PDA

View Full Version : DiMaggio vs. Griffey Jr.



Cyclone792
06-12-2008, 10:58 AM
http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/


**It occurs to me as I see the comments on the Junior post that Joe DiMaggio might fit a certain kind of image I have, the ďSo overrated heís underrated (SOHU)Ē kind of player.

------------------------

I wonder now if thatís happening to Joe DiMaggio. We all know that for years DiMaggio was dramatically overrated because the Golden Age Sportswriters loved him, because he married Marilyn Monroe, because Gay Talese wrote one of the three best sports stories ever about him, because he had that classic two-handed wave at Yankee Stadium, because he sold coffee and autographs and so on and so on.

So, because of all this, he won all sorts of accolades and tributes and an MVP or two he didnít deserve ó funny, everyone talks about the MVP he took from Ted Williams in 1941 when Williams hit .406, but the real crime came in Ď47, when:

DiMaggio hit .315/.391/.522 with 20 homers, 97 RBIs in 141 games and won the MVP.

Williams hit: .343/.499/.634 with 32 homers, 114 RBIs, 125 runs in 156 games.

Still Ö it seems that lately DiMaggio has taken a real beating. Richard Ben Cramerís fascinating book let us know that Joe D. really wasnít much of a guy. Then Iíve seen quite a few stories and comments about how overrated he was as a player. How he wasnít all that special. And, I do wonder now, if people are forgetting:

Ė DiMaggio had a 155 OPS+ in his career, 20th all time, ó and we all know he lost three prime years because of World War II.
Ė He was, clearly, a brilliant center fielder. Even this has been questioned ó probably because itís easy the mock the continuous stream of ďHe never threw to the wrong baseĒ quotes (I mean, the guy did make 17 errors in Ď37) ó but itís obvious from all the accounts that he was a phenomenon in center field.
Ė He did hit .325/.398/.579 with 379 homers for a war-shortened career at Yankee Stadium, which (especially then) was pretty cruel to right-handed power hitters. Another time, another place, those already special numbers might have been off the charts.

The question in the comments, referred to whether Junior was better than DiMaggio. Itís a great question, and itís a close call. In Bill James New Historical, he lists DiMaggio as the fifth best center fielder ever, Junior as sixth. That was a few years ago, and Junior has tacked on some numbers to his totals, but I donít think it has added any value to this question. Because I think this question is Ö at their best, which one would you rather have.

Would you rather have Ken Griffey in 1997:

.304/.382/.646, 34 doubles, 3 triples, 56 homers, 147 RBIs, 125 runs, 15 stolen bases, 165 OPS+, Gold Glove in center, 36 Win Shares.

Or would you rather have Joe DiMaggio in 1941:

.357/.440/.643, 43 doubles, 11 triples, 30 homers, 125 RBIs, 122 runs, 13 strikeouts, 184 OPS+, Brilliant defense in center, 41 Win Shares. Also had a hitting streak of some sort.

I think itís clear I love Junior. It would be tough to pass on the overrated guy.

An interesting point here made by Posnanski, especially for those who have followed the Joe DiMaggio debates.

I believe, similarly to how Posnanski points out, that the mass media and casual baseball fan (especially those from DiMaggio's era) overrates Joe DiMaggio. When The Sporting News unleashed their 100 greatest players a few years back, they ranked DiMaggio 11th all-time. While he was a legendary player, 11th is too high for him. IMO, 20th is about where he belongs.

Recently, another crowd has surfaced that has lashed out at DiMaggio. Maybe it's been trying to overcompensate for the other crowd vastly overrating him, and by result, this new crowd is underrating DiMaggio. Either way, as Posnanski states, DiMaggio has taken a beating recently. I used to underrate DiMaggio too, I think, but then I realized that Yankee Stadium was brutal, plus he did lose those three peak years due to WWII. Give him back those three seasons, and he'd have around 2,150 games played most likely. He'd also probably have over 2,600 hits and around 450 homers too.

Anyhow, here's the top 10 center fielders of all-time, as I see it:

1) Ty Cobb
2) Willie Mays
3) Tris Speaker
4) Mickey Mantle
5) Oscar Charleston
6) Joe DiMaggio
7) Ken Griffey Jr.
8) Duke Snider
9) Billy Hamilton
10) Cristobal Torriente

George Anderson
06-12-2008, 11:05 AM
I think it is interesting that many people including myself speculate what kind of career stats Griffey would have had if he had stayed healthy. DiMaggio lost three years of his career to WWII so it makes you wonder just what kind of numbers DiMaggio would have put up had he not lost those three years to WWII.

cumberlandreds
06-12-2008, 11:11 AM
"Where have gone Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns it lonely eyes turn to you." (something like that) That Simon & Garfunkel line help immortalize him too. From what I have read about him he quit the game early because he wasn't living up to his high standards. He probably could have played a few more seasons and padded the stats. Also he probably made more money out of the game than in it.

BuckeyeRedleg
06-12-2008, 01:11 PM
Watching the Mantle HBO special, they mentioned that in Mantle's rookie year, 1951 (DiMaggio's last year) he never said a word to the young Mantle.

Even when Mantle went through a real tough period, even being sent down to the minors for a brief period, DiMaggio never took him in or said a word.

Made him sound like he was a first class jerk.

Caveat Emperor
06-12-2008, 01:42 PM
1) Ty Cobb
2) Willie Mays
3) Tris Speaker
4) Mickey Mantle
5) Oscar Charleston
6) Joe DiMaggio
7) Ken Griffey Jr.
8) Duke Snider
9) Billy Hamilton
10) Cristobal Torriente

Good list.

I'd have Mantle in my top 3 -- maybe as high as #2 -- because of what he brought to the plate as a switch hitter.

Cyclone792
06-12-2008, 01:50 PM
Good list.

I'd have Mantle in my top 3 -- maybe as high as #2 -- because of what he brought to the plate as a switch hitter.

The top four of Cobb-Mays-Speaker-Mantle are very closely bunched together. I'm fairly certain that all four of those guys are among the top 10 players of all-time, especially if you exclude pitchers from that ranking. Mantle is probably the greatest peak center fielder of all-time too. His greatest three seasons or so were absurd.

I think Oscar Charleston was probably right there with those guys too.