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Friday, June 29, 2018

Hank Aaron Says He Wouldn’t Go to the White House Today If He Won a Championship

Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said he would not go to the White House if he were on a championship-winning team today.

MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: June 29, 2018 at 06:49 AM | 189 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. John Northey Posted: June 29, 2018 at 04:28 PM (#5702333)
Glad to hear it. No one who is sane should want to be within eyeshot of that loon in the White House. As a Canadian I can't believe he is there despite losing by, what, 3 million votes? Your system is screwed up royally when that can happen. Now he gets to set up the Supreme Court for 20+ years possibly as a crazy right wing nutbar club. Canada is a security threat, North Korea is run by a nice guy, etc. Just bizarre to watch. I can only hope your voters wake up for the midterms and weaken him a lot before kicking him out hard in 2020 if he isn't in jail by then (self dealing should be the easiest way to get him as that is painfully obvious).
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: June 29, 2018 at 05:00 PM (#5702357)
is this a new OTP thread?
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: June 29, 2018 at 05:03 PM (#5702360)
Might as well be.
   4. dlf Posted: June 29, 2018 at 05:29 PM (#5702368)
Every once in a while, I go to Hank's bb-ref page and marvel at the consistency. What season was his best? Was it '59 when he had over 220 hits and 400 TB? Was it '71 when he had a career high in homers and OPS+? How about '63 when he lead the league in runs, ribbies, homers, slugging, OPS, OPS+ and tossed in over 30 steals? Scramble them up and I'm betting all but the most obsessed fan can't tell you which is which.

Edit: here's one I like. If #2 Stan Musial had added 10% more TB to his marvelous and marvelously long career, Aaron would still be first.
   5. Rally Posted: June 29, 2018 at 06:07 PM (#5702385)
I always thought the best Hank Aaron year was the one where he hit his uniform number in homeruns.
   6. dlf Posted: June 29, 2018 at 06:15 PM (#5702389)
Three of the four years he did that, he lead the league. Twice he had more than his uniform number and didn't lead either time. Once he lead with five fewer.
   7. Swoboda is freedom Posted: June 29, 2018 at 06:27 PM (#5702395)
Three of the four years he did that, he lead the league. Twice he had more than his uniform number and didn't lead either time. Once he lead with five fewer.

I always liked the fact that Sammy Sosa hit over 60 home runs in the league 3 times, and led the league twice in home runs, but the most number of home runs that he hit that led the league was 50. Also led with 49 one time.
   8. dlf Posted: June 29, 2018 at 07:23 PM (#5702411)
If I have to microwave something for a quarter of a minute, I almost always decide to go with Aaron. Sometimes though I'll decide Jackie is enough. Half a minute is either Maddux or Carew and every once in a while Koufax.
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 29, 2018 at 09:48 PM (#5702489)
Every once in a while, I go to Hank's bb-ref page and marvel at the consistency. What season was his best? Was it '59 when he had over 220 hits and 400 TB? Was it '71 when he had a career high in homers and OPS+? How about '63 when he lead the league in runs, ribbies, homers, slugging, OPS, OPS+ and tossed in over 30 steals? Scramble them up and I'm betting all but the most obsessed fan can't tell you which is which.

I'll bet that Aaron's personal choice would be 1957, when he won the MVP, hit a pennant-clinching walkoff home run, and hit .393 to lead the Braves to their only World Series win of his career.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: June 29, 2018 at 10:46 PM (#5702506)
Stan Musial full-season OPS+s, in order:

151 177 174 183 134 200 177 164 183 167 169 167 157 143 172 145

nice little 16-year prime

best to worst, full seasons

Musial 200 183 183 177 177 174 172 169 167 167 164 157 151 145 143 134
Aaron 194 182 179 177 170 168 166 163 161 156 153 153 152 151 149 147 142 141 104 085

would be like arguing over a pair of perfect diamonds, of course

(Musial missed 1945, in between a 174 and a 183. Aaron had a 40-HR 177 in 1973 due to only 465 PA. we'll call it even)
   11. dlf Posted: June 29, 2018 at 11:08 PM (#5702511)
Trying to pick between Musial and Aaron is a silly exercise, but what the hell ...

By career, Aaron has a pretty big lead in WAR, but Musial makes up a bit of that by missing a season with War. On the third hand, one of Musial's top 5 WAR seasons was in the very depleted '44 and another top 4 was in the semi-depleted '43. On the grasping hand, Musial was apparently a forceful person supporting integration, but on the fifth hand, Musial's best season was in year two of Jackie R and the great experiment, and many of his other top seasons were in segregated or barely integrated leagues.

If I were starting a team it would be a clear call: I'm sure that the 84 year old Aaron could far outplay the deceased Musial.
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: June 29, 2018 at 11:18 PM (#5702514)
a concise, cogent argument
;)
   13. dlf Posted: June 30, 2018 at 12:48 AM (#5702533)
Hey, at least I'm moving this away from OT:P, Jr.
   14. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: June 30, 2018 at 02:16 PM (#5702669)
It seems crazy to say but as someone who isn’t old enough to have seen Aaron I feel like the home run record in a way obscures the player he was. From what I’ve read he was similar to mid-prime Pujols, a guy who genuinely could do everything well and belongs in the best ever discussion the way Mays often is.
   15. dlf Posted: June 30, 2018 at 03:41 PM (#5702726)
Just like Hammerin' Hank passing Ruth on the HR list may have freed up the Babe's reputation as an awesome hitter not narrowly limited to the long swat, the same can be said for Bonds passing Aaron. Aaron may not have clearly been *the* best in any one year. But he was in the argument every year basically forever. From his 20 year old rookie campaign he missed being in the top ten in WAR only once before he turned 38 and was in the top 3 eight seasons. If every one of his homers was turned into an out, he'd still have over 3,000 hits.
   16. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: June 30, 2018 at 04:16 PM (#5702752)
Hey, at least I'm moving this away from OT:P, Jr.


100% in support of this.

It seems crazy to say but as someone who isn’t old enough to have seen Aaron I feel like the home run record in a way obscures the player he was. From what I’ve read he was similar to mid-prime Pujols, a guy who genuinely could do everything well and belongs in the best ever discussion the way Mays often is.


Aaron was rarely the best player in his league, but he was ludicrously consistent. From age 21 to age 39 he had an OPS+ between 141 and 194. He was a metronome of perfection.
   17. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: June 30, 2018 at 04:17 PM (#5702753)
If every one of his homers was turned into an out, he'd still have over 3,000 hits.


Meh, didn't walk enough.
   18. QLE Posted: June 30, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5702767)
It seems crazy to say but as someone who isn’t old enough to have seen Aaron I feel like the home run record in a way obscures the player he was. From what I’ve read he was similar to mid-prime Pujols, a guy who genuinely could do everything well and belongs in the best ever discussion the way Mays often is.


The impression I've always had is that it was an issue dating back to his playing days- he always made the All-Star Game and did decently with MVP voting, but he seems to have been somewhat underrated throughout his career. I'll leave it to others to explain why- I get the feeling it relates with where the Braves were geographically located and the fact that they rarely contended after 1960, but (not being in existence at the time) that might be a misunderstanding.
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 30, 2018 at 05:04 PM (#5702776)
Aaron was rarely the best player in his league, but he was ludicrously consistent. From age 21 to age 39 he had an OPS+ between 141 and 194. He was a metronome of perfection.

Yes, Aaron was amazingly consistent at a very high level for a very long time (through his age-39 season). That's what got him so high in the counting stats, but there are other players with higher peaks, more career WAR, and better rate stats. It's not really an insult to not be considered the greatest of all-time, and Aaron is just outside that.
   20. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 30, 2018 at 05:54 PM (#5702789)
The impression I've always had is that it was an issue dating back to his playing days- he always made the All-Star Game and did decently with MVP voting, but he seems to have been somewhat underrated throughout his career. I'll leave it to others to explain why- I get the feeling it relates with where the Braves were geographically located and the fact that they rarely contended after 1960, but (not being in existence at the time) that might be a misunderstanding.


That's true about the geography, but I think there is also the factor that as an NL outfielder in the 1960s, especially after Frank Robinson switched leagues, he was in a situation where he was being compared to Mays and Clemente, and stats aside, they had completely different auras as players. Aaron was smooth, consistent; the other two were much more flashy and charismatic players. Aaron had respect from everyone, but he wasn't the showman that the other two could be, and I think that probably hurt him in the area of public perception.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: July 01, 2018 at 09:40 PM (#5703476)
a guy who genuinely could do everything well and belongs in the best ever discussion the way Mays often is.

Yes, Aaron was Pujols ... and Mays was Bonds. Aaron started in 54 ... Mays started in 51 but then missed most of 52-53 for the military and thus their careers nearly completely overlapped. Mantle of course was already around too. Especially given those two were in NY (Mays moving fairly soon of course), it was going to be hard for anybody to overcome that to be considered the best.

I get the sense Aaron also kinda snuck up on people when it came to the HR chase. He didn't lead the league that often, never hit 50. He passed 500 in 1968 by which point Mays already had 587 and Mantle was about to retire with 536. If we'd been around at the time, I bet we'd be questioning whether Aaron could hit 205 HRs from age 35 on. Certainly nobody had done it before (Babe 198, Williams 184 ... Mays "just" 155). His 245 still stands second to just Bonds (Palmeiro 3rd with 208).

The black ink battle was pretty amazing too. It's actually 76 for Hank, 57 for Willie and 62 for Mantle.

Hmmm ... that would be an interesting dugout quiz.
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 01, 2018 at 10:05 PM (#5703498)
It seems crazy to say but as someone who isn’t old enough to have seen Aaron I feel like the home run record in a way obscures the player he was.

Until he started creeping up on Ruth, Aaron was looked upon more as "just" a great hitter than a home run hitter per se. By the time he was 23 he was considered the best overall hitter in the game other than Williams and Musial, more so than either Mays or Mantle.
   23. Rennie's Tenet Posted: July 02, 2018 at 06:45 AM (#5703594)
I think that my memory of baseball corresponds exactly with the Braves move to Atlanta (the Pirates opened there in 1966). I think Aaron might have been obscured a little because the Braves had a tribal (ha) identity as hitters. Torre, Carty, Alou, Mathews was still around, Cepeda showed up, Ralph Garr hit .340. Hitting like hell was somewhat taken for granted there.
   24. Morty Causa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 11:53 AM (#5703737)
When musing in his autobiography about who could have hit .400 (besides himself), Williams named Aaron, and, as I remember, he didn't really have an idea why it didn't happen. He also named Mantle, but he says Mantle struck out too much. Subsequent development in analytical metrics might attribute Aaron's "failure" to his not walking much and his playing at a time when averages were low. Aaron was more a Joe DiMaggio-type hitter than a Williams one, although Aaron did strike out at about twice DiMaggio's rate (which wasn't that high, anyway).
   25. DavidFoss Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5703748)
I get the sense Aaron also kinda snuck up on people when it came to the HR chase. He didn't lead the league that often, never hit 50. He passed 500 in 1968 by which point Mays already had 587 and Mantle was about to retire with 536.

He didn't pass Mathews until early 1969 (after Mathews retired). He was only 2 years younger than Mathews. He passed Mantle that year as well. He passed Banks in 1966 after being roughly even with him since 1963. He was 3 years younger than Banks but it wasn't obvious that he was racing up through the pack faster than everyone else was.
   26. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:09 PM (#5703760)
I wonder if the FA era has changed the value equation of career vs peak.

In a pre-FA era - I think it's hard NOT to prefer an Aaron or a Musial, knowing you're just going to get consistently get a year-in, year-out top 3/5 whatever player without any worry.

In a post-FA era - I think that changes somewhat. You're probably better off wanting a more peak player since team control is more fleeting.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:15 PM (#5703770)
When musing in his autobiography about who could have hit .400 (besides himself), Williams named Aaron, and, as I remember, he didn't really have an idea why it didn't happen. He also named Mantle, but he says Mantle struck out too much.

Which is interesting, since Mantle had the highest single season at .365.
   28. Mefisto Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:24 PM (#5703780)
By the time he was 23 he was considered the best overall hitter in the game other than Williams and Musial, more so than either Mays or Mantle.


I'll take your word for this, but of course it wasn't true in fact. Mantle was easily the best hitter at that point in time, and Mays was significantly better than Aaron (157 OPS+ v 143).
   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:26 PM (#5703781)
Which is interesting, since Mantle had the highest single season at .365.
Reverse Ichiro.
   30. Jay Z Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:35 PM (#5703787)
I wonder if the FA era has changed the value equation of career vs peak.

In a pre-FA era - I think it's hard NOT to prefer an Aaron or a Musial, knowing you're just going to get consistently get a year-in, year-out top 3/5 whatever player without any worry.

In a post-FA era - I think that changes somewhat. You're probably better off wanting a more peak player since team control is more fleeting.


Mike Trout?

No, it does not matter. Aaron had plenty of peak, anyway. Compare Aaron to Mantle. Aaron's three best seasons are 9.4, 9.4, 8.6. Mantle 11.3, 11.3, 10.5. Yes, Mantle had a better peak. But it's only 2 WAR, and there are plenty of players to go.

Mantle's teams won the pennant in his 3 peak WAR years. But the races were not all that close. The Yankees had plenty more after Mantle. That's why they won.

There are so many more players you need to add that worrying about "our superstar isn't peak enough" isn't statistically significant.
   31. Batman Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:44 PM (#5703791)
Reverse Ichiro.
He could if he wanted to.
   32. Morty Causa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:46 PM (#5703792)
When musing in his autobiography about who could have hit .400 (besides himself), Williams named Aaron, and, as I remember, he didn't really have an idea why it didn't happen. He also named Mantle, but he says Mantle struck out too much.

Which is interesting, since Mantle had the highest single season at .365.

Mantle consciously emulated Williams. And, despite the strikeouts, he's probably the hitter in the '50s most like Ted. But, whereas Willaims swung hard, he never swung so hard as to break form. And with two strikes, he cut back. Mantle always took back-breaking swings throughout an at-bat.

One of the saddest things I ever read about Mickey was a confession he once made to someone (I forget who). It was after both he and Ted had retired. Seems he found himself in Williams's hometown and decided to drive to Willaims's home just to tell him how much his example meant to him as a hitter. He just kept driving around where Williams lived but could never summon the courage to stop and go up to the door.
   33. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:50 PM (#5703793)
In 1955, 21-year-old Hank Aaron had 6.3 WAR. That would be his WORST single-season mark until 1970.

Bad Henry, indeed.
   34. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: July 02, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5703797)
Mike Trout?

No, it does not matter. Aaron had plenty of peak, anyway. Compare Aaron to Mantle. Aaron's three best seasons are 9.4, 9.4, 8.6. Mantle 11.3, 11.3, 10.5. Yes, Mantle had a better peak. But it's only 2 WAR, and there are plenty of players to go.

Mantle's teams won the pennant in his 3 peak WAR years. But the races were not all that close. The Yankees had plenty more after Mantle. That's why they won.

There are so many more players you need to add that worrying about "our superstar isn't peak enough" isn't statistically significant.


2 WAR is quite a bit.

And as for Trout - he's got a ways to go to match that long career of unbroken excellence even if his HOF ticket is already punched.

I'm just saying that WITH the benefit of hindsight... and under the idea posited (you get the guy for virtually his entire career without arb/budget/FA concerns), I'd rather have an Aaron or a Musial than otherwise.

Rebuilding, not rebuilding, team fortunes, whatever - sticking a top 5 player you KNOW is going to be a top 5 player, year-in, year-out, from his early 20s to his late 30s, no valleys, no injuries.... that's got a lot more valuable in a cost-controlled world.

Toss in arbitration and FA? I think I might go in the other direction. There - give me the peak guy and work that into team construction planning.
   35. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: July 02, 2018 at 01:54 PM (#5703827)
It's not really an insult to not be considered the greatest of all-time, and Aaron is just outside that.


I dunno, this seems like an undersell when you're talking about the guy with the fifth highest WAR for any position player. He's not quite in Mays/Ruth/Bonds territory, but he's at the very least in the group right behind them.
   36. DavidFoss Posted: July 02, 2018 at 02:27 PM (#5703867)
I dunno, this seems like an undersell when you're talking about the guy with the fifth highest WAR for any position player. He's not quite in Mays/Ruth/Bonds territory, but he's at the very least in the group right behind them.

Basically, you can't consider Aaron as the 'best ever' for the sole reason that he is just not as good as his direct contemporary Willie Mays. The career WAR numbers understate the difference because Mays has a better peak (Aaron makes up some ground in the career value when comparing their 15th-best through 19th-best seasons). That's not counting Mays' military service. No amount of handwaving or timelining can put Aaron above Mays. That's all anyone means to say about it.
   37. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 02, 2018 at 03:03 PM (#5703908)
Mays was slightly better than Aaron, but in terms of career value that's like saying Aaron was "only" the second best player to make his Major League debut between 1915 and 1985.
   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2018 at 03:06 PM (#5703910)
Mays was slightly better than Aaron, but in terms of career value that's like saying Aaron was "only" the second best player who made his Major League debut between 1915 and 1985.

Lt. Williams and his 5 missing seasons would like to have a word with you.
   39. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 02, 2018 at 03:19 PM (#5703951)
snapper, I put "career" value in there for a reason. Aaron had 143 WAR to Williams' 123.1. You can get into whether the one dimensional Williams was a better overall player than the 5-tool Aaron or Mays, but that's a topic for another day.
   40. Jay Z Posted: July 02, 2018 at 03:28 PM (#5703967)
2 WAR is quite a bit.


But the 2.0 WAR difference between 11.4 and 9.4 is of no greater value than the difference between 0.0 WAR and -2.0 WAR for your fifth starter. Or bench personnel. A 2.0 WAR difference can happen anywhere, and having the very best player in a year doesn't save you from anything.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5703971)
snapper, I put "career" value in there for a reason. Aaron had 143 WAR to Williams' 123.1. You can get into whether the one dimensional Williams was a better overall player than the 5-tool Aaron or Mays, but that's a topic for another day.

Do you have any doubt that Williams would have another 35 or 40 WAR if he played those seasons? I'd credit Mays with at least another 10 also.
   42. DavidFoss Posted: July 02, 2018 at 03:39 PM (#5703997)
Mays was slightly better than Aaron, but in terms of career value that's like saying Aaron was "only" the second best player to make his Major League debut between 1915 and 1985.

The 'slightly' underrates Mays, though. Mays had *seven* seasons better than Aaron's best. The top six are a full WAR higher, too. Of course, it is 'nitpicking' to say that Aaron is 2nd-best to Mays over a wide range of time, but Mays alone eliminates him from 'best ever' discussions for this very reason. Its like two points in the same region of a pareto curve where one blocks the other. Its not unlike Gehrig/Foxx or Cobb/Speaker.
   43. dlf Posted: July 02, 2018 at 03:55 PM (#5704026)
I worry that I too often get caught up in looking at WAR to solve debates without fully grasping its calculations. Aaron and Mays were pretty much identical as hitters by rate with a 156 OPS+ to a 155. Aaron did so in 11.5% more PAs (a gap that would narrow, but not quite close even if you give Mays full time play during his partial and fully missed time during Korea). The difference between a very good RF and perhaps the best CF ever works out to a 9% greater total WAR for Mays and would increase to more than 16% if we give Willie the 10 extra WAR snapper mentions in #41.

I guess I have a hard time getting my mind around how the defensive value (and a smidge on the basepaths - Mays stole more, Aaron had a tiny percentage edge) between the two can be so big that the significant playing time edge not only disappears, but is overwhelmed.

   44. Morty Causa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 04:03 PM (#5704035)
snapper, I put "career" value in there for a reason. Aaron had 143 WAR to Williams' 123.1. You can get into whether the one dimensional Williams was a better overall player than the 5-tool Aaron or Mays, but that's a topic for another day.

Do you have any doubt that Williams would have another 35 or 40 WAR if he played those seasons? I'd credit Mays with at least another 10 also.

snapper has a good point. Aaron has 20 more WAR points than Williams and it only took him some 4000 PAs more to accomplish that. Give Williams those full five years and he'd leave Aaron in the dust most likely.
   45. DavidFoss Posted: July 02, 2018 at 04:13 PM (#5704043)
I guess I have a hard time getting my mind around how the defensive value (and a smidge on the basepaths - Mays stole more, Aaron had a tiny percentage edge) between the two can be so big that the significant playing time edge not only disappears, but is overwhelmed.

Small differences add up over 20 years. Per 600 PA's they are roughly the same hitter (Mays 38.8-37.7 edge in rBat). The longevity means that Aaron is +68 in rBat for career. But for position, Mays gets +5.16 runs per year for playing CF instead of RF and he gets +4.67 runs per year for playing his position better relative to his positional peers. Both seem very reasonable and conservative for a single season, but for a long career that is an +87 run and +122 run advantage respectively. +209 runs total.
   46. DavidFoss Posted: July 02, 2018 at 04:23 PM (#5704056)
It's a holiday week so I goofed around with top-N nonconsective WAR season lists

Top 5 non-consecutive:
name_common WAR
Babe Ruth         62.89
Willie Mays       53.94
Barry Bonds       53.92
Rogers Hornsby    53.56
Ty Cobb           52.03
Ted Williams      51.63
Mickey Mantle     51.26
Lou Gehrig        50.26
Honus Wagner      49.1
Joe Morgan        47.79
Stan Musial       47.54
Eddie Collins     47.53
Alex Rodriguez    47.37
Mike Trout        47.01
Tris Speaker      46.23
Albert Pujols     44.86
Jimmie Foxx       44.85
Nap Lajoie        44.77
Carl Yastrzemski  44.51
Hank Aaron        44.27
Rickey Henderson  44.25
Cal Ripken        43.9
Mike Schmidt      43.37
Wade Boggs        42.17
Jackie Robinson   42.13 


Top 10 non-consective:
name_common        WAR
Babe Ruth        114.19
Willie Mays      100.48
Rogers Hornsby    98.63
Barry Bonds       98.03
Ted Williams      91.09
Lou Gehrig        90.96
Ty Cobb           90.03
Honus Wagner      87.35
Alex Rodriguez    86.95
Stan Musial       86.1
Eddie Collins     84.18
Tris Speaker      84.01
Hank Aaron        83.99
Mickey Mantle     83.54
Albert Pujols     81.35
Mike Schmidt      79.97
Jimmie Foxx       77.37
Nap Lajoie        77.37
Rickey Henderson  76.29
Joe Morgan        74.99 


Top 15 non-consective:
name_common WAR
Babe Ruth        148.26
Willie Mays      136.74
Barry Bonds      135.49
Rogers Hornsby   125.28
Ty Cobb          120.55
Hank Aaron       119.37
Ted Williams     117.99
Honus Wagner     117.06
Tris Speaker     114.94
Stan Musial      113.72 


Top 20 nonconsective:
name_common WAR
Babe Ruth        161.88
Barry Bonds      158.85
Willie Mays      155.16
Ty Cobb          144.69
Hank Aaron       141.27
Tris Speaker     134.17
Honus Wagner     130.91
Rogers Hornsby   127.4
Stan Musial      127.29
Eddie Collins    123.84 

   47. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 02, 2018 at 04:43 PM (#5704067)
Mays was slightly better than Aaron, but in terms of career value that's like saying Aaron was "only" the second best player to make his Major League debut between 1915 and 1985.

The 'slightly' underrates Mays, though. Mays had *seven* seasons better than Aaron's best. The top six are a full WAR higher, too. Of course, it is 'nitpicking' to say that Aaron is 2nd-best to Mays over a wide range of time, but Mays alone eliminates him from 'best ever' discussions for this very reason. Its like two points in the same region of a pareto curve where one blocks the other. Its not unlike Gehrig/Foxx or Cobb/Speaker.


Sure, and I'm not trying to make the case for Aaron over Mays.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

snapper, I put "career" value in there for a reason. Aaron had 143 WAR to Williams' 123.1. You can get into whether the one dimensional Williams was a better overall player than the 5-tool Aaron or Mays, but that's a topic for another day.

Do you have any doubt that Williams would have another 35 or 40 WAR if he played those seasons? I'd credit Mays with at least another 10 also.

snapper has a good point. Aaron has 20 more WAR points than Williams and it only took him some 4000 PAs more to accomplish that. Give Williams those full five years and he'd leave Aaron in the dust most likely.


Maybe so, but it's all in theory. And in terms of who was "better", I'd take either Mays or Aaron over Williams. Much better competition, much bigger skill sets. But it's still all hypothetical.

And none of this is a knock on Williams or any of your other boyhood heroes. TBG was unquestionably one of the top 5 hitters of all time, a veritable Beethoven of the Batter's Box, and maybe he was even the best. Let's get ourselves a time machine and put it all to a test.
   48. Howie Menckel Posted: July 02, 2018 at 06:39 PM (#5704135)
Williams debuted with the Red Sox in 1939 - and didn't have a black teammate until 1959 (Pumpsie Green and Don Wilson). of course, they tried out Jackie Robinson in 1945 and scouted Mays as well.

but who needs a superstar when you can keep your dugout lily-white instead?

I should note that Williams' HOF speech was extraordinary - he was far too classy for the franchise he played for in that era, frankly. this was 1966:

“I hope that some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way could be added as a symbol of the great Negro players that are not here only because they were not given the chance,” Williams told the crowd.

..........

(now, why he simultaneously was so fond of Tom Yawkey is harder to explain. compartmentalization, maybe)
   49. Morty Causa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 07:21 PM (#5704166)
There are pictures of that HOF day. Mantle and Stengel were there, and it seemed they were doing their best to play jester to the king. Williams is laughing. He's obviously delighted at being selected for the HOF (he says he thought they'd make him wait a year or two--can you imagine?), but he's also happy because he's obviously the cynosure of all eyes that day. And he knows something no one else there does. Scientists who make great discoveries say there is no feeling like those few days before the discovery is made public and they (and their cohorts, if any) know something the whole world doesn't. Williams, knowing what he was going to say that day, may have felt like that.

Maybe so, but it's all in theory. And in terms of who was "better", I'd take either Mays or Aaron over Williams. Much better competition, much bigger skill sets. But it's still all hypothetical.

Yeah, well, all theories aren't equal, Mr. Creationist. No one seriously questions Williams status as the best hitter between Ruth and (cough cough) Mr. Bonds, Mr. Barry Bonds. And it's hardly likely Williams would have defeated himself with it came to hitting. He never did. Fate and circumstances colluded against him a number of times in a number of ways, but he did not bow.
   50. Morty Causa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 07:25 PM (#5704172)
Williams wasn't the only person in baseball who liked Yawkey. So did Bill Veeck. Among others. For players he was a hell of a good employer comparatively. He, for example, treated them better and paid them better than the cold-hearted, self-aggrandizing Yankees. And he didn't sell out the American League like the Yankee owners did.
   51. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 02, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5704176)
Williams debuted with the Red Sox in 1939 - and didn't have a black teammate until 1959 (Pumpsie Green and Don Wilson). of course, they tried out Jackie Robinson in 1945 and scouted Mays as well.

but who needs a superstar when you can keep your dugout lily-white instead?

I should note that Williams' HOF speech was extraordinary - he was far too classy for the franchise he played for in that era, frankly. this was 1966:

“I hope that some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way could be added as a symbol of the great Negro players that are not here only because they were not given the chance,” Williams told the crowd.


In things that mattered, Williams was pure class.

..........

(now, why he simultaneously was so fond of Tom Yawkey is harder to explain. compartmentalization, maybe)

The rich man's son Yawkey bought the Red Sox in great part so he could pal around with and overpay his players, and hire his cronies for the front office. They weren't known as "The Millionaires" for nothing.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Maybe so, but it's all in theory. And in terms of who was "better", I'd take either Mays or Aaron over Williams. Much better competition, much bigger skill sets. But it's still all hypothetical.

Yeah, well, all theories aren't equal, Mr. Creationist. No one seriously questions Williams status as the best hitter between Ruth and (cough cough) Mr. Bonds,


I wouldn't question it, either, though I wish there'd been interleague play during the second half of his career, when the National League was demonstrably better than the AL. But I'd still take Mays, Aaron or Bonds over him as the anchor of my team.
   52. Mefisto Posted: July 02, 2018 at 07:39 PM (#5704179)
You can have all 4 if you just move Ted to DH.
   53. Morty Causa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 08:12 PM (#5704214)
overpay his players

Really?
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2018 at 08:18 PM (#5704220)
But I'd still take Mays, Aaron or Bonds over him as the anchor of my team.

I'll take the ALers then: Williams, Mantle, Ruth left to right. I think I've you beat.

You can have all 4 if you just move Ted to DH.

If we have a DH, I'll DH Ted, an put Rickey in LF.

I like how the top of the lineup shakes out. Henderson, Williams, Mantle, Ruth. R, L, S, L.
   55. Morty Causa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 08:35 PM (#5704228)
My all-time AL all-star team has Williams in LF, Mantle in CF, and Ruth in RF. If I get a DH, then that's Williams. I'd then either put Cobb in LF, or Speaker in CF and Mantle in LF.

Would make an interesting batting lineup. Too many lefthanders up front, I guess. Good thing Mantle is there. He comes between Williams and Ruth.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2018 at 08:43 PM (#5704235)
[55] Gehrig's lefty too. ARod at SS helps though.
   57. Mefisto Posted: July 02, 2018 at 09:01 PM (#5704260)
I think I've you beat.


On offense, yeah. But your defense isn't looking nearly as good.
   58. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 02, 2018 at 10:51 PM (#5704331)
In things that mattered, Williams was pure class.


He was a #### father. That’s the only thing that matters.

He was a great ball player. He had many other redeeming qualities. But he was a #### father. Let’s not canonize him yet.
   59. Morty Causa Posted: July 02, 2018 at 11:26 PM (#5704344)
Yes. Some time back I posted a long article on how he traumatized his children, and how they suffered long afterward. What's especially sad is they all seemed to have loved and idolized their father. But, then, that's what had happened to him. A kid who has to raise himself usually does a bad job of it and often is a bad parent, as were his parents. Williams personal life brings to mind Philip Larkin's poem, "This Be the Verse," which I've also referenced before.
   60. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 02, 2018 at 11:50 PM (#5704354)
But I'd still take Mays, Aaron or Bonds over him as the anchor of my team.

I'll take the ALers then: Williams, Mantle, Ruth left to right. I think I've you beat.


If we're talking about a game that includes Designated Fielders and Designated Baserunners,** I'd agree. But that's not how the game is usually played. Not to mention that my NL trio faced far better competition during their careers, a subject we've covered many times before.

** Mantle was a fine baserunner and a fairly good CF in his early years, but once his legs started to go, not so much. Bonds had a relatively weak arm, but that was the only tool lacking in any of my 3 NL outfielders.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

overpay his players

Really?


Yes, really. As I wrote above, the Red Sox weren't called "The Millionaires" for nothing. During the Williams era, they had some great hitters for awhile, but they were the perfect embodiment of a station-to-station team that was great in Fenway but helpless on the road.** Terrible GM, clueless managers, and an owner whose racism cost his team dearly. They'd throw bonus money at Billy Consolo and Jim Pagliaroni, and not even offer a contract to Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays.

** In 1949, when they blew the pennant on the final weekend, they were 61-16 at home and 35-42 on the road.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

In things that mattered, Williams was pure class.

He was a #### father. That’s the only thing that matters.

He was a great ball player. He had many other redeeming qualities. But he was a #### father. Let’s not canonize him yet.


As Morty alludes to, Williams pretty much just copied his own father in that respect. But you're right, I should've at least mentioned his children. I was thinking mostly of his relationship to his teammates, opponents, and umpires.
   61. Morty Causa Posted: July 03, 2018 at 12:23 AM (#5704365)
Yawkey wasn't overpaying them. Other teams were underpaying their players. Yawkey paid his players something closer to what they were worth when most all the rest of baseball, including and especially the Yankees, were using the reserve clause as a whipsaw to nickel and dime them for all it was worth.
   62. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 03, 2018 at 07:00 AM (#5704398)
Yawkey wasn't overpaying them. Other teams were underpaying their players. Yawkey paid his players something closer to what they were worth when most all the rest of baseball, including and especially the Yankees, were using the reserve clause as a whipsaw to nickel and dime them for all it was worth.

You could argue that, but maybe Marse Tom might then have considered offering Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays a big signing bonus instead of wasting his money on the stiffs that made up half of the Red Sox roster. Paying above market salaries to mediocre white players while refusing to sign black players is hardly a sign of either generosity or wisdom.
   63. Rally Posted: July 03, 2018 at 09:16 AM (#5704425)
“I hope that some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way could be added as a symbol of the great Negro players that are not here only because they were not given the chance,” Williams told the crowd.


The fact that Ted was the first player to use his induction to call for the HOF to honor the Negro League players was surprising to me when I first heard it. I immediately wondered, "what about Jackie?" since Robinson was inducted 4 years before Williams. But Jackie did not mention such players.

Jackie's induction address
   64. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 09:18 AM (#5704426)
If we're talking about a game that includes Designated Fielders and Designated Baserunners,** I'd agree. But that's not how the game is usually played. Not to mention that my NL trio faced far better competition during their careers, a subject we've covered many times before.

** Mantle was a fine baserunner and a fairly good CF in his early years, but once his legs started to go, not so much. Bonds had a relatively weak arm, but that was the only tool lacking in any of my 3 NL outfielders.


Well, after 18 y.o. Mickey comes out of the time machine he's probably not going to get his foot stuck in a drain, and they can treat Osteomyelitis much beter today. Also, we're going to let Babe play golf and run in the off-season (unlike the idiots of the time), so he won't get fat.

Barry can't use roids either.
   65. Rally Posted: July 03, 2018 at 09:28 AM (#5704433)
Yeah, well, all theories aren't equal, Mr. Creationist. No one seriously questions Williams status as the best hitter between Ruth and (cough cough) Mr. Bonds,


All three can make a case for greatest hitter of all time. Red Sox refusal to integrate doesn't really change the calculus, because if integration could make Williams' numbers look worse it would not matter whether or not he had black teammates, but how well he hit black opposing pitchers.

He had 9 AB against Satchel, went 2-9, both singles, plus a pair of walks. Perhaps if someone like Newcombe pitched for the Yankees he might have shaved a few points off Ted's average. But for the most part the great integration of the 50s leaned heavily to the position player side.

I think a bigger statistical mark against Ted is how little he had to face LHP. Splits are not complete for Ted and especially Ruth's careers, but for what we have Babe faced LHP 30% of the time, Bonds 33%. Ted only faced LHP 22% of the time, presumably because everyone was afraid to start a lefty in Fenway.
   66. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 03, 2018 at 09:31 AM (#5704434)
Barry can't use roids either.


Then no amps for anyone.
   67. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 09:48 AM (#5704440)
Then no amps for anyone.

Concur.

Can Ruth still eat hot dogs and drink beer during games?

Actually, with Ruth and Mantle on my team, I think the best thing we have going for us is the prevalence of night games. They won't have nearly as much time to drink after the game.

What's the rest of my AL team look like? 1B is Gehrig (with Foxx as his platoon mate :-). 2B Collins or Lajoie. SS ARod. C is Berra and IRod, another platoon). 3B is my weak spot. Anyone better than Brooks Robinson? SP I've got Big Train, Clemens, Pedro.

With the Rodriguezes and Clemens, my no roid rule isn't going to be popular.
   68. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2018 at 09:48 AM (#5704441)

I think a bigger statistical mark against Ted is how little he had to face LHP. Splits are not complete for Ted and especially Ruth's careers, but for what we have Babe faced LHP 30% of the time, Bonds 33%. Ted only faced LHP 22% of the time, presumably because everyone was afraid to start a lefty in Fenway.


Well, it is pretty complete


From all the records I could find Ted had the best mark against lefties between Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds.
   69. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:04 AM (#5704457)
If we're talking about a game that includes Designated Fielders and Designated Baserunners,** I'd agree. But that's not how the game is usually played. Not to mention that my NL trio faced far better competition during their careers, a subject we've covered many times before.

** Mantle was a fine baserunner and a fairly good CF in his early years, but once his legs started to go, not so much. Bonds had a relatively weak arm, but that was the only tool lacking in any of my 3 NL outfielders.


Well, after 18 y.o. Mickey comes out of the time machine he's probably not going to get his foot stuck in a drain, and they can treat Osteomyelitis much beter today. Also, we're going to let Babe play golf and run in the off-season (unlike the idiots of the time), so he won't get fat.


We're just talking past one another at this point. You're introducing one hypothetical after another, and I'm simply talking about their actual career values and their demonstrated overall skill sets.

WAR totals:

Mays/Aaron/Bonds: 462.2
Ruth/Williams/Mantle 395.5

Skill set breakdown:

Mays: 5 for 5
Aaron: 5 for 5
Bonds: 4 for 5 (mediocre arm)
Total: 14 of possible 15

Ruth: 3 for 5 (early pitching trumps later mediocre outfield arm)
Williams: 2 for 5
Mantle: 4 for 5 (mediocre arm for much of his career)
Total: 9 of possible 15

The only way you can put that AL trio over their NL counterparts is by taking the totals of their best seasons:

Ruth 14.1
Williams 10.9
Mantle 11.3
Total 36.3

Mays 11.2
Aaron 9.4
Bonds 11.9
Total 32.5

And then you get back into the level of competition. During those AL players' eras, there were fewer great position players in the league to raise the WAR floor, and with the tiniest of exceptions, Ruth/Willaims/Mantle were facing nothing but white pitchers. I'd say that might easily account for the small difference in that last set of numbers.

   70. DavidFoss Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:11 AM (#5704463)
From all the records I could find Ted had the best mark against lefties between Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds.

Among LHB's? The best RHB's hit lefties better than Ted did.

The point is not that Ted was at all a liability against lefties -- he still hit .311/.435/.493 against them -- but that he got more at bats against RHB's (.354/.494/.674).

Overall, I will agree that we're overslicing the data. I mean, the reason why LHP's avoided Fenway was because RHB's hit so well there -- which inflates the Fenway PF which discounts Ted's numbers. But Ted wasn't a RHB in Fenway. A lot of this second order stuff is self-correcting, so I am usually OK with simply allowing the PF to set the scoring context and leave it at that.
   71. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5704469)
Actually, with Ruth and Mantle on my team, I think the best thing we have going for us is the prevalence of night games. They won't have nearly as much time to drink after the game.

What's the rest of my AL team look like? 1B is Gehrig (with Foxx as his platoon mate :-). 2B Collins or Lajoie. SS ARod. C is Berra and IRod, another platoon). 3B is my weak spot. Anyone better than Brooks Robinson? SP I've got Big Train, Clemens, Pedro.


It's telling that your AL team includes but 4 players from a truly integrated league (Brooks,** ARod, Clemens, Pedro), or 5 if you add your second catcher. An all-time NL team could easily include but 1 certain position player from the Jim Crow era (Wagner) and an arguable second (Hornsby).

** Here you're shortchanging yourself considerably by taking Brooks over Beltre.
   72. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:27 AM (#5704488)
WAR totals:

Mays/Aaron/Bonds: 462.2
Ruth/Williams/Mantle 395.5


Well, first you're leaving out Ruth's pitching WAR. You've got to give him some credit for the 4 years of batting value he's missing from age 21-24. That brings my guys to 415.9 WAR.

Then you're ignoring the 5 years Williams lost in military service. That's another 40ish WAR for my guys. Mays should pick up some WAR too. But, the WAR gap is much smaller than you suggest.

Mays: 5 for 5
Aaron: 5 for 5
Bonds: 4 for 5 (mediocre arm)
Total: 14 of possible 15

Ruth: 3 for 5 (early pitching trumps later mediocre outfield arm)
Williams: 2 for 5
Mantle: 4 for 5 (mediocre arm for much of his career)
Total: 9 of possible 15


This is utterly meaningless. You're weighting offense, which is 80% of a position player's value, at 20% of the total.

My assertion is simply that if you took the 6 players at the same age (say 18), and exposed them to a neutral playing environment (they all get the same conditioning, coaching, training and medical care), the three AL guys would perform better.
   73. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5704495)
It's telling that your AL team includes but 4 players from a truly integrated league

I honestly don't think it matters. I think the elite players from any era would be elite in any era (given that everyone has the same quality of training, coaching, and medical care). There has been no evolution in human genetics over the last 120 years. Any physical improvements are solely due to enviromental factors. If Mike Trout grew up as a sharecropper's son, he'd be a lot closer to Mays' 5'10" than his 6"2".
   74. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5704503)
Look - if we're talking all-time team and doing all sorts of impossible normalization, just pretending that the A-Rod vs Honus Wagner case is settled is just wrong.

You have to give A-Rod all his 3B credit as a SS to make it a race.

Roids vs segregation... turn of the century medicine and condition vs modern.

I'm not sure who wins the SS job in a straight-up competition, but I think I'd put my money on Wagner...
   75. DavidFoss Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:39 AM (#5704505)
If Mike Trout grew up as a sharecropper's son, he'd be a lot closer to Mays' 5'10" than his 6"2".

Mike Trout's father Jeff Trout played in the Twins organization in the 1980s. He was 5'9", 175 and played 2B-3B. I know, a lot of guys get their height from their mom's side... :-)
   76. PreservedFish Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:41 AM (#5704509)
I think the elite players from any era would be elite in any era (given that everyone has the same quality of training, coaching, and medical care). There has been no evolution in human genetics over the last 120 years. Any physical improvements are solely due to enviromental factors. If Mike Trout grew up as a sharecropper's son, he'd be a lot closer to Mays' 5'10" than his 6"2".

Always an interesting question. In 1900 the US had less than 60,000,000 white citizens. In 1965 it had nearly 200 million of any race, and none of them barred from playing at the highest level. And now you open it up to the Latin countries as well. So it stands to reason that if God is just rolling dice with each birth, you'll have more superduper elite babies with a bigger pool to draw from. Which suggests that the elite players of 1920-50 are not of the same inherent quality as those of later years.

But maybe Ruth and Williams represented a human talent ceiling that future players, even from a pool of 1 billion men, wouldn't ever exceed. Or maybe they didn't.

And it's not just the size of the pool that matters. The DR produces an outrageous number of elite ballplayers, with only ~10 million citizens. When Ted Williams grew up, baseball was the only sport that non-elites in America cared about, and the only one where the average boy had a real future. Maybe 60,000,000 rabid baseball fans creates more elite players than 200,000,000 comparatively casual fans.

I think all this is basically unanswerable.
   77. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5704513)
If Mike Trout grew up as a sharecropper's son, he'd be a lot closer to Mays' 5'10" than his 6"2".
He might not have been able to play MLB, but as long as he didn't blow the Opti-Grab royalties...
   78. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5704516)
I think all this is basically unanswerable.

To the degree of precision need to distinguish between inner circle HoFers, definitely.
   79. Mefisto Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5704520)
Red Sox refusal to integrate doesn't really change the calculus, because if integration could make Williams' numbers look worse it would not matter whether or not he had black teammates, but how well he hit black opposing pitchers.

He had 9 AB against Satchel, went 2-9, both singles, plus a pair of walks. Perhaps if someone like Newcombe pitched for the Yankees he might have shaved a few points off Ted's average. But for the most part the great integration of the 50s leaned heavily to the position player side.


It's not just LHP. Adding black players would have increased the quality of replacement player/average players in the AL. Since metrics like WAR and OPS+ are relative, Ted's overall numbers would have been lower relative to them.
   80. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:46 AM (#5704522)
Overall, I will agree that we're overslicing the data. I mean, the reason why LHP's avoided Fenway was because RHB's hit so well there -- which inflates the Fenway PF which discounts Ted's numbers. But Ted wasn't a RHB in Fenway. A lot of this second order stuff is self-correcting, so I am usually OK with simply allowing the PF to set the scoring context and leave it at that.

Also in the 40's there wasn't a whole lot of lefty pitchers in the AL outside of Boston. For instance from 1939 to 1942 only about 20% of the innings pitched by non Boston pitchers came from left handers. They pitched something like 7600 innings while Boston lefties during that time pitched 5300 innings all by themselves.
   81. PreservedFish Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:47 AM (#5704526)
It's not just LHP. Adding black players would have increased the quality of replacement player/average players in the AL. Since metrics like WAR and OPS+ are relative, Ted's overall numbers would have been lower relative to them.


I think the more relevant point here is that adding black players may well have added one or more stars that were just as good as Williams, significantly dimming his star.
   82. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5704536)
Does the presences of 30 teams with Latin players, Asian players, and black players dim Mike Trout's star?
   83. Mefisto Posted: July 03, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5704538)
A NL team would probably look something like this: Bench, Pujols, Morgan (over Hornsby because Morgan's LH), Wagner, Schmidt, Bonds, Mays, Aaron; DH Musial. SP: Kershaw, R. Johnson, Koufax (because so many AL players bat L), Seaver, Gibson. The NL bench would be extremely strong, with subs like Hornsby, Mathews, Clemente, etc.
   84. PreservedFish Posted: July 03, 2018 at 11:12 AM (#5704562)
Does the presences of 30 teams with Latin players, Asian players, and black players dim Mike Trout's star?


No, because we know he's the best. We don't know that Williams was.
   85. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 11:13 AM (#5704566)

I worry that I too often get caught up in looking at WAR to solve debates without fully grasping its calculations. Aaron and Mays were pretty much identical as hitters by rate with a 156 OPS+ to a 155. Aaron did so in 11.5% more PAs (a gap that would narrow, but not quite close even if you give Mays full time play during his partial and fully missed time during Korea). The difference between a very good RF and perhaps the best CF ever works out to a 9% greater total WAR for Mays and would increase to more than 16% if we give Willie the 10 extra WAR snapper mentions in #41.

I guess I have a hard time getting my mind around how the defensive value (and a smidge on the basepaths - Mays stole more, Aaron had a tiny percentage edge) between the two can be so big that the significant playing time edge not only disappears, but is overwhelmed.


dlf, there's a few things going on here, at least according to WAR:

1) OPS+ is an imperfect measure of value. Mays' OPS was more OBP-heavy than Aaron's, so even though their OPS+ was nearly identical and Aaron had 11.5% more PA, he only had 8.4% more offensive value, worth roughly 12 WAR.

2) As you said, Mays was a somewhat better baserunner -- when you include double play avoidance, that was worth about 4 WAR over their careers.

3) The positional adjustment (difference in value between an average CFer and a RFer) amounts to about 13 WAR over their careers. (Interestingly, the same comparison today would yield a bigger difference -- I guess the defensive premium placed on CF by WAR is higher today than it was during Mays' career. Or to put it differently, the average CFer was a better hitter, relative to other positions).

4) The difference in fielding skill (Mays was further above average as a CFer than Aaron was as a RFer) was worth another 9 WAR.

While I could totally believe that any of these numbers were wrong, over the course of 20+ seasons I could definitely believe that they were corrrect.
   86. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5704597)
No, because we know he's the best. We don't know that Williams was.

Which black hitter during his era was better? Were there tons of them? Would Ted Williams have been the 25th best hitter in the league?

Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, for obvious reasons, are the closest black contemporaries that he has and they put up 155 and 156 OPS. Ted put up a 190 for his career with his career having his decline having greater weight since he missed more prime years than most superstars. For Ted to fall below the title of #1 in his day the league would have to improve tremendously. Ted wasn't go to fall to 150 OPS+ because of an integrated league.


Willie had a league OPS of .730 and Ted had a league OPS of .762.
   87. PreservedFish Posted: July 03, 2018 at 11:38 AM (#5704604)
Which black hitter during his era was better? Were there tons of them? Would Ted Williams have been the 25th best hitter in the league?


Of course that's extremely unlikely, probably impossible. But we are having a conversation about the elite elite elite, the best ever. If there's even just one black pre-integration outfielder that could hit like Williams, it changes the debate.
   88. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5704611)
Mike Trout's father Jeff Trout played in the Twins organization in the 1980s. He was 5'9", 175 and played 2B-3B. I know, a lot of guys get their height from their mom's side... :-)

This excellent article about Jeff Trout notes that he was really only 5'8, but that Mike does indeed get his size from his mom's side:

That’s the extended origin story of a superstar, as potent as a spider bite or the light from a foreign sun. Mike’s baseball skills come from Jeff’s side of the family: Jeff’s father was a fine high school player, and his grandfather was good enough for a nickname. “His nickname was ‘Bat’ Trout,” Jeff says. “They called him that because he was the best left-handed hitter in South Jersey.”7 The size comes from Mike’s mother’s side: Debbie, a swimmer and softball player, has five football-playing brothers who are all over 6 feet. “Mike’s a little bit more fluid than Jeff, but the same type of core athleticism was in both of them,” Morhardt says.
   89. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2018 at 11:43 AM (#5704614)
Of course that's extremely unlikely, probably impossible. But we are having a conversation about the elite elite elite, the best ever. If there's even just one black pre-integration outfielder that could hit like Williams, it changes the debate.

But again, who would that have been? He's second all time in OPS+ with Barry Bonds the closest black athlete to Ted and he needed steroids and Ted to miss huge chunks of his prime to do that. The black players that came in during Ted's prime couldn't come close to his career number.
   90. dlf Posted: July 03, 2018 at 11:43 AM (#5704615)
What's the rest of my AL team look like? ... 3B is my weak spot. Anyone better than Brooks Robinson?


At 3B, I think just sticking to the B's you can find someone from Boggs, Brett and Beltre to supplant Brooks.

dlf, there's a few things going on here, at least according to WAR:


I certainly understand that. I just have a hard time getting my mind around the math. My simple thought process is to start with offensive value where Aaron and Mays were, on a rate basis, *very* similar at the top of the stratosphere. Then add in a significant playing time advantage for Aaron. Then subtract the positional difference, fielding value, and some little stuff and it all comes up with a significant WAR advantage for Mays. I see that 1+1+1 equals 3; what I don't have is an inherent sense of the reliability and error bands around all those 1s and as such, go back to offensive value with a hedge for the other stuff putting the two much, much closer in my admittedly simplistic way than WAR shows them.

(Also, this one affects both players roughly equally, but I'd assume in the abstract better team performance from clubs that have as many inner circle stars as these two did. Aaron, Mathews, and Spahn, et al or Mays, McCovey, Marichal, etc. should have been more dominant. I think most of the blame goes to front offices that did a poor job assembling the back end of the roster, but I also worry that sometimes something gets hidden when we step away from wins and losses to a more abstract WAR. While I have some real problems with Win Shares, I like its conceptual approach of starting from an observable and quantifiable fact of how many wins and losses resulted from a particular combination of players in a particular season.)

   91. SandyRiver Posted: July 03, 2018 at 12:07 PM (#5704626)
WAR totals:

Mays/Aaron/Bonds: 462.2
Ruth/Williams/Mantle 395.5

Skill set breakdown:

Mays: 5 for 5
Aaron: 5 for 5
Bonds: 4 for 5 (mediocre arm)
Total: 14 of possible 15

Ruth: 3 for 5 (early pitching trumps later mediocre outfield arm)
Williams: 2 for 5
Mantle: 4 for 5 (mediocre arm for much of his career)
Total: 9 of possible 15

The only way you can put that AL trio over their NL counterparts is by taking the totals of their best seasons:

Ruth 14.1
Williams 10.9
Mantle 11.3
Total 36.3

Mays 11.2
Aaron 9.4
Bonds 11.9
Total 32.5

Aaron/Bonds/Mays come out on top when one looks at the 20-year horizon, but if one wanted to pick the best OF for a given season (using WAR-162 as an analog for average season), it looks a bit different, due to the much greater playing time for the NL trio.
Career PA:
Aaron 13,941
Bonds 12,606
Mays 12,496 Avg 13,014
Mantle 9,907
Ruth 10,623 (includes seasons prior to 1918, when he was almost exclusively pitching)
Williams 9,780 Avg 10,103
WAR 162:
Aaron 7.02
Bonds 8.83
Mays 8.47 Avg 8.11
Mantle 7.44
Ruth 10.49 (For 1918 on, 10.86 - not all that significant.)
Williams 8.70 Avg 8.88

One can "prove" anything with statistics...
   92. wjones Posted: July 03, 2018 at 12:19 PM (#5704633)
A NL team would probably look something like this: Bench, Pujols, Morgan (over Hornsby because Morgan's LH), Wagner, Schmidt, Bonds, Mays, Aaron; DH Musial. SP: Kershaw, R. Johnson, Koufax (because so many AL players bat L), Seaver, Gibson. The NL bench would be extremely strong, with subs like Hornsby, Mathews, Clemente, etc.

Love Gibby but I got to take Maddux instead. Would love to bring Gibby in from the pen throwing smoke and a few high hard inside pitches.
   93. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 03, 2018 at 12:34 PM (#5704642)
We're just talking past one another at this point. You're introducing one hypothetical after another, and I'm simply talking about their actual career values and their demonstrated overall skill sets.

And you persist in changing the subject in your responses. Wudda shudda cudda is a whole separate topic.

According to you, missed seasons and injuries and lack of modern training methods have to be factored in when comparing players in different eras, but the quality of the competition they faced is somehow irrelevant.

-----------------------------------------------------

One can "prove" anything with statistics...

Point taken, but much of the "proof" being offered on behalf of some players is based on what they did within an artificially constrained environment, while the numbers and eyewitness appraisals of players who were kept out of that environment aren't accorded the same degree of respect.

Ted Williams may well be the greatest hitter who ever picked up a bat. Or maybe it was Babe Ruth or Josh Gibson or Barry Bonds. But there's simply no way of knowing for sure.
   94. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: July 03, 2018 at 01:01 PM (#5704660)
Wish I could find it - I could have sworn it posted on BBTF long ago - but I do recall a fairly exhaustive exercise to create an all-time NL and all-time AL roster, then run a full season of games between the squads (strat or an earlier version of OOTP, don't recall).

IIRC, it got pretty hardcore -- and they ended up with multiple pairings and sims... i.e., debates over eligibility (entire career vs 51% vs 75%... followed by debates over how the raw data should be used - only data from their league? Total career? Best season? Average season? Etc.).

Wish I could find it... but I give up googling.

Strictly from perhaps faulty memory - in the pairings, I think only the 100% NL/AL showed conclusive results (where either team ended up more than a game or three over/under .500)... and surprisingly, the better NL pitching depth had them on top, i.e., Alexander/Mathewson/Gibson/Koufax was too much for the Big Train to overcome.

I somewhat humorously recall fights over whether the 51% NL "had" to include Cy Young or not (i.e., by rule - he belonged on the NL squad... but his best numbers were in the AL... and nobody wanted him because of the sim software's poor handling of low K rate pitchers).
   95. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 01:03 PM (#5704662)
Then subtract the positional difference, fielding value, and some little stuff and it all comes up with a significant WAR advantage for Mays. I see that 1+1+1 equals 3; what I don't have is an inherent sense of the reliability and error bands around all those 1s and as such, go back to offensive value with a hedge for the other stuff putting the two much, much closer in my admittedly simplistic way than WAR shows them.

Well, you're talking about the difference between #5 and #7 all-time by WAR, a less than 10% difference. I don't think that's as significant as you're making it out to be.

It sounds like you realize that they were roughly equals as offensive players. Even if the defensive adjustments only brought them even in terms of WAR, I'm not sure what that would tell us that we don't already know. They would both be inner-circle HOFers, with Mays having a slightly higher peak, and the differences in playing time and value being almost entirely the result of Mays' military service.
   96. Hank Gillette Posted: July 03, 2018 at 01:12 PM (#5704669)
3B is my weak spot. Anyone better than Brooks Robinson?


ARod is willing to move to 3rd for the good of the team. Then you can add Wagner at SS.
   97. SoSH U at work Posted: July 03, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5704675)
ARod is willing to move to 3rd for the good of the team. Then you can add Wagner at SS.


Not to the AL team.
   98. dlf Posted: July 03, 2018 at 01:19 PM (#5704676)
Well, you're talking about the difference between #5 and #7 all-time by WAR, a less than 10% difference. I don't think that's as significant as you're making it out to be.


10% more WAR in 20+ year careers seems significant to me, but again, that is my bug-a-boo and not trying to be a conclusive statement about WAR for anyone else.

ARod is willing to move to 3rd for the good of the team. Then you can add Wagner at SS.


Wagner could have done just about anything or played any position, but he has one pretty big detriment for selection to snapper's hypothetical AL squad.

But moving Rodriguez to 3B would get Ripken in the lineup. Not sure whether I'd rather have Cal at SS and Alex at 3B or Alex at SS and one of the B's at 3B. Close call.

edit: sparkling water for Horn's progeny.
   99. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 03, 2018 at 01:43 PM (#5704690)
At 3B, I think just sticking to the B's you can find someone from Boggs, Brett and Beltre to supplant Brooks.

Hmmm. If I went with Cobb in the OF over Rickey, I could use Boggs at leadoff. But then the team is getting way too lefthanded.

I think Beltre is the right call.

That gives me a starting nine of:

C Berra/ I Rodriguez platoon
1B Gehrig/Foxx platoon
2B Collins
3B Beltre
SS A Rodriguez
LF Henderson
CF Mantle
RF Ruth
DH Williams

Additional bench players: Cobb, Trout, Ripken.

Lineup 1) Henderson, 2) Williams, 3) Mantle, 4) Ruth, 5) A Rod, 6) Gehrig/Foxx, 7) Collins, 8) Berra/I Rodriguez, 9) Beltre

SP 1) W. Johnson, 2) Grove, 3) Clemens, 4) R. Johnson, 5) P. Martinez
CL Rivera, SU Wilhelm, Gossage, Fingers, Lyle (need a LHP), Long relief Eckersley
   100. Rally Posted: July 03, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5704701)
The greatest possible SS career: A-Rod through age 27, Wagner age 28+.

It works out perfectly as Honus became a shortstop at right about the same age Alex stopped being one. A-Rod played 5 career games at short after age 27, Wagner played only 61 before he turned 28 (all in his age 27 season).

Ho-Rod would have had 170.2 WAR for his career.
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