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Jimmie Foxx vs. Frank Robinson

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  • Jimmie Foxx vs. Frank Robinson

    Here we have two of the game's greatest sluggers. Jimmie Foxx hit .325 with 2,646 hits, 534 home runs and 1,922 RBI. He had a 163 OPS+ and 1,751 runs scored.

    Frank Robinson hit .294 with 586 home runs, 2,943 hits, 1,812 RBI. He had a 154 OPS+, 1,829 runs scored and 240 stolen bases to boot.

    But which one was better?
    32
    Jimmie Foxx
    59.38%
    19
    Frank Robinson
    40.63%
    13

  • #2
    This was the toughest and most surprising one to me yet. I automatically would have assumed Foxx. Foxx was in the running for 3 triple crowns. He just missed in 1932 by being .003 off in batting avg. And in 1938, he won the RBI and AVG titles, but ONLY hit 50 hrs that year. But after further scrutiny, I chose Robinson by a hair. I deduct 5 OPS+ per 20 years(excluding the war-raided 1940s) in an attempt to quantify improving league quality. Thus, I have have Foxx's era adjusted OPS+ of 158 vs Robinson's 154. Robinson accumulated 2000 more plate appearances, which more than covers the spread in OPS+. Robinson's better baserunning offsets Foxx's better defense. Overall, I have Robinson ahead by a paper-thin margin. Both players barely crack the top 20 in my book.

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    • #3
      I have Foxx 21 or 22 and Robinson about 20 or 21 last time I checked. Integration probably lowered stars OPS+'s by about 4-6% or in Robinson's case about 6-10 points but he got some of that back with expansion. Given Foxx's parks and that sluggers were rarer when he played, I think Robinson's best hitting years are right in line with Foxx's. Foxx was athletic and could play third base and catcher.

      I have them battling Mel Ott, Nap Lajoie, Joe Morgan, and Joe Dimaggio, and possibly Bench for the 17-23 spots, but ahead of Brett and Mathews who I have at 24 and 25.

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      • #4
        Robinson's career was somewhat inferior version of Hank Aaron's career, though his 1966 season was arguably superior offensively to anything Aaron ever put up. I'll take him in this poll. Sometimes I feel he doesn't get enough credit as an all-time great.

        Comment


        • #5
          On paper, it's Robinson by a narrow margin. If you factor in the far superior league quality, then Robinson by a landslide.

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          • #6
            Now this is obviously not complete data but surprisingly Jimmie Foxx did better against righties than he did against lefties. In at bats we know about he hit .311/.407/.573 against righties and .279/.375/.529 against lefties.

            Frank, as we would expect, hit lefites better than he hit righties.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by brett View Post
              I have Foxx 21 or 22 and Robinson about 20 or 21 last time I checked. Integration probably lowered stars OPS+'s by about 4-6% or in Robinson's case about 6-10 points but he got some of that back with expansion. Given Foxx's parks and that sluggers were rarer when he played, I think Robinson's best hitting years are right in line with Foxx's. Foxx was athletic and could play third base and catcher.

              I have them battling Mel Ott, Nap Lajoie, Joe Morgan, and Joe Dimaggio, and possibly Bench for the 17-23 spots, but ahead of Brett and Mathews who I have at 24 and 25.
              I thought that the almighty OPS+ was supposed to already make those adjustments?????? Joe DiMaggio would laugh in his grave, if he heard that he was compared to Mel Ott, Nap Lajoie, and Joe Morgan
              This week's Giant

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

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Joltin' Joe View Post
                On paper, it's Robinson by a narrow margin. If you factor in the far superior league quality, then Robinson by a landslide.
                I am not so sure about that league quality differential.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by leewileyfan View Post
                  I am not so sure about that league quality differential.
                  Foxx played for the A's from 1925 to 1935. When he was playing the A's were one of the best teams in the AL, an AL that featured some rather pathetic teams in the form of the White Sox and Red Sox. He then gets sent to the Red Sox and the A's and the Browns become the rather pathetic teams.

                  Frank for the most part played for a middle of the pack Reds team in the first part of his career. Before expansion it is really hard to find a trul godawful franchise that lost a ton of games year in and year out. With expansion you get the Mets and the Astros but those are two teams out of 10 not 8 like the A's got. When he goes over to the Orioles he immediately is part of a team that is one of the best teams in the AL. For bad teams one might be able to say the Indians and White Sox fit that bill but they are just 2 teams out of 12.

                  In Jimmie's day the best teams were much more heavily stacked as compared to the rest of the league and he happened to be on one of the teams that was heavily stacked. Frank when he came up wasn't on the team that was heavily stacked nor was the concentration of talent as so unevenly spread out as it was in Jimmie's day. Sure Frank had expansion but he was also part of a wave of integration that brought a lot of talent to the game and he played in a league that wasn't as uneven as Jimmie's.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by brett View Post
                    I have Foxx 21 or 22 and Robinson about 20 or 21 last time I checked. Integration probably lowered stars OPS+'s by about 4-6% or in Robinson's case about 6-10 points but he got some of that back with expansion. Given Foxx's parks and that sluggers were rarer when he played, I think Robinson's best hitting years are right in line with Foxx's. Foxx was athletic and could play third base and catcher.

                    I have them battling Mel Ott, Nap Lajoie, Joe Morgan, and Joe Dimaggio, and possibly Bench for the 17-23 spots, but ahead of Brett and Mathews who I have at 24 and 25.
                    Your rankings are very similar to mine, except that I have Nap Lajoie just barely ahead of those others that you mentioned(about 17th). I like Nap's great fielding and decent baserunning combo. Lajoie was a slower version of Honus Wagner.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There are more than one approach in evaluating "league quality." Whether or not teams are stacked or inequitably possessed of talent, one cannot escape the absolute drought in batting in MLB that prevailed through the '60s and into the '70s. The mound had to be dropped to make the game "presentable" to fans. The stacking, in that wasteland, was the emergence of stars who somehow coped with the inferiority surrounding them; and some very fine pitchers attained "GOD-like" reputations that, IMHO, exceeded even their given talent levels.

                      Just to toss it in, Jimmie Foxx was a pretty versatile fellow, who caught, played 3B and the OF as needed ... even pitched a few frames. [Pretty good behind the plate, too].

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The mound being changed wasn't the first change in baseball but one of many changes in baseball over time. If you want you could have made the same argument about hitters in the 20's and 30's as well. They were so inferior that they had to change the ball on multiple occasions and make it livelier for them.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Very close- I usually rank FRobinson at/around 16/17/18 among position players, Foxx at around 20. Had Foxx not run into physical, then drinking problems he might have ended up close to a top 10 guy, even after all these years. Robinson probably got about all he could out of his game, for as long as he could.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
                            I thought that the almighty OPS+ was supposed to already make those adjustments?????? Joe DiMaggio would laugh in his grave, if he heard that he was compared to Mel Ott, Nap Lajoie, and Joe Morgan
                            He's too busy signing bats down there to take time off for laughing.
                            "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                              The mound being changed wasn't the first change in baseball but one of many changes in baseball over time. If you want you could have made the same argument about hitters in the 20's and 30's as well. They were so inferior that they had to change the ball on multiple occasions and make it livelier for them.
                              I never said the lowering of the mound was the FIRST change in baseball; but I would argue that it was one of few very significant impact c
                              changes made after 1901.

                              The ball was made livelier in 1912, maybe a screaming need prompted by the 1908 batting desert. [But Foxx and his 1920s-1930s contemporaries had NOTHING to do with either the need or the adjustment]. The ball materially was given a jolt in the 1920-1921 transition season. There were several forces at work in that move:

                              -the need to re-charge the game after the equipment/schedule/performance jolts related to the WW I effort and its restrictions;
                              -the need to draw fans back into game "excitement" after 1919;
                              -the internal debates of pitches to be outlawed and how to treat affected players;
                              -an offensive offset to glove technology improvements in 1918-1920;

                              After 1921, the tinkering with the ball was a matter of how tightly the wrappings were made, not a core change in the ball recipe itself. That only came about twice: the balata ball of some WW II use, and the change in "hide."

                              The record books tell us, along with RC rates, that batters in the Foxx era didn't need much help at all.

                              Comment

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