Thursday, August 30, 2012

Remembering Ted On Birthday Number 94

The Newly Available Ted Williams Stamp
On this, the 94th anniversary of the birth of Ted Williams, it's hard not to pause and remember that one of his greatest friends passed away this year—his teammate Johnny Pesky. Just ten years ago this past July we lost Ted, but it seems much longer than that. We were blessed to have his good buddy Johnny with us for that added decade.

It's difficult to encapsulate the career of Ted Williams in just a few hundred words, so let's look at his stats from the perspective of a MoneyBall Wonk. Despite losing three prime years to service in the Second World War (ages 24, 25 and 26) and most of another couple of years to service in Korea, he was first in the AL in runs created nine times in his 19 year career. He was first in the AL in wins above replacement (WAR) six times, and first in the AL in OPS ten times. If you want more traditional measures, he finished in the Top Ten in AL MVP voting twelve times. As many others have said, if he could have played those lost years, there is no telling how many records would have been shattered by The Kid. In the final analysis, the last man to hit over .400 got his wish—he truly was the greatest hitter who ever lived.