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Thursday, August 17, 2006

 

Stat Rat

Stat Rat reports on both baseball and basketball today.

The basketball is more of an interesting fact than a stat. As reported by ESPN.com, Dikembe Mutombo is opening a hospital in his native Congo, where the average life expectancy for men is only 42 years. He has donated $15 million of his own money to the project. Mutombo was on a pre-med scholarship at G'Town before being recruited by John Thompson his Sophomore year. Let's just say he picked things up quickly.

More statistically speaking, let's look at Cal Ripken's career stats. My uncle says he would be very borderline for the Hall of Fame if not for 3,000 hits and "the streak". He did play 20 seasons, and longevity is important for The Hall. He was a career .278 hitter with a .340 OBP, batting over .300 just four times in full seasons, with a career high of .323 in 1991. He hit 431 HR's with a high of 34, and had 1695 RBI with a career high of 114. All of his career highs came in 1991. His 162 game average is 23 HR and 91 RBI. In his defense, shortstop was not considered a power-hitting position during this time. Statistically, these are not terrific numbers for his career, and much less than I expected.

Here is my case for him though- the intangibles: In the playoffs, he raised his game as great players do and hit .336 with a .411 OBP in 28 games. He made 19 consecutive All-Star teams, the most ever for the AL team, and trails only Aaron, Mays, and Musial for all-time appearances (he was MVP in 2 of these games). He also won 2 AL MVP's (but so did Juan Gonzalez), 8 Silver Slugger Awards, and 2 Gold Gloves. He led the league in hits, runs, and doubles once each, however, is also the all-time leader in Grounding into Double Plays (but he's followed on the list by Aaron and Yaz).

I think the simple fact that he amassed these stats is the most impressive, he was the definition of consistency and a leader. It is still up for debate whether it is greater to hit .330/40/120 for ten years or do .278/23/91 for twenty years. Ripken did not dominate statistically, but he did dominate the game.

What's your take? In or out?

Tomorrow: Mike Mussina in The Hall of Fame?

Comments:
IN... If you take away the streak, he is still in. Take away the 3,000 hits... Ummmm well then it is up for debate and a most likely NO. So what is your question asking? Are you asking if he would be in without the streak? Or at all.

Bottom line. The streak is a top 5 baseball record. Pretty unbreakable. Doable, but improbable. Owning that prestigious a record gets you in on its own. Especially b/c (as you cited) The Hall is obsessed with consistency. 3,000 hits is like 500 HR's. Basically a ticket punch to Cooperstown. In fact, in the steroid era, I think the 3,000 hits is now more impressive than the 500 HR criteria.

Look at HAll of Famer Ernie Banks' numbers: .274 BA, 512 HR, 2583 Hits, 1636 RBI.

Cal has better #'s (except for HR's)from the SS position, plus "The Streak." ALSO, numbers never reflect leadership, hustle, and the level of respect a player gets. Cal was a class act on and off the field. Today we have to watch a$$holes like Bonds, Pedro, and Manny put up Hall Of Fame numbers with a classless demeanor. Not to mention 'Roid Monkeys like McGuire and Sosa will be appearing on the ballot shortly. I think Ripken is a refreshing NO-BRAINER for the committee.
 
Good points. I agree with no-brainer. And "roid-monkeys" just became my new favorite saying.

My uncle, originator of the 'Stat Rat' ideas offers this counterpoint via email:

Ripken didn't deserve 19 straight all-star games. A good number of them were due to the fact that the starters are picked by the fans, making it a pure popularity contest. Speaking of intangibles, what about the fact that, for about the last 6 years of his career, most of his teammates thought that Ripken was incredibly selfish for insisting on playing every game when he clearly needed a rest. I think that, if he had taken 5 games a year off, his stats would have been much better. Take a look at his last year when he didn't play every day and had one of the highest batting averages of his career. If you want to see real mediocrity in the Hall, check Don Sutton's stats. He won over 300 games because he managed to stick around for close to 100 years. He only hit 20 wins once and had a terrible career winning percentage (so did Nolan Ryan). I'm a big believer that 10 years of dominance is far better than 23 years of compiling mediocre numbers.
 
Staying healthy for a long time gets you into the Hall of Fame on its own? I don't think so. Playing all those years without missing a game is pretty amazing, but it doesn't make Ripken an all-time great. Banks's numbers are clearly superior. Their career BAs were almost identical (.274 v. .276), but Banks's slugging percentage was .053 higher than Ripken's (.550 v. .447 -- and he played in an era when shortstops were REALLY not power hitters). Banks had 81 more homers (512 v. 431) and almost exactly the same number of RBIs (1636 v. 1695, but he played in almost 500 fewer games and had 2100 fewer at-bats. (And remember, he managed to drive in all those runs on some really bad teams.)

I'm a big believer that 10 stellar years is far better (and more Hall-worthy) than 25 years of amassing mediocre numbers. Who would you rather have on your team -- Sandy Koufax or Don Sutton/Phil Niekro? No THAT's a no-brainer!

Regarding Manny Ramirez -- I'm a Yankee fan so, by definition, I loathe him with every fiber of my being. Being objective, I think that he is a first class jerk. However, check his numbers. It pains me to admit it but, if he were to retire today, he would be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
 
Oops. Typo. Banks's career slugging percentage was .500, not .550.
 
More on Banks -- He had far superior power numbers to Ripken even though league-wide average power numbers were much lower when Banks played than when Ripken did. Banks finished in the top 10 in HR 9 times. He led the league twice, finished 2nd twice and 3rd twice. He finished in the top 10 in RBIs 11 times, leading the league twice, finishing 3rd twice, 4th twice and 5th once. Bottom line -- there's NO comparison between Ripken's numbers and Banks's numbers. By the way, Banks is the only shortstop ever to win consecutive MVP awards. Compared to his peers, Banks was a much better player than Ripken...
 
No, I agree with you "Anonymous." Depending on how much emphasis you put on single season stats vs. carreer stats, and the subjective weight placed on Slugging Percentage, Banks numbers can easily be seen as superior. BUT I also think they are comparable. The Hall of Fame does not compare Balloted Short Stops against the players inside to make the determination. They compare them against other people on the ballot. I was just saying that when you ADD the fact that Ripken has "The Streak," and 3,000 hits, to numbers similar to a player the committee already voted in, I would have to guess that Ripken IS going to be a Hall of Famer. Especially since the some of other people about to show up on the ballot are suspected "Roid Monkeys." I definitely think Cal will end up in Copperstown. I was DEFINITELY NOT saying that Cal is more deserving to be there than Banks. I was just using Banks as a reference of what Hall of Fame Shortstop numbers look like. And they look similar to Cals.

You also misread my Manny comment. I was saying that Manny/Bonds/Pedro ALL HAVE HALL OF FAME NUMBERS. But they are also a$$holes. I don't think Cal is an a$$hole.

And the question really was.... "Is Cal Ripken going to be in the Hall of Fame?" .... IS HE? -- I say YES. What do you think? .... I was never saying whether or not I (personally) would vote him in. I was sharing my opinion as to whether or not the committee will vote him in.
 
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