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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kernan: Move Rivera ahead of Mantle on Yankees’ all-time list

GOINK! I haven’t laughed this hard since Curly Joe DeRita said The New 3 Stooges (w/ Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell) were better than the original 3 Stooges!

Mariano Rivera is much more than the greatest closer of all time. Put him right up there with the greatest Yankees of all time. This is baseball’s most hallowed ground, and Rivera is part of the Yankees’ Fantastic Five in my all-time record book.

You have to start with Babe Ruth; forever he will be No. 1. The Iron Horse Lou Gehrig, who called himself the “luckiest man on the face of the Earth,” is next. No. 3 is Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. Then comes Derek Jeter, Mr. 3,000. Rounding out the Fantastic Five is the incomparable Mariano Rivera.

...It hurts deeply for a kid who grew up a Mickey Mantle fan to move The Mick out of the top five, but this is the new Yankees reality. Time marches on, and Mantle, for all his greatness, does not make my final-five cut. If he had stayed healthy, it would have been a different story. Go cry to Billy Crystal.

Jeter — with all his championship rings, his heady play at shortstop through the years, his 3,075 hits, the most hits in Yankees history — deserves a top spot, too.

...Mariano Rivera is one of the greatest five Yankees of all time. Put No. 42 right up there with golden numbers — 3, 4, 5 and 2. Someday there will be a monument for him. He is the stuff of Yankees legends.

Monument Mo was built one brick, one cutter, one save at a time for all-time.

Repoz Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:28 PM | 56 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, sabermetrics, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:35 PM (#3925680)
this is pure madness.
   2. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:38 PM (#3925684)
I'm putting all my armies in Kamachatka!
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:39 PM (#3925687)
I'm putting all my armies in Kamachatka!

No, No!!! You fall back to Australia. Garrison Siam, with Indonesia as your fallback.
   4. AROM Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:49 PM (#3925706)
I'm surprised a kid who grew up a Mantle fan would right this. Mick is quite clearly greater than the CF who preceeded him. Yogi deserves mention too.

I'd go Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig, Berra. Jeter and Mo probably next, unless I'm forgetting someone.
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:54 PM (#3925712)
I'd swap Mantle and Berra on AROM's list, with Mo #6. People don't give Berra enough credit for not only hitting but managing a pitching staff that had almost nothing but Whitey for much of the 50s. Stengel placed a *lot* of responsibility for in-game pitcher management on Berra's shoulders.

-- MWE
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:55 PM (#3925715)
I'd go Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig, Berra. Jeter and Mo probably next, unless I'm forgetting someone.

Whitey Ford.
   7. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:00 PM (#3925727)
Mantle, for all his greatness, does not make my final-five cut. If he had stayed healthy, it would have been a different story.

Mantle: 18 seasons
Rivera: 17 seasons

I know the coverage is all abubble what with Rivera's odometer turning over, and the career record just 2 innings away, but is there ANY middle ground between "Outta the way, former inner circle legends" and "Puh-leeze, his value is somewhere between a #5 starter and Matt Stairs"?
   8. TomH Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:01 PM (#3925728)
Jeter over Mantle (unless Jetes plays top-notch for 8 more yrs) is just giggly. A guy who was virtually ALWAYS the best player in the league, versus a guy who was consistently among the best 25 players in the league, and occasionally one of the very best.

Ruth Mantle Gehrig DiMag Berra Jeter .. Mo next?

name . OPS defense count da ringz
Mantle 977 verygood CF ... 7
Jeter.. 832 mediocre SS ... 5
   9. John Northey Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:21 PM (#3925762)
If you go by B-R WAR as a Yankee...
---#1 by far---
Ruth: 149.6
---next level---
Mantle: 120.2
Gehrig: 118.4
---next level---
DiMaggio: 83.6
---next level---
Jeter: 70.5 (and counting)
---next level---
Berra: 62.1
Rivera: 55.9 (and counting)
Ford: 55.3
Dickey: 54.4

(lots of guys in the 45-50 range)

Pretty clear divisions here. Ruth on his own, Mantle/Gehrig very close, DiMaggio could be reached by Jeter, then Berra/Rivera/Ford/Dickey. A-Rod is up to 44 already as a Yankee and could easily move into the Rivera area before he retires (still around 3 this year, his worst since he was a teenager with 105 lifetime).
   10. Ephus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:32 PM (#3925780)
1. Babe Ruth
2. Lou Gehrig
3. Mickey Mantle
4. Joe DiMagio
5. Yogi Berra
6. Derek Jeter
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Whitey Ford
9. Bill Dickey
   11. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:37 PM (#3925784)
Now let's do "Hot or Not?"
   12. Yonder Alonso in misguided trousers (cardinal) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:52 PM (#3925805)
from the excerpt: "This is baseball’s most hallowed ground"

Well, it's the Yankees' most hallowed ground. The Yankees (and individual Yankees) are not the Platonic ideal of baseball, however much the count-tha-ringzz crowd would like you to believe it.
   13. Greg K Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:53 PM (#3925807)
Ruth - Not
Gehrig - Hot (I've like a guy I can take care of)
Mantle - Hot
DiMaggio - Not
Berra - ...too close to call
Jeter - no comment
Rivera - Not
Ford - Not
Dickey - Hot, he's got a broodiness about him
   14. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:08 PM (#3925830)
Rivera - Not
Right now Canali are cursing themselves.
   15. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:10 PM (#3925833)
I'm surprised a kid who grew up a Mantle fan would right this. Mick is quite clearly greater than the CF who preceeded him. Yogi deserves mention too.
I'm not at all surprised that a kid who grew up a Mantle fan would write this. Mantle was supposed to be Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio all rolled into one, the greatest player that ever lived. That he ended up being merely "one of the greatest players of all time" was something of a disappointment, and the fact that he didn't take care of himself and was hurt all the time left the feeling that he *should* have been more.

Plus, the generation before would never accept that Mantle was good as DiMaggio, and they pushed that onto their kids.
   16. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:12 PM (#3925838)
HOT OR NOT YANKS

Ruth - not
Gehrig - very hot
Mantle - not
DiMag - hot, I don't dig smelly bear grease
Berra - not
Jeter - hot
Rivera - not
Ford - not
Dickey - not. Too much dad.
   17. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:13 PM (#3925842)
I've noticed a lot of lists put DiMaggio ahead of Mantle. I really don't see it at all. They played the same position and Mantle was so superior at hitting, there is no way DiMaggio could make that up on D. Although, I guess if you don't consider walks, they're much closer as hitters and DiMaggio's fielding could just be enough to edge out Mantle.
   18. Ephus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:23 PM (#3925859)
I've noticed a lot of lists put DiMaggio ahead of Mantle. I really don't see it at all. They played the same position and Mantle was so superior at hitting, there is no way DiMaggio could make that up on D. Although, I guess if you don't consider walks, they're much closer as hitters and DiMaggio's fielding could just be enough to edge out Mantle.


Objectively, I do not think there is a good argument for DiMaggio ahead of Mantle. The rate stats are similar and the counting stats are strongly in Mantle's favor. Subjectively, DiMaggio's lobbying over the years to be introduced last at Yankees Old Timer's Day and always as "The Greatest Living Ballplayer" helped to inflate his reputation.
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:23 PM (#3925860)
1. Babe Ruth
2. Lou Gehrig
3. Mickey Mantle
4. Joe DiMaggio
5. Derek Jeter
6. Yogi Berra
7. Whitey Ford
8. Bill Dickey
9. Mariano Rivera

Mantle & DiMaggio can go in either order, IMHO, not that much difference. Yogi & Jeter may depend on some close accounting, too. Of course, Rivera has plenty of time left to move up on the list.
   20. buddaley Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:23 PM (#3925862)
Is it necessary for every columnist to use hyperbole to make their point? Rivera has been and remains a great closer, which is certainly more impressive than being a great 1st base coach but not quite as significant as being a great center fielder or great shortstop or great starting pitcher. And to claim the Yankees would not have the championship rings without him is debatable and without foundation in data as there is no way to know what would have happened had the Yankees had a different closer. After all, Rivera also blew 4 post-season games that led to the Yankees losing those series. No doubt his remarkable post-season stats over many innings indicate he has been exceptionally good, and not just lucky.

I would never denigrate Rivera. He should be a HOFer when his career ends. He has been spectacular and great fun to watch. He appears to be an excellent teammate and a man of great dignity and grace. Isn't all that enough to say?
   21. Babe Adams Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:30 PM (#3925868)
Berra - ...too close to call


Yogi gets bonus points for Carmen's hotness.
   22. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:51 PM (#3925893)
Is it necessary for every columnist to use hyperbole to make their point?
(emphasis added) No more so than for every message board poster, apparently.
   23. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:03 PM (#3925907)
The best pitcher I ever saw in a Yankee uniform for more than three seconds was Allie Reynolds.

That's my story and I am sticking to it.
   24. Bob Evans Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:31 PM (#3925946)
I'll take Guidry, put on those terms.

Edit: and Repoz is on record as having been the first person to laugh at Joe DeRita.
   25. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:42 PM (#3925956)
Bob

Ron is number 2

Right now I am taking a hard look at CC for number 3
   26. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3925961)
I've noticed a lot of lists put DiMaggio ahead of Mantle. I really don't see it at all. They played the same position and Mantle was so superior at hitting, there is no way DiMaggio could make that up on D. Although, I guess if you don't consider walks, they're much closer as hitters and DiMaggio's fielding could just be enough to edge out Mantle.

In career value, Mantle obviously wins, but if he'd been drafted for Korea and Dimaggio had been 4-F during WWII that might not have been the case. In any case, the difference there is mostly an accident of birth.

In rate stats, Dimaggio's BA was a lot higher, but much of that's likely a factor of the eras they played in. I wouldn't put all that much emphasis on BA.

But I also wouldn't put too much emphasis on walks, either. Dimaggio's low walk total was in great part a conscious decision by McCarthy to tell him to try to put the ball in play. His teammates noted this on many occasions, both during and after his career. In many ways, this was just as much an accident of birth as his BA. Not that he would've matched Mantle's walk totals in any era, but the gap wouldn't have been as high as it was.

Funny thing is that their raw OPS totals were identical (.977), which in itself doesn't mean all that much, and Mantle's adjusted numbers are higher. OTOH during Dimaggio's career the AL was, in relative terms, a hell of a lot stronger than it was during Mantle's career, when for the most part the AL was at its all-time relative weakest. If Mantle had played in the NL his numbers certainly would have suffered. Those who call Mantle a "slam dunk" choice never seem to mention this last point.

I never saw Dimaggio play, and I saw Mantle from his second year till the end. No question that Mantle was the most explosive combination of power and speed I've ever seen on a baseball diamond, but he never had Dimaggio's consistency. Personally I don't think that when you add it all up, there was a dime's worth of difference between them, and whatever there might have been was mostly just a factor of their eras.

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

The best pitcher I ever saw in a Yankee uniform for more than three seconds was Allie Reynolds.

That's my story and I am sticking to it.


Tough choice there, and what Harvey remembers about Reynolds is that he was both a starter, a long reliever and a sometimes closer, a combination that stood out even within the context of Stengel's improvisational pitching strategy. I'd roll the dice among Reynolds, Raschi, Ford, Guidry (at his peak, of course) and Rivera. Forget about their stats, and forget the side issue of starters vs relievers; I'm talking about who you'd want out there with everything on the line.

EDIT: Give Sabathia a few more years and he'd be right up there, too. I should have mentioned him to begin with.
   27. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:55 PM (#3925972)
No, No!!! You fall back to Australia. Garrison Siam, with Indonesia as your fallback.

That strategy is for pussies. Take Asia and North America...at the same time!
   28. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3925981)
If I had to have someone pitch for my soul it would be Allie Reynolds
   29. Buzzkill Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:04 PM (#3925986)
10 rings and 3 MVP's playing catcher? Yogi gets no respect on these lists. Top 3 Yankee no doubt.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:31 PM (#3926020)
That strategy is for pussies. Take Asia and North America...at the same time!

Well ....

There was a time when I had the misfortune of most of my starting armies being in Central Asia. What's a boy to do other than fight his way to Kamchatka and build up there to protect his flank and then fight his way out. A lucky roll here and there and you've soon got Australia and then, when the time is right, establish a beach head in California.

Yes, indeed, my greatest victory!
   31. Andy H. Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:38 PM (#3926029)
Seems like Reggie Jackson should be included on some of these lists as a representative of the 1977-78 dynasty.
   32. Ephus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:00 PM (#3926064)
Reggie simply did not have enough years as a Yankee to be in this conversation. That is the same reason that A-Rod is not included (although if A-Rod has six healthy years (a big if) he could climb to the Top Ten).
   33. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:21 PM (#3926093)
Reggie simply did not have enough years as a Yankee to be in this conversation. That is the same reason that A-Rod is not included (although if A-Rod has six healthy years (a big if) he could climb to the Top Ten).
A-Rod has two MVPs as a Yankee. Even if he has a few more years like 2010-11 he's going to be in the discussion. Obviously WAR is not everything but he's got a real shot at finishing with as many WAR as a Yankee as Yogi. People will never include him in the Top 10 Yankee lists, but I bet he will deserve better.
   34. Walt Davis Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:34 PM (#3926110)
The official Yankees top 5:

Jeter 3075
Gehrig 2130
Ruth 659
Rivera 600
DiMaggio 36D
   35. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:47 PM (#3926122)
Jeter 3075
Gehrig 2130
Ruth 659
Rivera 600
DiMaggio 36D


Sabathia at 300 and climbing! He'll have trouble beating out Rivera, though.
   36. GuyMcGuffin Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:51 PM (#3926129)
@Harvey

My grandfather used to say, "Allie Reynolds could throw his glove out on the mound and beat the Senators..." He won a lot of money over the years betting Reynolds over the Senators, despite steep odds.
   37. AROM Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:58 PM (#3926139)
People will never include him in the Top 10 Yankee lists, but I bet he will deserve better.


A-Rod might deserve top 10 Yankee status someday, though no sure thing. He's got zero chance at top 5.

Seems like Reggie Jackson should be included on some of these lists as a representative of the 1977-78 dynasty.


Reggie? He spent 5 years with the team, 4 of them good years. I'd honestly put Paul O'Neill ahead of Reggie for Yankee years only, and both are well behind Bernie.

Paulie's got twice as many Yankee rings. When a franchise has 27 rings all together, there is no compelling reason why a player key to two of those has to be on the top list. I would buy that argument if Reggie had a few more big hits in 82 and 86 and was a key contributor of 2 Angels championships, but on the Yankees 2 rings means very little.
   38. AROM Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:04 PM (#3926147)
Thinking about Joe vs. Mick

Draft Mickey during his age 28-30 seasons (1961 among them), and his WAR drops to around 94, just 10 ahead of Joe. The relative league is included in WAR, so that adds nothing. Defensive WAR for Joe is a conservative measure, he might well deserve to rate higher than that.

Joe was hurt more by his ballpark than the others, being a righty. Ruth, Gehrig, Berra, and Mick (2/3 of the time) faced a more favorable right field dimensions. The park adjustments currently in use have the same park factor for all batters, but in a more neutral park Joe would gain more than the others would.

I'd still pick Mickey over him, but it's close enough I can understand someone choosing otherwise.
   39. Ephus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:22 PM (#3926164)
The reason I stated that "objectively" I could not see any reason to pick DiMaggio over Mantle was that only a counterfactual analysis (what if DiMaggio did not lose the war years, or if Mantle had been drafted for Korea) can get you there. When you look at their accomplishments on the field, not what might have happened in another world, Mantle comes out ahead.
   40. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:27 PM (#3926169)
A-Rod might deserve top 10 Yankee status someday, though no sure thing. He's got zero chance at top 5.
I agree with both of these sentiments, I just think that the notion of A-Rod as a Top 10 Yankee is going to be considered (by most) to be actively absurd, when he'll probably deserve consideration for one of the 8-9-10 spots.
   41. Steve N Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:38 PM (#3926177)
Grant was clearly the best Yankee.
   42. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:48 PM (#3926186)
Jeter 3075
Gehrig 2130
Ruth 659
Rivera 600
DiMaggio 36D

Sabathia at 300 and climbing! He'll have trouble beating out Rivera, though.


I'll bet he can beat the 36D.
   43. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:54 PM (#3926194)
DiMaggio 36D
I figured that was Marilyn.
   44. Big fan Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:38 PM (#3926230)
Reggie Jackson the most overrated YANKEE of all time.
5 years total, and in one he had little value.
4 really good years, onel lead leading stat (HR in 1980) and one great WS.
The most undeserved retired number out there.

Feel free to disagree.


Rivera's number is already retired; so how will they honor him?
   45. mex4173 Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:45 PM (#3926236)
Rivera's number is already retired; so how will they honor him?


Retire a pinstripe.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:48 PM (#3926240)
Reggie Jackson the most overrated YANKEE of all time.
5 years total, and in one he had little value.
4 really good years, onel lead leading stat (HR in 1980) and one great WS.
The most undeserved retired number out there.


Some people apparently can't get it through their heads that Yankee fans value big postseason moments over sabermetrics when it comes to ranking their favorite players, and that it's only natural that a casual fan who remembers Reggie but not Mantle or Dimaggio will "overrate" #44 and "underrate" #7 and #5. It's the same reason that most people today would probably rate the latest Superheroes cartoon film as being "greater" than The Asphalt Jungle. It's got nothing to do with objectivity, so as that Texas politician might have put it, just relax and enjoy it.
   47. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:49 PM (#3926241)
Rivera's number is already retired; so how will they honor him?
8 is retired for two seperate players, why can't they do the same for 42?
   48. Karl from NY Posted: September 15, 2011 at 10:09 PM (#3926260)
DiMaggio 36D
I figured that was Marilyn.

I think that was the joke.

---next level---
Jeter: 70.5 (and counting)

And that counting could certainly go downwards.
   49. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: September 15, 2011 at 10:13 PM (#3926264)
In career value, Mantle obviously wins, but if he'd been drafted for Korea and Dimaggio had been 4-F during WWII that might not have been the case. In any case, the difference there is mostly an accident of birth.


Just playing devils advocate here, but doesn't it cut both ways? Sure Joe got screwed by losing 3 prime years to the war. But he also got to play 6 prime years in a very generous hitting environment. Had he been born 20 years later, he wouldn't have to fight a war, but he'd have to play in the AL of the mid 60's rather than the late 30's. Maybe instead of Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle, he'd be Al Kaline.
   50. Hugh Jorgan Posted: September 15, 2011 at 10:31 PM (#3926269)
Huh, Dimaggio above the Mick...is this the general consensus in the MSM and casual fandom? My dad(who's a Sox fan...surprise), but grew up in New Jersey saw them both play plenty of times and he always stressed that Mantle was better. Amongst him and his group of cronies, the big 3 were always Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle. Berra and Dimaggio were the next tier.
   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 15, 2011 at 11:16 PM (#3926303)
In career value, Mantle obviously wins, but if he'd been drafted for Korea and Dimaggio had been 4-F during WWII that might not have been the case. In any case, the difference there is mostly an accident of birth.

Just playing devils advocate here, but doesn't it cut both ways? Sure Joe got screwed by losing 3 prime years to the war. But he also got to play 6 prime years in a very generous hitting environment. Had he been born 20 years later, he wouldn't have to fight a war, but he'd have to play in the AL of the mid 60's rather than the late 30's. Maybe instead of Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle, he'd be Al Kaline.


I thought the whole point of what I wrote in #26 was that it could cut both ways, and in many ways other than hypothetical war credit. But while OPS+ adjusts for the sort of environmental differences that you mention**, it doesn't adjust for the fact that the AL of Dimaggio's time was relatively better---meaning that it commanded a bigger percentage of overall MLB talent---than the AL of Mantle's time. If sabermetrics were capable of such adjustments, it would make it more of a case of apples vs apples, and Dimaggio would benefit.

**which is why Mantle's OPS+ is 17 points higher than Dimaggio's, in spite of the fact that their raw OPS numbers are identical (.977)
   52. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 15, 2011 at 11:22 PM (#3926307)
Huh, Dimaggio above the Mick...is this the general consensus in the MSM and casual fandom? My dad(who's a Sox fan...surprise), but grew up in New Jersey saw them both play plenty of times and he always stressed that Mantle was better. Amongst him and his group of cronies, the big 3 were always Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle. Berra and Dimaggio were the next tier.

If your Dad is old enough to have seen both of them play, he's probably old enough to remember that everyone looked better against the Red Sox during Mantle's career than they did during Dimaggio's. In fact the year that Dimaggio left and Mantle arrived (1951) was the year that the Red Sox began their slide from perennial contenders to perennial mid-pack nothings, and they didn't snap out of it until the year before Mantle himself left.
   53. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: September 15, 2011 at 11:39 PM (#3926320)
Mantle had 4 consecutive years 1955-58, that were all better than Dimaggio's best year.

FWIW, baseball-reference ELO rating has Mantle at 12 and Dimaggio at 21. And those rankings seem pretty reasonable at the top save for Charlie Gehringer at 18 (too high!) and Honus Wagner at 10 (too low!).
   54. Daunte Vicknabbit! Posted: September 16, 2011 at 12:01 AM (#3926358)
My favorite thing about Rivera isn't his continual dominance and it certainly isn't the laundry he wears. I love Rivera because of that story that was once told on this site about a Primate watching Transformers in the same theater as Mr. Rivera.
   55. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 16, 2011 at 12:46 AM (#3926450)
Mantle had 4 consecutive years 1955-58, that were all better than Dimaggio's best year.

But again, you're adjusting for era in one way (overall league averages) without adjusting for era in a way that's just as critical (relative league strength). You're going on the assumption that something that can't be reduced to a verifiable statistic can't possibly exist, and yet it was commonly known that while in Dimaggio's time the leagues were roughly equal or the AL was slightly superior, within a few years after Mantle arrived the AL was the clearly inferior league of the two. But OPS+ doesn't take that into account, and in eras where one league was dominant, OPS+ is much more useful for comparing players within their own leagues than it is for comparing them to players in the other league, or to players in their own league in eras where the league's relative strength was different than it was in their own.

And again, nearly all of Mantle's career value edge derives from one statistic: His 43 extra walks per 162 games. But Dimaggio was specifically told by his manager to put the ball in play wherever possible. That doesn't negate Mantle's advantage, but it does put it in context.

Not to mention that by the end of Mantle's career, when he was surrounded in the lineup by total mediocrity and was hobbling around the bases, those walks were of relatively little value to his team. In his final four seasons, when he was still putting up great OPS+ numbers, he was also scoring exactly 52 runs a year. He might have done his team more good in those years if he'd been swinging away instead of spending much of his time dying on first base at the end of an inning.
   56. SandyRiver Posted: September 16, 2011 at 01:39 PM (#3926787)
But again, you're adjusting for era in one way (overall league averages) without adjusting for era in a way that's just as critical (relative league strength). You're going on the assumption that something that can't be reduced to a verifiable statistic can't possibly exist, and yet it was commonly known that while in Dimaggio's time the leagues were roughly equal or the AL was slightly superior, within a few years after Mantle arrived the AL was the clearly inferior league of the two. But OPS+ doesn't take that into account, and in eras where one league was dominant, OPS+ is much more useful for comparing players within their own leagues than it is for comparing them to players in the other league, or to players in their own league in eras where the league's relative strength was different than it was in their own.

One of the major reasons the AL was inferior during Mantle's career was a non-issue for much of DiMaggio's, and a relatively minor one (compared to mid-50s onward) for the rest, so maybe both leagues were "inferior" back in Joe's time. (Murphy says, "Never open a can of worms unless you're going fishing.")
And if we play "What if?" with the war years, can we do it for the drain cover in 1951? Mantle is still 4F (IIRC, osteomyelitis was automatic) and his knee doesn't get wrecked.

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