Would you use up a roster spot on a Mike Trout in 2060?

The original intended title for this post was “would you use up a roster spot on Babe Ruth today? I was interested in exploring how the players of the Ty Cobb through Ruth era, or even the players of  my childhood in the sixties would physically compare to the players of today. I started thinking about it after my son, after watching part of a Twins game with me confessed that he had lost interest in baseball (I know – I’m a terrible father)  because it didn’t look to him that baseball was evolving and improving in the way that his favorite sport basketball is. I tried to explain to him how wrong he was. How the hitters today are so strong that the pitchers need to go all out on every pitch because usually when they make the slightest mistake we see ball go far. How there are now in the bigs around a couple of dozen guys who throw about as hard as Nolan Ryan used to – and even for them if their control is too far from perfect they might be regarded as overall no better than average. 

As I looked into it I discovered that the only fair question one can ask about the Bambino is what if around 1990 we had been able to bring into the world a cloned baby Bambino who was then brought up on protein shakes instead of hot dogs and was taught the importance of working out 18 times a week and whatever else the upper level employees of today’s sports entertainment industry are taught to do. He certainly wouldn’t have been as entertaining as the original Bambino but would he be breaking through in the bigs now? The question is too un answerable to bother with.

The answerable question is is baseball today being played at an athletically superior level than it was in the days of Ruth and Cobb, even Mays and Mantle. You betcha – vastly superior.

Consider:

Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown won 239 games with a 2.06 ERA in 14 seasons between 1903 and 1916. Even Gator’s beloved Godzilla couldn’t get major league hitters out today with only three functional fingers on his pitching paw.

The average height and weight of Cleveland Indian Players was 5’9” – 174.4 lbs in 1923, 6’ – 187.1 in 1953, 6’2” – 194.9 in 1993, 6’1” – 207 in 2013. You might notice that the weight is going up faster than the height. This is attributable to increased muscle mass.

Comparisons with the 60’s are interesting because they are the first full decade of a fully ethnically integrated MLB

Willy Mays – 5’11” – 185 / Mike Trout 6’2” – 229.94

Harmon Killebrew 6’ – 195 / Miguel Sano 6’4” – 260 (word around here is that 260 was a few thousand cheeseburgers ago)

Most players didn’t start making enough money so that they could train during the off season instead of working a job until the advent of free agency in the 1970’s. Stan Musial sold Christmas trees during the off season.

The size, strength and speed of players in baseball, and I presume most other sports is marching upward and it’s fair to ask if a scrawny Mike Trout would be able rate a roster spot in 2060. 2040 yes – 2060 no?

That takes a lot of the fun out of things. There’s no way to compare Walter Johnsons career stats with Clayton Kershaw, Ty Cobb with Ricky Henderson. We can’t talk about who was the best all time at this or that without dismissing the fact that we’re putting physical reality aside.

Adding to that baseball analysis and much fan talk has become an ever growing swamp of statistical acronyms.

Does baseball, sports in general, our entire damn culture (see Trump, Donald) need to take a chill pill?

Bonus question:

Am I just an old man who thinks the world is spinning too fast.

Enjoy

 

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8 thoughts on “Would you use up a roster spot on a Mike Trout in 2060?

  1. Humanity as a whole has evolved physically over the last century as well.

    Average height of men was about 5’6″ in 1920. In 2000, it’s 5’9″. Now, granted, 5’9″ is a lot shorter than your average major leaguer, but the average major league player in the golden age of baseball was bigger, stronger, and faster than most men in America then, too. So it would make sense that today’s ballplayer is, too.

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    • Totally true.

      But the athletic golden age of baseball is next year, and then the year after that. The question I clumsily ask is what is the definition of the real golden age of baseball.

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      • I think there is a romance involved, with the black and white, the (presumed) innocence, the stuff being done that hadn’t been done before – when you first hear about 60 homers being smashed, that’s awesome. Now it’s “Oh, Big Mac and Sosa and Bonds did all that.’

        As far as physical feats, yes, I think we are embarking upon a new age. It’s just like NASCAR (hear me out, okay?). Everyone knows that today’s motorsports racer is, on average, much faster, drives way better equipment, can dominate races, etc. But when is the supposed Golden Age of NASCAR? Back in the 70s and 80s, when equipment was crap, racers were slower, everyone was considered a yokel, etc. Bigger, faster – doesn’t always mean better.

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        • Prof you are right. This isn’t about who is or isn’t, or used to be or will be, the fastest strongest, but just us talking with each other about who we love and why we love them. Trying not to recall or imagine a golden age but to make one.

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  2. The last question, about the world spin speed, the answer is no. The same communications system that allows us to share these conversations at our own times and places, varied as they are, is also regurgitating information and opinion at an incomprehensible rate. I remember Pet Rocks. A stupid, if cute, idea that somehow caught on and lasted and lasted… Today, bus the time I hashtag, the rest of humanity has moved on to a new trend, or the trend has been co-opted by a marketing company to promote McFood.

    I see footage of the Babe waddling down to second and being credited with a steal and I laugh, “he’d be out by 25 feet today” but that does not diminish his accomplishments. He played a different game, and he was the best.

    My first team was the Dodgers. Actually, the 60s Dodgers, even though I barely understood the game. Thus Sandy (at Dodger Stadium no last name is needed) is the best ever. Multi no hitters, perfect game, multi Cy Youngs, and the tragic early end to his career. Is there a better story in Baseball? Sure there is and Gator explored several when he explored early stars. I guess Chipper for the Prof, that guy (what’s his name?) (who stole the MVP from Trout via an ancient accomplishment known as the Triple Crown?) in Motor City for those fans. And, as you point out, the players and teams of our individual fandom’s golden age.

    Yes, I realize that the shortened career of Sandy means we never saw the long slow decline. Intellectually I realize he is no t the best ever, but emotionally… He’s the BEST EVER!

    So cheer up my friend and give your kid a Twin Tounge Lashing for allowing the showey to draw his attention away from the complex and intricate.

    And Kiilibrew was Great! (But Sandy was better!)

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    • According to Jim Katt, Sandy was the best ever in 1966. In game six he was too fatigued to throw nothing but fastballs and still got out the best hitting lineup in baseball. According to Katt it was like he was from a higher up league. Still you should know that Killebrew was not yet with the Twins that year. And I was still a Tigers fan. Willie Horton, rookie year 1966, BA 273, RBI 104, HR 29, knowing that in a call in radio show won me some free Tigers tickets.

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