That Man

If you read only one thing this summer, make sure it’s Joe Posnanski’s feature in the latest Sports Illustrated (the magazine, not on the web as far as I can tell), on Stan Musial, the player, the man, most of all the sportsman in a sense we have too few of, and always have.
Statistically, there are too many amazing Musial numbers to recount; one of my favorites is that he finished in the top 5 in the league in batting average 17 times (top 5 in OPS 15 times, top ten 17 times). Musial was a great singles hitter (lifetime .331 average) and home run hitter (475 career homers left him sixth on the all-time list and second in NL history when he retired), but was even better known for his doubles and triples (Musial’s third on the career doubles list with 725, and with 177 triples he’s the only player to break in since 1925 to top 140; Lou Gehrig at 163 and Al Simmons at 149 are the only other lively-ball era players to approach that level and both started their careers two decades earlier). Here’s Musial’s average season over the 14-year period (not counting 1945, when he was in the Navy) from age 22 (1943) to 36 (1957), prorated to 162 team games played: 158 games, 706 plate appearances, 117 Runs, 111 RBI, 208 hits, 43 doubles, 12 triples, 28 homers, 90 walks, 34 K, 356 total bases, 13 GIDP, 5 steals in 7 tries, and a batting line of .341/.428/.585 (169 OPS+). His average season, for a decade and a half.
UPDATE from the comments: here’s the web version.

9 thoughts on “That Man”

  1. The article is definitely worth it, Joe Pos always knocks these type of stories out the park.
    Click my name for the link to the article on the web.

  2. Thanks for the lik Kevin. That was a great article. Say what you want, but Musial is the best hitter of all time and the greatest gentleman.

  3. In a somewhat fortutious fashion, I was a Stan Musial fan at a very young age. My oldest sister, who took care of me much of my early life was the biggest Stan Musial fan alive. In Little League, when I was drafted by the Cards, I chose number 6 because that was Stan’s number.
    He and Frank Robinson are, in my opinion the two most under-valued players of all time.

  4. Completely agreed on Frank Robinson. On a related note, Robinson was totally screwed out of the 1962 NL MVP Award.

  5. Would have to go with Teddy Ballgame as the greatest hitter of all-time (led league in BA 6x, OBP 13x (thirteen!), OPS 9x, Slugging 9x) and lost 5+ years in the heart of his career to military service. He was a moody bastard, a bad teammate at times and a complete arse to the press but he could swing it like no one else. Add back in the time he lost and would still be the all-time home run leader (he probably lost 250) and the all-time RBI leader (easily lost 700 which would put him around 250 more than second place).

  6. The 1962 MVP vote is legendary in its wrong-ness. It could have gone to Frank R., it could have gone to Willie Mays. It would have been the third MVP for either, bringing them into the elite inner circle of 3 MVP award winners.

  7. “…and with 177 triples he’s the only player to break in since 1925 to top 140”
    Are you sure about that? Lou Brock. Willie Wilson. Roberto Clemente. They all have more than 140 triples. Am I missing something from this statement? Was it somehow tied to number of doubles?

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