Josh Hamilton Vs. Mickey Mantle: MLB's Top 20 and Their Historical Likeness

Dan Tylicki@DanTylickiAnalyst IOctober 28, 2010

Josh Hamilton Vs. Mickey Mantle: MLB's Top 20 and Their Historical Likeness

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers is intentionally walked by the New York Yankees in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by R
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    We all know of the baseball greats, the players whose performances have stood the tests of time. Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Lefty Grove, not to mention the obvious ones. We know of those who are leading the charge in today's game. Josh Hamilton, Tim Lincecum, Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, just to name a few.

    The best in the game match up with the best of yesteryear, sometimes in ways that can be surprising. In the October 24 New York Times, George Vecsey compares Josh Hamilton to Mickey Mantle in ways that surprised myself. The two were troubled, yet were two of the best hitters of their respective eras.

    This is just one of many comparisons between 20 of the top players in baseball and their respective historical counterparts. The comparisons are based on build, ability, stats, and just about anything else that makes a baseball player a baseball player, for better or worse.

Josh Hamilton and Mickey Mantle

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 19:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers round the bases after hitting a solo homerun in the ninth inning against the New York Yankees in Game Four of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 19, 2010 in the
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    These two greats get many, many comparisons. Both are great, power-hitting outfielders, and both are great five-tool players. Their similarities in their personal lives, however, bring the comparison to another level.

    Vecsey's New York Times article below, published a few days ago, shows the similarities very well: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/sports/25vecsey.html?_r=1

Albert Pujols and Stan Musial

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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 16: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits an RBI double against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium on September 16, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    How well does this work out? Two of the most beloved players in St. Louis history just happen to be very much alike. Both are first baseman, both have hit for power and average, both are multiple MVP winners, and both were the face of the Cardinals' franchise.

    The similarities do not end there though. If one were to watch a video of their swings side by side, the two are almost identical. Everything's the same except for some miniscule differences (Pujols' follow-through is one-handed, Musial's was two-handed).

Tim Lincecum and Sandy Koufax

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 16:  Pitcher Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game One of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 16, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Phot
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    The Lincecum-Koufax comparison has been thrown around quite a bit. Both are lanky hurlers with similar deliveries, and their strikeout numbers are both tops at their times. Koufax's K/9 inning peak was 10.5, as was Lincecum's, and both are no question the aces for very good pitching rotations.

    Giants fans are hoping, I'm sure, that the end of Lincecum's career doesn't match Koufax's.

Roy Halladay and Walter Johnson

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 21:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Here's an easy one. Walter Johnson was the longtime Washington Senators ace who became one of the first five hall of famers. His 110 shutouts is unrivaled, and his 417 wins could be even higher if he had played for a winner.

    Roy Halladay is the same way. His 169 wins could have been higher on the Yankees or Red Sox, and his 58 complete games and 19 shutouts dwarf any other active player. While he did later become a Phillie, he stayed loyal to Toronto for a long time.

Derek Jeter and Barry Larkin

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice against the Texas Rangers in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Derek Jeter was a tough one to figure out. All-around shortstops are not easy to come by, but with Barry Larkin, the two fit together surprisingly well. Aside from being right-handed shortstops who can fit nearly anywhere in the lineup (but were best as a #2 or 3 hitter), the two stuck with their teams throughout their careers and were among the faces of their franchise.

CC Sabathia and David Wells

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20:  CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Get
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Finding a great pitcher with Sabathia's abilities are not too difficult. Finding a pitcher with Sabathia's ability, height, and weight, is a much taller order. The closest person we can get on this one is David Wells. Both had great careers, both took a while to hit their peaks, and both won World Series titles with the Yankees.

Evan Longoria and Chipper Jones

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays runs after hitting a two run homerun against the Texas Rangers in the 5th inning during game 4 of the ALDS at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 10, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Phot
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Evan Longoria and Chipper Jones seem to be two peas in a pod. Especially with the apparent gap in top third baseman in between the two, Longoria and Jones are often compared. Both started off highly regarded young batters in their farm systems, and developed into great players quite quickly.

    I'm sure Rays fans would love to see him play like Chipper Jones and be the face of the franchise for many years to come.

Cliff Lee and Randy Johnson

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 27:  Cliff Lee #33 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in Game One of the 2010 MLB World Series at AT&T Park on October 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    There have been comparisons after Lee's recent performances in the playoffs to Sandy Koufax. While these aren't unfounded, a more accurate depiction would be Randy Johnson. Looking past the obvious height and delivery differences, the two are quite similar.

    Both rose to greatness late (both their first great seasons came at 29), both can strike out without difficulty, and Johnson's half season with Houston seems to mirror Lee's half-season with Philadelphia in terms of dominance. It would be great to see Lee even come near some of the Big Unit's numbers, but since he's just now hitting his stride, it could happen.

Felix Hernandez and Steve Carlton

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 05:  Starter Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on August 5, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    I'm trying to avoid comparing lefty and righty pitchers, but here is a notable exception. Hernandez and Carlton are two fireballers who got their starts early. Hernandez led the league in batters faced this year and looks to do so many times, much like Carlton did. Hernandez can get wild, but so did Carlton; both had double-digit wild pitch counts many times.

    Beyond that, many Hernandez for Cy Young supporters are comparing his season with Carlton's 1972 season, when his sub-2.00 ERA and 27 wins (nearly half of his team's) got him the Cy. While it's not a great comparison (27-10 is a Cy win total, unlike 13-12), the fact that King Felix is getting these comparisons is a great sign for him.

Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees bats against the Texas Rangers in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 6-1. (Pho
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    I hate to bring up MLB politics and the like by combining A-Rod and BB, so I'm taking a different approach. Let's look at Rodriguez and Bonds when they were just started out, Seattle v. Pittsburgh. Both were five-tool players who could steal, hit, hit for power, field, not strike out much, and score a lot of runs.

    Any further comparisons, whether fair or not have already been made time and time again.

Carl and Sam Crawford

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Outfielder Carl Crawford #13 of the Tampa Bay Rays catches a fly ball against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on September 29, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Another comparison that seems to fit all too well.

    Sam Crawford, the deadball era star of the Tigers, is baseball's all-time triples leader, a .300 hitter, and was a force in the outfield. Carl Crawford is the active triples leader and actually has a chance to take over Sam's record. Both are ideal leadoff hitters who can get a rally going immediately.

    Some compare him to Rickey Henderson, but this seems a more apt comparison to me, even if the elder Crawford didn't steal as often.

Roy Oswalt and Jim Bunning

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates after ending the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphi
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    If one just looks at stats on this one, it doesn't make too much sense. After all, Oswalt's win-loss record looks more comparable to Dizzy Dean's right now than Bunning's. If we look at it through the eyes of the Phillies though, it makes more sense.

    Both players had 20 game win seasons and were leading the league in games started, yet around 30, their win-loss records began to fall. They were still pitching well, but it was more difficult to see. After both signed with the Phillies at 32, a major turnaround ensued. Oswalt went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in his first part of the season, and Bunning went 19-8 and onward to a Hall of Fame career.

Miguel Cabrera and Frank Robinson

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 19:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers runs the bases after his first inning two run home run against the New York Yankees on August 19, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Im
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    It's rather astounding how well these two fit. When Frank Robinson burst onto the scene in 1956, he was hitting for average and power without a problem. Miguel Cabrera was the same way, having hit 100 RBi in nearly every season of his career.

    Beyond that, if one looks at Robinson's stats through 30, they're as follows: .304 AVG, 373 HR, 1131 RBI, 1855 hits. That sounds like a very realistic picture of where Cabrera will be when he reaches 30. All Cabrera needs is a couple of MVP trophies and the two will really look alike.

Joey Votto and Jeff Bagwell

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    CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 10:  Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds participates in batting practice before the start of  Game 3 of the NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies  at Great American Ball Park on October 10, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by And
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When Joey Votto and Jeff Bagwell entered their fourth seasons, they branched out into another level. Votto led the league in OPS, finished in the top three in batting average, HR, and RBI, and led the Reds to the playoffs. Bagwell, meanwhile, easily led the league in OPS, had nearly identical HR/RBI totals to Votto, and won the MVP that year.

    The two are a staple at first base for their respective teams, and the Reds are hoping hsi career does turn out like Bagwell's.

Adam Wainwright and Warren Spahn

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 24: Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches his way to his 20th win of the season against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 7-1
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Okay, one more lefty-righty split. It took both Spahn and Wainwright until their mid-20s to become staples in their rotation, but once they did, the 19-20 game win seasons just kept coming. They have their own pitching duos as well (Wainwright/Carpenter v. Spahn/Sain).

    It's tough to say if this will hold up, since Wainwright is just coming into greatness now, and Spahn pitched until his mid-40s. If Wainwright fails to win a Cy Young Award this year again, then it's not too bad. Despite his great seasons, Spahn didn't win one until he was 36, though he probably should have won others.

Joe Mauer and Bill Dickey

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 10: Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins prepares to bat against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Twins defeated the White Sox 12-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Joe Mauer is easily one of the best hitters in the game, let alone hitting catchers. Bill Dickey, likewise, was the premiere hitting catcher of his time. Both lefties, both hit .300 just about every year, and both hit enough RBIs and extra base hits to be productive.

Kevin Youkilis and Monte Irvin

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    SEATTLE - JULY 23: Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 23, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Another one that's a stretch, but when you look at when both were healthy, the two are similar. Both right-handed first basemen, Irvin was a walk machine, getting 70 in 1954. In his career year for the majors, 1951, he hit .312 with 24 HR, 121 RBI and 89 walks.

    The walks aren't too far off from the Greek God of Walks' career high (91), and his career year of .312/29/115 looks pretty similar as well.

Josh Johnson and Bob Gibson

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 13:  National League All-Star Josh Johnson #55 of the Florida Marlins throws a ptich during the 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 13, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    When one speaks of Bob Gibson, the 1968 season comes to mind. Even though he had a league-leading 1.12 ERA, he somehow still had nine losses. For Johnson, despite a league-leading 2.30 ERA this past season, he only had a 10-6 record to show for it.

    What actually makes these two comparable though, is that they're the workhorses of their rotations. They keep their ERA down, they especially limit home runs, and even when their win-loss record doesn't show it, they seem to have amazing seasons.

Justin Morneau and Fred McGriff

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 30: Justin Morneau #33 of the Minnesota Twins watches the flight of his solo home run in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers during their game on June 30, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Fosl
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Justin Morneau's career may already be looking better than McGriff's, seeing as how he has an MVP award. Nonetheless, both these lefties have had up and down years as the top bat in their staffs batting average-wise, but when they're on they can hit .320 pretty well. Both can draw walks, both have great HR and RBI totals, and both are first basemen that a team would not want to do without.

Ichiro and Nobody

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    ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 29, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    This is not a cop-out. Look at all of his stats and his demeanor throughout everything. His approach to the plate, his enormous hit numbers, his low (given his hits) OBP, and everything else. The way that Ichiro plays the game is just different than any other baseball great.

    Ricvkey Henderson doesn't have the at-bats. Earle Combs doesn't have the stolen bases. Others may have played the game like Ichiro but weren't great at it. He, more than any other player on here, is unique to the game.