Baseball Egg

Baseball for Egg Heads

Ted Williams

Ted Williams In 1953 Ted Williams returned from service in the Korean War after not having played in the majors for 16 months. He proceeded to hit .407 with 13 homers and 34 RBI in 31 games through the end of the season. Oh, and he was almost 35 years old. That's how good he was.

Williams, in my mind, is the only man who has a legitimate argument as the greatest hitter in history other than Babe Ruth. Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial were all incredible. Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby were terrific but played the bulk of their career against inferior competition. But Williams dominated. He was the best at hitting the baseball, the best at strike zone awareness, the best at hitting for power. I am absolutely astounded by his 1954 season: he hadn't played regularly for two years, he turned 36, and hit .345 with an OBP over .500 and a league leading slugging percentage over .600. He only struck out 32 times! The man was born to hit a baseball.

Are you looking for the definition of narcissism? General Douglas MacArthur, a personal friend of Williams, sent the Red Sox slugger a gift in the early 1950s as a thank you for his friendship and service to the country. The gift? An autographed portrait of MacArthur.

Toughest Pitchers to Face
In 1960, the 41-year old Williams told a reporter that the greatest pitcher he ever saw was Bob Feller, with Hal Newhouser second. He said that Bob Lemon was the toughest righthander he ever faced.

Well, if Feller was the greatest pitcher Williams ever squared off against, he sure didn't have much trouble with him. Feller is the pitcher Williams faced the most in his career (174 plate appearances) and he hit 364/489/707 off the hard-throwing righthander, with ten home runs. Perhaps most impressively, Williams only struck out ten times against Feller in 140 at-bats.

Williams had good success against Feller's rotation-mate Early Wynn, hitting .295 with eight homers and a slash line of 295/434/549. But two other Cleveland pitchers gave Ted some trouble. Against Lemon he hit just .267 with a .422 SLG, and off Mel Harder he batted only 254/380/441, which was about as good as you could expect to do against Williams.

Among pitchers who faced Ted Williams 60 times, southpaw Hal Newhouser held him to the lowest OPS (796), and in 63 matchups with Williams, Newhouser allowed just one home run.