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DonRocks

Ted Williams (1918-2002) - Career Red Sox Left-Fielder and Perhaps the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived, .344 Lifetime Average and 521 Home Runs

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In 1993, the "Ted Williams Card Company" came out with a set of 160 cards that Williams, himself, helped select - Hall of Famers, All Stars, Negro League players, and others who Williams found worthy - all accompanied by refreshingly interesting factoids. 

Random example - #112, Satchel Paige:

Paige.jpg

 

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On 7/26/2018 at 11:18 AM, DonRocks said:

I urge people to watch the above documentary on WETA.

In this magnificent article:

Apr 24, 1986 - "A Real Rap Session" on si.com

Ted Williams *seems* to be espousing what has been incorporated in professional tennis in modern times, in which case, he'd be THE trailblazer in multiple sports.

When I grew up, I learned to hit a forehand staying sideways, stepping forward, and swinging back-to-front; just like a baseball bat. Wooden rackets were very heavy, and you could generate a lot of power if you hit it in the "sweet spot" (but only if you hit it in the sweet spot). It wasn't until I was over 35-years-old when I switched to a "modern" forehand, which involved maintaining an open stance, bending your knees while "loading your hips," and essentially springing forward and getting nearly all of your power from hip *rotation*. Ivan Lendl pioneered this in tennis (with his lightweight, composite, Adidas tennis racket) - he was the first player who could really *crank* a forehand - the kind that could kill you if it hit you.

Anyway, I've been looking at Williams' swings, and he seems to be an early pioneer of power-from-hip-rotation. Even though you don't use an open stance in baseball (SHOULD YOU???), he still held off until the ball was almost behind him, and then uncorked his hips to generate power, using a very light bat (most players back then used heavy bats). I don't think it's a coincidence in tennis that rackets have gotten extremely light, and "swing speed" is a prized commodity - Williams thought the exact same thing in baseball, and he was right: You don't need 4-ounces more bat when you're rotating 500-pounds of hip thrust into your swing - you want that bat to be swinging around as fast as you can swing it.

Look at this dialog. You know what? Mike Tyson did the same damned thing when he KO'd his opponents in 30 seconds.

WILLIAMS: I'm going to ask you what your definition of shifting weight is.

MATTINGLY: The transfer of weight.

WILLIAMS: Where to where?

MATTINGLY: From anywhere—from where the head is to six, eight inches.

BOGGS: All right, let's put it in boxing theory. If a boxer hits you, is he going to generate more power from here [indicates a long punch] or more power from here [short punch].

WILLIAMS: He'll generate more power if he doesn't do a thing, then goes umph with his hips.

BOGGS: You're saying all you do is throw the hips? Nothing else? Where do you get the initial movement in the action-reaction process?

WILLIAMS: [He draws two fighters on a piece of paper.] If this guy strides and puts all his weight on his front foot, his weight's forward. I don't want to cheat myself six or eight inches toward the pitcher. Why give him that?

I'm pretty sure Williams, Lendl, and Tyson went down three separate paths to figure this out, but it's all the same scientific principle: *hip rotation + swing speed*.

(Even Mel Ott (the 5'9", 170-pound player who hit 512 home runs) was doing an early version of this when he picked his front leg off the ground: He was externally rotating his grounded hip, and then uncoiling into the ball.)

MelOtt.jpg

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On 4/1/2016 at 5:50 PM, DonRocks said:

Ted Williams is the only person who can claim - along with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb - to be the greatest hitter who ever lived.

Here are some statistics which are so mind-boggling that they simply do not compute:

* Williams had a lifetime batting average of .344 - the highest of any player with more than 302 home runs.

* Williams had 521 home runs.

* Williams missed 3 seasons in the prime of his career due to WWII. The three years before, he batted .344, .406 and .356; the three years after, he batted .342, .343, and .369.

* Missing those 3 seasons cost him at least 100 home runs - he would have hit 625 for his career.

* Even more remarkable than the above? His *career* on-base percentage was .482. That is not a misprint.

* Perhaps even *more* remarkable? Not once did he ever have 200 hits in a season. See for yourselves. How can that be? I guess it's because he walked so much (he had 20-12 vision). There are *three people* on that list of *525-different 200-hit seasons* named Williams, none of which is Ted.

* If Williams had played 20 years earlier, I might be able to comprehend these numbers, but he was a *generation* after the big-numbers hitters of the 1920s.

* His batting average, his home runs, and his walks - in my mind - make him a perfectly legitimate choice for the moniker: Greatest Hitter of All-Time.

And here's another one: From 1939 until 1960, Ted Williams' OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging) figure was over 1.000 *every single year* except for 1959 (in 1960, however, when he was 41-years old, it was 1.096, to go along with his .316  batting average and 29 home runs). His stats are here. This may only mean something to a true baseball fan, but it's an unbelievable string of seasons at the bat. 

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This is complicated, but sacrifice flies have been ruled either 1) as an at-bat, or 2) as no at-bat, at various times since 1893. Here's a comprehensive tutorial for those who are interested.

However, by today's standards, sacrifice flies are not counted as an at-bat, e.g., if a player hits 2 singles and 2 sacrifice flies in a game, he's credited with batting 2-for-2.

In 1941, when Ted Williams batted .406, sacrifice flies were ruled as an "out" - i.e., if a player hit 2 singles and 2 sacrifice flies in a game, he'd be credited with batting 2-for-4.

That year, Ted Williams hit 8 sacrifice flies, each being recorded as "0-for-1" when it came to tabulating his batting average.

If today's rule was in effect, i.e., if those 8 sacrifice flies were counted as "0-for-0" instead of "0-for-8" (which is how they were counted) ...

Ted Williams would have batted .413 that year.

.413 !!!

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17 hours ago, DonRocks said:

This is complicated, but sacrifice flies have been ruled either 1) as an at-bat, or 2) as no at-bat, at various times since 1893. Here's a comprehensive tutorial for those who are interested.

However, by today's standards, sacrifice flies are not counted as an at-bat, e.g., if a player hits 2 singles and 2 sacrifice flies in a game, he's credited with batting 2-for-2.

In 1941, when Ted Williams batted .406, sacrifice flies were ruled as an "out" - i.e., if a player hit 2 singles and 2 sacrifice flies in a game, he'd be credited with batting 2-for-4.

That year, Ted Williams hit 8 sacrifice flies, each being recorded as "0-for-1" when it came to tabulating his batting average.

If today's rule was in effect, i.e., if those 8 sacrifice flies were counted as "0-for-0" instead of "0-for-8" (which is how they were counted) ...

Ted Williams would have batted .413 that year.

.413 !!!

While I agree that he would have batted .413, I posit that (1) .413 is not appreciably more amazing than .406, and (2) Joe DiMaggio would have still won the MVP because of the hitting streak.

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5 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

While I agree that he would have batted .413, I posit that (1) .413 is not appreciably more amazing than .406, and (2) Joe DiMaggio would have still won the MVP because of the hitting streak.

How many women did Jiltin' Joe hit on that season?

Considering that Rogers Hornsby's .424 is the highest average ever (Hugh Duffy's .438 in the 1800s notwithstanding), I'd posit that .413 is notably higher than .406 (Ty Cobb's best single-season average was .420, which seems like something from a video game). A .413 average would have put Williams in the Top 5 since 1900, and the four above him seem like ghosts from a Henry James novel.

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I believe Wee Willie Keeler of your beloved Orioles hit .434 in the 1890s, but those were dead baseball slap hitters who “hit ‘em where they ain’t” and benefited from fielders gloves that were more like paper plates. Didn’t Hornsby hit .424 one year? And he was right handed so that was amazing.

And yes, Joltin’ Joe was a swordsman. When he was later married to Marilyn Monroe, and they did a USO tour of the troops in Korea, she got a huge ovation from thousands of troops. She asked him if he knew how it felt to get cheered by thousands of fans, he responded “Yes I do.”

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33 minutes ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

And yes, Joltin’ Joe was a swordsman. 

 

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