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Old 03-22-2009, 07:56 AM
 
Location: Hometown of Jason Witten
5,985 posts, read 3,640,709 times
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What if..............

Ted Williams had not lost 5 seasons to military service?

Williams had played in New York and Joe D. had played in Boston?

the Yankees and Red Sox had followed through on a trade they discussed involving Tom Tresh for Yaz in 1961.

Nolan Ryan had pitched for some really good teams?

Don Zimmer had removed Bill Buckner for late inning defense?
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Old 03-22-2009, 07:59 AM
 
Location: Hometown of Jason Witten
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Oops! It was John McNamara, not Don Zimmer.
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Old 03-22-2009, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
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If Joe DiMaggio had played for the Red Sox instead of the Yankees, he'd probably have approximately 450 career home runs and perhaps closer to 500 home runs. In his actual career, Joe D had 361 career homers - 148 at Yankee Stadium and 213 on the road. Yankee Stadium from 1936-1951 was an absolutely brutal home run park for a right-handed hitter. Incidentally, I estimated the number above without addressing the other "what if?" with him, what he would have done had World War II not occurred.
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Old 03-22-2009, 08:36 AM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
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With Ted Williams, I estimated a couple years ago he would have had around 700 career home runs had he not lost close to 5 years because of WWII and the Korean War. I did that by looking at his home run totals in the 1-2 seasons before and after his wartime service and estimating from there.
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Old 03-22-2009, 09:35 AM
 
Location: Sacramento
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Ted Williams ended up hitting 521 HRs. Plugging in his lost years, and assuming no injury issues, it looks like he would have hit about another 155 HRs. So, he likely would have challenged Ruth's totals (assuming 35 HRs per year in 1943, 1944 and 1945...and an additional 50 HRs in 1952 and 1953 (assuming a 30 HR per year rate at that time in his career)).

Regarding Williams vs DiMaggio, the best offensive evaluation tool I've seen for normalizing ballparks and eras is the OPS+ system, and Williams overall OPS+ was 191, while DiMaggio's was 155. I don't think any notable baseball historian has argued that DiMaggio was quite the hitter that Williams was, but he certainly was a great ballplayer in his own right.
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Old 03-22-2009, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Hometown of Jason Witten
5,985 posts, read 3,640,709 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHIP72 View Post
If Joe DiMaggio had played for the Red Sox instead of the Yankees, he'd probably have approximately 450 career home runs and perhaps closer to 500 home runs. In his actual career, Joe D had 361 career homers - 148 at Yankee Stadium and 213 on the road. Yankee Stadium from 1936-1951 was an absolutely brutal home run park for a right-handed hitter. Incidentally, I estimated the number above without addressing the other "what if?" with him, what he would have done had World War II not occurred.
I agree. Center- and left-centerfield at Yankee Stadium were called "Death Valley" for good reason. Some historians believe that given the number of long flies and extra base hits that DiMaggio hit into that area, a 70-home run season may have been possible if the park had had normal dimensions.
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Old 03-22-2009, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Hometown of Jason Witten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHIP72 View Post
With Ted Williams, I estimated a couple years ago he would have had around 700 career home runs had he not lost close to 5 years because of WWII and the Korean War. I did that by looking at his home run totals in the 1-2 seasons before and after his wartime service and estimating from there.
I've always considered Williams the greatest all around hitter. But who knows what numbers Ruth would have put up if he had not spent 6 seasons as a pitcher?
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Old 03-22-2009, 03:55 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn
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What if...

Babe Ruth had been an everyday position player for the first five years of his career, rather than a pitcher playing only every fifth day?

Josh Gibson--who may have been one of the greatest baseball players ever to take the field--had lived long enough to be the player who broke the color line (he happened to have been the first choice; it fell to Jackie Robinson only because Gibson died over the winter of 1945-46)?

Jackie Robinson, who was an all-around athlete, had decided to pursue football instead?

The Dodgers had never left Brooklyn?

The American League decided to scrap the designated hitter?

The Federal League lasted well beyond the 1914 and 1915 seasons?

Buffalo, New York hadn't been gypped out of the expansion bid that resulted in the Colorado Rockies?

Major League Baseball had put down its foot on the matter of steroids immediately, banning every player who used them, erasing their stats from the records, and the whole thing never became an issue?
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Old 03-22-2009, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Hometown of Jason Witten
5,985 posts, read 3,640,709 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred314X View Post
What if...

Babe Ruth had been an everyday position player for the first five years of his career, rather than a pitcher playing only every fifth day?

Josh Gibson--who may have been one of the greatest baseball players ever to take the field--had lived long enough to be the player who broke the color line (he happened to have been the first choice; it fell to Jackie Robinson only because Gibson died over the winter of 1945-46)?

Jackie Robinson, who was an all-around athlete, had decided to pursue football instead?

The Dodgers had never left Brooklyn?

The American League decided to scrap the designated hitter?

The Federal League lasted well beyond the 1914 and 1915 seasons?

Buffalo, New York hadn't been gypped out of the expansion bid that resulted in the Colorado Rockies?

Major League Baseball had put down its foot on the matter of steroids immediately, banning every player who used them, erasing their stats from the records, and the whole thing never became an issue?
Interesting what ifs. Was it Josh Gibson or Buck Leonard who hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium?
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Old 03-22-2009, 10:26 PM
 
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I would think there's no doubt that the greatest Negro League players would have starred in the majors. I've never read or heard much speculation about how the Negro Leagues as a whole compared to the majors, so I can't really get a feel for how the players who were good but not great might have done in the majors. Besides Gibson, Satchell Paige is another name that comes to mind right away when you start wondering how the greatest Negro Leauge players would have done in the majors.

Quite a few years ago, I read about a study done by Bill James, or one of those other baseball stats gurus, trying to determine the effect of a Williams-for-DiMaggio trade. My recollection is that the study determined that it would have affected one player's numbers substantially, but not the other guy's so much. I'm thinking it may have been DiMaggio who, it was speculated, would not have shown a lot of difference, maybe something about hitting a lot of deep line drives that would have been singles and doubles off the Green Monster rather than being home runs in Fenway. Not sure, though.

Williams is the player with the big question about absence due to military service, because of the number of years he was out due to service in two wars, but there were other greats whose totals would have been higher if not for WWII, though they missed fewer years than Williams. The aforementioned DiMaggio and Bob Feller each missed three years of play during WWII. Both were great players, and both players' numbers would have been that much more impressive than they already were with those three additional seasons.

First time I've ever heard about the possible Yaz trade. One question I have is how seriously this was discussed. It's difficult to speculate about what effect this would have had if it had occurred. You never know what kinds of chain reactions one difference can set into effect, so you can't be sure that any team's general situation would have been the same with or without a given player.

Assuming that there would have been little difference except any narrow effect closely associated with these two players, well, I doubt that the Yankees would have any more championships now than they already have. Their management was in disarray during the prime of Yaz's career. In the late '60's and early '70's, the Yankees were just not that good. Pretty bad some years, in fact. One player can't improve a lousy team that much. Maybe they would have had somewhat better attendance with a marquee player on their roster, but that's about it. I do suppose it's possible that having one more star might have helped the Yankees in the World Series in '64. That one went seven games, so it's possible that one additional great hitter who was a big-time clutch player might have tilted one more game the Yankees' way, but I don't know. Though Yaz showed some hints of things to come in the early '60's, it was really more from '67 through the mid '70's that he was in his prime, so I don't know that he would have made much difference in '64.

One difference this would have made would have affected Yaz and his personal situation. If things had gone pretty much the way they did in a general way, then in '77 and '78 Yaz would have gotten the world championships that eluded him throughout his career.

One question: Would there now be Red Sox Nation? Historically, baseball has been the top pro sport in Boston, so maybe that would still be the case, but, given the way that the '67 season has been portrayed as a magical experience that captured the hearts of New England fans in a special way, you do have to wonder whether the deeply rooted fanaticism for the Sox would have grown to the level it has if that '67 season had not happened. And without Yaz, it would not have.

As for Zimmer, oops, McNamara, and Buckner, I don't think it would have made any difference if Buckner had been removed. The Mets in '86 were like (speak of the devil) the Red Sox in '07, clearly the season's best team. This was even more the case with the Mets. Two years ago it took until the end of May or so for things to sort themselves out enough for it to become clear that the Sox stood apart from the pack, while the '86 Mets went into the season as the favorites, and never did anything from then on to cause any doubts that they were the best team.

In '86, the Red Sox went a long way on the strength of a good lineup with some pretty heavy hitting and probably that season's best front three in their rotation, in the persons of Clemens, Bruce Hurst, and Oil Can Boyd. However, their pitching was pretty thin after the front three. They did a lot of tinkering with their staff all season, getting a couple of good months out of this guy and then that guy. The depth of consistent high-quality pitching you usually need to win the World Series wasn't there.

Remember that in that sixth Series game the Sox carried a two-run lead into the bottom of the tenth. By the time of Buckner's error, the Mets had managed to tie the score, even after still being two runs behind with two outs. For a team trying to win the World Series, the Sox were desperately thin in the pen. If they'd had a quality pen, they would have gotten that third out before the Buckner play ever had a chance to happen. You neve know what will happen in one game, but given the Mets' superior bullpen, even if Buckner had made that play I have to think the odds would have favored the Mets over the course of whatever innings beyond the tenth it would have taken to settle the issue. Of course, you can speculate that the game might have lasted several more innings, forcing the Mets to use up their pen, and that this might have made them less likely to win the seventh game. That's something no one can know for sure. The bottome line is that the Mets were just plain the better team, which would have put them in the stronger position to win the sixth game if it had remained tied after ten innings, and then would have favored them in the seventh game as well.

Last edited by ogre; 03-22-2009 at 10:40 PM..
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