Ted Williams’ Staggering Career Numbers

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

The “Splendid Splinter’s” Historic 1941 Season

By guest blogger, baseball historian and author Gary Livacari

Ted Williams’ 1941 season is often considered one of the greatest offensive seasons ever.  He led the league in all the following categories: runs (135), home runs (37), walks (147), batting average (.406), on-base percentage (.553), OPS (1.287), and OPS+ (235). His .406 batting average is still the highest batting average in the major leagues since 1924, and the last time any major league player has hit over .400. His .553 on-base percentage stood as a major league record for 61 years, and his .735 slugging average was the highest in the major leagues between 1932 and 1994. Williams also had 185 hits and was second in RBIs with 120. He accomplished all this while striking out only 27 times in 606 plate appearances.

In the ninth inning of the 1941 All-Star game, Ted hit a walk-off three-run homer to win the game for the American League, 7-5. He later described that game-winning home run as “the most thrilling hit of my life.” After a season like this, it’s hard to believe he was denied the MVP award. Perhaps revealing the New York bias of the Baseball Writers of America, the award went to Joe DiMaggio (who also had a fabulous year).

Would He Sit Out the Last Two Games?

On September 28, before the final two games of the 1941 regular season, a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics, he was batting .39955, which would have been officially rounded up to .400. Red Sox manager Joe Cronin offered him the chance to sit out the final day, but Ted Williams famously declined, saying: “If I’m going to be a .400 hitter, I want more than my toenails on the line.” He proceeded to go 6-for-8 and finished the season at .406.