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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Schoenfield: Musial may have been best left fielder ever

Ted Williams was arguably the greatest hitter of all time. Barry Bonds became the greatest hitter since Williams. Rickey Henderson was the greatest power-speed combo ever, unless you give that honor to Bonds. It’s easy to extract an image of them in play: Williams, with that beautiful uppercut swing, launching that home run in the 1941 All-Star Game, the last man to hit .400; Bonds, once the graceful two-way threat, already the best player in the game, turning into the beefy monster late in his career and putting up softball numbers; Henderson, in that crouch at home plate, annoying pitchers with his postage-stamp strike zone and then annoying them further by swiping second base ... and often third.

But Stan Musial? What’s your image of Stan the Man?

...As beloved as he was in St. Louis, however, Musial’s legacy had faded over time, picking up in attention only in recent years, it seemed. He wasn’t the last player to hit .400. He hadn’t played with the Yankees. He didn’t play center field like Willie Mays or become the home run king like Hank Aaron. Again: What label do you put on Musial?

How about ballplayer? I think you can make the argument that Musial is the greatest of the four; it’s a hard one to win (in part because Musial actually played a few more games at first base than left field, and also several seasons in right field). But that speaks not just to his versatility—he was athletic enough to play over 300 games in center field as well—but his obvious willingness to put the team first, not always something said about Williams, Bonds or Henderson. He once played more than 800 games in a row, and that durability, consistency and attitude provided a bonus you didn’t get at all times from the other three.

In terms of career wins above replacement, the four rank like this:

Bonds: 158.1 WAR
Musial: 123.4 WAR
Williams: 119.8 WAR
Henderson: 106.8 WAR

Thanks to Los.

Repoz Posted: January 20, 2013 at 08:02 AM | 128 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   101. Morty Causa Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:24 PM (#4352273)
I think good hitting catchers and shortstops would be even better hitters had they played less demanding positions. Piazza should have been made an outfielder or first baseman right after that second season, especially since it was obvious he wasn't any great shakes at it. As was done with Dale Murphy and Biggio. Ripken would have been a better hitter if he had stayed at third.
   102. Moeball Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:56 PM (#4352297)
At age 42, selfish Rickey had already been living contract to contract for 6 years. He'd been re-acquired by the 2001 Padres, who were also inexplicably unaware of the dreadful reputation he'd built with many teams, including the San Diego Padres. On the last day of the season, Henderson had 2,999 career hits. But he asked not to play that game, because it was Tony Gwynn's last, and he didn't want to take any of the attention away from Gwynn. And besides, fading 43-year-old pariahs are such hot commodities on the free agent market, especially ones who think only of themselves.


Actually, I've heard Tony Gwynn talk about when Rickey was with the Padres the first time around, and the team was a bit hesitant how things would work out given Rickey's reputation. But, according to Tony, Rickey was an exemplary teammate the whole time he was there, without any of the expected shenanigans. When the Padres added Greg Vaughn to the mix, it became clear that the Padres had one left fielder too many. When it was decided that Vaughn was going to stay and that Rickey would have to be the expendable one, Rickey didn't complain about it at all like they expected him to.

RE: Tony's last game in 2001, yes, Rickey offered to sit but Tony insisted he play. Rickey hit a blooper to right for hit #3000 during the game (the right fielder didn't exactly hustle to catch the ball on that play, so it was kind of a cheezy gift for Rickey, but I guess it still counts). One of the many games I was at that I'll remember forever.
   103. Moeball Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:58 AM (#4352331)
Is there really any doubt DiMaggio was a better ballplayer than Ott or Yaz?


Well, in the minds of much of the media and the public, DiMaggio ("Greatest Living Player") was viewed as a much better ballplayer than Mickey Mantle, too, although nowadays I don't think too many people would go along with that. The weird thing is that both players were both underrated and overrated at the same time, although in different ways:

DiMaggio was overrated due to high RBI totals whereas Mantle was underrated due to relatively low RBI totals. In reality, Mickey walked much more than Joe and so his seasonal AB totals were lower - if you give Mickey 560 AB per season like a typical DiMaggio season instead of Mick's usual 500 AB, he would have had several additional seasons over 100 RBI. Even when Mickey did lead the league in RBI during his Triple Crown season in '56, 130 RBI seemed like a low total for a guy in the 50 HR/.350 BA club (when guys like Ruth, Foxx, and Wilson hit 50 HRs in a season with a BA above .350, they averaged over 160 RBI per season). It made it look like Mantle wasn't much of a clutch hitter, but look at his numbers with runners in scoring position that season - .444/.582/.861 - he was absolutely sensational with opportunities to drive in runs, but Casey was doing some strange stuff with the top of the lineup. McDougald had a fantastic .448 OBA when leading off, but only 199 PA in that position. Casey instead kept giving a lot of PA to guys like Bauer with his .297 OBA in 325 PA batting leadoff.

Much of what I've read of what people thought of Mickey as a defensive CF back in the day was that maybe he wasn't Mays but he was still outstanding. This reputation was helped by making long running catches like the one that helped preserve Don Larsen's perfect game in the '56 WS. In truth, I think Mickey was overrated as a fielder. Most metrics now seem to indicate Mickey was only average in CF, if that. Mickey's speed often compensated for not reading correctly where balls were hit and getting a poor jump on them. DiMaggio was much better at knowing where to play each ball hit, and his long strides often made plays look easier than they really were. Even with his reputation, he may actually have been better than people thought. On the other hand, there were some who said Joe wasn't even the best CF in his own family - Dominic and Vince were said to have even better range than Joe.

DiMaggio was overrated due to his lifetime .325 BA and Mantle received crap about his lifetime average falling under .300 at the end. We now know that BA is an overrated stat and drawing walks is underrated. Mickey's on-base percentages easily surpassed Joe's.

Of course, it is true that DiMaggio's numbers really were killed by Yankee Stadium, whereas Mantle got to bat left-handed a lot there due to being a switch hitter, so he wasn't hurt nearly as much by the park as DiMaggio was. To get an indication of just what a hellacious hitter DiMaggio was in his prime, look at his road numbers in 1939: .413/.486/.769 with 76 RBI in only 56 games. Those numbers are just insane. So, in that sense, DiMaggio was clearly underrated as a hitter. Playing in a more friendly home ballpark and not losing the war years, it is entirely possible he could have reached 500 HRs in his career.
   104. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:06 AM (#4352335)
Lots of good info and perspective in that above post, Moeball. I can't see a single thing there to dispute. That final paragraph of yours only reinforces those Fenway numbers of Dimaggio I posted right before the flip.
   105. Moeball Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:37 AM (#4352349)
Well, if you want to go by "what happened" with Dimaggio in Fenway Park against a pitching staff whose ERA was in the top half of the league in 8 out of Dimaggio's 13 years, his 162 game average production** was a .334 BA, 40 home runs, 152 RBI and a 1.015 OPS. His corresponding numbers for Yankee Stadium, based on 875 games against all opponents, were a .315 BA, 27 home runs, 133 RBI and a .938. I'd say those numbers pretty much speak for themselves.


Andy - Of course, the flip side of that is looking at Ted Williams' numbers in Yankee Stadium. Keeping in mind the following:

1)Almost all of Ted's career, the Yankees (when not the Indians) had the best pitching staff in the league
2)The Yankees always made sure they had good left handed pitchers, particularly in Yankee Stadium to force opposing teams to use a lot of right handed batters - this meant Ted saw a higher % of lefties than usual when playing in NY. Of course, on the other hand, whenever the Yankees were in Boston at Fenway somehow Whitey Ford developed flu symptoms...

At any rate, Ted's career numbers in Yankee Stadium were as follows: .309/.484/.543. That's a 1.027 OPS against the best pitchers in the league, frequently left handed (Ted may have been the greatest hitter ever, but he was human - he had big platoon splits like anyone else - he was much worse against lefties than righties). He walked more against the Yankees than against any other team on the road; it's clear they pitched him very carefully. I'm guessing they also employed the shift against Ted a high percentage of the time? I wasn't there so hopefully someone who was can fill in some details on this?

Brings to mind again the trade that almost was - wasn't it 1949 when there were rumors of DiMaggio and Williams being traded for each other straight up? I have to think that Williams would have done very well playing in Yankee Stadium as a left handed pull hitter - and not having to face the Yankee pitchers! Boston should have been very glad not to have pulled the trigger on that deal!
   106. Morty Causa Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:45 AM (#4352351)
In his autobiography, Williams claims that he never saw the ball well at Yankee Stadium, although he does say the crowd there jacked him up. A 1.027 against the best the team in baseball (across the entire era) in their home park--that's not too shabby. One can understand why when the Yankees offered him a $100K to pinch hit only in 1961, he was tempted. It might have been interesting to see what he could have done, even at that late date.
   107. Moeball Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:02 AM (#4352356)
As to what position to list Stan Musial at and where he ranks - you know, the actual topic we're supposed to be discussing here:

1)Musial actually played more games at 1B than any other position, but if you list the greatest 1B ever, most people would say Gehrig and Foxx are numbers 1 and 2 - not actually sure that would be correct, though. I think Musial would hold up very well against them. You could maybe actually make a case for Musial as the best first baseman ever.

2)You wouldn't want to go to RF on this because no way anyone's going to compete with Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, not even Stan.

3)In LF Musial is in the heart of the discussion with Williams, Bonds and Henderson for best ever. In terms of peak Stan holds up pretty well (look at that 1948 season again - Musial led the league in Runs, Hits, 2B, 3B, RBI, TB, BA, OBA, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and "wunnerfull"s (real St. Louis fans will get this) - and missed leading in HRs by only one - that's just unreal). His career totals are also outstanding - you can certainly make a case for him as #1 at the position.

Anyone who can be in the discussion for best ever at multiple positions is one heckuva player - you done just fine, Stan!

I'm raising a glass to The Man.
   108. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4352394)

"Piazza should have been made an outfielder or first baseman right after that second season, especially since it was obvious he wasn't any great shakes at it."

Piazza was NOT a bad defensive catcher.
   109. BDC Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4352404)
The thing is, CF is a tough position defensively, and guys get days off or eventually move somewhere else

Absolutely true; it's the "eventually move somewhere else" part that is easier for an outfielder, if the destination is LF or RF. The positions are relatively fungible.

Any 3B, conversely, can play 1B, but some don't hit well enough to displace a weaker-fielding (or a left-handed) first baseman, especially as they age. So there's an offensive factor. A lot of young CF hit pretty well, and go routinely to the corners in the course of their career (Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez; Griffey is an outlier in staying in CF so long). The specifics of specialization say interesting things about the defensive "spectrum," which isn't as simple a straight line as sometimes conceived.
   110. BDC Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4352405)
Oh, and Joe DiMaggio was overrated in the same sense that Hemingway and Sinatra were overrated. Nobody could live up to his media-fueled legendariness, but he was a superior baseball player.
   111. Morty Causa Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4352442)
Piazza was NOT a bad defensive catcher.


Yes. But he wasn't so good (and probably no way he could have been good enough) that keeping him there justified the loss in offense. He was so good a hitter that his C or C+ catching doesn't justify the sacrifice that was necessary--a sacrifice that all knowledgeable baseball people grant is bound to happen with catchers.
   112. Ron J2 Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4352446)
#93 As I'm pretty sure you recall Musial shows up on Dale Stephenson's peak lists as a RF because he played more RF in his 5 best offensive seasons than any place else. Though now that we can get games started rather than appearances:

In his best 5 years by rbat he started 175 games at 1B 241 in LF 148 in CF and 156 in RF. (And moved around a fair amount in game).

He's simply not an easy guy to categorize. In 1946 he played more 1b than LF and started the AS game in LF. In 1948 he started more games in CF than any place else and again played LF in the AS game. In 1949 he started a few more games in RF than in CF but played CF in the AS game.
   113. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4352476)
To continue the thought of trying to "normalize" the Williams-Dimaggio comparison, the next step is to throw out Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park numbers, since they don't account for the difference in the pitching quality between the Yankees and the Red Sox. I'm sure that someone could neutralize those numbers, but that's way out of my league.

But then Ted & Joe also played in 7 other parks in 6 other cities (Cleveland had League and Municipal). Here's how they compared in those 7, with links to Clem's that will show the park dimensions. I'll also add what I think is a reasonable guess as to the relative quality of the pitching of the teams in those parks between 1936-38 and 1952-60, since that's going to affect the totals as well. There's also the offensive context, and in that regard I think it's clear that while the AL of 1936-38 was somewhat stronger than the AL of 1952-60, the overall AL hitting environment was much more conducive to offense in Dimaggio's early years than in Williams' later ones. All of this is why I call these numbers just "a next step", rather than anything definitive, but in any case I found them interesting.

The numbers below reflect a 162 game season. I've added runs scored to RBI in order to reflect Williams' strength in walks/OBP.

Comiskey Park. This is a fair comparison in terms of RH/LH advantage, since Comiskey was one of only two symmetrical parks in the AL of the time. OTOH the White Sox had far superior pitching in 1952-60 than they did in 1936-38, so that has to be taken into account.

----------- BA --- OPS -- R -- HR - RBI
Williams:- .296 ---.954 - 101 - 35 - 122
Dimaggio: .335 -.1.020 - 144 - 42 - 141

League Park, Cleveland. Huge advantage to Williams in park layout (385' LF vs 290' RF), little or no advantage in terms of the Indians' pitching, since the park closed long before Dimaggio's retirement.

----------- BA --- OPS -- R -- HR - RBI
Williams:- .378 -.1.284 - 155 - 54 - 203
Dimaggio: .346 -- .937 - 155 - 22 - 110

Municipal Stadium, Cleveland. Symmetrical and therefore neutral for RH/LH batters, but since Williams had to face the Indians' strong pitching staffs of the 50's, the numbers are tilted in Dimaggio's favor. (The Indians' ERA in 1936-38 was better than the league average, but nowhere near as dominant as it was in the 50's.)

----------- BA --- OPS -- R -- HR - RBI
Williams:- .286 -.1.003 - 100 - 41 - 115
Dimaggio: .276 -- .878 - 98 - 33 - 150

Briggs Stadium, Detroit (AKA Tiger Stadium). Small but significant advantage to LH hitters, plus a fairly big advantage to Williams in terms of the relative strength of the Tigers' pitching in the years that Ted and Joe didn't overlap;

----------- BA --- OPS -- R -- HR - RBI
Williams:- .330 - 1.144 - 140 - 53 - 157
Dimaggio: .303 -- .926 - 134 - 40 - 157

Shibe Park, Philadelphia (AKA Connie Mack Stadium). Nearly symmetrical and the A's pitching in 1936-38 wasn't much different than it was in 1953-54. It was much better in 1952, but Williams was in Korea for nearly the entire year.

----------- BA --- OPS -- R -- HR - RBI
Williams:- .359 - 1.159 - 156 - 51 - 159
Dimaggio: .320 -- .970 - 147 - 36 - 142

Sportsman's Park, St. Louis. The asymmetrical layout favored LH power hitters, though the high screen in RF cut down on some of that advantage. The Browns' pitching was always terrible, no matter what the years in question.

----------- BA --- OPS -- R -- HR - RBI
Williams:- .399 - 1.281 - 153 - 51 - 167
Dimaggio: .389 - 1.223 - 167 - 57 - 199

Griffith Stadium, Washington. Griffith Stadium was torture on all hitters up until the installation of the "Beer Garden" in LF made it into a relatively easy target for RH batters. But of course this didn't affect either Joe or Ted. The Senators' pitching was uniformly terrible during the entire period other than the war years.

----------- BA --- OPS -- R -- HR - RBI
Williams:- .325 - 1.025 - 124 - 24 - 94
Dimaggio: .352 - 1.052 - 143 - 39 - 154

A small side note: In 1950 Dimaggio hit three home runs in a single game over the 405' Griffith Stadium LF wall. Just 5 years before that, the second place Senators didn't hit a single home run over that wall the entire year.

Again, you have to adjust the above numbers to reflect the overall superior hitting environment that Dimaggio had in 1936-38 compared to what Williams had in 1953-60 (5.46 AL RPG vs. 4.36). IMO the rapid decline of AL league strength in that latter period partly negated that, but only partly, and probably not that much.

One other factor, not that big but it should be mentioned: Williams' game totals are somewhat padded by pinch hitting appearances. This would harm Ted's prorated 162G counting stats. In hindsight, it probably would have been better to substitute PA for games, but that's for someone else to do.
   114. Ron J2 Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4352514)
~113 There's also the issue that Williams played quite a few more years. Not much of a decline phase in DiMaggio's numbers.
   115. Morty Causa Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4352521)
Yeah, Williams declined all the way to an OPS+ of 190 at the age of 42. But, yeah, he did. I believe years ago on this site someone ran a Brock2 type thing on Williams to take into account the lost years, and the results were fantacular.
   116. Ron J2 Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:51 PM (#4352535)
#115 Williams aged unusually well. 613 games of 182 OPS+ from 37 on. No real reason to expect something similar of DiMaggio though, and when you're comparing based on rate stats this matters.
   117. bunyon Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4352537)
In LF Musial is in the heart of the discussion with Williams, Bonds and Henderson for best ever.

I agree that Musial doesn't quite reach Williams or Bonds (with no roid adjustment) in terms of hitting. And he isn't close to Rickey in terms of non-slugging stuff.

But, who would you draft, knowing everything you know now? Clearly, any team would be happy to have one of these four in LF for a very long time. And we always say, you put up with prickliness, controversy and strangeness for a guy who produces. But in terms of overall value to an organization, wouldn't Musial move to the top of the list? That is, how much day to day difference is there in the performance of the four and with Musial you get a guy who is beloved and an a great "community" guy.

If I'm drafting in a fantasy league, I take Williams or Bonds. If I'm actually assembling men I have to work with and who have to work with my other players, I take Musial. I'm not saying he was a better ballplayer than those other two. I'm saying he would be a much better employee and the difference in on-field performance isn't enough to put the other guys over the top. It isn't like choosing between Ruth and Jeff Francouer.
   118. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4352554)
No real reason to expect something similar of DiMaggio though, and when you're comparing based on rate stats this matters.


DiMaggio's legs were gone by 1951; he'd have aged very poorly had he hung on, and I think that's why he hung it up when he did. His pride wouldn't let him be a shadow of his former self.

-- MWE
   119. Morty Causa Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4352563)
The thing is, though, DiMaggio had an excellent year in 1950. He essentially fell off a cliff. If he had taken a strenuous rehab option seriously, could this had made a difference? I know his arm was gone, and there is some film from '51 on him running the bases and he looks bad, but nowadays with all the money involved players will try the total body makeover approach. Could it have made a difference?
   120. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4352583)
If I'm drafting in a fantasy league, I take Williams or Bonds. If I'm actually assembling men I have to work with and who have to work with my other players, I take Musial.


I see what you are saying, but if I have foreknowledge of how the career is going to go I take Bonds. He just offers so much value in so many ways. Although obviously a Williams who spends no time in the military is great also.
   121. Ron J2 Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:37 PM (#4352586)
#117 I've argued somewhat similar with Joe Morgan and Rogers Hornsby. I don't think it's the same with the LF.

Williams had issues with some veteran players when he was young. He had issues with the fans off and on (mostly when young -- including publicly asking to be traded because of the fans) and with some members of the press for most of his career. No biggie to my mind.

Bonds had a few problems with a few players. There was never a shortage of people in the press who could not stand him, and he had one memorable run-in with a manager. Again, not a huge factor.

Rickey really only had a problem with one manager -- Lou Pinella (who accused him of "jaking" -- team doctor contradicted Pinella) and there were plenty of NY fans who couldn't stand him. The situation in 1990 could have blown up with different teammates or a more sensitive GM, but really I don't see Rickey as ever being a problem.

Yeah Musial was a positive in every aspect, but I don't see it as enough. And yes, he has props for helping other players, but so do the others. (To take one example at not random, Roger Cedeno gave a lot of credit to Rickey! for his fine 1999)


   122. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4352587)
The thing is, though, DiMaggio had an excellent year in 1950. He essentially fell off a cliff. If he had taken a strenuous rehab option seriously, could this had made a difference? I know his arm was gone, and there is some film from '51 on him running the bases and he looks bad, but nowadays with all the money involved players will try the total body makeover approach. Could it have made a difference?

Depends on when he began his rehab, since Dimaggio's neglect of his body dated back to when he started hanging out late nights at the Broadway joints, chain smoking and drinking like a fish. That stuff can wear you down after a while, and it goes a long way to explaining why so few players back then played into their late 30's.

But if he'd kept up his strength and conditioning like most modern players, or even just spent his winters stomping around in the woods hunting the way that the old time country ballplayers used to, then there's probably a very good chance he could have stretched his peak. But when you spend your leisure hours outside the ballpark mostly sitting on your butt or lying in bed, then making it much past your early 30's isn't something you should count on.
   123. TomH Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4352603)
I have always argued (often successfully at swaying majoirty opinion) that Musial should be rated as a 1Bman if we are talking "all time bests".

1 He played more 1B than any other single position
2 In rankgin gretaplayers, it makes sense to achieve a team that is comprised of the best players, over and above the standard of confomring to 'exact' position; no one really wants to rank Ernie Banks as a first baseman even if he played more games at 1B than SS.
3 Musial rates better (higher) as one of the top 2 1Bmen than as a LFer
* Stan did not make the fans all-century team as one of the 9 best OFers; but if he was listed as a 1B option, would he have finished in the top 2? Good likelihood of that.
* recent ESPN Hall of 100 rankings of LF/1B men go Bonds 3 Wiliams 4 Musial 8 Gehrig 11 Henderson(!) 14 Pujols 19 Foxx 28. So Stan would be a starter at 1B, and a third-stringer in left (or in right behind Ruth and Aaron)
* Same argumenr applies using the BJames Historical Abstract
* Same argument applies using JAWS
* Same argument applies using bb-ref WAR
* Same argument applies ysing bb-ref Fan EloRater

   124. just plain joe Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4352605)
But if he'd kept up his strength and conditioning like most modern players, or even just spent his winters stomping around in the woods hunting the way that the old time country ballplayers used to, then there's probably a very good chance he could have stretched his peak. But when you spend your leisure hours outside the ballpark mostly sitting on your butt or lying in bed, then making it much past your early 30's isn't something you should count on.


Maybe he should have wintered in San Francisco and spent his days working on his dad's fishing boat.
   125. Morty Causa Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4352631)
Athletes (and their coaches, trainers, and advisers) used to think you needed a fallow period for your body to recover and regenerate. Simply staying in condition year-round, I think, was one of those paradigm changes.
   126. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4352654)
Maybe he should have wintered in San Francisco and spent his days working on his dad's fishing boat.

Yeah, although Dimaggio's main motivation in pursuing a ballplaying career was to escape the smell of fish.

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

Athletes (and their coaches, trainers, and advisers) used to think you needed a fallow period for your body to recover and regenerate. Simply staying in condition year-round, I think, was one of those paradigm changes.

That's true as a general rule, and yet you always had counter-examples of players who spent the offseason outdoors, tramping around the woods in pursuit of food or sport or working on the family farm.
   127. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4352658)
Dimaggio's main motivation in pursuing a ballplaying career was to escape the smell of fish.

It's nothing that smelly bear grease couldn't have fixed.
   128. AROM Posted: January 22, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4352722)
Depends on when he began his rehab, since Dimaggio's neglect of his body dated back to when he started hanging out late nights at the Broadway joints, chain smoking and drinking like a fish. That stuff can wear you down after a while, and it goes a long way to explaining why so few players back then played into their late 30's.


I don't think you'll see any chain smoking today but the fish still find their drinks and stay out late partying.

In Joe's final season there were 82 batters who qualified for the batting title. 6 were age 35 or greater, and 5 of those were exactly 35. Joe at 36 was the oldest.

Last year there were 144 players qualified, and 12 were 35 or older, only a slightly higher percent. Just 3 were older than DiMaggio, those being Jeter, Ichiro, and Jamey Carroll. A-Rod among 6 players playing at age 36.

Using the PA cutoff like that will exclude guys like Chipper Jones, who was 40 but too banged up to play every day.

Other than the Yankees though, it is still extremely rare for players to play regularly into your late 30's.

OK, looking at guys with between 200-500 PA, in 1951 9 of 94 were 35 or older. In 2013 20 of 203 were. Not much difference there.
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