The Instigator
patsox834
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
MrMarkP37
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Willie Mays Was a Better Baseball Player Than Mickey Mantle.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
patsox834
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/24/2009 Category: Sports
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,259 times Debate No: 8759
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)

 

patsox834

Pro

Ok, so, as stated, this debate is simply about who the better baseball player was between Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. I'll be arguing that Mays was the better player; my opponent will be arguing in favor of Mantle.

The criteria that will be used for this debate are hitting, fielding, baserunning, and durability, which will be measured with statistics.

This round is essentially just an introduction -- if there's anything that needs to be clarified, then my opponent can ask, and I'll do so.

Good luck to whoever accepts.

Mickey Mantle: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Willie Mays: http://en.wikipedia.org...
MrMarkP37

Con

Mickey Mantle was indeed a better baseball player than Willie Mays.

Mr. Mays was a media darling during his time and his affable personality lead to his favorable media persona. Now Mr. Mays was a great player to be sure, but Mickey Mantle was a better player.

1. Home runs: Mr. Mays has more career home runs 660 for Mays and 536 for Mantle, however Willie Mays played for 22 seasons in the major leagues, while Mantle played only 18 seasons. Willie Mays had a season high for home runs of 52, Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs in 1961.

2. Health: Mickey Mantle never took care of himself. He drank far too much and this affected his natural talent. His legs were often so bad that they had to be bandaged before every game. Yet, through all this he was still able to peform at a very high level.

Mickey Mantle was a very good defensive center fielder, while still being able to put up MVP like offensive numbers. Also, Mickey Mantle won the MVP award three times while Willie Mays only won it twice. Mantle also finished much higher in the MVP voting than Willie Mays did on a year to year basis. http://www.baseball-reference.com...

Mickey Mantle walked almost 300 more times in his career than Willlie Mays. Also Mantle led the league in walks several times in his career while Mays only led the league once.

Mickey Mantle performed much better in the playoffs than Willie Mays. Mays had only one career post season home run, Mickey Mantle had six. Mantle's career playoff batting average was .257, Mays's was only .247

This leads me to my final point: Mickey Mantle won seven world series titles while Willie Mays won only one.

All of this leads us to the conclusion that Mantle was indeed a better ball player than Willie Mays, although both were great players.
Debate Round No. 1
patsox834

Pro

<"Home runs: Mr. Mays has more career home runs 660 for Mays and 536 for Mantle, however Willie Mays played for 22 seasons in the major leagues, while Mantle played only 18 seasons. Willie Mays had a season high for home runs of 52, Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs in 1961.">

I think my opponent is playing into my hands with this -- Mays having played more than Mantle would be an advantage for Mays, because the more you play, the more chances you get to contribute; the more you contribute, the more valuable you are; the more valuable you are, the better you've been. In essence, Mays having played longer is reflective of his superior durability.

To further prove Mays' much better durability: Mays had 12493 career plate appearances, and 18 seasons with 500 or more; Mantle had 9909 plate appearances, and 14 seasons with 500 or more. As my opponent points out later in his argument, Mantle never took care of himself, which drastically affected his durability, which is an important aspect in determining the better player, for reasons I cited above.

As far as homeruns go, they're nice -- but even though Mays has an advantage in that category, there's much more to hitting than homers, so I won't be using them specifically in my argument.

<"2. Health: Mickey Mantle never took care of himself. He drank far too much and this affected his natural talent. His legs were often so bad that they had to be bandaged before every game. Yet, through all this he was still able to peform at a very high level.">

Having poor health means poor durability, which means this plays into my hands, as well; Mays' durability was clearly much superior to that of Mickey Mantle's.

<"Mickey Mantle was a very good defensive center fielder, while still being able to put up MVP like offensive numbers. Also, Mickey Mantle won the MVP award three times while Willie Mays only won it twice. Mantle also finished much higher in the MVP voting than Willie Mays did on a year to year basis.">

Yeah, Mantle was an alright defender -- but Mays was a great one. There's a stat which rates defense called TotalZone, in which Mays has the 3rd highest total of +108, and that's only going back to 1956, which means Mays likely isn't as high as he should be. Mantle isn't even in the +100 club -- that information is available here: http://www.hardballtimes.com...

Here's what the stat I mentioned is all about:

http://www.baseball-reference.com...

As for my opponent's claims about MVP awards and such...I don't think awards carry much merit in arguments such as these, because they're heavily reliant on the opinions of others, and the voters often use the "triple crown" stats, which I think are relatively fallible.

<"Mickey Mantle won seven world series titles while Willie Mays won only one.">

Highly irrelevant. World Series titles are team accomplishments; they're too dependent on the whole team for them to have any real use in player comparisons.

So, I've already shown that Mays has superior durability and defense -- but how about hitting and baserunning?

Mays stole 338 bases and was caught 103 times; Mantle stole 153 bases and was caught 38 times. So, in essence, Mantle stole 10 bases and was caught 3 times per 162 games; Mays stole 18 and was caught 6 times. Mays was caught three more times -- but he stole eight more bases. I'd think it's so close that it's pretty much a wash.

As far as hitting goes, this is a little trickier. First, the stats I plan on using: EqA and OPS+. Explanations of them can be found here:

http://www.baseball-reference.com...
http://www.baseballprospectus.com... -- and http://www.baseballprospectus.com...

With OPS+, 100 is average; 150 is excellent. With EqA, .270 is average; .300 is excellent.

Mays had an OPS+ of 120 or greater with 500+ PA 17 times; Mantle did that 14 times. Furthermore, Mays was above above 150 13 of those years; Mantle was above 150 12 times.

Mays had an EqA of .300 or greater with 500+ PA 16 times; Mantle did that 14 times. To look even more in depth, Mays was above .330 with 500 + PA 14 times; Mantle did that 8 times.

So, by this, we can see that Mays clearly has more good to excellent offensive seasons than Mickey Mantle -- for the majority of their careers, is does, indeed, appear that Willie Mays was the better player offensively.

So, Mays has a considerable advantage in durability, which is one reason why he was also the more valuable offensive player -- as I said, the more you play, the more chances to contribute. And, as I believe I've shown, Mays capitalized on those opportunities. Baserunning is essentially a wash -- but Mays *does* have the defensive advantage, as well.

Willie Mays was, indeed, a better baseball player than Mickey Mantle -- the resolution is affirmed.
MrMarkP37

Con

The resolution is who was a better baseball player. Durability doesn't have much to do with this. We're talking about baseball skill, durability or lack thereof is another skill or lifestyle choice.

You say: "Mays having played more than Mantle would be an advantage for Mays, because the more you play, the more chances you get to contribute; the more you contribute, the more valuable you are; the more valuable you are, the better you've been. In essence, Mays having played longer is reflective of his superior durability."

But the resolution isn't who was more valuable, the question is who was a better baseball player. There is no argument that Mays was a more durable player, but that is also not the resolution.

The reason I brought up the fact of Mays playing longer than Mantle was to put their stats into context.

As far as fielding goes, I won't attempt to make the argument that Mantle was a better fielder, though I think it is closer than most people believe. May's career fielding percentage was .981 while Mantle's was .982:

I agree that it takes a team to win a world series but I disagree that the argument is irrelevent. Mantle being on the team was a large reason why his team won seven world series titles. Most telling are the stats of Mays and Mantle in the playoffs.

Mays played in five post seasons with his team winning only two playoff series in his entire career.
Here are his batting averages:
.182
.286
.250
.267
.333
.286
Notice that the only time he batted over three hundred was in 1973 when he only played one game of the playoffs. Essentially he went 1 for 3 in one game.
His career OBP in the playoffs is .323 and his slugging percentage was .337

Mickey Mantle performed much better in the post season. His carreer OBP was .374 and his slugging percentage was an impressive .535. Including an amazing year in 1960 when he hit .400 with three home runs, 11 r.b.i. and a slugging percentage of .800

Mantle clearly performed much better in the playoffs against the toughest competition.

Now while Mays was a better defender Mantle was a better offensive player. His career OBP is .421 and his career slugging percentage is .557
Compare this to Mays OPB .384 however, they do have identical .557 slugging percentage.

Though when you compensate for the ballparks Mantle's OPS (on base plus slugging percentages) far outpaces Mays.

The better offensive numbers offsets the fact that Mays was a slightly better defender. As you mentioned baserunning was nearly a wash and Mantle was a better postseason player when he had to face the toughest competition. That gives the slight edge to Mantle being a better player.
Debate Round No. 2
patsox834

Pro

<"Durability doesn't have much to do with this. We're talking about baseball skill, durability or lack thereof is another skill or lifestyle choice.">

No -- it has a lot to do with it -- as I said, the more one plays, the more chances they get to contribute; the more one contributes, the more valuable they are; the more valuable a player is, the better he has been. So clearly, durability is highly relevant.

To give an example -- player A hits .315/.415/.515 (batting average/on-base percentage/.slugging percentage), but only has 1000 career plate appearances; player B hits .290/.390/.490, but has 3000 career plate appearances. Clearly player B contributed more to his teams, and was therefore, a better player.

<"But the resolution isn't who was more valuable, the question is who was a better baseball player.">

The more valuable player is the better player -- an instance cannot be found otherwise. To be more valuable means you've contributed more; if you've contributed more, then you've been better.

My opponent is clearly reaching at semantics.

<"May's career fielding percentage was .981 while Mantle's was .982:">

Fielding percentage is incredibly flawed; it doesn't take a player's range into account whatsoever. Essentially, you could bolt a players feet to the ground, making it so that he couldn't move his feet, and he could end up having an extremely high fielding percentage -- but a very rangey player could have a lower fielding percentage, because he gets to an inordinately high amount of batted balls.

<"Mantle being on the team was a large reason why his team won seven world series titles.">

Of course. And so were the other members of his team, which is my point -- World Series titles are way too team dependent to be carrying any merit in a debate regarding who's better between two individual players.

<"Mickey Mantle performed much better in the post season.">

Small statistical sample sizes distort those numbers -- given an adequate sample, we'd have no reason to think Mays wouldn't progress to the mean.

Regardless, considering how postseason stats depend on getting to the postseason, which depends greatly on one's team, postseason statistics are typically of little value, though they do carry a small bit.

<"Including an amazing year in 1960 when he hit .400 with three home runs, 11 r.b.i. and a slugging percentage of .800">

Let's not forget the years Mantle hit .120 /.241/.160 and .133 /.188 /.333.

<"Mantle clearly performed much better in the playoffs against the toughest competition.">

Actually, for seven out of Mantle's 12 playoff appearances, he was very, very mediocre, and often terrible -- I can provide the statistics if anyone wants me to; they're on baseball-reference.com, and are easy to find.
Mantle simply got more chances to succeed because he played on teams that were better than the teams Mays played on; Mantle's supporting cast were often much better than Mays'...not that Mays' were bad; Mantle's teammates were often fantastic. Giving Mantle so much credit for something that depended so highly on his team's accomplishments seems very nonsensical to me.

<"Now while Mays was a better defender Mantle was a better offensive player. His career OBP is .421 and his career slugging percentage is .557
Compare this to Mays OPB .384 however, they do have identical .557 slugging percentage.">

These are simply raw, out of context statistics.

Wilkin Ramirez currently of the Detroit Tigers has an OPS of 1.667. Just going by raw stats, he'd be superior to even Babe Ruth, who's far and away the best ever. But when you add a little context, you realize that's an insane comparison.

Ramirez has one hit in three PA. It just so happened to be a homerun. Context added...not that impressive anymore.

With Mays and Mantle, I've already put these stats into context (remember: SLG% and OBP are the components of OPS+), and they show that Mays had more good to excellent seasons than Mantle did, which means that for their careers, Mays contributed more -- in essence, the stats my opponent's using are playing into my hands.

I think we also have to remember that, when we look at the raw, out of context stats, Willie Mays had a steady declining period, which messes with his raw statistics. Mantle never really played long enough to have such a decline.

<"Though when you compensate for the ballparks Mantle's OPS (on base plus slugging percentages) far outpaces Mays.">

Ah, OPS+ is exactly that -- OPS normalized to take into account park and league contexts. And as I clearly showed, Mays had more years with a 120 or greater and 150 or greater OPS+ with 500+ PA than Mantle did. So my opponent is again playing into my hands; I've already used normalized versions of this stat, which show that Mays contributed more offense over their careers.

We have to remember EqA, too, which also takes into account ballparks. Mays had more years with a .300+ and .330+ EqA with 500+ PA than Mantle.

That leads us to *very* reasonably conclude that Mays did, indeed, contribute more than Mantle with the bat.

Mays bests Mantle in offense, defense, and durability (which actually ties into why he's better offensively, as well.)

The resolution is affirmed. Willie Mays was the better baseball player.
MrMarkP37

Con

MrMarkP37 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
patsox834

Pro

Well, uh...extend.
MrMarkP37

Con

MrMarkP37 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by patsox834 8 years ago
patsox834
Wow, apparently my opponent's account isn't active anymore. That's lame. Highly lame...when horses are that lame, they shoot 'em.
Posted by iamadragon 8 years ago
iamadragon
I've come to the conclusion that my previous comment had too much seriousness after a joke.

We are professionals, though.
Posted by iamadragon 8 years ago
iamadragon
mongeese, patsox834 and I (and tribefan011) have professional experience debating baseball. We've done this so much that he wouldn't try and use some underhanded criteria strategy. I just hope he's made it 8,000 characters per round, because he'll need all of them to make the complete argument that I anticipate he will.
Posted by mongeese 8 years ago
mongeese
Okay.
Posted by patsox834 8 years ago
patsox834
<"you already know that Willie Mays did better overall in the established criteria than Mickey Mantle,">

No, I don't know that. It can be argued either way -- there are actually plenty of knowledgeable people who rank Mantle above Mays. It's often a toss-up between those two and Ty Cobb. Some also include Oscar Charleston -- but I'm not sold on the legitimacy of negro league players' stats.
Posted by mongeese 8 years ago
mongeese
Yes, but the thing is, since you've chosen the criteria, and you already know that Willie Mays did better overall in the established criteria than Mickey Mantle, because you've probably already checked the statistics of both players, there's really no hope for CON.
Posted by patsox834 8 years ago
patsox834
<"then establish which statistics will be used, ">

...can you read? I didn't "establish" which stats will be used at all -- I mentioned the criteria which will be used to determine who the better baseball player was: hitting, fielding, baserunning, and durability, which would be measured with stats. I didn't say which stats -- whoever accepts is free to use whatever stats they like.

<"when you probably only chose statistics that would help your case?">

Uh...why would anyone chose stats that didn't help their case?

I generally use the same stats in player comparisons, anyway.
Posted by i_defy_the_norm 8 years ago
i_defy_the_norm
dude! i watched needful things last night and one boy's needful thing was a mickey mantle (sp?) baseball card.
Posted by mongeese 8 years ago
mongeese
Wait, so you say that one baseball player is better than another, then establish which statistics will be used, when you probably only chose statistics that would help your case?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by tribefan011 8 years ago
tribefan011
patsox834MrMarkP37Tied
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Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by patsox834 8 years ago
patsox834
patsox834MrMarkP37Tied
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Total points awarded:70