If any of you guys watch or listen to "Mike" and "Mike in the Morning" you know why I am writing this particular article.
Earlier this week, Eric Kuselias said that Manny was the greatest right-handed hitter of all-time ahead of men like Willie Mays, Joe Dimaggio, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Aaron. (A-Rod and Vlad I don't include since their careers are not over.)
First of all, all of these men played in an era of a higher-mound and pitching dominance. The game was built for the pitchers to have the advantage and only truly great hitters could excel.
Manny Ramirez played in the juiced era. I am not saying that he did steroids, but other factors of the era increase offensive productivity. For example, ballparks got ridiculously small in order to seat more people and create more offense. Second, the mound was made high after the Bob Gibson era to stimulate offensive stats.
Now, Manny Ramirez has some stunning stats. His career batting average is .313 and his OPS is exactly 1.000. (.410 OBP and .590 SLG). His 1693 RBIs put him in the top 25 all time and his 516 home runs put him into the once legendary club.
By the time he is done Manny will probably have around 600 HR, 1900 RBI, and have a slight dip in his batting average, OBP, and SLG (projected stats, if he keeps hitting like his stats this year for three more years). Probably, they will finish at .305, .400, and .580. This does make him one of the greatest right-handed hitters but, in no way will it make him the undisputed greatest right-handed hitter.
Jimmie Foxx is a right-handed hitter who was better than Manny Ramirez. Jimmie Foxx was the second player to reach 500 HR and the fastest to that mark (until A-Rod).
Jimmie, like Joe, batter .325 had an OBP of .425 and a SLG of .609. These are all numbers that Manny will never get to. Like Mays Foxx's last three years in the MLB hit those averages hard. During that time he averaged .250, and OBP around .320, and a SLG of .400.
Jimmie hit 534 home runs, 1922 RBI, and 2646 hits. Manny may pass him in HR and hits but Manny won't touch. Jimmie Foxx was also the first great right handed power hitter of all time.
Let's look at "The Say Hey Kid," Willie Mays. Willie is considered to be one of the greatest men ever to play the sport. He was the first five-tool player. But even if you take away the other three tools he is one of the greatest right handed batter of all time.
Willie Mays' batting average was .302 his OBP is .384, and his SLG is only .557. These numbers are lower than Manny's but not due to Willie's lack of hitting ability. First, as previously stated, Willie Mays was a part of that era where pitchers had microscopic ERAs and dominated the game. To put up those numbers during that period is amazing.
Secondly his averages are diminished due to the last three or four years of his career. During that time he batted about .250 and was a shell of the man he once was. The great Willie Mays was over 40 playing for the New York Mets which is a time many have forgotten or wish to forget.
Despite that Willie Mays is third all time with 660 HR (I don't count Bonds for obvious reasons) had 1903 RBI and had 3283 hits. Manny will never reach 3000 hits and will not hit more HRs than a man who played in the pitching dominated era.
The mound now a days is lower giving pitchers less leverage and less dominance. This has given players in the 90s and 2000s, like Manny, to put up gaudy numbers
Now we will look at Joe Dimaggio, the Yankee Clipper himself. I am a Yankee fan and Joe Dimaggio should be considered one of the greatest right handed hitters ever. On Mike and Mike he wasn't even considered in Manny's league when it came to hitting.
Joe D's career batting average was .325, OBP .398, and SLG of .579. Now this is where Joe's numbers fall off. He only has 361 HR, 1537 RBI and 2214 hits.
Once again there are reasons for those that do nothing to take away Joe's greatness at the plate. First in the prime of his career he missed the 1943, 1944, and 1945 season to fight in WWII. (This was a era where athletes believed it was their responsibility to serve their country and didn't dodge like the Ali in Nam. There should be more Pat Tillmans in the world.) He lost time where he was 29-32. Had he put up the numbers, he had before the war, he would have had 100 more HR, 400 more RBI, and 550 more hits. That would have given his 461 HR (though still not 500), 1937 RBI (more than Willie), and 2764 hits (a number Manny could reach).
He also played in the time of pitcher dominance but his biggest problem was Yankee Stadium. Yankee's who were lefties back in the day had success due to the short porch in right field that measured 295 and 350 to right center. Right handers on the other hand had to hit into 320 in the left field corner and a ridiculous 490 feet to right center.
Until the renovations, Monument Park used to be park of the field. Hundreds of balls that Joe hit to right center, that would have been home runs any where else, became lazy fly balls. Joe could have easily hit 500 home runs in any other ballpark and maybe 600 if WWII did not happen.
Manny Ramirez has played in smaller ballparks his whole career. In Fenway, the small stadium not only helped him to hit more home runs, but the Green Monster gave him the ability to get more doubles and singles on balls that would be fly outs at Yankee Stadium. When he was with the Indians, Jacob's Field's left field wall was 325 and left center was 370.
Lastly in this comparison is Hammerin' Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron is the model of consistency when it comes to hitting. Though he never had the eye popping years that Manny, Foxx, and Willie had every year for 22 years he would hit around 35 HR, hit over .300 and get around 100 RBI. For his career, Hank is the all time home runs and RBI king with 755 HR and 2297 RBI. He has the most hits of anyone who only batted right handed (Pete Rose – switch and Ty Cobb – left) with 3771 hits. His BA is .305, his OBP is .377 and his SLG was .577. However, Hank played in the peak of the this era. His consistency led him to a record 17 season with at least 150 hits and 18 years of at least 25 HR.
No matter what people say, Manny Ramirez should never be considered the greatest right handed hitter of all time. Can he be in the debate as one of the greatest right handed hitters of all time? Sure. However, to say he is the greatest or that the closest anybody can come is equal to Manny is insane.