March 11, 2007
Best Seasons By Yankees Center Fielders
Continuing with the WasWatching.com Yankees "ten best seasons" (ever) series, today we look at center fielders. Here is what I believe are the top ten seasons for Yankees center fielders, with stats via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia:
Click on the list below for a larger view ~
Note "The Mick" 1956-57 at the top of the chart. Mantle is not just sitting one-two here for the Yankees. If you look at all center fielders in the modern era, he's one-two there, as well, all-time for best season ever.
Click on the list below for a larger view ~
Mickey Mantle was the A.L. MVP in 1956 and 1957. It's a shame there was no such award higher than MVP - because Mantle deserved that one too.
Mantle and DiMaggio own the Yankees "ten best seasons" by a center fielder list. What's interesting is that these two players had center covered for the Yankees from 1936 through 1968. So, how does the "top ten" list look for the Yankees pre-Joe and post-Mick? Here we go....pre-DiMaggio followed by post-Mantle:
Click on the lists below for a larger view ~
Earle Combs and Bernie Williams are the big winners here. So, between the two, who was better - Combs or Williams? Here are the numbers, with OPS and RC/G expressed as against the league average:
The RCAA/PA totals here are:
Bernie Williams 0.038
Earle Combs 0.047
That's pretty close - as are the OPS and RC/G against the league average marks. OWP is close as well. I would go with Earle Combs here - by a nose.
Therefore, when talking about Yankees greats in terms of offensive seasons in center, start with Mantle and work towards DiMaggio. But, don't forget Earle Combs, aka The Kentucky Colonel, before you move on to Bernie Williams.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at March 11, 2007 08:09 PM
great stuff, Steve.
This confirms my controversial theory that the Yanks have had very good centerfielders.
Nice to see Mr. Murcer in there for 2 years. Had it not been for Shea and the trade, I'll bet Murcer would be ahead of Bernie and Combs.
1956-1961. Mantle. Amazing.
Pre-expansion. No steroids. Taller pitchers mound. Awesome numbers. And the guy was never fully healthy.
There is no award high enough. Except maybe 'The Mantle'.
Something about those numbers comparing Williams and Combs does not quite seem right to me. B-R shows Williams with an OPS+ of 125 and Combs with an OPS+ of 126. In a normalized sense, they are, for all intents and purposes, equal rate stats. Williams, however, maintained these ratios for roughly 2500 more plate appearances. That extra longevity (roughly 4 and a half years) makes Williams clearly a better player than Combs.
I am completely awed by the numbers Mantle put up. And given the context of todays game, which seems to be a bit easier given advancements in the game, they make the stats he put up even more impressive.
~~~Something about those numbers comparing Williams and Combs does not quite seem right to me. B-R shows Williams with an OPS+ of 125 and Combs with an OPS+ of 126.~~~
I would guess that the CBE and B-R look at league averages a little bit different.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at March 12, 2007 10:14 AM
~~I would guess that the CBE and B-R look at league averages a little bit different.~~
I don't see how they could look at "league averages" THAT differently -- i.e. to the point that Combs looks better than Williams.
If you look at some other numbers, I think that it shows that there aren't many systems that would favor Combs over Williams. Williams has 311 career win shares and Combs has 227 career win shares. If you look at WARP3, Williams has 106.3 wins above replacement and Combs has 57.7 wins above replacement.
Up to the 2000 season, Bill James had Combs ranked as the 34th best CF all-time and had Williams at #37 all-time. He says in that book that he was deliberately conservative in ranking active players. Right now, I would put Williams somewhere between 18 and 22 all-time in CF.
That top 10 ever list is AL-only, right? I can't imagine Mays not being in there otherwise.
And how good was Murcer those few years? He never plays that up in his broadcasts (or batting at Old-Timers Day).
Because of the off-field issues and the injuries, Mantle is one of the few Yankee superstars actually underrated by the mainstream press.
~~~That top 10 ever list is AL-only, right? I can't imagine Mays not being in there otherwise.~~~
IIRC, Mays best RCAA mark was 82. That list is AL&NL combined.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at March 12, 2007 11:34 PM
~~~If you look at some other numbers, I think that it shows that there aren't many systems that would favor Combs over Williams. Williams has 311 career win shares and Combs has 227 career win shares. If you look at WARP3, Williams has 106.3 wins above replacement and Combs has 57.7 wins above replacement. ~~~
How do the two players compare if you use WS/G or WSAB/G?
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at March 12, 2007 11:35 PM