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Playing With Numbers

After I had some fun trying to predict what Ichiro Suzuki’s hit total might look like if he had played his entire career in the United States, a couple of different Brilliant Readers — independently, I assume — wondered if I might try similar estimations for guys who lost years in the war, namely: Bob Feller, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. Obviously this has been done before by people much smarter and more astute about numbers than me, but, hey, my Internet service is back up we repaired a cut cable line (don’t ask) so, why not?

Before I get into it, I should point out that Brilliant Reader Steve wrote in with a fair point about Ichiro. He said that Ichiro’s age 20 season would have been 1994, the strike season. This led Steve to believe Ichiro never would have made it up at all that year because the season was cut short. That also made his age 21 season in 1995 when the season was again shortened. He thinks — and it’s fair — that my estimate of 4,056 hits might overshoot a reasonable estimate by 100 or so hits. Not that 3,956 hits is bad, but he thinks Ichiro might be just shy of 4,000.

Like I say, I think he makes a good point … but I still think, even with those circumstances, he’s over 4,000 hits and here’s why. I feel like he was such a dominant player at age 20, that I think he probably would have made an appearance as a 19-year-old, and would have made the Opening Day roster in 1994. The 1994 Mariners (and I’m assuming he would have played for the Mariners) were a dreadful team, and I think Ichiro would have been so obviously brilliant that the would have HAD to find a spot for him. Heck, A-Rod at age 18 got some at-bats for the Mariners that year. I think he’d have over 4,000.

I think (hope?) that’s a difference of reasonable opinion — and such differences go with the territory in these kinds of what-if games.

Bob Feller

Actual stats: 266-162, 3.25 ERA, 44 shutouts, 2,581 Ks, 1764 walks, 122 ERA+.

The gap: Feller famously enlisted in the Navy two days after Pearl Harbor, and he missed the entire 1942, 1943 and 1944 seasons and most of 1945.

The context: Feller was the best pitcher in the American League the three seasons leading into World War II. He led the league in wins, innings and strikeouts all three years, in ERA once, complete games and shutouts twice, he was all kinds of dominant. And his first full season back, he had the best season of his entire career, one of the best seasons ever for a pitcher, going 26-15 with a 2.18 ERA, 348 strikeouts, 36 complete games and 10 shutouts.

The result: Bob Feller for a long time would walk around with a sheet of paper that estimated what his final statistics would have looked like. He gave me one of those years ago … I wish I still had it somewhere.

My feeling is that it’s pretty easy to estimate Feller’s performance from 1942-45. He was at the height of his powers, the peak of his talent, and the fact that he was SO dominant his first full year back suggests that, if healthy (and all of these estimations assume good health), he would have put up numbers very similar to what he put up in 1940, 1941 and 1946.

So, my estimate of war years:

1942: 26-13, 2.65 ERA, 345 innings pitched, 290 strikeouts, 155 walks.

1943: 24-13, 2.66 ERA, 327 innings pitched, 273 strikeouts, 143 walks.

1944: 28-11, 2.54 ERA, 335 innings pitched, 277 strikeouts, 145 walks

1945: 24-13, 2.52 ERA, 333 innings pitched, 310 strikeouts, 161 walks

New career total: 363-209, 3.10 ERA, 71 shutouts, 3,672 Ks, 2,333 walks.

Of course, if Feller had REALLY thrown that many innings, it’s quite likely that he would not have been as good a pitcher in the late 1940s. But we’re playing the make-believe game here. One thing that seems sure — if Feller had pitched those four years, he’d be second all time in walks. Nolan Ryan, though, with 2,795 walks, is still in a league all his own.

Joe DiMaggio

Actual stats: .325/.398/.579 with 2,214 hits, 389 doubles, 131 triples, 361 homers, 1,390 runs, 1,537 RBIs.

The gap: DiMaggio missed 1943, 1944 and 1945 for World War II.

The context: DiMaggio was actually coming off the worst season of his relatively young career when he went into the army. He only — “only” in quotations — hit .305/.376/.498 with a career low in homers (21), RBIs (114) and total bases (304) … this, even though he had played in every game of the season. He went through various personal issues in 1942. His wife, Dorothy, left him and filed for divorce. The war weighed heavily on him.

Truth is that he never would again be the player he was from 1937-1941. For those five years, DiMaggio hit .350/.420/.638, drove in 125-plus runs every year, led the league in homers one season, in slugging one season, in batting average and total bases twice, played superior defense in center field, was a force of nature. Unlike Feller and Williams, he would not play at that extraordinary level after the war, in large part because of nagging injuries. He was very, very good in 1948, leading the league in homers and RBIs and winning the MVP award, but even that was not quite at the level of his amazing stretch from 1939-1941.

The result: DIMaggio’s three years off are not as straightforward as Feller’s because of his slight decline in 1942. Was that just a one-year blip because of distractions or something more? Obviously, I’m guessing here:

1942: .349/.422/.610 with 34 doubles, 10 triples, 28 homers, 112 runs, 125 RBIs.*

1943: .325/.401/.565 with 31 doubles, 10 triples, 26 homers, 109 runs, 115 RBIs.

1944: .323/.399/.564 with 30 doubles, 10 triples, 27 homers, 107 runs, 118 RBIs.

*He takes another MVP award away from Ted Williams.

New career total: .326/.399/.578 with 2,752 hits, 484 doubles, 162 triples, 442 homers, 1,718 runs, 1,895 RBIs.

In my view, the extra three years do not quite give DiMaggio any of the magical numbers — no 3,000 hits, no 500 homers, no 2,000 RBIs — but they certainly fill out the resume.

Ted Williams

Actual stats: .344/.482/.634 with 2,654 hits, 525 doubles, 71 triples, 521 homers, 1,798 runs, 1,839 RBIs.

The gap: Williams missed all of 1943, 1944 and 1945 for World War II. He misses almost all of 1952 and 1953 for the Korean War.

The context: Estimating Ted Williams’ career totals is the holy grail of these kinds of games because he missed the bulk of FIVE seasons — three of them when he was emerging as the best hitter since Babe Ruth.

The result: Well, we start with the World War II years. In 1941, of course, Williams hit .400. In 1942, he hit .356 and slugged .648. He went to war, came back, and in 1946 he hit .342/.497/.667. So, it’s pretty easy to take a stab at these three years:

1943: .370/.516/.702 with 41 doubles, 6 triples, 38 homers, 135 RBIs, 136 runs scored.

1944: .358/.506/.702 with 38 doubles, 7 triples, 42 homers, 141 RBIs, 139 runs scored.

1945: .344/.492/644 with 38 doubles, 6 triples, 36 homers, 134 RBIs, 137 runs scored.

Hey, it’s a guess.

The Korean War years are trickier because Williams’ body was beginning to break down. He only played 89 games in 1950 (though he clubbed 28 homers in those 89 games). He was outstanding in 1951, but not necessarily by his own standards — he led the league in on-base percentage and slugging, but hit .318 — 35 points below his career average coming into the season. IWhen he came back, he missed a lot of time with nagging injuries (he never played 140 games in a season after coming back from Korea) but the rate stats were remarkable. My guess:

1952: .332/..481/.624 with 24 doubles, 2 triples, 29 homers, 99 RBIs, 90 runs scored in 113 games.

1953: ..359/.514/.589 with 28 doubled, 3 triples, 35 homers, 112 RBIs, 104 runs scored in 129 games.*

*In reality, 1953 was the year Ted Williams almost died after his plane caught fire over Korea.

And now — big finish, the new career total:

New career total: 346/.486/.641 with 3,447 hits, 688 doubles, 94 triples, 687 homers, 2,385 runs, 2,423 RBIs.

This would make Williams the all-time leader in runs and RBIs, fifth in doubles and fourth in home runs. It’s dreamland stuff, of course, but it sounds about right to me.

40 Responses to Playing With Numbers

  1. Ed McDonald says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Ed McDonald says:

    I have always wonder if the missing years for those that served in WWII has helped to elevate their majesty, like the fact it was hard to find video footage of Led Zeppelin in their prime.

  3. Seiya says:

    What about Willie Mays and his 2 years in the Korean War?

    • Unknown says:

      YES, since he’d likely be the real home run king right now!

    • John Gale says:

      I think he may have passed Ruth, but he’d probably still be behind Aaron (especially since Aaron’s career ran three years after Mays’, so Mays wouldn’t have had anyone else to chase after passing the Babe). Anyway, he hit 20 homers in 121 games as a rookie (works out to about 25 for a full season–this was back when it was 154 games). He hit four in 34 games in his second year before it was interrupted by the war, and he missed all of what would have been his third year. He came back and hit 41 homers the following season and 51 the year after that.

      Given how young he was, I think it’s unlikely he would have hit more than 40 home runs in the season he missed or the one that was shortened. And frankly, he was playing quite poorly by his standards in 1952. Granted, it’s only 34 games, but he was on pace for just 18 homers for the season. Perhaps he would have gotten out of the slump (though keep in mind, this was before Willie was really Willie), so I’ll credit him with 25 homers (21 more than he actually hit) that year.

      So that gets him up to 681, which is 33 shy of the Babe. 33 seems like a reasonable estimate for 1953, and I’m guessing that Willie would have done whatever it took to break the record if he was just a few away. The problem is that I can’t really see him having more than 720-725 at the most (even if he hit 40 in both of the war years–pretty much the best-case scenario–that still only gets him to 740, 15 shy of Aaron), and Aaron was obviously beyond that. So if not for the war, I think Willie breaks Babe’s record, but he’s passed by Aaron shortly thereafter.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I’m OK with this, but don’t forget, when Mays retired he had nothing at all left. He hit 8, 8 and 6 HRs in his last three years, retiring at 42 after hitting .211 in 230 ABs. So even if he had Aaron to chase, there would have been no ability to hang on longer to break records. So, 15 shy might as well be 150 shy. He wasn’t going to hit 15 more HRs.

  4. springer says:

    Pretty sure Ted Williams wasn’t going to get within 27 home runs of Ruth’s career total and then retire.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I agree since he hit 29 in his last season in only 390 PAs. He was 41, and sometimes the body just can’t get through an entire year. When Chipper Jones retired, he felt he could still hit…. he just couldn’t get through the year without a lot of extra rest, and he had a lot of days his whole body was just swollen. That’s no fun anymore. Probably what happened to Williams… but if he had a record to shoot for, he could have pulled it together for another season or two.

  5. Wilbur says:

    Cecil Travis, Senator shortstop, lost a near-sure HOF career due to WWII. His pre-war numbers are startlingly good.

  6. Hoppin' John says:

    Feller pitched his 1000th big league inning at the ripe old age of 21.

    Holy smokes.

  7. richarder says:

    I’d like to see Babe Ruth’s projected stats if he started as an outfielder and the ball wasn’t dead.

  8. Chris Crook says:

    You’d have to think that William’s “decline” following Korea is in part due to the tough conditions inherent with fighting in a war. Obviously you can’t assume her wouldn’t pull a hammy rounding third, but you would have to think that time overeas would wear the body out a little quicker.

  9. John M. says:

    Absent the interruptions for military service, Teddy Ballgame certainly would have set the all-time mark for bases on balls as well; as it was, he retired in 2nd place with 2021, only 41 behind Babe Ruth.

    Even being fairly conservative and only assuming he would have an extra 600 walks in the missing years (700 strikes me as a better guess), that would still make Williams #1 today, with only Barry Bonds (2558) getting especially close.

  10. Tracy Mohr says:

    Feller’s a tough one to predict, because he had thrown 1448.1 innings through 1941, and was just turning 23. My guess is that his arm would have probably exploded along about 1946 if there was no war.

    • dshorwich says:

      Indeed. Feller threw almost 400 more innings through his age 22 season than anyone in the lively-ball era. Here are the top 10:

      Most innings pitched through age 22 season, 1920-present:

      Feller 1448.1
      Blyleven 1054.2
      McCormick 988.1
      Dierker 980.2
      Gooden 924.1
      Tanana 840.2
      Hunter 803.1
      Drysdale 802.1
      Houtteman 786.2
      Valenzuela 752.0

      Of these pitchers, only Blyleven pitched a long time *and* maintained a high level of excellence. As for the rest:

      McCormick retired after his age 32 season
      Dierker retired after his age 30 season
      Gooden…well, most of you probably remember what happened with him
      Tanana had his last dominating year at age 23, then hung around for a long time with mixed results
      Hunter retired after his age 33 season
      Drysdale retired after his age 32 season
      Houtteman retired after his age 29 season
      Valenzuela had his last good season at age 25, then hung around for a long time with mixed results

      While it’s possible Feller might have matched Blyleven’s combination of quality and longevity, it seems to me far more likely that if had continued to throw 300-350 innings a year from 1942-45 he would have been done by his early 30s, given that he was worked significantly harder than *any* young pitcher in the lively-ball era. Even with the years of rest his arm received during the war his last really good year was his age 32 season.

      This is not meant to diminish Feller’s accomplishments as a pitcher, nor his distinguished record of service during the war. But I don’t think it’s realistic to just plug another 1000 or so IP into his career and add those numbers on top of what he did achieve. It’s different with Williams and DiMaggio and other position players – sure, they might have been injured had they played instead of going off to war, but generally speaking position players don’t suffer the same kind of wear & tear as a pitcher does.

    • invitro says:

      Good stuff… thanks for posting.

  11. BobDD says:

    A different culture back then – men with that kind of fame and lifestyle signing up to go to war for $50 a month before they had to, like some of the ones mentioned in this post. A lot less of that nowadays and we’re the worse off for it. I live an electronic life of relative ease because of warriors that came before. Thank you Veterans.

  12. Tom G says:

    To me, the interesting World War II What-If’s aren’t the all-time greats, it’s the ones who have been largely forgotton because of the years they missed. Somehow the sports writers didn’t think Johnny Mize was worthy of the Hall-of-Fame — yet Joe Medwich who did play in 43, 44 and 45 somehow earned more than twice as many votes when they were on the ballot together.

    So many names on the 1942 leaderboard: Pesky, Gordon, Judnich, Reiser, Dom DiMaggio. . . always wonder what the War did to all of them. Some of them would have put together very good careers

    • Ducky Joe Medwick was a Triple Crown Winner (the last Triple Crown winner in the National League, incidentally) and that’s the kind of iconic achievement that gets you Hall of Fame votes.

      The writers really whiffed on Johnny Mize though, and you’re right, give him the 3 years in his prime he lost to the war, and his numbers would be right up there with the greats.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Mize’s numbers remind me of Dick Allen… another HOF whiff. Both had lifetime OPS numbers around .950. Mize had an OPS+ of 158, Allen’s was 156. How is that not HOF worthy?

    • invitro says:

      Well, hitting is not the only part of the game. Mize had +18 Rfield and Allen had -110. 128 runs is a big difference. And you know the Bill James quote: Allen “did more to keep his teams from winning than anyone else who ever played major league baseball.”

      I don’t know if I’d vote for Allen, but I can understand why others wouldn’t want to.

      (I have Mize as a second-tier HoFer. I hope Joe nominates him soon.)

    • Rob Smith says:

      I do realize that hitting his only part of the game. But, you have to admit that fielding was barely glanced at in HOF voting in the past. When Allen retired, though it was accepted that he was at least a below average fielder, it wasn’t quantified…. and I doubt that it was held against him. More likely his alledged surly attitude that didn’t endear him to sports writers caused the low level of support he received.

      BTW: Bill James rated Allen as the 2nd most controversial player ever. Also, prior to 2006 (steroids era players) Allen had the highest career slugging percentage of any player not in the HOF.

    • invitro says:

      My mistake on fielding. As you indicate, Allen’s offense is way more than enough for the Hall. His defense lowers his credentials, but not enough to really reasonably keep him out.

      “surly attitude that didn’t endear him to sports writers caused the low level of support he received”

      Was it this, or was it what James says… that they believed he hurt his teams in some significant way?

      There are people who think James’ comment is way off base. I don’t know how to get at the truth of that, but I trust James as a baseball historian more than anybody else. And I can understand not voting for him for this reason.

  13. To amplify points made by Tracy and dshorwich above, and similarly with no intent to diminish the greatness of Feller, note the trends in his career. From his debut until his leaving to serve in the war, he strikeout rate diminished every year from 11/9 to 6.8 the year before he enlisted. His BB rate did improve each year, although in the final pre-enlistment year it shot back up to 5.1/9.

    On returning, he had the brilliant 1946 season when his K rate once more soared to 8.4, but after 371.1 innings he never again got to 6K/9, with the rate declining every year into the 3s until 1954. I think it possible that the 3 year hiatus from pitching rested his arm so he recuperated enough for a brief glimpse of his former greatness, but the decline had already set in before 1942, and the renewed strain accelerated the decline. Had he continued to pitch in 1942-44, he might have been a mop-up pitcher by 1945.

  14. NMark W says:

    All of this brings a question up for me that I’ve really never asked so I’ve never heard an answer or explanation….How was the enlisting of young men done for WWII? I get that the Selective Service folks and local draft boards called the shots but in what manner was this done? Were there differences from draft board to draft board? How deep into the war did draft boards continue to draft healthy men who were in their mid-to late 20s or early 30s? Did single men get chosen before married men? Feller self-enlisted 2 days after Pearl harbor which was probably not the norm but I find it interesting that some players played a full 1942 season, others did not play at all and I guess there were some who played a partial year. A few others played some of 1943 season? Then some men returned to play MLB before the end of 1945 season which I guess was surely possible given that the war in Europe ended in May, 1945. But those in the Pacific were stuck there at least until Japan surrendered in mid-August, 1945. If there is a book or article that explains much of this I’d enjoy reading it. Any help amongst you Brilliant Readers?

  15. crimsonjoe says:

    Going back to Ichiro for a second…

    The 1995 and 2000 Mariners lost in the ALCS- and both years, they had TERRIBLE left fielders. 1995 had Vince Coleman (.730 OBS) in as their Left Fielder, and 2000 had a 41 year old Rickey Henderson (.689 OBS) as their main Left Fielder. Put a younger Ichiro in those places, and the Mariners might have made the WOrld Series in those years.

  16. Herb Smith says:

    Somebody please explain why Stan Musial was playing in 1943 AND 1944.

    As JoePoz stated, even as early as 1942, “the war weighed heavy on DiMaggio.” Also during that year, Ted W. was being called all kinds of unflattering things (draft dodger,etc) for playing ball while the US was losing in the Pacific, and the Nazis were raging through Europe. And many stars, like Feller and Hank Greenberg were ALREADY long-enlisted, and thus missed the entire 1942 season. So isn’t it odd that Stan the Man, who played in the ’42 World Series, wasn’t subject to the same scrutiny?

    But then to play a full season in 1943? And win the NL MVP that year, and play in yet another World Series? What gives?
    And then to play yet ANOTHER FULL SEASON in 1944, as virtually the only able-bodied young baseball star who wasn’t in the armed forces? (and yes, winning yet another World Series!)

    How has this bizarre situation never been addressed?

    • NMark W says:

      Herb – Good question about Musial. Wiki says he was drafted in Jan., 1945 and joined the Navy. It sounds like he had it rather easy as he like many top athletes/celebs were able to get assigned to places that were not high risk combat operations. (Many other athletes/celebs either were not as fortunate or chose not to avoid combat areas as we all know.) Stan was stationed in Pearl Harbor in 1945 working with those who brought naval vessels back to port for repairs. He often had the afternoons off to play ball with others stationed in PH. I asked a general question above about how the Select Service System actually worked during WWII – This makes my question all the more relevant. Stan was out of the service by March, 1946 and able to play a full season of ball that year so he missed only 1945. ?

    • dshorwich says:

      According to the SABR biography of Musial available here:

      “Although no evidence suggests that Musial sought or received any special treatment concerning the draft, coming from an area that had a large number of draft-age males along with being a father kept him out of military service for most of the war.”

      Musial eventually enlisted in the Navy in January 1945.

    • NMark W says:

      “Coming from an area that had a large number of draft-age males along with being a father” – Would that “area” be Donora, PA or his then home in St. Louis? I have my questions about how Donora or St. Louis would have that many more draft-age males per capita than other similar sized towns and cities? Seems strange…. I’m not at all questioning Musial’s love of country in this matter but I find the situation interesting. My own father who was as patriotic as they come and was a 28 yr old father when Pearl Harbor was bombed did not serve in the military during WWII as he and a brother and their father were deemed to be important to the country’s agricultural output. They ran a very successful dairy operation in Ohio and were hands on in the development of hybrid seed corn during that period. I think he always felt a bit guilty about his good-fortune of staying home during the war despite his good health and readiness.

    • dshorwich says:

      I’m just quoting the source I found, so I don’t know whether the author meant Donora or St. Louis. I don’t know much about the draft classification system in effect at the time, other than that there were categories of eligibility ranging from 1-A to 4-F. Let me do a bit of research….

      …OK, based on these sources:

      I would guess your father, uncle, and grandfather were classified 2-C, while Musial was 3-A. **These are inferences on my part** – please don’t take them as confirmed fact.

    • brhalbleib says:

      The biographical information I could find online says it was Donora (where he lived in the off season.) It also appears that he was not only a father, but the only support of his aged parents as well.

    • brhalbleib says:

      oh, and the bio information also says that he was involved in zinc mining in the Donora area during the off season, which was considered an essential industry, which would have moved him further down the draft list.

  17. Stephen says:

    Joe D — you’ll often hear the HR/K ratio thrown out as something that indicates DiMaggio’s greatness — and it does.

    But I wonder if he’d struck out at Mantle’s rate and he could have strolled back to the dugout an extra 70 times per year instead of tearing down the first base line, if that would have lessened the effects of his bone spurs.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Stephen, in many other sports players “tear down the line” (30 yards) 70 times in one game. Baseball requires the least running/skating of the major sports (Basketball, Football & Hockey). So, no, if you have a problem running down the line 70 times a year, there’s already a problem.

    • Stephen says:

      Well, we know DiMaggio had a problem, Rob. He had bone spurs in his heel. They were painful to run on.

      Note too that the fact that 150 basketball players and 120 hockey players and many of 500 football players ran more than DiMaggio says nothing about how much DiMaggio was able to run on that heel, nor how the deleterious effects manifest themselves. If he had not made 1000 sprints from 18 to 27, would he have had full seasons at 34-36 or another season at 37?

      I’m not saying I believe it, but the K’s would have cost very little to the Yanks. If there was a chance for any benefit, it’d be a cheap lottery ticket if a team could choose it find out.

  18. brhalbleib says:

    I know nowadays Hank Greenberg isn’t as popular a name as Feller, DiMaggio and Williams, but his military service in WWII probably curtailed his career more than any of them. He also seemed to be struck by particular bad luck (or was it something else a bit uglier than bad luck?), as unlike the others he was drafted BEFORE Pearl Harbor and missed most of the 1941 season because of that. Then he was released from his service on 12/5/41 and reenlisted immediately after Pearl Harbor (2 days later), then missing the 1942, 1943 and 1944 seasons. He was discharged midseason in 1945 and played 78 games that year (helping the Tigers win the pennant and WS).

    In 1940 (his age 29 year) he was .340/.433/.670, and led the league with 50 doubles, 41 home runs and 150 RBIs (and won the AL MVP). In his first full year back in 1946, he was .277/.373/.604 and led the league with 44 homers and 127 RBIs.

  19. Tom Geraghty says:

    Here’s a guess for Greenberg (also adding in some numbers for 1936 when he missed most of the year with a broken wrist):

    1936 .333/.407/.616 with 55 2B, 12 3B, 31 HR, 155 RBI, 120 R
    1941 .308/.412/.628 with 36 2B, 6 3B, 42 HR, 129 RBI, 122 R
    1942 .304/.403/.612 with 41 2B, 7 3B, 37 HR, 124 RBI, 115 R
    1943 .295/.390/.569 with 40 2B, 6 3B, 33 HR, 121 RBI, 106 R
    1944 .298/.391/.549 with 39 2B, 5 3B, 29 HR, 118 RBI, 97 R
    1945 .312/.405/.548 with 38 2B, 4 3B, 25 HR, 114 RBI, 89 R

    New career total: .312/.407/.601 with 2,528 hits, 512 HR, 1,949 RBI, 1631 R

  20. Richard S. says:

    One other significant point to make:

    Back in the days of the players under discussion, the season was only 154 games long. It wasn’t until 1962 that expansion stretched it to 162. A difference of only eight games per year, true, but over the course of a 20 year career, it adds up to practically a full season.

    It wasn’t too long ago – when Barry Bonds was approaching Aaron’s career home run record – that I asked myself, “What if you used a player’s career numbers for home runs and at bats, and then normalized it to a career of ten thousand at bats?” That’s a good 20 years of full-time playing.

    Some results:

    Babe Ruth – 850
    Barry Bonds – 774
    Ralph Kiner – 708
    Harmon Killebrew – 703
    Ted Williams – 676
    Hank Greenberg – 637
    Henry Aaron – 611
    Willie Mays – 606

    The biggest surprise for most people is probably Ralph Kiner. His career was cut short by back problems, but not after leading (or tying for the lead) the NL in home runs for seven straight years. He wound up with “only” 369 home runs, but hit them more often than anyone else in the pre-steroid era except for Babe Ruth.

    I’m positive that something similar can be done for pitchers…

    p.s. Bob Feller had an automatic draft deferment since he was the sole support for his family, but he waived it since there were more important things at stake…

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