By guest blogger, baseball historian and author Gary Livacari
There’s little debate that Ted Williams was one of, if not the greatest, pure hitter the game has ever seen. In his 19-year major league career (1939–1942, 1946–1960), “Teddy Ballgame” was a seventeen-time All-Star, two-time American League Most Valuable Player, six-time American League batting champion, four-time American League home run leader, four-time American League RBI leader, and two-time Triple Crown winner. That’s quite an impressive resume.
Over his career, Ted hit .344 (seventh all-time), with 2,654 hits, 521 home runs (19th all-time), 1839 RBIs (14th all-time), and a .482 on-base percentage (first all-time). His .634 slugging average is second behind only Babe Ruth’s .689. His 191 career OPS+ is also second, behind only Ruth’s 206 (100 being the major league average).
Let’s Speculate a Bit!
What if Ted Williams hadn’t lost approximately 4.75 years to military service? What would his career numbers look like? We can only take a reasonable guess.
He hit 521 home runs in his 19-year career. According to Baseball-Reference, his 162-game average computes to 37 home runs per year. Since at least two of those lost 4.75 years were subprime years, I’ll use a conservative estimate of an additional 32 per year. That extrapolates to an additional 152, for a career total of 673 home runs, good for sixth on the all-time list.
His speculated career RBI total is even more dramatic. His 162-game average for 19 seasons is 130. Dropping that figure down to a conservative 120 per year, that computes to an additional 570 RBIs, for a career total of 2409. That would just beat out Hank Aaron’s 2397 RBIs by 12 for first place on the all-time list.
Ted Williams was a first-ballot selection to the Hall of Fame in 1966 and his #9 has been retired by the Red Sox. He was named to the Major League All-Century team and the Major League Baseball All-Time team.
He was a great one for sure. I was fortunate enough to see him in person only once, at his last game in Chicago at Comiskey Park in September 1960. If you have any memories of Ted you’d like to share please do so in the comments section.
Check out Gary’s excellent website:
“Baseball History Comes Alive!” with over 1200 fully categorized baseball essays and photo galleries, now surpassing the 700K hits mark at 75K hits: www.baseballhistorycomesalive.com
Photo Credits: From Bing search.
Information: Excerpts edited from Ted Williams Wikipedia page; stats from Baseball-Reference