Friday, July 15, 2011

Ted Williams: Best Left Fielder of All-Time

Stan Musial and Barry Bonds (who may be the best of all-time, except for steroids) were iconic left fielders, but even they cannot touch the "Splendid Splinter."  Ted Williams, who roamed in front of the Green Monster for the Red Sox from 1939-1960, may not have been just the greatest left fielder of all-time, but the greatest hitter of all-time.  His offensive statistics rank among the best ever despite the fact that Williams missed almost five full seasons to military service.

Williams was born on August 30, 1918 (ironic since the Red Sox won the World Series that year, and Williams was never able to win one) in San Diego, California and lived in the North Park neighborhood of the city.  He graduated from Herbert Hoover High School and signed with the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League before being sold to the Red Sox.  In 1938, Williams played for the AA Minneapolis Millers, where he hit .366 with 46 home runs and 142 RBIs.  He made his Red Sox debut in 1939.

The rest is history.  Over 19 seasons, "Teddy Ballgame" was masterful at the plate.  He batted .344, ranking seventh all-time, the highest average of any player who has played in the last 74 years.  He may have had an even higher average, but he was so stubborn that he refused to sacrifice power when teams employed the shift against him and he tried to smash balls through it anyway.  His career slugging percentage of .634 is second only to Babe Ruth.  His .482 on-base percentage is the highest of all-time.  He racked up 2,654 hits and hit 521 home runs, but he easily would have totaled over 3,000 hits and 600 home runs had he not missed so much time while serving during World War II and the Korean War.  His his at-bat of his career was one of his most memorable, as he hit his final home run of his career at a chilly and mostly empty Fenway Park.  Williams' stated goal was that when he walked down the street, people would point and say, "There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived."

1 comment:

  1. I had the distinct privilege of getting to play two innings in left field at Hoover High in the spring of '69. I was a back up catcher on the JV for a cross town HS and sometimes got put in left late in the game. Don't remember getting an AB, but distinctly recall wondering if I was walking the exact same ground the Great TW had. I was awed anyhow just playing at his high school.