Mantle by the New Math Numbers

The bats look like toothpicks.

Like most red-blooded (Is there any other color?) American (U.S., but let’s include the entire hemisphere) males from Noo Yawk, and aetat. fifty to eighty at this writing in 2012, I (Evander) have a fascination with Yankees star Mickey Mantle—virtually to the point of (strictly baseball) fantasy.

Mantle always felt a certain unease with his final lifetime batting average of .298.

So, let’s fantasize.

I decided to replay the career stats by ending after the 1964 season, the last great one. Lifetime batting average: .309. Home runs: 454. Home-run percentage (one of the truest marks of the slugger) rises from 6.6 to a stratospheric 6.9, and slugging percentage comes in around .570. Runs scored: 1,473, a staggering number that speaks to Mantle’s unprecedented speed and early career batting closer to the top of the lineup. (As far as I know, Mantle is still the fastest runner from home plate to first base, sixty years later.)

In fact, such a fourteen-year offensive career starts to look a little more like Joe DiMaggio’s. Of course since the Yankees would not be in a World Series again for a dozen seasons, Mantle’s unbelievable total of 18 World Series round-trippers would not change and stands for all time. Like Joe D.’s 56-game hitting streak.

(For some extra what-if nerdiness: If Ted Williams had retired after 1958, his lifetime BA would be just north of .350. If one subtracted Babe Ruth’s years as a pitcher plus his final down years 1933-34, The Bambino’s BA would be a whopping .355.)

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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