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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mickey Mantle hit few doubles ... or did he?

Yesterday a friend told me that Bill James disagreed with my interpretation that Mantle hit few doubles:

Why did Mickey Mantle hit so few doubles? Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2B%: [2B]/[H]

Doubles as a percent of hits.  For batters with at least 4,000 AB:

David Ortiz is #1: 26%.

Mickey Mantle #932 out of 1,101: 14.24%...

Among 81 batters with 350 home runs through 2010 (Ortiz has 378 through 2011 but I don't have that data yet for all players):

Carlos Delgado is #1: 23.7%.

The Mick is #78.  Only Killbrew, Howard and Cash are lower, none of them with any speed.


Supposedly Bill James used this method: doubles divided by balls in play (BIP):  (AB - SO - HR + SF).  We don't know of any data that James used, just his conclusion that Mantle was more average as a doubles hitter than may generally be assumed.

I tried the Bill James method on batters with at least 350 home runs.  When I used that group in 2010 there were 81, now there are 93.

Mantle's rank with the James method is 77, now out of 93.  Mick's rank is not high enough for James to conclude that Mantle was in the middle of some reasonable pack of peers.

In fact the top two using the James method conform to what I got using doubles as a percent of hits: Ortiz and Delgado.

Click this link to view the data.  There are three tabs:

- one has the data in the right most columns sorted by career home runs.
- two has the data sorted by 2B/BIP percent (James method); Mantle 5.83%
- three has the data sorted by 2B/Hits percent (my method); Mantle 14.24%


David Ortiz60219.70%1
Carlos Delgado51589.36%2
Manny Ramirez59669.17%3
Jim Edmonds48019.10%4
Todd Helton65119.09%5

Mickey Mantle59035.83%77
Jim Rice65145.73%78
Willie McCovey61965.70%79
Al Kaline88015.66%80
Billy Williams79515.46%81
Eddie Mathews65965.37%82
Dave Kingman44945.34%83
Rocky Colavito53095.33%84
Gil Hodges55735.29%85
Ralph Kiner40945.28%86
Ernie Banks77695.24%87
Frank Howard46895.22%88
Harmon Killebrew59524.87%89
Yogi Berra68274.70%90
Norm Cash52924.55%91
Darrell Evans72394.54%92
Graig Nettles74774.39%93

David Ortiz60219.70%25.36%1
Carlos Delgado51589.36%23.70%2
Todd Helton65119.09%23.50%3
Luis Gonzalez76837.76%23.00%4

Mickey Mantle59035.83%14.24%90
Harmon Killebrew59524.87%13.90%91
Frank Howard46895.22%13.81%92
Norm Cash52924.55%13.24%93

Bottom line: which method makes more sense:

Mine: 2B/Hits
James: 2B/BIP

Jan. 2, 2016 Note: The next few posts also deal with this topic.


Cliff Blau said...

He's ahead of quite a few contemporaries on your list. How does he compare to all batters from the 196th and 197th decades?

Kenneth Matinale said...

On my list Mantle is only ahead of Cash, Howard and Killebrew. On the Bill James list that I created, Mantle is ahead of some contemporaries but still only number 77 of 93.

I have not run data for all batters from the 1950s and 1960s. Will consider. On the Bill James list of players with 350 homers Mantle is behind in rate of doubles: Ted Williams, Willie Stargell, Stan Musial, Dick Allen, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Johnny Mize, Duke Snider, Orlando Cepeda, Carl Yastrzemski 10248, Johnny Bench, and just a litte behind Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

Steven Yourke said...

I would like to share a thought or two about the question of whether Mickey Mantle hit fewer doubles than we should expect from a hitter with so much speed and power. I have just reviewed the Yankee team statistics for the years 1951 through 1964 - the years during which the Yankees were the greatest team in baseball and also Mantles prime years, too. Of course, the Yankees nearly always led the league in home runs - that was why they were called the Bronx Bombers. But they produced fewer doubles, on average, than the other teams in the league. In an eight team league, they came in seventh in 1951 (Mantle's rookie season), eighth in 1956 (Mickey's Triple Crown season) and tenth - that is, dead last - in 1961, the year in which Maris and Mantle were dueling it out to see who would break Ruth's single season home run record. Producing doubles was just not something the Yankees did much of during those years, and this despite the fact that they led in home runs nearly every single season. So Mickey's low production of numbers has to be evaluated in light of the team he played on - and the ball park he played half his games in, Yankee Stadium. Also, I think this proves that there is no necessary positive correlation between home runs and doubles - that is, just because a player hits a lot of home runs is no reason why we should expect him also his a lot of doubles. Doubles have little to do with power per se and much more to do with placement, with where on the field the ball is hit. Now opposing outfielders probably played Mantle very, very deep because he was such a tremendous power hitter - they were determined to keep the ball in front of them and not let it get between them, especially in Yankee Stadium where a ball hit between the outfielders would probably be a triple, not a mere double. And note that Mickey did not fare too badly in the triple department, nor did the Yankees as a whole. They were usually first or second in the league in triples, at least from 1951 through 1960. Mantle led the league in triples in 1955, not something we should expect if he played under orders not to run more than he really had to.
Yoig Berra, a dead pull hitter to right field, hit a lot more doubles than Mantle - and Yogi was hardly a fast runner. But he would hit the ball down the line to right and thus got a lot of doubles, relatively speaking. Light hitting infielders like Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek also seem to have done pretty well in the doubles department - probably because the outfielders played them in close. But with Mantle at bat, the outfielders played deep. Anyway, that is my thought for the day. Best wishes, Steve Yourke

Kenneth Matinale said...

Jan. 2, 2016 Note: The next few posts also deal with this topic.

Mantle's home/road splits for doubles are pretty even, so I don't think it was Yankee Stadium.

Steven Yourke said...

I do not see any reason to think that power hitters like Mantle should be expected to hit more doubles than the average hitter. Whether a hit is a single or a double has nothing to do with power, it has to do with placement. The question should be whether Mantle hit significantly fewer doubles than his teammates (non pitchers, of course). Around 14 per cent of his hits were doubles, about average for the teams he played on.

Chuck Cannon said...

I wonder if the fact that he hit the ball so hard and it got to the outfielders quicker or bounced farther back toward infielders off the wall had something to do with it?