Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SABR: Baseball Biography Project: Frank Howard

Couple of new knockout SABR biographies from Mark Armour…including another Primer fave, Willie McCovey.

After the Senators’ 10th-place finish, new owner Bob Short took over in January 1969 and decided to replace manager Jim Lemon after his single season. To replace Lemon, Short lured Ted Williams out of his eight-year retirement, surprising everyone around the game. For Howard, this would be another turning point, perhaps the most important one. Williams believed he knew how to make Howard a better hitter. “He called me into his office one day in the spring of ’69,” Howard recalled. “He said, ‘Bush! Come on in here.’ I’d only been in camp a couple of days, and I’m thinking, ‘Gee, I’m not in his doghouse already, am I?’”

“Can you tell me how a guy who hit 44 home runs only got 48 walks?” asked Williams. After Howard offered some explanation, his manager got to the point. “Well, let me ask you. Can you take a strike? I’m talking about if it’s a tough fastball in a tough zone, first pitch. Or if it’s a breaking ball, you’re sitting on a fastball … Can you take a strike? You know, try to get yourself a little better count to hit in?” Howard said he could. “Well try it for me.”xxi

In the event, Howard increased his walk total from 54 to 102, while his strikeouts fell from 141 to 96. He took advantage of more hitter’s counts, and ended up hitting .296 with 48 home runs and 111 RBI. He led the league with 330 total bases, and finished among the leaders in on-base-percentage (.402) and slugging percentage (.574). He hit a home run off Steve Carlton in the All-Star game, held at his home park of RFK Stadium.

“I did it without even trying to walk,” said Howard. “I was ready to hit, if it was my pitch, but if it was something other than I was looking for, I took it. I was laying off some bad pitches, getting more counts in my favor, and all because of Ted Williams. He’s one in a million! A marvelous, marvelous, man!”xxii One wonders what kind of career Howard might had if he had learned to do this 10 years earlier. People had been trying to get him to lay off bad pitches his entire career. Williams, with a very simple piece of advice, succeeded. Williams was impressed. “He still hit more home runs, some of them out of sight. I mean he crushed the ball. I think without question the biggest, strongest guy who ever played this game.” Williams had quite an influence on the rest of the team as well, as they finished in third place in the new six-team AL East with a 86-76 record. Williams was named the league’s Manager of the Year.

Repoz Posted: January 16, 2013 at 05:19 AM | 78 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2013 at 06:25 AM (#4347981)
On the other hand, Howard had a 171 OPS+ in 68 and that went up to "only" 178 in 69 even with the walks and was back at 170 in 1970 with a league-leading 132 BB. Also that 54 BB in 663 PA was among the worst of his career to that point. So some of that apparent improvement was just getting out of the year of the pitcher into a couple of better offense years (still far from sillyball).

Or to put it numerically, his lg slash stats for 68 to 70:

234/302/346
247/323/373
252/325/385

His OPS went up 86 points from 68 to 69 but the league's went up nearly 50 so it wasn't that big of an improvement. His walks did go up a lot more than the league's but his ISO held steady while the league's went up. In 70, his ISO went down while the league ISO increased again.

So Williams certainly impacted the walk rate but, in OPS+ terms Howard was the same guy before and after and in Rbat terms he was much better in 69 but in 70 was the same guy as 68. A sizable chunk of Howard's "improvement" was league context.
   2. depletion Posted: January 16, 2013 at 08:22 AM (#4347996)
“When I was 14,” he recalled, “I worked a hundred-pound jackhammer in the streets for the city of Columbus, got paid maybe a dollar and a half an hour and was glad to get it.”

"We didn't have much money, so on the walk home from work I would grab a cow from a farmers field, strangle it and carry it home for dinner", Frank said.
   3. BDC Posted: January 16, 2013 at 08:50 AM (#4348008)
My enduring image of Frank Howard is as a Devil Rays' coach in the late 1990s. You know how some catchers (Johnny Bench was famous for it) have a stunt where they'll hold six or eight baseballs in one hand. I remember seeing Howard wandering the diamond during practice with a fungo bat, with eight baseballs stuffed in his back pocket. He is a large individual.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 16, 2013 at 09:13 AM (#4348020)
Teh Original Fear
   5. John M. Perkins Posted: January 16, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4348044)
Why did Barry Bonds explode in his HR totals.
1) Bonds changed his approach and started taking a lot more pitches, and instead swung for the cove at pitches in his zone.
2) Bonds wore body armor, allowing him (and Biggio) to dig in.
3) The average baseball was tighter.
4) Probably played more games because of recovery qualities of PEDs.

1-3 were the most important.

Sosa exploded when he started taking pitches for the first time.

   6. John M. Perkins Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4348071)
I, a teenager in Arlington, VA, was a fan of the Senators.
At the time, the more obvious Williams project was Mike Epstein.
When he connected Epstein hit the ball harder and longer than Hondo.

1968 13 HR, 48 BB, .234/.338/.366
1969 30 HR, 85 BB, .278/.414/.551

Team
1968 124 HR, 489 BB, .224/.287/.336
1969 138 HR, 583 BB, .238/.321/.358

Hmm, Team +94 BB, Howard +48, Epstein +37.
   7. John M. Perkins Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:08 AM (#4348074)
IIRC, 1969 is the year the mounds were lowered, plus the Pilots and the Royals started playing.
   8. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4348076)
I still remember the Frank Howard stories Ron Luciano told in his book from when I was a kid. Evidently Howard was a peaceable guy and never argued with the umps until one day he lost his temper after a bad strike call and it scared the crap out of everyone. Also, evidently, he single-handedly stopped a riot during a game in the Winter Leagues. I have no idea if that's apocryphal or not. I can't remember ever reading a bad word about the guy though I'm too young to have seen him play.
   9. AROM Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4348089)
Bonds changed his approach and started taking a lot more pitches, and instead swung for the cove at pitches in his zone.


I don't think that's quite right for Bonds. He was already an extremely selective power hitter before 2001. Much of the walk increase he saw was due to intentional walks. I don't think Barry had much room to improve in selectivity. In his case the extra walks are a result, not cause of, his increase in power.

What I find interesting about Bonds is that he is alone among the steroid suspects who had power surges, in that he decreased his strikeout rate after the power surge. That tells me that whatever role PEDS played, there was a lot more going on. I think it would be fascinating if Barry ever decided to come clean (not on steroids, for legal reasons he can never do this) on his entire approach to hitting, detailing the improvements he made over the years and everything he learned. He might be able to write the new Science of Hitting. I hope he does this some day.

Though perhaps it's not something he can articulate or teach. Some players have mentioned how sitting next to Bonds on the bench he could call the pitch type before it was delivered with uncanny accuracy. As a result later in his career it was impossible to fool him. That's probably superior pattern recognition skills trained by thousands of plate appearances.
   10. AROM Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM (#4348094)
I'm too young to have seen him play (or at least to remember it if I saw him as a toddler). I first saw him coaching for the Mets in the 1980's. The size differential was pretty much the same as it was between my little league coaches and us 12 year old players. Which was fitting since the pre-1984 Mets played like little leaguers.
   11. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4348101)
What I find interesting about Bonds is that he is alone among the steroid suspects who had power surges, in that he decreased his strikeout rate after the power surge. That tells me that whatever role PEDS played, there was a lot more going on. I think it would be fascinating if Barry ever decided to come clean (not on steroids, for legal reasons he can never do this) on his entire approach to hitting, detailing the improvements he made over the years and everything he learned. He might be able to write the new Science of Hitting. I hope he does this some day.

Me, too. Of course, I think he's a genius when it comes to hitting and I hope the A's or Giants hire him as a hitting instructor one day.
   12. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4348102)
frank howard was a coach for the brewers for a long time and here are the enduring traits of frank howard

--really nice guy
--strong as h8ll
--those glasses always amused me
--always spoke with his hand on your shoulder
--liked a good joke
--loved taking bp with the team in fenway and would always talk about how much he would have loved it as his home ballpark

folks here likely remember rob deer. rob was a big, burly fella. shoulders a mile wide. so there was a game where deer got hit by a pitch and he's barking at the pitcher and the pitcher gestures like 'c'mon tough guy' and deer standing on first starts to go and howard grabs him by the collar and just picks him up one handed and then wraps him up with his toes not touching.

this was 1986ish or so so frank was what, 51?

it was both amazing and hilarious to see this clearly strong guy get manhandled by an older but clearly just as strong (maybe stronger) guy.
   13. Mark Armour Posted: January 16, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4348132)
Thanks Repoz for this thread, and for those who RTFA(s). (By the way, anyone who wants to write articles like this, let me know. We have 2200 biographies done, but still need about 15,000 or so. Roger Repoz is still available.)

This pair of bios (Howard and McCovey) are interesting for men of certain age (my age) because they both peaked at roughly the same time and were the two most feared hitters in their respective leagues. In McCovey's case, the proof is his record-breaking intentional walk totals, which included walks at unusual times--first base not open, very early in the game, etc. In Howard's case, the most humorous examples were the two times that Al Dark moved Sam McDowell to another position so that he would not have to face Howard, and then moved him back to finish the game.

Also, they were both platooned in the early 1960s for several years. Howard was not the hitter that McCovey was, but he was pretty good.

   14. OsunaSakata Posted: January 16, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4348168)
Great article, Mark. Just one minor point - Bob Short did not sell the Rangers until 1974. He owned the team when it moved, and he received several years of media revenue up front.
   15. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4348169)
Maybe the hardest (or second hardest--Mantle had one, too) ball I ever saw hit that wasn't a homer was a line drive Frank Howard sent back through the middle. A real Clint Eastwood special--had it hit the pitcher flush in the face it would have "taken his head clean off."
   16. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: January 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4348172)
hold six or eight baseballs in one hand.

I keep several baseballs, with various team logos, on my desk. Let's see, now...one, two, three...three. Barely. (I'm so ashamed.)

For the record, the balls are from the Adirondack Lumberjacks, New Jersey Cardinals, and Sussex Skyhawks...all defunct. Hm.
   17. Cblau Posted: January 16, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4348176)
Obviously the main reason for the change in Howard's stats in 1969 was that the strike zone was returned to its 1962 size. As Walt Davis noted, he didn't improve much relative to the league.
   18. Ron J2 Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4348182)
#15 Brooks Robinson said that the hardest hit ball he ever faced came from a Howard liner. I remember his description as being something close to: I reached for it, just missed and heard it thump the wall just after. Said it would have torn his arm off if he'd actually got a glove on it.
   19. Mark Armour Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4348183)
Thanks, Osuna, I have changed the story.

Howard was as famous as anyone of the time, or any time, for hitting massively long home runs. If there was a game played on TV in the American League park, inevitably one of the announcers would show the place where Howard hit a ball ... onto the roof at Tiger Stadium or Comiskey Park or KC's Municipal Stadium.

McCovey, on the other hand, was more famous for hitting laser beam line drives. Even his home runs were most typically line drives that did not come down. The literature of the period is filled with stories of first baseman who were afraid of McCovey at bats.

This division is not perfect. It was Howard who most famously hurt a base runner. Duke Snider, a baserunner on third base, was hit by a Howard foul ball in the head. He was carried off on a stretcher and missed the rest of the season. (It was in September 1958.)
   20. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4348184)
I surprised Treder hasn't shown up yet and defended Williams and his coaching ability.
   21. SandyRiver Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4348187)
Maybe the hardest (or second hardest--Mantle had one, too) ball I ever saw hit that wasn't a homer was a line drive Frank Howard sent back through the middle. A real Clint Eastwood special--had it hit the pitcher flush in the face it would have "taken his head clean off."

I seem to recall that Whitey Ford ducked when Howard lined a double to center in the 1963 WS - a 460' screamer to the base of the wall behind the monuments at YS. Also saw Howard hit a 400' out to right-center in the old Polo Grounds (Memorial Day 1962) that never got nearly as high as our 1st-row upper deck seats above the Dodger bullpen in left-center. The Met's RF was playing so deep he merely took a step or two back and grabbed it. And I'd put Mantle 1st, too, for his 1963 shot off the facade that some said was still rising when it hit.
   22. Squash Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4348191)
There's a section in Whitey Ford's biography that tells an interesting complementary story to this. Apparently Whitey was always afraid of facing Howard because of some giant home run Howard hit off of him in spring training 1963 or whatever and figured that if Howard ever hit a liner back at him he was finished, so when he pitched to him he'd always throw then duck and cover. Then at some point he realized Howard was an incredibly anxious hitter and started pitching him in the dirt, never throwing a strike, and having much more success.

EDIT: Coke.
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4348194)
I think it would be fascinating if Barry ever decided to come clean (not on steroids, for legal reasons he can never do this)


Surely there will come a time where he can come clean and not have any legal concerns. Am I right lawyers out there?
   24. Ron J2 Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4348203)
#20 Why? Specifically with Howard he got an improvement that was less impressive than first glance once you account for league context.

Even allowing for changed offensive context his record for short term success is better than anybody that I can think of.

On the other hand, I can't think of any of his projects who sustained their improved offensive level. Eddy Brinkman was back to being Brinkman (yeah new team) by 1971 and that's typical of everybody who worked with Williams.
   25. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4348208)
Treder was a big believer of Williams as the improvement to Washington's hitters. I can't find the old debates but he would bristle at the suggestion that Williams wasn't the main reason for the increase in production.
   26. Ron J2 Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4348211)
#23 I think we'll get a practical example with Lance Armstrong. There are now demands for him to repeat what he's said to Oprah (not aired yet) under oath.

I know some of the people Armstrong successfully sued are trying to get their money back. No idea how that'll work out. (Armstrong basically only went the legal route in Europe where slander and libel laws work very differently for celebs than in the US. Sued frequently and won a fair number of cases. And always passed the winnings on to charity. Making the point that it wasn't about the money.)
   27. Mark Armour Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4348213)
Obviously the main reason for the change in Howard's stats in 1969 was that the strike zone was returned to its 1962 size. As Walt Davis noted, he didn't improve much relative to the league.


Why is it obvious? The league BB rate increased from .081 to .095 in 1969 (a 17% bump). Howard's rate increased from .081 to .145 (a 79% bump). Howard's career was a series of adjustments and counter-adjustments (both by him and the pitchers), but this was a big one. The best year he had ever had for walk rate, relative to the league, was in 1964 when he was often platooning (a big factor, obviously), but 1969 was, by a long shot, his best to date. And it went up quite a bit in 1970 as well.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4348220)
#23 I think we'll get a practical example with Lance Armstrong. There are now demands for him to repeat what he's said to Oprah (not aired yet) under oath.

I know some of the people Armstrong successfully sued are trying to get their money back. No idea how that'll work out. (Armstrong basically only went the legal route in Europe where slander and libel laws work very differently for celebs than in the US. Sued frequently and won a fair number of cases. And always passed the winnings on to charity. Making the point that it wasn't about the money.)


But Bonds hasn't sued anybody, nor has he been sued (at least not where steroids had any kind of role). He didn't kill anyone, so there's got to be some statute of limitations on the criminal side. I just can't see how he's going to be forever hidebound to secrecy on the subject of juicing.
   29. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4348223)
- coke -
   30. Ron J2 Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:36 PM (#4348232)
#25 Sure. He and I went into it in pretty fair detail. What it boils down to is that a good chunk of hitters had very good seasons by their standards when first working with Williams. It's striking the number who had career years under him.

But nobody sustained it, and he wasn't a god of hitting instruction. Couldn't teach (for instance) Tim Cullen to hit. Likewise Paul Casanova.

And the last team he managed was stunningly bad offensively. Team OPS+ of 77. What's more, a couple of young players had big improvement after Williams left. By that point Williams had basically lost the ability to work with anybody. And a few players formed the "underminers club". They really wanted him gone.
   31. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4348245)
hold six or eight baseballs in one hand.

I keep several baseballs, with various team logos, on my desk. Let's see, now...one, two, three...three. Barely. (I'm so ashamed.)

For the record, the balls are from the Adirondack Lumberjacks, New Jersey Cardinals, and Sussex Skyhawks...all defunct. Hm.


I have a coffee table book with a picture of Ernie Lombardi holding 7 baseballs.
   32. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4348253)
In considering whether Williams had a positive effect on Howard, isn't that to some degree indeterminable because you can't account for the natural decrease in production due to age? How do you factor that in? Even it's true that he got no better, how do you know that without the Williams effect he wouldn't have gotten worse?
   33. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4348266)
Also, really, did Williams have to be around in an official hands-on capacity to have an influence on hitting? It may be even indirectly through someone else He's the most influential "philosopher" of hitting in the last 70 years--well, maybe ever. Right now, and for a long time, it's the conventional wisdom (it's where you start at least) for almost anyone who is a serious student of hitting.
   34. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4348267)
Why is it obvious? The league BB rate increased from .081 to .095 in 1969 (a 17% bump).


It would be interesting to figure how much of that increase was due to the increased walks drawn by the Senators alone. It's a bit tricky to figure because of the two additional teams, and I don't have time to do it right now, but I do note that the Senators isolated walk rate went from well below the league average in 1968 to well above it in 1969.
   35. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:24 PM (#4348291)
ted was a positive thinker. that can have a powerful impact on the right people

with the 1969 senators i think you had the league changes working to some players advantages, some guys open to the managers' message and a manager who had very clear ideas of what he wanted to do and players willing to listen

even if you have a plan that long term is not much of plan when everyone before you has had no plan at all you look like a goodd8mn genius
   36. zack Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4348296)

Howard was as famous as anyone of the time, or any time, for hitting massively long home runs. If there was a game played on TV in the American League park, inevitably one of the announcers would show the place where Howard hit a ball ... onto the roof at Tiger Stadium or Comiskey Park or KC's Municipal Stadium.


If you've ever been to RFK, you know that in certain sections of the completely circular stand where the seats go way, way, way up (and there's usually one guy sitting at the top of them, 60 rows at least from another human being). There are a couple seats painted white marking his bombs that are just impossibly far out there. Most home runs at RFK don't even hit the back wall.
   37. AROM Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:42 PM (#4348317)
it was both amazing and hilarious to see this clearly strong guy get manhandled by an older but clearly just as strong (maybe stronger) guy.


I would love to see a video of that.

I just can't see how he's going to be forever hidebound to secrecy on the subject of juicing.


I shouldn't say never. When he's in his 80s and the public perception of him has changed from complete A-hole to revered elder statesman* he should be able to speak freely. I don't know what the statutes of limitation are for perjury, but for the next 14 years at least he's not going to admit to anything that will further hurt his HOF chances. And at this point any theory that you can confess and be forgiven has been proven to be false.

*Hey, this worked for Ted Williams, didn't it?

   38. AROM Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4348320)
There are a couple seats painted white marking his bombs that are just impossibly far out there. Most home runs at RFK don't even hit the back wall.


That is just unreal. As Ted said "I think without question the biggest, strongest guy who ever played this game". I wonder if this is still true. His competition would probably be:

Mark McGwire
Bo Jackson
Giancarlo Stanton (for whom we probably have not seen his peak strength).
   39. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4348324)
I'm sure at some point in his life Frank had to have worked out with weights, but did he continue to do it during his MLB playing days? Most, if not all, players then didn't.
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4348327)

*Hey, this worked for Ted Williams, didn't it?


Pretty much. During his playing days, I figured Bonds would enjoy a similar transformation as The Kid, though the whole juicing issue may delay that.
   41. Mark Armour Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4348328)
I met Howard in 2009 when the SABR conference was in DC. He is an enormous man--he was listed at 6'7" when he played but people often said he was taller and I agree. He was in great shape--no retirement fat at all--but he was huge, especially his upper body. Huge hands, huge shoulders, huge arms. I would love to see him arm wrestle someone even today.

I was at RFK in 2005 and the three of us made a point to go find the white seats after the game. The ushers really did not want us going out there--they were trying to get us to go home and we had to essentially pretend we did not hear. I sat in one of the seats and looked toward home plate which I could barely see. Center field seemed to me to be 200 feet away.
   42. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4348331)
I always have to interject when someone says Williams was a complete a-hole, whether it's Bill James in the NHBA or others, that that does not meet the facts. Unlike Bonds, Williams was personable and was well-liked by many when he was playing. Doerr, Pesky, Dom DiMaggio (hell, see photos of Williams and DiMaggio tousling each other's hair). If you're dislike to the extent wome would have it, you don't have Branch Rickey calling you when you return from Korea to urge you to return to playing right away. You don't have the commissioner of baseball personally calling you to ask you to throw out the first pitch at the All Star game (to how many players still playing has that happened to?). You don't have a Mudcat Grant praising you for being one of the few white players to stand up for you--in no uncertain terms. He loved talking hitting with players during his playing career, and those other players loved talking to him about it, too, and they are on record as saying so.
   43. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4348338)
I met Howard in 2009 when the SABR conference was in DC. He is an enormous man--he was listed at 6'7" when he played but people often said he was taller and I agree. He was in great shape--no retirement fat at all--but he was huge, especially his upper body. Huge hands, huge shoulders, huge arms. I would love to see him arm wrestle someone even today.


Glad to hear it, because there was a time during his coaching career after he retired from playing that he definitely let himself go. He was fat, probably weighed at least 350 lbs, and with those beltless double-knit skintight stretch uniforms of the late '70s, it wasn't a pretty sight.
   44. Mark Armour Posted: January 16, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4348341)
Williams was well-liked by his teammates, managers, and everyone else associated with the team. He had long friendships with people that worked in the team offices.

Several members of the press hated him, and vice versa. He could be a dick to them, he later acknowledged. In one of the many books that came out late in his life, he said to the author (paraphrasing from memory): "make sure you put this in your damn book: I was a lousy ****king husband and a lousy ****cking father."

One of the reasons there are so many books about him is that his contradictions are so interesting.

Ed Linn, with whom he feuded, wrote a book about Williams in the 1990s. Comparing him to DiMaggio, he wrote that DiMaggio was a complicated multi-dimensional player and a simple man, while Williams was the reverse.
   45. Moeball Posted: January 16, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4348356)
“Can you tell me how a guy who hit 44 home runs only got 48 walks?” asked Williams.


Maybe the hardest (or second hardest--Mantle had one, too) ball I ever saw hit that wasn't a homer was a line drive Frank Howard sent back through the middle. A real Clint Eastwood special--had it hit the pitcher flush in the face it would have "taken his head clean off."


The way I had always heard it was that Williams basically explained to Howard "Every pitcher in the league is terrified that you'll kill him. Use that to your advantage. Nobody wants to throw you fastballs down the middle, ok? So if they're throwing you stuff off the plate, don't swing at that sh**. Get some good counts and then make them throw you your pitch."

For some even better insights into what it was like to receive personal hitting tutelage from Williams, read "YAZ", Carl Yastrzemski's 1968 autobiography. In it he covers several things:

1)Ted always maintained that anyone could hit for more power without sacrificing any batting average. A big part of it is knowing how to create situations for yourself when you can swing from the heels (i.e., work those good counts, especially when there are runners on base).

2)Yaz said that Ted always emphasized that hitting for average is actually a basic batting skill but learning how to pull the ball for power is an advanced skill. Thus, work on being able to hit for good averages first (especially how to hit with two strikes on you) before you work on increasing power output. After Yaz won the 1963 A.L. batting title and finished second in 1965, apparently Ted thought Yaz was ready for some advanced training.

3)As far as hitting mechanics, Ted always told Yaz "hips ahead of hands" - open your hips up on your stride as that will pull the bat through the zone quicker/harder.

4)"Know your pitch". Yaz said that at first he thought that meant "know what pitch I like to hit" but then Ted explained to him "If the pitcher knows you're a dead low fastball hitter, he's not going to throw you low fastballs. It would be suicidal." "Know your pitch" means learn what the pitcher throws in certain situations. If you can get to the point where you can predict what pitch is coming, that is still to the batter's advantage even if you know it's not necessarily the pitch you want to see.

Tony Gwynn has also talked extensively about his conversations with Ted during the winter before the 1997 season. In 1997 Tony had his career highs in both HRs and 2Bs and he attributed both to Williams as follows:

1)Tony was always so polite he would refer to Ted as "Mr. Williams", and Ted would call Tony "son". Ted would say "Son, history is made on the pitch inside". According to Tony, Ted worked with him on getting good situations to look for fastballs on the inside part of the plate as those are the pitches the batter has a good chance to pull for power. Tony used that to hit 13 HRs the first half of the '97 season, way ahead of pace for Tony's normal power output. Then pitchers started going away from Tony more once they realized that he was attacking those inside fastballs.

2)So, according to Tony, Ted had told him this would happen, but - what was Tony's bread and butter his whole career? Going with outside pitches to hit singles through the 5.5 hole, right? Tony said that early in the season he was seeing more inside pitches because he had never been a pull hitter before and pitchers were staying away from Tony's traditional "happy zone". But when Tony started hitting some homers, then pitchers started consciously keeping the ball away from Tony, which fed into his natural style of hitting. Tony said the pull hitting increased both HRs and some doubles, but he also said a lot of doubles that season came on those pitches he could go the other way with.

When Tony turned on an inside pitch in Game 1 of the '98 WS against the Yankees for a HR in Yankee Stadium, he said that was classic Ted Williams training on that AB.

Of course, I'm not sure what Ted would have done with Mike Piazza. Most of Mike's career, all his homers were going to the opposite field so he wasn't pulling the ball at all.
   46. Moeball Posted: January 16, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4348364)
Something else I just thought of - I believe (per the "Home Run Encyclopedia")that 286 of Ted's 521 career HRs came with runners on base (about 55%). I think that is the highest % of anyone who ever had at least 400 career HRs. Can anyone verify this relatively easily?
   47. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4348367)
45:

Great recap of Williams's approach to hitting and his hitting philosophy.

#44:

That nicely puts it in a nutshell.

I'd also add that Mantle, too, wasn't simply the a-hole that many revisionists now would have him be. Former teammates of Mantle cried when they spoke of Mickey. That can't be if he was nothing but an ass hole.
   48. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 16, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4348372)
There's a section in Whitey Ford's biography that tells an interesting complementary story to this. Apparently Whitey was always afraid of facing Howard because of some giant home run Howard hit off of him in spring training 1963 or whatever and figured that if Howard ever hit a liner back at him he was finished, so when he pitched to him he'd always throw then duck and cover. Then at some point he realized Howard was an incredibly anxious hitter and started pitching him in the dirt, never throwing a strike, and having much more success.

Tracer!

Howard vs. Ford:
1963 (World Series) - 3 for 6 with a home run
1965 - 4 for 8 with a home run (and a walk)
1966 - 2 for 4 with a home run (and an IBB)

Ford never struck Howard out or got him to GIDP.
   49. Squash Posted: January 16, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4348387)
I'd also add that Mantle, too, wasn't simply the a-hole that many revisionists now would have him be. Former teammates of Mantle cried when they spoke of Mickey. That can't be if he was nothing but an ass hole.

I have no idea whether Mantle was a jerk or not, but time and cognitive dissonance have a way of changing one's feeling about the past regardless of how they felt at the time. Besides, isn't what people mostly say about Mantle isn't so much that he was a jerk but that he was a famous guy with a massive drinking problem?
   50. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: January 16, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4348390)
#45 is one of those posts that singlehandedly justifies the existence of Primer. God I love reading about stuff like that. Well done, Moeball.
   51. Mark Armour Posted: January 16, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4348391)
Howard hit a monstrous HR off Ford in the Series in LA, and a monstrous double to the monuments in left-center at YS off him.
   52. SandyRiver Posted: January 16, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4348401)
That homer would've gone farther than the double (because it was hit far higher) had it not crashed into the upper deck of Dodger Stadium. Might've even been longer than the one Mantle hit off Koufax a couple innings later - both were mammoth drives. Trivia note: Ford gave up just 2 hits in G4 of that series, both to Howard.
   53. Ron J2 Posted: January 16, 2013 at 04:05 PM (#4348412)
Williams was well-liked by his teammates


Many teammates. By no means all of them. Particularly as a young man.
   54. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: January 16, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4348417)
I wrote Frank a fan letter in 1969 and he responded with not just a picture but a letter. Good man.
   55. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2013 at 04:13 PM (#4348421)
I don't think that's quite right for Bonds. He was already an extremely selective power hitter before 2001

Yes but ... he changed the swing a bit for an even larger uppercut. His already low GB/FB of around .55 went down to about .4 from 2000 to 2005 (the change probably started in 98). HR/FB also took a big jump obviously.

And I think he was able to be more selective. In those days, a standard pitcher's approach was basically to try to throw a perfect pitch on the first two pitches. If he was now behind 2-0, he just walked Bonds. In those years, Bonds essentially was playing in a league where 2 or 3 balls was a walk. He could zero in as much as he wanted. Of course there wasn't much of the strike zone that he couldn't hammer so I'm not sure how much zeroing in he had to do.

IN 2002, after 2-0: 433/815/881 with 136 BB in 205 PA. 61 are coded as IBB but that's still 75 "unintentional" BB in 144 PA. In 612 PA, he got a first pitch strike only 276 times (assuming all he put in play were strikes). After 1-0, it looks like he was thrown a second pitch strike just 127 out of 334 PA. The poor man couldn't get nothing to hit.

And time to pull out my favorite career split.

Bonds, men on 2nd and 3rd

271 PA, 288/675/567 with 153 BB, 139 of them intentional

   56. Chris Needham Posted: January 16, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4348424)
On the RFK picture above: One of the things to keep in mind is that the markings for the fence were widely assumed to be about 10' off. So it's 390 or so to the fence there, and then probably another 15 or so to the back wall. From there, the wall goes up something like 30 feet before the outfield seats start. And that thing is probably 20 rows back.

I think there were only a handful of upper-deckers hit while the Nats played there. My memory is that all but one or two of them were ones pulled down the much-shorter lines. Nothing came close to Howard's shot.

A few years before that, the Expos played an exhibition game at RFK. I'm not sure if Mark McGwire was with the Cardinals then, or still the A's, but he fouled a ball up and over the roof of the stadium, which had to just be an absolutely massive shot -- on par with the ball Strawberry hit out of Olympic Stadium.
   57. just plain joe Posted: January 16, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4348428)
I have no idea whether Mantle was a jerk or not, but time and cognitive dissonance have a way of changing one's feeling about the past regardless of how they felt at the time. Besides, isn't what people mostly say about Mantle isn't so much that he was a jerk but that he was a famous guy with a massive drinking problem?


Mantle also was not well educated and was thrust into the world's biggest media market at a young age, when he was not equipped to deal with this attention. Having to replace DiMaggio in CF for Yankees made it just that more difficult for him. I don't know if Mantle was a jerk or not either but it is small wonder that he often came across as surly in his dealings with the media.
   58. Mark Armour Posted: January 16, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4348440)
Mantle had four sons, all of whom ended up alcoholics and/or drug addicts. This could be misleading, I suppose, but Mantle drank with his kids when they were 13, 14 years old. He also chased women with them. At least one of his kids has described going to bars with Mantle when he was underage and getting the women that Mantle did not want or getting them when Mantle was finished.

Yes, I understand that famous people are graded on a curve when it comes to parenting, but I think even with the adjustment this is a bit much. I mentioned this to a Yankee fan a couple of years ago, and he answered, "where was their mother?" This is sort of a good point, in that so many kids with famous jock fathers are heroically raised by their mother. Mantle's wife was also often drunk (by her own admission), and perhaps not the best mother herself.

Mantle remaned married, though he did not live with his wife the last 30 years or so, and had numerous public girlfriends.

His wife and sons have told all these stories, while also professing their undying love for the heroic husband/father. Which says more about them, I suppose.
   59. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4348442)
On Williams' coaching: nothing much really but I wouldn't put much stock in the "then they reverted to form afterwards". This is probably about what we should expect. In Bradbury's study on the Mazzone effect that was partly why he was able to detect a defect -- pitchers were worse before and after they left Mazzone. (If I recall right, they did retain some.) It's easy to fall back into bad habits without reminders and motivation and I would assume that's especially true if your current hitting coach isn't saying "maybe you should have laid off that one" and might even be pushing you to be more aggressive. Of course Williams was the manager not the hitting coach but a coach should really only be give credit/blame for what hitters/pitchers did under his direct watch. God only knows what happens to them later.

Something else I just thought of - I believe (per the "Home Run Encyclopedia")that 286 of Ted's 521 career HRs came with runners on base (about 55%). I think that is the highest % of anyone who ever had at least 400 career HRs. Can anyone verify this relatively easily?

B-R base situation splits seem to go back only to 1946 and still have a lot of incomplete data for those years. So it covers only 334 of his HR but 174 of those came with men on. However Williams ISO, all his slash stats really, are nearly the same with men on as not. I'd have thought his walk rate with men on would jump but not really -- it's higher, largely intentional but it's nothing at all like what happened to Bonds. They don't track IBB until the end of his career and he did lead the league 3 times but the totals were not generally extreme (less than 20 with one 33). The 50s -- what a strange era, happy to walk damn near everybody but not intentionally walk Ted Williams with men on base.

Only 312 of Bonds' HRs came with men on base ... but then 1500 of his 2500 walks came with men on base, 650 of them intentional. His HR/AB and his ISO were slightly lower with men on but mainly they just took the bat out of his hand.

McGwire had 277 of 583 with a slightly higher HR/AB rate with men on. A bit more than half his walks came with men on as well. A Bonds-Mac gap -- 688 IBB vs 150 IBB career. That's insane.

A big advantage for Williams, at least for those games where b-r has the men on splits, is that the majority of his PA came with men on (not true for Bonds or Mac). Obviously we'd need to adjust for that. But his HR/AB was significantly higher with men on.

   60. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4348447)
Mantle married at young age (I'm thinking after his rookie season) when he didn't really want to, under pressure from his father. I think a lot of Mantle's problems stemmed from unaddressed father problems. A father who pushed him relentlessly, a father he idolized, that did him wrong in ways, that Mickey was not able to come to terms with because the father died when Mickey was so young and acknowledging some of his resentments would have seemed like betrayal. That's not a recipe for good mental health. Add to that drinking, which at one time must of have given him some surcease, but in the long-run just added fuel to the fire.
   61. Matt Welch Posted: January 16, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4348468)
I haven't seen Stanton much, but I think the AL Paul Bunyon type might be Mark Trumbo. Who, when he's on, can hit the most atrocious low line drives out to straightaway center. Now if only Ted Williams could work with him a bit!
   62. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4348494)
His wife and sons have told all these stories, while also professing their undying love for the heroic husband/father. Which says more about them, I suppose.

It's not uncommon for drunks to be wonderful people sober, and complete ***holes when liquored up.

My grandmother used to say that about her father. He was tender and adoring, unless he had a load on.
   63. Rob_Wood Posted: January 16, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4348496)
Mark,

I had some time on my hands and did a fact-checking review of your Howard bio (using BB-Ref for all stats). Here are the thing I came across:

1. I would mention that the 1959 Texas League was AA (to contrast to Green Bay B and Spokane AAA)

2. 1959 home run off of Lindy McDaniel was on September 22 (not 23)

3. The 1962 Dodgers and Giants tied at 101-61 before a 3-game playoff, yet you say that the Dodgers won 102 games "before" the playoff series (these playoff games are recorded as being regular season games)

4. Howard did not lead the Senators in games played in 1965(your sentence can be read as saying he did)

5. BB-Ref shows 1966 AL OPS was .674 (not .670)

6. Howard's .849 OPS in 1967 was 6th in AL (not 8th)

7. Jim Lemon had as many as 38 HR in a season (you say 30)

8. Need ")" after Carl Yastrzemski in sentence about Howard's possible 1968 Triple Crown

9. In 1969 Howard led AL with 340 total bases (not 330)

10. "might had" should be "might have had" (in story about effect Ted Williams teaching Howard)

11. 1969 Senators finished in 4th place in AL East (not 3rd)

12. His 3-for-4 game for Tigers was on September 13, 1972 (not September 21)

13. "to look at back" should be "to look back" (next to last paragraph)

14. Howard made four All Star games (not 3)

I loved the article and Frank Howard is one of my all time favorite people (he is still quite popular in Milwaukee).

   64. Steve Treder Posted: January 16, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4348505)
Treder was a big believer of Williams as the improvement to Washington's hitters. I can't find the old debates but he would bristle at the suggestion that Williams wasn't the main reason for the increase in production.

:-)

Two words: Ed Brinkman.
   65. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 16, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4348544)
Howard PWNED Sudden Sam--couldn't get him out to save his life. That's why Dark would make the aforementioned move of McDowell to an infield position to let Dean Chance try his luck with Howard. Either that or Sam would just IBB him. Gave him 3 IBB's in this game, including two with no one on base and no outs
   66. Howie Menckel Posted: January 16, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4348550)

from the Frank Howard HOM thread in 2006; I have a Howard encounter of my own when I get a chance, but for now, this also is a good reflection of who he is as a person:

5. jingoist Posted: June 12, 2006 at 01:57 AM (#2060619)
I ran into Frank Howard last year and thought the readership might enjoy catching up on Hondo's life these days.
Last summer a buddy and I were on our way to RFK to catch a Nats vs Pirates game.
We took the Metro from Vienna, VA, a suburb west of DC, down to RFK.
We no sooner sat down in our seats than Frank Howard walks onto the train.
I say to none/everyone "It's Frank Howard"; Frank says, "whats left of him"

We spend the 45 minute ride reminiscing about old Senators/Dodgers teams; Franks prodigious home runs; Bob Short (boooooo); Franks health (he was about to turn 69 and he looked GREAT).
FYI; for those of you who remember Hondo near the end, he'd gotten a bit portly from pounding all that Budwiser every night. Frank's dropped 50+ lbs now, he's trim and looks healty as a horse.

Frank now works for George Steinbrenner as a scout.
He had extremely kind words to say about George Steinbrenner; called him Mr. Steinbrenner; said he was a peach of a guy to work for and said he was a happy camper working as a Yankee scout.

Frank's a very quiet, unassuming man who tries to blend into the crowd.
At 6'7" he isn't able to do that very easily.

Note: not many other people on that train, which was filled with baseball fans going to the game, knew who Frank Howard was.
My buddy and I gave them a reasonable education by regaling Frank with our eye-witness accounts of a number of his many hitting feats.
Frank's a definate borderline HoM'er; I always felt Frank was two really good years away from Cooperstown. He of course pooh-poohed that idea, but had he hit another 60 or so HRs maybe.
   67. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4348565)
Brooks Robinson remembers one of Howard's hits off Bender well. "He almost got me killed one time. Frank Howard was the one guy I really, I wouldn't say feared, but had extra respect for as a third baseman. He was so strong and hit the ball so hard. Gene dropped down from the side, Frank hit one over my head, and I jumped. But it was a day game -- people were wearing white shirts and I couldn't pick up the ball very well. The ball hit the left field wall. I said to Gene, 'If I'd jumped at the wrong time, I might have gotten killed!"


From the SABR Gene Brabender entry. Alludes back to what some of said about Frank scaring you when he didn't hit a homer.
   68. Moeball Posted: January 16, 2013 at 08:31 PM (#4348596)
A big advantage for Williams, at least for those games where b-r has the men on splits, is that the majority of his PA came with men on (not true for Bonds or Mac). Obviously we'd need to adjust for that. But his HR/AB was significantly higher with men on.


From what I've read over the years, Ted made a definite effort to try to increase HR productivity with runners on. From a variety of viewpoints:

1)If you've got the 2-0 or 3-1 count you're looking for, and there are runners on 1st and 2nd, for example - if you think the pitcher's going to try to throw a fastball over the plate past you because he doesn't want to walk you - that's the pitch to try to pull and go ahead and swing for the fences. Obviously the best result is you time it just right and crush a 3-run HR (to right field, of course, if you are a lefty hitter).

2)Even if you don't smack that pitch exactly right for a HR, you may still drive a double off the wall or something like that. Runs come home.

3)Here's the real advantage of being a lefty hitter over a righty - say you get a little under the pitch so you just hit a fly ball to the warning track in right field - that can still advance that runner on 2nd base to 3rd if there are less than 2 outs. You get the added benefit of "hitting behind the runner just trying to advance him" while in reality you are swinging for the fences.

4)Particularly if there's a runner on 1st and no one on second, the first baseman may be holding the runner on, which can open up a huge hole between first and second. If you're a lefty pull hitter, this gives you a lot more opportunities for hits. If you're trying to crush that 3-1 fastball and somehow you really mis-hit it so that you hit a hard grounder instead of launching one in the air to RF, you may still get a single to RF on the play. Another advantage for a lefty hitter there. Of course, in Ted's case the opposition frequently had the shift on, so he may not have had that huge hole between first and second that other hitters may see.

5)Finally, if you totally screw up and don't connect on the pitch, then you still have a 2-1 count or a 3-2 count, and you can still try to salvage the PA with a hit or a walk.

Walt, that's a good point about PA with runners on. I went back and was looking at the 1949 Red Sox, and there's just some absurd numbers there. I thought Vern Stephens must have had some hellacious numbers with runners on to drive in 159 runs that year (still the record for a SS, isn't it?). Turns out that although Retrosheet doesn't have all PA logged yet for that year, from what they do have it is telling - it looks like Stephens had almost 2/3 of his PA that year with runners on, which is just a ridiculously high %. But I guess if you bat cleanup for a team where the #3 hitter gets on base 50% of the time (Williams) and the top 2 guys in the lineup also had on-base % over .400 - you're going to have a ton of opportunities to drive in runs. So I guess it also makes sense that if Williams had 55% of his PA with runners on, then hitting 55% of his HRs with runners on isn't that unusual.
   69. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: January 16, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4348619)
I have a Howard encounter of my own when I get a chance
Looking forward to reading this when you get the chance.

By the way, I finally RTFA and found that the article was written by Primate Mark Armour, and it's much, much longer than this excerpt -- and the rest is every bit as entertaining as what's here. Great job, Mark.
   70. Rob_Wood Posted: January 16, 2013 at 09:07 PM (#4348628)
Mark,

I double-dipped and fact checked the Willie McCovey bio linked above (using BB-Ref as source):

1. McCovey played in Dallas in 1957 (not 1956)

2. slow afoot.. should be slow afoot. (delete extra period)

3. Giants were in 2nd place (by a half-game) on morning of July 30, 1959 (McCovey's first game) [not first place]

4. 22-game hitting streak began on August 17, 1959 (not August 10)

5. 1959 Giants finished 3 games behind Dodgers (and Braves) [not 4]

6. McCovey had 1 hit in Game 5 of 1962 World Series (not hitless)

7. at- bat should be at-bat (in two places)

8. he had 145 starts in 1963 (not 144) [I know this is really nitpicking and you may have used a different source]

9. he had 627 PA in 1963 (not 624)

10. "When he showed up at camp in 1965 ..." I would say when Cepeda showed up at camp to eliminate any chance of confusion with McCovey

11. I would say that his .453 OPS and .656 SLG were league-leading in 1969

12. When McCovey hit his 521st (and final) HR in 1980, I think that tied him with Ted Williams for 8th all-time (not 10th)

I loved these bios, and McCovey is an all-time favorite player of mine since the Giants of the 1960's were the first team I rooted for.
   71. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 16, 2013 at 09:25 PM (#4348635)
I have no idea whether Mantle was a jerk or not, but time and cognitive dissonance have a way of changing one's feeling about the past regardless of how they felt at the time. Besides, isn't what people mostly say about Mantle isn't so much that he was a jerk but that he was a famous guy with a massive drinking problem?


Mantle also was not well educated and was thrust into the world's biggest media market at a young age, when he was not equipped to deal with this attention. Having to replace DiMaggio in CF for Yankees made it just that more difficult for him. I don't know if Mantle was a jerk or not either but it is small wonder that he often came across as surly in his dealings with the media.

Mantle was always loved by his teammates and not so loved by anyone else who ever came into contact with him. He was famous for refusing autograph requests outside the stadium, and at book signings and card shows he was as bad or worse than Willie Mays, which is saying a lot. How much of this was due to alcohol is anyone's guess, and in his defense there's the point that Just Plain Joe made about the media spotlight he was thrust into at an early age. He was treated like a God by the New York press up through his first full season after being the de facto MVP of the 1952 World Series, and then with that "565 ft." home run in the opening weeks of 1953 when he was still 21. Trouble was, by that point writers were pretty much electing him to the HoF at the ripe old age of 21, and when his home runs leveled off and his strikeouts increased, just being one of the best half dozen players in baseball wasn't good enough if he wasn't Babe Ruth or Joe Dimaggio. He was forever being psychoanalyzed by the tabloids, was mercilessly booed at Yankee Stadium whenever he slumped for more than a week, and before 1961 he probably suffered the most hot-and-cold fan base of any player in memory. The more you read about Mantle, the more you get the feeling that beings at the ballpark among his teammates was the only place he could ever find any real sense of comfort and joy.

   72. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:05 PM (#4348662)
In case folks didn't know what I alluded to earlier, the 50s were a strange time where there were a lot of walks without a lot of Ks. It's a real spike in league walk rates some of those years. Just grabbing the 1954 AL, they had 3.7 BB/9 and a K/BB of just 1.1. In the 2000 AL, they managed to match the 3.7 BB/9 but at least K'd 6.3. Meanwhile, in say 1976, walks were at 3.2/9 although K rates were about the same as 1954.

A few more years:

52: 3.7
53: 3.6
54: 3.7
55: 3.9
56: 4.1
57: 3.5
58: 3.3

It just made no sense, it's like a wave of "walks clog the bases" was going around. In 1956, they have 491 of Williams' 503 PA and 270 of them came with men on. Boston had a 362 team OBP. 3 starters had an OBP over 400 and the top bench player was at 399. They had bench players walking 14 times in 99 PA and 12 times in 75 PA. Their team line of 275/362/419 was only good for a 97 OPS+ (a bit above average given pitcher hitting) while the 2000 AL put up an average line of 276/349/443 .. so that would have been a 98 OPS+. It was the original sillyball ... Branch Rickey should have never written that book.
   73. Steve Treder Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:30 PM (#4348685)
In case folks didn't know what I alluded to earlier, the 50s were a strange time where there were a lot of walks without a lot of Ks.

It was extraordinarily league-specific:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/eddie-eddie-eddie-and-the-american-league-walkathon/
   74. Mark Armour Posted: January 16, 2013 at 10:43 PM (#4348701)
Thanks, Rob, for the corrections and suggestions. I appreciate your reading of TFA.

   75. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 16, 2013 at 11:20 PM (#4348726)
He was forever being psychoanalyzed by the tabloids, was mercilessly booed at Yankee Stadium whenever he slumped for more than a week, and before 1961 he probably suffered the most hot-and-cold fan base of any player in memory. The more you read about Mantle, the more you get the feeling that beings at the ballpark among his teammates was the only place he could ever find any real sense of comfort and joy.

Andy-- you mention 61 because that was the turning point of the Mantle-Yankee fan relationship--when they had someone else to root against (poor Roger). Mick became the object of affection BECAUSE he got hurt in early September and didn't break the record. And that continued until the end of his career
   76. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: January 16, 2013 at 11:28 PM (#4348734)
McCovey, on the other hand, was more famous for hitting laser beam line drives.


Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?
   77. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 17, 2013 at 08:01 AM (#4348851)
Thanks, Rob, for the corrections and suggestions. I appreciate your reading of TFA.


One of the many things I love about BBTF - people don't take it personally when you offer constructive criticism.
   78. Bitter Mouse Posted: January 17, 2013 at 08:53 AM (#4348874)

One of the many things I love about BBTF - people don't take it personally when you offer constructive criticism.


You're wrong.

Kidding :)

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Chicago Joe
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(1352 - 2:09am, Dec 19)
Last: Maxwn

NewsblogSaint Pete City Council Tells Rays NYET!
(3 - 1:57am, Dec 19)
Last: Dale Sams

NewsblogPadres Acquire Derek Norris – MLB Trade Rumors
(12 - 1:38am, Dec 19)
Last: Infinite Joost (Voxter)

NewsblogOT: Politics - December 2014: Baseball & Politics Collide in New Thriller
(4879 - 1:26am, Dec 19)
Last: tshipman

NewsblogRoyals sign Kris Medlen to two-year deal - MLB Daily Dish
(25 - 11:39pm, Dec 18)
Last: Barnaby Jones

NewsblogOT: NFL/NHL thread
(9159 - 11:35pm, Dec 18)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip

NewsblogThe 4 surprisingly quiet teams of the MLB offseason
(2 - 11:25pm, Dec 18)
Last: JJ1986

NewsblogThe 2015 HOF Ballot Collecting Gizmo!
(61 - 11:25pm, Dec 18)
Last: Dr. Chaleeko

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - December 2014
(707 - 11:22pm, Dec 18)
Last: Famous Original Joe C

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-18-2014
(42 - 9:34pm, Dec 18)
Last: Pops Freshenmeyer

NewsblogMatt Kemp's arthritic hips hold up deal with Padres
(41 - 9:05pm, Dec 18)
Last: Jeff Frances the Mute

NewsblogAre Wil Myers' flaws fixable? | FOX Sports
(103 - 8:09pm, Dec 18)
Last: ReggieThomasLives

NewsblogHow Will MLB Handle Big Changes With Cuba? - BaseballAmerica.com
(2 - 6:13pm, Dec 18)
Last: TDF, situational idiot

NewsblogMLBTR: Padres-Rays-Nationals Agree to Three-Team Trade
(56 - 6:03pm, Dec 18)
Last: boteman

NewsblogRoyals sign Edinson Volquez for two years, $20 million
(19 - 5:33pm, Dec 18)
Last: Nasty Nate

Page rendered in 0.7430 seconds
49 querie(s) executed