Monday, April 24, 2006

Okay, Ben, not to get into another baseball argument with you, but since you brought it up
Let's play a game. I’ll give you three players’ vital baseball statistics. You try to guess who they each belong to. Ready?

AB: 8,385
R: 1,318
H: 2,386
2B: 403
HR: 282
RBI: 1,061
AVG: .285
All-Star Years: 10
MVP: 1984
Gold Gloves: 9

AB: 7,003
R: 1,007
H: 2,153
2B: 442
HR: 222
RBI: 1,099
AVG: .307
All-Star Years: 6
MVP: 1985 (2nd in 1986)
Gold Gloves: 9

AB: 7,244
R: 1,071
H: 2,304
2B: 414
HR: 207
RBI: 1,085
AVG: 318
All-Star Years: 10
MVP: 0 (2nd in 1992)
Gold Gloves: 6

Give up? First guy is Ryne Sandberg. Next is good ol’ Donnie Baseball. And finally, Kirby Puckett. None of the three have reached any of the plateaus you think is necessary for entry into the HOF, yet Sandberg and Puckett are both in the Hall. Mattingly is not. But their numbers are pretty damn similar, aren’t they? So why them and not Mattingly?
Now I know what you’re going to say: second base and outfield are tougher positions to play than first base. Yes, that statement is true, and both Sandberg and Puckett played their respective positions brilliantly (both had career fielding percentages of .989). So then let’s factor in the fact that Mattingly is the best-fielding first-baseman of all time, with a career fielding percentage of .996. Even better, his career fielding percentage is the greatest of any position player of all time. So even though he played the easiest position, he did it better than anyone else in the history of the game.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that he holds two pretty impressive major league records: consecutive games with HR (8), and grand slams in season (6).


walein said...

There's also the career ended too soon quality of Puckett's glacoma. You really can't compare Sandberg to Mattingly...the positions are different, and the numbers that players have historically in those positions are way different (Gehrig was first base).
I think Mattingly will still have a chance, but downt he road; and he is retired in Legend's Field at Yankee stadium.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you both get on the 1,2,3 line and have sex with each other already.

ben said...

Hee hee.
I love when we do this, Brian. :)

Mattingly was a terrific ballplayer, no question.

But as walein, said, Puckett's glaucoma ended his career early - sure Donnie had bad knees, but glaucoma? You can't even DH with glaucoma.

Sandberg was a power-hitting 2Bman in a time when (really for the last 80 years), there was no power at that position. I know it seems odd to say that, but there was Joe Morgan.... Pete Rose... Rogers Hornsby.... Davey Johnson? I mean, it's a position completely lacking power.

Let's put it this way - if Mattingly had kept up the pace he was on from ages 23-26, we could talk about him as a HOF. But after the age of 27, he never put up a slugging percentage over .477 - at a power postion! That's Mark Grace kind of numbers. But there is no one in the hall of fame with numbers like him who played a power position (1B, 3B, LF, RF). Bill James ranks him as the 12th best first baseman of all time in terms of Win Shares, which is very good. He's actually ahead of Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda (and Raffy Palmiero, but that's not happening as a HOF any time soon).

That said, I actually like Donnie Baseball. Easily my favorite Yankee ever.

This does bring up another subject, though - who is a borderline HOFer now that should make it?

Jimmy Edmonds? Larry Walker?

Jeff Kent for sure, Craig Biggio for sure.

ben said...

As for those "impressive" records? I mean, 6 grand slams in a season is pretty good and the homers in 8 straight is as well, but its nothing that I'd consider to be HOF worthy.

Did you know that during DiMaggio's hitting streak, Ted Williams had a higher average? Teddy Ballgame hit something like .426 during those 56 games as opposed to Joe's .400. Hilarious.

ben said...

During Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, May 15-July 16, 1941, he went 91-for-223 (.408), with 56 runs, 16 doubles, 4 triples, 15 homers, 55 RBI, 21 walks, 2 hit batsman, a .463 OBP, and a .717 slugging percentage.

During the same period, Ted Williams went 77-for-187 (.412), with 61 R, 15 2B, 0 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 50 BB, 2 HBP, a .540 OBP, and a .684 SLG. He hit safely in 45 of 55 games, including the first 23 straight.

For the rest of the season, Williams out-hit DiMaggio, .401 to .321, out-on-based him, .559-.424, out-slugged him, .770-.591, and out-homered him, 25-15.

walein said...

The thing about Puckett's glacoma that always bugged me was that mattingly had a bad back...and you can't do much with that either. I always felt bad for Puckett but I didn't really feel that that was the reason he got into the HOF. I think he got in because he's the biggest thingg to happen to MINN Twins pretty much ever.
Mattingly has the problem of being on losing Yankee teams.

ben said...

That and never hitting more than 20 homers after the age of 28.

Brian said...

First of all, you can't say that one career-ending injury is worse than another. If it causes a career to end prematurely, that's that.

Secondly, I hate people whose HOF arguments boil down to the fact that baseball is purely an offensive game. If that were true, shouldn't the Rangers and Rockies have multiple World Series trophies? It'd be one thing if Mattingly were the best-fielding 1B of all time with sub-par stats... but his offensive numbers are well above average.

And Puckett had some serious power-droughts too. How about the 4-year streak during the prime of his career in which he didn't hit more than 19 home runs, including the 1989 season in which he only hit 9? (Cory Snyder and Kelly Gruber hit twice as many that year) None of those were injury-affected seasons either.

ben said...

OF course basbeall isn't a pure offensve game, but at the same time, he's playing at the position where defense matters the least by far.

Mattingly only led the AL in Defensive Win Shares ONCE in his career. In fact, he has Steve Garvey as a better defensive player, in terms of WS/1000 IP - and Garvey played about 3000 more innings.

In terms of total win shares, he's actually behind John Olerud and Keith Hernandez.

I know baseball's not an pure offensive game, but Mattingly had 263 career win shares (which take into account EVERYTHING - offense, defense, etc.). Dave Concepcion had 269. I think the argument is closed.

ben said...

Not for nothing, but Puckett also got some help by being able to carry a barely above average average 1987 Twins team (.525 winning pct, 8th in offense, 3rd in pitching) to a World Championship, hitting .357/.419/.464. He then did something very similar four years later, hitting .250/.367/.583 and winning a game on his own.

Whether you like it or not, Mattingly never carried a team to the playoffs on his own. He won one MVP award and one batting title. His 'black ink', 'grey ink', 'HOF Standards', and 'HOF Monitor' all rank him below what a HOF should be.

ben said...

I think the best argument is this:

John Olerud has 30 more homers, 500 less AB - basically one less season. He also has a better OPS and a fielding percentage that's .001 less than Mattingly.

Is he a HOF?

Tommy Himself said...


Because he wore a helmet on defense.

That's stupid.