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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Willie McCovey

Eligible in 1986.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 17, 2006 at 06:07 PM | 155 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. OCF Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4531485)
I'm about the same age as Jimmy (a year older, actually). I can certainly remember being sick and tired of hearing about Pete Rose. You couldn't avoid it. I was particularly annoyed by the whole "Charlie Hustle" shtick, which I thought reeked of phoniness. I realize now it it wasn't phony. It was that Rose had no governor, and no editor on his behavior. Laying out Ray Fosse in that All Star Game - that's behaving without a governor.

As for the notion that Rose was someone of modest talent who made himself what he was through sheer force of will... Understand that that's the mainstream sportswriter meme from the time he played. And if you take a step back and try to put all of that in larger societal context, it's not hard to see some things about that narrative to make you queasy.

Was was the most important issue in America in the 1960's? Sure, there were a lot of things going on, but race, and race relations lay at the core of it all. For baseball in general, and for the National League in particular, this was the high-water mark of the African-American baseball player. Mays, Aaron, F. Robinson, Gibson, McCovey - the list is long. A disproportionate number of the African-American players were outfielders. And what is the guiding stereotype of the black ballplayer? It starts with "natural athlete". Now, you want to celebrate someone as not a natural athlete who has more hustle and work ethic and natural virtue, and that guy just happens to be white? Yeah, uh-huh.

I'm not actually blaming Rose for this (although Rose is certainly someone I would not like to meet - he certainly has his character flaws). Rose was playing the role he had been given, doing and saying the things the writers liked.
   102. Curse of the Andino Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4531492)
Well if we've achieved nothing else today, we've at least proved that I need some help operating my computer device.


Weirdly, I'm being offered the chance to "Edit" posts made by OCF today. He's doing fine without my help, but I never saw that before.
   103. Ron J2 Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4531494)
Further to #95. He's got more than just the (undeserved) MVP. He ranks #19 in MVP shares, having a 2nd, two 4ths, a 5th and a 6th.

He did better in MVP voting than Eddie Murray, George Brett, Willie Stargell, Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, Griffey Jr., Dave Parker, Jim Rice ...

Now the difference is that he was a good player for an unusually long period and so picked up .25 MVP shares between 1966 and 1967 and a further .21 between 1977 and 1979. A few votes here and there forever.

Oh and #97 I know by the end of his career Bill James was writing that Rose had always been a bigger figure with the media than with the fans. I think there's some truth to this.

   104. OCF Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4531495)
That just happens some times. At the moment, I see an edit button on Curse of the Andino's latest post, but I'm pretty sure that I can't actually edit it.
   105. Sunday silence Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4531504)
you know in '72 I didnt think of Rose as being as great as Morgan or Bench, although it's so long ago I dont know if I realized Joe MOrgan was that great until a little later. Later in the 70s when he was on the Phils and I just realized how long this guys career was going I started to think of him as a great player. SO I can sort of understand not thinking about him as on the level of MOrgan and Bench at least in the early 70s.

What I dont get is seeing Perez as better than Rose. I dont really get that part at all.

The concept that Rose made up for lack of talent by his drive or whatever (as alluded to above) I really dont get that at all. He was built like a cannon. He had huge forearms. He obviously was very strong although he didnt hit for much power. And he went on forever, it seems to me he was a great athlete, so at this pt. in time I cannot understand that running meme that he didnt have natural talent, I am not sure what I thought back in the day. I guess they thought he was not a natural talent because he was built more like a football player than baseball player. I really have no idea what they were thinking...

I also dont like the idea that we can only get an idea from what opposing pitchers thought. For one thing this contradicts another of Jimmy pts: first he says you can only get an idea from people who saw them play, then we can only get an idea from pitchers who played against them. Well does that mean that we cant really get an idea from seeing them play? And what gives pitchers any special powers of observation? Really arent they just as much observers as we are? Sure they choose pitches and placement in dealing with these hitters but in the end, are their power of observation any better than the fans? How wouold you prove such a thing?

We used to just have ball players vote for the all star teams. How did that go? I know in football it hasnt really worked out so well because there are guys who were good but just nasty and players wouldnt vote for them. Mark May comes to mind. No idea how it went in baseball, I think they gave the vote back to the fans just to get more interest out there.

Still I dont know why you think pitchers are a more objective form of observer than a fan. I guess pitchers are closer to the batters huh?

This whole fear thing is also a bit non objective. Jim Rice was obviously a feared batter; at least that is my impression from watching lots of games back in those days. However once you go through the stats carefully and study his DPs and OBP and all that his Hall of Fame credentials are in serious question. But he sure as hell was feared.

Or another example you can takes these articles from SI like Warren Spahn rates the best hitters he ever faced. And then you find the same article written 5 years later and suddenly Clemente appears on the list when he didnt on the original list. I guess part of that is because Clemente did really develop as hitter, but on the other hand you have to really question whether Spahn is being truly honest or whether he is just going from a list of guys and picking some...

And there are those old timers who would pick Hal Chase as the greatest 1B, didnt Cobb pick him as the greatest 1B? Didnt John McGraw say Ruth was not valuable because he hit in too many double plays? They always had Pie Traynor on the list of greatest 3B and who knows how accurate that is. It's hard to understand nowadays.

So peoples observations are liable to several problems. First the problem of bias, as alluded to. But also one of collations. I mean how do you evaluate or sum up 10,000 AB? Suppose you saw Rose bat 10,000 times? HOw would you evaluate that? How do you reduce that to an objective number or an objective something measure without using stats and math?

How do you do that? How do you summarize a career and compare it other just on observations alone? I dont know how you do that.
   106. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4531510)
As for the notion that Rose was someone of modest talent who made himself what he was through sheer force of will...


it was and is nonsense

Rose was very athletic, he was fast (not a burner, but he was fast), he was strong (not home run hitter strong, and the last half of his career he concentrated on accumulating hits, rather than driving the ball...), he was very quick, very good hand eye coordination (even by very high MLB standards)

The idea peddled by some writers that Rose did not have a star player's natural athleticism was complete nonsense, Rose for much of his career was a hack of an athlete, and his athleticism was of a type well suited to playing baseball.

   107. The District Attorney Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4531514)
Players still vote for a certain number of All-Star bench spots (a relatively recent development, if I'm not mistaken.) They also voted Michael Young the most underrated player in baseball last year...

I feel very confident that if you look at the history of player voting, a) you would not be at all impressed, and b) you would find it was even more dependent on statistics than writer or fan voting. Just, y'know, less accurate statistics than are available. So, really the worst of both worlds.
   108. OCF Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4531526)
The idea peddled by some writers that Rose did not have a star player's natural athleticism was complete nonsense, Rose for much of his career was a hack of an athlete, and his athleticism was of a type well suited to playing baseball.

As I said, there are racial stereotypes in play. That's a little hard to avoid in this case.
   109. Ron J2 Posted: August 30, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4531531)
#106 You don't hit 30 triples (as Rose did in 1961) without decent speed.
   110. alilisd Posted: August 30, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4531547)
And you don't hit 30+ doubles for 15 out of 16 seasons, including 7 seasons of 40+, without having power. I'm sure he gave up some power to gather more base hits. He could have hit more HR if he wanted to. If you'd seen him take BP, you'd know this.
   111. Steve Treder Posted: August 30, 2013 at 04:13 PM (#4531560)
He could have hit more HR if he wanted to.

Pete-iro!
   112. BDC Posted: August 30, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4531564)
Rose had a long career, and I'm sure there were times along the way when some other Cincinnati player was more-discussed. But when I started following NL ball, Rose was regarded with considerable awe for winning the 1968 batting title with a .335 average. Five other guys in baseball hit even .300; everybody was talking about pitching constantly, and Pete Rose seemed immune to the Year of the Pitcher. He was a very big star, and he won another batting title the next year to confirm it.

Then, yes, Bench was more-renowned for two of the next three years, and the whole team got very, very good. But then Rose won an MVP of his own. His moving to 3B was a big story that scored him a lot of points as a team player. He had the batting streak in 1978: that was an inescapable sport story of that summer. He did Aqua Velva commercials. His signing with the Phillies was a media circus. And there, though Schmidt and Carlton were bigger stars, he seemed to have attention on tap; he was always a story.

   113. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 30, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4531566)
Bench and then Morgan were understood to be better players, each winning two MVPs to Rose's one. But Rose was just a massive star, a much more prominent general-media figure than either Bench or Morgan.


Rose was SI's Sportsman of the Year in 1975, which I didn't understand then and don't understand now. The Big Red Machine was probably the biggest story in sports that year, but Morgan was the (obvious) MVP and Bench was better than Rose as well.
   114. Steve Treder Posted: August 30, 2013 at 06:06 PM (#4531622)
Rose was SI's Sportsman of the Year in 1975, which I didn't understand then and don't understand now. The Big Red Machine was probably the biggest story in sports that year, but Morgan was the (obvious) MVP and Bench was better than Rose as well.

Indeed, but the hook was that that was the year Rose volunteered to shift to third base in mid-season, plugging that nagging hole and freeing up left field for the blossoming George Foster.

Rose was a megastar whose celebrity transcended his considerable on-field accomplishments. The media adored him. To a wide swath of general/casual sports fans, Rose was as famous a baseball player as Hank Aaron or Reggie Jackson.
   115. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 30, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4531627)
funny thing was that mays was just the opposite. he did reasonably well against koufax, but could not hit drysdale. ... i think it was partly due to mays being scared. drysdale was a dirty pitcher, and threw at you. he also had that sidearm delivery on a tall frame, so for a right handed batter, it must have been fairly intimidating.

vs. Drysdale - .330/.374/.604 with 13 homers in 243 PA.
Drysdale's actually the Hall of Fame pitcher Mays hit for the highest average against, highest OBP, highest slugging, and most hits.


when i watched mays and drysdale, mays could not hit him. perhaps drysdale did not start throwing at mays until later ?



Perhaps there is a better way to evaluate players than solely relying on decades-old memories of your limited exposure? Just a guess, since you were completely wrong about this. Or should we disregard those lying numbers and trust your account of the Mays-Drysdale matchup?
   116. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 30, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4531629)
test
   117. Greg K Posted: August 30, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4531640)
aps there is a better way to evaluate players than solely relying on decades-old memories of your limited exposure? Just a guess, since you were completely wrong about this. Or should we disregard those lying numbers and trust your account of the Mays-Drysdale matchup?

Hopefully this link works. If not, the Mays/Drysdale matchup history is easy enough to find on b-ref. As I mentioned earlier, Mays owned Drysdale from 1956-1964. 1965-1966 were pretty grim for Willie (9 for 39 with a double, a triple, and a homer). Then in 1967 he clobbered Drysdale again, 1968 another off year, then that's pretty much it.

Drysdale did hit Mays twice, in 1959 and 1960. It's certainly possible Drysdale threw at him in 1965 and 1966 (you don't necessarily have to hit someone to throw at them). I can imagine that Drysdale having Mays's number for those two years caught people's attention (in a way that Mays killing him pretty consistently for 8 years didn't...Mays destroys pitcher isn't really shocking news), and people therefore tried to come up with some narrative about why this was happening. But it seems a bit too neat to me.
   118. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 30, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4531644)
I wouldn't even consider 9 for 39 (with 1 HR and 6 K) that "grim." It's not good, but I don't think anyone could say Drysdale "owned" Mays, even for that brief period. I'm guessing 12-year-old Jimmy saw them face off like 8 or 10 times and Mays had some ugly ABs -- shocking for a guy who won the MVP in '65 -- and it's stuck in his head for fifty years.

It's just ludicrous to state that the only way you can really evaluate a baseball player is to watch them. Basketball, sure, but baseball? A game where the best players can, on any one day, strike out four times, or allow multiple home runs? We just had another thread on the site about how relatively few games were being televised in those days, even to their local markets, let alone nationally. Even as an absolute baseball nut, young Jimmy couldn't see these players enough to come to a valid opinion on their abilities based solely on observation. Whether he believes it or not, his opinions have absolutely been informed by the statistics he surely was aware of at the time.
   119. Steve Treder Posted: August 30, 2013 at 07:08 PM (#4531646)
I can imagine that Drysdale having Mays's number for those two years caught people's attention

It didn't, at least as best I can recall. There were more prominent goings-on between the Giants and Dodgers in '65 and '66 (such as down-to-the-wire pennant races) than for Mays's stats against Drysdale to ge much notice.

And even though Mays did hit Drysdale very hard over the balance of their careers, you have to put that within the perspective that Mays hit lots of star pitchers very hard over the balance of their careers. He famously owned Warren Spahn (.305 with 18 HR in 223 AB), but he also had little trouble hitting:

- Robin Roberts, .312
- Larry Jackson, .351 with 9 HR in 168 AB
- Lew Burdette, .307 with 11 HR in 163 AB
- Bob Buhl, .336 with 11 HR in 128 AB
- Harvey Haddix, .362 with 10 HR in 127 AB
- Bob Friend, .348 with 7 HR in 132 AB
- Vern Law, .320 with 14 HR in 122 AB
- Johnny Podres, .356 with 10 HR in 101 AB
- Don Newcombe, .282 with 7 HR in 117 AB
- Sandy Koufax, .278 with 5 HR and 25 BB in 97 AB

Within that context, Mays's ownage of Drysdale didn't particularly stand out.

He could hit a little.
   120. BDC Posted: August 30, 2013 at 07:19 PM (#4531650)
Mays hit lots of star pitchers very hard

In the Roy Face thread the other day, I went looking for the most successful batters against Face. In ≥20 PAs, the answer is Willie Mays (OPS of 1.237 in 64).

In ≥15 PAs, the answer, wouldn't you know, is Willie McCovey (1.442 in 16).
   121. Ron J Posted: August 30, 2013 at 08:30 PM (#4531673)
[...]Hal Chase as the greatest 1B, didnt Cobb pick him as the greatest 1B?


No. But Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson did. (Cobb and Rogers Hornsby opted for George Sisler) Cobb did however pick Buck Weaver as the greatest 3B of all time (Ruth, Johnson and Hornsby all opted for Jimmy Collins). Ruth also picked Ray Schalk as his greatest catcher and Herb Pennock as one of the 4 greatest pitchers of all time.

Quoting Ruth on picking Chase: "[some people] will feel that I should pick Lou Gehrig over Chase, (but Chase) was so much better than anyone else that I ever saw on first base that - to me - it was no contest."
   122. toratoratora Posted: August 30, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4531677)
Rose was SI's Sportsman of the Year in 1975, which I didn't understand then and don't understand now. The Big Red Machine was probably the biggest story in sports that year, but Morgan was the (obvious) MVP and Bench was better than Rose as well.

Apply Occam's razor here.
Rose is a great quote, reporters loved him and he's white.
Morgan had that chicken wing stance,had kind of blossomed out of nowhere into this megastar, was the wrong hue, even was nicknamed Little Joe, -what does that say?

I was born in 66 so I missed the very best of Rose-by the time I started following baseball he was beginning the very gradual down slope. But he and Bench were certainly seen as the stars of the Big Red Machine, then Morgan, Perez and Concepcion,probably in something close to that order.
Rose was a huge star. As a kid, I was puzzled by his popularity.Now, I see a lot of it simply as Pete being accessible, baseball obsessed and always willing to throw out a great line for the press. Well, that and getting two hundred knocks a year for eternity. The man was just the energizer bunny, always played, never was hurt, hustled like crazy. Toss in the whole local boy makes good with hometown team angle for the heart string story and the long history that Pete had with the scribes. That's a nice combination and explains a lot.
   123. Jimmy Posted: August 30, 2013 at 08:52 PM (#4531686)
i did not form opinions as a kid from stats. that i know. i watched the players. now certainly i saw some players more than others.

the tigers were my favorite team. and the giants in the nl. so i saw mays and mccovey alot. but i admit that most of my giant liking came along with watching mccovey. i cant say that i recall them before mccovey was there.

and i do recall to some degree the problem they had with having 2 first basemen in cepeda and mccovey.

i liked mays, but he was a showboat, making things look harder than they were.

pitchers and the other players and coaches know a heckuva lot more about how good players are than fans do.

fans are pretty stupid. all you gotta do is sit in the stands some time, and listen to them jabber.

but i cant think of anyone that i would prefer at first over mccovey, in the years that i was watching.

and i absolutely know that stats are a poor way to start making conclusions about players. too many variables.

they talk about hitters parks, and pitchers parks, righty parks, lefty parks, etc. but there was only one park that was a true hitters park, in the sense of runs scored. and that was the cubs. they would have those ridiculous 15-12 games. so if you played half your games there, your hitting ability is gonna be overstated, compared to everyone else.
   124. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 30, 2013 at 09:27 PM (#4531711)
but there was only one park that was a true hitters park, in the sense of runs scored. and that was the cubs. they would have those ridiculous 15-12 games.


I studied this a number of years ago, and Wrigley's hitter tendencies depended to an extreme extent on the weather. When it was cold, the wind was usually coming in off the lake, and it was a very difficult park for hitters. When it was warmer, the wind was either calm or blowing out, and that's when you got the football scores. So while Wrigley on balance was a good hitters' park - because you usually had more warm days during a baseball season than cool days - you could also have anomalous seasons here and there where the park would be very difficult. The Cubs traded for Chuck Klein in the mid 30s, and he had two unspectacular seasons there before being sent back to Philadelphia. Several years ago I checked, and the weather in both of years there was quite a bit cooler than normal.

-- MWE
   125. The District Attorney Posted: August 30, 2013 at 09:48 PM (#4531724)
One of the many, many strange things about this conversation is: What reason do we have to believe that the players even thought McCovey was the dominant hitter of his day?

I mean, if you told me that the players thought Don Mattingly was the best player of the 1980s (which they did), I would still maintain that I'm not obligated to agree with them... but since they took a vote and that's how they voted, I'd have to at least acknowledge that that's what they thought. We're not even at that point here. What evidence do we have about how his fellow players ranked McCovey relative to the other top hitters?
   126. Jimmy Posted: August 31, 2013 at 02:23 AM (#4531790)
i dont think we have any. i sure would like to hear about what the players thought, though.

but i am afraid that many of them may not even be alive any more.

so i dont expect that we will ever find out.

i also want to expand on your comment about being the dominant hitter of the day.

i think we would need to define what it is that we call dominant.

i was actually using the term dangerous. and i think there is a difference.

i think one thing that caused the pitchers to tremble is how hard he could hit the ball.

i would not be at all surprised to find out that at least a few times in his career, he got thrown out at first by a ball that the right fielder got on one hop. cuz there could very easily be times that seemed like an almost immediate occurrence. and big mac did not have good speed.

i saw frank robinson play a lot when he went over to the orioles. and he also was a tremendous hitter. he was hard to get out any time, but even moreso in clutch situations. kaline was also a very good clutch hitter.

but i dont recall anyone whose balls shot out like mccovey. he would hit these screamers down the first baseline, with the first baseman playing feet from the bag. the first baseman would barely move by the time it was by him.
   127. Sunday silence Posted: August 31, 2013 at 04:53 AM (#4531803)
I think I would prefer the guy who got the most hits or the most HRs to the guy who people were most afraid of. I dont see much advantage to the fear factor.
   128. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 31, 2013 at 09:15 AM (#4531821)
I'm starting to feel like this Jimmy fellow is actually a Primate who is ####### with us.
   129. BDC Posted: August 31, 2013 at 09:40 AM (#4531826)
Just wanted to say that Mike's finding in #124 is very interesting. The seat-of-the-pants common wisdom on Wrigley Field, from players and fans, used to be exactly that: it was a park that could change with the weather. But at some point (maybe Bill James got into the discussion?) it seemed to me that the idea got widely debunked, perhaps because on aggregate the park favors hitters over long periods. Now it seems that the wisdom of the crowd has gotten some confirmation :)
   130. Howie Menckel Posted: August 31, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4531834)
SABR McCovey bio
http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/2a692514

"In Jim Bouton’s revelatory 1970 book Ball Four, he describes a late September 1969 scene at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. “A group of terrorized pitchers stood around the batting cage watching Willie McCovey belt some tremendous line drives over the right-field fence. Every time a ball bounced into the seats we’d make little whimpering animal sounds. ‘Hey, Willie,’ I said. ‘Can you do that whenever you want to?’ He didn’t crack a smile. ‘Just about,’ he said, and he hit another one. More animal sounds.”i

At the time, McCovey was the best and most feared hitter in baseball."

and a sweet end of the article includes:
"In 2010 he had begun home rehab for his recovery, and he and his nurse, Estela Bejar, fell in love. This only made McCovey more determined. "We got lots of plans to do, so I've got to get well," says McCovey, nodding and smiling at Bejar. "Plans to live and do things. Go to Hawaii and play golf."

.....

and yes I remember McCovey. What always struck me as a fellow lefty batter was his massive right shoulder as he took his batting stance.
   131. Baldrick Posted: August 31, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4531837)
Mark Garber, is that you?
   132. Ron J Posted: August 31, 2013 at 12:36 PM (#4531874)
#129 I do recall a Stats study that showed the Wrigley played as 3 very different parks depending on the prevailing wind. I think it was Clay Davenport who pointed out that this would help explain Wrigley becoming a more moderate hitter's park as the prevailing wind tends to be different at night.

Worth noting that the Stats study showed that a little pit of bad luck with the weather could make a Cub starting pitcher look worse than he actually was -- the prevailing wind that made Wrigley play as an extreme pitcher's park was actually the least common -- but had a more extreme influence on the expected outcomes.
   133. Howie Menckel Posted: August 31, 2013 at 12:51 PM (#4531883)

I recall in the 1970s and 1980s that the mood among the Mets announcers on their visits to Wrigley was very much a "depends on the winds" scenario rather than "Wrigley is a hitter's park."
   134. Jimmy Posted: August 31, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4531926)
The team is the San Francisco Giants, and Willie is—surprise—Willie McCovey, the first baseman and at present the most feared hitter in the National League.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1146641/index.htm

i dont just dream this stuff up !!!!
   135. The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2013 at 12:17 AM (#4532706)
A) Do you think it would be impossible to find one quote citing Aaron, or Mays, or Frank Robinson, or someone else as the best hitter in the NL?

B) Killebrew, of course, was not even in the NL.

C) Most importantly, that is by a writer, not a player. So, based on your own statements, I have no idea why you even bring it up.

Again, I'm admittedly leading you into a bit of a trap because even if you did prove that the players thought McCovey was the best hitter in baseball, I wouldn't put too much stock in their opinion. But I also don't believe that they thought that.
   136. Sunday silence Posted: September 02, 2013 at 01:10 AM (#4532715)
Aaron, Mays, Robinson, I think you've identified the other leading contenders for this title. I think Mays overall and career was possibly the best hitter of them. McCovey was outstanding when healthy probably as good. Frank Robinson maybe the best in the early 60s. Killerbrew was amazingly consistent in the other league.
   137. Jimmy Posted: September 02, 2013 at 02:26 AM (#4532729)
yes, they were certainly all good hitters.

ole frankie was a terror in the late 60s as well, at baltimore.

and of course, these players were all at their peaks at different times.

the article about mccovey was in 69 - certainly way past may's peak.

although writers are not fans - i am sure some of them may be dummies. but i would think that many, if not most, of them were pretty knowledgeable ?

all of those hitters that you mentioned (not killebrew) were top of the line hitters.

but one thing for sure - mccovey hit the ball the hardest. aint no comparison there. a shot off mccovey's bat was a thing to behold.

gosh, he also had a lot of uniqueness about his batting. aaron, mays, robinson, certainly kaline, all had somewhat "perfect" batting styles - how a coach would teach a young kid to bat.

not mccovey. i guess partly because of bad knees, but at least in most of my memory, mccovey would not bend his knees much when he hit. and he absolutely loved these balls near his ankles.

boy, i would get mad at him when he swung at those "ridiculous" pitches. that is, before i knew he could hit them !!

you would think he was golfing. he was a real tall guy, that did not bend his knees, hitting balls at his ankles. it was amazing to me that he could hit those sorts of balls at all.

but with the low nl strike zone, i guess the pitchers would rather have him swinging at balls there, than higher up in the strike zone.

but the point is - there was nowhere (at least up and down) that mccovey could not hit.

the size of the guy at the plate, and the catapult of the ball when hit was enough to unnerve even the most calming of pitchers !!
   138. Jimmy Posted: September 02, 2013 at 02:45 AM (#4532731)
another little tidbit about him.

i watched him a lot, cuz he was my absolute favorite batter to watch.

it was a special treat, especially in clutch situations.

boy, they would show the pitcher's face, sweat pouring down, concentration like you wouldnt believe - you could sense the absolute tension in the situation.

2 strikes on him, he hit a foul ball. the pitcher had to go back again, and throw another one.

they had to be super careful with him.

it was just a real treat to watch.

and then when you got to see a bullet off his bat, the treat was even sweeter.

boy, i can recall those balls going over the bag at first. no matter how close the 1b was to the line, he just never got them. they would be at the wall before the rf got to it, at least some of the time - depending on how much he was shifted.

i will still stand by my original statement - at his peak, mccovey was the most intimidating, feared batter in baseball. moreso than any other batter that i saw when he was at his peak.

i did not see ted williams. just 60s and 70s.
   139. Jimmy Posted: September 05, 2013 at 12:33 AM (#4534811)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4yCMaq1Ms8
   140. Pokey Reese's Pieces Posted: September 05, 2013 at 01:07 AM (#4534825)
Jimmy, you seem sincere in your desire to discuss baseball legends of the past. We all like doing that.

However, your "you can't know unless you saw it" routine has, in my opinion, grown stale. You cannot possibly believe this. If you truly believed that, you wouldn't be able to function in everyday society. Hell, you'd barely leave your house...much less drive a car, ride an elevator or cross a bridge.

So, with all due respect for all that you've done and seen...spare me your uber-empericism. I don't have to get wet to know that it's raining, pal.
   141. Jimmy Posted: September 05, 2013 at 01:28 AM (#4534837)
yes, i most sincerely do mean it.

your example, while perhaps given in good intentions, has no merit.

because in your case, you can simply look outside to see if it is raining.

the option of "seeing back into history" does not exist for us, unless of course it is on film, or some media that we can view.

and even if we had a film of a game, that would only give a tiny, minuscule glance at the entire game of baseball at that time.

i have given umpteen different examples of how stats can and were horribly wrong.

to think you can look at them, and have some sort of real strong understanding of the situation is naive, to say the least.
   142. Jimmy Posted: September 05, 2013 at 01:35 AM (#4534841)
even with players of my time, i am perfectly willing to admit that my conclusions about al kaline, willie mccovey, and mickey lolich have a much greater basis than my knowledge of harmon killebrew.

because i saw the other players much, much more.

so my impression of killebrew may not be as correct as i thought it was. i was not that impressed with him whenever i saw him or frank howard, so i was never that interested to dig any deeper.

if i had dug deeper, i may have found something that i didnt know, and that would surprise me.

at this point, i will never know for sure.
   143. Greg K Posted: September 05, 2013 at 03:01 AM (#4534861)
the option of "seeing back into history" does not exist for us, unless of course it is on film, or some media that we can view.

Speaking as a historian, I think it's healthy to acknowledge the inherent uncertainty we have of the past. We'll never know what life was like in 12th century France as well as we know what life is like in early 21st century America. But that doesn't mean we can't discuss it, and draw some conclusions with relative confidence. Otherwise my thesis examination is going to go very poorly. The first question is going to be..."nice thesis, but you weren't alive in the 1620s so none of what you've written is valid".
   144. BDC Posted: September 05, 2013 at 09:41 AM (#4534908)
The first question is going to be..."nice thesis, but you weren't alive in the 1620s so none of what you've written is valid"

I'm imagining some 450-year-old guy sitting at the defense table calling BS on every paragraph :)
   145. Jimmy Posted: September 05, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4534961)
it seems like a sensible enough of a statement. and certainly an emotionally comfortable stance that most people would at least want to be true.

the point i have been making is that there really is no way to positively verify "that one can draw some conclusions with relative confidence".

just keep that in mind.

i can almost guarantee you that some of the conclusions that you have relative confidence in will turn out to be totally wrong.

and had you known that, you would end up changing many other of your conclusions.

this is just the scientific method. we discover something. we make a theory. we then test our theory out. but in this case, no way to actually make that test, to determine just how right or wrong it might be.

you guys are using the only tools that you have available. but even with relatively recent ballplayers, those tools can lead to some pretty big errors.

the chance for errors magnifies the further back in time one goes.

i am not here to try and stop your fun. but i would certainly caution you on the relative correctness of conclusions drawn from using those tools.
   146. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: September 05, 2013 at 11:11 AM (#4534977)
i am not here to try and stop your fun. but i would certainly caution you on the relative correctness of conclusions drawn from using those tools.


There is certainly some validity to that. But nowhere near enough to make Mickey Lolich a better (or more valuable) pitcher than Denny Mclain in 1968. None. Unless the only time you observed them was during the Worlds Series. On any objective level, McLain blows him out of the water. There's no way a guy lucks his way to 31 wins and a 1.96 ERA. Lolich allowed nearly 2 more hits and walks per 9 innings. He allowed more home runs (per 9 innings). He pitched over 100 fewer innings and allowed a mere 2 fewer runs (and more earned runs).
   147. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 05, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4534993)
How can I know whether Jimmy really watched Tigers games in the 1960s and 70s? I didn't see him watching any of them.
   148. Jimmy Posted: September 05, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4535016)
hi gonfalon,

you are absolutely correct. from your point of view, you cant positively know what i did or did not see.

hi misirlou,

from your vantage point, i would also make that conclusion, based upon the tools that you have.

but notice that i am not changing my mind about lolich and mclain. they are not even close to me.

i will ask you to consider one thing, which will require you to believe me that i did see them countless times.

and that is, i knew that lolich was better way before the series. this is why i wanted him to pitch against gibson.

and then look what he did. look at what mclain did. lolich was a money pitcher. but i will say once again, you simply had to see it.

the tigers winning, was extremely important to me, back then - way more than it should have been.

and even back then, i was an excellent strategist - i thought of sports as a fun game of war.

i am telling you that it was no fluke that lolich beat gibson. he had that sort of talent. mclain never did.

and dont be surprised if you hear this from some other old tiger fan, who actually watched the guys play.

in fact, that is one of the ways that we humans change our mind. it certainly has happened to me many times.

and that is - we have our conceptions, many of them arrived by conditioning or brain washing. and the first time we hear something contrary to a strongly-held conception, we disregard it as total rubbish.

but if we hear it enough times, and we are somewhat smart, we realize that we need to examine our own conceptions.

i did this recently with killebrew. my basis for my feelings was not strong enough to warrant a real strong confidence in my conclusion.

however, there is no stat in the world that could overcome the actual viewing i had of lolich and mclain.
   149. Pokey Reese's Pieces Posted: September 05, 2013 at 11:59 PM (#4535481)
How can I know whether Jimmy really watched Tigers games in the 1960s and 70s? I didn't see him watching any of them.


Never saw him see.
   150. Sunday silence Posted: September 06, 2013 at 06:33 AM (#4535540)
I wish Jimmy you could stick to more anecdotes you recall. Tough plays that were made. Certain strategies that were used. Injuries and weather and badly made fields that effected things. That stuff is interesting and useful to us.

In fact you have made it a point to say that statistics people dont understand this part of the game, Or something like that. So enlighten us tell us more about this. No one can see every player. The people who saw Walter Payton think he's great, because the people who saw Jim Brown are dead....

The problem is you start to say that so and so was the greatest player ever. WHen you yourself said this cant be done. You cant compare players from different eras. So stop freakin doin it! OK?

The other pt is this and it's pretty simple. No matter how many times you watched player X bat or player Y take the field. If player X batted 300 and player Y batted .250, over the course of a season you would rather have X bat, all other things being equal. Like it's not a bunt situation or it's not like player Y can hit Stottlemyer better. Just on average. Right?

I mean stats count for somethign dont they? You seem to think stats mean nothing at all. Nobody in baseball really believes that.
   151. Jimmy Posted: September 06, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4535833)
just who did i say was the greatest player ever ?

sure, stats count for something. but they are much more meaningful to a mgr of today, as a tool to use, in judging a player of today. cuz then he has the proper context.

so, lets say i am the mgr. i see my guys play every day. i see my opponents play at least on an ongoing basis.

i know the talk of the town. and i can personally judge things, based on already having seen these guys play.

so if i am wondering whether this lefty can hit a lefty, then sure - look at the stats.

but when you start thinking that stats on paper are somehow a good way of judging players that you have never seen - i gotta laugh at that.

there are so many variables that are not being taken into context, that it blows up in one's face. i have already given you many examples.

i am reasonably confident that i could be given stats of players today, and come up with what would look like reasonable explanations, and probably be wrong most of the time.

but see, you would be able to refute everything i said, based upon any number of things, including a million other people who are also knowledgeable.

but go another 50 years in the future, and all this becomes pretty muddied.

you asked about various players. even my recount of most of them is far less than stellar. perhaps the ones i really liked, i can still give you quite a bit of info on them, that you would not know about.

but since you asked, here is some info on a football player that you may never have heard about it, depending on how old you are. for whatever reason, his name did not carry on with any amount of notoriety.

in fact, lets play a little game. and see if there is any way that you come up with it ?

okay, first it is absolutely ridiculous that this wide receiver is not in the hall of fame yet. there is no one of his peers that i would rather have at that position. he was big, fast, an excellent blocker, a great receiver. he was the go-to guy on the team, and everyone knew that he would participate in the big plays. his stats are not quite as impressive as some other receivers, cuz he played for a team that ran the ball as their main course of action. and was he tough ? well, when a huge guy speared his qb, this man went after him with absolute abandon.

name this player.
   152. Rob_Wood Posted: September 06, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4535887)

Jimmy, I believe that there are other baseball internet websites that you would enjoy more than this one. I beseech you to seek them out at your earliest opportunity.
   153. shoewizard Posted: September 06, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4535989)
You guys LIKE getting trolled ?
   154. Jimmy Posted: September 06, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4536088)
what a joke that is - i give out arguments that you know cant truly be refuted - so you make some sort of lame excuse about trolling.

big troll i am.

i have basically limited my posts to 3 threads (kaline, mccovey, koufax) to out of the thousands of threads available.

you guys are so into stats. just what are the odds of a troll doing that ? probably somewhat close to a snowball existing at the equator !!

i am not pushing "no-stats" around. the only reason that i say any more about it, is when someone else makes a counter statement to mine, regarding it.

so, if you dont want to hear about it, you are in complete control - if you make no challenging statements to me, i wont say anything else about it.

once you start throwing stats at me to back up your opinion of some guy you havent seen as some sort of gospel truth, or anything close to it - then yes, you will hear why i think you are way off the mark.
   155. Jimmy Posted: September 11, 2013 at 12:29 AM (#4538609)
i was reading a blurb about mccovey a couple weeks back, when this thread was being discussed on a frequent basis.

one thing that he said was that professional pitching was actually easier for him to hit, because he knew the ball was always gonna be somewhere around the plate.

i have an acquaintance who played on the angel's farm club in the 70s. he never got a major league at bat, but made it up to spring training twice.

so i was talking to him about his experience

the best pitcher that he had good success with was vida blue.

and with nothing said to him about mccovey's statement, he said the exact same thing to me. the pitchers in the minor leagues can be extremely wild and unpredictable - and it was actually easier for him to hit major league pitchers.
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