• Dick Allen Ruled The Batters Box From 1964-74

    Posted by on December 16th, 2016 · Comments (7)

    The numbers don’t lie:

    Rk Player OPS+ G From To Age PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB BA OBP SLG
    1 Dick Allen 165 1481 1964 1974 22-32 6270 968 1623 277 74 319 975 775 .299 .386 .554
    2 Willie McCovey 161 1468 1964 1974 26-36 5713 766 1292 209 27 327 933 929 .275 .397 .541
    3 Hank Aaron 159 1565 1964 1974 30-40 6508 1030 1702 279 19 391 1081 756 .299 .379 .561
    4 Frank Robinson 159 1533 1964 1974 28-38 6442 974 1573 276 33 312 978 831 .289 .390 .524
    5 Willie Stargell 153 1511 1964 1974 24-34 6118 849 1531 290 40 335 1056 638 .285 .364 .541
    6 Reggie Jackson 152 1074 1967 1974 21-28 4389 623 1004 181 23 218 629 533 .267 .364 .502
    7 Roberto Clemente 151 1220 1964 1972 29-37 5195 770 1578 226 91 148 735 381 .332 .381 .511
    8 Harmon Killebrew 148 1492 1964 1974 28-38 6100 780 1290 173 13 336 981 1036 .259 .386 .501
    9 Willie Mays 148 1301 1964 1973 33-42 5159 804 1250 190 34 254 724 673 .283 .377 .513
    10 Frank Howard 147 1405 1964 1973 27-36 5523 631 1305 178 23 283 806 654 .271 .359 .494
    11 Carl Yastrzemski 145 1658 1964 1974 24-34 7086 979 1738 322 32 259 939 1050 .292 .397 .487
    12 Boog Powell 140 1495 1964 1974 22-32 5909 685 1346 208 7 263 927 802 .269 .369 .471
    13 Billy Williams 138 1717 1964 1974 26-36 7448 1046 1986 324 60 318 1072 722 .299 .368 .510
    14 Al Kaline 136 1385 1964 1974 29-39 5458 741 1324 232 21 184 693 701 .284 .377 .461
    15 Tony Oliva 135 1462 1964 1974 25-35 6218 818 1761 315 48 206 869 402 .309 .356 .489
    16 Joe Torre 134 1618 1964 1974 23-33 6761 805 1826 267 44 211 971 627 .303 .373 .467
    17 Jim Wynn 134 1506 1964 1974 22-32 6384 902 1375 235 31 251 800 925 .257 .366 .453
    18 Reggie Smith 133 1157 1966 1974 21-29 4863 671 1224 230 42 172 636 496 .285 .359 .478
    19 Norm Cash 132 1443 1964 1974 29-39 5453 684 1243 168 26 249 725 643 .264 .356 .470
    20 Joe Morgan 132 1338 1964 1974 20-30 5909 871 1332 225 66 125 497 926 .273 .389 .423
    21 Ron Santo 132 1670 1964 1974 24-34 6994 887 1679 260 49 268 1022 897 .281 .373 .475
    22 Sal Bando 131 1150 1966 1974 22-30 4787 598 1050 170 22 150 634 629 .260 .365 .425
    23 Bobby Bonds 131 1014 1968 1974 22-28 4610 765 1106 188 42 186 552 500 .273 .356 .478
    24 Willie Horton 131 1226 1964 1974 21-31 4808 563 1201 179 29 222 734 376 .277 .339 .485
    25 Tony Perez 131 1452 1964 1974 22-32 5886 737 1509 253 45 238 915 509 .285 .348 .485
    26 Rusty Staub 131 1532 1964 1974 20-30 6376 709 1563 291 29 172 787 742 .284 .371 .442
    27 Johnny Bench 130 1094 1967 1974 19-26 4588 612 1096 197 17 212 745 451 .270 .340 .483
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 12/16/2016.

    .

    Comments on Dick Allen Ruled The Batters Box From 1964-74

    1. Evan3457
      December 16th, 2016 | 3:23 pm

      That Allen was a supremely talented hitter…there is no question about that.

      As to whether he was worth having on the team…
      From “The Politics of Glory“, by Bill James, p. 322-325:

      The ‘other stuff’, the stuff that is gradually being forgotten and revised and rewritten out of existence, is that Allen never did anything to help his teams win, and in fact spent his entire career doing everything he could to keep his teams from winning…

      On a sports team, the best and most talented players are the leaders, for good and bad, because they’re the people that everybody pays attention to. Allen had so much talent that he was always the center of attention, and in addition to that he was a manipulator of extraordinary skill. He could, and can, charm a rabbit out of its whiskers. And having convinced his teammates A, B and C that he was great guy who had been misunderstood, he would immediately begin to convince them that teammate D was a racist, teammate E didn’t want to win, the press was out to get them all and the manager was an idiot for playing teammate X, rather than teammate C. Every team he played for eventually degenerated into warring camps of pro-Dick Allen and anti-Dick Allen factions.

      In 1965, when the Phillies were trying to overcome the memory of having blown the pennant in the last few days of the 1964 season, Allen got into a fight with a teammate early in the season, forcing a trade. For four years after that, Allen engaged in constant headline-making battles with his managers, and the Phillies, a young team at that time, never did come together…

      In 1975, after Allen had won the MVP Award by leading the White Sox to a 12-game improvement in 1972, Allen ridiculed the manager (Chuck Tanner) behind his back, expressed his dislike of three teammates and ‘voluntarily retired’ to force a trade. That team didn’t go anywhere, either.

      In 1976, when the Phillies won the division with Allen at the end of his career, Allen ripped management and threatened not to play in the playoffs because the Phillies wouldn’t make a spot on the World Series roster for one of his teammates. The Phillies held two different victory celebrations, the pro-Dick Allen faction locking themselves in the trainer’s room to hold their own party…

      “Dick Allen was a victim of the racism of his time; that part is absolutely true…It doesn’t have anything to do with the issue. Willie Mays was a victim of the same racism. Jackie Robinson was. Roy Campanella was. Curt Flood was. Bob Gibson was. Hank Aaron was. Ernie Banks was. Monte Irvin was. Lou Brock was. Minnie Minoso was. Roberto Clemente was…The best of them used the racism of the outside world to bond the team together, us against them. Allen directed his anger at the targets nearest him, and by so doing used racism as an explosive to blow his own teams apart…

      “When the White Sox were trying to trade Dick Allen in 1974, somebody asked Joe Burke of the Royals whether he was interested, ‘I wouldn’t pay the waiver price for him,’ Burke replied. ‘I wouldn’t pay a dollar for him. I wouldn’t take him if you paid me $10,000.’ That’s the issue. Did he have value? Did he help his teams win?

      He did more to keep his teams from winning than anybody else who has ever played major-league baseball. And if that’s a Hall of Famer, I’m a lug nut.

    2. December 16th, 2016 | 7:41 pm

      Babe Ruth was a bit of a handful too.

    3. waltcoogan
      December 17th, 2016 | 3:32 am

      @ Steve L.:

      Bill James’ reading strikes me as cursory and nearly deductive, trying to legitimize his ridiculous claim that Allen “never did anything to help his teams win” and his even more extreme statement that Allen “did more to keep his teams from winning than anybody else who has ever played major-league baseball.” The sheer offensive statistics render those comments preposterous, and even if Allen consistently created a deleterious effect on team chemistry (an unclear proposition), his skill in the batter’s box surely rendered him an asset. You just cannot lead the major leagues in OPS+ (thus arguably constituting baseball’s most valuable hitter) over an eleven-year period loaded with future Hall of Famers and not be an asset.

      One could probably draw an analogy to Gary Sheffield, a contemporary (African-American) right-handed slugger who suffered his share of controversies, squabbles with ownership and management, and comments that occasionally proved divisive among teammates. But ultimately, no one would doubt that Sheffield, as an elite hitter, created a strong impact on winning overall. One would also see that in certain situations, such as Florida and Atlanta (and also San Diego, Detroit, and with the New York Mets), Sheffield hardly created any controversy at all. Chipper Jones later called him one of his favorite teammates, while Bobby Cox labeled Sheffield “pleasant.” If he felt that he was being treated with honesty and respect, Sheffield constituted no problem, and Allen may well have been the same. But in Allen’s era, especially for a black man, the odds of transmitting “your side of the story” were much slimmer.

      Of course, one might counter that Sheffield’s teams often did win in a major way–a World Series title in Florida in 1997, a National League-best 101 wins for Atlanta in 2002 and 2003, and three American League East crowns with the Yankees from 2004-2006. But those results surely just meant that Sheffield ended in up in more favorable and talent-rich situations than Dick Allen. After all, the Braves had won ten straight division titles (including five National League pennants and a World Series) before Sheffield arrived and won two more division championships in a row after he departed for richer dollars in New York. Speaking of the Yankees, they had reached the postseason nine straight times before Sheffield arrived, winning seven divisional crowns during that span, including the previous six in a row. Of course, the Yankees had also won six American League pennants and four World Series in the eight years preceding Sheffield’s arrival. If Dick Allen had joined, say, the Oakland Athletics or the Baltimore Orioles during their dynastic runs circa the early 1970s, would he really have impeded the success of those clubs? James’ dubious analysis suggests that he would have done exactly that, but Allen never joined that type of team.

    4. waltcoogan
      December 17th, 2016 | 5:27 am

      … intriguing to note that the top six players on the chart were all African-American.

      Some white fans ask why the decline in African-American players matters, and some African-Americans unfortunately now refer to baseball as a “white man’s game.” Both perspectives are tragically mistaken. The decline matters because if you are not drawing from the best athletic talent of every major ethnic community, the game is missing out—imagine this chart without all those African-American stars. And historically, baseball constituted a black man’s game as much as a white man’s game, even if MLB barred blacks until 1947. (African-Americans, of course, established their own leagues in response.)

      I wish that Commissioner Rob Manfred would induce every team to run a baseball youth academy in its own city, as the Cincinnati Reds have now done, opening their facility in 2014.

    5. Evan3457
      December 18th, 2016 | 5:20 am

      Steve L. wrote:

      Babe Ruth was a bit of a handful too.

      True, he was a pain in the neck to his managers and owners, but he was mostly loved by his teammates. He didn’t prevent his teams from winning. He won 3 titles as a pitcher, and 4 more as a hitter. His teams won 10 pennants, all together.

    6. Evan3457
      December 19th, 2016 | 7:33 pm

      @ waltcoogan:
      Which doesn’t explain the Joe Burke quote, coming as it did during Burke’s 1st year as Royals’ GM, while they were still trying to build a team towards title contention. And coming as it did in the middle of Allen’s last great season, when he made the All-Star team, and led the AL in slugging and OPS.

      Burke was GM/President of the Royals from 1974 to 1992, and he was one of the men responsible for building them into a multiple division winner and eventually, winning their first title in 1985. James always puts a lot of stock in the executives who built that first set of winning Royals’ teams.

    7. waltcoogan
      December 23rd, 2016 | 3:30 am

      @ Evan3457:

      Okay, but I am not sure if any of Burke’s insight was anything other than secondhand, and James may have been too uncritical of Kansas City executives in certain instances because of personal bias (just on a natural, human level).

      I am not saying that James does not possess a point to some extent, just that he overstates it in nearly preposterous fashion. And James wrote this commentary a long time ago, right? I wonder if he still feels the same way, and I doubt that any of James’ prominent sabermetric descendants would agree with him. Certainly, he may have mistook correlation for causation in many instances regarding Allen.

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.