New York Yankees

Joe DiMaggio & Ted Williams in 1941 vs. Roger Maris & Mickey Mantle in 1961

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21:  A view of the Yankee Stadium at sunset prior to the start of the last game at Yankee Stadium between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees on September 21, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankee Stadium held it's inaugural game on April 18, 1923 against the Boston Red Sox and tonight's match will be the final game to be played at the historic stadium. During it's 85 years as 'The Home of Champions,' the stadium has also been known as 'The House that Ruth Built' and 'The Cathedral.' The stadium has been host to 33 World Series, three Papal visits and has been visited by legends such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Bera, Mickey Mantle and boxing great Muhummad Ali. In 2009 the Yankees will move across the street to a newly constructed stadium estimated to cost $1.3 billion.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Harold FriendChief Writer IMay 22, 2012

Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris had one of the greatest seasons any duo in history ever produced. So did Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

When he first arrived on the baseball scene with the Cleveland Indians in 1957, Maris was considered by many to be "the next Mickey Mantle."

Mantle was going to be the next Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio, or both.

In 1941, Williams batted .406/.553/.735 with a league-leading 37 home runs and 120 RBIs. What was good then but has become incredible today is that Williams struck out 27 times in 606 plate appearances.

No matter how many more years baseball is played, Williams will remain the last player to hit .400.

DiMaggio's 1941 was more spectacular, but he didn't have Williams' statistics. He batted .357/.440/.643 with 30 home runs and a league-leading 125 RBIs.

DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games and struck out 13 times in 622 plate appearances.

Let's review that again.

Williams struck out 27 times in 606 plate appearances and DiMaggio struck out 13 times in 622 plate. Holy Mark Reynolds, Batman.

In 1961, Maris and Mantle were involved in the great Babe Ruth home run chase. Maris hit .269/.372/.620 with 61 home runs and a league-leading 141 RBIs. He had 67 strikeouts in 698 plate appearances.

Mantle batted .317/.448/.687 with 54 home runs and 128 RBIs. Mantle struck out 112 times.

Maris won the MVP award in 1961. DiMaggio won the MVP award in 1941. A solid case can be made for Mantle, not Maris, as the MVP, but it was close and they were teammates.

Williams had a better season that DiMaggio, but DiMaggio's pennant-winning New York Yankees finished 17 games ahead of Williams' runner-up Boston Red Sox.

Combined, DiMaggio and Williams had a higher batting average, a better on base percentage and a better slugging percentage than Maris and Mantle. They drove in more runs.

Maris and Mantle combined for 115 home runs compared to DiMaggio and Williams' 67 home runs.

As Joe Girardi recently said, “You can drive in a lot of runs hitting 25 to 30 home runs."

Williams and DiMaggio had great 1941 seasons, but the fact that Williams became the last .400 hitter and DiMaggio set the consecutive game hitting streak links them. The Babe Ruth chase links Maris and Mantle.

Of course, no teammates ever had a season comparable to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1927.

Ruth hit .356/.486/.772 with 60 home runs and 164 RBIs. Gehrig batted .373/.474/.765 with 47 home runs and 175 RBIs.

Don't anyone dare mention Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa in 2001 as better than Williams and DiMaggio in 1941.

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