Originally posted by toejam
today is Stan "the Man" Musials birthday, he is 85....
did you know that for his career he had exactly as many hits on the road as he did in St Louis
That stat genuinely shocks me. In Sportsman's Park, it was 310 down the RF line, 322 to straightaway right, and 351 to fairly deep RCF. I have a
litho of Ted Williams batting against the shift there in the 1946 Series, so I know. And I always figured those dimensions and the easy-to-hit screen
accounted for Musial's high averages and prolific doubles. (Of course, I've been hard-pressed to explain why Musial is easily #1 of all post-WWII
players in career triples.)
I followed Musial's final four seasons as a child, when I was 7, 8, 9 and 10. The Giants announcers talked about him and Spahn like they were gods,
and I accepted that as fact, but since I found out about the dimensions of Sportsman's Park, I've discounted Musial a bit--nothing like Chuck Klein or
Larry Walker, of course, but a bit--in my mind.
Your stat appears to blow that out of the water. Indeed, I just now walked back to my mini-law library, which has two shelves that function as a
baseball law library, and grabbed what I believe is Bill James' first great historical abstract, published in 1985. It gives the following home and
away stats for Musial:
Bat.Avg: .326, road; .336, home
Runs: 950, road; 996, home
Hits: 1,815 as to both
2B: 331, road: 393, home (the screen effect)
3B: 87, road; 90, home
HR: 223, road; 252, home
RBI: 890, road; 1,053 home
Well, OK, obviously Sportsman's Park's cozy dimension's for lefties (the other half of the field was not generous) helped Stan with his power stats.
This is especially so in that he had 172 fewer career at bats at home (i.e., and more walks).
Then again, in the days of asymmetric parks, you were SUPPOSED to learn your park's anomalies and benefit from them. You weren't supposed to play in
a joke of a park, like Klein at the laughable Baker Bowl, or Larry Walker (check his home vs. away stats in the Colorado years and prepare to
laugh--end of his case for the HOF). But home was supposed to help you.
It looks to me like Musial's power stats were helped perhaps a bit more than normal by Sportsman's Park, but the most noticeable differences are
doubles (almost 20% more) and RBI's (ditto). The RBI's are almost entirely a function of his teammates, given that his hits were equal and his
batting average near-equal. And you should figure Musial would have gotten nearly 700 doubles even without that wonderful screen and short fence.
(Incidentally, for a large part of Babe Ruth's career, the screen wasn't there and games at St. Louis were a turkey shoot for the big guy--which is a
big part of the surprising stat that he hit more HR's on the road than at home, during the years he played in Yankee Stadium.)
My final judgment: I've been too harsh on Musial. The park helped him a bit more than one expects an asymmetric home park to help its natives, but
not vastly so. James rates Musial as the #8 greatest MLB player, and the #10 greatest baseball player, of all time. For people who place huge
emphasis on a great season or two in rating players, Musial in 1948 had one of the greatest seasons ever by a non-steroid user not named Babe Ruth.
With one more HR, he would have led the NL, or tied for leading the NL, in doubles, triples, HR's, on-base, slugging, total bases, runs scored, RBI's
and runs created, in which he led the NL 9 times! Also--and this fact surprises a lot of people--while Hank Aaron is obviously #1 in career extra
base hits, Musial is #2.
Since his park didn't help him nearly as much as I thought, this dude obviously was every bit as good as James makes him out to have been. In the
1985 and 1988-1989 books, James rated him ahead of Ted Williams, due to Williams' insufferable personality and overt indifference to working on
fielding and baserunning. James changed his mind in the huge 2001 book (only as to the rating; not as to what kind of person or player Williams was),
but I'm not sure he didn't have it right the first time.