Sunday, April 20, 2014

What if Verlander grooved one for Jeter as McLain did for Mantle?

Suppose it's game three of the first round of the tournament and Detroit leads two games to none, about to eliminate the Yankees with a 6-1 lead in the 8th inning?  Justin Verlander, former Cy Young award winner, is about to face the Yankees iconic captain Derek Jeter in what everyone assumes will his final time at bat.  Verlander calls his catcher out to the mound and tells him that he is going to groove a pitch, throw a real meatball, and let Jeter get a hit, hopefully a home run.  What the heck, Jeter is a great guy, let him go out on a high note.  Jeter realizes what is happening and gestures to Verlander as to where he wants the ball thrown.  Verlander complies and Jeter homers, making a brief thank you gesture back to Verlander as he rounds the bases.  The fans in Detroit stand and applaud both players.  They view it as a sign of sportsmanship and respect.

From those thrilling days of yesteryear:

Mickey Mantle has dropped from 3 to 16 in career home runs. PED or time marching on?  Saturday, April 19, 2014

Denny McLain
Mantle's final two homers were off Cy Young award winners, Denny McLain 1968 and Jim Lonborg 1967.  For the more anal among us, the McLain homer on Sept. 19, 1968 is generally considered to be tainted, as McLain indicated to Mantle and delivered a meatball intended for The Mick to hit out in what was understood to be his final plate appearance in Detroit.  McLain had his 31st victory locked up by that point in the game.  I remember Howard Cosell on his radio program the next day or so, going off about how outrageous it was and that the home run should be stricken.  The homer did, of course, push Mantle past Jimmie Foxx into third place.  Fortunately, The Mick justified his exalted ranking by hitting one more off Lonborg.  Back then I thought that Howard was full of beans on this but now I see his point.
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Allen Huber "Bud" Selig, commissioner of the Major Baseball League (MBL) and zealous protector of what is righteous, might be faced with a real dilemma.  Like Mickey Mantle, Jeter is very popular with fans of all teams.  It's not like Alex Rodriguez had a friend and that lonely soul let A-Rod homer.

By the way in that Mantle game:

Thursday, September 19, 1968, , Tiger Stadium
Attendance: 9,063, Time of Game: 2:01

Tigers 6, Yankees 2

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Yankees       0  0  0   0  0  1   0  1  0    2  8  0
Tigers          0  0  0   1  0  3   2  0  X    6 10  0

Mantle's plate appearances by inning:
1 - Single to CF (Ground Ball)
4 - Walk
6 - Walk
8 - Home Run

In the top of the ninth, Mike Ferraro and Horace Clarke singled.  Jake Gibbs made the final out by flying to right.  The tying run on deck: Mickey Mantle.

McLain was 24 years old in 1968 and would be finished at age 28.

1965 16-6  220 innings
1966 10-14  264
1967 17-16  235
1968 31-6  336
1969 24-9  325
1970 3-5  91
1971 10-22  216

McLain won the CyYoung award again in 1969, tied with Mike Cuellar of Baltimore.  In the 1968 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals McLain was only 1-2, 16.66 innings, 3.24 ERA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denny_McLain

McLain ... had a gambling obsession and was suspended indefinitely by Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn; the suspension was then set for the first three months of the 1970 season...  McLain then received a seven-day suspension in September for dousing two sportswriters (Jim Hawkins of the Detroit Free Press and Watson Spoelstra of the Detroit News) with buckets of water. Just as the seven-day suspension was about to end, he received another suspension from Kuhn, this time for carrying a gun on a team flight, for at least the rest of the season...  Later that year, despite being the first $100,000 player in Tigers history, he was forced into bankruptcy.

In his post-baseball career, his weight ballooned to 330 pounds ... stints in prison and rehabilitation
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mickey Mantle has dropped from 3 to 16 in career home runs. PED or time marching on?

MLB Network had people discussing the impending 500th career home run (HR) of Albert Pujols, currently at 497.  John, an older writer, lamented that the career rank in home runs of Mickey Mantle has dropped from 3 to 16.  The implication and context of the discussion was that performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids, were a big part of the explanation.

Modern home run hitting started in 1920 when Babe Ruth smashed his season record of 29 by hitting 54.  Mantle retired in 1968, 48 years later.  Through 2013 another 45 years have passed.  So we might reasonably expect that Mantle would naturally drop at least to 6th.  However, in 1961 modern expansion started increasing the number of games per season by 5 percent and the number of teams from 16 to 30.  The increase in teams did not happen all at once but by 1997 there were 30 teams.  I won't bother with specific arithmetic but that obviously means many more players who could pass Mantle.  With more emphasis on home run hitting, maybe that would drop Mantle to number 12.

Let's look at the home run list through 1968.


Rk Player HR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Babe Ruth 714 1914 1935 19-40 2504 10622 8399 2174 2873 506 136 2214 2062 1330 43 113 2 123 117 .342 .474 .690 1.164 971/8H3 BOS-NYY-BSN
2 Willie Mays 587 1951 1968 20-37 2446 10386 9130 1763 2812 446 129 1654 1137 165 1147 33 7 76 212 299 93 .308 .384 .578 .962 *8/H96375 NYG-SFG
3 Mickey Mantle 536 1951 1968 19-36 2401 9907 8102 1676 2415 344 72 1509 1733 126 1710 13 14 47 113 153 38 .298 .421 .557 .977 *8397H/645 NYY
4 Jimmie Foxx 534 1925 1945 17-37 2317 9676 8134 1751 2646 458 125 1922 1452 1311 13 71 69 87 73 .325 .428 .609 1.038 *35H2/7916 PHA-BOS-TOT-CHC-PHI
5 Ted Williams 521 1939 1960 20-41 2292 9788 7706 1798 2654 525 71 1839 2021 86 709 39 5 20 197 24 17 .344 .482 .634 1.116 *79H/1 BOS
6 Eddie Mathews 512 1952 1968 20-36 2391 10100 8537 1509 2315 354 72 1453 1444 107 1487 26 36 58 123 68 39 .271 .376 .509 .885 *53/H7 BSN-MLN-ATL-TOT-DET
7 Mel Ott 511 1926 1947 17-38 2730 11348 9456 1859 2876 488 72 1860 1708 896 64 109 82 89 .304 .414 .533 .947 *95H8/74 NYG
8 Hank Aaron 510 1954 1968 20-34 2279 9888 8889 1603 2792 484 88 1627 866 200 991 23 19 91 239 215 59 .314 .373 .560 .933 *987/4H35 MLN-ATL
9 Lou Gehrig 493 1923 1939 20-36 2164 9663 8001 1888 2721 534 163 1995 1508 790 45 106 2 102 100 .340 .447 .632 1.080 *3/H976 NYY
10 Stan Musial 475 1941 1963 20-42 3026 12717 10972 1949 3630 725 177 1951 1599 127 696 53 35 53 243 78 31 .331 .417 .559 .976 3798H/1 STL
11 Ernie Banks 474 1953 1968 22-37 2262 9426 8551 1216 2368 380 86 1480 695 187 1088 62 33 86 208 50 53 .277 .333 .508 .840 63/5H7 CHC
12 Frank Robinson 418 1956 1968 20-32 1916 8159 7003 1317 2117 402 60 1277 929 158 1047 147 13 68 185 182 67 .302 .392 .556 .948 9738/H5 CIN-BAL
13 Duke Snider 407 1947 1964 20-37 2143 8237 7161 1259 2116 358 85 1333 971 104 1237 21 52 32 166 99 50 .295 .380 .540 .919 *89H/7 BRO-LAD-NYM-SFG
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/19/2014.

Alfonso Soriano recently passed Duke Snider, dropping the Duke to number 51, the lowest of any player with at least 400 HR.

Denny McLain
Mantle's final two homers were off Cy Young award winners, Denny McLain 1968 and Jim Lonborg 1967.  For the more anal among us, the McLain homer on Sept. 19, 1968 is generally considered to be tainted, as McLain indicated to Mantle and delivered a meatball intended for The Mick to hit out in what was understood to be his final plate appearance in Detroit.  McLain had his 31st victory locked up by that point in the game.  I remember Howard Cosell on his radio program the next day or so, going off about how outrageous it was and that the home run should be stricken.  The homer did, of course, push Mantle past Jimmie Foxx into third place.  Fortunately, The Mick justified his exalted ranking by hitting one more off Lonborg.  Back then I thought that Howard was full of beans on this but now I see his point.

When Mantle retired there were 8 players with at least 500 home runs.  Now there are 25.


Rk Player HR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Barry Bonds 762 1986 2007 21-42 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 1996 2558 688 1539 106 4 91 165 514 141 .298 .444 .607 1.051 *78H/D9 PIT-SFG
2 Hank Aaron 755 1954 1976 20-42 3298 13941 12364 2174 3771 624 98 2297 1402 293 1383 32 21 121 328 240 73 .305 .374 .555 .928 *9783DH/45 MLN-ATL-MIL
3 Babe Ruth 714 1914 1935 19-40 2504 10622 8399 2174 2873 506 136 2214 2062 1330 43 113 2 123 117 .342 .474 .690 1.164 971/8H3 BOS-NYY-BSN
4 Willie Mays 660 1951 1973 20-42 2992 12496 10881 2062 3283 523 140 1903 1464 192 1526 44 13 91 251 338 103 .302 .384 .557 .941 *8H/39675 NYG-SFG-TOT-NYM
5 Alex Rodriguez 654 1994 2013 18-37 2568 11344 9818 1919 2939 519 30 1969 1240 92 2075 169 16 101 240 322 76 .299 .384 .558 .942 65D/H SEA-TEX-NYY
6 Ken Griffey 630 1989 2010 19-40 2671 11304 9801 1662 2781 524 38 1836 1312 246 1779 81 8 102 199 184 69 .284 .370 .538 .907 *89DH/73 SEA-CIN-TOT
7 Jim Thome 612 1991 2012 20-41 2543 10313 8422 1583 2328 451 26 1699 1747 173 2548 69 1 74 165 19 20 .276 .402 .554 .956 3D5H CLE-PHI-CHW-TOT-MIN
8 Sammy Sosa 609 1989 2007 20-38 2354 9896 8813 1475 2408 379 45 1667 929 154 2306 59 17 78 202 234 107 .273 .344 .534 .878 *98D/H7 TOT-CHW-CHC-BAL-TEX
9 Frank Robinson 586 1956 1976 20-40 2808 11742 10006 1829 2943 528 72 1812 1420 218 1532 198 17 102 270 204 77 .294 .389 .537 .926 97D3H8/5 CIN-BAL-LAD-CAL-TOT-CLE
10 Mark McGwire 583 1986 2001 22-37 1874 7660 6187 1167 1626 252 6 1414 1317 150 1596 75 3 78 147 12 8 .263 .394 .588 .982 *3/HD59 OAK-TOT-STL
11 Harmon Killebrew 573 1954 1975 18-39 2435 9833 8147 1283 2086 290 24 1584 1559 160 1699 48 0 77 243 19 18 .256 .376 .509 .884 357DH/49 WSH-MIN-KCR
12 Rafael Palmeiro 569 1986 2005 21-40 2831 12046 10472 1663 3020 585 38 1835 1353 172 1348 87 15 119 232 97 40 .288 .371 .515 .885 *3D7/H98 CHC-TEX-BAL
13 Reggie Jackson 563 1967 1987 21-41 2820 11418 9864 1551 2584 463 49 1702 1375 164 2597 96 13 68 183 228 115 .262 .356 .490 .846 *9D8H/7 KCA-OAK-BAL-NYY-CAL
14 Manny Ramirez 555 1993 2011 21-39 2302 9774 8244 1544 2574 547 20 1831 1329 216 1813 109 2 90 243 38 33 .312 .411 .585 .996 79D/H CLE-BOS-LAD-TOT-TBR
15 Mike Schmidt 548 1972 1989 22-39 2404 10062 8352 1506 2234 408 59 1595 1507 201 1883 79 16 108 156 174 92 .267 .380 .527 .908 *53/H64 PHI
16 Mickey Mantle 536 1951 1968 19-36 2401 9907 8102 1676 2415 344 72 1509 1733 126 1710 13 14 47 113 153 38 .298 .421 .557 .977 *8397H/645 NYY
17 Jimmie Foxx 534 1925 1945 17-37 2317 9676 8134 1751 2646 458 125 1922 1452 1311 13 71 69 87 73 .325 .428 .609 1.038 *35H2/7916 PHA-BOS-TOT-CHC-PHI
18 Frank Thomas 521 1990 2008 22-40 2322 10075 8199 1494 2468 495 12 1704 1667 168 1397 87 0 121 226 32 23 .301 .419 .555 .974 *D3/H CHW-OAK-TOR-TOT
19 Willie McCovey 521 1959 1980 21-42 2588 9692 8197 1229 2211 353 46 1555 1345 260 1550 69 5 70 176 26 22 .270 .374 .515 .889 *3H7/9D SDP-TOT-SFG
20 Ted Williams 521 1939 1960 20-41 2292 9788 7706 1798 2654 525 71 1839 2021 86 709 39 5 20 197 24 17 .344 .482 .634 1.116 *79H/1 BOS
21 Ernie Banks 512 1953 1971 22-40 2528 10394 9421 1305 2583 407 90 1636 763 198 1236 70 45 96 229 50 53 .274 .330 .500 .830 36/H57 CHC
22 Eddie Mathews 512 1952 1968 20-36 2391 10100 8537 1509 2315 354 72 1453 1444 107 1487 26 36 58 123 68 39 .271 .376 .509 .885 *53/H7 BSN-MLN-ATL-TOT-DET
23 Mel Ott 511 1926 1947 17-38 2730 11348 9456 1859 2876 488 72 1860 1708 896 64 109 82 89 .304 .414 .533 .947 *95H8/74 NYG
24 Gary Sheffield 509 1988 2009 19-40 2576 10947 9217 1636 2689 467 27 1676 1475 130 1171 135 9 111 235 253 104 .292 .393 .514 .907 975D/6H3 MIL-SDP-FLA-TOT-LAD-ATL-NYY-DET-NYM
25 Eddie Murray 504 1977 1997 21-41 3026 12817 11336 1627 3255 560 35 1917 1333 222 1516 18 2 128 315 110 43 .287 .359 .476 .836 *3D/H57 BAL-LAD-NYM-CLE-TOT
Rk Player HR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/19/2014.

Mark McGwire, number 10, is the only one to admit having used PED.  When he retired in 2001 he was number 5 in career home runs.


Rk Player HR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Hank Aaron 755 1954 1976 20-42 3298 13941 12364 2174 3771 624 98 2297 1402 293 1383 32 21 121 328 240 73 .305 .374 .555 .928 *9783DH/45 MLN-ATL-MIL
2 Babe Ruth 714 1914 1935 19-40 2504 10622 8399 2174 2873 506 136 2214 2062 1330 43 113 2 123 117 .342 .474 .690 1.164 971/8H3 BOS-NYY-BSN
3 Willie Mays 660 1951 1973 20-42 2992 12496 10881 2062 3283 523 140 1903 1464 192 1526 44 13 91 251 338 103 .302 .384 .557 .941 *8H/39675 NYG-SFG-TOT-NYM
4 Frank Robinson 586 1956 1976 20-40 2808 11742 10006 1829 2943 528 72 1812 1420 218 1532 198 17 102 270 204 77 .294 .389 .537 .926 97D3H8/5 CIN-BAL-LAD-CAL-TOT-CLE
5 Mark McGwire 583 1986 2001 22-37 1874 7660 6187 1167 1626 252 6 1414 1317 150 1596 75 3 78 147 12 8 .263 .394 .588 .982 *3/HD59 OAK-TOT-STL
6 Harmon Killebrew 573 1954 1975 18-39 2435 9833 8147 1283 2086 290 24 1584 1559 160 1699 48 0 77 243 19 18 .256 .376 .509 .884 357DH/49 WSH-MIN-KCR
7 Barry Bonds 567 1986 2001 21-36 2296 9805 7932 1713 2313 483 71 1542 1724 355 1282 65 4 80 127 484 138 .292 .419 .585 1.003 *78/HD9 PIT-SFG
8 Reggie Jackson 563 1967 1987 21-41 2820 11418 9864 1551 2584 463 49 1702 1375 164 2597 96 13 68 183 228 115 .262 .356 .490 .846 *9D8H/7 KCA-OAK-BAL-NYY-CAL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/19/2014.

The player who made number 5 famous by wearing it on his back after his rookie season was Joe DiMaggio.  When he retired 60 years before McGwire but only 31 years into the home run era, DiMaggio was also number 5 in career homers, same as McGwire.  Today DiMaggio is number 79, one more than Gary Gaetti and one fewer than Carlos Beltran.


Rk Player HR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Babe Ruth 714 1914 1935 19-40 2504 10622 8399 2174 2873 506 136 2214 2062 1330 43 113 2 123 117 .342 .474 .690 1.164 971/8H3 BOS-NYY-BSN
2 Jimmie Foxx 534 1925 1945 17-37 2317 9676 8134 1751 2646 458 125 1922 1452 1311 13 71 69 87 73 .325 .428 .609 1.038 *35H2/7916 PHA-BOS-TOT-CHC-PHI
3 Mel Ott 511 1926 1947 17-38 2730 11348 9456 1859 2876 488 72 1860 1708 896 64 109 82 89 .304 .414 .533 .947 *95H8/74 NYG
4 Lou Gehrig 493 1923 1939 20-36 2164 9663 8001 1888 2721 534 163 1995 1508 790 45 106 2 102 100 .340 .447 .632 1.080 *3/H976 NYY
5 Joe DiMaggio 361 1936 1951 21-36 1736 7673 6821 1390 2214 389 131 1537 790 369 46 14 130 30 9 .325 .398 .579 .977 *8/79H3 NYY
6 Johnny Mize 351 1936 1951 23-38 1724 7102 6202 1103 1949 355 83 1281 833 492 48 20 92 28 1 .314 .400 .568 .968 *3/H9 STL-NYG-TOT-NYY
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/19/2014.

Mantle's first season was DiMaggio's last, 1951.  Seventeen years later when Mantle retired DiMaggio had dropped from 5 to 18 on the career home run list.  His descent was much quicker than Mantle's.


Would Rafael Palmeiro have 569 HR and be ahead of Mantle without PED?  Probably not.  Would Barry Bonds be ahead?  Probably.  You can speculate about some of the others: Rodriguez, Sosa, Ramirez.  Apply historical perspective.  Time does march on.