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Monday, September 14, 2015

If Mickey Mantle had retired after 1964, he'd be an even bigger legend.

baseball-reference.com has this cool "Cumulative Batting" under "More Stats" for a player.  It has the data by year and here it is for Mickey Mantle through 1964, Mantle's 14th season when he was still only 32 years old.
Mickey Mantle 1962 Baseball Guide and Record Book by J. G. Taylor Spink [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
YearAgeGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+TBGDPHBPSHSFIBB
1951199638634161911151365874374.267.349.443.792117151302
1952202381012890155262481236152128118185.294.377.497.874144442804
195321365155213512603987215572442012197275.295.384.497.8811446711004
195422511220118943895618927843462514299382.296.391.505.89614895613064
19552365828392411510719114381214453315412479.298.400.528.9281551272173876
19562480834912944642907136431735754316524578.308.412.560.972166164821591112
195725952411434187631080164492076695919670653.316.427.5741.002174196326591435
1958261102476839378901238185502497667722799773.314.430.5771.0061762270377111648
1959271246540844789941392208542808419825892899.311.425.569.9941732548449121854
19602813996051500511131537225603209351122810031024.307.422.568.99017228425510122360
196129155266975519124417002416637410631242911291136.308.425.5791.00417531955710132869
196230167571995896134018212566740411521332912511214.309.429.5811.00917634236111133078
196331174074126068138018752646741911871353012911246.309.429.5821.01117735306611133182
196432188379796533147220162896945412981413313901348.309.429.5821.011177380575111334100
In 1965-1968, Mantle's final seasons, neither Mantle nor the Yankees did much that was especially noteworthy. The Yankees did not even contend for a pennant.  Division play began in 1969, the year after Mantle retired.  Mantle would not have been tarnished with those losing teams after being on 12 pennant winners.  The demise of the Yankees would have been directly attributed to the absence of Mantle.

The only major milestone reached by Mantle was home run number 500 in 1967.  All things considered, The Mick would have been much better off by leaving while he was still at or near the top of the American League.  Mantle already had three MVP awards (1956, 1957, 1962) and three seconds (1960, 1961, 1964).

Mantle broke his tie at 15 with Babe Ruth for career World Series home runs with a walk off winner in game three, then homered in games 6 and 7 with his team facing elimination in each game.  WS homer 18 was off Bob Gibson.  With the Yanks facing elimination in game 4 of the 1963 WS Mantle homered off Sandy Koufax in the 7th inning to tie the game 1-1.

Mick had 454 home runs through 1964, one more than Willie Mays in many fewer at bats (AB): Mays 7,036, Mantle 6,533.  In 1965 Mays hit 52 homers to zoom past Mantle.  In retirement, there would have been the speculation, no matter how unrealistic, that Mantle might have matched Mays.

Mantle's batting average would have remained well over .300: .309.  His OPS would have been over 1.000: 1.011.  Mantle's slugging average would have been higher than that of Joe DiMaggio (.582 to .579) and the length of their careers much closer: plate appearances: Mantle 7,979, DiMaggio 7,673.

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