Mickey Mantle: Numbers You May Not Know

by

Kenneth Matinale

Last updated: February 24, 2012

Introduction

Batting right handed against a right handed pitcher

Bunts

Why so few doubles?

Home v Road

Introduction

As this research is long term and continuing, check occasionally for updates.

baseball-reference.com has tons of great stuff about individual players.  However, it can’t have everything and the purpose here is to provide additional details about Mickey Mantle.  Here are the baseball-reference web pages for Mickey and an outline of what they include:

- regular:

        - Standard Batting including OPS+

        - Player Value (WAR, oWAR, dWAR, etc.)

        - Postseason

        - Standard Fielding

- more stats:

        - Standard Batting including OPS+

        - Player Value (WAR, oWAR, dWAR, etc.)

         - Advanced Batting (BAbip, RC, etc.)

        - Postseason Batting

        - All-Star Batting

        - Ratio Batting* (HR%, SO%, AB/HR, AB/SO, IP% (in play), etc.)

        - Win Probability

        - Baserunning & Misc. Stats* (RS%, XBT% (extra base taken), etc.)

        - Situational Hitting*

        - Cumulative Batting

        - Neutralized Batting (seasons converted to 162-game seasons)

* based on play-by-play accounts accumulated by RetroSheet, which may be incomplete (3.6% 1919 to 1973)

The data I used is taken primarily from the event logs in baseball reference for 99% of Mickey’s plate appearances (PA).  28 games from 1951-1954 were missing details, which I filled in primarily from RetroSheet.

One of the main things I will do is break down Mickey’s numbers versus righty pitchers and versus lefty pitchers.  In almost all cases Mickey batted righty against lefties and lefty against righties but there may be exceptions such as a game started by knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm, a righty, in which Mickey batted righty.


Batting right handed against a right handed pitcher

Hoyt Wilhelm started several games for Baltimore against the Yankees in the late 1950s.  In two of those Mantle grounded out to SS & 3B and did not hit anything to the right side, suggesting that he batted righty.

Friday, May 22, 1959, Memorial Stadium Baltimore:

Wilhelm had pitched a no-hitter against the Yankees Saturday, September 20, 1958, Memorial Stadium Baltimore Attendance: 10,941.  The Mick was 0 for 3:

flied out CF

flied out short CF

strike out (SO).

On May 22, 1959 the Yanks were in last place 9.5 games out of first.  Wilhelm walked six but allowed only one hit, a single to Jerry Lumpe in the 8th.  Mickey was 3 for 5 in his previous game in Detroit raising his batting average (BA) from .263 to .280.

New York Times May 22, 1959 by John Drebinger:

Even Mickey Mantle, causing a mild sensation by batting right-handed against a right-handed pitcher, did nothing to change either his luck or that of his team-mates.  He did draw two passes, but in two other tries he grounded out, once to the shortstop, then to the third baseman.

It was the first time The Switcher had batted right-handed against a right-handeder since Labor Day of 1957 in Washington.  He tried this trick that day against Jose Santiago of the Senators.

Wilhelm pitched to Mantle 67 times and faced only three other batters more: Al Kaline, Rocky Colavito, Frank Malzone.  Prior to May 22 1959 Mantle had 18 PA against Wilhelm:

4 BB, 2 intentional (IBB)

3 SO

1 single (1B)

1 for 14

For his career Mantle .v Wilhelm:

BA        OBP        SLG        OPS

.192        .358        .327        .685

Two HR, one 2B, 11 SO in 52 AB.

Regarding Times writer John Drebinger: he has at least two errors: Wilhelm’s 1958 no-hitter against the Yankees was in Baltimore, not at Yankee Stadium as Drebinger wrote.  His reference to “Labor Day of 1957 in Washington ... against Jose Santiago” is also incorrect.  In 1957 the Yankees played in Washington Friday, Saturday, Sunday Sep 6, 7, 8.  The Saturday game was started by Pedro Ramos but Mantle’s 1957 game log shows that he did not play in any of those games.

There was no Jose Santiago on Washington ever.  There were two pitchers named Jose Santiago.  One pitched for Cleveland and Kansas City in 1955 and 1956 and faced Mantle five times none later than August 27.  The other pitched for Red Sox and Athletics 1963-1970.

In 1957 Washington had both Ramos and Camilo Pascual, both born in Cuba.  They  pitched for Washington respectively 1955-1960 and 1954-1960.  Was Drebinger thinking of one of them and confusing Labor Day in early September with Memorial Day in late May?  In 1957 the Yanks played in Washington Wednesday May 29, (Ramos started) and a doubleheader Thursday May 30 (Pascual started game one).

Ramos pitched a complete game 6-2 victory in which Mantle went 2 for 3 including a "438-foot carom shot into the center-field bullpen for his tenth round-tripper" according to Times writer Louis Effrat.

Camilo Pascual pitched 5.33 and beat the Yankees 5-1; Mantle was 1 for 3 plus a walk.

However, we finally find what the confusingly inept Mr. Drebinger was attempting to convey.  In game two of the Memorial Day doubleheader the Yankees won 9-0 and Times writer Louis Effrat reports:

So one-sided was the nightcap that Mickey Mantle twice elected to try something that he never had attempted in the big league.  He batted right-handed against Evelio Hernandez, a right-handed pitcher.

Perhaps some of the 24,892 spectators, including Vice President Nixon, making up the season's largest crowd here, were startled to see Mantle swinging from the "wrong" side of the plate in the sixth inning.  With the Yankees nine runs to the good, no possible harm could be done, even though Mickey grounded to Rocky Bridges, who started a double play.

Billy Martin, who had singled before Mantle's first switch, again singled in the eighth, before Mickey went up.  This time the Oklahoma Kid , still on the right side of the plate, bounced to Milt Bolling at third base.  The latter bobbled the ball and Mickey was safe on the error.

Here two other references, neither of which mentions Mantle’s second PA righty against righty:

St. Petersburg Times Associated Press (AP) June 2, 1957 "Right Was Wrong":

WASHINGTON, (AP) - Mickey Mantle, switch hitting New York Yankee centerfielder, batted righthanded against a righthanded pitcher for the first time in his major league Career Thursday and hit into a double play.

Mantle came out swinging righthanded against Evelio Hernandez in the sixth inning of the second game with Washington after Billy Martin had singled.  Mickey grounded to Rocky Bridges who started the twin-killing.

The Windsor Daily Star May 31, 1957 "'Dad Knew Best' Mick Knows Now":

WASHINGTON - Mickey Mantle is sure now that "father knows best."

The Yankee slugger broke a pledge to his deceased father Thursday when he failed to switch-hit in the sixth inning of the second game with the Washington Senators.

Mickey batted righthanded against Evelio Hernandez, a right handed pitcher.  And he hit into a double play.  He had twice just missed homers batting left handed and decided to take a shot at the bleachers from the right side of the plate.

Mantle always has said he would never stop switching because he made such a promise to his father, who died five years ago.

Here are all of Mantle’s PA in that game:

Top first: Ted Abernathy - Lineout: 2B

Top third: Dick Hyde - Intentional Walk

Top fourth: Evelio Hernandez - Flyball: LF

Top sixth: Evelio Hernandez - Ground Ball Double Play: SS-2B-1B

Top eighth: Evelio Hernandez - Reached on E5 (Ground Ball); Martin to 2B

Maybe those “just missed homers” were foul balls.

Billy Martin played only 12 more games for the Yankees.  That final Yankee game was June 14 in Kansas City against the Athletics.  He was traded to the Athletics and next played June 16 against the Yankees in Kansas City.  The Yankees won both games.

The Copacabana New York City nightclub fight on Martin's May 16 birthday is generally considered the specific reason that Martin was traded, along with the Yankees having so many other good infielders: Gil McDougald, Jerry Coleman, Andy Carey, Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson and Jerry Lumpe.  But did Mantle's feeling frisky enough to bat righty against a righty following two singles by Martin cause the Yankees to fear that Martin's negative influence on their star had gone too far?

Why would Mantle bat from the wrong side against an unknown pitcher?

Evelio Hernandez, who allowed Brooks Robinson's first MLB home run on Sept. 29, 1956, was the third Washington pitcher, all right handers, and the Yanks led 7-0 by the time Mantle batted against him the first of three times in the top of the fourth.  Batting left handed Mantle flied out to LF.  Those were the only three PA Mantle ever had against Hernandez who pitched 58.66 innings in 18 games all for Washington in 1956 and 1957.  In his brief career Hernandez averaged only 3.7 SO per 9 innings.  However, BR Bullpen has this:

Evelio threw a big year at the Longhorn League in 1955 when his 23 victories along with 227 strikeouts both led the league …  As of last report Hernandez makes his residence in Miami, FL.

Like Ramos (22) and Pascual (23), the 25 year old Hernandez was born in Cuba.  In the 5th inning Yankee pitcher Bobby Shantz hit a two run single off Hernandez.  With the Yanks up 9-0 Martin led off the 6th with a single and then Mantle batted righty.  But why?  The Yanks had lost the previous two games in Washington and had a big lead but that could not have been so unusual.  Was it OK with Yankee manager Casey Stengel?  Mantle repeated it again in the 8th inning after Martin’s two out single.

Another Wilhelm game to investigate:

Saturday, September 5, 1959 at Yankee Stadium

 

The aforementioned New York Times writer John Drebinger wrote at the end of his account of the game:

in the sixth ... Mickey Mantle, with one out, cracked a single to center, Stole second and then raced on to third on a wide throw from Triandos.

But that was as far as The Switcher got.  Incidentally, Mantle makes an exception in his switch-hitting tactics and bats right-handed against the right-handed Wilhelm.  The single, however, was his only blow in four tries.

Does that mean that The Mick batted righty against Wilhelm in most if not all games in 1959?  In 19 PA in 1959 the only groundouts to SS or 3B are in the two games examined.  There was one game between them (May 22, 1959 and September 5, 1959): May 28, 1959:

Walk

Single to RF; Kubek to 3B

Flyball: 3B

Groundout: 2B-1B

No indication of Mantle batting righty in The Times.  The April 22, 1960 home opener before  35,645, the largest Yankee opening crowd since 1952, was the next game in which Mantle batted against Wilhelm he had three plate appearances:

Strikeout Looking

Home Run

Walk

The redoubtable Mr. Drebinger makes no mention of Mantle batting righty:

Mickey Mantle, forgetting his various woes and ailments, banged a tremendous home run off the upper deck of the right-field stand.  Mickey later stole a base.

Although I did not check The Times account for each game, I found no indication in Mantle’s PA log against Wilhelm that Mantle batted righty against Wilhelm any other time.

Mantle bunted twice against Wilhelm:

Sunday, May 25, 1958 game two of a doubleheader in Baltimore top 9, Yanks leading 6-3: popped out to Wilhelm.

Monday, September 4, 1967 first game of a doubleheader in Yankee Stadium bottom 8, Yanks leading 3-2: single to 2B.


Bunts

Click to see bunt data.

179 Plate Appearances (PA) ended with a bunt against 118 pitchers, 14 southpaws.  Most PA: Frank Larry 8, Paul Foytack 5.  Two PA against southpaws Chuck Stobbs and Ted Gray.

Most hits 3:

Willard Nixon 3 AB

Pedro Ramos 3 AB

Paul Foytack 5 AB

Frank Larry 7 AB

One sacrifice against each of 14 pitchers including southpaws Mel Parnell, Chuck Stobbs and Ted Gray.

143 PA with bases empty, four more with two outs: 147/179 = 82% bunting in a non-sacrifice situation.  14 sacs in 32 sacrifice situations: 43.8%.

In three games Mantle bunted twice, all at home:

Thursday, August 23, 1956 game 2 of doubleheader: 1B (1) Dixie Howell, Out (7) Paul LaPalme (L), HR (9) LaPalme.

Saturday, May 18, 1957: Out (1) Paul Foytack, Out (3) Foytack.

Saturday, September 02, 1961:  Sacrifice Maris scored RBI (4) Frank Larry, 1B (8) Hank Aguirre (L).

In 39 games Mickey bunted and homered, including Friday, April 17, 1953 when Mickey hit his “565” foot tape measure home run off lefty Chuck Stobbs in Washington, DC in the top of the fifth with two out, a runner on first, Yanks leading 2-1 and in the 9th against Julio Moreno no outs, no runners, Yanks leading 7-3 Mickey bunted to second for a base hit.

20 of those 39 times Mickey bunted and homered against the same pitcher, twice each against Lou Kretlow and Pedro Ramos.  Jack Harshman and Paul LaPalme were the only lefties among the 20.  In 8 of those 20 games Mickey bunted after homering; all times against righty pitchers, including Lou Kretlow twice.

99 home (55%)

80 road

16 PA against lefty pitchers, 163 against righties (91%).

PA        AB        H        Sac        SO        BA

179        165        87        14        28        .527

PA        AB        H        Sac        SO        BA

99        93        51        6        14        0.548 home

80        72        36        8        14        0.500 road

16        13        8        3        0        0.615 v southpaws

163        152        79        11        28        0.520 v righties

PA        AB        H        Sac        SO        BA

90        85        45        5        14        0.529 home v righties

9        8        6        1                0.750 home v southpaws

73        67        34        6        14        0.507 road v righties

7        5        2        2                0.400 road v southpaws

Inning        PA        AB        H        Sac        SO        BA

1        34        30        14        4        8        0.467

2        15        15        11                1        0.733

3        19        19        15                1        0.789

4        25        21        9        4        3        0.429

5        20        18        11        2        2        0.611

6        18        16        9        2        1        0.563

7        19        18        7        1        5        0.389

8        20        20        10                5        0.500

9        8        7        1        1        2        0.143

10        1        1        0                        0.000

        Pitcher

Year        Righty        Lefty

1951        5        2

1952        10        3

1953        3        2

1954        12        1

1955        15        1

1956        19        2

1957        13        1

1958        10        2

1959        12        0

1960        9        0

1961        4        1

1962        6        0

1963        5        0

1964        11        0

1965        11        0

1966        6        1

1967        1        0

1968        11        0

        163        16

        91.06%        8.94%

Mantle won his triple crown by bunting.

Mickey Mantle led AL in 1956: 130 RBI, 52 HR, .353 BA.  Ted Willliams was second in BA: .345.

Mantle had 188 hits in 533 AB.  Mantle attempted the most bunts in his career: 21 PA; 12 hits in 20 AB; one sac.  Without the bunts: 176 hits in 513 AB: .343.  Williams leads in BA and Mantle does not win the triple crown.


Why so few doubles?

Zero 2B v southpaws:

1963 at home 20 AB (0 3B, 2 HR)

1968 119 AB (0 3B, 7 HR):

- at home 58 AB (0 3B, 3 HR)

- on road 61 AB (0 3B, 4 HR)

From my Radical Baseball blog:

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2011 Why did Mickey Mantle hit so few doubles?

2B%: [2B]/[H]

Doubles as a percent of hits.  For batters with at least 4,000 AB:

David Ortiz is #1: 26%.

Mickey Mantle #932 out of 1,101: 14.24%...

Among 81 batters with 350 home runs through 2010 (Ortiz has 378 through 2011 but I don't have that data yet for all players):

Carlos Delgado is #1: 23.7%.

The Mick is #78.  Only Killbrew, Howard and Cash are lower, none of them with any speed.  For 15 of these 81 sluggers (18.5%) at least 20% of their hits were doubles.  

The obvious answer is that the Yankees instructed Mantle to not try for doubles and triples unless he could make it standing.  This would protect his increasingly fragile legs.


Home v Road

Click to see supporting data.

This regular public data is presented slightly differently.

Final seasons:

From my blog:

MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2011 Mickey Mantle (1965-1968): much worse batting lefty ... or was he?

BA    OBP SLG    OPS

.248    .389 .451    .840  lefty

.254    .388 .450    .839  righty

The Mick's HR per AB were almost dead even.

Read the entire post for more context.

Mantle's BA v. righty pitchers was higher than his BA v. southpaws in 1951 (.067), 1959 (.025), 1962 (.018), 1966 (.008), 1968 (.067).  There’s a symmetry to his first and last seasons.

In 1968, his final season, Mantle had 14 doubles and one triple, all against righty pitchers in 316 AB; also 11 HR.  Mantle had 119 AB (58 home, 61 road) v. southpaws, 7 HR (3 home, 4 road).  This suggests that he could no longer drive the ball batting righty.  BA at home v. southpaws .190, .230 road.  Against righties: .292 home, .209 road.  The Mick bunted in 11 PA in 1968, all against righties; 5 SO.  He bunted only once in 1967.  He must have known that he could no longer hit and was desperate.

PA        AB        H        Sac        BA

11        10        1        1        .100

BA

career:

home v. southpaws .322

home v. righties .297

road v. southpaws .339

road v. righties .267

v. southpaws .330

v. righties .281

Against righty pitchers Mantle had a .300 or higher BA only three times, all corresponding to his three highest BA (v southpaws/righties):

1956 .353 (.375/.342) first

home v. southpaws .408

home v. righties .347

road v. southpaws .338

road v. righties .335

1957 .365 (.421/.339) second to Ted Williams .388

home v. southpaws .417

home v. righties .370

road v. southpaws .426

road v. righties .313

1962 .321 (.309/.327) second to Pete Runnels .326

home v. southpaws .339

home v. righties .320

road v. southpaws .279

road v. righties .331

In 1962 Mantle’s BA home v. southpaws .339 is above his his career BA home v. southpaws: .322.  However, his road BA v. southpaws .279 was way below his .339.  17 hits in 61 AB.  If Mantle had four more hits for the season instead of 121 hits in 377 AB (.321) he would have had125 hits in 377 AB (.332).  He could have added those four hits comfortably to his road numbers against southpaws, increasing 17 hits to 21 in 61 AB and increasing that BA  from .279 to .344.

Some odds and ends:

1.

***   The End   (so far)   ***