Yogi Berra, RIP

Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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19 Responses

  1. Doctor Jay says:

    I’ve read that when he was young, nobody thought he had any talent or aptitude for baseball. Except for him. He thought he could do it and worked to make it so. It’s an example of the learning mindset vs. the fixed mindset.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      The Dodgers only drafted Mike Piazza, deep in the late rounds, as a favor to Tommy Lasorda, his godfather. Baseball scouting is hard.Report

      • Speaking of whom, why isn’t Piazza in your list of top offensive catchers? .308/.377/.545 with 427 HRs. That might get an outfielder to the HoF. (If it were combined with brilliant defense; Piazza was a pretty terrible catcher, of course.) Piazza’s not in the Hall yet only because the guardians of all that’s moral in baseball don’t much care about the ninth commandment.Report

  2. Brandon Berg says:

    That’s a shame, but I have to admit that I would have been somewhat sadder about this if I had known that he was alive the day before yesterday.

    Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.


    You forgot the one about how he didn’t really say all those things he said.Report

  3. Mike Schilling says:

    It’s not over till it’s over. Now it’s over.Report

  4. Steve says:

    There’s a pretty good case for Gary Carter being in that top 3 catchers of all-time discussion instead of Yogi. Being on Montreal instead of the Yankees makes it hard to crack the conversation. Yogi’s definitely in the top 5 one way or another, so it’s a pretty minor point.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Steve says:

      I had not thought about the question, but pulling up the stats their careers were the same length. Berra’s averages were slightly higher and he had a bit more power. On the other hand, Carter’s WAR is higher. The difference seems partly to be that Carter played in the 162 game season era, while Berra was in the 154 game era. WAR being a counting stat, this favors Carter. The other part is that baseball-reference thinks that Carter’s defense was better than Berra’s. I won’t say it wasn’t, but I am skeptical of sabermetric’s command of fielding stats.

      So let’s say it’s a wash and go get a beer.Report

      • El Muneco in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        I think there’s just as good an argument for Carter over Rodriguez than Carter over Berra. Very similar overall WAR, but Pudge gets even more credit for defense, inviting the same skepticism. On the gripping hand, unlike Carter and Berra, Rodriguez was able to stay behind the plate basically full-time for his whole career. But overall, if you throw a rock, I figure you’ll hit all three of them.

        My solution is: don’t name a top three. I’m comfortable with Bench as GOAT, otherwise it’s a top four in my book – Cochrane and Campanella didn’t play long enough, Fisk is directly comparable to Carter, and Dickey is an illusion.Report

        • Chris in reply to El Muneco says:

          An illusion?Report

          • El Muneco in reply to Chris says:

            Perhaps I’m overly glib. From what I remember when Bill James first looked at it – and at the time Dickey was regarded as #1 – his home/road was unusually high (which doesn’t change the value of what he actually did, but might say something about his skillset, when you’re comparing all-time greats), his raw numbers get hit really hard by era adjustments, and his defensive reputation was probably better than actually justified – certainly not a gloveman on par with Bench/Carter/Pudge. I think you can certainly justify separating Dickey out of the group as much or more than including him in the group.

            “Illusion” might be too strong. #2 all-time – a half-step behind Berra – at the time James wrote, with the three more recent players (Carter was still playing, and Bench had only just retired) sneaking in ahead?Report

            • Chris in reply to El Muneco says:

              This is interesting, in that light.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Chris says:

                Very much so. I think you just made an argument for including him with the others. And the same argument holds for Gabby Hartnett as well, who I’m even more surprised to see near the top. More’s the pity that Schalk was the prototypical defense-first catcher, or this wouldn’t even be a conversation…

                Unfortunately, for catchers, I doubt we’ll ever solve defense even for current players – for example, some of the results they’re getting from PitchFX regarding pitch framing might throw all our intuition out the window if they hold up.

                And for the old-timers, so much has been lost or never was collected. And that’s even before looking at differences in the game. Everyone ran in the 1910s, even when they shouldn’t, and no one ran in the 1930s, even when they should – so how does that affect the actual value of being able to throw someone out? Not to mention the early days – Richard’s territory – when even catching the ball regularly without becoming a physical wreck was a major accomplishment.Report

  5. Chris says:

    You know, he played well before my time, but when I was a kid, he did appearances all over the place, including on SNL and late night talk shows, and I believe he managed during my lifetime (in the 70s and 80s, right?), so I always thought of him as part of the baseball scene of my childhood.Report

    • Chris in reply to Chris says:

      Also, his 4-season run from 53-56 was pretty friggin’ incredible for a catcher.

      And he played with how many Hall of Famers? Rizzuto, Gordon, DiMaggio, Ford, Mantle, Slaughter, Mize, Ruffing, Dickey, who else? Is there a stat for the most Hall of Famers played with?Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Chris says:

        Is there a stat for the most Hall of Famers played with?

        Most people use bgrHOF, but I prefer fHOF for obvious reasons.Report

      • El Muneco in reply to Chris says:

        Unfortunately, I think the answer might be “Frankie Frisch”. Due to the fact that he was so involved in the process during his post-playing career and did a lot to get some barely-qualified former 1920s Giants/1930s Cardinals teammates inducted.

        Berra’s a legitimate candidate, though – although he only played for one team, it was a darn good one, and his career basically perfectly overlaps three generations of talent.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        It would be won by a Yankee, because so many of them become marginal HOFers (by JAWS, Ford is the 96th best starting pitcher; Joe Gordon’s career was clearly not as good as Bobby Grich’s or Lou Whitaker’s, etc.)Report