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  • Tony Oliva

    Originally posted by wu-tang clan View Post
    I completely agree that statistics in their current state, at least all of the ones I'm aware of, are overrated in determining a player's value, and that actually watching a player play from an educated lens is a better metric. I hate the fact that I wish for the practice of determining a baseball player's value to be more subjective as I generally wish for everything to be akin to mathematics, but it is what it is. However, James isn't necessarily a pro-baseball statistics guy from what I gather— he just wants to understand the game better, and statistics are currently a decent enough way of truly understanding baseball via a standardized metric.

    Also, thank you for mentioning Tony Oliva. I work at a hardware store in Minneapolis, and one of my associates has been a lifelong Twins fan, going back to when he was a hot dog vendor as a kid at Met Stadium; he's still a regular season-ticket holder. He maintains that to this day (and also said that many old-time umpires would agree), he's never seen anyone consistently hit a baseball harder than Tony O could. For what it's worth, he's also said that the 2012 Tigers infield is probably the worst-fielding infield he's ever seen.
    This is a post from another thread that got away from the topic, so I thought that I would start a thread about Tony Oliva. History has knid of forgotton him. Also, modern stats with their emphasis on OBP, tend to devaluate him.

    I grew up in the upper midwest, when the Twins had Oliva, Killebrew, Allison, and later Carew. While remaining a Giants fan, I saw the Twins play on TV a lot and a few times in person. Oliva was the heart and soul of those teams. A total natural.

    Oliva also was severely injured in 1972, and his lifetime stats don't reflect the player that he was before his injury. Prior to his injury his line was .313/.361/.506 OPS+ 140, after 4 more years of playing on one leg, his lifetime stats fell to .304/.353/.476 OPS+ 131. Quite a drop in his lifetime slugging. Had he just retired, he would probalby be looked on more favorably.

    Just in case posters here don't know about him, he burst on the scene when one of the best rookie seasons ever, in 1964, and was named ROY. He led the league in hits, runs, doubles, batting, and total bases. He was 4th in MVP voting. He followed that up with another batting title in 1965 and was MVP runnerup. He led the league in hits 5 times, doubles 4 times, batting 3 times, and slugging once. He was again MVP runnerup in 1970. He was an all star every one of the 8 years prior to his injury. And he played in a pitcher's era, the late 60's.

    I'm not sure that he's a HOFer (I'd vote for him), so I posted on this section. I just don't want history to forget him. Tony O could flat out hit
    This week's Giant

    #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

  • #2
    Oliva was a good hitting coach for the Twins during the 1980s. He drastically improved Puckett's game. Early on, Puckett got a bunch of cheap hits with the super-bouncy turf at the Metrodome(which was later replaced by more reasonable turf). But Oliva taught Puckett how to drive the ball. Puckett then became a force.

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    • #3
      I had the pleasure of seeing Tony Oliva play in an exhibition game against the Mets in 1971.I was fortunate enough to get him to sign his autograph on the box top of my popcorn.He was speaking in Spanish to a young couple.I remember he had a gold tooth.Watching him take batting practice was pure pleasure.He hit 6 rising line drives in a row over the right field fence.At one point,he hit a line drive back to the mound that made it half way through the protective screen!His first time up in the game he hit a rising line drive over the right field fence-just like in BP.Apparently,Oliva cracked his bat during the game,because when my group went to a Burger King after the game,there was a kid in there with Oliva`s cracked bat.I offered the boy a whopping $5 for the bat(I was a kid too),he wisely declined.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
        Just in case posters here don't know about him, he burst on the scene when one of the best rookie seasons ever, in 1964, and was named ROY.
        When did he change it to Tony?
        They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by pheasant View Post
          Oliva was a good hitting coach for the Twins during the 1980s. He drastically improved Puckett's game. Early on, Puckett got a bunch of cheap hits with the super-bouncy turf at the Metrodome(which was later replaced by more reasonable turf). But Oliva taught Puckett how to drive the ball. Puckett then became a force.
          I remember in early 1986 Puckett's home run power surge was HUGE news. Going into the 1986 season Puckett had hit just 13 HRs in 996 minor league PA's and just 4 home runs in 1,327 major league PA's (1984-85). Puckett hit 15 home runs in April/May of '86. whatever Oliva did it sure worked!
          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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          • #6
            I remember reading an excerpt about Oliva from Carew's autobiograph about what Tony went through to be a ML ballplayer, and Rod was a good source because he roomed with Tony. Seems like Tony had knee problems from early on and Carew would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of Oliva crying because he was in such pain. Eventually, Tony would get up and hobble around the hotel looking for a ice machine so he could get some relief for his aching joint. Most days this poor guy had to get up the next day and play a game or two on that knee after not being able to sleep from the pain. I'm sure modern medicine would have been able to lessen his discomfort and probably help him on the field.
            Al Oliver is an interesting comp for Oliva, and not just in name...both men were walking line drive machines with power who didn't take many walks. Al played CF when young while Tony was in RF, and Oliver had a much longer career but was not quite the HR hitter that Oliva was in his best years. Both were considered to be top notch hitters in their day but didn't receive much HOF support and aren't talked about that much today. Jim Rice was sort of similar in that he hit the ball squarely very often and didn't walk much, but he was a pull hitter who would loft the ball (in a favorable park) whereas Oliver and Oliva were more line drive, all fields hitters.
            This is kind of stupid, but I made a connection between the wife on "Green Acres" calling her husband "Olivah" and how I thought Oliva's name was pronounced as a kid, so my mental image when I see Tony's name is Eva Gabor.

            BTW - Tony went 4 for 9 for the Twins in '62 at age 23...then 3 for 7 for them the next year. Why didn't he get a better shot in '63? They had Killebrew, Allison and Hall all hitting 33 or more HRs in the OF, but also had a 35 year old Vic Power doing not much at 1B. Hindsight is 20/20, but I think I would have been pretty eager to get the velocity-challenged Harmon at 1B and try out the young Oliva in the OF.
            Last edited by Dude Paskert; 07-18-2012, 01:55 PM.
            "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
              I remember reading an excerpt about Oliva from Carew's autobiograph about what Tony went through to be a ML ballplayer, and Rod was a good source because he roomed with Tony. Seems like Tony had knee problems from early on and Carew would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of Oliva crying because he was in such pain. Eventually, Tony would get up and hobble around the hotel looking for a ice machine so he could get some relief for his aching joint. Most days this poor guy had to get up the next day and play a game or two on that knee after not being able to sleep from the pain. I'm sure modern medicine would have been able to lessen his discomfort and probably help him on the field.
              Al Oliver is an interesting comp for Oliva, and not just in name...both men were walking line drive machines with power who didn't take many walks. Al played CF when young while Tony was in RF, and Oliver had a much longer career but was not quite the HR hitter that Oliva was in his best years. Both were considered to be top notch hitters in their day but didn't receive much HOF support and aren't talked about that much today. Jim Rice was sort of similar in that he hit the ball squarely very often and didn't walk much, but he was a pull hitter who would loft the ball (in a favorable park) whereas Oliver and Oliva were more line drive, all fields hitters.
              This is kind of stupid, but I made a connection between the wife on "Green Acres" calling her husband "Olivah" and how I thought Oliva's name was pronounced as a kid, so my mental image when I see Tony's name is Eva Gabor.
              I always liked Eva way more than Zsa Zsa.
              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                I always liked Eva way more than Zsa Zsa.
                I don't know how to tell them apart without name tags.
                "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                  I don't know how to tell them apart without name tags.
                  Ava was the pretty one!

                  By the way I remember a good write up on Oliva in Bill James' Politics of Glory. I'll try to dig it up and post it later.
                  Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 07-18-2012, 02:05 PM.
                  Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                    Ava was the pretty one!
                    I hope she was nicer to the less fortunate, too...I remember Zsa Zsa forced a group of disabled people who came to see her "perform" to sit in the back of the room because she thought they would distract the other patrons. This was after the group paid a premium price for seats near the stage. As one of her critics at the time asked, what did Zsa Zsa even DO that people would come to a theater to see? Bleach her hair and apply makeup??
                    "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                      I hope she was nicer to the less fortunate, too...I remember Zsa Zsa forced a group of disabled people who came to see her "perform" to sit in the back of the room because she thought they would distract the other patrons. This was after the group paid a premium price for seats near the stage. As one of her critics at the time asked, what did Zsa Zsa even DO that people would come to a theater to see? Bleach her hair and apply makeup??
                      She was famous for being famous, the Paris Hilton of her time. At least her sister Eva did something.
                      They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Here is the Olivia section from James' book.

                        Oliva1.JPG

                        --------------------------

                        Oliva2.JPG

                        ---------------------------

                        Oliva3.JPG
                        Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 07-18-2012, 03:57 PM.
                        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Continued...

                          Oliva4.JPG

                          ---------------------------

                          Oliva5.JPG

                          =--------------------------

                          Oliva6.JPG
                          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I liked Oliva, tremendous rookie season in tremendous rookie class

                            He was one of those rare players whose best season was his first, he hit 32 home runs that year, never again hit more than 25. He hit 43 doubles, never hit as many again. Had 217 hits, only once ever topped 200 again (204), 9 triples, never hit as many again. Slugged .557, only approached that once again and that was in his injury shortened 1971 season (.546).

                            3 time batting champ and 6 time .300 hitter but surprisingly did not even get to 2000 career hits. His 1967 and 1968 seasons were almost identical .289 17 HR vs. .289 18 HR and he finished 19th in MVP voting both years
                            Last edited by 9RoyHobbsRF; 07-18-2012, 04:16 PM.
                            1. The more I learn, the more convinced I am that many players are over-rated due to inflated stats from offensive home parks (and eras)
                            2. Strat-O-Matic Baseball Player, Collector and Hobbyist since 1969, visit my strat site: http://forums.delphiforums.com/GamersParadise
                            3. My table top gaming blog: http://cary333.blogspot.com/

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                            • #15
                              Oliva on the August 12, 1965 Sports Illustrated cover.

                              0823_large.jpg
                              Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 07-18-2012, 04:24 PM.
                              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                              Comment

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