. DanG Posted: August 22, 2006 at 03:56 PM (#2151903)
What do you see as the substance of the discussion and how does it diverge from the tone?

The substance: Did we miss something in our analysis of Clemente? Is he a better player than
"standard" analysis indicates?

The tone (referring to Mr. Speed): Snarky? Sarcastic? Pouting? (YMMV)
   120. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 22, 2006 at 04:05 PM (#2151912)
Thanks, Dan.

I don't really see where our analysis is missing anything. Oral history is helpful, but I think 12000 PAs tells us exactly what kind of player he was. If anything taking the puff out of the oral history leaves us with exactly the picture we've already painted of him: extremely talented HOMer who was among the top five to ten outfielders of his generation (let's see Hank, Willie, Frob, Kaline, Mantle, Williams, Colavito, Stargell, F Howard, Brock, and anyone else I haven't mentioned, Clemente fits in neatly). The quotes don't diminish or add to that stature at all because a) we know he's not realistically significantly better or worse than Kaline b) we know he's not in the aaron/mays/mantle strata c) we know he doesn't dip into the Brock/Howard/Colavito strata either. He's clearly in the Stargell/Williams area, among the top dozen OFs, but not the best. Once you filter it through that lens the quotes just don't help you move him up any further but also don't denigrate his standing either.
   121. DavidFoss Posted: August 22, 2006 at 04:51 PM (#2151965)
Missed this thread coming back from vacation.

Yeah, the quotes are nice. They show how great Clemente was at his peak. The only knock we ever had on him was those early 2500 PA with a OPS+ of 89 or even pushing that out to his first 4300 PA where is OPS+ stood at just 105 (a dead ringer for Claudell Washington with the bat through age 27).

While none of that should detract from how great he was for the last 10 years of his career (OPS+ of 149) -- which is what those quotes represent -- but we can't just say those early years didn't happen at all. It weights him down into the second tier of HOM OF-ers. He was still inducted here on the first ballot in a landsline (more than two and a half times the votes of the first non-inductee that year).
   122. jingoist Posted: August 22, 2006 at 11:44 PM (#2152635)
Yeah, I heard snarky as well.
But that's to be expected somewhat when certain posters, whose skin is a bit thin, feel they've been maligned or not shown the deference they feel they deserve.
Most of the "regulars" at this site have learned not to take umbrage when someone questions either their results or motives for posting.

That said,I believe what David Speed added, albeit a bit late for consideration purposes, was insightful based upon postings from very knowledgeable fellows like Steve Treder, as to the "evidenced" lack of slugging power from RC.

I had heard of several of these anecdotes previously, particularly the Wrigley field HR, and had forgotten it as it occured those 40+ years ago.

I am almost positive RC would have benefited from an extended period of instruction/experience at class B or A league teams, at least in 55 and 56. He was an unfinished product his first few years but the Pirates were coming off a run of horrific performances in the early 1950's (they were 145-317 from 52-54; not unlike the current ballclub) and pressed him into the lineup based upon his raw abilities and a need to show fans that they cared about the quality of the product on the field.
Would he have been more impressive playing all those years in Crosley or Wrigley field versus Forbes field? Undoubtedly he would have fashioned his game to better fit those ballparks just as we have anecdotal evidence he did so at Pittsburgh.
But wouldn't almost any intelligent ballplayer with a given degree of talent do the same?
I certainly think so.
But you have to admit, when Wille Mays says Roberto was the best player he'd ever seen not named Wille Mays, it give you pause to think about the value of actually seeing a ballplayer play the game and not just relying on cold hard stats.

For example: Brooks Robinson was a much more valuable ballplayer and helped his clubs win games more than what a review of his stats will ever indicate. He's not getting the credit from the voters he deserves because most voters didn't get to see him play in his prime and none of us was ever in the clubhouse or dugout and appreciated his intangibles and how that helped the Orioles be a great team in the 60's and earlt 70's.

Keep up the good work guys; you're doing a great job with this HoM.
   123. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 23, 2006 at 12:49 PM (#2153664)
But you have to admit, when Wille Mays says Roberto was the best player he'd ever seen not named Wille Mays, it give you pause to think about the value of actually seeing a ballplayer play the game and not just relying on cold hard stats.

For example: Brooks Robinson was a much more valuable ballplayer and helped his clubs win games more than what a review of his stats will ever indicate.


OK, I'll be the snarky one this time. I don't have to admit this is true because there's good reason to believe it's not. The problem with the statistical record as a guide is that you don't see the games. The problem with only seeing the games is that our eyes constantly deceive us. The problem with oral history is that it's full of guys who didn't necessarily see all that much of the guy in question, who were using those deceptive eyes, whose biases and reasons for making certain statements are unclear, and whose familiarity with the statistical record and its strengths and limitations are weak at best.

When Harvey inveighed in the Dick Allen thread that we should examine the "WHOLE PLAYER" (his caps), he's right. I don't think that Willie Mays or Al Kaline examined the whole player when discussing Roberto Clemente. They spoke on what they knew, about their observations. In many such instances, people and players are asked to make comparisons or choose to make them, and often those comparisons carry a big load of hyperbole. They aren't really examining the whole player, they are telling a nice story for whichever writer is asking them.

When we look at a guy's statistical record, you can call it eggheadedness, but really the job is to see where popular opinion and the record can be put together to help us filter out the chaff. A cache of glowing quotes doesn't really help because nearly every player in this group has them. Quotes that tell us information not available from the record are more important. Things like injuries, illnesses, car accidents, visa problems, friction with management, various unexplained absences, changes in approach, what pitches a guy threw, if he used drugs, spitters, stole signs, threw games, that kind of stuff. But Willie Mays telling me that Clemente was great isn't helpful. You can be sure he probably said it about other guys too.

Look, the cold, hard fact of the matter is that the statistical record of Major League Baseball is the most objective source we have on these guys (with notable exceptions, of course). Subjective information may tell me that Brooksie was more valuable than his stats indicate, and it opens an avenue of exploration, but it's also like hearing a Republican or Fox News tell you that Ric Santorum is an underrated Senator. Or like hearing a Democrat or the Nation tell you that Hillary will win the Presidency because she's a better communicator than the press gives her credit for. In another sense it's like hearing the boss of an employee say how hard that employee works, when you know that employee is on BTF all day. The record is the best source of information, it has the least bias. In other words, Willie Mays is wise in catching fly balls. He's not necessarily as wise about evaluating 20,000 baseball players, nor one of them within such a context.

But that's just my two cents.
   124. Steve Treder Posted: August 23, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2153900)
But that's just my two cents.

My two cents is that your two cents is extraordinarily wisely put.

Everything can be useful: stats, quotes, anecdotes, memories, contemporary observations, MVP vote tallies, and so on. Nothing should be rejected out of hand. But everything has to be looked at critically, and weighed carefully.

Glowing quotes need to be taken with a high degree of skepticism, for all the reasons Doc suggests above. Damning quotes should be viewed just as critically.

The HoM is an exercise in historical analysis. The historian who accepts any piece of evidence uncritically, and/or who fails to look at all possible evidence as comprehensively as possible, is engaging in poor history. He may be engaging in terrific polemic, or having great fun, or providing wonderfully entertaining reading, but he isn't engaging in good historical analysis.
   125. Dizzypaco Posted: August 23, 2006 at 04:58 PM (#2153916)
The way I look at it, there's offense and there's defense, and the proper way of evaluating each is completely different.

When it comes to offense, the statistics pretty much tell you what you need to know. We all have different ways of interpreting the same statistics, of course, but if Willie Mays says that Roberto Clemente is the best offensive player he's ever seen, there's no real reason to place much weight in that observation.

Defense is a different story. Our ability to understand and interpret defensive statistics is much less precise than when it comes to offense. I believe there are times in which defensive statistics can be very misleading. So if Willie Mays says that Roberto Clemente is the best defensive outfielder he's ever seen - that means something to me. If there is a player who played 100 years ago, who has great defensive statistics, but who did not have a great defensive reputation at the time he played - I would in part consider the observations of those observers.
   126. jingoist Posted: August 23, 2006 at 06:34 PM (#2154025)
Dr. C.;
You weren't being snarky you were just disputing the weight I had placed on such first hand observations. And I agree with much of what you and Steve said; cold hard stats are the "cleanest" way to evaluate players against one another.
But I would suggest that if you are searching for the 200-250 best players; those who's efforts maximized their teams ability to win games you need to consider all aspects of the player, not just offensive stats.
If guys were clubhouse cancers, that cancer had a deliterious effect on fellow ballplayers ability to win games. I have been in sales management for 30+ years and I can vouch firsthand as to what a negative mindset can do to a group of workers ability to execute.
We've all know oxygen thieves in our lives; guys whose negative outlook on life and actions cant help but negatively impact fellow workers.
It must have been very hard for Hornsby's teammates to respond daily to his "snarkiness"; probably Dick Allen's as well.
Should voters deduct for such negative attributes?
It's not for me as a non-voter to say.
But I cant help but think of the affect that both positive and negative personality aspects have on teamwork and final results.
Shades of grey gentlemen, shades of grey.
If lifes decisions were only black and white we'd all have an easy time of it.
   127. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 23, 2006 at 06:36 PM (#2154028)
I don't really see where our analysis is missing anything. Oral history is helpful, but I think 12000 PAs tells us exactly what kind of player he was.

As an evaluation of his overall career value, yes. But when a career is split like Clemente's was, then I'd question whether or not we're getting the "full answer" to the question of "How great was Clemente?" by merely looking at his career totals. In terms of offensive produciton Clemente was "Claudell Washington" through age 27 and "Honus Wagner" after that. How do you average that? What's the average income of a town with a thousand millionaires and a thousand welfare recipients and nobody in between?

And until someone finds an agreed upon way to measure of the difference between the two leagues in the pre-interleague play era, IMO you're never going to be able to compare players who spent their entire careers facing no common opponents, especially when a career spanned two decades when one league was so clearly superior to the other.

If Willie Mays says that Roberto Clemente is the best offensive player he's ever seen, there's no real reason to place much weight in that observation.

But if dozens of players all say the same thing, and were saying it during his career, I might pay a bit of attention. Especially when you realize that they were praising the 149 OPS+ player, and not the previous 89 or 105 incarnation. Isn't much of the argument about Clemente little more than one side talking about peak value, the other side talking about career value, and both sides talking right past each other?
   128. Dizzypaco Posted: August 23, 2006 at 06:56 PM (#2154042)
But if dozens of players all say the same thing, and were saying it during his career, I might pay a bit of attention

I disagree - I don't think you should pay attention. What makes a player look like a good hitter is not always the same thing as what makes someone actually be effective.

Lets say you have two players, Player A and Player B. Player A hits for a high average, with a good number of doubles, a little power, rarely walks, and rarely strikes out. He always seems to hit the ball hard.

Player B hits for a relatively low average, and strikes out a good deal, but also hits a good number of homeruns and often leads the league in walks.

Who is going to look like the better hitter to his contemporaries? Player A. I would bet virtually everyone who watches them play comes away more impressed with player A. But if Player B has both a higher slugging percentage and a higher on base percentage, how can you say Player A was the better hitter?

By the way, the players I was thinking of were Clemente and Killebrew.

The debate about using rate statistics in evaluating a career is a different issue. I'm in agreement that rate statistics should be taken with a grain of salt when evaluating a career as a whole.
   129. WalkOffIBB Posted: August 23, 2006 at 07:12 PM (#2154061)
But if dozens of players all say the same thing, and were saying it during his career, I might pay a bit of attention

Do baseball players ever negitively critique their peers?
   130. Mark Donelson Posted: August 23, 2006 at 07:23 PM (#2154074)
Do baseball players ever negitively critique their peers?

A few do. Schilling, say. It's not common, though.
   131. DavidFoss Posted: August 23, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2154104)
By the way, the players I was thinking of were Clemente and Killebrew.

Interesting example. Harmon's "good number of HR" is a bit of an understatement -- he had six HR titles -- but the point is well taken. Not many casual fans would guess that Tony Gwynn made outs at a higher frequency than Jim Thome. A casual fan I know was recently longing for the days of Gwynn, Boggs, Brett & Carew and felt sorry for an entire generation of kids who are growing up thinking that Manny Ramirez & Barry Bonds are great hitters. Personality issues are probably contributing there, but not completely. Hitting HR is often a negative when judging a "pure hitter".

Still, some of this is explained by the long time it took for Clemente to get going.

Here are Clemente's OPS+ totals from age X on (PA's eyeballed from AB+BB)
Age OPS+   PA
20  130  10100
21  133   9600
22  134   9000
23  138   8500
24  141   8000
25  144   7500
26  146   6900
27  146   6300
28  149   5800
29  151   5100
30  152   4500
31  155   3800
32  156   3200
33  153   2500
etc 


From 24-on, he's Duke Snider. From 27-on, he's close to Ralph Kiner. From 28-on, he's Albert Belle. And with better defense than all of them. I know lots of guys would benefit from this type of analysis, but I think Clemente benefits more than others. 5000+ consecutive PA's of 150+ OPS+ turns a lot of heads and will get you a lot of compliments.
   132. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 23, 2006 at 08:10 PM (#2154120)
Right, quotes are often like grade inflation....

I agree with Diz that in fielding there's more to be gained by examining contemporary opinion. And I agree that looking at a career rate stat isn't helpful in every instance. I do think, however, that using a peak/prime/career measurement and looking at how the player fit into his own position and league (in other words, how often he was the best player in the league by your comprehensive measure of choice) is a pretty reliable if not pretty way to do it. Combined with those career rates or rates at some intervals, you can build a very, very strong image of the player without having to dip into the icy waters of de-puffed quotes.

The other thing I should mention is that oral history, like pop culture, has a way of disseminating its vital points to a wider audience. We might not get all the quotes about Clemente, but an important part of his oral-hsitory legacy washes over us anyway. We know that he was a proud man who was one hell of an outfielder, extremely graceful, and who hit vicious line drives all over the field. Some fans will probably also recognize in his story that his home parks may have distorted our image of him, and that he probably played through considerable pain. And of course he was a tremendous humanitarian with 3000 hits. All those quotes essentially dissolve to that little thread of narrative. And you can do that with pretty much any star player in the post WW2 era, or even the post 1901 era.

Bobby Murcer? The next Mantle who never quite reached the expected peak even though he was one of the game's great players for a few years in the early 1970s.

Mickey Mantle? The ultra-talented centerfielder for several Yankee dynasties. Prodigious power, electric speed, never a liability on defense, tendency to get hurt and get drunk, played hard even when hungover badly. So much talent, so much talent, and cashed most of it in: the greatest Yankee since WW2.

Minnie Minoso: Smiling, fun-loving player who could do it all! He could lead in batting, steals, extra base hits, you name it. A good outfielder to boot, and a guy who you had to tear the jersey off of---he just loved to play this game. Too bad about the racism part.

Phil Rizzuto: Holy cow, a pesky (not Pesky) shortstop with a 24K glove and heart of gold. He would single and steal you to death. A heady player who always knew what to do, a sunny personality and a leader too. Scrappy, short, hustling, fundametally sound.

Rabbit Maranville: The ultimate jokester, Ozzie Smith before the Wiz was even thunk of, a charming, sometimes ribald shortstop who saved more runs with his glove than many high-profile hitters drove in with their bats. At bat, a punch hitter who made the most of his talents and had a penchant for annoying opposing defenses with his speed and ability to make contact.

Anyway, these little characitures are pretty useful as both a way into the history of a guy, and a way of pushing guys around in your thinking. But they come from the oral history in large part. We've all got them, and we don't need to read the entire oral history or much of it to understand the player because all this conventional wisdom flows down through the writers and the TV and radio guys over time.

I'm rambling again, I'm just trying to kind of get a handle on this idea.
   133. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 23, 2006 at 08:15 PM (#2154129)
Dizzypaco,

When I wrote that "I might pay a bit of attention" to what dozens of players were saying about Clemente during the period when he was averaging a 149 OPS+, I didn't mean that I'd throw out the record book. And I'm not going to argue one way or the other about Clemente vs Killebrew, except to say that in some circumstances I'd rather face one and in other circumstances I'd rather face the other.

But again, remember that Mays & Co. were talking about the Clemente of the 149 OPS+ and a dazzling array of other baseball skills, none of which Killebrew had. They weren't talking about the early Clemente any more than you're thinking about the 18-to-22 year old Killebrew. You have to put all that information together to make a complete judgment of Clemente.

And in this particular case, you have to decide what you mean by value: Overall peak, overall career, offensive peak, or offensive career? Leave that question open, and you're like the seven blind Indians arguing about the qualities of an elephant. But once you frame the question to your satisfaction, your decision becomes a lot easier.
   134. Dizzypaco Posted: August 23, 2006 at 08:22 PM (#2154137)
I like the exercise Doc laid out - its amazing how easy it is to describe players in a couple sentences based just on oral histories. Once in a while, I'll go back to reevaluate someone's career, and be amazed at how my memory of that player (often based on oral history) doesn't match the reality of his career.

On Phil Rizzuto, by the way, one of my first images is bunting. I have no idea whether he was a great bunter or not, but I have certainly heard it told enough times that he was a great bunter that it forms an image in my mind.

Mantle I think of as a terrific talent, who was one of the greatest ever for a few years, but was generally done having great seasons by age 31, in part because he didn't take care of himself and couldn't stay healthy as a result. In other words, part of the Mantle story is that he wasted much of his seemingly endless talent.
   135. Dizzypaco Posted: August 23, 2006 at 08:30 PM (#2154142)
Andy,

We don't disagree about the importance of choosing between peak, and career, and so on. We also don't disagree that defense, baserunning, and other issues should be considered.

The only issue of potential disagreement is the degree to which one should consider contemporary evaluations when evaluating hitters. Clemente was a great hitter at his peak, but he certainly wasn't any better than Killebrew. Yet I have little doubt that people came away more impressed with Clemente offense than Killebrew's. The Gwynn/Thome comparison is another good one - a lot more superlatives have been placed on Gwynn's abilities and offensive performance, but is it really true? And if not, why should we place emphasis on contemporary evaluations of offense?

This is relevant to Clemente, because a big part of the reason contemporaries raved about him was his offense. And I believe they are overrating this particular aspect of his game.
   136. the Rod Posted: August 23, 2006 at 08:37 PM (#2154153)
This is an interesting tidbit I noticed a while back, and thought I'd mention now that this thread has taken off: I was born nearly a decade after Clemente died, and I'd always had this image of him as a great contact hitter, but he actually struck out quite a bit in some years: in both 1967 and 1968, he ranked in the league's top ten in strikeouts. In 1967 (when he probably deserved the MVP), he led the league with a .357 batting average while ranking 8th in the NL in strikeouts. Now, it's very difficult to hit for such a high average while striking out so much. In fact, Clemente's batting average on contact (H/(AB-SO)) that year was .434. That's not among the very best of all time, but it is the best by any player between 1932 and 1993 (two high-offense eras). And no player not playing in Fenway or Colorado posted a higher BA on contact between 1927 and 1999. That must have been some season to watch.
   137. DCW3 Posted: August 23, 2006 at 08:39 PM (#2154154)
I'm sure that was not supposed to have been posted by "the Rod"...
   138. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 23, 2006 at 08:40 PM (#2154157)
I liked those capsule summaries, too.

Ted Williams: One of the two or three greatest hitters ever. Completely obsessed with hitting, often to the detriment of all other phases of the game. Fell on his face in the 10 most important games of his career. Career totals severely diminished by WWII. Hated sportswriters but loved kids, and started the Jimmy Fund. Refused to tip his cap and cursed the bleacherites but in his retirement everyone finally figured out that he was a loveable curmudgeon rather than just an anti-social prlck. Reputation grows with each passing year and the increasing appreciation of the value of walks.

Joe Dimaggio: Mr. Yankee and the consummate ballplayer. Fearsome hitter whose numbers took a beating in Death Valley. Always took the extra base and played centerfield like no other Yankee. Career stats also hurt by WWII. Prone to injury later in his career. Modest and taciturn in public but vain and miserly in private. Always demanded to be introduced as "the greatest living ballplayer," even well past the point when it was an arguable description of reality.
   139. Daryn Posted: August 23, 2006 at 08:41 PM (#2154159)
So, the Rod is one of us. Any guesses? Any language analysis experts?
   140. Dizzypaco Posted: August 23, 2006 at 09:10 PM (#2154203)
Its a great exercise, but keep in mind this is about perception, as formed by oral history, not necessarily reality. We're not writing their HOM plaques.

Brooks Robinson: Played third base like no one ever has and no one ever will. A good, maybe even dangerous, but never great hitter with power for most of his career. Played forever, all for one team. A good guy to have around the clubhouse. Along with Frank Robinson, the core of a great team.

Tony Perez: A great clutch hitter and the backbone of the Big Red Machine. The team benefited from his mere presence on the team and in the lineup.
   141. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 23, 2006 at 09:10 PM (#2154206)
Andy,

We don't disagree about the importance of choosing between peak, and career, and so on. We also don't disagree that defense, baserunning, and other issues should be considered.

The only issue of potential disagreement is the degree to which one should consider contemporary evaluations when evaluating hitters. Clemente was a great hitter at his peak, but he certainly wasn't any better than Killebrew. Yet I have little doubt that people came away more impressed with Clemente offense than Killebrew's. The Gwynn/Thome comparison is another good one - a lot more superlatives have been placed on Gwynn's abilities and offensive performance, but is it really true? And if not, why should we place emphasis on contemporary evaluations of offense?


I'm not sure we really disagree that much, since testimonies are just one part of how I evaluate a player. And also, wrt Clemente vs. Killebrew and even more Gwynn vs. Thome, I think what confuses people sometimes is the "aesthetic" hitter like Gwynn vs the "not very pretty" hitter like Thome, who just happens to be far more productive. I doubt if too many serious baseball fans (or many managers or GMs) would take Gwynn over Thome if they were starting up a team. But I admit that it's also possible that most casual fans would choose Rod Carew over Mike Schmidt.
   142. BDC Posted: August 23, 2006 at 09:16 PM (#2154210)
Defense is a different story

Not only different in the way that evidence about it is recorded, but different in terms of how it is deployed on the field. As I am fond of saying, I saw Clemente play (once), and he didn't do anything memorable in the field that day -- because he had no chance to. Nothing remotely interesting occurred in right field. Baseball is one of the few sports where you can deploy a great defender, even at a key position, and run the risk of him having no more impact on a given day than a mediocre defender. Whereas a great hitter always has at least three chances a game to make a big impact.

When people say that Clemente was a great defender, part of what they're saying is that he had phenomenal athletic ability on the field. (And of course, made the most of it in game situations, and left a record of that greatness in the fielding stats to some extent.) But with some great defenders one gets the sense that they were great in ways that effectively surpassed what the game could usually demand of them, strange as that seems. You can give a right fielder Superman's arm, for instance, but there are still going to be lots of doubles down the line and routine fly balls where Superarm-man will have no more impact on the play than Juan Gonzalez.
   143. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 23, 2006 at 09:29 PM (#2154224)
uh... someone want to fill us btf ignoramuses in on this "the Rod" business?
   144. sunnyday2 Posted: August 23, 2006 at 10:49 PM (#2154269)
Clemente and Killebrew is just the old story of tools vs. outcomes, like DiMag and Teddy Ballgame. You watch the toolsy guy and then at the end of the year you look at the numbers and go, "oh."
   145. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 23, 2006 at 11:29 PM (#2154317)
Clemente and Killebrew is just the old story of tools vs. outcomes, like DiMag and Teddy Ballgame. You watch the toolsy guy and then at the end of the year you look at the numbers and go, "oh."

In a funny way, this is the Mattingly vs. Boggs story writ a little larger. Or Juan Gone versus Angry Albert. Or early Sammy versus Slammin' Sammy. Or Todd van Poppel verus Jamie Moyer. Or Quisenberry or Joe Magrane or Tewksberry versus anyone whose fastball could break a pane of glass.
   146. blackmax Posted: April 19, 2009 at 07:01 AM (#3144378)
Almost three years since the last comment, but I need to speak up. From 1965 through 1972, the great Roberto was the best player in the best league in baseball.
   147. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 19, 2009 at 07:35 AM (#3144386)
I think this guy might have something to say about that.
   148. Howie Menckel Posted: April 19, 2009 at 02:00 PM (#3144427)
Starting with adj OPS+s, 1965-72, NL-only, best to worst, 400+ PA ('1' dropped after first listing):

Aaron......194-77-68-60-53-48-47-42, 5026 PA, end at age 38
Clemente...171-68-60-52-46-43-37-35, 4512 PA, end at age 37

This is a good chance to note that Clemente a legit Hall of Fame career, yet his best stuff lasted only half as long as Aaron's entire career - and still wasn't as good even then. That's how good Henry was.
   149. BDC Posted: April 19, 2009 at 02:29 PM (#3144440)
Plus Clemente missed an average of 30 games a year in that period; Aaron, about 15. Clemente didn't deserve the knock he sometimes got in those years as a malingerer – he had reasonable durability for a guy in his mid-late 30s – but he wasn't nearly as durable as Aaron.

Stretch didn't have a bad 65-72, either ...
   150. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 19, 2009 at 03:15 PM (#3144472)
For that period, I have Aaron light years ahead of the pack at 51.3 WARP2, and then a very, very tight clump of deserving HoMers between 42 and 46: in order, Yaz, Clemente, Frank Robinson, Dick Allen, Santo, Billy Williams, Rose, Morgan, and Mays. Amazing Morgan is right there in that group only counting one of his gigantic peak seasons and despite the fact that he missed the entire 1968 season--he was quite a player on the Astros. He was the best 2B in baseball every one of those years except '65 (when he was second to Buford) and '68 when he didn't play.
   151. David Speed Posted: February 20, 2010 at 08:31 PM (#3464243)
Stretch didn't have a bad 65-72, either ...

Speaking of same, here's a stellar outing featuring an unusual Mac milestone circa 9/15/67, as recounted by Giants beat writer Bob Stevens. His Tale of Three Willies also boasts an uncharacteristically restrained and contemplative cameo from the subject of this thread:

"With two out in the first inning, Mays reached across the plate and stroked one into the right-field seats for his 18th home run of the year and the 560th of his career...

"McCovey introduced the fourth with a sinking line drive to left that Stargell foolishly tried to glove on the fly. The ball zoomed through him, he fell down, and McCovey, resembling a huge flamingo in full flight, swooped safely around the bases for his first major league inside-the-park home run. It was Stretch’s 26th of the campaign, but still not enough to bring Perry safely into port. The Bucs took over the lead in the fifth at 3-2 on successive singles by Wills, Matty Alou and Clemente, and a wild pitch....

"After Mays walked in the sixth, McCovey hit one of Blass’ serves about as high as a baseball can be hit and still have enough distance on it to clear a fence – so high, in fact, that Clemente backed up against the wall, took out a draft of his next clubhouse lecture, studied and replaced it in his pocket. By now the ball was beginning its descent. It just did clear the balcony in right field for McCovey’s 27th home run of the year and the lead Perry protected to the end of the evening."
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