Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Musial and great power/contact hitters

Dave Cameron addresses this over at Fangraphs. See Translating Stan Musial’s Numbers into 2012 Norms. He compares Musial's isolated power to his strikeout frequency and then converts them into numbers for the 2012 season. He looked specifically at Musial's 1943 season and also his entire career.

A couple of things to remember. That article talks about Musial in 1943. Recall that it was a war year and alot of good pitchers were gone, so that would help him strikeout less and hit more HRs, everything else being equal. And Sportsman's park was a good hitter's park. Musial had a home ISO of .246 and a road ISO of .211 for his career.  DiMaggio had .231 home and .277 away. And notice how close their SO rates were in the table below. DiMaggio had an overall career ISO of .254 while Musial had .228. And notice how close their SO rates were in the table below.

I did a study on this before and I divided a guy's relative HR rate by his relative K rate. Now that is not the same as ISO but my guess is that ISO and HR rate are highly correlated. The guy that really looks great in this analysis was DiMaggio

Musial was 70% better than the league average in ISO and DiMaggio 95% better. So, for Musial we have 1.7/.55 = 3.09. For DiMaggio we have 1.95/.59 = 3.30. DiMaggio had a better relative ISO rate divided by SO rate and he played in a bad park for righties while Musial played in a great park, especially for lefties.

Here is the link

Which Players Had The Best HR-To-Strikeout Ratios?

Musial does well but not as well as some other big names. Now here is all of that post

I looked at every player with 5000+ PAs since 1920. I found their relative HRs and their relative strikeouts. Then found the ratio of the two. Ken Williams, for example, hit 3.70 times as many HRs as the average player of his time and league while striking out only 75% as often as the average player. Since his ratio of ratios (3.7/.75 = 4.93) is the highest of anyone in the study, he is ranked first. The data comes from the Lee Sinins Complete Baseball Encyclopedia. The table below shows the top 25:

DiMaggio hit only 41% of his HRs at home in his career while Williams hit 72%. So it is likely the case that DiMaggio would rank first, and probably by a wide margin, if HRs were park adjusted. Ted Williams hit less than 50% of his HRs at home.

The next table shows which players had the lowest relative strikeout rates among guys who hit 40+ HRs. Again, no pikers here. In 2004, Bonds had only 41 strikeouts while the average player would have had 100. I am so proud to see the demonstration of Polish power with 3 for Ted Kluszewski and 1 for Carl Yastrzemski (whose 1970 season ranks 27th). Don't forget Stan Musial is 13th on the above list.

Update: I found all the guys from 1920-2011 with 5000+ PAs. I also found their ISO relative to the league average and their strikeouts relative to the league average. Then I took the ratios. Here are the top 12

Tris Speaker 4.105263158
Tommy Holmes 4.035714286
Joe Sewell 3.772727273
Frank McCormick 3.102564103
Joe DiMaggio 3.0625
Yogi Berra 3.02
Nellie Fox 2.894736842
Vic Power 2.875
Albert Pujols 2.857142857
Tony Gwynn 2.806451613
Don Mattingly 2.785714286
Stan Musial 2.741935484

The league average in the above case was based on outs or how many outs each guy made. The next one is based on PAs (these are the choices you have using the Lee Sinins data base). So the guy that really stands out is Speaker and DiMaggio still beats Musial

Tris Speaker 4.727272727
Tommy Holmes 4.185185185
Joe Sewell 3.952380952
Joe DiMaggio 3.322033898
Albert Pujols 3.214285714
Frank McCormick 3.102564103
Stan Musial 3.090909091
Yogi Berra 3.081632653
Tony Gwynn 3
Don Mattingly 2.925
Nellie Fox 2.894736842
Ted Williams 2.848101266


  1. I wonder how much the low strikeout rates of DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Musial led to pitchers trying to strike out more batters. Part of what allowed Ted to hit 400 was his incredibly low K rate in 1941. At some point, it must have clicked with at least some pitchers that if they were going to have a chance against these hitters, they were going to need to find a way for them to miss the ball.

  2. Good question. I can't think of any way to check for that. Maybe we could look for when strikeout rates started to increase but that could have been due to batters swinging more for HRs. There would have to be some way to disentangle that. Not sure what that would be