Tuesday, March 17, 2015


One of the reasons I finally started this project was to figure out some of the historic performances and how they compare to modern day figures. To find a reliable statistical norm that is a continual formula that can measure true worth and value, and compare those to the norm for each season. That is why I am still struggling to find a good pitching statistic as a comparison.
One of the joys of baseball, or most other sports, is the argument over best players, greats at this, greatest at that, etc. My formula just adds fuel to the fire, and may agree with your argument or contradict it. But hopefully will regenerate some interest. Ultimately I plan to reveal the best single season offensive performance here. (it may not be who you think it is)your argument.

Now, post season awards are voted on by the sportswriters. No knock on them, but they do get things wrong. Sometimes horribly wrong. Sometimes, justifiably wrong. They are human, and as such, can be vindictive. I bring this up because of the 1941 American League season.

Most people know that he was the last player to hit .400 in 1941. And that he was at .3999 going into the last day of the season. And that he could have sat out and had his average rounded to .400. And that he played both games of a doubleheader (yes youngsters, a star playing in both games of a doubleheader, one game right after the other, not one of these newfangled day/night deals. AND since the Yankees had clinched the league title a week before, both games of the twin-bill were essentially meaningless). And that he went 6 for 8 to finish the season at .406. And that he wasn't voted the Most Valuable Player that season. Joe DiMaggio was.
Here are the numbers:
DiMaggio                    30HR  125RBI .357AVG .440OBP .643SLG    
Williams                      37HR  120RBI .406AVG .553OBP .735SLG 

Williams finished second to DiMaggio. There were 24 voters then, DiMaggio got 15 first place votes, and Williams got 8.
Travesty? Maybe. The Yankees did win the pennant that year by 17 games, so maybe the reasoning for DiMaggio winning the popularity contest.
Or was it the publicity all season. Remember that summer, DiMaggio captivated the nation with his 56 game hitting streak. So that may have carried him to the MVP, being the one thing that everyone talked about.

Looking further at the Yankees and Red Sox from 1941, both stars had a pretty good supporting cast, advantage Ted Williams on that front. Williams (2.8120) also had a lineup that featured future Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx (2.2009), Joe Cronin (2.1651) and Bobby Doerr (1.9174), with support from Jim Tabor (1.9723). While DiMaggio's (2.6443) lineup had Charlie Keller (2.3610)  and Hall of Famer Joe Gordon (1.8965).

The argument could then be made as the Most VALUABLE Player, DiMaggio did more for the Yankees. Since his number is much higher than the rest of the team (except for Charlie Keller) he truly was the most important bat in that lineup.  The Red Sox had 5 players over 1.9 while the Yankees had just 2. 
Also, Joe was responsible for 15.2% of the Red Sox' runs that year, compared to Teddy Ballgame's 14.6%.

 So, looking at just one number (as awesome as the MIKE number may be) still doesn't give a complete picture as one would hope for, especially when looking at the weight of what one may be voting for.

But there is another player whom you probably are not familiar with, who had an extremely good season for a team that didn't finish in the money. Jeff Heath. He finished 8th in the MVP voting that year, but offensively had a very, very productive season. Quite possibly, his numbers may have won him an award in any other season of that decade, but as it was, he had the 5th best MIKE number that season, comparing his number to the league average.

The top 10 against the league average:
player Mike# vs LEAGUE
Ted Williams 2.8120 1.8175
Joe DiMaggio 2.6443 1.7091
Charlie Keller 2.3610 1.5260
Cecil Travis 2.2474 1.4526
Jeff Heath 2.2324 1.4429
Jimmie Foxx 2.2009 1.4225
Sam Chapman 2.1674 1.4009
Joe Cronin 2.1651 1.3993
Bob Johnson 2.0943 1.3536

But if we measure his performance against his team's average (the Indians in case you were wondering)
player Mike# vs LEAGUE vs TEAM
Jeff Heath 2.2324 1.4429 1.5910
Joe DiMaggio 2.6443 1.7091 1.5732
Ted Williams 2.8120 1.8175 1.5638
Taffy Wright 2.0301 1.3121 1.5042
Cecil Travis 2.2474 1.4526 1.4424
Sam Chapman 2.1674 1.4009 1.4303
Charlie Keller 2.3610 1.5260 1.4047
Bob Johnson 2.0943 1.3536 1.3820
Rudy York 1.9491 1.2597 1.3386
Luke Appling 1.7589 1.1368 1.3033

So the argument can be made either way. Offensively speaking, Joe DiMaggio was NOT the most valuable player in the American league in 1941. An argument can be made for either Ted Williams or Jeff Heath for that distinction.

And for the record:
Jeff Heath                           24HR 123RBI  .340 AVG  .396 OBP  .586 SLG

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