The Historical Significance of Musial & Weaver
This year the baseball world lost two great men. Stan “the Man” Musial and Earl Weaver both died on January 19, 2013.
Musial retired with 55 Major League records. Many have talked up Musial’s career strikeout total, which is a mere 696 in 12,717 plate appearances. Compare that to the modern day whiff king Mark Reynolds who has managed to swing his way to 1,122 strikeouts in just 3,443 plate appearances. That puts Musial’s total into harsh perspective. Something gets a little lost when comparing stats like this from players of different eras. It’s paramount to keep in mind the evolution of the game. Today’s major leaguer hitters though bigger and stronger are facing pitchers that are also bigger and stronger. Today’s game also features flame throwing middle relievers who are aspiring to make closer money. Musial more than likely faced the same pitcher three times a game. My opinion on that matter is that more at-bats or plate appearances against a pitcher swings the advantage to the hitter.
Stan is a member of the historic 3,000 hit club. Other members with similar strikeout totals include:
Nap Lajoie (346) in 10,460 plate appearances
Paul Waner (376) in 10,766 plate appearances
Tris Speaker (395) in 11,992 plate appearances
Tony Gwynn (434) in 10,232 plate appearances
Eddie Collins (468) in 12,041 plate appearances
Ty Cobb (680) in 13,082 plate appearances
Honus Wagner (737) in 11,748 plate appearances
Wade Boggs (745) in 10,740 plate appearances
George Brett (908) in 11,625 plate appearances
Other notables who did not reach the 3,000 hit mark include:
“Wee” Willie Keeler (136) in 9,610 plate appearances
Joe DiMaggio (369) in 7,673 plate appearances
Ted Williams (709) in 9,788 plate appearances
•Please don’t forget that DiMaggio and Williams lost three of their prime years to the Armed Forces. Musial, lost one year at the age of 24, also due to service time.
••Just in case you were wondering Reggie Jackson is the all time strikeout king with 2,597 in 11,418 plate appearances.
•••The now retired Craig Biggio is the current strikeout leader of the 3,000 hit club at 1,753 in 12,504 plate appearances but that should be surpassed this season by Derek Jeter who currently sits at 1,743 in 11,895 plate appearances.
Earl Weaver was a tough customer to manager against. His style was basic and straightforward. His comments on his style lend to that. He was quoted as saying “pitching, defense and the three-run homer.” He also said “if you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get!” Let’s just say he didn’t manufacture much, but he did do a lot of winning. He ranks 22nd all time in wins with 1,480 and 6th all time in winning percentage with a .583 career mark. Weaver’s peers Sparky Anderson and Tommy Lasorda have career winning percentages of .548 and .526 respectively.
Current skippers with similar percentages include:
Davey Johnson (.564)
Mike Scioscia (.548)
Dusty Baker (.525)
Buck Showalter (.515)
The all time leader is Joe McCarthy who managed the Ruth/Gehrig Yankees from 1931-1946 and has a career mark of .615 during his 23-year managerial career.
Other more recent notables:
Bobby Cox’s career mark is (.556)
Joe Torre’s career mark is (.538)
Tony La Russa’s career mark is (.536)
The legacy of the underrated Weaver might be tainted because of his many career ejections (91-98 during the regular season depending on your source.) He was ejected from both ends of a doubleheader three times. Earl was also ejected from two games before they even started. Weaver was literally a dirt kicker. His tirades were classic and a blueprint for the future. If managed in New York or Boston he might be referenced as the best ever but since he spent his career in Baltimore he is just merely in the discussion.