With baseball season upon us, I thought it might be time to dig into our pastime and hopefully find a gem. You see, the Oakland A’s did something that defied the laws of stupidity when they went out and signed a 38-year-old slugger whose peripherals are declining precipitously, in Manny Ramirez. Not only are his talents declining, but he has to sit on his bum for 50 games to serve his suspension for violating the MLB’s drug abuse policy. Ramirez + downtime doesn’t equal a good investment. I guess the only saving grace is that he’ll only cost the team $500,000 (only…).
Digging through archives of stat after stat, player after player, team after team, and I found that he matches up quite well for comparison to another prolific hitter, Jimmie “Double X” Foxx. Both players spent time with the Boston Red Sox. Both are a part of the vaunted 500 Home Run Club. Both were feared right-handed hitters. Without further adieu, let’s give you the tale of the tape:
Foxx broke into the league in the late 20′s with the Philadelphia Athletics when home runs were just becoming all the rage. Boy, could this guy mash the ball. Lefty Gomez, a New York Yankees great, once said, “Even his hair has muscles.” Over the course of his career, Foxx slugged .609, which is a ridiculous amount of power. To put this in perspective, Manny has slugged .585 over his career. Still not convinced? Well, perhaps the greatest right-handed hitter of our generation, Albert Pujols, has managed to slug .617 so far.
Ramirez, in his heyday of the late 90′s and throughout the 00′s, was the most feared hitter in the American League. He has mashed 555 home runs (Foxx hit 534 HRs) and was an RBI machine with 1,831. However, Foxx over a five-season stretch from 1930-1934 he averaged almost 147 RBI per year. Manny during his peak years only averaged almost 133 RBIs. For Manny, this day and age that is production that isn’t easily matched.
We’ve seen many guys just mash the ball out of the park, but couldn’t hit a single or reach base to save their hats. Both of these guys could. For instance, Foxx hit for a .325 average over the course of his career while getting on base nearly 43 percent of the time. Manny hit for .312 and reached base in just over 41 percent of his at-bats. Furthermore, both guys knew how to take a walk, in 15 percent of Foxx’s at-bats he drew a base on balls compared to Manny’s 13.6 percent clip.
Quick, who is who? Don’t cheat!
- 44 Home Runs
- 165 RBI
- 34 Doubles
- 96 BB
- 50 Home Runs
- 175 RBI
- 31 Doubles
- 119 BB
What’s better than comparing two like players in the best season they offered? For Manny, his 1999 campaign with the Cleveland Indians was perhaps his greatest individual effort. He hit 44 home runs, drove in 165 RBI and had a ridiculous batting line of .333/.442/.663. In that season, he mashed 44 home runs and recorded 165 RBI.
Meanwhile, Foxx’s 1938 season with the Boston Red Sox is easily one of the best seasons for a hitter of all time. Not only did he hit for power (um, .704 slugging percentage, are you kidding me?), but he also hit for average (.349). Exactly 50 balls found their way into the stands in fair territory and he drove in an ungodly amount of men (175) that year.
There you have it. I’m not sure whether Sports-Kings actually allowing me to publish a baseball piece over their Neanderthal NFL and hipster NBA coverage* (hehe!) was more of a win or the simple fact that Jimmie Foxx should continue to be considered a better ballplayer than Manny Ramirez. I’d be remiss to not mention the effects of steroid usage on Manny’s career. Also, the game was different back when Foxx played and the competition and talent level in the current era is much better, which is evident by Foxx having four years where he amassed more than 9 WAR, compared to Manny’s best season of 7.4 WAR. It’s difficult to compare players from different eras. However, Hall-of-Famer Jimmie “Double XX” Foxx definitely takes the cake easily.
*Both do a swell job for us here at Sports-Kings, just a friendly jab.
- Jimmy Kraft