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Griffey vs Mantle

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  • Griffey vs Mantle

    Im not going to bother posting a survey on this topic, as I figure it would be totally one-sided. I do believe ,however, that these two guys are VERY comparable, and a lot closer than many seem to think. Mantle i think is a bit overrated and Griffey underrated, when in acutaliy they are about equal. Remember up until 2001Griffey and Bonds were interchangeable in discussions as to who the best player in baseball was.
    Career counting stats are a wash, but Mantle has the better peak( though griffey from '93-'98 had a 'longer' peak). Mantle also has better OPS+ scores, but that is mostly due to his era he played in. Griffey had more 40 homer seasons and 100 rbi seasons, but again that is due to his era mostly. So thats a wash as well. Base running is about equal, but Griffey has to be considered a better defender on the basis of 10 gold gloves . What it comes down to for me is the value of Mantle's extra walks vs Griffey's superior defense. Mantle may be slightly ahead overall, but it certainly can be argued either way.
    The curious thing is that both guys also had a similiar career path. Up until age 30 they were both on pace to break every career record, but then fell off the map due to consistent injuries and shortened seasons. But the perception of each guys 'disappointing' career totals is completely different. Mantle seems to get extra credit for his 'potential' to be the best ever, while Griffey seems to be penalized for not being as great as he could have been...not breaking the career home run and rbi marks. This, combined with Mantle being one of the few 'stars' of his era, and an icon, while Griffey playing at a time with many more hitting stars, makes people think Mantle was much better, and had a much better career..both of which are untrue.

  • #2
    I checked their OPS through age 29 and after.

    OPS+ through age 29
    Mantle 175
    Griffey 149

    OPS+ after age 29
    Mantle 165
    Griffey 124

    OPS+ is just one metric and it may not be the best indicator of course. Mantle's decline occurred during the mid 1960s so that may make him look worse than he really was. Yes, Griffey won 10 GG but did he deserve then all? I highly doubt that. I don't see how Griffey's peak as being "longer". I see mantle's peak essentially from 1954-1964. From 1993-1998 Griffey's high in OPS+ was 171. Mantle surpassed that eight times. Griffey did have greater sluggers to compete against and that does close the gap between him and Mantle. But Mantle surpassing Griffey's top OPS+ season eight time is too many times IMO.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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    • #3
      I think OPS+ is a very poor indicator in this example. The fact is that Mante played in a league that i consider the worst of the century. There were very few hall of fame hitters during that era..the only guys Mantle had to contend with for league leadership and MVP was an old TedWilliams, Yogi Berra, a young Al Kaline..and umm thats about it. He SHOULD have dominated. It was a horrible time for hitters, especially for power hitters, so his OPS+ is greatly exaggerated due to this. The average hitter during Griffey's time was MUCH better than the average hitter during Mantle's time. had he played during the 90s, he undoubtedly would have had scores of OPS+ 20-30 points lower. Around the level of Jim Thome or Frank Thomas. He basically would have been Jeff Bagwell , but as a center fielder and more injury prone.
      Last edited by willshad; 02-25-2008, 12:30 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by willshad View Post
        I think OPS+ is a very poor indicator in this example. The fact is that Mante played in a league that i consider the worst of the century. There were very few hall of fame hitters during that era..the only guys Mantle had to contend with for league leadership and MVP was an old TedWilliams, Yogi Berra, a young Al Kaline..and umm thats about it. He SHOULD have dominated. It was a horrible time for hitters, especially for power hitters, so his OPS+ is greatly exaggerated due to this.
        The average hitter during Griffey's time was MUCH better than the average hitter during Mantle's time. had he played during the 90s, he undoubtedly would have had scores of OPS+ 20-30 points lower. Around the level of Jim Thome or Frank Thomas. He basically would have been Jeff Bagwell , but as a center fielder and more injury prone.
        Wow. You are the first person to say they believe the AL of the 1950s-1960s was the worst league on the 20th century, quality-wise. I highly doubt that it was.Anyway OPS+ is measured against the entire league not just the top hitters. Taken as a whole the few elite hitter's stats do not alter the league stats by any significant degree. Also, you are forgetting one thing. Griffey's peak was in a time when hitting HRs was far easier to hit than. Griffey's 50+ HR seasons are not comparable to Mantles 50 HR seasons. If Mantle could hit 50+ HRs in the 1950s-60s he could easily hit 60+ HRs in the offensive game of the 1990s. Shoot, I could see Mantle going for 65-70 HRs with the juiced balls of the 1990s. I can apply your argument to Griffey in reverse. Griffey's 50+ HR seasons in the 1990s become perhaps 40-45 HRs in the 1950s. He's basically Duke Snider as a hitter.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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        • #5
          well I highly doubt Mantle would have hit 65-70 homers during the 90s..considering guys way bigger and stronger than him couldnt do it without the help of steroids. And even with steroids, only the very top guys approached it. Its not a fair assumption to make, especially when NOBODY has hit that many in a season cleanly. Maybe if he juiced, but thats another story. I was just saying that its harder to get a great OPS+ when the league as a whole hits well, as opposed to when it doesnt..just like how its harder to get a good ERA+ during a pitcher's era. Mantle's OPS+ scores are kind of like Pedro's ERA+ scores of the 90s and 2000...he wasnt really THAT good..he just looked better because everyone else was bad. Im surprised people think the AL during that time was great...i look at the MVP voting each year and see many no names, and a few guys who were good for a short while (colavito,maris) then fizzled out. There were very few elite, hall of fame players. I think this helps with the perception of Mantle, because it helps him stand out more. He may be slightly overrated due to this. If Griffey was Snider on offense, but with more longevity and better fielding i think that brings him right up there with mantle.

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          • #6
            I would like to add something to this discussion. This is from the All-Century Team book in the Mickey Mantle section (pg. 162):

            As for what Mantle lost to injuries and destructive self-indulgence, we can only guess. But it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to consider Ken Griffey Jr. To be the second coming of Mantle and use the second half of Junior’s career as an indication of what The Mick might have done. The statistical similarity over their first eight seasons – each compared to the other at the same age – is stunning: (convincingly stunning chart)

            If Griffey’s 1994 season is pro-rated to account for the games lost to the strike, his projected totals of 58 HR and 130 RBI are comparable to even Mantle’s in his Triple Crown season. The only poor match during the eight years above would be at age 25, when Griffey missed more than half the season with a broken wrist. Double his home-run and RBI totals for that season and once again they virtually match Mantle’s.

            . . .

            Unique among the elite company represented by this squad, Mickey Mantle’s actual accomplishments whet the appetite for what he might have done had he remained healthy enough long enough to reach his full potential. As we’ve suggested, keep an eye on Junior.
            I remember at the time, his comparison was always Mays, but looking back, the book was right: Mantle is a better comparison. And little did they realize that not a year after the book's publishing his body would start to fall apart just like Mantle and he'd forever be a "what could have been."
            Hey, this is my public apology for suddenly disappearing and missing out on any projects I may have neglected.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by willshad View Post
              well I highly doubt Mantle would have hit 65-70 homers during the 90s..considering guys way bigger and stronger than him couldnt do it without the help of steroids. And even with steroids, only the very top guys approached it. Its not a fair assumption to make, especially when NOBODY has hit that many in a season cleanly. Maybe if he juiced, but thats another story. I was just saying that its harder to get a great OPS+ when the league as a whole hits well, as opposed to when it doesnt..just like how its harder to get a good ERA+ during a pitcher's era. Mantle's OPS+ scores are kind of like Pedro's ERA+ scores of the 90s and 2000...he wasnt really THAT good..he just looked better because everyone else was bad. Im surprised people think the AL during that time was great...i look at the MVP voting each year and see many no names, and a few guys who were good for a short while (colavito,maris) then fizzled out. There were very few elite, hall of fame players. I think this helps with the perception of Mantle, because it helps him stand out more. He may be slightly overrated due to this. If Griffey was Snider on offense, but with more longevity and better fielding i think that brings him right up there with mantle.
              Isn't it fair to assume that if Mantle was the biggest, toughest, and strongest guy back then and that if he recieved the same nutrition, workout regiments, supplies, equipment, and other "enhancements" as today's players (again, being born in this era, obviously) that he wouldn't still be the most athletic and strongest today? If this isn't factored in, than it would be safe to say that back-up middle infileders today would be stronger and faster and more athletic than any pre WW2 players. Cesar Izturis going back in time as he appears today would be a beast compared to most deadball era players. Does that mean that Izturis is better than ty Cobb? How can we adjust the physical charactaristics of players moving backwards, but not forwards?

              It is like people saying how crappy Pedro is because he didn't throw 300 IP per season like Koufax, but when they are reminded that Koufax couldn't throw 600 IP per season like Hutchinson, they claim, "well that is different."
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              • #8
                Originally posted by willshad View Post
                I think OPS+ is a very poor indicator in this example. The fact is that Mante played in a league that i consider the worst of the century. There were very few hall of fame hitters during that era..the only guys Mantle had to contend with for league leadership and MVP was an old TedWilliams, Yogi Berra, a young Al Kaline..and umm thats about it. He SHOULD have dominated. It was a horrible time for hitters, especially for power hitters, so his OPS+ is greatly exaggerated due to this. The average hitter during Griffey's time was MUCH better than the average hitter during Mantle's time. had he played during the 90s, he undoubtedly would have had scores of OPS+ 20-30 points lower. Around the level of Jim Thome or Frank Thomas. He basically would have been Jeff Bagwell , but as a center fielder and more injury prone.

                Mantle lost alot of black ink due to Ted Williams being able to miss 40-50 games a year and still have his stats count

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                • #9
                  I am sure anything referring to Bill James will be dismissed out of hand, as have other arguments supporting Mantle's superiority, but his objective function has Mantle as the 3rd best player ever and Griffey as the 53rd. To me that's a little high on Mantle but pretty generous to Griffey also. Pitchers were not included in this calculation.
                  Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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                  • #10
                    the only way to rank Mantle nearly that high is to 1) completely assume that his superiority over his peers was due to him really being that good, and not just being fortunate to play in a low quailty era for offense, 2) not penalize him at all for all his time missed due to injuries, and general lack of durability, and 3) actually give him CREDIT for getting injured, and assume if he was healthy then every season would be like 1956 or 1957, and use those adjusted stats to rank him.
                    I would have Griffey and Mantle both in the low to mid 20s if i was doing a ranking of all potision players.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by STLCards2 View Post
                      Isn't it fair to assume that if Mantle was the biggest, toughest, and strongest guy back then and that if he recieved the same nutrition, workout regiments, supplies, equipment, and other "enhancements" as today's players (again, being born in this era, obviously) that he wouldn't still be the most athletic and strongest today? If this isn't factored in, than it would be safe to say that back-up middle infileders today would be stronger and faster and more athletic than any pre WW2 players. Cesar Izturis going back in time as he appears today would be a beast compared to most deadball era players. Does that mean that Izturis is better than ty Cobb? How can we adjust the physical charactaristics of players moving backwards, but not forwards?

                      It is like people saying how crappy Pedro is because he didn't throw 300 IP per season like Koufax, but when they are reminded that Koufax couldn't throw 600 IP per season like Hutchinson, they claim, "well that is different."

                      I just think there is a human limit on how good a player can be naturally. If the best 'natural' players now hit less than 60 homers, and slug less than .700, then i dont think its fair to assume Mantle, or even Ruth, would have 65 or 70 home runs a season, and adjust their slugging to make up for the era differences. Im sure if you adjusted ruth's 1921 stats or mantle's 1956 stats to a 1998 enviromnent, then theyd slug .950 and hit 80 home runs. but thats just not realistic because 1) nobody else can do it, and 2) if they WERE that good then theyd be walked 200 times a season ala Bonds in 2004, and not hit more than 45 homers anyway.

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