Manny or Mantle? Your Call
It seems like every single night, something interesting is happening at Chavez Ravine.
Last night was no exception, with Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez passing Yankees legend Mickey Mantle on the all-time home run list, becoming No. 15 all-time in the process. Ramirez's 537th career homer came in the bottom of the second off Reds starter Micah Owings, a detail that's strangely fitting, considering the fact that Owings hits more homers himself than any other active pitcher.
What may be surprising is just how fast Ramirez has gotten to 537. He's in his
18th 17th (dlgood definitely deserves credit for being right about 1993) full season, has been remarkably consistent in hitting mid 30 to 40 homers a season (with the exception of 1997 and 2007) and, steroids aside, almost surely has more seasons in him.
Mantle hit his 536 in 18 seasons himself, meaning that Ramirez was right on track to pass him by. That makes the time period in which they amassed their moon shots eerily similar. It also raises an intriguing question: If you had to pick between the two today, who would you take?
Yes, it's an apples and oranges comparison, but a fascinating one nonetheless. For the record, Mantle was a three-time AL MVP and won a Gold Glove in 1962. Ramirez has never won an MVP, and is more likely to quote Aristotle in a postgame press conference than win a Gold Glove.
Naturally, there are also the intangible factors that would seem to give Mantle an edge, but consider the eras the two players are competing in. Do we really think Mantle could have been as dominant as he was against contemporary pitching?
There's another compelling comparison between the two superstars that's worth delving into, too: postseason hitting. Across 12 playoff campaigns, Mantle hit .257 with a .374 on base percentage and .908 OPS. In 10 seasons (and 21 series), Ramirez has a .286 average, .399 OBP and .949 OPS. It seems crazy, but statistically, Manny's postseason numbers are better than the inimitable Mantle's.
So, who would you take?
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