Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! Also, My All-Time Top 5 Pre-WW2

1.Babe Ruth - Obvious Reasons. About 9 or so years ago I was at the local card shop just hanging out minding my own business and this old man who I'm pretty sure is dead now was talking about how much he loved the Yankees and all things Ruth. Being a Cobb fan I mentioned how a .366 lifetime batting average made a strong case for Cobb as Ruth's equal only to be chided for not acknowledging Ruth's prodigious career BA as well. I ignorantly said, "Ruth couldn't have hit much more than .300 at the most." Boy was I wrong, Ruth really was amazing, Pujols is the best player I've seen play the game live but he's not anywhere near the monster Ruth was.

1A. Ty Cobb - Continuing that previous story of my ignorance the Yanks fan then proclaimed that Jack Chesboro was the all-time single season wins leader and he was a Yankee just like Ruth (a Highlander actually, but I guess it's kind of the same thing except for the name). I told him to check the Baseball Almanac and look up Old Hoss Radbourn who won 59 or 60 games in a season (depending on the source). This has nothing to do with Cobb, look up his stats and you'll see why I think he was Ruth's equal, this story is being told simply because Radbourn is the only 300 game winner that was also a Buffalo Bison, my home town team.

3. Lou Gehrig - When Gehrig delivered his "Luckiest man in the world" speech he didn't know he was dying and thought he would make a complete recovery. His wife conspired to keep the grim truth away from the Iron Horse so he could enjoy what time he had left and keep his mind off his inevitable untimely death. Even with knowing that you have to admire Gehrig, he was an amazing player who was overshadowed by Ruth during most of his career and never reached his true potential because of his skills being diminished by his bout with ALS. He's one of the players I always find myself thinking about the "what if's" with regards to his career.

4. Ted Williams - Teddy Ballgame - he's what I think of when I hear the word "hitter", find a copy of "What Do You Think About Ted Williams Now". It's a great quick read and it will give you a greater appreciation of him, he was a flawed man like Cobb and Ruth, not to the same depth as they were though. He played in Mantle's shadow and he live in it in the hobby but Teddy was Mantles better in individual statistics. If he had those prime years back that he lost to the war he might have been a 650 home run hitter on top of topping the .400 mark 3 times (which he did but failed to meet the minimum number of at-bats twice.

5. Stan Musial - If he had played on the Yankees his statistics would have benefited from the added protection in the lineup and he would have had a chance at top 3 status but he played for the good not great Cards and so he is forever doomed to the 5 spot.

6-10 (not necessarily in this order): Big Train, The Christian Gentleman, Kraut Head, The Rajah (kind of a stupid nickname actually) and Napoleon Lah-jou-ay as Tommy Lee Jones would say it.

By the way Bill James I know you're the Father of Sabermetrics but Oscar Charleston doesn't belong anywhere near the top 10 (maybe Josh Gibson but not Oscar) and Joe Morgan still isn't the best second baseman ever.

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