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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Even David Ortiz, biggest dog in baseball, should not be hit by pitch. Hypocracy by Red Sox and their fans?

David Ortiz dogs it more than any baseball player I have seen.  Ortiz doesn't even pretend that he is hustling.  At least Robinson Cano did that.  It's amazing that Red Sox fans embrace him.

But even Ortiz should not be intentionally hit by a pitch.  I've heard many Yankee fans say that Ortiz should be thrown at/near/inside, etc. - the usual euphemisms for intentionally hitting a batter.  I never endorsed that.  I find Ortiz thoroughly revolting but he should not be hit intentionally.

The 35,820 Red Sox fans in Fenway Park last night saw the Red Sox and Tampa Rays engaged in another series of such HBP incidents with Boston having four people serve as manager because of ejections.  It actually would have been cool if they had gone to a player-manager for a day.

In the bottom of the first inning Tampa lefty David Price struck out the first two batters, walked Dustin Pedroia, then hit Ortiz on the hip (not beaned, which means hit in the head), then struck out Jonny Gomes.  After the game Ortiz attributed his being hit by pitch to his having hit two home runs off Price in last season's tournament, won by Boston for the third time in ten years.

In the 4th inning Price retired Ortiz and Gomes, then allowed a double to A.J. Pierzynski, then hit Mike Carp with a pitch, which precipitated the obligatory bench clearing confrontation, complete with Ortiz trying to get at Price.  The umpires determined that Carp's HBP was not intentional and so Price was not ejected even though both teams had been warned emphatically by the plate umpire after Ortiz had been hit.  Understandable outrage by the Red Sox but the umps seemed to have been correct.

In the 6th inning Red Sox starting pitcher Brandon Workman threw a high pitch that sailed behind the head of Evan Longoria, Tampa's best hitter as Ortiz is for Boston. Longoria acted upset and was immediately confronted by Pierzynski, the Boston catcher, who put on his best tough guy act.  Throwing behind a batter's head is completely uncivilized.  The only excuse for Workman is that he threw so far behind Longoria, it was a message, not a threat.

Ironically, Jonny Gomes scored the winning run after he was hit by a pitch thrown by Juan Oviedo in the bottom of the tenth inning and then driven home on a triple by Pierzynski.

Ryan Dempster June 14, 2013
by Keith Allison
via Wikimedia Commons
This week we have these events:

1. Manny Ramirez, twice suspended and forced into retirement for violating the Major Baseball League (MBL) policy on the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids, being cheered when he was introduced with teammates from the 2004 championship team.

3. Red Sox fans angered by Ortiz being HBP last night.  Ortiz has also been implicated in violating PED policy.

3. The Yankees reaching 50 games played, the number for which their third baseman Alex Rodriguez should have been suspended for violating PED policy and not the full 2014 season.

Thursday, May 29, 2014
Red Ruffing in the Red Sox Hall of Fame? Worse than Keith Hernandez as all an time Met. And Manny Ramirez honored in Boston?

MLB Network Press Release
4/22/2014 10:18 A.M. ET
Ryan Dempster joins MLB Network as studio analyst

Monday, August 19, 2013
Coward Ryan Dempster should be suspended 211 games for deliberately hitting Alex Rodriguez.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Coward Ryan Dempster suspended: too little, too late.

by Kirk Minihane  Fri, 05/30/2014 - 5:41am

So we arrive at this Manny Ramirez thing from Wednesday night, and I'll do my best to not be a total fraud on this one.

First, I'm on the anti-Manny side of this. A serial steroid abuser, a guy who quit on his team, skipping Jimmy Fund after Jimmy Fund event, blowing off Walter Reed, beating up old guys and his own wife -- we all know the greatest hits. He's personified everything that's been wrong with baseball the last 15 years, and the Red Sox decide to give him above-the-title billing for the 10th anniversary celebration of the 2004 World Series champions Wednesday? A stunningly tone-deaf move by the Red Sox, basically endorsing all the many transgressions of Ramirez. 

I wasn't surprised the Red Sox elected to have Ramirez announced last and throw out the first pitch -- this is an ownership group that hungers to be liked by players, turning into 12-year-olds around these guys. That's OK, I guess, it's their money and they've been extraordinarily successful. No, what surprised me was this idea that there was ever a chance the fans would react negatively toward Ramirez. That was never going to happen. 

Again, cheer or boo -- it's your buck -- but can we all get together and drop the notion that Boston is a tough town? That's over, it's been over for years. Who, exactly, is having a tough time in Boston these days? What athlete? Ramirez treated fans, media and his own organization like a six-pound turd for the better part of a decade and all is forgiven ... why? Because he's been gone for a while? Because he's using the ultimate mulligan, the Jesus card, to kick off an image rehabilitation tour? 

Nope and nope.

Here's the truth: You don't care if Ramirez is a different person or not. Down deep, you're thinking what I'm thinking -- once a jerk, always a jerk. That doesn't change. But he helped you win two World Series and was a great (though juiced off the charts) hitter. And that's what matters. He could get arrested six times over the next 10 years and tear Boston to shreds in interviews, and guess what would happen in 2024? He'd get a standing ovation at the 20th reunion.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Why did Tommy John need ulnar collateral ligament surgery?

Maybe everybody knows the answer but how did Tommy John (born May 22, 1943) hurt his arm so badly that he needed revolutionary surgery?  I checked his game logs and he did not seem to be overworked.  He was not a power pitcher even before he stopped pitching July 17, 1974 on four days rest after two innings in LA against Montreal; that made 153 innings for the 1974 season.

Starts per days of rest in 1974:
3 days: 5
4 days: 14
5 days: 2

Before that John topped out with 269 innings in 1970 with the White Sox.  218 innings in 1973 when he led the National League in winning "percentage": .696 (16-7).

Tommy John August 8, 2008
by TiMike via Wikimedia Commons

John was a soft throwing sinkerball pitcher whose technique resulted in batters hitting numerous ground balls and induced double plays. In the middle of an excellent 1974 season, John had a 13-3 record as the Dodgers were en route to their first National League pennant in eight years, before he permanently damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm, leading to a revolutionary surgical operation.. now known as Tommy John surgery

There's a bunch of stuff written about all the current pitchers getting Tommy John surgery and theories about why.  Two explanations seem to be prevalent:
- they throw too hard
- they don't get enough rest because they throw too much of the year.

But did any of that pertain to Tommy John?

Returning to the original meaning of the term pitching may be the only solution: throw underhand as was originally mandated.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Red Ruffing in the Red Sox Hall of Fame? Worse than Keith Hernandez as all an time Met. And Manny Ramirez honored in Boston?

Will Rogers said "I never met a man I didn't like".  I say:

I never met a Met fan who knew what he was talking about ... or a Boston fan of any sport.

I never met a Met fan who knew what he was talking about.  Sunday, June 24, 2012

...  all time Met team, which seemed like junk with Cardinal Keith Hernandez at first base.  Neither the Mets, nor their fans have any real history or tradition even after that expansion team has been around for fifty years.

Red Ruffing is in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.  You can't make up stuff more absurd.


Red Sox Hall of Fame

To be eligible for nomination, players must have played at least three years with the Red Sox and must also have been out of uniform as an active player at least three years.

Red Sox become Yankees. Yankees becoming Red Sox? Not so much.  Saturday, March 15, 2014

At least Hernandez played well for the Mets, although he played longer and better for the Cardinals.  Red Ruffing was 39-96 with the Red Sox, leading the American League in losses in his final two full seasons with Boston.  He was then traded to the Yankees where he earned his Hall of Fame credentials.

Yesterday I watched some of a Red Sox game on MLB Network.  Apparently they were honoring the 2004 championship team.  Manny Ramirez was being interviewed during the game in a Red Sox shirt and saying stuff like how much he respected the game and the Boston Red Sox fans.  Say what?  Didn't Ramirez burn every bridge between Lexington and Concord?  Didn't Ramirez show at best complete indifference when he was outside the batter's box?  And didn't Ramirez wear his uniform like pajamas?

They then showed a replay of how Ramirez had been introduced before the game: running out of the scoreboard in the ridiculous left field wall in Fenway Park, reminding everyone of Manny being Manny, the complete numskull.

No wonder Red Sox fans applaud the biggest dog in baseball: David Ortiz.  Ortiz uses foul language, complains about his contract, spits on his hands, doesn't even pretend to run to first base after hitting a ground ball, has the slowest home run trot of all time.  And has been implicated in using performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids.

Which brings us back to Ramirez who was twice found to have used PED, which is why he had to stop playing.  Ramirez was banned.  Yesterday he said he wishes he was still playing.

And these same Red Sox fans applauded their designated avenging angel Ryan Dempster when Dempster deliberately threw at Yankee Alex Rodriguez multiple times in one plate appearance in 2013, eventually hitting Rodriguez and earning a brief suspension, not from the Red Sox, but from the league.  Why?  Because Rodriguez had been implicated in using PED; Rodriguez is now serving his suspension for the entire 2014 season.

These same Red Sox fans boo Rodriguez in part because he joined the Yankees after his trade to Boston was blocked by the players association because Rodriguez had agreed to alter his contract for the benefit of the Red Sox who tried to acquire Rodriguez from Texas.  How clueless can you get?

And now they applaud Manny Ramirez?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Do we prefer close games at the expense of action?

If I notice pageviews of old posts, I sometimes re-post them on Google+ and twitter.  Recently I did that with:

Pitching duel or slugfest?  Sunday, July 28, 2013

In order to show their baseball knowledge many baseball fans will say: pitching duel, pretending that a game with little action is preferable to a game with lots of action.  Let's consider game seven of two World Series each of which was decided by one run in the bottom of the ninth: 1960 and 2001.

It is now my most viewed post of the month.  I just got a comment that inspired this post:

"fans prefer close games... fewer runs mean a better chance of a close game"

At first I thought it made sense but it still begged the original question.  In basketball fans can barely stand a 55-50 game much less 2-1.  Same in football where points can be scored six at a time.  Who wants to watch a 10-7 NFL game?

Do we really prefer low scoring games?  The examples I used in the "Pitching duel or slugfest?" post were both one run games, so the slugfest included both elements: action and closeness.

Let's try another pair of examples: 2-1 and 10-5.  Which of those seems more appealing?  Lack of action in a pitching duel often features aggravation: many base runners stranded.  Or lots of strike outs.  Or worst of all: weak grounders and popups.

Sure you want that 1-1 game going into the 9th inning?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Josh Beckett: How Big A Deal Is A No-Hitter?

Josh BeckettTim Lincecum, Johan Santana, ... the beat goes on.  Managers Don MattinglyBruce Bochy, Terry Collins, ... these managers are a disgrace.  None of them have any imagination or nerve.

If it's really so important to stick to a pitch count, especially with veterans recovering from arm woes, then stick to it.  Don't make a big fat exception because of a silly anomaly of not allowing hits.

Sunday, May 25, 2014, 1:35 pm, Citizens Bank Park
Attendance: 36,141, Time of Game: 2:37
Dodgers 6, Phillies 0
W: Josh Beckett (3-1)
L: A.J. Burnett (3-4)

The Dodgers scored single runs in innings 1, 2, 6, then 3 in the 7th.  There was no need for 34 year old Beckett to continue.  He could have come out after pitching six innings.  Except Beckett had not allowed a hit.  So on he went, throwing a career high 128 pitches.  He walked three, including Jimmy Rollins with two out in the 9th.  He should have walked the next batter, Chase Utley, but he got an assist on a 3-1 pitch from the plate umpire.  Utley then took the 3-2 pitch right down Broad Street for the final out.

Suppose Utley had walked?  Mattingly had pitchers warming up.  Would the accomplishment have been altered so much if one of them had recorded the final out?  The team would have the same result and Beckett might be more helpful to the team in future games if he had not been allowed to push on.

Johan Santana: How Big A Deal Is A No-Hitter?  Monday, September 3, 2012

Met manager Terry Collins let Santana throw 134 pitches even though Santana missed the entire 2011 season with a bad arm...  With the Mets leading 8-0 after seven innings, Santana did not need to pitch the last two innings...

Since that no-hitter Santana's ERA increased from 2.38 to 4.85.  His final appearance of 2012 was August 17, his fifth consecutive loss.

No-hitter: individual or team accomplishment?  Monday, July 15, 2013

Pitchers only retire batters they strike out.  The other players retire the batters who put the ball in play except for those rare occasions when a pitcher actually makes a fielding play...

a massive number of strike outs seems to me to be much more of an accomplishment for the pitcher who actually retired those batters without any help...

Tim Lincecum threw 148 pitches during the first no-hitter of his career ...

Of the 81 no-hitters for which we have pitch counts, at least this number of pitches in this many games:
130: 14
120: 30
110: 51
100: 66

Of the 15 games below 100, two were 5 innings, one was 6 innings...

Why all the anguish?  If a possible no-hitter were treated like any other game, the starting pitcher would leave pretty much when he usually would and relief pitchers would try to complete the no-hitter.  Would the suspense and excitement be that much less?  OK, aside from draining the life out of the game during the pitcher change ritual?

Wednesday, June 11, 2003, 7:05PM, Yankee Stadium II
Attendance: 29,905, Time of Game: 2:52

This one is not shown on the YES network.  The Houston Astros no-hit the Yankees 8-0.  Winning pitcher: Brad Lidge, the fourth of six Astro pitchers.  The other five pitchers?  Who cares?  The ASTROS no-hit the Yankees, not an individual pitcher.  They threw 151 pitches, most for any no-hitter...

In his World Series perfect game Don Larsen threw 97 pitches.  Yankee manager Casey Stengel needed to win that game as the series was tied 2-2.  Stengel was not concerned with the pitch count or whether Larsen got credit for a perfect game, a term with which Larsen was not even familiar after the game.  Larsen benefited from a great catch by Mickey Mantle in left center against Gil Hodges and a ricochet off third baseman Andy Carey to shortstop Gil McDougald who threw out Jackie Robinson. Also, Duke Snider hit a long foul home run.  So was this an individual or team accomplishment?

Don Larsen - Baseball Digest, front cover, November 1956 via Wiki Commons

Monday, May 26, 2014

Did Bob Gibson hit friend Bill White in the first opportunity? No, but some think so.

On Memorial Day the Yankees started a three game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

​During the game Yankee announcer Micheal Kay was rhapsodizing about the good old days when Bob Gibson would hit batters.  Occasionally shown in the Cardinal TV booth was Gibson talking to his former catcher Tim McCarver who has escaped from Fox retirement to terrorize listeners in St. Louis.

Bob Gibson 1962
Kay said that after Gibson's friend Bill White was traded from the Cardinals to Philadelphia Gibson hit him in his first plate appearance (PA) against Gibson.  I wondered if that was one of those old stories that get repeated but not checked.  I checked.

It took about two minutes.  The only HBP was PA 30 of 36 in the second from last game that White faced Gibson.  Gibson and White were opponents for three seasons (1966-1968) before White returned to St. Louis for his final season in 1969.  It took three seasons before Gibson hit White that one time.  The previous PA was a 10th inning game ending single that drove in the winning run.  Maybe that's where the story originated.  More than two months later Gibson hit White in his first PA. But that was long after White had left St. Louis.

In the first game he faced Gibson in 1966 White had single, SO, HR.

It's easy enough to check and not simply repeat this old junk.

What does camouflage merchandise have to do with Memorial Day?

Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, commissioner of the Major Baseball League (MBL), has taken his organization to a new low.

If Selig were trying to honor the nation's war dead, then he would have the players wear black arm bands, not play dress up soldier.

When a soldier places a wreath on a memorial site, the soldier wears a dress blue uniform.  I have not noticed any wearing anything like the silly camouflage merchandise junk worn by Selig's players.

Does the profit from the sale of that merchandise at least go to something that benefits the families of dead soldiers?

Shame on Selig.

Should The Mick have switch hit? Commenting on Hawk Harrelson commenting on Mickey Mantle.

A friend sent this:

I'm watching the Indians-White Sox game with Hawk Harrelson broadcasting. He said that Mantle once told him that if he had not promised his dad that he would be a switch-hitter, he would have just batted RH in the big leagues. Hawk said he never saw a switch-hitter who was that much better from the right side. He said that if a LHP was on the mound, opponents would often bring in RH relief pitchers to turn Mantle around to the left side.

Actually, Hawk is correct.  Mickey Mantle had some of the most lopsided splits of any switch hitter and I concluded last year that Mantle should have batted righty.  However, it's difficult to imagine that Harrelson knew that unless he reads this blog.  What are the chances?

One of the Yankee announcers mentioned yesterday that Harrelson had been the White Sox general manager before he started announcing for them 30 years ago and that Harrelson had fired Tony LaRussa the manager.  LaRussa has been elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager.

I'm not sure how Harrelson could be proven wrong since about 72% of pitches are thrown by righties.  Any change from a lefty pitcher would generally be to a righty.

Why and when Mantle would have confided in Harrelson is unclear.  Harrelson was ten years younger and started his major league career in 1963; Mantle started in 1951.  Harrelson missed Mantle's best seasons.  Harrelson even made his debut with the Kansas City As about three weeks too late to have seen Mantle do this batting lefty:

Mickey Mantle's longest homer: Yankee Stadium, May 22, 1963 off Bill Fischer.  Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Harrelson would have seen this:

Mickey Mantle (1965-1968): much worse batting lefty ... or was he?  Monday, June 20, 2011

This contradicts the conventional wisdom, the type that tends to float around baseball and passes for fact.  In this case the general understanding is that Mickey Mantle hit much worse late in his career batting lefty, especially during those four down, tack-on seasons, 1965-1968...

Mickey ... in 1964 ... was much worse batting lefty.   However, it didn't continue in subsequent seasons.

Declining years: Mantle and DiMaggio who both retired at age 36.  Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Mick in his down, tack-on seasons 1965-1968: led Yanks in OPS+ each season: 137, 170, 149, 142 (career 172)...

142 OPS+, which was 8th in AL

Mantle walked 100 times in each of his final two seasons even though he couldn't hit very well.  Teams simply walked him.  I cannot imagine that teams would turn Mantle around to bat lefty in Yankee Stadium where he homered every 19 at bats righty, every 13 lefty.  On the road, even at one every 15 AB.

In researching Mantle batting righty against righty pitchers Evelio Hernandez and Hoyt Wilhelm I found this to confirm that Mantle supposedly promised his father that he would switch hit:

In game two of the 1957 Memorial Day doubleheader the Yankees won 9-0 and Times writer Louis Effrat reports:

So one-sided was the nightcap that Mickey Mantle twice elected to try something that he never had attempted in the big league.  He batted right-handed against Evelio Hernandez, a right-handed pitcher.

Perhaps some of the 24,892 spectators, including Vice President Nixon, making up the season's largest crowd here, were startled to see Mantle swinging from the "wrong" side of the plate in the sixth inning ...

in the eighth ...  the Oklahoma Kid , still on the right side of the plate, bounced to Milt Bolling at third base.  The latter bobbled the ball and Mickey was safe on the error.
The Windsor Daily Star May 31, 1957 "'Dad Knew Best' Mick Knows Now":
WASHINGTON - Mickey Mantle is sure now that "father knows best."
The Yankee slugger broke a pledge to his deceased father Thursday when he failed to switch-hit in the sixth inning of the second game with the Washington Senators.
Mickey batted righthanded against Evelio Hernandez, a right handed pitcher.  And he hit into a double play.  He had twice just missed homers batting left handed and decided to take a shot at the bleachers from the right side of the plate.
Mantle always has said he would never stop switching because he made such a promise to his father, who died five years ago.

Mickey Mantle: father knew best but for the wrong reason.  Tuesday, May 14, 2013

If he somehow knew that his son Mickey Mantle would have 4,848 plate appearances (PA) in Yankee Stadium, which was very difficult for right handed sluggers, then, yes, Mutt Mantle was correct when he started teaching his son to switch hit in 1936, Joe DiMaggio's rookie season...

Maybe it's documented somewhere but I cannot imagine what drove Mutt Mantle to force young Mickey to learn to switch hit.  Even now we do not have good lefty/righty splits for seasons before 1950.  Probably it was just Mutt's experience trying to hit curve balls and side arm pitchers.  ...

Didn't Mutt realize the difficulty the great DiMaggio was having hitting home runs (HR) in Yankee Stadium?  ...

Not that Mutt knew that Mickey would one day play for the Yankees but that ball parks influence hitting too...

Here's the thing that Mutt Mantle did not and could not know: his son Mickey was one of the greatest right handed hitters of all time.  Except for the Yankee Stadium factor, which was an accident, Mickey did not need to switch hit.

Mickey Mantle was a great right handed hitter.  Friday, April 19, 2013

Mickey Mantle is really the only great switch hitter and that seems to be because he was a really great righty batter...

... of 21 righty batters, both switch hitters and righty only, against lefty pitchers since 1950 sorted by OPS...

Despite the disadvantage of playing his home games in the original Yankee Stadium, which was very tough on righty batters, Mantle is in a virtual tie at the top with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

Switch Hitter righty/lefty splits.  Monday, April 15, 2013

Mantle is way lower in BA batting lefty but that's about it.  Slugging is skewed because batting righty in Yankee Stadium pushed down his HR/AB batting righty and consequently his BB because they weren't as afraid that he would homer, which apparently drove up his lefty OBP but I'll examine Mantle in much more detail in subsequent posts.  Mantle's OPS difference is only 3.4%.

Mickey Mantle: .400 BA batting only righty?  Thursday, May 16, 2013

Four times on the road, three times at home, two times overall Mickey batted over .400 batting righty against lefty pitchers.  How rare is this?  ...

Now you could be completely anal about this and simply blow it off as idle conjecture or you can think about whether Mickey Mantle could have been the only .400 hitter since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941 had Mickey's father not forced Mickey to switch hit.

Mickey Mantle batting only righty: .323 BA; .400 twice.  Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mickey Mantle might have increased his batting average (BA) from .298 to .323 had he batted only right handed instead of switch hitting.  And led in BA eight times...

Mickey would had led in BA: 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957 (.411), 1958, 1961, 1964 (.419).

Righty batters BA percent difference v. lefty/righty pitchers ... plus Mantle.  Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mickey Mantle switch hitting had a career batting average (BA) percentage difference (14.85%) v. lefty/righty pitchers greater than any prominent righty batter since 1950 when lefty/righty splits become reliable.  This is more evidence that Mantle should have batted right handed exclusively.

Mantle also had the biggest point difference: .330-.281=.-049.  Lou Piniella was the only righty batter with a percent difference over 10%: 14.7%...

Alex Rodriguez confounds by being the only one of the 18 righty batters with a higher BA against righty pitchers than against lefty pitchers.  Willie Mays is next in percent difference.  Hank Aaron is in the middle of the pack.  Mays and Aaron are really Mantle's only peers ...

Tanaka and Darvish have a better SO/9 in the USA than in Japan.

SO/9 final three seasons in Japan and then in USA:

Masahiro Tanaka: trending down in Japan:
2011 9.6 Japan
2012 8.8 Japan
2013 7.8 Japan
2014 10.1 USA

Yu Darvish: at the same age as Tanaka, trending up in Japan:
2009 8.3 Japan
2010 9.9 Japan
2011 10.7 Japan
2012: 10.4 USA
2013: 11.9 USA
2014: 10.4 USA

Yu Darvish with Texas struck out 221 in 2012 and led the league with 277 in 2013.

Both Tanaka and Darvish have a better SO/9 in the USA than in Japan.  Tanaka especially in his first 71 USA innings has reversed his downward trend and substantially improved his SO/9 in the USA.


We can only guess but one obvious explanation is the Ichiro Suzuki hitting style in Japan that emphasizes contact and going for singles over home runs.

The other reason may be that batters in the USA league are dumb.

Batters are dumber than usual this season, hitting into the shift most of the time.  April 7, 2014

March 13, 2012
By mjl816 via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, May 24, 2014

OPS 1.000 bunting against the shift?

On base average plus slugging average (OPS) is not perfect but it gives us a pretty good idea of the relative value of players in the batter's box.  OPS+ is more refined, taking into account the season and ball parks, which because of non-uniform playing areas, a baseball only oddity, can impact batting performance significantly.

Here are the tops in career OPS, only 8 over 1.000:

For some perspective here are the tops in OPS+:

By Tony the Misfit via Wikimedia Commons
Mickey Mantle is number 11 (.977) in OPS, number 6 in OPS+ (172: 72 percent above average).  Mantle is not one of the eight over 1.000 in OPS.  However, when Mantle bunted:

Batting Average (BA): .527 (87 for 165)
On Base average: .527
Slugging average: .527
OPS: 1.054

Impact on Mantle's career BA:


I will immediately address the objections of non-radical baseball people:
1. Mantle was fast.
2. Mantle played a million years ago when everything was different.

1. Except for about a dozen plate appearances (PA), Mantle did not bat against the shift, which greatly reduces the need for speed and bunting skill.

Shift on Mickey Mantle.  Saturday, May 10, 2014

On June 5 at Yankee Stadium ... in 1956 ...The shift worked. Mantle whiffed his first two times up, failing to bunt twice ... Mantle failed to get a hit against it in four at-bats during the series ... Later in June, at Kansas City, Mantle went 4-for-8 against the shift, but all four hits were singles, including a bunt on a 3-2 pitch.

This suggests 12 PA against the shift in 1956, Mantle's triple crown season (.353 BA, 130 RBI, 52 HR): 4 for 12, including a bunt single.  The two mentions of "failing to bunt twice" is vague and does not indicate whether it completed a PA, the criteria I used in defining Mantle's bunts.

For the umteenth time I'll mention that Mantle led in BA in 1956 by bunting: 12 for 20, which increased his BA ten points to .353.  Ted Williams was second with .345.

Click this link to view details on Mantle's bunts.

2. A million years ago Mantle was the home run king of baseball, so his personal attributes were very similar to those of today's players who are most likely to refuse to bunt against the shift.  They think that they are doing the other team a favor by forgoing a chance to hit a home run.  I've written several recent posts with specifics on Mantle bunting in order to increase the chances of his team winning, including 7 for 8 bunting in the World Series: BA .875.  Mantle also set the WS record for most homers: 18.

Let me emphasize again that I am advocating bunting against the shift, not bunting against a traditional alignment of fielders.  I am suggesting that even slow runners can bat at least .500 bunting against the shift.  That's an OPS of 1.000.  Mantle did it against the regular alignment used for over 100 years.  Can't current players adapt and match that against the shift?