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Friday, September 07, 2012

This Land: Swingin’ Mick

Preston Peavy, a baseball hitting coach, uses kinematics in his Atlanta training facility to study the properties that lead to successful slugging. While his primary use for such data is to teach current players how to be more efficient at the plate, he has used archived footage to apply his study of motion to Mickey Mantle. “Violent” is the word Peavy often employs in describing Mantle’s swing. “This was pure, blue-collar, farm-boy aggressiveness. Unbridled aggression is what made Mantle Mantle.”

A really well-written look back at The Mick, and how his physique caused both his rise and fall.

Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:29 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, mickey mantle, yankees

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   1. UCCF Posted: September 07, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4229322)
Unbridled aggression is what made Mantle Mantle.

Yes, but unbridled enthusiasm is what led to his downfall. Just like Billy Mumphrey.
   2. Dangerous Dean Posted: September 07, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4229352)
I never get tired of hearing about Mick. What a superb athlete he was. The story said that Babe Ruth was a CF, though:

The lineage of Yankee centerfielders went like this: Ruth, DiMaggio and Mantle—“The Babe,” “The Clipper” and “The Mick”—and for the early part of Mantle’s career, the Bronx faithful were none too happy about his ascendance to the throne.


I know that was the lineage of elite NY outfielders. But not CFs. Babe was mostly a rightfielder, wasn't he? I remember Coombs played CF in 1927.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 07, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4229356)
Babe was mostly a rightfielder, wasn't he? I remember Coombs played CF in 1927.

Once the Yankees figured it out, Ruth played whichever corner outfield position was opposite the sunfield: RF in Yankee Stadium, LF in Fenway Park, etc., etc.
   4. AROM Posted: September 07, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4229435)
Once the Yankees figured it out, Ruth played whichever corner outfield position was opposite the sunfield: RF in Yankee Stadium, LF in Fenway Park, etc., etc.


Ruth played some CF, 74 games in his career, though none after 1924. I strongly suspect his avoidance of the sunfield is the reason behind his surprisingly good rfield numbers (+79 career). Basically I've got him as an excellent fielder up to about age 32 and then an average one from there to the end of his career.

My guess is with better data he would be a good outfielder for a few early seasons, average for a few, and well below average towards the end. Though another possibility is that his great eyesight and quick reactions, which he obviously had as a hitter, served him well in getting jumps in the outfield, allowing him to get to more balls than you'd expect a big fat guy to get.
   5. SandyRiver Posted: September 07, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4229441)
In the Leavy bio, Mick is quoted as saying he never, after the 1951 WS injury, played a game without severe pain. If, as the article posits, he had an unhealing ACL tear - for over 2,300 games - just, wow!

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, these are the saddest, "It might have been." Imagine ACL surgery in '51. He loses half or more of '52, but then plays on two sound legs thereafter, for a while at least the Mantle we never really saw.
   6. AROM Posted: September 07, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4229444)
In Mantle’s early years in the league, the most intimidating ball field he had to brave wasn’t on the road, but at home. Fans exiting Yankee Stadium through the egress in center field were often brutal. Mantle was several times hit, spat upon, and the recipient of endless vocal threats. The New York Post reported, “Mantle Is Mauled,” after an incident in which Mantle’s hat was stolen and “young toughs” punched him in the jaw. The altercations became so frequent that the Yankee organization assembled a group of would-be bouncers, the so-called “Suicide Squad,” at the edge of the infield at the conclusion of home games to protect Mantle. Many of the fans hated Mantle for being a “hick,” for being injury prone, but most of all for replacing their hero, the great DiMaggio.


Wow. Hard to imagine this happening today. I doubt anyone would personally admit to being one of these young toughs. Find them today (the ones who are still around) and they'll tell you Mickey was their hero from the start.
   7. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 07, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4229453)
And people wonder why he drank.....
   8. AROM Posted: September 07, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4229457)
Even with that knee, Mantle's speed stats are pretty good. From 1952-62 he stole 125 bases, caught only 22 times. Hit into only about 5 DP per year. He was on 2B when a single was hit 248 times, and scored 208 times. Stopped at 3rd 37 and I assume he was thrown out 3 times.
   9. Mefisto Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4229499)
This is kind of tangential to your point, but I thought DP rates had more to do with being an extreme FB hitter than speed. Frank Thomas grounded into fewer DPs than Henry Aaron, but surely Aaron was faster. Aaron was just more of a line drive hitter.
   10. phredbird Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4229561)
allowing him to get to more balls than you'd expect a big fat guy to get


ruth wasnt fat until towards the end of his career, and even then he wasn't some tub of lard. he just had a big middle.

In Mantle’s early years in the league, the most intimidating ball field he had to brave wasn’t on the road, but at home. Fans exiting Yankee Stadium through the egress in center field were often brutal. Mantle was several times hit, spat upon, and the recipient of endless vocal threats ...


geez, no wonder NY got the reputation for being a tough place to play. i've heard other stories about fan rowdiness at polo grounds too. brother.
   11. AROM Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4229594)
This is kind of tangential to your point, but I thought DP rates had more to do with being an extreme FB hitter than speed. Frank Thomas grounded into fewer DPs than Henry Aaron, but surely Aaron was faster. Aaron was just more of a line drive hitter.


Strikeouts matter too, you can't GIDP if you strike out. Mantle's GIDP numbers, adjusted for ground ball/man on first opportunities, are excellent through 1962. After that he's a little below average.
   12. Zach Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4229613)
Imagine ACL surgery in '51. He loses half or more of '52, but then plays on two sound legs thereafter, for a while at least the Mantle we never really saw.

Even after it was available, ACL surgery was limited for a long time. My Dad tore his ACL in the '80s. He looked into getting the surgery done, but the surgeon basically told him that learning to do without would serve him better in the long run. You can actually do a lot of things without an ACL, as long as you avoid planting and twisting -- like, say, swinging a baseball bat.
   13. bjhanke Posted: September 07, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4229655)
Hitting the ball hard inflates your GDP rate, too, I believe. That's why guys like Jim Rice, who was hardly known as a ground ball hitter, hit into so many DPs. The ball got to the shortstop or 3B very quickly, and Rice wasn't all that fast. Albert Pujols has this, too. It's the only weakness I have found in him. He hits into DPs when he's not getting the ball in the air. And again, it's because he hits grounders really really hard, so if a SS or 3B gets to them, they can turn the DP way before Albert can get to first. - Brock Hanke
   14. Morty Causa Posted: September 07, 2012 at 06:40 PM (#4229768)
I don't know if this has been verified, or if it can be, but I remember reading that the Yankee trainer, or maybe it was the Yankee doctor, who dealt with both DiMaggio and Mantle said that Mantle's pain threshold was much higher than DiMaggio's. Meaning that Mickey played when he was more hurt. Anyone else heard of this?
   15. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 06:49 PM (#4229771)
I don't know if this has been verified, or if it can be, but I remember reading that the Yankee trainer, or maybe it was the Yankee doctor, who dealt with both DiMaggio and Mantle said that Mantle's pain threshold was much higher than DiMaggio's. Meaning that Mickey played when he was more hurt. Anyone else heard of this?

that's fairly well accepted
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: September 07, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4229778)
Hitting the ball hard inflates your GDP rate, too, I believe. That's why guys like Jim Rice, who was hardly known as a ground ball hitter, hit into so many DPs. The ball got to the shortstop or 3B very quickly, and Rice wasn't all that fast.


Rice actually had decent speed when he was younger (he had 15 triples in back-to-back seasons in 77-78). His DP totals are only eye-poppingly high during the four-year stretch from 1982-85, and the primary culprit didn't have much to do with Jim Ed. It was the fact that a lot of those games featured him hitting behind two sluggish on-base machines in Boggs and Evans. You hit third behind those two fellas, you're going to find yourself in an awful lot of DP situations.
   17. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 07, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4229783)
This Land: Swingin’ Mick


If I use the N word I'm an ass-hole, but anyone can casually use the M word and my people just have to sit and take it?
   18. Morty Causa Posted: September 07, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4229790)
15:

Thanks, good to have that confirmed. I was beginning to think I had dreamed it.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: September 07, 2012 at 07:34 PM (#4229794)
Even after it was available, ACL surgery was limited for a long time.

Even today, for normal people, it's far from an obvious choice. Athletes probably don't have much choice -- although I've heard of even good amateur tennis players who've been able to carry on which kinda amazes me -- but normal people do. The rehab from the surgery is harder than the rehab from the injury and the surgery doesn't always return you 90-95% ... although I suppose that may be folks who don't do the full proper rehab. The main risk for a normal person of not getting the surgery is that you are more likely to develop arthritis in the knee sooner (that's me) but I've found that perfectly manageable by switching from long walks to cycling as my main exercise. Eventually I'm looking at knee replacement but so are lots of other folks without ACL tears.

For me the decision was really all about the money. At the time, grad students at UNC were not given health insurance (basic student health care yes) and so I couldn't afford the surgery. But all it's really meant for me was I had to give up basketball (which is how I got hurt) and softball -- which I was starting to really suck at anyway.

I've always assumed that Banks' knee injury was an ACL too, certainly he was a severely diminished player afterwards. I think it was also what diminished Scott May's career (although Wiki says nothing about this).
   20. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: September 07, 2012 at 08:58 PM (#4229815)
If I use the N word I'm an ass-hole, but anyone can casually use the M word and my people just have to sit and take it?
Hey, man, as long as my people have to deal with guys named Hunky, you're stuck with guys named Mick.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:40 PM (#4229831)
This Land: Swingin’ Mick

Gerry Mulligan?
   22. Dangerous Dean Posted: September 08, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4230202)
I guess the most obvious thing is: WHY would you hate an extraordinarily talented kid just because he didn't grow up in your neighborhood and isn't the Yankee Clipper?

As a Ranger fan, I can't imagine having Josh Hamilton putting up MVP numbers for a decade or more and then hating a whiz kid who comes up after him because he's NOT Josh. But maybe this was something Yankee-centric that I am just not capable of understanding.

Way to make one of the best players in history hate you, Yankee fan.
   23. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4230221)

If I use the N word I'm an ass-hole, but anyone can casually use the M word and my people just have to sit and take it?


Poor Paddy, someone give the lad 40 acres and a potato.
   24. Jose Canusee Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4230256)
Would have liked to see some video footage or series of still like they do with pitchers nowadays. "Violent" swings in my mind are young Matt Stairs, he hit homers less like the long uppercut you often see than an ax man in a tree cutting competitition with a chainsaw.
   25. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 08, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4230325)
Poor Paddy, someone give the lad 40 acres and a potato.


If I wasn't so drunk this morning I could have taken offense to this.
   26. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4230333)
Gee, better sober up soon, aren't you supposed to be on patrol today?
   27. AROM Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4230414)
"As a Ranger fan, I can't imagine having Josh Hamilton putting up MVP numbers for a decade or more and then hating a whiz kid who comes up after him because he's NOT Josh. But maybe this was something Yankee-centric that I am just not capable of understanding."

It is hard to understand. But I tried to imagine a hypothetical comparison. Imagine Jurickson Profar was coming up for the Yankees. Yeah, I could see some hate coming his way from the Jeter fanboys.
   28. Morty Causa Posted: September 09, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4230851)
I guess the most obvious thing is: WHY would you hate an extraordinarily talented kid just because he didn't grow up in your neighborhood and isn't the Yankee Clipper?


Yeah, and that sort of mentality doesn't just apply to baseball or sports. People will demonize and villainize, and they don't need much cause.

But, as for Mantle, he did have some serious blowback from his military deferment during the Korean War. Doesn't have anything to do with baseball, but it seriously colored the way fans viewed Mantlej--for a while, anyway.
   29. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4230980)
Gee, better sober up soon, aren't you supposed to be on patrol today?


How can I stay sober when I'm on bar patrol?
   30. PreservedFish Posted: September 09, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4230995)
Imagine Jurickson Profar was coming up for the Yankees. Yeah, I could see some hate coming his way from the Jeter fanboys.


Some hate from a few idiots is always possible. And Profar would have issues in his first year or two, when it looks like he's pushing Jeter out the door faster. But if Jeter had retired of his own volition and Profar was the best damn prospect ever and was immediately one of the best players in baseball? I can't imagine it anything but exuberant love for him.

If Jeter was replaced by a guy like Starlin Castro that is perceived to have lots of issues with hustle, game smarts, etc? Then it's easy to imagine.
   31. McCoy Posted: September 09, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4231023)
Mantle did not have a smooth transition from minor leaguer to major leaguer which I'm sure played a part in the way the fans and media treated mickey in the early years.

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