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Just The Sports: 2006-05-14

Just The Sports

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Darin Erstad, Shut Up

In the sports world there is much ado about team meetings where curse words are said, feelings are hurt, and to hear sports writers and fans tell it, the team always emerge a better, more cohesive team. Count me in the camp of the skeptics who question that such a meeting has any positive effect on the future performance of the team.

While there have been reported instances where a closed-door meeting has led to success on the field, there are probably just as many instances where it held no effect at all on team performance. I basically chalk that myth up to the same one that proclaims a team on the perceived winning side of a basebrawl will see a sharp increase in wins in the near future. That being said, Bill Plaschke's reaction to Darin Erstad's shouted comments to his teammates is patently ridiculous.

"There's going to be no finger pointing! I don't care who you are! It's over! We either go down as a team or we win the whole … thing as a team!"

Judging from the Angels' 17-25 record and their run differential of -39 runs, I would say the Angels will find themselves going down as a team.

It was Erstad who reminded them what it was like to play for a team.

And to have a team on-base percentage of .301. Last in the American League.

It was Erstad who reminded them what it was like to be an Angel.

And to have a team slugging percentage of .381. Also good for last in the American League.

Erstad, shouting like this while batting .238 with no homers and four runs batted in. Erstad, scolding like this while on the disabled list because of an aching ankle. Only a true leader would dare sell something while dressed like that.

Too bad none of the Angels bought what he was selling, as evidenced by their 16-3 shellacking the next day at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If the Angels have any intention of imploding with 120 games left in the season, the walls will have to collapse against the weight of an ornery, snuff-dripping former football player.

These may be colorful descriptors, but none of them disguise the fact that for his career, Erstad has been a below-average hitter, having contributed -8 BRAA and a 97 OPS+ where 100 OPS+ is the average. His only saving grace is the defense he provides in center field, but even that will be called into question if he cannot remain healthy.

Also, Erstad is a former punter, not the toughest position to play on the football field by any stretch of the imagination.

It was Erstad being Erstad, the rock of the 2002 world championship team, a .300 postseason hitter, the guy who has served as Scioscia's clubhouse conscience for all of Scioscia's seven years here.

Pretty soon, it will be what Ersty was, as the Angels are expected to allow him to leave when his contract expires after this season, his bat and step having slowed in 11 seasons here.

I guess being a rock and the clubhouse conscience for your team aren't what they used to be.

But he will not go easily.

Pretty much he will have to. When a team declines to extend a player's contract, he/she cannot continue to show up whenever he/she wants and demand to be let into the clubhouse and given a uniform to play in.

Mike Celizic Thinks Peter Vecsey Is An Idiot

There have been many theories about how the Cleveland Cavaliers played so competitively against the Detroit Pistons during the last three games, after struggling against the Washington Wizards and getting blown out in the first two games of the series with the aforementioned Detroit Pistons. Just how did the Cavaliers manage to win three straight games against the team who put up the best record in the NBA during the regular season? Many theories have been bandied about, but none dumber than the one given by Peter Vecsey.

THERE are plenty of intox icating reasons why the Cavaliers are one exacting win away from purging the pious Pistons from the playoffs and pole-vaulting into a showdown with Padre Riles' holier-than-thou Heat for the Eastern Conference title.

Indeed there have, Peter. Why, I got drunk on three of the reasons this very evening.

Without question, the most important reason has been the unified support and reverence shown one of their teammates in his time of torment. Larry Hughes and his mother, Vanessa, weren't left to mourn the death of 20-year-old Justin by their lonesome.

That's right. The real reason why the Cavaliers are managing so much success against the Detroit Pistons is all due to the fact that the death of Justin Hughes so neatly coincided with Game 3 of the series. The Cavaliers' success is not due to LeBron James's triple double in Game 3. Nor is it the result of the emergence of Cavalier forward Anderson Varejao, who has more than doubled his regular season points per game average during this playoff series. And most certainly it has nothing to do because of the horrific shooting of Rasheed Wallace, who in the three Pistons losses scored a total of 25 points on 9 for 34 shooting. In the regular season, Wallace averaged 15 points a game and in the Milwaukee Bucks series, he averaged 17 points a game.

The Cavaliers can only count themselves lucky that Justin Hughes had the good sense to die when the Cavaliers needed a victory the most. I'm sure Larry feels much better knowing his brother died for such a good cause.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Parity In Being Incorrect

Jay Bilas may be one of the most intelligent people ever hired by ESPN, being a lawyer and all that, but when you're wrong you're wrong. And Bilas is wrong. In his article, Bilas explains why he thinks there is not increasing parity in college basketball, contrary to popular belief. The key reasoning behind his argument is the notion that the current mid-majors are no better than the mid-majors of twenty years ago. Admittedly, I was skeptical of Bilas's extreme confidence in his conclusions so I decided to look at the numbers to see if in fact the mid-majors of today are no better than their predecessors.

To do this, I split up the last twenty tournaments (1987-2006) into two ten-year periods. My definition of what constitutes a mid-major institution came from the conferences eligible for's Mid-Major Poll. Then I calculated the average margin of victory between the 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, 4 vs. 13, and 5 vs. 12 match-ups. Whenever there was an upset of a mid-major lower seed over a major higher seed, I counted the loss as a negative margin of victory for the higher seed. On the few occasions when two major programs or two mid-major programs were facing off each other, I discarded the result altogether.

The reason why I only looked at first-round results is because I thought that would give me the best indicator of how well the lower tiered schools matched up against the traditional powerhouses. Most of my reasoning for this comes from the fact the first round is the only round the Tournament Selection Committee has any control over. Therefore, it would provide an accurate enough assessment of how mid-majors stack up against major college basketball programs.

Here are the results, measured in points. The average margins of victory for 1987-1996 are listed first and the ones for 1997-2006 are listed second.

1 vs. 16: 24.2, 26.3
2 vs. 15: 18.7, 14.8
3 vs. 14: 10.6, 11.6
4 vs. 13: 12.1, 9.0
5 vs. 12: 8.6, 3.9

As you can see, there is strong evidence that debunks the thinking espoused by Jay Bilas. While the 1 seeds have increased their dominance marginally over the 16 seeds over the past ten years and the 3 seeds are basically holding pat over the 14 seeds, the other higher seeds have been unable to keep up their margins of victory over the mid-majors. Most noticeably is how the disparity between the 5 and 12 seeds has basically disappeared with the margin of victory for the 5 seeds being reduced by more than 50 percent.

It will be interesting to see if the average victory margins continue to decrease, or in the case of the 1 and 3 seeds begin to decrease, over the next ten years.

Oh, The Good Old Days

While it may be hard to remember with the likes of Ken Dorsey and Alex Smith taking snaps under center, there was a time when the 49ers were not the laughingstock of the NFL...

Colin Cowherd Dumb Statement of the Day (Joga Bonito)

Soccer, or football depending upon which continent you were birthed, is the world's most popular sport. Yet, in the United States, the sport is largely ignored by the media and on the few occasions soccer is mentioned, journalists take great pride in denigrating it. One of the more prevalent reasons given for why soccer is not given the airtime it deserves is because it is not exciting enough. Apparently, soccer is boring. This comes from the same people who will watch a three hour and thirty minute American football game where the ball is only in play 7-10 minutes. Go figure.

Which brings me to Colin Cowherd, one idiot among many working for ESPN radio. During one his segments, he launched into a diatribe about how stoppage time made absolutely no sense. He then likened it to the Seahawks getting seven extra downs after time expired in the Super Bowl. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows how ridiculous Colin's analogy was. Soccer games are played with a running clock so no matter what happens, be it an injury, a dispute between players and referees, substitutions, handing out yellow or red cares, or pausing the game for goal celebrations, the clock continues to run. Therefore, stoppage time allows the referee to make allowances for any time lost due to the aforementioned situations.

Diametrically, the clock during football games stops for any number of reasons. Some instances include a player running out of bounds, timeout being called, and a change of possession. So contrary to what Colin Cowherd may believe, there is no reason to add on extra time since teams do not lose any time during regulation.

If Colin's idiocy had stopped there, then there would be no need for a post, but unfortunately, it continued. During another segment, an e-mailer wrote in, and rightfully questioned the choice of the name football for a sport where kicking comprises such a small percentage of the action. Colin reacted as if someone had keyed his car. In answer to the e-mailer's question, he proceeded to ask, well, what did the word soccer have to do with the sport of soccer since none of the players "socked" the ball. Colin, if he wasn't a dumbass, would have realized the e-mailer was really saying football was a more appropriate name for the sport Americans call soccer than it is for the sport the rest of the world calls American football. If he wasn't a dumbass.

Not Big Blue Anymore

Matt Hayes, from the Sporting News, seems surprised at the idea that Lloyd Carr, head football coach for the Michigan Wolverines, might be on the hot seat. What is surprising to me is that Hayes is even surprised that Carr is on the hot seat. Yet, he insists on trying to make an argument for why Carr should not be on the hot seat and should, in effect, be given a free pass for what seems like eternity. Unfortunately, he leaves out key facts about Carr's true effect on Michigan football.

So I'm on a radio show in Michigan the other day and the host begins our lovely conversation with this jewel: "Since Lloyd Carr is on the hot seat ... " He then goes off on a tirade — I kid you not, I was throwing a tennis ball to my dog to pass the time — about the lousy state of the Michigan program, thus underscoring the concept of talk radio: He who yells the loudest wins.

Now I hate sports radio hosts as much as anyone, but if you had maybe listened to some of the points the host made and if they were actually valid points, then maybe you wouldn't have rushed home to dash off this foolish article.

Let's review the Carr resume in 11 seasons at Michigan, shall we?
  • One national championship.
  • Five Big Ten titles (ties count, people).
  • 102 wins in 136 career games.
  • No NCAA issues.
  • And, saving the best for last: He somehow has found a way to make TV sideline reporters look even more useless than they are.
You know what? You are exactly correct. That is a very impressive resume so I am going to turn my computer off and go buy a "Lloyd Carr is God" bumper sticker. Oh wait, I have received some valuable information about your precious Lloyd Carr, which may make that resume just a little more accurate.

In Carr's first five years at Michigan, he coached the Wolverines to one national championship, a 3-2 record in bowl games, and a sparkling 4-1 record against Michigan's rival, Ohio State. His teams also averaged 9.8 wins and 2.6 losses a season, helped in large part by the undefeated 1997 season. Certainly not a bad record for a coach in his first five years.

However, in the 2000s when Carr should have been able to parlay his national championship into establishing Michigan as a truly pre-eminent program, he failed to do so. Instead, Michigan football has regressed. Carr's teams have not fared as well in bowl games going 2-4 and they also have failed to have a winning record against Ohio State, also going 2-4. In addition, the teams are only averaging 8.8 wins a season while losing 3.5 games per season, one win less than the first five years of Carr's tenure. I say only because Michigan football is held to a higher standard.

Has Michigan underachieved of late? No question.

It is even worse than just a matter of underachieving. The Michigan football program is eroding. With national powerhouses, such as Michigan and Miami, there is no precipitous fall a person can point to to say that is the point where it all went to hell. Instead, the programs gradually erode as each is currently doing. The very best players go to other universities. They start to struggle with schools they were blowing out a couple years ago. They can't go six seasons without losing less than three games. Whether or not Michigan can turn it around is questionable since Lloyd Carr was never a great head coach.

The reality is Carr has done as much as, or more than, any of the previous all-exalted coaches in Ann Arbor. Since the Associated Press first began naming national champions in 1936, Michigan has won two AP titles: in 1948 under Bennie Oosterbaan — yeah, that Bennie Oosterbaan — and under Carr in 1997.

When a retarded kid scores an IQ of 75 and all his other friends only manage an IQ score of 65, Mensa is not going to come knocking on his door.

I kindly remind Mr. Host that since 2000, three teams (Oklahoma, Ohio State and LSU) have followed five-loss seasons with national titles. Suddenly, there is silence.

And I will kindly remind you that those three teams won national titles in the upswing of their programs with relatively new head coaches, not in their declining years with an average coach. Oklahoma won the national title in Bob Stoops' second year. Ohio State won their championship in Jim Tressel's second year. Last, but not least, LSU won the BCS championship in Nick Saban's fourth season as head coach.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Giving Credit Where It Is Due

Whenever a team improves drastically from one season to the next as it looks like the Detroit Tigers will do, it is always fun to try to discover the root of their improvement. Perhaps a player is performing up to his capabilities this season whereas he underperformed last year. Or maybe the improvement comes from the addition of players who are contributing more than their predecessors. And then there is always the possibility that a player who spent most of last season on the disabled list is healthy and producing again like he is expected to do. All of these are possible keys to figuring out a team's success. That is, unless your name is Mike Celizic and your IQ is barely higher than Forrest Gump's. Then all a team's success can be attributed to the hiring of a new manager. In the case of the Detroit Tigers, Jim Leyland.

In no sport does the man who runs the team get less credit and more blame than in baseball.

Once a team gets on the field, the manager has little impact on the game. One could even argue that lots of times teams win despite the best efforts of the manager to waste outs with foolish hit-and-run calls, stolen base attempts, sacrifice bunts, not letting his best players get the most plate appearances, and inefficiently using their team's bullpen.

And yet for all that, it is recognized that some managers are better than others. There aren’t many of them, but they’re the guys who always seem to make teams better.

Now, there’s Jim Leyland, last seen on Colorado’s bench in 1999, where he pulled a Larry Brown and quit on the team and himself after one awful season as a lousy facsimile of the savior-designate he was hired to be.

Now, Jim Leyland is one of those managers who always seems to make teams better. Oh, except when he's not.

They’re essentially the same team that couldn’t win an intrasquad game last year. The single biggest difference between now and then is Leyland.

The single biggest difference between from the Tigers last year and the Tigers this year is not Jim Leyland. There are lots of differences between the way these Tigers are performing compared to last year. Let's look at all the differences between last year and this year.

First, let's look at the pitching staff. During the 2005 season, where the Detroit Tigers posted a record of 71-91, the pitching staff was frankly an average staff. Collectively, the Detroit Tigers pitchers put together a 4.51 ERA, four percent worse than the league average. They also managed to strike out less batters per nine innings than the league average while posting a league average WHIP. Combine those statistics with the fact that the Tigers also gave up thirteen percent more home runs per nine innings than the league average and it is no wonder the team finished up the season ten games below .500. The problems with the pitching staff were due in large part to giving a large amount of starts to a mediocre pitcher (Jason Johnson) and the rest of the staff being young and right on the cusp of figuring out how to succeed on the major league level.

Contrast that to the pitching staff of the 2006 Detroit Tigers. Jason Johnson is no longer with the team since he signed with the Cleveland Indians and the Tigers shored up the rotation with Kenny Rogers, who has pitched very well for the team so far. In addition, they have added rookie Justin Verlander to starting rotation and another rookie Joel Zumaya to the bullpen. Both have been productive for the Tigers. Most importantly, though, the Tigers have improved overall as a pitching staff. The team ERA is 3.27, a forty-four percent improvement over the league average. While their strikeouts per nine innings is still below the league average, it is better than it was a year ago. Also, the Tigers pitchers have drastically reduced how many home runs they give up per nine innings. Now they are fifty percent better than the league average in that category. In other words, the pitching staff is better this year in every day.

Now, let's look at how their hitting has changed from 2005 to 2006. In 2005, the Detroit Tigers were basically an average hitting team. Their on-base percentage was lower than the league average, but they were fractionally better than the league average in terms of slugging percentage and batting average.

What a difference a year makes, though. The Tigers have been able to find more at-bats for Chris Shelton, who has responded by slugging .664, a monstrous sum. They have also managed to keep their strongest bats healthy, which they were unable to do last year with Magglio Ordonez going down after 81 games. The most important thing, though, is that they have improved overall hitting-wise. Their numbers are up across the board, most importantly their slugging percentage, which is the hitting statistic which provides the highest correlation to scoring runs. Now, the Detroit Tigers are slugging ten percentage more than the league average.

Another improvement the Tigers have made is in their defensive efficiency. Last year, they ranked fifteenth out of thirty teams in defensive efficiency. This year, they are tied for first.

So either the real reason is that as a whole the team is managing to play better. Or it is the mere presence of Jim Leyland in the dugout that is the reason. Just remember, if i wear a certain hat and my favorite team wins, it doesn't mean the team won the game because I was wearing my hat.

It’s hard to make a baseball team win; some would say it’s impossible. That’s because the nature of the game is such that the harder you try to succeed, the more likely you are to fail.

Another patently idiotic proclamation. If baseball was a game where the harder you try, the more likely you are to fail, then explain to me why baseball players put themselves through grueling off-season workouts to get in shape for the long haul of the season. Or why baseball players bother taking batting practice or watching video of their at-bats. Or fielding groundballs or pop-ups before the game. According to you, doing all those things just makes the players worse.

A routine throw from the shortstop to the first basemen only looks routine because he's practiced it, oh, about a million times in his life.

But Leyland makes teams win. He’s personally intense, but in a feet-on-the-desk kind of way. In an age in which managers talk increasingly like CEOs, he’s gnarly and lean, his speech is peppered with profanities, and he’s so far managed to live 61 years without hearing the news that tobacco is bad for your health.

A real man's man, that Leyland. I bet he even eats nails for breakfast. Maybe that's why for his managing career, entering this season, his win-loss record was 1069-1131, a winning percentage of .486. Because a real badass doesn't need to win games to prove how great a manager he is.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Game Will Be Televised, People

There is no denying that soccer/football as a sport possesses some of the most skilled athletes in the world, but while it may be a beautiful sport to watch, the hooliganism and fanaticism surrounding the sport gives it one of the seediest underbellies among professional sports. When four-story brothels are not being built in close proximity to where the World Cup games will be held from June 9-July 9 or when fans are not attacking the players of their favorite team because the players lost one game, soccer fans find time to try to commit armed robbery in order to get tickets for the Championship League final game.

Seriously, watching the game on television works, too. Well, maybe I can understand holding a gun to someone's head to see something like this in person...

Or This...

Don't Believe The Hype

Or, in this particular case, don't believe a baseball team's win-loss record without examining the underlying variables. Ted Robinson has fallen into the same trap that catches many unsuspecting sports journalists and followers who fall in love with a team's record in the early part of a season. There are some instances where a team's early success continues throughout the whole season, but there are just as many instances where a team gets off to a fast start only to fall off in the end. So why is that?

In Robinson's article, he discusses the Colorado Rockies who now sit atop the NL West standings and predicts they have what it takes to contend for the league title for the whole season. While this is probably nice for Rockies fans to hear, it is also a misleading claim. Especially coming after the Rockies have lost five of their last seven games.

After only 67 wins in 2005, many figured on another losing year for Colorado, but instead early indications point towards the Rockies being improved enough that they could stay in the N.L. West race all season.

Actually, early indications point to them finishing the season somewhere around .500. If only you knew the right data to look at Ted. To this point, the Rockies have won twenty games while losing fifteen, but they have done this mostly with smoke and mirrors and luck. While their record indicates they have been better than most of their opponents, the Rockies have actually been outscored, 180 to 185.

That brings me to the Pythagenport formula used to predict what a team's record will be at the end of the season by using a team's runs scored and a team's runs allowed. This is not a secret formula. It has been around for years, and has been proven to be pretty accurate. According to the Pythangenport formula, if the Rockies and their NL West counterparts continue to score at the same pace, the Rockies will finish fourth out of five teams. Whether or not this changes during the season will require the Rockies to score more runs while keeping their opponents from crossing home plate.

Another team whose current winning percentage is a smokescreen for their flaws are the Philadelphia Phillies: 178 runs scored; 179 runs allowed. Conversely, a team who will end up improving on their win-loss record is the Atlanta Braves: 202 runs scored, 184 runs allowed. Look for those teams to soon flip-flop places in the NL East.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Here's Peter

After a two-week hiatus from making insanely idiotic statements, Peter King is back in rare form.

1. I think this is why Carl Banks is becoming a very good radio analyst and why Sirius' NFL Radio channel is lucky to have him. We were talking the other day about how Bill Parcells is rebuilding the Dallas front seven in the image of the old Giants. We got done with that and I asked him what he thought of the LaVar Arrington signing. He liked it, sort of. "I like LaVar,'' Banks said, "but, to me, he's about 50 percent of what he should be. He's got to be more productive than he's been.'' Banks said he doesn't know if the Giants will be able to get Arrington's potential out of him.

That is your criteria for determining whether or not a person is going to make a good analyst? The fact Carl Banks sort of likes LaVar Arrington, but thinks he needs to play better? If that is the case, then you will love my analysis of you because I think that you should maybe, sort of throw your computer and tape recorder out of the window because you are maybe, sort one of the worst sports writers in the country.

2. I think Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has two very good years left in him.

What do you even mean? Mike Holmgren is not a thirty-year-old running back with decreasing speed and a history of injuries. He is a head coach. And head coaches can be unhealthy as they want to be (see Bill Parcells) and still be very effective. So, unless Holmgren is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, maybe you should edit what you write before you turn it in. Then you won't sound like a moron.

For the purposes of this post, I will post a claim by Peter King out of context (surprise!) to show how he continually contradicts himself.

c. Not that I know baseball,

Far be it from me to disagree with Peter on this one, but it comes right after he makes this statement...

a. Memo to all the baseball players who voted in the Sports Illustrated poll of players and said Derek Jeter is baseball's most overrated player: You've gotta be kidding.

Actually, Peter, Derek Jeter is overrated, but I really don't feel like showing you all the statistics to support my argument. Just remember this. Being overrated means you are perceived, in this case by sports journalists and fans alike, to have more ability and talent than your production indicates. And when you are making $20.6 million a year, it is hard to be anything but overrated.

And this statement...

b. Albert Pujols is on pace for an 81-homer, 200-RBI season.

Actually, he's on pace for a 89-homer season. Over his first five seasons in the major leagues, Pujols has averaged 591 at-bats. So far into this season, he has hit 19 homers in 126 at-bats. If he stays on that pace, he will hit 89 home runs, not 81. Both numbers are ridiculous because we all know he won't stay on his torrid pace.

e. Heck of a job on the Dakoda Dowd-and-her-cancer-stricken-mom story on Mother's Day on ESPN by Chris Connelly. If you didn't cry watching that, you don't have tear ducts.

What is it with you and thinking tears automatically ensure a great story? I said it before and I will say it again. Getting the person being interviewed to cry or the viewer to cry does not make anyone a good journalist. In fact, the best story is one that is informative and not one that preys on someone's emotions.

f. Tried to watch part of Game 4, Heat-Nets. Failed.

Incorrect. You succeeded in watching part of Game 4, Heat-Nets. You failed in watching all of Game 4, Heat-Nets.

h. I've got some plans in the works for how you can do your part to help New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Stay tuned. Might be fun.

Here's some help in dealing with the New Orleans situation. Don't rebuild it. It is a city located below sea-level in an area regularly ravaged by hurricanes. You'd have to be foolish to rebuild there.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Two Forgotten Players

One of the injustices that have resulted from this country's newfound love for Babe Ruth is that other great baseball players are being forgotten and their statistics being diminished. Contrary to how the media may portray has chosen to present its information, there were other baseball players who picked up a bat and left their impact on the game. Two such baseball players are Ted Williams and Larry Doby.

If only for a different set of circumstances, perhaps we would be talking about Ted Williams as the greatest hitter in the history of baseball. We will never know how Williams's career would have played out had he been able to play out all his prime years. However, we do know what did happen when Ted Williams stepped into the batter's box. He performed. During the first four years of his career, Williams posted a .370 EqA, one of the fastest starts ever, past or present. Unfortunately for Ted's batting statistics, his playing career took a three-year hiatus during which he traded his bat and glove for a plane's cockpit since he was a fighter pilot during World War II.

Despite his extended vacation from the game, when Ted Williams came back, he picked up right where he had left off. During the next six years, Williams put up extraordinary batting averages, on-base percentages, and slugging percentages. Then, in 1952 because of the Korean War, Williams again forfeited a year of his baseball career to fight for his country. He was thirty-three at the time, and by every statistical account still very much in the prime of his career. As if every year was anything but a prime year for Ted Williams.

To get some idea of the home run production Ted Williams probably would have put up had he played, I will take the liberty of prorating the numbers we do have. Taking out Williams's truncated 1952 season, he averaged 428 at-bats per season. In addition, he averaged a home run for every 14.8 at-bats. Let's say Williams remained healthy during the four seasons he was fighting in a war and got as many at-bats as his average indicates. This would give him 1,712 additional at-bats with which to do damage and would in all likelihood have allowed him to hit 116 more home runs, raising his career total to 637. Although this is still well short of Ruth's 715, it is nothing to sneeze at and I am only using what Williams averaged as a basis for my home run number. He gave up most of his power years so perhaps he would have hit more than 637.

Even though Williams did not take full advantage of his youth, he still ranks among the best in many statistical categories. He ranks first in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, second in OPS and adjusted OPS+, and sixth in runs created.

Larry Doby may not have left the statistical imprint on baseball that Ted Williams left, but this in no way makes him less important. Even the most casual of sports fans can tell you that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Yet, Larry Doby also broke the color barrier because he was the first black player in the American League. On July 5, 1947, eleven weeks after Robinson made his first appearance in the major leagues, Doby made his own debut. The pressure on Doby, and Robinson, was greater even than the racism they had to experience from players and fans alike. Their success or failure was going to determine whether or not other black players would be allowed to play Major League Baseball. Luckily, Doby acquitted himself as well as Jackie Robinson.

During his career, Doby posted a career .308 EqA, only incrementally worse than Robinson's .309 EqA. Doby may not have been as good a hitter as Robinson batting average-wise, but he hit with a lot more power. This is evidenced by his 253 home runs, more than Robinson's 137 home runs. The number is slightly skewed due to the fact Doby started his career at the age of 23 compared to Robinson making his debut when he was 28. Still, Doby had a higher slugging percentage (.490 to .474) and his isolated power edge was even greater (.207 to .163). Doby also had a slightly better OPS+ (136 to 132) so his career is not only equal to Jackie Robinson's, but may even be better than Robinson's. However, his being second to Jackie Robinson in breaking the color barrier has cost him a lot of recognition.

So the next time someone tries to force Babe Ruth down your throat, kindly remind him/her there was other great baseball players.