Saturday was a sad day for baseball, as the sport lost two Hall of Fame greats. First, we heard that morning of the passing of former Oriole manager Earl Weaver. In 17 years of managing, Weaver put together an impressive 1480-1060 record, including three AL Pennants, and the 1970 World Series championship.
Later that day, it was revealed that Stan Musial, one of the greatest hitters to ever grace this Earth, had also passed away at the age of 92. The long-time St. Louis Cardinal played 22 seasons in the MLB, and was one of the nicest men to ever play the game. I’ve always admired great hitters, and Musial was such a model of consistency at the plate, there was no way I couldn’t put the spotlight on him for a moment.
As his career spanned from the 1940s to the 1960s, Musial was viewed as the NL’s version of Ted Williams. He was selected to an astounding 20 All-Star games and won seven batting titles, three World Series, three NL MVP awards, and was in the top-10 of MVP voting ten other times. Outside of missing the 1945 season to serve in the Navy, he never played less than 115 games in a season after his rookie year of 1941.
Looking at his career numbers make any baseball fan’s jaw drop, and I’ve been busy picking mine up off the floor since I heard the news of his passing Saturday night. I’ve always been very aware of his career .331/.417/.559 line, 475 homers, 1,951 RBI, and 3,630 hits, but looking at his baseball reference stat page shows me exactly how elite he was in virtually every aspect of the game.
Since there are so many statistical categories I want to highlight, it’s probably easier to just list them with the all-time rank next to it.
batting average: .331 (30th all-time)
on-base%: .417 (22nd)
slugging%: .559 (19th)
runs scored: 1,949 (6th)
home runs: 475 (28th)
RBI: 1,951 (6th)
doubles: 725 (3rd)
# times on base: 5,282 (6th)
hits: 3,630 (6th)
wins above replacement: 123.4 (12th)
That’s an incredibly long list, and I’ve only picked out a handful. As you can see, Musial was the definition of a complete hitter. To further show how consistent he was at the plate during his career, he racked up exactly the same number of hits at home as he did on the road for the Cardinals (1,815).
While that’s amazing, it also took him 17 years in the Majors before he experienced a season in which he didn’t hit at least .310. At the age of 38, Musial had an unusually tough year, as he struggled to hit .255/.364/.428 with 14 homers and 44 RBI in 1959. So, what did he do? He actually asked St. Louis for a pay cut. That’s the caliber of person Musial was and shows us the expectations he had of himself. Could you imagine any players in today’s game doing that? Yea, me neither.
So, here’s to you, Stan the Man. We were blessed to have an incredible person like you on this Earth for as long as we did, and you will be greatly missed. I enjoyed a beer Saturday night in your honor, and every ballplayer should use you as the example of how they should portray themselves during their professional baseball career.
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