Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis
he's gotta have ATLEAST get to .700 slugging % once in his career
Therefore, Ruth's will stay at 207 for this analysis. I could later adjust them all to a modern, or deadball setting, but let's see what we get. Basically we are looking at what happens to OPS+ when the average player is NOT taking full advantage of power, or getting their proportional relative value from walks. Keep in mind that Ruth played some time BEFORE the live-ball sluggers' boost.
In Ruth's time, the average player got 23.86% of their OB% from walks, and 40.35% of their Slg from extra bases.
For Williams, we get:
28.5% and 47.7% for the average player. You can see that the average guy was now getting a much greater share of their percentages from walks and extra bases. If we reduce his league average to 23.86% and 40.35% and league averages of .343 and .389 giving him an OPS+ of 203.5.
For Pujols we get:
27.0% and 60.7% for average. We get .331 and .375 for an adjusted league rate giving him an OPS+ of .375 giving him a 196 OPS+.
There you go. If you adjust for context and approach to offense, Pujols is on of the fop few all time best (Williams and Babe).
What would Cobb's be, Brett? How about the other top 10 leaders in OPS+?
This thread is getting silly. Pujols is not in that class yet, and will probably never be. Comparing him to Ted Williams and Ty Cobb and <gasp> Babe Ruth, come on. At least wait until he's in his late 30's.
Lou Gehrig is the Truest Yankee of them all!
Is McGwire right about Pujols?January, 12, 2010
By Rob Neyer
Near the end of the big interview with Bob Costas, Mark McGwire said something that's mostly been lost among the tearful replays. After a question about his recent contacts with St. Louis Cardinal hitters, there was this exchange ...
McGwire: I spoke to Albert Pujols today ... had a great, great talk with Albert. He is, by far, one of the most terrific human beings -- and when it's all said and done, he will be probably the greatest baseball player to ever play this game.
Costas: You think that?
Costas: That he'll be the best player ever.
McGwire: Ever. There is absolutely -- his swing is flawless. His work ethic is flawless. He is one of those guys, is a grinder. He's very intense. And I'm just happy to say that I can be his hitting coach, and sit back and watch history be made.
Is that nuts?
With due respect to Oscar Charleston, a list of the six greatest players in major league history looks something like this:
1. Babe Ruth (756/224)
2. Barry Bonds (705/171)
3. Willie Mays (642/155)
4. Ty Cobb (722/159)
5. Honus Wagner (655/135)
6. Hank Aaron (643/142)
The first number in parentheses is Win Shares (sorry, no Loss Shares yet); the second is Wins Above Replacement. You can slot them however you like, but Ruth and Bonds would seem to have a clear edge over their nearest competition, statistically speaking. And yes, we might drag Stan Musial or Ted Williams into this discussion, but remember that we're actually trying to figure out if Pujols can reach (or approach) the top of this list.
Actually, I suppose we're probably going to end this discussion the way it begins: the answer is Babe Ruth. Ruth's WAR as a hitter/fielder/runner is 172, just a hair ahead of Bonds -- but he picks up another 52 for his pitching, and so nobody's remotely close to his 224 total. His Win Shares don't seem quite so impossible, but ... well, we'll see.
First let's look at more WAR. I can't break down the candidates by age, but I can tell you that Pujols now has 76.5 Wins Above Replacement, after nine seasons. If he plays another nine seasons at exactly the same level, he'll have 153 WAR. That's unlikely enough, but for the sake of argument: In nine years he'll be turning 39 -- his birthday is later this week -- so let's give him three more seasons at (generously) 4 WAR per season. That gets him to 165 WAR, and squarely into the conversation as the greatest non-Ruthian player ever. As I said, it's unlikely, because even Pujols is likely to decline in his 30s. But we're just talking, right?
Now let's turn to Win Shares, which I can break into age groupings. Pujols already has 315 Win Shares. Conveniently, he's not quite into his 30s. So there's an easy break. Here are the same players, ranked by Win Shares prior to their Age 30 seasons:
The first numbers aren't so interesting, because they're heavily influenced by events out of each player's control. Bonds spent a few years playing college ball. Mays spent nearly two full seasons in the Army. Wagner wasn't spotted by the talent scouts until he was well into his 20s.
No, what's interesting are the second numbers -- the Win Shares each player compiled after his Age 29 season -- because they suggest the limits.
Granted, those second numbers are all over the map. The Great Ty Cobb just cleared 300 after turning 30, while Bonds and Wagner both zoomed past 400. Wagner clearly was a freak, and played until he was 43. Bonds -- well, you know enough about him already. One thing we shouldn't do is assume that Pujols will age better than his competition, because for the most part his competition aged quite nicely. In addition to Wagner, Ruth had a big year at 38, Aaron at 39 and Mays at 40. They weren't just playing at those ages; they were still great (or close) at those ages.
I'm perfectly comfortable with giving Pujols another 300 Win Shares in his career, if only for the sake of argument.*
* But this is the place to mention selection bias. We've chosen the greatest players ever. Of course they played well after turning 30; if they hadn't, they wouldn't have made this list. Jimmie Foxx, like Pujols a first baseman, racked up 312 Win Shares before turning 30 -- almost exactly as many as Pujols. But Foxx finished his career with only 435. Which is to say, all this speculation is great fun, but there any number of gremlins just waiting to chew into a great player's career. There's no such thing as a sure thing.
How many more than 300, though? Might he really match what he's already done? Sure. He's played only nine seasons. With a little luck, he'll play another dozen or so. The other six players in our little study averaged 371 Win Shares beginning with their Age 30 seasons. Again for the sake of argument, let's bump that to 385 to account for longer seasons and better doctors.
So now we've got Pujols with 700 Win Shares, still well behind Ruth (756) but just a shade behind Cobb (722) and Bonds (705).
It's not hard to imagine Pujols getting past Bonds. It's not hard to construct an argument for Pujols being better than Cobb, considering how much more developed the game is today, compared to when Cobb played.
And the Babe? Hey, there's no such thing as a sure thing. A dozen years from now, the doctors and conditioning specialists will be doing amazing things. You want to bet that Albert Pujols won't still be a good hitter when he's 42, or 45? I don't.
But there is the strategic aspect of walks as well. Deadball slugging just was not dangerous enough (even for the best) to result in guys getting pitched around and racking up big walk totals. The other component of my basic theory about early live ball sluggers is that they could rack up illogically or inappropriately high walk totals-inappropriately because there just were not guys who struck out a lot of batters.
I also have to slightly re-work my calculations because using the difference between OB% and slugging is not the same as calculating isolate walk rate. Cobb batted .366, but he only got a hit in .321 of his PLATE appearances, so I should look at his OB% minus .321 (and do the league similarly).
I am working on these issues now, but might need a day to get something I am comfortable with.
Last edited by Bill Burgess; 06-07-2010 at 04:25 PM.
The reason Pujols isn't in that class statistically is probably because baseball has advanced dramatically, there are far more people playing professionally per roster spot in major league baseball, and today's athletes are just much better- bigger, faster, stronger, and vastly better trained and prepared.
PS- Williams hardly faced black players, and basically no great black pitchers a significant amount. He didn't even have a black teammate until 21 years into his career.
As for Ruth not facing any black pitchers, true. But how many is Pujols actually facing? Pitching in MLB is still overwhelmingly non-black for some reason.
Lou Gehrig is the Truest Yankee of them all!
Compare his numbers to those of just Mantle, A-rod, Schmidt, Mathews, Boggs, Brett.
He would be a close second to Ichiro in BATTING average since integration .3328 to .3336
McGwire (.588), A-Rod (.573) and Larry Walker (.565) would be the closest to his .625 slugging. That's a 6% of the next guy. Ruth has just a 8% edge on Ted Williams, and Mac and A-rod had both admitted steroid use and Walker had Coors field.
Then there's Helton, also with a Coors boost, and the next guy is Mantle at .557. Pujols currently has a 12% edge on Mantle, more than Ruth has on Williams, Gehrig, and almost as much as Ruth has on Foxx.
With no black players Pujols would also be #1 in on base% since integration at .427 with Helton at .426 with Coors and Mantle at .421 and Boggs at .415.
I mean he'd be a good night away from being the leader in all 3 percentages over the last 60 years with no black players. Ruth was first in slugging, second in OB% and 10th in BA prior to the beginning of integration.
He's also have 4 home run titles
I think we should get back to gehrig. Ruth and williams are just too far head even if their stats where helped by a pre intergration league and their relative stats by a weaker hitting(power) competiton.
But hitters like gehrig, mays or bonds are more in his sight. I still think he won't get there, but he has a small chance.
I actually think that Pujols' career rates are a little better than Gehrig's career rates (fully adjusted) but he would have to get to 2200 games and still be a little over .400 and .600, maybe .410/.605 through 2200. And he is a better fielder so if he matches Gehrig in games, and maintains .400/.600 I'd put them about equal among MLB position players, (somewhere between 11th and 15th all time with Bonds rated somewhere in the 7-10 range with a steroid adjustment and assuming A-Rod doesn't get there before then).
If I were ranking the greatest hitters, strictly as hitters, I think a case could be made to rank them thusly:
1. Babe Ruth
2. Ted Williams
3. Ty Cobb
4. Rogers Hornsby
5. Lou Gehrig
6. Barry Bonds* (steroid discount)
While deep in my heart, I will always sentimentally hold out for Ty Cobb, I think if one were forced to debate, the above order would be the most logically-defensible position to defend from.
In an intellectual debate, the above order has a defense perimeter whose contours offer the least salient angles to which a salient wedge could be driven in. I truly believe that Rogers Hornsby deserves to outrank Lou Gehrig, strictly as hitters.
And that is close to what the Fever house believed in one of our polls.---Fever's Top 5 Hitters of All Time
While I think that Al Pujols has an intellectual and mathematical potential to catch and exceed Lou Gehrig as an all-time hitter, I just don't think that he will. Fulfilling a potential is the hardest thing in the world to do. In Al's case, it will require a massive psychological effort to sustain his inner desire/interest, which is what sustains his training intensity, which is the nuts and bolts of one's on-field performance. To keep that intensity, that fire over time is what he needs to do, and only time will tell if he can stay hungry in the face of success, greatness, comfort, security and increasing battle-fatigue.
Under normal conditions, it will evolve something like this. The further into his mid-career transition phase he goes, the stronger the urge to throw the switch into 'cruise control'. His success will fuel his security for his family, and the increasing pressure will be to level off and cruise to the line of his career's end. He will be tempted to relax and enjoy the fruits of his former training, and not to risk injury by keeping the pressure on to go higher. His body will tell him to throw the training into 'auto-pilot', and just let it go at that.
Few stay hungry in the face of overwhelming success. Success kills hunger. It wipes out the need to prove your former point. Once you are at the top, your success itself tends to kill the need for greater success. At least that's how it works in 95% of successful people. Only psychos like Cobb and Ruth and Rose kept trying to push the envelope and stayed hungry after they reached the top. And that had mostly to do with their insatiable needs to prove to themselves that they were good enough. Few have that need to prove that much. Maybe you almost have to be nuts, or emotionally-depleted to reach the top in one's field.
I think Al Pujols is too emotionally well-adjusted to stay that hungry.
Last edited by Bill Burgess; 06-09-2010 at 09:59 AM.
So while Cobb's OPS+ for example may stand out, his 167 OPS+ was a smaller part of his game than a 167 would be with the lie ball.
What he managed to do, was to be the best hitter of his time, AND to be the best baserunner concurrently, something none of the others could claim.
Take away the toll of all of those stolen bases, and other baserunning, and the need to maintain a body that was spry enough to play that game, and who knows what he could have done as a hitter.
Ruth may have been able to even produce a 200+ OPS+ score in that time, but it would have represented less value in that time because more of the game came down to baserunning and defense.
Cobb BTW had a 182 OPS+ for a stretch as long as Gehrig's career 1907-1922
"Back before I injured my hip, I thought going to the gym was for wimps."
Actually, I think they were about the same because I lettered in all sports, and I was a two-time state decathlon champion.
My sophomore year I placed 2nd, and my junior and senior year - I got smart and piled up enough points between myself and second place where I didn't have to run the mile.
These six runners were all born between 1946-51. and they arrived right after Bob Schul (5,000m) and Billy Mills (10,000m) both won gold medals at the 1964 Olympics.
Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis
Ruth and Foxx, Foxx never played in the dead ball era, trick deliveries and hitting a beat up scuffed up ball left in the game as long as the cover stayed on.
Yes I can see some adjustments for Ruth and the era he played in. But also to be considered, Ruth spent some years batting every 4th or 5th day, not the best to keep a hitter's timing sharp and before the changes in 1920. After 6 seasons in MLB his slugging was at .568, 49 career home runs, his career already one quarter over.
Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 06-10-2010 at 05:12 AM.
Primarily I just wanted to point out how Pujols stands out especially if we remove all black players from the last 60 years.
And that as it stands he is about half a point of battig average away from being the all time leader in BA, Slg, and OB% since integration.
I think that .333/.625/.427 today is better than Gehrigs .340/.634/.447. The only problem is, he's only played 2/3 as long. I for one do NOT think his OPS+ will come down over say the next 2 years.
Last edited by brett; 06-10-2010 at 10:01 AM.
For sure his cumulaltive stats would have been much higher, percentage based stats, how would we ever know for sure.
You don't think the young Babe 1914-1919 could have equaled or bettered his .308 batting average that he did hold those first 6 seasons.
Threre is no way to know what might have been had he had more at bats in those years. Just pointed out that he had little to show in the way of stats in his first 6 seasons, with more at a bats. That .308 is nothing.
Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 06-10-2010 at 10:11 AM.
The emergence of Africa as a distance power and the lack of promotion of the sport in America has combined to kill it here. From 1965-67, we produced 3 consecutive sub-4 minute milers in high school. Jim Ryun (Wichita East in Kansas) in 1965, Tim Danilesen (California) in 1966, and Marty Liquori (Essex Catholic in New Jersey) in 1967.
We didn't produce another one until 2001 with Alan Webb. That's 35 year drought. In the 60's, Ryun, Danielson and Liquori all trained like college runners. They did 3-5 mile road work in the mornings and 5 miles of interval track work in the afternoons with the teams. That 100 mile/week workload resulted in great times. But high-volume work fell out of favor, fearing it would burn out the kids.
Today, we need a track club with our best middle and long-distance runners training together. Under someone who knows what they're doing. Like Fred Dwyer, Frank Gagliano or Bob Timmons. Someone who knows the Arthur Lydiard system of training. American can do well again, but not with the system now in place. With things as they are, American track will stay dead. Talent will not be enough. The training system has to be right. Diamonds need to be cut by master diamond cutters in order to sparkle.
Last edited by Bill Burgess; 06-11-2010 at 04:12 PM.
Also the african system is do or die. 1000s of kids try it, most burn out but those who make it are incredibly strong(even stronger than the american greats of the past). every training there is a race, they always go 100%.
This leads to some incredible athletes but can't be copied here. We can't burn five kids totally to get one world class guy. our liberal society just doesn't tolerate this (rightfully).
Not going to go too far with this one since it's about Al and Lou.
Short reply not going to hang my hat on that .312 because that was short term. We have no way of knowing that he bats .312 with 1200 or more at bats. Would it shock anyone if Babe Ruth as a regular everyday player from 1914 batted .330-.350 even in the dead ball era, .330+ not a stretch, he loses some but not as much as that .312
Again, bottom line, no way anyone can tell what might have been even playing dead ball era.