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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Clubhouse Confidential: Examining Stan Musial’s Career

Brian Kenny examines Stan Musial’s contribution to the game of baseball on and off the field.

Xander Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:26 PM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, clubhouse confidential, hall of fame, obituary, stan musial

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   1. phredbird Posted: January 23, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4353244)
i know stosh will get beat up a little bit here, but brian kenny did a great segment there.
   2. bjhanke Posted: January 24, 2013 at 06:30 AM (#4353865)
First, fair warning. The link is to a video. I don't know what will happen to you, but this video, which only runs 4:31, took me OVER 20 MINUTES to listen to. Essentially it froze every 15 seconds, and took about a minute to start up again.

That begin said, Musial shouldn't take any hits here, although the "analysis" presented is, well, insufficient. The talking head (is that Brian Kenney, phredbird?) compares Musial to Mays, Mantle and Aaron by raw OBP, SLG and Runs Created. By "raw", I mean that there is no awareness of the playing conditions. Mays, Mantle and Aaron all played substantial parts of their careers in poor hitters' parks. Stan played his career all in Sportsmans' Park, which was a hitters' park. Also, the other three are all about a decade later than Stan, which means that they played during the late 1960s, whereas Stan retired after 1963. Ted Williams, who WOULD be a good comp (hitters' park, almost the entire career overlapping) isn't on the list, probably because the big point of the list is to say that Stan's average Runs Created per year over his 12 best consecutive seasons was better than Willie's, Mickey's or Hank's, which is largely a playing condition issue, and which would not be true if you included Williams. The head also says that Musial was an on-base machine, finishing 1st or 2nd in the NL in that stat something like 12 years. Well, yeah, if you lead the league in batting average and take some walks, you'll do that, if a pitchers' park isn't depressing your numbers.

Then the head wants to gush over Stan's personality, saying that he'd rather have Musial for 20 years than Willie, Mickey or Hank. He seems completely unaware that he's not defending Stan, he's insulting the other three guys.

Look, I imagine that everyone here agrees that Stan was either the 2nd or 3rd best LF ever, pending comparison to Barry Bonds. If you take him as a RF, he's either 2nd or 3rd, depending on how you compare him to Hank Aaron. If you insist on 1B, you get to compare him to Jimmy Foxx. Someone who thinks any of those three things is not likely to be trashing Musial's reputation. But, I'm sorry, I don't think this was a great segment at all. It cherry-picked raw numbers of non-contemporaries, conveniently leaving out the best contemporary, possibly because that contemporary would win the categories posted. This doesn't do Stan Musial any good. He doesn't need it. He was an absolute inner circle Hall guy, and I imagine everyone here agrees with that, and pretty much everyone here could do a better job of demonstrating that than this video does. At least the head starts out by mentioning that Stan was very fast; that's the part of his ability that tends to get forgotten most often. But you can surely find a better testimonial somewhere else.

- Brock Hanke
   3. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 24, 2013 at 08:41 AM (#4353899)
The video ran without interruption on Chrome, which surprised me.

I didn't see Kenny "insulting" anyone at all. It's true that he didn't normalize Stan's statistics to reflect park and era, but at the end he acknowledged that there were greater hitters. And right at the start, he defined "greatest" as "the greatest sportsman that America has ever produced". He expressed a subjective opinion that taking all things into account, he'd rather have Musial on his team than any other player in history. By taking "all things into account", by definition that takes it out of the realm of the purely statistical, which means that to argue against his choice with a purely statistical case kind of misses his point.

Obviously there are those of us who'd rather have had Babe Ruth for all those years, or maybe any one of a half dozen or dozen other players, but to take the choice of Musial as an "insult" to anyone else, especially when he didn't say a word against any of the other players, is the kind of rhetoric that doesn't get us anywhere. This was a nice tribute to one of the all time greats both on the field and off, and while it wasn't exactly statistically rigorous, given the timing and the forum I can't see anything particularly objectionable about it.

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