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Greenberg vs. Mize?

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  • Greenberg vs. Mize?

    I expect this poll to favor Greenberg, and until lately, I had Greenberg a good margin ahead of Mize in my rankings, but I've lately reconsidered and moved Mize ahead of Greenberg. I think Mize is one of the most underrated greats, so I wanted to take the pulse here.

    - Both players had very impressive peaks and both players lost prime years to service during WWII. Greenberg had a better peak, though Mize's numbers were somewhat surpressed by the NL going back to a less lively ball in the 30's.
    - Both players were also perennial Triple Crown candidates, though Greenberg had the stiffer competition (Gehrig, Foxx, DiMaggio, Williams).
    - Both players finished with a career 158 OPS+, Mize, however, has longevity on his side and did it in 1300 more ABs.
    38
    Hank Greenberg
    55.26%
    21
    Johnny Mize
    44.74%
    17

  • #2
    So far this has gone as expected - in Greenberg's favor.

    Since we're talking about two slugging firstbasemen here, I OPS+ is a good stat to use in comparing the players. So here are there 10 best seasons (well Greenberg actually only had 9 complete seasons, so I included a season in which he had 274 ABs as his 10th season):

    Greenberg...172, 170, 170, 169, 167, 163, 156, 155, 132, 118
    Mize............185, 178, 176, 175, 172, 161, 161, 160, 156, 156

    Mize wins on each year (except one where he loses by just 2 points), and wins some years by great margins. Throw in the fact that the Greenberg's seasons encapsulate his entire career, while Mize has a few more that could be added on to the end of this list, and I really don't see an argument for Greenberg.

    So essentially, Mize tops Greenberg in both peak and longevity.

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    • #3
      This is one where each man should have plenty of supporters. I'll give the edge to Mize due to the slightly longer career.
      Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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      • #4
        indeed mize is often severely underrated

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        • #5
          Originally posted by bkmckenna
          indeed mize is often severely underrated
          It took the Veterans Committee to put him in the Hall of Fame, nearly 30 years after he retired. It's ridiculous that it came to that.

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          • #6
            One thing which makes this a tough call for me is how much credit to give each man for the time he lost to military service. I think I lean toward Mize on the basis of a longer career--but you would love to have either man in your lineup.

            Jim Albright
            Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
            Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
            A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

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            • #7
              --Their numbers are very similar, but the AL was clearly the better league during their prime years and that gives Greenberg the edge for me. It isn't a huge factor, but Greenberg also gets some bonus points from me for being the key man on 4 championship teams (he was the best hitter on the Tiger's pennant winners in 34,35, 40 and 45 and probably their best overall player on 3 of them). Mize never played for a winner until the end of his career when he was a role player for the Yankees.

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              • #8
                Mize is the man for me. Hank Greenberg's peak is way overrated by almost everyone. The 58 home runs draw a real lot of attention, but you have to temper that because of the era he was playing in. Greenberg was a hitter, no doubt about it, but he was close to a zero both on the basepaths and in the field. You can still be a great player as just a hitter, but you had better be one of the greatest of all time there to post huge value seasons. Thomas did it, Gehrig did, but Greenberg couldn't quite. Win Shares only gives Hank 34. 33, and 31 Win Shares for his three best years. That's well behind most other top 1B. Mize doesn't do the best there either though with only a 2 WS advantage over Hank.

                But, Mize had a longer career. He had about 1300 more PA. Hank did miss one more year to the service than Mize, so we can get him closer but his career is still short. I think it is appropriate to give Mize better seasons during the war too. Mize was going real strong beforehand and still went strong afterward. Hank was very good before but kind of lost it afterward.

                The NL was weaker than the AL in that era though, so I can see how you can favor Greenberg here. Still, though, you can only give Hank a slightly better peak and any LQ adjustment should still give Mize quite a bit more career value.

                Another interesting thing about Mize is how little he struck out. Most players like him (big slugging first basemen) tend to have really high totals of walks and strikeouts. Mize did walk a lot but did it without the strikeouts. I'm not one of those people who penalizes strikeouts much (I actually think they're sometimes better than regular outs), but it is somewhat of an indicator of Mize's hitting prowess that he was tough to strike out.
                Last edited by 538280; 01-24-2006, 03:30 PM.

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                • #9
                  --Where do you get the idea Greenberg was a zero in the field and on the base paths? He wasn't great at those things, but he wasn't bad either. I don't see any reason to give the edge in either department. Greenberg was enough of an athlete to move to LF (not a huge challenge, but even still..) in 1940 to allow Rudy York to get into the lineup at 1B. The move resulted in an MVP for Greenberg and a pennant for the Tigers.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by leecemark
                    --Where do you get the idea Greenberg was a zero in the field and on the base paths? He wasn't great at those things, but he wasn't bad either. I don't see any reason to give the edge in either department. Greenberg was enough of an athlete to move to LF (not a huge challenge, but even still..) in 1940 to allow Rudy York to get into the lineup at 1B. The move resulted in an MVP for Greenberg and a pennant for the Tigers.
                    From what I've read Greenberg was slow and uncoordinated. Perhaps not an absolute zero but not too far above it. Checking things up a bit more I guess he was an okay fielder.

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                    • #11
                      Greenberg

                      In Greenberg's bio he mentions that given his prominance he ran into issues with some players/fans due to his being Jewish. He mentions it a few times. I recall reading about how it gave him a little more empathy to the plight of Jackie Robinson/Larry Doby.
                      In regards to Mize or Greenberg, the latter had 2 MVP's and finished in the top 3 twice. That is fairly dominant in a relatively short career of about 13 years. Mize also finished up on top a number of times but he never won the MVP. So in terms of perception amongst the MVP voters, Greenberg was highly valued in relation to his peers. Does anyone know who was doing the MVP voting during the 30's-40's?
                      Johnny
                      Delusion, Life's Coping Mechanism

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                      • #12
                        Greenberg had a better peak...Mize was a better all around player (he could field...Greenberg could not) and played for much much longer...I'll take Mize.

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                        • #13
                          Here is something interesting about Mr. Greenberg. He was drafted into the army before Pearl Harbor as part of the peace time draft. Served his peacetime stint effectively losing all of 1941, and then got out three days prior to Dec 7th, 1941. Greenberg reenlisted immediately after war was declared against Japan and emerged as an Air Force captain four years later after serving with distinction in the China-Burma-India Theater.

                          Mr. Mize also served his country during WW2. Looking at his stats the year after he hit 40 homers he went over to the NY Yankees and for the next five years was a platoon player (a favorite Stengal tactic) and highly effective pinch hitter for the last part of his career. Very valuable player. Years later when asked to name the best DH or what he would consider to be the proto-type DH, no less than former Yankee team-mate Ralph Houk called him the ideal DH.

                          If the argument is that Mize was a more complete player because he was a better fielder I would have to agree that it makes sense.
                          But I doubt your gonna lose too much sleep over having to 'settle' for Greenberg during the 30's as opposed to Mize.
                          Last edited by johnny; 01-28-2006, 10:04 PM.
                          Johnny
                          Delusion, Life's Coping Mechanism

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                          • #14
                            My first instinct was to go with Greenberg, but upon looking at their statistics Mize was a little bit better. I think one gauge of a player's greatness is his ability to lead the league in various categories, and Mize has higher black ink than Greenberg.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cowtipper View Post
                              My first instinct was to go with Greenberg, but upon looking at their statistics Mize was a little bit better. I think one gauge of a player's greatness is his ability to lead the league in various categories, and Mize has higher black ink than Greenberg.
                              On the the other hand Greenberg had to compete against Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx for black ink. Greenberg had one season where he had 100 RBI at the All Star break and he didn't make the American League All Star team.
                              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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