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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Womack: Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Maury Wills

According to the Kappelhoff database-ballplayer index. ####### NO!

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? This post was inspired a piece from Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray in January 1978, not long after Wills first fell short on the Hall of Fame ballot with the writers. Murray wrote:

  It’s a good thing these guys aren’t on the gates of heaven. It’s all right to be selective, but will someone in the congregation please rise and tell me why Maury Wills only got 115 votes? Will someone please tell why Rabbit Maranville is in the Hall of Fame and Maury Wills isn’t?

Murray went on to point out Wills’ 1962 record (since broken multiple times), career marks and his impact on bringing back the steal. He added:

  If Maury Wills doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, Babe Ruth doesn’t. He did the same thing Ruth did–change a national pastime, forever. For him to get only 115 votes and finish 11th behind a pack of journeymen players is a joke.

...For me, though, Wills’ career was too brief, his game didn’t offer much besides base running (though he did win two Gold Gloves) and his career marks aren’t impressive. He ranks 19th all-time in career steals. Raines is fifth all-time and until he gets a plaque, I can’t support giving one to Wills. These days, Wills seems more like the Home Run Baker of base stealers than the Babe Ruth.

Repoz Posted: June 30, 2010 at 11:31 AM | 84 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dodgers, hall of fame, history

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   1. BDC Posted: June 30, 2010 at 12:18 PM (#3574965)
Can we just have a standing "no" for these articles? :)
   2. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 30, 2010 at 12:25 PM (#3574969)
Is this article part of a bigger project? I mean, is anyone else besides Jim Murray in 1978 pushing for Wills? Yes, I RTFA, but I still don't quite get the context.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 30, 2010 at 12:39 PM (#3574974)
Is this article part of a bigger project? I mean, is anyone else besides Jim Murray in 1978 pushing for Wills? Yes, I RTFA, but I still don't quite get the context.

Concur.

Is Wills even HOVG? We're scraping down into the "Hall of one great season and otherwise a little better than average" with Wills and Beltre.
   4. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: June 30, 2010 at 12:42 PM (#3574976)
Of course Tony Womack wants to know if Willis is going in.
   5. jyjjy Posted: June 30, 2010 at 12:57 PM (#3574983)
Tony Womack's breathtaking awfulness(351 PA - .249/.276/.280) in his short time as a Yankee is what directly led to Cano getting at chance at 2B. If he had just been bad instead it may have taken another few years for Cano to get a chance, or more likely he would've been traded. So I'll give him my vote for the hall.
   6. sptaylor Posted: June 30, 2010 at 01:08 PM (#3574992)
Is this article part of a bigger project? I mean, is anyone else besides Jim Murray in 1978 pushing for Wills? Yes, I RTFA, but I still don't quite get the context.

There was a line at the end, with a link: Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here. If you click on the link, you get to see the past features, back to the start of the column (June 1, 2010, so it's still relatively new). Chipper Jones was last week, Albert Belle the week before that, Don Mattingly before that, and he (Graham Womack, not Tony) started with Don Newcombe. Pretty well written, in my opinion.
   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 30, 2010 at 01:25 PM (#3575006)
Of course Wills is no Hall of Famer. Not nearly a long enough peak, and to let him in would set the bar way too low.

But he did bring back the stolen base to a level not seen since the days of Ty Cobb, and for a brief period, he was one of the Dodgers' key offensive weapons. Every one of his teammates and opponents would attest to that. And his MVP season wasn't nearly as bogus as some people have claimed, even though there were at least 2 or 3 better candidates in a year that featured a disproportionate number of MVP-type seasons.

The only problem is that 1962 was the ONLY season he had like that, and he only had 2 or 3 other seasons where his SB success rate was such that it did his team much good, and of course even in the context of his era a .330 OBP wasn't anything for a leadoff batter to write to Cooperstown about. If he'd been a pitcher, he'd be something like Dick Ellsworth.
   8. RJ in TO Posted: June 30, 2010 at 01:29 PM (#3575011)
Where in line is Wills among currently unelected SS candidates?

I'd have to imagine that he's behind (at least, and in no particular order) Trammell, Vizquel, Fernandez, Concepcion, Larkin, Campaneris, Fregosi, Stephens, and several others (depensing on who you do and don't consider to be primarily a SS). His whole case is based on the hope that people won't notice that, outside of 1962 and 1963, he really wasn't very good.
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 30, 2010 at 01:35 PM (#3575020)
His whole case is based on the hope that people won't notice that, outside of 1962 and 1963, he really wasn't very good.

You can see by the votes that the farther that 1962 receded in memory, the fewer votes he got, although his big dropoff came in the first vote after his drug bust.

Hall of Fame
1978 BBWAA (30.3%)
1979 BBWAA (38.4%)
1980 BBWAA (37.9%)
1981 BBWAA (40.6%)
1982 BBWAA (21.9%)
1983 BBWAA (20.6%)
1984 BBWAA (25.8%)
1985 BBWAA (23.5%)
1986 BBWAA (29.2%)
1987 BBWAA (27.4%)
1988 BBWAA (29.7%)
1989 BBWAA (21.3%)
1990 BBWAA (21.4%)
1991 BBWAA (13.8%)
1992 BBWAA (25.6%)
   10. RJ in TO Posted: June 30, 2010 at 01:43 PM (#3575030)
although his big dropoff came in the first vote after his drug bust.

It also came after his historically disastrous stint as manager of the Mariners.
   11. zack Posted: June 30, 2010 at 01:48 PM (#3575036)
Willis is certainly no hall-of-famer, but he is deserving of a higher honor: best player born in a continental territory!
   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 30, 2010 at 01:50 PM (#3575038)
It also came after his historically disastrous stint as manager of the Mariners.

he's kind of almost the reverse Rizzuto/George Kell--those guys went in largely because they stayed in the public eye as announcers and people liked them; the more Wills remained in the public eye, the worse his support got
   13. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 30, 2010 at 01:59 PM (#3575048)
Also, shouldn't Alston get the credit for bringing back the stolen base? Why does Wills get the credit for re-popularizing a tactical decision?
   14. Ray (CTL) Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:13 PM (#3575057)
More CS than I'd realized.

It was either James or Neyer who proclaimed Wills one of the worst managers ever.

And his life off the field seems to have been something of a mess.
   15. RJ in TO Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:18 PM (#3575060)
It was either James or Neyer who proclaimed Wills one of the worst managers ever.

It was probably both, and pretty much anyone else who is familiar with his time in the role. In my (admittedly limited) reading on the subject, I've never seen anyone be anything less than scorching in their reviews of his managerial talents. I've got one book around here somewhere that spends a decent amount of time just reviewing his highlight blunders (like calling for a player who was sent down a week ago to pinch hit), without getting into the more day to day stupidity.
   16. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:20 PM (#3575065)
Maury Wills had one of the steepest dropoffs in HoF support in history. Guys at 40% don't fall to 20%. They just don't - except for Wills and Steve Garvey.
   17. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:24 PM (#3575070)
Also, shouldn't Alston get the credit for bringing back the stolen base? Why does Wills get the credit for re-popularizing a tactical decision?

Probably for the same reason that batting coaches don't get much credit when a player hits 50 home runs. It's a lot easier to order a stolen base than it is to steal 104 of them in a year.
   18. KingKaufman Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:25 PM (#3575074)
If Wills hadn't "brought back the stolen base," wouldn't someone else have done it? Didn't the big parks and pitchers' dominance of his era call for more running? Wasn't it the play of the game that brought back the stolen base, and Wills happened to be the best base stealer of the time?

He should get props for being the best base stealer of his day, or at least the most prolific, ignoring CS. But I really don't think it was "Hey, Maury's stealing bases. What a good idea!"
   19. OsunaSakata Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:26 PM (#3575078)
Wills is certainly no hall-of-famer, but he is deserving of a higher honor: best player born in a continental territory!


Arguably, that's Lu Blue.

Maury and I share a birthday, but doing Doris Day is not a HOF qualification. I seem to remember one Sunday when the ESPN cameras found him in the Bob Uecker seats of Dodger Stadium as if the team was afraid of the association. John and Joe talked to Wills into the booth for a few minutes.
   20. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:28 PM (#3575079)
It's a lot easier to order a stolen base than it is to steal 104 of them in a year.

You don't think Durocher could have had Willie Mays steal a hundred bases?
   21. RJ in TO Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:30 PM (#3575080)
If Wills hadn't "brought back the stolen base," wouldn't someone else have done it?

Wasn't Aparicio already doing it, several years before Wills "brought back the stolen base."
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:35 PM (#3575082)
The great Jim Murray, using the "hey, he's better than Rabbit Maranville, so...." meme.

And it's not even true anyway.
   23. Ray (CTL) Posted: June 30, 2010 at 02:51 PM (#3575094)
but doing Doris Day is not a HOF qualification.


According to Wiki she denies this:

Wills claims to have had a love affair with actress Doris Day. Day denied this in her autobiography Doris Day: Her Own Story, and said it was probably advanced by the Dodgers organization for publicity purposes.

Though this could be similar to the Frasier episode where Roz denied she had slept with Bulldog.
   24. AndrewJ Posted: June 30, 2010 at 03:29 PM (#3575125)
he's kind of almost the reverse Rizzuto/George Kell--those guys went in largely because they stayed in the public eye as announcers and people liked them;

Kiner and Ashburn are sort of in that category -- IMHO they were both better than Rizzuto or Kell, but hanging around as broadcasters definitely helped.
   25. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 30, 2010 at 03:36 PM (#3575135)
If Wills hadn't "brought back the stolen base," wouldn't someone else have done it? Didn't the big parks and pitchers' dominance of his era call for more running? Wasn't it the play of the game that brought back the stolen base, and Wills happened to be the best base stealer of the time?

He should get props for being the best base stealer of his day, or at least the most prolific, ignoring CS. But I really don't think it was "Hey, Maury's stealing bases. What a good idea!"


That's kind of like saying that if Ruth hadn't come along, someone other big guy would have started swinging for the fences. Both statements are true, but both Ruth and Wills far outstripped their closest rivals, and Wills dramatically raised the bar for what the stolen base might do for an offense in a pitcher's era.

And anyway, I said right from the start that Wills isn't a HoFer, so I'm not sure where you're trying to go with this, other than trying to create a strawman.

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

It's a lot easier to order a stolen base than it is to steal 104 of them in a year.

You don't think Durocher could have had Willie Mays steal a hundred bases?


Maybe he could have, but he didn't. What's the point?

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

If Wills hadn't "brought back the stolen base," wouldn't someone else have done it?

Wasn't Aparicio already doing it, several years before Wills "brought back the stolen base."


56 is not 104, especially since they both got caught 13 times.
   26. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 30, 2010 at 03:47 PM (#3575150)
Maybe he could have, but he didn't. What's the point?

The reason why Mays and Sam Jethroe and Richie Ashburn didn't steal those bases was because their manager didn't want them to, not that they couldn't. Alston let/wanted Wills to run at will which was a tactical choice of Alston, not Wills.
   27. JPWF13 Posted: June 30, 2010 at 03:47 PM (#3575151)
56 is not 104, especially since they both got caught 13 times.


No, but when Aparicio stole 56, 51 and 53 from 1959-61, those were the three highest yearly totals in 15 years

but anyway, 104 SBs in a year is no more impressive to me than 67 doubles (less in fact)
   28. Ray (CTL) Posted: June 30, 2010 at 03:51 PM (#3575156)
And anyway, I said right from the start that Wills isn't a HoFer, so I'm not sure where you're trying to go with this, other than trying to create a strawman.


That's not justification enough?
   29. bunyon Posted: June 30, 2010 at 03:58 PM (#3575165)
To be fair, I'm sure the Dodgers had trouble keeping track of which players had done Doris Day.
   30. Steve Treder Posted: June 30, 2010 at 03:59 PM (#3575166)
The reason why Mays and Sam Jethroe and Richie Ashburn didn't steal those bases was because their manager didn't want them to, not that they couldn't. Alston let/wanted Wills to run at will which was a tactical choice of Alston, not Wills.

This oversimplifies it. Obviously no player can steal 100 bases unless his manager allows him the opportunity, but that isn't the same thing as saying that if his manager allowed him the opportunity, any really fast guy can steal 100 bases.

Stealing 100 bases is a damn difficult feat. Set aside whether it's really all that valuable tactically or not, it's just a damn difficult feat, physically punishing. Your shins, knees, and thighs are in chronic bleeding strawberry mode. I'm not at all convinced that Mays or Jethroe or Ashburn could have done it.
   31. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 30, 2010 at 04:05 PM (#3575172)
This oversimplifies it. Obviously no player can steal 100 bases unless his manager allows him the opportunity, but that isn't the same thing as saying that if his manager allowed him the opportunity, any really fast guy can steal 100 bases.


I'm oversimplifying it becaue my original point is that Alston deserves the credit for seeing a tactical advantage of using Wills to steal bases when other managers might not have. Wills gets the credit for stealing the bases but I would argue Alston should get the credit for re-emphasizing its strategic use just as Dennis Eckersley gets credit for saving a bunch of games but Tony LaRussa gets the credit (blame) for the way his talents were put to use.
   32. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 30, 2010 at 04:06 PM (#3575174)
but anyway, 104 SBs in a year is no more impressive to me than 67 doubles (less in fact)

I'll bear that in mind.
   33. Steve Treder Posted: June 30, 2010 at 04:09 PM (#3575177)
Wills gets the credit for stealing the bases but I would argue Alston should get the credit for re-emphasizing its strategic use

No argument with that. But let's not allow ourselves to overlook just what a remarkable feat it was that Wills accomplished.
   34. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 30, 2010 at 04:09 PM (#3575179)
I'm oversimplifying it becaue my original point is that Alston deserves the credit for seeing a tactical advantage of using Wills to steal bases when other managers might not have. Wills gets the credit for stealing the bases but I would argue Alston should get the credit for re-emphasizing its strategic use just as Dennis Eckersley gets credit for saving a bunch of games but Tony LaRussa gets the credit (blame) for the way his talents were put to use.

You just made your point a lot clearer than you did the first time around. I can certainly see giving Alston credit for seeing the potential that he had in Wills, but the primary credit still has to go to the player.
   35. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 30, 2010 at 04:11 PM (#3575182)
No argument with that. But let's not allow ourselves to overlook just what a remarkable feat it was that Wills accomplished.

I'm not overlooking it. I learned baseball from watching Billy Martin's A's!
   36. RJ in TO Posted: June 30, 2010 at 04:22 PM (#3575193)
I learned baseball from watching Billy Martin's A's!

Do pitchers reflexively hate you?
   37. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 30, 2010 at 04:27 PM (#3575198)
Do pitchers reflexively hate you?

No, but they tend to shudder a lot for reasons they can't identify when I'm around. Bartenders love me, though!
   38. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: June 30, 2010 at 06:50 PM (#3575373)
I logged into this thread thinking they were plumping for Dooley Womack...Seriously.
   39. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: June 30, 2010 at 09:31 PM (#3575489)
I dunno, I'd say Wills is probably in the same general boat as Aparico, Maranville, Vizquel, Concepcion et al.

That said shortstop is a funny position. Guys like Tony Fernandez also belong in the above group of borderliners and he was given barely a thought. Campaneris was even a little better and he was pretty much instantly dismissed too. Rico Petrocelli, Dick McAuliffe, Jim Fregosi, Vern Stephens, Roger Peckinpaugh and Dick Bartell also fit into this group.

Seems like the HOF really has had trouble distinguishing the in and out groups. Wills looks like an "out" but so do several of the current "ins".

That's probably why the Trammell case is so frustrating. He pretty clearly distinguishes himself from that whole mess of guys, some of whom are in, many more of whom are out and yet he still isn't in.
   40. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 30, 2010 at 09:46 PM (#3575498)
The reason why Mays and Sam Jethroe and Richie Ashburn didn't steal those bases was because their manager didn't want them to, not that they couldn't. Alston let/wanted Wills to run at will which was a tactical choice of Alston, not Wills.

During the hoopla over Jose Canseco's unprecedented 40/40 season, somebody asked Willie Mays about it. Mays said something along the lines of, "Gee, if I'd known it was such a big deal, I would have done it a couple of times."
   41. Morty Causa Posted: June 30, 2010 at 10:18 PM (#3575509)
Hey, Willie, if you would have known someone would have let a ball bounce off his skull into the stands, would you have done that, too? There's nothing Willie can't do--he can even do the hand jive.

No argument with that. But let's not allow ourselves to overlook just what a remarkable feat it was that Wills accomplished.


No doubt. It was quite a feat. But, really, how valuable was it?
   42. Ron J Posted: June 30, 2010 at 10:25 PM (#3575513)
#39 I think it's pretty clear that shortstops who are outstanding defensively do better than they objectively should and that the offensive shortstops do significantly less well.

In a sense the voters are still in the mindet of the 70s when it comes to SS.
   43. phredbird Posted: June 30, 2010 at 10:35 PM (#3575516)
To be fair, I'm sure the Dodgers had trouble keeping track of which players had done Doris Day.


just to go off on a tangent, my g.f. and i were house hunting the other day, and we were looking at a place that used to belong to this guy who was the producer/director of doris day's old tv show. he's dead now, but the son is alive, he's selling the house, and he was telling me about doris day. she used to visit them regularly back in the day and he said 'once she got a couple of drinks in her she was no girl scout.'
   44. Steve Treder Posted: June 30, 2010 at 10:36 PM (#3575517)
During the hoopla over Jose Canseco's unprecedented 40/40 season, somebody asked Willie Mays about it. Mays said something along the lines of, "Gee, if I'd known it was such a big deal, I would have done it a couple of times."

Which is the sort of jocular self-promotion with which Mays has always charmed the sportswriters. But that doesn't make it true.

Mays stole exactly 40 bases once. The next year he was clearly going for it again, but fell short because he got thrown out 19 times in 57 attempts. After that, he never ran nearly as freely again, only attempting as many as 30 steals in a season three more times.

In all the world, there is no bigger fan of Willie Mays than me. He was an absolutely magnificent player, and among his very greatest skills was his spectacular baserunning. But consider me highly skeptical that he could have just tossed off a few 40/40 seasons if he felt like it.

Mays delivered outstanding basestealing value via his excellent percentage stealing (338 SBs at a 77% success rate). But a guy like that is able to compile the excellent percentage precisely because he isn't running all the time: he picked his spots, when his legs were freshest, ran only against pitchers against whom he could get the jump and/or lesser-throwing catchers, and/or only when the game situation demanded it. By contrast, a guy like Wills in 1962 was running all the time, almost every time he was on base, against the toughest pitchers and catchers, and far beyond the point when his legs were beaten all to hell.

The tactical value of it is surely questionable, but stealing mega-totals of bases in a season -- say, 70 or 80 or more -- is a truly impressive athletic feat that I don't think we always recognize.

And Wills stealing 104 in 117 attempts in 1962 was absolutely astounding, an amazing feat. Bear in mind that his running increased down the stretch that year, through the most grueling final weeks of that pressure-cooker pennant race, when he was physically exhausted. Wills stole 22 bases in 24 attempts in August, and, get this, 31 in 35 attempts in 30 games in September/October.
   45. phredbird Posted: June 30, 2010 at 10:52 PM (#3575524)
brock got caught 33 times when he stole 118 bases in 74. he was one of my favorite players when i was a kid, but every time i look him up there's some other thing about him that diminishes his value. :(
   46. Greg Goosen at 30 Posted: June 30, 2010 at 11:05 PM (#3575539)
A 78% successful stolen base ratio is diminishing his value?
   47. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 30, 2010 at 11:18 PM (#3575548)
And Wills stealing 104 in 117 attempts in 1962 was absolutely astounding, an amazing feat. Bear in mind that his running increased down the stretch that year, through the most grueling final weeks of that pressure-cooker pennant race, when he was physically exhausted. Wills stole 22 bases in 24 attempts in August, and, get this, 31 in 35 attempts in 30 games in September/October.

And to top it off, Wills went 4 for 5 and stole three bases in the final game of the NL playoff, including a steal of third that induced a wild throw that led to what looked to be the clinching run of the game, until the Dodgers' bullpen blew it in the ninth. From the time he stole that last base till the time the bullpen blew it, the TV commentators were touting Wills as not just the MVP of that mini-series, but as the MVP of the season. For a non-power hitter in the deciding game of a season, it was the most electrifying performance imaginable, and it almost certainly locked up that MVP award for him.

Of course as great as Wills was in that game, it was Willie Mays who nearly killed Ed Roebuck with a line drive a few minutes after Wills's final steal, and set the stage for Stan Williams to become the Ralph Branca of 1962. Steve could probably tell you something about Willie Mays in the last month of that season. Mays was pretty sporty himself.
   48. Steve Treder Posted: June 30, 2010 at 11:30 PM (#3575560)
Steve could probably tell you something about Willie Mays in the last month of that season. Mays was pretty sporty himself.

Oh, you mean like hitting 337/437/673 in September/October, with 9 HRs and 28 RBIs in 28 games? Like hitting the 8th-inning HR off Dick Farrell to win the crucial pennant-tying game on the last day of the regular season, and then the 1st-inning HR off Koufax to start the rout in the first game of the playoffs? Like that?

Nah.
   49. Mefisto Posted: June 30, 2010 at 11:48 PM (#3575571)
During the hoopla over Jose Canseco's unprecedented 40/40 season, somebody asked Willie Mays about it. Mays said something along the lines of, "Gee, if I'd known it was such a big deal, I would have done it a couple of times."


Actually, it was Mickey Mantle who said that. Anybody want to take back their snarks at Mays?

Like hitting the 8th-inning HR off Dick Farrell to win the crucial pennant-tying game on the last day of the regular season


And I was in the stands that day for my first ever ballgame. It's been downhill ever since.
   50. phredbird Posted: June 30, 2010 at 11:54 PM (#3575575)
A 78% successful stolen base ratio is diminishing his value?


dang, bad math on my part. but it's still borderline, no?
   51. Steve Treder Posted: July 01, 2010 at 12:00 AM (#3575578)
Actually, it was Mickey Mantle who said that. Anybody want to take back their snarks at Mays?

Mays says stuff like that all the time. When Pac Bell park first opened, and with the short dimension down the right field line people were speculating that maybe Barry Bonds might hit 50 home runs for the first time, Mays said that wouldn't impress him, because, "I could bunt 50 home runs in this park."

Mays always says this kind of stuff with a disarming smile, and the press eats it up. But among his many gifts, astute self-promotion has never been lacking.
   52. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 01, 2010 at 12:08 AM (#3575581)
No, Mefisto's right and I misattributed the statement. I always mix up Willie, Mickey and the Duke, along with Homer and Jethro, and Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.
   53. Ron J Posted: July 01, 2010 at 12:15 AM (#3575584)
78% successful stolen base ratio is diminishing his value?


More like delivering substantially less value than the OP expected given the raw SB total. Only picked off 4 times which is pretty impressive given how frequently he ran. Rickey was picked off 18 times to go with his 42 CS in 1982.

According to Tom Ruane Brock's 118 isn't in the top 20 most valuable base stealing seasons (worth just under 8 runs -- Henderson's 130 were worth just under 7), though Brock did finish up with the 7th most career value for stolen bases.

Wills didn't crack the top 20 in career value despite having the second most valuable base stealing season according to Tom's method.
   54. Steve Treder Posted: July 01, 2010 at 12:15 AM (#3575585)
No, Mefisto's right and I misattributed the statement.

Sure, but my point is that even though Mays wasn't quoted saying that, it's the sort of thing he often does say. And, as when Mantle said it, it's charming and funny, but shouldn't be interpreted as factual analysis.
   55. Mefisto Posted: July 01, 2010 at 12:19 AM (#3575588)
Sure, but my point is that even though Mays wasn't quoted saying that, it's the sort of thing he often does say. And, as when Mantle said it, it's charming and funny, but shouldn't be interpreted as factual analysis.


I had Morty's comment in mind, Steve, not yours. I know you're a fan.
   56. Morty Causa Posted: July 01, 2010 at 12:29 AM (#3575595)
Actually, it was Mickey Mantle who said that. Anybody want to take back their snarks at Mays?


Not to be Mickey's Monkey, but it probably it was funny if Mantle said it. Happy?
   57. Ray (CTL) Posted: July 01, 2010 at 12:52 AM (#3575611)
Yeah, I didn't think it was Mays who said that particular quote - though I couldn't remember who had actually said it.

Mays delivered outstanding basestealing value via his excellent percentage stealing (338 SBs at a 77% success rate). But a guy like that is able to compile the excellent percentage precisely because he isn't running all the time: he picked his spots, when his legs were freshest, ran only against pitchers against whom he could get the jump and/or lesser-throwing catchers, and/or only when the game situation demanded it.


Yes; this is essentially what Bonds did in his later years.

By contrast, a guy like Wills in 1962 was running all the time, almost every time he was on base, against the toughest pitchers and catchers, and far beyond the point when his legs were beaten all to hell.


True, but the proposition wasn't whether Mays could steal 100 -- but whether he could steal 40 a few times.
   58. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 01, 2010 at 03:50 AM (#3575741)
True, but the proposition wasn't whether Mays could steal 100 -- but whether he could steal 40 a few times.

Shooty Rex Posted: June 30, 2010 at 10:28 AM (#3575079)
You don't think Durocher could have had Willie Mays steal a hundred bases?


Mantle was of course the one who made that 40/40 statement, but if Mantle had ever stolen 40 bases in a year, they would have had to carry him off on a stretcher. That would have been playing with pure dynamite.
   59. Ray (CTL) Posted: July 01, 2010 at 04:21 AM (#3575761)
Ok; yeah, no way a manager can just order 100 steals from a good base stealer.
   60. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: July 01, 2010 at 05:38 AM (#3575787)
Ditto that. Not to start another "Ichiro could hit home runs if he wanted to" conversation, but I'll bet he could steal just about as many bases as anyone playing today could if he decided to throw caution to the wind. He's on base all the time, is really fast, and is far from a stupid base runner.

And there's no way he'd get to triple digits.
   61. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 01, 2010 at 06:01 AM (#3575792)
You don't think Durocher could have had Willie Mays steal a hundred bases?

Fun fact: Leo Durocher was a coach on the Dodgers in 1962 when Maury Wills stole 100+ bases. In his autobio, Durocher took personal credit for the Dodgers playing a more wide-open style of player later in the year. He doesn't mention Wills by name, but that's when Wills ran wild.

Now, the above is from a highly dubious source (Durocher was hardly honest in general, an especially so about himself in particular), but I do find it interesting to say don't you think Durocher would've .. . . and he was actually in the dugout when someone did.
   62. DCW3 Posted: July 01, 2010 at 07:40 AM (#3575801)
dang, bad math on my part. but it's still borderline, no?

Borderline is more like 65-70%. A 78% success rate, especially with that many steals, is excellent. By my estimates, Brock's basestealing in '74 was worth more than eight runs above average--that's not prime Wills/Coleman/Henderson territory, but it's still a lot.
   63. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 01, 2010 at 10:29 AM (#3575814)
I have never finished the work but I am absolutely convinced that base stealing can only done one a consistent basis by a precious few due to the impact. The 1992 Brewers ran wild and most of those guys were never the same. Corey Hart has freely admitted he has stayed healthier and focussed more on the batters box now that he has toned down the steal attempts because "I am not thinking how sore I am"

Interesting stuff
   64. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 01, 2010 at 10:43 AM (#3575815)
Ok; yeah, no way a manager can just order 100 steals from a good base stealer.

But a manager could very reasonably order someone capable of stealing 100 bases not to because, unlike Home Runs, stolen bases have a cost-benefit ratio a manager needs take into account.
   65. TomH Posted: July 01, 2010 at 01:02 PM (#3575847)
Looking at the MVP voting, it is obvious that sportswriters in the early 60s were overly impressed by Will, and thus it won't surprise me when some old-timers still pine for him to be honored. I mean, look at these stats (1962 NL), and tell me it ain't one of the strangest MVP votes you've ever seen:

name .... team votes WAR AB runs hits HR RBI SB BB AVG OBA SLG pos defense consensus team standing
Maury Wills LAD 209 06.1 .695 130 208 06 048 104 51 .299 .347 .373 SS - good .................. 1 game out
Willie Mays SFG 202 10.6 . 621 130 189 49 141 018 78 .304 .384 .615 CF - best ever ......... pennant winner

In 1965, Wills had a year where he scored 92 runs, drove in 33, and was 3rd in MVP voting. He drew 5 first-place votes, over such dogs as Sandy (26-8, 2.04) Koufax and Willie (52 HR, 1043 OPS) Mays.

Stolen bases tended to get you a ton of respect. Kind of like Jim Rice and FEAR.
   66. SandyRiver Posted: July 01, 2010 at 02:00 PM (#3575895)
Ditto that. Not to start another "Ichiro could hit home runs if he wanted to" conversation, but I'll bet he could steal just about as many bases as anyone playing today could if he decided to throw caution to the wind. He's on base all the time, is really fast, and is far from a stupid base runner.

That's like the comment attributed to Ty Cobb, late-in-career, that he could've hit homers like Ruth if he'd wanted to, and then hit 5 in 2 games. (To be honest, I've no idea if the comment came before or after the 5-in-2, or if Cobb even made it.) One might think he'd opt for that .600 BA whether homers or singles.
   67. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 01, 2010 at 02:25 PM (#3575921)
Tom (#65), that was indeed a weird MVP vote, but there were a few things at work that are easy to forget nearly 50 years later.

First, the Giants were more or less handed the pennant on a silver platter when the Dodgers made one of their characteristic late season collapses, mostly due to Sandy Koufax's late season injury. Mays's fabulous season wasn't seen within the context of a pennant race until the last few weeks, whereas Wills's heroics were seen in the context of being the defining spark of an assumed pennant winner.

Second, Wills's final game performance was so characteristic of his season that as I noted above, the TV announcers were viewing it as wrapping up what they already saw as an MVP year.

Third, Wills was seen as a pioneer who had pretty much restored the stolen base as a fearsome offensive weapon in an era where plenty of writers were complaining about too many cheap homers and too many strikeouts. Of course none of that should have had anything to do with a great all-around player like Mays, but plenty of people value storylines over facts.

Fourth, many writers both then and now don't see the MVP award as purely statistical. Mays's season, great as it was, was hardly a unique one, whereas Wills's was seen as transcendent and refreshingly "different" from the usual Triple Crown category accumulators. Never underrate the overall narrative when it comes to MVP awards.
   68. Spahn Insane Posted: July 01, 2010 at 02:25 PM (#3575925)
but doing Doris Day is not a HOF qualification.

According to Wiki she denies this:


Ha. I know it's not what Ray intended, but I read this as it's literally written--that is, that Doris Day denies that doing her is a HOF qualification (as opposed to her denying she's been done by Maury Wills). I'd love to see her pop into one of these threads to debate that point...
   69. Spahn Insane Posted: July 01, 2010 at 02:29 PM (#3575932)
Tom (#65), that was indeed a weird MVP vote, but there were a few things at work that are easy to forget nearly 50 years later.

I was struck by the 1971 vote, where Wills finished 6th. It was his last full season, his OPS+ was its usual 91, and he stole 15 bases in 23 attempts. The Dodgers didn't even win their division. Notwithstanding the (apparently justified) negative view of him as a person now, he must've gotten some serious "veteran leadership" points, unless he was playing some kickass defense.
   70. BDC Posted: July 01, 2010 at 02:39 PM (#3575940)
I'd love to see her pop into one of these threads

Unfortunately, the tabloids at my local supermarket inform me that Doris Day has lost the will to live and is fixing to leave her estate to her pets.
   71. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 01, 2010 at 02:40 PM (#3575947)
I was struck by the 1971 vote, where Wills finished 6th. It was his last full season, his OPS+ was its usual 91, and he stole 15 bases in 23 attempts. The Dodgers didn't even win their division. Notwithstanding the (apparently justified) negative view of him as a person now, he must've gotten some serious "veteran leadership" points, unless he was playing some kickass defense.

Which of course he wasn't, but whenever you've got a skinny shortstop who doesn't make a disproportionate number of errors, fielding wizardry is sometimes simply assumed, especially when half the writers back then hadn't likely seen Wills play since 1966.
   72. neilsen Posted: July 01, 2010 at 02:41 PM (#3575948)
I dont think it would have been a huge deal for Mays to steal 40 bases in a season - the National League for whatever reason didnt run much before Mays started and in the fifties - some context regarding how dominant Mays was in basestealing in the 50's

1. Mays led all MLB in the 1950's in total steals…despite missing some of 1951, most of 1952, and all of 1953.
2. He lead MLB 3 of the 4 yrs. of the 4 yrs. he led the National League.
3. You have to go back to the 20's to find anybody who ripped off 4 straight titles in the National League
4. You have to go back to George Case in 1939 -1943 (5) for the last person in MLB history to win more than 4 in a row.
5. 40 steals in 1956 was a big deal. A National League player hadn’t done it for over 30 yrs. A Major Leaguer hadn’t done it since 1944.(Stirnweiss with 55)
6. 40 steals in 1956 was almost double the amount of steals of any player in either league.

Here is a breakdown of Mays’ % of league steals in 1956 and 1957- his two highest steal totals

1956-10.7%
1957- 9.52%

And for comparison:

Cobb
1915 -6.6%
1911- 4.8%

Wills
1962-13%
1965-12%

Henderson
1982-9.3%
1983-7.0%
   73. Dan Szymborski Posted: July 01, 2010 at 03:00 PM (#3575964)
Never did her.
   74. AndrewJ Posted: July 01, 2010 at 03:27 PM (#3575987)
You have to remember that in 1962, the general consensus was that Cobb was better than Ruth -- and there were still prominent sportswriters in the 1960s like Dan Daniel and Fred Lieb who covered Ty Cobb's career from its early years -- and here you had a player breaking a 47-year-old single-season record of Cobb's (in comparison, Ruth's 1927 record was merely 34 years old when Maris hit 61). You also had Cobb dying in 1961, which reminded people of the glories of the deadball era. Wills was less valuable than Mays in 1962, but unquestionably more newsworthy.
   75. Morty Causa Posted: July 01, 2010 at 03:39 PM (#3575996)
Post 67:

You left one out:

And, fifth, most baseball writers of any given time are know-nothing idiots.
   76. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 01, 2010 at 03:50 PM (#3576007)
# 74 has it exactly right.
   77. Steve Treder Posted: July 01, 2010 at 03:55 PM (#3576017)
True, but the proposition wasn't whether Mays could steal 100 -- but whether he could steal 40 a few times.

Please read my post # 44.
   78. Ron J Posted: July 01, 2010 at 04:26 PM (#3576050)
To be honest, I've no idea if the comment came before or after the 5-in-2, or if Cobb even made it.


He said it before the St. Louis series.

A discussion about this on RSB is the origin of the "Ty Cobb could have done X if he'd wanted to."

As somebody pointed out then Cobb's statements don't make any sense because his batting average was also great in those two games.
   79. Morty Causa Posted: July 04, 2010 at 09:46 PM (#3578619)
I was looking up something else in NBHA and ran across this (his other comments on Wills mirrors what's been said here too):

The stolen base revolution began while Maury Wills was in the mior leagues, and did not [Author's Emphasis] accelerate after Wills stole 104 bases in 1962. Wills made people aware that stolen bases were coming back into the game, and thus got credit for launching the stolen base revolution. He did not.
   80. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: July 04, 2010 at 11:04 PM (#3578639)
Never did her.


you just weren't sufficiently post-pubescent... timing is everything

Mickey Mantle, Doris Day, Cary Grant, Roger Maris
   81. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 05, 2010 at 01:55 AM (#3578664)
The stolen base revolution began while Maury Wills was in the mior leagues, and did not [Author's Emphasis] accelerate after Wills stole 104 bases in 1962. Wills made people aware that stolen bases were coming back into the game, and thus got credit for launching the stolen base revolution. He did not.


Nobody's claimed that Wills brought up everyone else's stolen base levels, only that in 1962 HE brought the stolen base as an offensive weapon up to levels not seen since the dead ball era. As that quote says, that 1962 season "made people aware that stolen bases were coming back into the game," but it didn't make anyone else just go out and start stealing bases by way of imitation.

What Wills did do was to account for over 13% of the stolen bases in the entire National League of 1962. That amazing figure needs little further embellishment, except that I might note that that 13% almost precisely matches the percentage of American League home runs hit by Babe Ruth in 1927.
   82. Morty Causa Posted: July 05, 2010 at 04:08 AM (#3578694)
Maybe you need to take it up with Bill James. Just out of curiosity, though, are you really holding that "nobody" claims (and has claimed through the years since) that Wills launched a "stolen base revolution"?
   83. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 05, 2010 at 02:58 PM (#3578733)
I'm sure that others have made such a claim, but I don't. And just to remind you, I'm not even remotely suggesting that Wills has a HoF case. James picks him as the shortstop on his All-Star team of the 60's, and notes that he created more runs than any other middle infielder of that decade, but then he ranks him as #19 on his all-time shortstop list, just above Johnny Pesky, another obvious non-HoFer. That seems about right.
   84. Ron Johnson Posted: July 05, 2010 at 04:59 PM (#3578768)
#82
SB/162G    
    NL    AL
1951    59.0    54.2
1952    51.9    48.9
1953    44.5    42.7
1954    44.3    46.7
1955    49.6    41.5
1956    48.4    45.6
1957    52.2    48.4
1958    51.0    46.2
1959    57.4    54.3
1960    65.6    55.4
1961    61.2    57.7
1962    78.6    56.1
1963    68.3    55.3
1964    63.4    53.7
1965    74.2    70.4
1966    73.8    72.2
1967    69.4    67.9
1968    70.1    80.9 


OK Maybe we're talking about how much they ran:

SBA/162G    
    NL    AL
1951    97.1    95.0
1952    92.5    90.4
1953    72.9    82.3
1954    75.9    84.1
1955    87.6    73.9
1956    80.0    78.8
1957    85.4    88.4
1958    82.1    82.8
1959    92.8    85.1
1960    106.5    86.1
1961    98.9    88.8
1962    119.4    85.3
1963    117.6    82.4
1964    105.2    83.6
1965    117.0    105.9
1966    123.3    115.6
1967    116.4    114.9
1968    116.0    127.9 


Or effective stolen bases (SB-2*CS)

NSB/162G    
    NL    AL
1951    
-17.3    -27.4
1952    
-29.4    -34.0
1953    
-12.2    -36.4
1954    
-18.8    -28.2
1955    
-26.4    -23.2
1956    
-14.7    -20.7
1957    
-14.3    -31.6
1958    
-11.0    -27.1
1959    
-13.5    -7.3
1960    
-16.4    -6.0
1961    
-14.1    -4.4
1962    
-3.0    -2.4
1963    
-30.2    1.2
1964    
-20.2    -6.0
1965    
-11.3    -0.6
1966    
-25.1    -14.7
1967    
-24.6    -26.1
1968    
-21.5    -13.1 


Dunno. I guess you can argue that the upturn started in 1959 in the NL and in 1965 in the AL. On the other hand, 1962 really does stick out.

So does 1963 in a different way. James suggested that there were a lot of catchers who couldn't throw active in the early 60s. 6 NL teams changed their primary catchers in 1963. Worked out pretty well defensively.

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