Monday, August 12, 2013

Mantle at Full Strength

Injuries and alcoholism prevented Mantle from realizing his potential
Last night I was thumbing through Jane Leavy's "The Last Boy" (great read by the way). In it, Leavy recounts several conversations she had with Mickey Mantle--the biography's subject. When Leavy asked Mantle who was better--Willie Mays or himself--Mantle conceded that Mays had the superior career, but with the caveat that Mantle felt he played most of his games at 80 percent.

That got me thinking: what would his career totals look like if he was 100 percent? After crunching the numbers, I found that his adjusted figures look almost identical to those of the player he is most often compared to:

2,095 runs--would rank 7th all-time (Mays had 2,062)
3,019 hits--would rank 26th all-time (Mays had 3,283)
670 home runs--would rank 4th all-time (Mays had 660)
1,886 RBI--would rank 12th all-time (Mays had 1,903
5,639 total bases--would rank 8th all-time (Mays had 6,066)
2,166 walks--would rank 3rd all-time (Mays had 1,464)

The world will never know what a fully healthy Mantle could've accomplished. Perhaps he would've shattered Babe Ruth's home run record before Hank Aaron did. As it stands, Mantle is probably one of the 10 or 12 best non-pitchers in baseball history. Had he been able to stay healthy and avoid the bottle, maybe we would look back on his career as the best that any player ever had.

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