Monday, June 1, 2009

Are Mauer And Morneau The New M & M Boys?

Back in the 1960s, slugging Yankee teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were sometimes called the "M & M boys." I don't recall if Willie Mays and Willie McCovey got that nickname (although a Topps baseball card called them "fence busters" even though they did not study to be come cops like Shaquille O'Neal). Now, the Twins have Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. They both just had great months in May. Morneau hit .361 with a .459 OBP and a .713 SLG (for an OPS of 1.172). Mauer did even better, with the line of .414-.500-.838, for an OPS of 1.338. So I started to wonder how that stacked up against the best months from the earlier versions of the M & M boys.

I found all the months when the three pairs of teammates both had an OPS of 1.000 or higher (minimum 20 games played). Then I added them and also multiplied them (multiplying might give a better idea of a great 1-2 punch since both players have to do well). The results are ranked by the product of their monthly OPS in the table below:

Mantle and Maris were sensational in July 1961. Mantle's line was .375-.508-.854. He hit 14 HRs and had 28 RBIs in 29 games. Maris had .330-.403-.755 with 13 HRs and 31 RBIs in 28 games. The Yankees went 20-9 while scoring 162 runs. The Twins this May did not fare so well, going only 14-16, although they did score 168 runs. Morneau had 9 HRs and 29 RBIs while Mauer had 11 & 32.

The performance of Mays and McCovey in September 1968 is amazing because it was the year of the pitcher. But the Giants entered September 12 games behind the Cardinals and still finished 9 back in 2nd place. They were eliminated on September 15 and only went 15-12.

I did try to adjust each player's OPS for the league average. In doing so, I took off .024 for Mauer & Morneau in June 2006 since in 2006 that was the difference between the 2006 NL OPS with and without pitchers included. For this past May, I used .021, the difference from the 2007 NL. So each player had his OPS divided by the relevant league average and normalized it by multiplying it by an OPS of .725. Then I summed them and multiplied them as before. The results, ranked by product, are in the table below:

Sources included Retrosheet, The Lee Sinins Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, ESPN site, and Yahoo site

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