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Ted Williams vs. Left-handed Pitchers

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  • Originally posted by Ubiquitous
    A great hitters park for right handed hitters and secondly playing in a great hitters park would mean that it is less likely that the CG actually happened in Fenway.
    Great hitters park for Ted. No foul territory, only '388 to center, a huge short wall in left in case he mis-hits a ball it'll go for a double, reasonable right center field distance compared to what it was before they altered it for him.

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    • Originally posted by Ubiquitous
      So how did Babe Ruth do against lefties? How did Ty Cobb?
      Not sure. Do you have those numbers? All I can go by is the research which leads me to understand it didn't matter much which hand he was going against, and by his HR % against lefties.

      Comment


      • Vladimir Guerrero swings at just about anything that's close to the strike zone. Adam Dunn won't swing at anything unless it's right down the middle.

        Vlad is one of the greatest hitters of our generation. Does it really matter that his "weakness" is one that makes him look rather bad?

        In fact, Vlad may simply be Vlad because he swings at what he does. That if he tried a Dunn-approach, he may be much less effective than he is now.

        Similarly, who cares if Ted can or cannot hit lefties as well as someone else? The evidence suggests that he can hit lefties befitting at least a great hitter. But, who really cares if he didn't? I'm pretty sure he hit lefties .000/.xxx/.000 when those lefties threw a no-hitter, and probably leads in walks against lefty no-hitters.

        Again, it's irrelevant.

        Someone's opinion that he has to be at least 20% (or 5%, or whatever arbitrary baseline) above league average in every facet of hitting is unwarranted. Like I said, he could be .000/.000/.000 in his entire career against lefties, and it wouldn't matter as long as his overall production was still better than anyone else.
        Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball

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        • [QUOTE=Tango Tiger]

          Again, it's irrelevant.

          Very true. As more play-by-play becomes available I think were are all going to be surprized by the historical oddities that arise. Here are a few that I like:

          1. Rowe and Bridges for the '35 Tigers.

          A. Versus NY (93-58): Bridges made 1 start, Rowe made 7.
          B. Cleveland (82-17): Bridges made 6 starts, Rowe made 4.
          C. Boston (78-75): Bridges made 6 starts, Rowe made 5.
          D. Chicago (74-78): Bridges made 4 starts, Rowe made 6.
          E. Washington (67-86): Both made 5 starts.
          F. STL (65-87): Bridges made 7 starts, Rowe made 3.
          G. Philadelphia (58-91): Bridges made 5 starts, Rowe made 4.

          2. As far as I can tell, Mickey Cochrane avoided batting against lefties for almost all of his career.

          3. Lefty Gomez was about an earned run a game better in Yankee Stadium than he was on the road over the course of his career. That should not be a big surprize. What is noteworthy is that his (brilliant) manager - Joe McCarthy - had seasons (1934 being the most blatant) where he employed Gomez in a 60%-40% home/away package.

          Comment


          • This discussion could have been better if it were framed in questions and issues, rather than in assertions as to what qualifies someone as being the best.

            As for the surgeon: no, I wouldn't go, and neither would I let a true .000/.000/.000 bat against lefties. Getting 80% of a hitter at superhuman level, and forcing me to use a bench player 20% of the time is the choice I'd make. If, overall, this still leads to favorable comparison to Babe Ruth, that's good.

            What about Randy Johnson? He faces only 12% or something of lefty batters. If he managed to hold them to a .100/.150/.200 line, and be not so good against righties, but overall still be on the class of Clemens/Maddux/Pedro, then he's in their class even if he's not as good against righties.

            It's not the chinks in the armor that count, it's how strong is the armor after the battle is over.

            (Which is why the surgeon analogy is not good, since every player gets to come back the next day. A patient going to Dr. Nick Riviera won't be so lucky.)
            Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948
              Not sure. Do you have those numbers? All I can go by is the research which leads me to understand it didn't matter much which hand he was going against, and by his HR % against lefties.

              No I don't have the data, nobody does which is my point. Though I will probably be getting the data soon for the last 50 years of play.

              Great hitters park for Ted. No foul territory, only '388 to center, a huge short wall in left in case he mis-hits a ball it'll go for a double, reasonable right center field distance compared to what it was before they altered it for him.
              Ted for his career hit 6% better at home then on the road. In the years in which we have more data (1957 and on) and the years that a lot of you guys are basing your opinions on, he hit better on the road then at home.

              Fenway overall from 1946 to 1960 had a PF ranging from 106 to 112. Which means that scoring was 12% to 24% better in Fenway then in away parks. Ted's home/away splits are below Fenways splits. With the reason being I'm betting because he was left handed.
              Last edited by Ubiquitous; 01-29-2007, 09:44 AM.

              Comment


              • I'm going to wander off the hard evidence side of the debate for a moment and discuss some of my opinions and "feelings" on Ted. Now I must note at the beginning that none of this is based on hard evidence, nor are these thoughts the basis for my words in this thread.

                Okay this part is based on evidence:
                I have heard a lot of talk lately on this site about how Ted refused to change, that he couldn't adapt, that he was too stubborn, so forth and so forth. This is simply not true, the statistical evidence does not support this, nor does Ted's very words support this view. In the Williams shift thread I quoted an interview on Ted Williams in which he quite clearly shows his adaptability, his thinking process and approach to baseball hitting.
                End part with evidence, cue opinion.

                I think Ted Williams developed from childhood on the greatest swing against right handed pitchers of all time. I think he worked on it day and night his entire left and he reached a certain level of perfection with it. I also think that if as an answer to his greatness teams started throwing lefties at him he would have adapted. That was the kind of hitter he was, that was the kind of man he was. If their was an obstacle in front of him, he would do everything he could to beat it. He was intensely interested in hitting and went out in search of hitting knowledge. In the articles I saw he seemed to be very aware of the players that came before him and their styles. He wasn't some Rickey or Deion type saying "Jackie who?". He talked to Waner, he talked to Cobb, he talked to Foxx, so on and so on.

                It is also my belief that if Ruth and Williams were contemporaries Williams would not be a second fiddle to Babe. I'm not saying that Ted would be better or even his equal. I don't know those answers, it just my opinion that Ted wouldn't allow that to happen, at least in terms of hitting. I think Babe would still be the bigger star, sort of the ARod vs Jeter type comparisons nowadays. One being the bigger star because of personality. Not saying that would be the only reason Babe would be bigger, I'm just Ted and his prickly attitude wouldn't definitely put him at a severe disadvantage to Ruth's star.

                Sultan once said for Ruth, "you don't hit .342/.690 when you have a glaring weakness", and that is I believe true. Which is why I also believe you don't hit .344/.634 when you have a glaring weakness. Baseball is a brutal sport, a game of survival and adaptability. If you have a flaw and it can be exploited it will be, Ted survived that crucible of fire to become one of the greatest if not the greatest hitter of all time. You don't do that if you have a "fatal" weakness or "glaring" weakness.

                Comment


                • I'll be even stronger than Ubi and say that you *can* have a seemingly glaring weakness and still be the greatest hitter ever. There could be a day when someone approached the game like Vlad, and performs even better than Vlad. Sure, it's rather unlikely. But, it's also irrelevant. It doesn't matter if you hold the bat with your hands crossed over the "wrong" way, that you change your batting stance all the time, or you have a super unorthodox stance to begin with.

                  All of the little battles that a hitter goes up against are things that the batter and his coaches need to worry about.

                  If you want to know who won the war, see who is left standing. Ted Williams, with whatever possible chinks he may have had, is one of a tiny handful left standing.

                  The discussion should not center on whether he was the greatest hitter ever. Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were the greatest players ever. No need to nitpick. That Wayne was the least physical of all the players is irrelevant, as he may have been the greatest.

                  The discussion should center on their attributes. The sum of their parts equals "greatest ever", no matter if you think it doesn't.
                  Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by SABR Matt
                    he still managed to hit the way he did...that's the sign of a hitter who is not particularly weak against lefties...not enough that it matters in the end.
                    Or he's just so much better against righties that it doesn't matter in the end, because all you're looking at are the final numbers. Pretty similar to a basketball player not being able to drive to his left. The defenders know this, so they shade to his right and he STILL puts up incredible numbers despite that weakness.

                    Comment


                    • Where are we now? I have Ted's BA now at .308 vs LHP with plenty of years in the 1940's still left to examine. Those were most of his best years too. It's possible he might end up around .350 vs RHP and .310 to .315 vs LHP.
                      "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                      "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by TonyK
                        Where are we now? I have Ted's BA now at .308 vs LHP with plenty of years in the 1940's still left to examine. Those were most of his best years too. It's possible he might end up around .350 vs RHP and .310 to .315 vs LHP.

                        Yeah I have him at .308 and at .330 before 1958. His OBP is probably around .435, .455 for pre-1958. His SLG is probably around .490, .520ish for pre-1958.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Ubiquitous
                          Yeah I have him at .308 and at .330 before 1958. His OBP is probably around .435, .455 for pre-1958. His SLG is probably around .490, .520ish for pre-1958.
                          Thanks! That OBP is good. I think one could complete an entire season for Ted vs LHP in 3 or 4 hours. All you need is the small list of LHP's that year plus either the Sp. News microfilm or Boston newspapers.
                          "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                          "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by TonyK
                            Thanks! That OBP is good. I think one could complete an entire season for Ted vs LHP in 3 or 4 hours. All you need is the small list of LHP's that year plus either the Sp. News microfilm or Boston newspapers.
                            I've done it the problem is that the sporting news doesn't give detailed box scores for that era so when a reliever comes in you have no idea how many of those at bats are against the reliever.

                            The way I have done it is to compile a list of LHP and then using retrosheet schedule find out in what games they were starting against Boston. Then check the boxscores of that game. Doing it that way I got about 15 extra at bats then what was reported for his 1941 splits.

                            What one would need is probably a local boston paper archive, one that gives a more detailed account of the game. For that I would have to go to a library and I am too lazy for that.

                            Comment


                            • Yeah, Ubi. You're really lazy. A complete disgrace to baseball researchers everywhere.
                              "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

                              - Alvin Dark

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by AstrosFan
                                Yeah, Ubi. You're really lazy. A complete disgrace to baseball researchers everywhere.
                                I would love to believe that that sarcasm is merited, but people like Burgess, Carney, Tango, Treder, and others simply blow me out of the water with their level of research. But it is still nice to here, so thanks.

                                Comment

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