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WMR
02-09-2006, 05:06 AM
I watched a documentary about Mickey Mantle the other night. In his prime, was he the greatest centerfielder of all time? Junior? I'm curious what people think.

What centerfielder, in his prime, was the best of all time?

I know it's difficult to compare eras, but is there a general consensus of who was the best?

remdog
02-09-2006, 05:23 AM
Off the top of my head, I'd go with Willie Mays. But, I never saw Joe D. and Ty Cobb dominated his era when baseball was much different. And, of course Tris Speaker and.....oh, never mind....:)

You could check the Redszone HOF poll that Cyclone did. That might give you some idea....

Rem

Jpup
02-09-2006, 06:17 AM
Willie Mays, no doubt.

RedsBaron
02-09-2006, 07:43 AM
In his peak seasons of 1956-57 and 1961, Mickey Mantle was probably the greatest centerfielder of all time. For career value, or just for a longer number of prime years, I'd say the Willie Mays of 1954-66 was the greatest centerfielder ever.
As usual, the contemporaries of Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio would probably pick "their guy" as the greatest ever, and it should be noted that DiMaggio, not Mantle or Mays, was voted baseball's greatest living player in 1969. DiMaggio was great, but when I look at their numbers Mantle in his peak seasons appears to be even better to me, and niether Mickey nor the Yankee Clipper sustained their greatness for as long as the Say Hey Kid.
As for Cobb, his greatness is unquestioned, as is his racism and the fact he played a whites only game. I'd rather have Mantle or DiMaggio or Mays on my team.
Tris Speaker was a terrific player, but everything I've read indicates that his contemporaries ranked him behind Cobb, and the statistics do not convince me otherwise.
I would rank Ken Griffey Junior behind Mantle, Mays, DiMaggio, Cobb and Speaker.

Cyclone792
02-09-2006, 08:19 AM
Ty Cobb
Willie Mays
Tris Speaker
Mickey Mantle
Oscar Charleston
Joe DiMaggio
Duke Snider
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Christobel Torriente
Billy Hamilton

That's my overall top 10 (Charleston and Torriente are Negro Leaguers).

For peak value, it's very very close for me between Cobb and Mantle. They're very close in five year peak, Cobb has Mantle beat in a seven year peak, but Mantle has Cobb beat in a three year peak. People think of Cobb more as a longevity guy, but he had eight seasons with 40 or more win shares and four seasons with 45 or more win shares ... that's simply incredible.

As far as greatest overall single season by a center fielder, solid arguments could likely be made for any of the following ...

Ty Cobb - 1911
Ty Cobb - 1915
Ty Cobb - 1917
Ty Cobb - 1910
Ty Cobb - 1909

Tris Speaker - 1912
Tris Speaker - 1914

Mickey Mantle - 1957
Mickey Mantle - 1956
Mickey Mantle - 1961

RFS62
02-09-2006, 09:17 AM
Say Hey



http://www.opengroup.com/sports/images/(SC)Willie_Mays_Photo.jpg

WMR
02-09-2006, 11:53 AM
Which year of Junior's career were his abilities at their zenith?

RANDY IN INDY
02-09-2006, 01:36 PM
Mays was the best that I ever had the opportunity to watch.

gm
02-09-2006, 01:43 PM
If Mays had played in Altanta and Aaron at Candlestick, Willie would be the HR king. Throw in the all-world defense and #24 gets the nod

Cedric
02-09-2006, 01:49 PM
In my opinion Mantle, Cobb, Speaker, and Mays could all be argued and you couldn't be wrong. The most prestigious position in the sports history.

deltachi8
02-09-2006, 01:57 PM
Willie, Mickey and the Duke.

Just like that song, and the softball version that appeared on the Simpsons.

westofyou
02-09-2006, 01:58 PM
Willie led the Giants in Win Shares from 1955-1966 in each year he was number one, pretty good run.

FWIW I'll say Richie Ashburne is the best fielding CF of all time.

RedsBaron
02-09-2006, 02:07 PM
If Mays had played in Altanta and Aaron at Candlestick, Willie would be the HR king. Throw in the all-world defense and #24 gets the nod
Aaron played most of his prime with Milwaukee's County Stadium, not Atlanta, as his home park, and County Stadium was a tougher park in which to hit HRs than was Candlestick. Atlanta did greatly help Aaron after the Braves moved there in 1966, when Aaron was 32 years old.
Hank did gain an advantage over Willie in that Mays missed almost two full seasons in 1952-53 because of military service, while Aaron never missed any seasons because of milkitary committments. Had Mays played full seasons in 1952-53, his career total for HRs would probably have been more in the range of 725 rather than 660.
I do regard Mays as a greater player than Aaron. Their hitting stats are remarkably similar, but Willie was the better baserunner. In the field, Aaron was a good rightfielder; Mays was a very, very, very great centerfielder.

Roy Tucker
02-09-2006, 02:11 PM
Mays played a decent SS as well. He used to do this at the All-Star Game.

Cyclone792
02-09-2006, 05:45 PM
Which year of Junior's career were his abilities at their zenith?

Griffey's win shares per season ...

1989 - 14
1990 - 24
1991 - 30
1992 - 25
1993 - 29
1994 - 20 (strike-shortened ... adjusted for a full season is approx. 28 win shares)
1995 - 9 (he was injured)
1996 - 28
1997 - 36
1998 - 29
1999 - 31
---------
2000 - 24
2001 - 14
2002 - 5
2003 - 6
2004 - 16
2005 - 22

Total - 362 win shares (370 if you give him credit for the '94 strike).

Obviously Griffey's missed significant time due to injuries during most of his Cincy years, but his rate of production in 2005 was up near what it was during most of his Seattle years. Griffey's best season was 1997, the year he hit 56 bombs and put up a line of .304/.382/.646 for a 1.028 OPS. His raw OPS in 1994 was higher at 1.076, but the league OPS was also 19 points higher in 1994 than it was in 1997.

M2
02-09-2006, 05:48 PM
Just as a sidenote, though a RF, Larry Walker just finished a career that's practically the mirror image of Duke Snider's.

WMR
02-09-2006, 09:29 PM
Griffey's win shares per season ...

1989 - 14
1990 - 24
1991 - 30
1992 - 25
1993 - 29
1994 - 20 (strike-shortened ... adjusted for a full season is approx. 28 win shares)
1995 - 9 (he was injured)
1996 - 28
1997 - 36
1998 - 29
1999 - 31
---------
2000 - 24
2001 - 14
2002 - 5
2003 - 6
2004 - 16
2005 - 22

Total - 362 win shares (370 if you give him credit for the '94 strike).

Obviously Griffey's missed significant time due to injuries during most of his Cincy years, but his rate of production in 2005 was up near what it was during most of his Seattle years. Griffey's best season was 1997, the year he hit 56 bombs and put up a line of .304/.382/.646 for a 1.028 OPS. His raw OPS in 1994 was higher at 1.076, but the league OPS was also 19 points higher in 1994 than it was in 1997.

Which year was his best defensively?

Cyclone792
02-09-2006, 11:29 PM
Which year was his best defensively?

That's an exceptionally tough question to answer, and the best answer I can probably give you is simply ... I don't know. :doh:

I don't have his defensive win shares breakdown per season. By FRAR and FRAA (both are BP stats), his best seasons are 1991 and 1998 (both are relatively equal to one another). Defensive metrics are still somewhat up in the air as to which ones work and which ones don't work (as well as a question of do any work). I've also read that early in Griffey's career he would allow the corner outfielders to catch fly balls that he could have also grabbed himself just as easily, which would skew his fielding stats. Whether that's true or not, I have no idea.

Unfortunately, the only safe answer I can give you is ... his best season defensively was likely 99.9 percent with Seattle instead of us. :)

TheBigLebowski
02-09-2006, 11:34 PM
I wouldn't try to make the argument that he was the best CF of all time, even at his peak, but it has always been my opinion that had my favorite player of all time not been so injury-prone, he'd definitely be given a lot of consideration.

http://z.lee28.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/eric_davis_reds80s_pose.jpg

westofyou
02-09-2006, 11:37 PM
That's an exceptionally tough question to answer, and the best answer I can probably give you is simply ... I don't know.

Griffeys' highest WS season on Defense was 2001 with the Reds 6.83, prior to that it was 91 with 5.51.

BTW both Speaker and Mays had over 8 defensive WS twice in a season, as far as I can tell (in a quick run through Jame's Win Shares book) that's top shelf. Mantle never did it, nor Jr.

Cooper
02-09-2006, 11:42 PM
James suggested that Ashburn's Fielding stats were inflated because he played with a flyball staff. He's still pretty dang good.

westofyou
02-09-2006, 11:45 PM
James suggested that Ashburn's Fielding stats were inflated because he played with a flyball staff. He's still pretty dang good.

Yeah, but for that long?

1948 Phillies 21 116 344 14 7 2 .981 3.09
1949 Phillies 22 154 514 13 11 3 .980 3.42
1950 Phillies 23 147 405 8 5 2 .988 2.81
1951 Phillies 24 154 538 15 7 6 .988 3.59
1952 Phillies 25 154 428 23 9 5 .980 2.93
1953 Phillies 26 156 496 18 5 4 .990 3.29
1954 Phillies 27 153 483 12 8 2 .984 3.24
1955 Phillies 28 140 387 10 7 3 .983 2.84
1956 Phillies 29 154 503 11 9 3 .983 3.34
1957 Phillies 30 156 502 18 7 7 .987 3.33
1958 Phillies 31 152 495 8 8 2 .984 3.31

SEASON
OF

PUTOUTS YEAR PO
1 Taylor Douthit 1928 547
2 Richie Ashburn 1951 538
3 Richie Ashburn 1949 514
4 Chet Lemon 1977 512
5 Dwayne Murphy 1980 507
T6 Richie Ashburn 1956 503
T6 Dom DiMaggio 1948 503
8 Richie Ashburn 1957 502
9 Richie Ashburn 1953 496
10 Richie Ashburn 1958 495

vaticanplum
02-09-2006, 11:46 PM
I wouldn't try to make the argument that he was the best CF of all time, even at his peak, but it has always been my opinion that had my favorite player of all time not been so injury-prone, he'd definitely be given a lot of consideration.

Gosh when I was little he was sooooo big, but he looks like a freaking toothpick in that picture.

He was an absolutely terrific outfielder. Quick, determined, good instincts. I didn't realize you had to worry about balls being caught out there until after he left Cincinnati; I just assumed that all balls hit anywhere near centerfield were automatic outs.

I'd be interested to know how good his read off the bat actually was -- I didn't have a sense of that back then.

westofyou
02-09-2006, 11:48 PM
E.D. brought me back to fold, he's the only autograph other than Al Kaline that I had to own.

In my heaven Kaline's in Right, ED in Center and Foster in Left.

RFS62
02-09-2006, 11:57 PM
When's the last time you saw a centerfielder throw someone out at home. Or even try?

Willie had that kind of arm, to go with all the other stuff.

Second only to Ruth as the greatest all around player in history, IMO.

westofyou
02-10-2006, 12:01 AM
When's the last time you saw a centerfielder throw someone out at home. Or even try?1st game after the AS game at the GAB, Jr. threw a guy out at the plate on a laser.. LaRue blocked the plate like Mickey Freaking Cochrane and Dunn made a diving catch and both he and Jr. had a HR.

I was in heaven... except for the humidity part... that was bunk.

TheBigLebowski
02-10-2006, 12:21 AM
I was a young, impressionable kid when Eric The Red entered the bigs...I'm 29 now.

I still have VCR tapes of our WS triumph in 1990. I watch them, every now and then. I have Eric denting that camera in dead center on film. I also have him diving for a liner in Game 4, suffering an injury from which he would never fully recover as a Red.

I have memories in my head that I will never lose. I can see him stealing HR after HR in center.

I see him patting his right thigh twice with his glove before fielding a fly ball. I actually developed that same habit as a little leaguer as a type of homage. After a while, it became my normal ritual.

I wanted to imitate his batting stance, but I never could. My hands were simply not quick enough. How he hit the way he did always amazed me. To this day, I do a fair impression of it.

He was my hero for many years as a young Reds fan and ballplayer...and he was my hero again after he came back from cancer and played some excellent baseball for the Orioles.

I say again...if Eric was not so injury prone, he'd be mentioned in *any* discussion about great all-time CF's.

StillFunkyB
02-10-2006, 07:42 AM
My senior year in HS ('95), we got press passes to go down on the field before a game vs. the Tigers at Jacobs Field.

Eric Davis was the only player that talked to us. I got alot of respect for a the only guy that would take a few min. to talk to a couple of punk kids with day passes. Casey Coleman (Cleveland sports anchor) was the only other guy to talk to us. We sat on the bench in the dugout and he told us some great stories. He was also dissapointed that none of the other players would come talk to us....

Ok, anyway, back to the subject....Greatest CF that I have ever witnessed is Junior. Do I think he is the greatest? He's up there, for sure, but not THE greatest.

RedsBaron
02-10-2006, 07:52 AM
If Mays had played in Altanta and Aaron at Candlestick, Willie would be the HR king. Throw in the all-world defense and #24 gets the nod
For his career, Mays had 335 HRs at home and 325 HRs on the road; Aaron had 385 HRs at home and 370 HRs on the road.

WVRedsFan
02-11-2006, 04:00 AM
I just composed a statistical analysis of Willie Mays at ages 30-35 and Junior at age 35 (last year for Junior, 1966 for Willie). Got it all typed up and was proud of myself and then I hit the wrong key and lost all of it. I'm too tired to do it again, but here are the results...

Based on all of that, they were pretty close in statistics, including fielding percentage. Junior won the match, but Willie was close behind

My only point in all of this is that despite a career in which both players were nearly equal at every stage of that career, we hold on to Mays' memory and want to trade Junior anywhere so we can get prospect pitchers who just might rot in the minors (or in the majors as many have). One of my biggest thrills was seeing Mays play at Crosley in 1962. Just hearing Paul Sommerkanmp say, "the center fielder, Willie Mays," gave me goosebumps. I'll never forget it. I get the same feeling when Junior comes up to bat. It's hsitory and it's watching an icon play the game in both cases.

Yes, Junior was better than Mantle or many others (I never thought Mantle was even near Mays). In fact, he's nearly the outfielder he was when he was at Seattle and uninjured, but no matter. I still consider Mays and Griffey (with an honorable mention to Eric Davis) as the best defensive centerfielders I ever had the pleasure to see in person. And those boys could hit, too...

westofyou
02-11-2006, 12:33 PM
Yes, Junior was better than Mantle or many others (I never thought Mantle was even near Mays)
I'd take Mantle and never look back. There really is no comparison with the bat. Mantle is a legend Junior was damn good.


RC/27 under the age of 25 Vs the league.

Mantle - 10.20 - 4.79
Griffey - 7.42 - 4.62

RC/27 under the age of 30 Vs the league.

Mantle - 10.20 - 4.75
Griffey - 7.93 - 4.96


RC/27 under the age of 33 Vs the league.

Mantle - 9.91 -4.69
Griffey - 7.79 - 4.98


RC/27 under the age of 40 Vs the league.

Mantle - 9.35 - 4.56
Griffey - 7.73 - 5.00

Plus Mantle had to play the end of his career during the 60's in an era that was more pitching than bats, for Junior the complete opposite, playing during the biggest offensive era in 70 years.


CAREER
CF

RUNS CREATED/GAME DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
1 Mickey Mantle 5.58 10.26 4.68
2 Ty Cobb 4.89 9.57 4.69
3 Joe DiMaggio 3.94 9.24 5.30
4 Tris Speaker 3.91 8.61 4.69
5 Willie Mays 3.29 7.89 4.60
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 2.73 7.73 5.00
7 Duke Snider 2.72 7.71 5.00
8 Earl Averill 2.58 8.29 5.70
9 Fred Lynn 1.97 6.43 4.46
10 George Van Haltren 1.62 7.79 6.17

WVRedsFan
02-11-2006, 12:50 PM
I'd take Mantle and never look back. There really is no comparison with the bat. Mantle is a legend Junior was damn good.


RC/27 under the age of 25 Vs the league.

Mantle - 10.20 - 4.79
Griffey - 7.42 - 4.62

RC/27 under the age of 30 Vs the league.

Mantle - 10.20 - 4.75
Griffey - 7.93 - 4.96


RC/27 under the age of 33 Vs the league.

Mantle - 9.91 -4.69
Griffey - 7.79 - 4.98


RC/27 under the age of 40 Vs the league.

Mantle - 9.35 - 4.56
Griffey - 7.73 - 5.00

Plus Mantle had to play the end of his career during the 60's in an era that was more pitching than bats, for Junior the complete opposite, playing during the biggest offensive era in 70 years.


CAREER
CF

RUNS CREATED/GAME DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
1 Mickey Mantle 5.58 10.26 4.68
2 Ty Cobb 4.89 9.57 4.69
3 Joe DiMaggio 3.94 9.24 5.30
4 Tris Speaker 3.91 8.61 4.69
5 Willie Mays 3.29 7.89 4.60
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 2.73 7.73 5.00
7 Duke Snider 2.72 7.71 5.00
8 Earl Averill 2.58 8.29 5.70
9 Fred Lynn 1.97 6.43 4.46
10 George Van Haltren 1.62 7.79 6.17


Great statistical facts that make you think. And your point about the eras they played in makes good sense. I always loved Mantle, but I never saw his play in the outfield as being anything special. I guess by 1961, when I started following baseball in earnest, he already was showing the effects of the rumored partying.

RFS62
02-11-2006, 12:53 PM
Great statistical facts that make you think. And your point about the eras they played in makes good sense. I always loved Mantle, but I never saw his play in the outfield as being anything special. I guess by 1961, when I started following baseball in earnest, he already was showing the effects of the rumored partying.




Yeah, and his injuries were eerily similar to Juniors. Both hobbled far too early.

westofyou
02-11-2006, 12:54 PM
I always loved Mantle, but I never saw his play in the outfield as being anything special. I guess by 1961, when I started following baseball in earnest, he already was showing the effects of the rumored partying.

Mantle and Griffey sit 4% points apart in fielding percentage with over 4000 put outs.

That said, Griffey's last couple years in CF are just like Mantle's with his legs playing the part of the bottle.

WMR
02-11-2006, 03:28 PM
Is there any statistic that allows you to take a players stats from one era, compare them to every other player from that era, and create some sort of nexus where you can posit what that player probably would have done in a different era?

GAC
02-13-2006, 08:56 PM
When's the last time you saw a centerfielder throw someone out at home. Or even try?

Willie had that kind of arm, to go with all the other stuff.

Second only to Ruth as the greatest all around player in history, IMO.

That's why I give the edge to Mays over Mantle or Cobb.

westofyou
02-13-2006, 09:01 PM
That's why I give the edge to Mays over Mantle or Cobb.
Mays 1 assist every 14 games Mantle every 17, Mantles career was more station to station AL ball reducing the attempts for extra bases, Mays played in the NL where taking the extra base was more of the game plan.

Both only topped 20 assists in a year once and Mays played 800 more games in the OF than Mantle.

baseballPAP
02-14-2006, 11:56 AM
Is there any statistic that allows you to take a players stats from one era, compare them to every other player from that era, and create some sort of nexus where you can posit what that player probably would have done in a different era?
Lee Sinis' baseball encyclopedia has a stat called RCAP, or Runs Created Against Position that compares a player to others at their position in a given year. If you were to look at this, here is the top 10 for CFers:
1-Mantle-949 (52)
2-Cobb-871 (207)
3-Mays-856
4-Speaker-779 (-2)
5-DiMaggio-604 (25)
6-Griffey-543
7-Billy Hamilton-408 (240)
8-Jim Edmonds???-373 (-12)
9-Bernie Williams-367
10-Earl Averill-328 (-7)

From there I think you could realistically give a boost to Mays, Speaker and maybe Griffey and Edmunds for their defense, while bumping down Mantle and Averill a little. This also does NOT take into account seasons where they played somewhere else besides CF....those are the numbers in ( ), their career totals at other positions. How about those 2 guys at the bottom (8 & 9)....I'm not sure I would have them on my list....