By 1968 the main attribute of Mickey Mantle's batting was that he was the only player other than Carl Yastrzemski with at least 100 walks in the American League (AL). AL batting average, still including pitchers in those days, was .230, so The Mick's career low .237 was still three percent higher. But Mick also had career lows in:
BA righty at home: .190
SLG lefty road: .326
Click this link for excruciating detail on Mickey Mantle's Righty/Lefty Home/Road splits not found elsewhere.
OK, back in 1968 On Base plus Slugging averages (OPS) wasn't considered and walks were largely viewed as nothing, a free pass as they were called. But people knew that Yaz was the only AL batter with a .300 BA: .301. So, Mick's .237 got a little sympathy in the year of the pitcher but not much.
Mantle's OPS+, boosted almost exclusively by his 106 walks, was his third worst:
Mantle was one for his final 20 at bats. That one hit was the only Yankee hit against Luis Tiant in Mantle's final game in Yankee Stadium. Mantle was one for ten bunting with five strike outs in 1968. Career bunting: .527. Bunting in the World Series: 7 for 8 (.875). Batting righty on the road in 1968: .230 BA. Mantle couldn't hit righty and he couldn't even bunt. He must have been frustrated and humiliated. That's why he retired.
But who would suggest that The Mick could still hit in his final season? This clown:
Misremembering Mantle’s Final Season
By Jason Epstein
July 21, 2014 11:00 AM
Mantle was the most productive Yankee on the 1968 roster. Only Roy White’s 137 OPS+ was in the neighborhood of his 143...
Mantle’s on-base percentage was a robust .385, second in the Junior Circuit to Yaz’s .426 and fourth-best overall...
|Tom Tresh Baseball Digest|
front cover, October 1962 via Wiki Commons
This is the Eddie Gaedel effect.
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