Translating Stan Musial’s Numbers into 2012 Norms

With Stan Musial passing away over the weekend, Jesse did a nice workup of his career numbers, noting that Musial stands as one of the best hitters to ever play Major League Baseball. But, the more I looked at his player page, the harder I found it to wrap my head around his combination of power and contact rates.

Musial struck out 696 times in his entire career, spanning nearly 11,000 plate appearances, and his strikeout rate was nearly half of his career average (5.5%) during his peak years. In 1943, Musial struck out 18 times in 701 trips to the plate, a strikeout rate of just 2.6%, the third lowest mark of the year. In that same season, Musial racked up 81 extra base hits, and he posted a .206 ISO, good for fifth best in baseball. We just don’t see guys who are elite power hitters and elite contact hitters much anymore.

Of course, the game has changed a lot over the last 70 years, with a drastic increase in strikeouts being one of the most prominent changes. A 5% strikeout rate today is more impressive than that would have been during Musial’s day, but while we have things like wRC+ that adjust for historical offensive levels, I didn’t have a great feel for what context adjusted metrics for the individual strikeout and power numbers would be. So, in order to get a better sense of what Musial’s numbers would look like if we brought them into the modern game, I decided to scale his numbers to the norms of 2012.

The first step in any kind of historical adjustment is to adjust the marks relative to the league averages of the time and create an index, just like stats like wRC+ or ERA-. Since I’m mostly fascinated by Musial’s K and ISO numbers, we’ll simply create K%- (because lower is better) and ISO+, which scale each mark to league average just like wRC+ does for total offensive performance. Using an average weighted by plate appearances to account for the changing baselines throughout his career, Musial’s K%- is 51, and his ISO+ is 192. In other words, he struck out 49% less often than a league average hitter during his career, and he posted an ISO that was almost twice as high as the league average hitter during that era.

Now, if we simply multiply those index numbers by the league norms of 2012, we get the equivalent of Musial’s career K% and ISO numbers. Since the league average strikeout rate last year was 19.8% and the average ISO was .151, that would give Musial a modern K% of 10.1% and a modern ISO of .290.

You will not be surprised to learn that no hitter in baseball last year posted an ISO of .290 and a K% of 10%. In fact, no one even came remotely close.

The only two hitters to come to the plate at least 500 times while posting a .290 ISO last were Giancarlo Stanton (.318) and Josh Hamilton (.293); Stanton struck out in 28.5% of his plate appearances, while Hamilton struck out in 25.5% of his. Edwin Encarnacion and Miguel Cabrera both posted a .277 ISO and while posting nearly equivalent strikeout rates — 14.6% for Encarnacion, 14.1% for Cabrera — so they had the year’s best combination of great power with strikeout avoidance, but their K%- grades out as a 71, well above the ridiculous 51 that Musial put up throughout his career.

If we switch over to guys who did make as much contact relative to league average as Musial, we find 12 hitters who posted a K%- of 51, but it’s mostly a collection of slap hitters. The best K%- of 2012 goes to Marco Scutaro (36), but as you might expect from the game’s best contact hitter, he posted an ISO of .098, as he simply traded whatever power he could muster for the ability to hardly ever swing and miss. The highest ISO posted by a hitter with a K%- as good as Musial’s was Yadier Molina‘s .186, which was good for a 123 ISO+, still nowhere near what Musial put up.

This probably seems like an obvious conclusion – there were no hitters in baseball last year who could match one of the best power/contact hitters in baseball history. This unique set of skills is what made Musial great in the first place, and you didn’t need two context adjusted index stats to tell you that Musial was a special player in that regard.

Still, it’s hard to imagine what a Musial-like player would even look like in today’s day and age. Just using his career K% and ISO numbers, you’d essentially be looking at a hybrid of Darwin Barney‘s contact skills and Josh Hamilton’s power.

No wonder they just called him “The Man”.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Michael Scarn
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Michael Scarn
3 years 8 months ago

I am curious as to how Pujols’ best seasons compare via this methodology.

olethros
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olethros
3 years 8 months ago

Off the top of my head, about where Cabrera was last year.

Rush Limbaugh
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Rush Limbaugh
3 years 8 months ago

I don’t think so.. in ’04 he struck out 7.5% of the time with a .326 ISO, 7.9% with a .340 ISO in ’06, etc.

olethros
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olethros
3 years 8 months ago

More Ks and less slugging now than then, though.

Rush Limbaugh
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Rush Limbaugh
3 years 8 months ago

Well of course.. however what Michael Scarn said was “I am curious as to how Pujols’ best seasons compare via this methodology.”

That is what I was referring to, not Pujols’ 2012 rates, clearly.

olethros
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olethros
3 years 8 months ago

I was talking about league averages then and now, not Albert’s numbers. Though the same is true for those.

Rush Limbaugh
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Rush Limbaugh
3 years 8 months ago

Yeah that’s true, Albert’s ’04 and ’06 numbers would be reduced a little once you adjust it for 2012. But I still have to think the differences in environment over the last six (and eight) years wouldn’t be enough that his numbers wouldn’t look better than EE and Miggy’s this year, don’t you?

Ben Hall
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Member
Ben Hall
3 years 8 months ago

Pujols is similar: after his rookie year, in which his K%- was 80, he goes 61 K%- (159 ISO+), 58 (195), 44 (201), 57 (181), 47 (209), 50 (155), 48 (195), 51 (214), 59 (196), 48 (168), 57 (153).

Anon
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Anon
3 years 8 months ago

So what you’re saying Ben is that Pujols has been worse by those metrics through his age 32 season than Musial was through his age 42 season.

Joe
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Joe
3 years 8 months ago

Pujols came to my mind too. His career numbers: 9.6 K% and .283 ISO. I’d say that’s pretty comparable.

stan
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stan
3 years 8 months ago

Its comparable only in the way that Pujols in his prime is the closest thing we have seen to Musial since Musial. However, he’s still a long way off.

Mel
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Mel
3 years 8 months ago

Two other guys with noteworthy stats of the kind discussed here: Ted Williams (career ISO .289 and 7.2 K%), and Joe DiMaggio (.254 and 4.8%).

Balthazar
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Balthazar
3 years 8 months ago

And with those two, Musial was the third great batter of their era, more similar to Joe D than Williams. For DiMag and Musial the power wasn’t all about putting it in the seats but about driving the ball in the alley for bunches of doubles. Both of them barreled up the ball well and drove it on a line, which explains their outcomes, they weren’t pull-oriented or heavily uppercutting the ball which allowed their high contact rates. This is why we won’t really see hitters like them but on a fluke, because guys who put the balls in the seats make so much more money than others now that current players will make the trade off of less contact for a few more dingers. As Musial’s numbers show, more dingers _don’t_ make a better player, it’s driving the ball that’s the name of the game. But money talks . . .

Musial was such an elegant player, and extremely, and deservedly popular. Want the image of Hall of Famer? Stan Musial, remains the Man. And he made it to 93, too. Congrats on a good life, Mr. Musial, you were what The Game is all about.

philosofool
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Member
philosofool
3 years 8 months ago

I appreciate your apropos attempt to venerate Musial, however, the factual claims you make are ridiculous. All other things being equal, more dingers make a better player. Also, your criticism of the modern player with an uppercut stroke is wrong. Seven of the top ten Home Run hitters (by HR/FB) had above average line drive rates last season, including such paradigmatic sluggers as Adam Dunn and Chris Davis.

In any event, there’s almost no way to verify your hypothesis (batters are just swinging for the fences now) as opposed to an alternative, which is that pitching today has completely changed possible approaches to hitting.

Musial was incredible, but let’s not glorify him at the expense of today’s extremely skilled hitters.

Balthazar
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Balthazar
3 years 8 months ago

Doubles and triples; I forgot Musial was superb at that, per the commentor below. He played in a big park, too, which was perfect for his approach, and didn’t fight the dimensions but went with them.

300ZXNA
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300ZXNA
3 years 8 months ago

Awesome article, I was thinking about the same things. Too bad we don’t have access to what Musial’s BABIP/Line drive/contact % must have looked like.

300ZXNA
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300ZXNA
3 years 8 months ago

Whoops, it appears that we DO have BABIP numbers for him. My mistake . . .

300ZXNA
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300ZXNA
3 years 8 months ago

I also like to point out that he would have had the record for doubles . . . had he not been so proficient at turning them into triples. It appears he was Edgar Martinez with good speed and defense.

NRJyzr
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NRJyzr
3 years 8 months ago

I wonder how much of Musial’s triples numbers come from the prevailing ballpark dimensions of his time.

I admit I’ve only given a cursory look at 1948, but a fair number of stadiums he’d have played in had healthy CF areas (Polo Grounds, Forbes Field, Shibe Park, and of course, Sportsman’s Park).

Hit a quality line drive to the gap and run for a while. :)

Even Harmon Killebrew could hit a triple by hitting one into the monuments at old Yankee Stadium…

Nickname Damur
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Nickname Damur
3 years 8 months ago

Conceding your point, I think his triples numbers would still be excellent in modern ballparks. Although he didn’t steal many bases, that was in an era when fewer steals were attempted. Also, his original nickname was “The Donora Greyhound”–his speed was considered exceptional.

Antonio bananas
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Antonio bananas
3 years 8 months ago

Or maybe a lot of his triples and homers would be home runs.

stan
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stan
3 years 8 months ago

Sportsman’s park had a short porch in right field that they eventually put a large screen on top of. It was similar in right to what you see in Fenway in left field, though not as extreme. Reports are that Musial hit a lot of doubles off the screen.

semperty
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semperty
3 years 8 months ago

Wow..I have to wonder if anyone (in any season) has ever matched those career marks. I’d assume someone had, but it’s still an interesting thought.

jim
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jim
3 years 8 months ago

dimaggio from ’37 through ’41, and ’48 through ’50

Franco
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Franco
3 years 8 months ago

You had a nice career when the comps being thrown around are Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols.

Chris Rose
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Chris Rose
3 years 8 months ago

If you look at his 1948 season and use the same method, his 2012 numbers would have been 9.48 K% with a .419 ISO in that season!!!

Rastan
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Rastan
3 years 8 months ago

Sorry accidental downvote! Definitely meant to upvote, nice work!

Forrest Gumption
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Forrest Gumption
3 years 8 months ago

This has been discussed at length, but if Musial time travelled to today, he’d be lucky to be in the minors. Comparing generations never reflects well on the old timers, because they only played against whites, pitchers weren’t throwing as much off-speed stuff and the game was very antiquated to how it is now.

Bad Bill
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Bad Bill
3 years 8 months ago

On the other hand, blithering idiocy like this stands the test of time just fine.

toleterito
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toleterito
3 years 8 months ago

I think PL went too far, but with regards to integration, it is a valid point that wasn’t discussed in the article.

jwyoming
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jwyoming
3 years 8 months ago

I remember Ted Williams when he was 86 or so saying he doubted if he could hit .400 in the modern game…..He felt his legs at 86 would not let him beat out any close ones….

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 8 months ago

I’ve read the same comment attributed to Ty Cobb, so this is probably a good apocryphal story that makes the rounds among the greats.

Ben M
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Ben M
3 years 8 months ago

While obviously not fully integrated, the bulk of Musial’s career was after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. He had oWAR seasons above 4 till 1958 per Baseball Reference. As for your comment on non-breaking pitches, the slider and curve vastly pre-date Musial’s birthday, let alone his playing career.

TKDC
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TKDC
3 years 8 months ago

And honestly, does every single article have to include caveats that every person reading them clearly already knows?

stan
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stan
3 years 8 months ago

Yeah, we can do the math. Its not like breaking balls were new to the sport in the 40’s either. I thought that point was just crazy.

Chris Rose
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Chris Rose
3 years 8 months ago

And the pitching mound was much higher.

David
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David
3 years 8 months ago

On the other hand…
There were only 16 teams in the league during Musial’s career. I’ll spare everyone the exposition about the dilution of talent as a result of expansion. The exclusion of black players and the pains they endured entering the league are shameful, but because of a number of other factors, mound height, expansion, etc, I don’t thing we can simply conclude that all old time players would be in AA ball today.

wes
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wes
3 years 8 months ago

Look at the seasonal results from the days of the 8 team NL. Most years during the 1940s the top two teams ended up playing 100 to 110 games (out of 154) against sub-.500 teams. So even though it was before expansion the bottom of either league was pretty bad. Poorly capitalized owners in places like Philly and Boston, many teams operating without an extensive farm system, etc.

My point, I guess, is that I’m not so sure that there is more variation in quality in expansion-era baseball than there was pre expansion giving poor ownership, talent pools excluding most international players and all players of color, etc.

wes

David
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David
3 years 8 months ago

Took a look. For the most part there were about 3-5 teams with .500 or better records in the 1940’s, though the Cardinals fielded some really great teams in that decade, winning 100+ games several times, and were always top of the league or close. So we will say 2-3 other .500 or better teams in that era. However, during the 1950’s, league parity appears to have increased, fewer 100+ win and loss teams, and more teams around the middle, including the Cards most years. Musial put up around 7-8 rWAR per season until 1957. The point I meant to make wasn’t necessarily that the pre-expansion league was higher quality, but simply that it wasn’t as though you took the current league and subtracted all the African American and Latino players. The smaller talent pool of that era just fed into fewer teams.

Reality
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Reality
3 years 8 months ago

“Dilution of talent due to expansion” is nonsense. There are 310 million people in America now, compared to 140-150 million there were in the time of the 16-team league. Not to mention the international popularity of the game now compared to 1950.

Pat G
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Pat G
3 years 8 months ago

And nobody ever mentions the fact that prior to 1974, some guys who would be physically capable of being excellent baseball players probably had better career prospects and other avenues to make comparable money to the baseball players of the time.

They weren’t making 5MM as relief pitchers during this time.

jim
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jim
3 years 8 months ago

why bring him forward in time if you’re not going to afford him the opportunity to learn and train at the same level today’s guys are? unless you’re only interested in snark that you think sounds intelligent

Scottyboy
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Scottyboy
3 years 8 months ago

I guess this guy David probably doesn’t even know baseball. What about Ruth, Gehrig, Williams, and DiMaggio? The league wasnt any bigger when they were playing but if I am guessing right, this guy has no idea who the hell they are anyway. Idiot.

TKDC
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TKDC
3 years 8 months ago

If Musial time travelled to today, I think he would be even more awesome. Many people have been great at baseball, but I can’t think of anyone who has ever been great at time travelling.

philosofool
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Member
philosofool
3 years 8 months ago

While the color barrier stuff is not to be neglected, only about 20% of the US population was consequently ineligible. Unless you have racist views about athletic talent (I assume you don’t) of blacks, the difference in the U.S. population since 1960 has had a much more dramatic effect on the talent pool than the color barrier did.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
3 years 8 months ago

Just a reminder that stupidity spans across the ages.

Peanut
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Peanut
3 years 8 months ago

If Musial time travelled to today, he’d be even more impressive. He’d be all like

“Sup bitches, I’m a Top 10 player of all time, AND I can time travel!”

Mthierry
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Mthierry
3 years 8 months ago

Isn’t that kind of a moot point considering that Musial played the majority of his career when African Americans were allowed to play. You also forget that the NL was significantly ahead of the curve when it came to integration. Pretty stupid commentary on your part, PL.

Alvaro Andrés Pizza Varela
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3 years 8 months ago

How about Barry Bonds? Career K% 12.2. Career ISO. 285

dcs
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dcs
3 years 8 months ago

I’m not sure why the fascination with low K/ high ISO exists. Yes, it is a more uncommon style, but that doesn’t mean it is better. The overall relationship between K% and wRC+ is a positive one. That suggests that it’s possible (not anything more than that) that Musial might have hit just as well or even better had he swung a bit harder, or maybe been less aggressive on marginal pitches to hit. That tradeoff might have resulted in a lower BA but more BB and HR, and a better overall value. This is just a general observation, because in the specific case of Musial, we must assume that he optimized the skills that he had.

Phantom Stranger
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Phantom Stranger
3 years 8 months ago

Almost everyone prefers the low-K/high ISO style of play from an aesthetics point of view. It’s more entertaining than seeing every player in the league turn into Adam Dunn.

That Guy
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That Guy
3 years 8 months ago

I for one wouldn’t mind my team turning into a bunch of Adam Dunns.

Ben
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Ben
3 years 8 months ago

Agreed. I’ll take 8 Stan Musials over 8 Adam Dunns.

toleterito
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toleterito
3 years 8 months ago

This is really vastly overstating how good Musial was because baseball wasn’t fully integrated when he played. I understand that no one really wants to talk about how to adjust for this, but if you want to do this kind of cross-era comparison it can’t just be ignored.

I don’t mean to trivialize his accomplishments – we just don’t need to blow them out of proportion.

Chris Rose
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Chris Rose
3 years 8 months ago

As someone stated prior, there were only 16 teams back then as as well. Which means he didn’t get to face the Rockies’ rotation. =)

toleterito
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toleterito
3 years 8 months ago

Yeah, but what about how the pool of players is from a much larger population now? This discussion could go very BBTF very fast.

Musial was unbelievably great! I just think that the exclusion of black players during his day isn’t something you can just ignore in an article like this. You need at least a mention of it.

When I put it that way… I know it sounds nit-picky.

Brass Monkey
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Brass Monkey
3 years 8 months ago

You mean like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Cobb, et al?

toleterito
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toleterito
3 years 8 months ago

Yes, even more so for those guys!

PackBob
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PackBob
3 years 8 months ago

This and the comment by PL are rather like saying Einstein actually wasn’t very bright and Newton was a dunderhead, unable to keep up with today’s grade-school kids.

There would obviously be more factors at work than in Dave’s method if you wanted to compare exactly, but you would also have to penalize today’s players to place them in an earlier time. You would have to take away the video replay, the sophisticated training, the better equipment, and other advantages of the modern player.

Kwk9 simply cherry-picks a factor and says it’s important but doesn’t supply any supporting analysis. You could just as easily (and inadequately) state that Musial’s numbers would be even better considering a watered-down 30-team league.

pft
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pft
3 years 8 months ago

The talent pool players are drawn from today is much larger.
Domestic population is more than double, all colors from the population are eligible, players are drawn from all over the world.

Imagine MLB today with over 30% of the players (and 50% of the All Stars) excluded and replaced by minor leaguers (as was the case in 1/2 Musials career), and 15-20% (25% of the All Stars)excluded and replaced (as was the case in the last 1/2 of his career).

Besides, he played from 1942-1944 when the MLB was gutted with most of the stars in the service. Musial only missed 1945, and missed no time in the Korean war.

In the 1950’s and even into 1960’s, you still had a reduction in talent pool, even as blacks were entering in greater numbers, due to conscription and casualties in WWII and the Korean War. Expansion diluted the talent even more in the 60’s.

I think today’s game is probably the most competitive in MLB history which is why you don’t see many of the lofty numbers we once did except for HR due to smaller parks and livelier balls and better bats and stronger athletes due to weight training. The advantage today for hitters is offset by huge pitchers who are well rested and babied throwing mid 90’s and pitches like the slider and splitter that were not often thrown back in the day.

Not saying Musial was not a great hitter and would not be a top 10 hitter today, just that he was probably not as good
as many myth builders make him out to be.

BJsWorld
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BJsWorld
3 years 8 months ago

Imagine MLB today with all the amazing talent of the NBA/NFL/Track and Field/NHL, etc all being forced to funnel their talents into baseball.

I for one happen to think that if you closed baseball to all people of color and every white kid thought of playing baseball and nothing else that the overall talent level of the game would improve, not decline.

Of course, there is absolutely no way of knowing under either scenario.

LarryG
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LarryG
3 years 7 months ago

One other factor is that in Musial’s day, almost all the top athletes played baseball. That is not true today. Baseball ranks low in the percentage of top athletes choosing which sport to play.

jim
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jim
3 years 8 months ago

how much of a difference do you really think it would have made to the overall talent level of the league? do you think musial would have turned into jeff francouer or something? can we not just appreciate greatness anymore without having to detract from and marginalize it?

toleterito
Member
toleterito
3 years 8 months ago

I think it would have made a MASSIVE difference in the talent of the league, probably displacing the worst 1/3 of players (assuming no expansion) AND adding many top-tier superstars. Do people seriously not know their baseball history? This is a huge deal, not some “cherry-picked factor”.

Musial would have still been great, of course. I kinda feel like a jerk now, but I truly never wanted to imply that he wasn’t an all time great.

Brass Monkey
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Brass Monkey
3 years 8 months ago

At kwk9:

Well you’ve mentioned it ,so consider it done.

Yes there is a larger pool of talent today, but there is even more competition for the athlete….back in the old days baseball was king and pretty much had the pick of the field.

pft
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pft
3 years 8 months ago

If you accept the premise that league average back in “The Mans” day was significantly worse (pitching and hitting) than it is today due to the lower talent pool due to segregation and WWII casualties and declining birth rates which affected MLB into the 60’s, then this analysis does not hold water.

If you look at the SD against league average of the top 10 hitters in MLB then and compare it to today you will see it is significantly larger.

Scottyboy
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Scottyboy
3 years 8 months ago

To those hee haws out there trying to diminish his statistics and career, then I guess we need to undress the Babe. I mean after all, aren’t Ruth, DiMaggio, Williams, and Ty Cobb kind of the gold standard in the who is the greatest rotation? What these numbers really mean is that the guy was way under appreciated and underrated. You cannot have it both ways. The numbers don’t lie. Idiots and morons. Sad

pft
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pft
3 years 8 months ago

Yes, you really need to undress any player who played most of his career in the 50’s and earlier.

It’s sad people don’t have a better understanding of the limitations of numbers.

Put Albert Pujols in the PCL for his entire career and tell me if his numbers don’t lie. Quality of competition is such a fundamental principle I don’t really understand the reluctance to consider it more deeply when comparing players in different eras.

People are so quick to say numbers today are lies but can’t fathom the numbers from the golden years might be tainted as well.

Anon
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Anon
3 years 8 months ago

any player who played most of his career in the 50?s and earlier.

So… Jackie Robinson?

BJsWorld
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BJsWorld
3 years 8 months ago

It is absolutely crazy to compare the PCL of today to MLB in the 50’s.

Why not suggest you stick Pujols in a local T-ball league and see how he mashes against other 5 year olds.

chief00
Member
chief00
3 years 8 months ago

I love this piece. :)

I think it’s the prerogative of every sports fan to compare/contrast across generations. I believe pretty strongly that adaptability is one attribute of great players, regardless of their respective sport. Great players of one era would most likely be able to adapt sufficiently to any era. That said, Musial’s era was one in which great changes occurred. We expect injuries, rule changes, tight-fisted owners, etc., to impact a players’ performance, but these changes were of a different nature altogether. He didn’t need to cross generations to encounter potentially career-upsetting changes.

I appreciate the attempts to recognize the integration and expansion issues. Regarding integration for instance, surely playing against players like Herm Wehmeier, Putsy Caballero, and Sylvester ‘Blix’ Donnelly instead of James ‘Cool Papa’ Bell, Ray Brown, and Satchel Paige makes a difference? What about playing against the Mets and the Colt 45’s? How about World War II, and the immediate post-war era?

He was a terrific player against the sub-par level of competition during World War II, notably 1942-1944 before he entered the service in 1945. Given that it was early in his career, we might expect some sort of drop (precipitous, perhaps?) in production when the ‘real’ ballplayers returned. That’s not what we see. As MLB readjusted to life without war and welcomed back its best players, Musial played his best ball.

Bridging the gap from integration (1947) until the end of Musial’s career (1963), 11 of the 16 NL MVPs weren’t eligible to play Major League Baseball before 1947. Musial won his last MVP in 1947, despite several eminently worthy years after that (55.7 fWAR in ’48-’49, ’51-’54). The argument isn’t whether he was more worthy than the actual winners, but that there was a whole new group from which to choose, a group that helped transform the game. Yet against this new competition (i.e. new to the league), Musial sustained an incredibly high level of play.

Interestingly, that time period also includes the expansion of 1961. In a very small sample size (101 PAs), he was a .405/.515/.684 player with a .371 BAbip against the Mets. In keeping with the article, he also had 10 xbh, 20 BBs and only 5 Ks in those 101 PAs. Musial was 40+ years old when he played against the Mets but, boy, those Mets were bad. His numbers against the Colt 45’s were terrible (91 PAs, .215/.308/.329). I don’t know if this mitigates any argument for/against the effect of expansion on player as great as Stan Musial; the sample size is just so small (192 PAs), and he was just so old (as professional baseball players go).

MLB underwent significant changes on three distinct occasions (WWII; Integration; Expansion) while Stan Musial played in the league. Instead of being overwhelmed by the changes, he seems to have adapted to them, embraced them, and he excelled. The only dip in production occurred when we would expect it to occur: when he was old.

CFG250
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CFG250
3 years 8 months ago

Go look at Barry Bonds’ 2002 and 2004 ISO & K rates. Essentially doubling Cabrera & Edwin’s ISO from last year and alomost matching Stan’s K rate from 60 years ago!

Brass Monkey
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Brass Monkey
3 years 8 months ago

That’s when Barry Bonds was playing in Balco Ballpark. Same yourself the trouble and ignore everything Barry did after age 34…that’s as good as he ever was.

CFG250
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CFG250
3 years 8 months ago

Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know he was the only one juicing. I was also unaware that taking steroids make your K rate drop and boost your BB%.

Bonds had 2 seasons with a WAR over 10 before he juiced and may have had another if the 94 season didn’t end early. Thise early 90s years he was actually a better all around player than he was in the 2000s.

BJsWorld
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BJsWorld
3 years 8 months ago

It may not help you strike out less but certainly his prodigious power effected how pitchers approached him. Hence the high walk rates.

Brass Monkey
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Brass Monkey
3 years 8 months ago

No need to be sorry. I didn’t say BB was the only juicer.

BAT SPEED! It’s amazing how getting the wood through the zone makes everything get better.

FMelius
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FMelius
3 years 8 months ago

What a hitter! Amazing that Stan could be THIS good and yet so infrequently discussed as such.

Without taking the time to look it up, Frank Thomas comes to mind as a similar (though inferior) hitter – highly disciplined and remarkably powerful, especially through his first ~10yrs in the league. The Big Hurt was a more well-balanced hitter than most right-handers in history.

sejackman
Member
sejackman
3 years 8 months ago

Thanks Dave! Great to see Stan’s career honored and put into some context. I couldn’t get over the low strikeout rate coupled with power… and i still can’t

BravesWatcher
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BravesWatcher
3 years 8 months ago

I thoroughly enjoyed the commentary and responses on “Stan the Man” Musial. He was one of my favorite players. I lived in Wisconsin and was a young teenager when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee in the early fifties. I had the priviledge and pleasure of going to many games and watching Musial play. He was one of the most enjoyable players to see. He had no weaknesses in hitting. Sports writers of that era kept saying that, because of his hitting stance, his batting figures would rapidly deteriorate. He had a “peak around the corner” stance and the scribes predicted that pitchers would take advantage of that style and he would not be able to sustain his numbers over the long haul. Writers back then were just as incorrect as those of today in that respect.
When I went to games against St. Louis, I would go early so I could watch Musial take batting practice. He always put on a great show. He would first loosen up and then start his routine. He would spent significant time spraying hits to all parts of the field. As a left-handed hitter, he would sent several shots to left field. He seemed to try to see how close to the left field foul line he could do it. We are not talking about one or two swings, but 5 – 10 times, or, until he was satisfied that he had the measure of where to hit the ball. These were almost always line drives, not pop-ups or fly balls he was stroking. Then, and only when he was “groved”, did he work his way into his power stroke. It was like watching an artist paint a masterpiece to watch him hit batting practice.
My favorite Musial moment was when I was at the 1955 All-Star game. There were over 25 current Hall of Famers that played in that game. Mantle, Mays, Spahn, Berra, Campanella, Robinson, and Williams were all there. In the bottom of the 10th inning of the game, Musial rose above all of them and won the game with a home run. I followed Hank Aaron from the time he was a rookie in Milwaukee until he retired in Atlanta. (I moved to Atlanta in 1967.) But, my favorite player was Musial because of his skill and the quality of person he was.
To any of you who question Musial (or Aaron, or other old-timers) abilities to play in today’s game, I say this. These old guys had the best ablility of their time, why wouldn’t you assume that they would train and develop their ability using today’s methodologies and knowledge to become just as prominent in today’s game as today’s athletes do? The talent was there and certainly the financial incentive is there. I feel that if they could do it back then, they could do today. Musial doesn’t need any help in assessing his records, his numbers are beyond today’s number crunchers. He was simply a standard for all time.

Adam C
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Adam C
3 years 8 months ago

Several posters have stated that Musial played in a league that wasn’t “fully” integrated. So when exactly was the National League “fully” integrated? By this I mean what year was the National League “fully” integrated? How does one even define “fully” integrated?

As for the population argument a good friend of mine made an interesting historical observation. He commented that, yes, today the population of the US is much larger than say 60-70 years ago,. Bur he argued that doesn’t necessarily mean the talent pool is larger today. He countered that in previous eras EVERYONE played baseball growing up. Baseball was the game to play and it drew the best talent. That is not really as true today. Fewer kids play baseball.

In previous eras the best athletes mostly played baseball. If Jackie Robinson was coming up today would he choose baseball over football or basketball? And there were lots of white major leaguers who were great athletes as well. Ted Kluszewski played college football at Indiana University. Dick Groat was a two-time All-American in basketball at Duke, was College Player of the Year, and played one season in the NBA. Jackie Jensen was an All-American halfback at Cal, becoming Cal’s first ever 1,000 yard rusher. He finished 4th in the 1948 Heisman Trophy voting. Lou Gehrig went to Columbia University on a football scholarship. Gene Conley played for the Boston Celtics and the NY Knicks as well as pitching in the majors. Bob Gibson played college basketball at Creighton University and even played one year with the Harlem Globetotters.

How many potential baseball players choose other sports? In high school Colin Kaepernick was more accomplished in baseball than in football. He received more college interest for baseball than football. But Kaepernick was very determined to play college football. In another era would Kaepernick have chosen baseball over football?

I thought my friend made some excellent points. I’m not sure how much this affected the advantage of today’s large population, though.

Brass Monkey
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Brass Monkey
3 years 8 months ago

Case in point: Musial turned down a basketball scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, over the protest of his father, because he wanted to play baseball.

Cyril Morong
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Cyril Morong
3 years 8 months ago

This talks about Musial in 1943. Recall that it was a war year and alot
of good pitchers were gone, so that would help him strikeout less and hit more
HRs, everything else being equal.

I did a study on this before and I divided a guy’s relative HR rate by his
relative K rate.

Here is the link

http://cybermetric.blogspot.com/2009/06/which-players-had-best-hr-to-strikeout.h\
tml

Musial does well but not as well as some other big names.

Cyril Morong
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Cyril Morong
3 years 8 months ago

I found all the guys from 1920-2011 with 5000+ PAs. I also found their ISO relative to the league average and their strikeouts relative to the league average. Then I took the ratios. Here are the top 12

Tris Speaker 4.105263158
Tommy Holmes 4.035714286
Joe Sewell 3.772727273
Frank McCormick 3.102564103
Joe DiMaggio 3.0625
Yogi Berra 3.02
Nellie Fox 2.894736842
Vic Power 2.875
Albert Pujols 2.857142857
Tony Gwynn 2.806451613
Don Mattingly 2.785714286
Stan Musial 2.741935484

J. B. Rainsberger
Guest
3 years 8 months ago

In case you want to fix it: nearly 11,000 *AB*; more than *12,700* PA. (Beginning of paragraph 2.)

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