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Thread: DiMaggio or Williams?

  1. #1
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    Williams or DiMaggio?

    I just finished skimming thru "The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract", and so I now I have a vague understanding of his Win Shares system for rating player value (= contribution to WINNING GAMES thru hitting, fielding and/or pitching). Offensive contribution is judged mainly by "runs created", and each player's contribution to runs created is measured mainly by (OBA)*(TB). Win Share totals also include contributions as a fielder.

    A truly GREAT player will have some seasons with 30 or more Win Shares. Some Hall of Famers will have a season with 40 or more WS, but most fall short even in their best seasons.

    TED WILLIAMS was the youngest left fielder ever to earn 30 Win Shares (32 in 1939, when he had 145 RBI at age 20); and Ted was the OLDEST left fielder to score 30 WS when he hit .388 at age 38. In between, he missed 30 WS only in those seasons when he was injured, or when he was in military service. Ted had 30 or more Win Shares in TEN different seasons -- 40 or more in five of those seasons -- and he finished his career with 555 WS (39.2 per 162 games played). Only Babe Ruth (RF) has a higher Win Share average per 162 games. Bill James ranks Williams as the #1 left fielder of all time.

    JOE DIMAGGIO played from 1936 thru 1951 (essentially a contempory of Ted Williams). In his career DiMaggio had SIX seasons with 30 Win Shares or more, but only ONCE did he reach 40. (Actually, 41 WS in his MVP year of 1941 -- when Williams had 42.) Joe ended his career with 387 Win Shares, or 36.1 per 162 games played. James ranks Joe as the #5 Center Fielder of all time (behind Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle and Tris Speaker).

    So how did it happen that from his retirement until his death, JOE DiMAGGIO was widely proclaimed as our "GREATEST LIVING BALLPLAYER"? Is the Bill James Win Shares method that far off the mark?
    pb::

  2. #2

    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    Joe DiMaggio was a golden boy from California who played for the NUMEROUS championship winning Yankees. He was a snappy dresser, had upper class mannerisms, married Marilyn Monroe, and just played without much controversy. I have no respect for him because of his stand on the integration of baseball, but as a ball player, you are right, he cannot compare to....

    Ted Williams. The system is right, and the media would be wrong. Ted's problem is that he has that arrogant air, and he played for the ever-losing Red Sox. These two things kept him from getting the credit he deserved as 'Greatest Living Ballplayer'. I firmly believe that like politics, you have to play to the public and the Splendid Splinter didn't play.

    From Wagner, Vaughan and Traynor to Clemente, Stargell, and Tekulve...a proud tradition of excellence and hard work known as the Pittsburgh Pirates.
    uk::yes

  3. #3
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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?


    Joe ended his career the #5
    >Center Fielder of all time (behind Willie Mays, Ty Cobb,
    >Mickey Mantle and Tris Speaker).
    >
    >So how did it happen that from his retirement until his
    >death, JOE DiMAGGIO was widely proclaimed as our "GREATEST
    >LIVING BALLPLAYER"? Is the Bill James Win Shares method
    >that far off the mark?

    BASEBALL_TRIVIA_NUT

    Bill's results are objective, while Joe's are subjective,
    that's the reason for the disparity.

    As you know, objective analyses, are impartial,
    impersonal, and based upon facts and statistics,
    while subjective analyses are based on the same
    facts and statistics liberally doused with the "milk
    of human kindness" syndrome!

    So, in a conservative think tank poll, Reagan
    will always be selected over Clinton as the greater
    president, while, in a liberal think tank poll, Clinton
    will slaughter Reagan every time - the objective
    results of each presidency is doused with the feelings
    of the voters and the subjective analyses produces
    one winner in one venue and a different one in another!

    The poll declaring Dimaggio the winner was a
    subjective response from a select group of the media,
    so, from that perspective, you can understand the
    result - it was a subjective analysis, not an objective
    one - if the poll had been conducted by Ken Keltner's
    family in Ken Keltner's hometown, Ken might have won!

    Remember elementary school and the hated
    teacher's pet - you had the highest cumulative point
    average, but you weren't the cutest kid in the class,
    so, you know the rest of the story - in the eyes of the
    subjective voters, Joe was the cutest and that's that!

    Bottom line, if your family voted you ther greatest
    baseball fan who ever lived, who's going to argue
    with them?

    Have a good one!

    BASEBALL_TRIVIA_NUT

  4. #4
    shlevine42 Guest

    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    >So how did it happen that from his retirement until his
    >death, JOE DiMAGGIO was widely proclaimed as our "GREATEST
    >LIVING BALLPLAYER"? Is the Bill James Win Shares method
    >that far off the mark?

    The story I heard is that it was DIMAGGIO HIMSELF who insisted that he would appear at Old Timers Games ONLY if he could take the field last and be introduced as the "GREATEST LIVING BALLPLAYER."

    It was Joe's description of himself, and given what we now know about his obsession with his reputation,, it's a perfectly plausible story.

  5. #5
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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    » July 21, 1969: A gala All-Star Game banquet in Washington is one of baseball's great events. An all-time team and all-time living team is announced. Babe Ruth is selected Greatest All-Time Player, and Joe DiMaggio, Greatest Living Player.

    This is according to BAseballlibrary.

  6. #6
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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    Yes.
    Baseball articles you might not like but should read.

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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    Please elaborate on DiMaggio’s stand on the integration of baseball. Thank you.
    Baseball articles you might not like but should read.

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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    Cobb played very little CF. Crawford was the CF when with Detroit. Cobb outhit DiMaggio, but was nowhere near the fielder DiMag was.

    Between DiMaggio and Williams, I'd take Williams on his hitting, and durability. I'm 70 years old, and have seen thousands of games, and even more players. The "Thumper" is the greatest hitter I have ever seen, bar none. He hit under .300 only once, and that was in a shortened season. He hit .345, his first full season back from the Korean War. He hit .388 when he was 38-years-old. His last season he was 41, and he hit .316, with 29 homers, in 310 at bats. He was walked 2019 times, and struck out only 709. Incredible for a power hitter.

    Bob

  9. #9

    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    I read somewhere that DiMaggio was on the phone with the commissioner when Jackie Robinson entered MLB, and he protested Robinson's entry into the league. I can't find the source right now, but if I can't then I have no proof...if I don't find it then I retract that last statement because I guess I was suckered into thinking he did. BUT I do know that people have two lives, public and private. Let me look around..

    From Wagner, Vaughan and Traynor to Clemente, Stargell, and Tekulve...a proud tradition of excellence and hard work known as the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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  10. #10
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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    [updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-28-02 AT 03:53 PM (EDT)]As for strikeout ratios, both Williams and DiMaggio were outstanding -- especially when compared to today's power hitters. Ted Williams had 709 strikeouts in his career, which averages 2.85 walks per SO, and 9.2 strikeouts per 100 AB. Overall, Ted averaged 1.36 strikeouts per career homerun.

    DiMaggio had 369 career strikeouts in his 6821 career AB, and had 790 walks. His averages then are 2.14 walks per strikeout, and 5.4 strikeouts per 100 AB. Thru his career Joe averaged 1.02 strikeouts for each of his career 361 homeruns. In fact, DiMaggio went five consecutive seasons with fewer strikeouts than homeruns: 1937-1941!
    pb::

  11. #11
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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    >
    >Between DiMaggio and Williams, I'd take Williams on his
    >hitting, and durability. I'm 70 years old, and have seen
    >thousands of games, and even more players.
    >
    >Bob

    BASEBALL_TRIVIA_NUT

    Guys and gals, let's find out from an expert eyewitness
    who ranks as the 10 greatest hitters (notice I didn't say
    players, I want hitters) and the the 10 greatest pitchers
    he ever saw with his own two eyes - the eyewitness account
    always speaks volumes and here we have an expert who has seen
    the great ones play!

    Hopefully I am not imposing, since baseball trivia analysis
    is almost always a labor of love for the baseball trivia buff, so
    would you be able to share your thoughts on the above when you
    can.

    I would think that all of us rarely get to hear from the
    expert who has seen it all and has no political axe to grind
    and will just tell us like it is!

    So, again, if you would be so kind, let us know which hitters
    you actually saw who were the ten best, and which pitchers?
    And, to complete the pitcure, if you didn't get a chance to see
    some star hitters or pitchers, let us know, so we'll know why they
    did not make your list.

    Thanks in advance!





    BASEBALL_TRIVIA_NUT

  12. #12
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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    I don't have the source, but I remember reading (possibly in 1970 Sporting News Baseball Guide?) that at the time of Mickey Mantle's retirement in March of 1969, DiMaggio reportedly said something like: "They ought to hang his number higher than mine because he was the greatest player I ever saw." Had his anointment as "Greatest Living Player" come four months before Mantle's retirement rather than after, I wonder if he would have been willing to sound so humble.

  13. #13
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    RE: Williams or DiMaggio?

    [updated:LAST EDITED ON May-03-02 AT 06:25 PM (EDT)]> So, again, if you would be so kind, let us know which
    >hitters
    > you actually saw who were the ten best, and which
    >pitchers?
    > And, to complete the pitcure, if you didn't get a chance
    >to see
    > some star hitters or pitchers, let us know, so we'll know
    >why they
    > did not make your list.
    >

    My "best hitters" list:
    1. Ted Williams
    2. Mickey Mantle
    3 Harmon Killebrew
    4. Rod Carew
    5. Joe DiMaggio
    6. Dave Parker
    7. Tony Oliva
    8. Mike Schmidt
    9. Larry Doby
    10. Vern Stephens

    For pitchers:
    1. Bob Feller
    2. Billy Pierce
    3. Steve Carlton
    4. Jack Morris
    5. Bob Lemon
    6. Vic Raschi
    7. Vida Blue
    8. Jack Morris
    9. Frank Viola
    10. Jim Kaat

    Except for a few years in Pittsburgh (1975-78) my live game witnessing was limited to the American League. So I really did not see in person the great NL hitters like Musial, Mays, Foster or Aaron in person; or NL pitchers like Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan.
    Most of the games I remember from the 50's were White Sox against Yankees, Red Sox or Indians; in later years it was Pirates against the Phillies, and then Twins against Detroit.

    The main point for this post is I did see a number of White Sox games from 1947-1956 against Yankees or Red Sox. In those games Williams did far more damage than DiMaggio. Each Williams AB was exciting!
    pb::

  14. #14

    Williams v. DiMaggio

    I think this has long been one of the great questions of baseball, who was better, Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio?

    Looking at statistics, it's plain to see that Williams had a much longer career and was a phenomenal hitter right through his very last at-bat. As a hitter, he also had a much higher peak than DiMaggio. I think it's fair to say that while DiMaggio was a great hitter, Williams was a historic hitter.

    But, as with all things baseball, there is more than meets the eye. First, while Williams' offensive statistics benefited from the dimensions of Fenway, DiMaggio's were hindered by the huge and cavernous dimensions of old Yankee Stadium (can you imagine how high DiMaggio's average could have been as a right-handed hitter able to pepper balls off Fenway every day?). Given park adjustments, they're probably much closer as hitters than statistics say, though Williams was still likely the superior batsmen.

    But, of course, there is still more. DiMaggio was clearly the superior all around player. He approached all aspects of the game as Williams approached hitting - with a drive for perfection. DiMaggio's teams won, Williams' teams (like many Red Sox teams) were often bridesmaids but never the bride. DiMaggio did often have a better supporting cast (though Williams was on some pretty good Sox teams), but my perception of DiMaggio is he played more to win while Williams played more to be the best - and that's why I believe DiMaggio excelled more in all aspects of the game, while Williams had the higher offensive statistics.

    Additionally, DiMaggio appears to have been regarded more highly by the generation that remembers them both in their prime. The fact that in 1969 DiMaggio was voted greatest living ballplayer by a consensus of people who could very easily remember both players in their primes speaks volumes about who was perceived to be the better player and tells us a great deal more than simple stats on paper could ever tell.

    Now I can see easily picking Williams if we consider whole careers. But if we just consider the period at which these guys were at their best, then I don't think the answer is so clear.

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    If I had to have one of the two on my team, give me DiMaggio any day. The only part of the game where Williams was superior was putting the head of the bat on the ball, yet Joe D. was no slouch there either. It's like making an argument between Manny and Ichiro, sure, Manny's numbers generally look sexier, but Ichiro does everything you could ever ask of a ballplayer.
    "Dum vixi, bibi libenter. bibite vos, qui vivitis!" "While I lived, I drank freely, you who still live, drink!" Roman Epitaph B 243

  16. #16
    Probably no other great hitter was hurt by his home park as much as Joe DiMaggio was. He hit .315 with 148 home runs in Yankee Stadium, but .333 with 213 home runs on the road. The split of home runs is quite amazing - no other player with 300 or more career homers hit as high a percentage on the road.

    Ted Williams also hit more homers on the road than at home - 273 on the road, 248 at home - but his average was much higher at Fenway, .361 to .328. And yes, if you're being observant, that mean DiMaggio actually outhit Williams on the road, .333 to .328.

    Having said that, and acknowledging that DiMaggio was the better fielder and baserunner, I'd still take Williams, because his hitting was so exceptional, park effects or not. Williams' career OBP of .482 is one of the most mind-boggling stats in baseball (and dwarfs DiMaggio's .398) and Williams' career SLP is also far better, .634 to .579.

    Williams was also probably a better presence in the clubhouse. Yes, he had spats with the press, but was friendly with teammates at the park (although he didn't socialise with many away from the park), and would always talk hitting with any player who wanted to. DiMaggio, on the other hand, was aloof and disliked by many teammates.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by improbus
    If I had to have one of the two on my team, give me DiMaggio any day. The only part of the game where Williams was superior was putting the head of the bat on the ball, yet Joe D. was no slouch there either. It's like making an argument between Manny and Ichiro, sure, Manny's numbers generally look sexier, but Ichiro does everything you could ever ask of a ballplayer.
    Yeah, Manny is a truly great hitter, but he's a lazy, selfish waste who slips and/or misplays half the balls hit to him in LF. You can put on number on how much he helps his team hitting, but you can't put a number on how much he hurts the Sox with his generally awful fielidng. Herein lies on of the problems of stats. There are team players and guys who play for themselves and their own stats. Dimaggio and Ichiro are great examples of the former, Manny and Rickey Henderson are two great examples of the latter.

    I'll also take Dimaggio in a heartbeat. His statistics weren't better, but he was a better baseball player- and everyone knew it when they actually played.
    Last edited by csh19792001; 08-23-2004 at 09:59 PM.

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    Teddy Ballgame blows Joltin' Joe out of the water when it comes to some of the more sabermetric stats (if you're into them):

    Code:
              EQA | EQR | BRAR | BRAA | WARP2 | WARP3 |  RC/648 PA | Win Shares/648 PA 
    WILLIAMS  .364  2040  1394   1162   169.6   173.7    155.994      36.739
    DIMAGGIO  .327  1411   824    613   121.2   123.9    132.286      32.691

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by csh19792001

    Appling,
    What year were you born?

    To answer your question, Yankee stadium is typically poor for batting average, but good for power numbers (mainly for lefties that are pull hitters). When death valley was 467, it was bad for EVERYTHING offensively for righties. As leecemark (I believe) justly pointed out, OPS+ is very decieving, especially in the old days, when parks had bizarre dimensions and were typically quite different for righties vs. lefties. The park adjustment does NOT take this into account, and hence guys like Dimaggio get somewhat routed.

    We can intuit from this data (splits) that Gehrig and Ruth were not really pull hitters, and certainly not dead pull hitters, like Mel Ott. And it's nice that contemporary observations agree with the statistical evidence, for a change.

    People always rumored the Dimag/Williams trade, and supposed what their numbers would have been. In fact, I believe there is a book out that largely concerns the trade issue and what would have happened. To be sure, both would have looked much better offensively when all was said and done.
    http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseb...gio-mantle.stm
    Last edited by csh19792001; 08-26-2004 at 03:19 PM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Appling


    BTW: I know the Joe DiMaggio is the only Yankee RH hitter ever to hit 40 homerun in a season. But: has any Red Sox LH hitter (other than Williams) ever hit 40 homeruns in a season?
    I have to check for other players, but I know Carl Yastrzemski had at least three.
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  21. #21
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    I tried to respond to your earlier post, but then that disappeared.
    I was born in 1935, and saw my early MLB games at old Comiskey Park.

    Some of you in BF say that Yankee Stadium was a pitcher's park, especially tough on RH hitters. It should be nothing compared with Old Comiskey -- the "World's Most Perfect" ballpark. That park was perfectly symmetrical -- 352 down the foul lines and something like 440 in center field.

    Gus Zernial had the White Sox record when he hit 29 in 1950. NOt exactly a dream park for homerun hitters. Tougher park IMO than Yankee Stadium.
    Last edited by Appling; 08-26-2004 at 04:09 PM.
    Luke

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appling
    I tried to respond to you earlier post, but then that disappeared.
    I was born in 1935, and saw my early MLB games at old Comiskey Park.

    Some of you here say that Yankee Stadium was a pitcher's park, especially tough on RH hitters. It should be nothing compared with Old Comiskey -- the "World's Most Perfect" ballpark. That park was perfectly symmetrical -- 352 down the foul lines and something like 440 in center field.

    Gus Zernial had the White Sox record when he hit 29 in 1950. NOt exactly a dream park for homerun hitters. Tougher park IMO than Yankee Stadium.
    Yankee Stadium's always had really short foul lines... and really long everything else. For most of its history, these were the dimensions:

    LF foul pole: 301
    Left side of left field bullpen gate (about 30 feet, laterally, from the foul line: 402
    Right side of bullpen gate: 415
    Left center: 490 (dropped to 457 in 1937)
    Center Field: 487 (dropped to 461 in 1937)
    Right center: 429 (dropped to 407 in 1937)
    Left side of right field bullpen gate: 367
    Right side of right field bullpen gate: 344
    RF foul pole: 295

    So yeah, Yankee stadium had short foul poles... but it swung away from there VERY quickly. The fences today are a whole lot closer in than this in left field... the place where, today, monument park is and the walkway that leads there from the left field spiralling ramp up to the upper deck all used to be in play.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appling
    BTW: I know the Joe DiMaggio is the only Yankee RH hitter ever to hit 40 homerun in a season. But: has any Red Sox LH hitter (other than Williams) ever hit 40 homeruns in a season?
    Yaz, Mo Vaughn, soon to be David Ortiz...
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

  24. #24
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    What's amazing about Yankee Stadium is that DiMaggio is the only RH hitter ever to reach 40 HR in a season -- while so many LH hitters have done the deed.

    Does anyone here have stats by ballpark (just AL is fine with me) -- to compare best HR season for RH and best for LH hitter, by team?
    Luke

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appling
    What's amazing about Yankee Stadium is that DiMaggio is the only RH hitter ever to reach 40 HR in a season -- while so many LH hitters have done the deed.

    Does anyone here have stats by ballpark (just AL is fine with me) -- to compare best HR season for RH and best for LH hitter, by team?
    Well, not too many LH hitters... as I recall, it's the Babe, Lou Gehrig, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Jason Giambi, Tino Martinez... and, I think that's it.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

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