Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » March 2005 » The McGwire for Cooperstown case....

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03/23/2005: The McGwire for Cooperstown case....

is being made over at the The Cardinals Birdhouse by contributor Jim Pagones. Interestingly enough, Pagones focuses on a number we don't hear bandied about much--home runs/at bats ratio--and used that to conclude that McGwire is deserving of a first ballot election to Cooperstown:

Here is a comparison of the best homerun hitters ever (the top line is the key, but more interesting facts follow):

  • Hit one every 10.6 times at bat in career – BEST RATIO EVER!!
  • At bats: 6187 – suffered from injuries throughout his career.
  • Hit 49 homeruns his second year in the league, and you can’t tell me he was doping then.
  • More than 50 four times
  • More than sixty twice and
  • 70 in one year
  • Probably the best homerun hitter in history…maybe over 1,000 homers if he was healthy!
  • Hit one every 11.7 times at bat in career – SECOND BEST RATIO!!
  • At bats: 8399 – 35% more than McGwire.
  • Hit over 50 homeruns his 3rd and 4th full season (non-pitcher).
  • Hit more than 50 four times and 60 one year
  • He spent 4 seasons as a pitcher and still has lowest ERA for a southpaw in a World Series…4 seasons average 40 homeruns – add 160 to 714 = 874!!! Over 100 more that Aaron!!
  • Without pitching – there would be no contest who was the all-time HR champion!!
  • Hit one every 12.9 times at bat in career – THIRD BEST RATIO!!
  • At bats: 9098 – 47% more than McGwire and still going.
  • Did not hit more than 30 homeruns until his fifth year and
  • Never more than 49
  • Except he hit 73 in one year…
  • Hit one every 16.37 times at bat in career – WAY DOWN THE LIST (see below)
  • At bats: 12364 – 10 at bats less than double McGwire’s career total!!
  • Homeruns: 755
  • Hit 44 homeruns his 4th year in the league
  • Never hit more than 47 homeruns…ever.
  • Hit 40 or more 8 times in career
  • A super player who was healthy and consistent – but sorry, not really a Homerun King…just a long, consistent career
Maris – great guy but a one-year wonder…one homerun every 18.5 times at bat and never even hit 40 except for the one year he broke Babe’s record at 61.
What fascinates me is that career extrapolation for Big Mac: 1000 career homers if he'd remained healthy and productive, like Henry Aaron. [And for the record, I disagree with Pagones when he says, "not really a Homerun King" about Aaron--even though a large part of Hammerin' Hank's production has to do with the fact that he played as well as he did for as long as he did, there's some wisdom in the old saying, "It's a marathon, not a sprint", and I'm not going to hold it against him that he was a very good (as opposed to stellar) longball hitter who kept healthy and productive, guaranteeing himself a long and productive major league career. There's something to be said for being very good for a long time as opposed to being excellent for a shorter time, and the bottom line is, until such time as Barry "Not A Carbon Based Lifeform" Bonds hits No. 756 (which he's most likely to do in 2006 (UPDATE: or in 2007, especially if the knee problems Bonds has apparently recently acknowledged keep him benched for all of the 2005 season), barring death, career ending injury, or a probably unthinkable ban from MLB for his alleged use of steroids), Aaron holds the record (in Major League Baseball) for most career home runs.]

Pagones concludes:
What about some of the other greats in the top 20 overall homerun derby?

Sammy Sosa: One every 13.97 at bats
Harmon Killebrew: One every 14.21 at bats
Ted Williams: One every 14.79 at bats
Mickey Mantle One every 15.21 at bats
Lou Gehrig: One every 16.23 at bats
Willie Mays: One every 16.48 at bats

There you have it. An avid baseball fan’s objective review of the true homerun kings. If McGwire did dope, it would have started later in his career and it didn’t really help him much – his homerun average stayed about the same.
The extended discussion of Hank Aaron's career tempts me to trot out my favorite Aaron anecdote, related (so my sources say) by Aaron's father. Because it uses what many would consider unacceptable language, I'm putting it below the fold (You Have Been Warned). I think it's a delightful story, myself, and not offensive in the total context....

When Henry came up, I heard fans yell, "Hit that nigger. Hit that nigger." Henry hit the ball up against the clock. The next time he came up, they said "Walk him, walk him."
--Herb Aaron

Len on 03.23.05 @ 08:57 AM CST

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