The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
10 Points


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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/16/2013 Category: Sports
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,730 times Debate No: 32556
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)




the best center fielder in baseball history is mickey mantle. i argue for and my opponent agrues against. you may use several players.


Since the measuring stick for "best" was undefined, it will be open for debate in this debate and up to the voters to determine how to weigh each argument and stat.

I will allow my opponent to start but I will take the liberty of outlining a few players that I will likely bring up (this is not an inclusive list and I may bring others next round).

Willie Mays [2]
Joe DiMaggio [3]

I will now let my opponent make their case for Mickey Mantle [1].

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting. Mantle is better than Dimaggio. Dimaggio has advantages in rbis, batting average, slugging average and defense. Mantle had advantages in home runs, on base percentage, and runs scored. The rbis and runs cancel each other out. Defense at center field is over rated. It is important but not that important. Batting average is over rated and obp is more important then slg. That should all even out. Dimaggio did lose 3 prime seasons due to war and was injured afterwards, but Mantle had far more injuries. Both players did amazing in postseason, but Mantle was better, setting World Series records of 18 home runs, 40 rbis, and 42 runs scored. Although this looks dead even, the last edge for Mantle was that he did play in the 1960's when the pitchers dominated. Dimaggio played in the 1930's when hitters dominated. Against Willie Mays, Mays did had more home runs, rbis, runs and better defense. Defense is over rated and May's other stats are higher due to more games and plate appearances. Also, Mays obp is even lower then Mantle's, more then 30 points. Mays only won one world championship and performed terribly in the postseason. Baseball is all about winning and that is what Mantle did: win, win and win. Mays didn't win enough.


I will thank my opponent for their fast round. I will go ahead and dive into my arguments, but I will break this down into sections to make this easier.

1) Defense.

I would strongly disagree that defense is of little importance. We are, after all, arguing based on a DEFENSIVE position, not simply who was the best batter. Though I am also entirely confused about this, since Mickey has a better defensive rating than any big name CF batter. His career .984, edges over Mays' .981 and Joe's .978. I would think such a thing would have been a strong point for my opponent (or I might be leading you into a trap). But, since my opponent wishes to ignore defense, I shall bring in someone to replace Joe that I originally threw out because he was a hitter only and just stood out in CF until his time... Cy freaking Cobb [1][2].

2) Era

2.a) Joe

I will grace Joe with one parting bit of defense before Ty replaces his booty. My opponent claims that Joe played in a batter's era, while Mickey was in a pitcher's era. This is not entirely true [3]. As we can see, the real "batter's" era was the 20's and early 30's, when national averages were floating in the .280's and even some .290's. Joe started in 1936, when the average was .284, and it began going down at his rookie year until he retired in 1951 (the same year that Mickey and Mays started). For much of his career, 1941 - 1951, it bounced in the .250's and .260's, while when Mickey was playing it was bouncing in the .250's until the end of his career in the mid 60's (Mickey played from 51' - 68') when it dropped to the .240's. So the league difference was really only about 15 points between eras, yet Joe batted almost 30 points higher. That is far more than the difference of the league averages, so it is illogical to claim that the era's are what make for that difference.

2. b) Ty Freaking Cobb (pretty sure that is his actual middle name [2]).

Now, you heard me say that the batter's era was the 20's (that is for batting average, for HRs, we'll likely get into next round). But Ty started playing in 1905 when the average was only .248 and it didn't break the .240's until 1911 and didn't break out of the .260's until 1920. Ty Cobb's first 6 years we harder for batters than almost all of Mickey's career (apart for the end of it, but definitely for his prime). Yet Ty broke the .300 mark 5 of those 6 years and broke .350 in 3 of those 6 (Mickey only broke .350 twice in his entire career). Ty went on to break .350 eleven times in a row (from 1909 - 1919).

What we see, is that Ty played much of his career (16 years of it) before the big hitter era and still utterly crushed Mickey in all respects to batting.

3) Mickey vs Mays

Both Mickey and Mays started in 1951 (Mays got RotY, cough cough). To accurately compare the to each other (since they played in the same era) we should only look when they both played. So any HRs, RBIs, etc that Mays had after Mickey retired are ignored. We should only look at 51' through 68' (we can still look at 52' and 53', when Mays served his country and Mickey did not, because Mickey will need all the help he can get).

(please note, that all these numbers go back to sources presented in R1)

This will be number intensive, so I will try to make it look like a list and it will be in the format of...

[category], Mays' stat, Mickey's stat

Hits, 2782, 2415
HRs, 587, 536
RBIs, 1654, 1509
2Bs, 446, 344
3Bs, 129, 72
BA, .305, .298
SLG, .575, .557
SOs, 1147, 1710

As we can see in the time frame that both players played, Mays was better in EVERY stats that matters. Of course, Mays played longer and his age would skew his career averages, but when the two were together, Mays was clearly the better player.

And of course, if we look at just batting, Ty Cobb was better than both of them.

I will leave this at this for now.

Thank you,

Debate Round No. 2


I will now defend Mr. Mantle against Mr. Cobb, Mr. Dimaggio and Mr. Mays. Like my opponent, I shall break my argument into several sections.

1) Joe Dimaggio
Because my opponent is no longer arguing for Dimaggio, I will try to be brief. Yes, it is quite obvious now that Dimaggio's advantage in batting average was totally because of the league. However, it was stilll helped, so Dimaggio's advantage shouldn't be as large. I did not mean that defense was useless, I was trying to argue that defense is only a small part of baseball and its advantage should not be as large as many offensive stats. Mantle's obp is higher than Dimaggio's by 23 points, more than enough to cover for Dimaggio's slg and batting average. Mantle has superior postseason stats and so I believe The Mick is better than Jolting Joe.

2)Ty Cobb
Yes, Cobb has the highest batting average of all time. The gut has astronomical batting averages. But beside the first half of Cobb's career, it really is quite even. Cobb may have great batting averages, but Mantle drew more walks, 1733 to 1249, that their obp is some what close. (.421 for Mantle, .433 for Cobb). Mantle, though beat Cobb in slg by 45 points. This results in a 33 point advantage in ops, combining obp and slugging. Mantle's (rbi+runs)/plate appearances is a hair higher than Cobb's. Cobb, by the way Cobb did not win seven championships.

3) Willie Mays
Mays obp is 37 points lower than Mantle's. That is huge. Mays did have better numbers but Mantle won more championships and has a higher runs+rbis/plate appearances.


I thank my opponent for their last round. To maintain the same style, I will break my sections by player, rather then category.

1) Ty Cobb

My opponent is forgetting one of his own arguments from earlier. My opponent tried to use the different baseball eras beforehand to try and give Mantle an edge over Dimaggio. This exact same logic applies toward why Cobb is far better than Mantle. Let us re-look at batting average [1] and bring in slugging [2]. Ty Cobb played his first 15 years (from 1905 until 1919) in the dead ball era [3]. In these 15 years, the average batting average was .252. This is pretty close to what Mantle saw, over his career, the average was .254 but the key difference is in slugging. The league average through the dead ball era was only .329, while in Mantle's career it was .383, a full 54 points higher, while Mantle only has a 41 point advantage over Cobb's dead ball era numbers (.557 over .516). Given how the game was slanted in his favor, this means he actually performed worse. And given that Cobb batted .372 in the dead ball era, vs Mantle's dismal .298 it is very clear who the better player was.

The (RBI's + Runs)/PA is not a meaningful stat. Since HRs count as 1 RBI and 1 Run, yet only yield 1 point, not 2, the equation for runs created should be (RBIs + Runs - HRs)/PA, which Cobb is significantly higher than Mantle (31.1% to 26.7%, which is over 15% better). Other keys stats to note? Mantle had 1710 strike outs in his career, or 17.3 SO per 100 plate appearances (one of the highest ratios of any hall of famer), while Cobb had only 681 strike outs in his career (which was significantly longer) for only 5.2 SO per 100 PAs, less than 1/3 of Mantle.

My opponent seems focused on the number of championships, however this is not an accurate measure of an individual's ability. Championships are won by teams and a team effort, not by an individual. Clear example, in the 1960 World Series, Mantle batted .400, slugged .800 (both were his best WS performances) and lost the WS that year. However, in 1962, Mantle batted .120 and slugged .160 (both were his worst WS performances) and they won the WS that year. Clearly, winning the WS =/= a better player.

2) Willie Mays

Willie's Runs created ratio is statistically the same, 26.4% to 26.7%, his strike out ratio was also only 12.2 per 100 PA, a good deal lower (though not as low at Cobb). Really, Willie is just here in case we swing back to defense, since he has 12 back to back golden gloves, to Mantle's 1 and only (which they both won that year, since 3 OF GGs are awarded per league).

As we go into the last round, I look forward to the conclusion.

Thank you.

Debate Round No. 3


This is my argument. Back in the first round, you wrote that the measuring stick for "best" was undefined. When I first heard this, I thought that we would dispute over what means "best". However, reviewing your words, it seems to me that you did not HOW to find out who was the best. Nevertheless, it made me realizie that I was not clear with the meaning of best. Right now I am saying that best could be two things:
a) The player contributed the most to their team after taking away all of the negatives.
b) This player shows an incredibly large amount of skill and talent.
The first option is the team player. The second option shows the player is great but doesn't help his team win enough. A good example of this is strikeouts for pitchers. What is the largest advantage for a team with its pitchers having lots of strikeouts? The advantage is kinda small. In a ough situation, a strikeout is better than a ground out or fly out. However, during a time where the bases are empty and the team is down by ten runs, a strikeout is no different than any other out. But the reason why atrikeouts are imortant is because it takes skill. It is harder to strike somebody out than letting them put the ball in play. Now that is over, I will get back to Mantle vs. Cobb and Mays.
1) OPS+
OPS+ is a stat where it measures the player's ops against the league ops. It makes an automatic era change so we can directly compare players. The formula is (slg/lg slg) +(obp/lg obp) -1. The whole thing is multiplied by 100 to make it easier to understand. Mays's career OPS+ is 156. Dimaggio's career OPS+ is 155. Cobb's career OPS+ is 168. Mantle's career OPS+ is.... 172. Of course it doesn't factor in batting average but I will get back to it. Also, both Cobb and Mays have long careers. This doesn't work for Mays. But it does work for Cobb. At 1919, Cobb had an OPS+ of 177. So how is Mantle better? My opponent said earlier that Mantle's league slg was 54 points higher than Cobb's. Yet Mantle's slg is only 40 points higher than Cobb's. This is going to work in my favor. If Mantle's slg is actually far lower than Cobb's, why are there OPS+ so close? Becaus Cobb's era had a higher obp than Mantle's. If Cobb's slg is 12 points higher, than Mantle's is about seven point's higher. However, obp is MORE important than slg. Obp is 1.7 times more important. Because OPS+ doesn't make the distinction that obp is more importnat, Mantle's OPS+ is the same as Cobb's even if Cobb retired by 1920.
2) Runs Created
Runs created is a stats which measures how many runs a player contributes to his team. In his career, Mantle created 2038 runs. Cobb created 2517 runs. When you measure how many runs by plate appearances, Mantle has .205 runs per plate appearance. Cobb is only at .192. Mays created about 2368 runs in 12496 plate appearances at a rate of .190 runs per plate appearance. So, in reality, Mantle was actually producing runs at a faster pace than both Mays and Cobb.
3) Secondary Average
Secondary Average is a stat that takes into account power, the ability to get on base and stealing bases. It is more important than batting average because it measures more than just hits. Most of the time, the league secondary average us the same as batting average. A player's secondary average, though, can range from .100 to .500. Cobb's career secondary average is .333, which is pretty good. May's career secondary average is higher because he had more extra base hits. Mays is at .421. And Mantle's? Let just say it is very high. High, as in .491. So, actually Mantle was doing far more to put runs on the scoreboard. Mantle's secondary advantage basically wipes out Cobb's advantage in batting average. Even if people think batting average is say, twice as important, Mantle still wins. Mantle's secondary average is 158 points higher than Cobb's! This presents a huge advantage for Mantle. If you are still not convinced that Mantle is better, I got more.
4) Big Years
Is it better to have 10 great years and 10 medicore years or 15 good seasons and 5 solid seasons? Is it better to be consistent or have ups and downs? Bill James, a very influential person in sports conducts a study to answer those questions. His results? It is better to have big years, it wins more pennants andis more helpful to the team. So, when comparing Mantle to Cobb and Mays, who has the best season? Using OPS+, Cobb's best season was 1917 when he hit .383 with an obp of .444 and slg of .570 and a OPS+ of 209. Cobb finshed with 148 runs created. In his career, he finshed three times with an OPS+ of at least 200. The most runs created by Cobb in a season was 169 where his OPS+ was 206. May's best season by OPS+ was in 1965 with 185. Mantle's best seasons were 1956 when he created 188 runs and had an OPS+ of 210. In 1957, he created 178 runs and had an OPS+ of 221. Along with 1961 when he created 174 runs with an OPS+ of 206, Mantle had 3 seasons when he created more runs than Cobb's high. Mantle had several seasons where he created more runs than May's high and several seasons where his OPS+ is higher than May's high. It seems that Mantle's best seasons are far better than Cobb's and May's. This all helps Mantle because big seasons help.
5) Defense
Defense counts of course. If an average defender at center field saves his team 0 runs, how many runs does a great defender like Mays save each year? 15. Mays probablary saved 200-250 runs as a center fielder. Mantle is a good fielder even if he won only one gold glove. Gold gloves can't be trusted because the writers who award them figures out how good at defense a player is by judging how many diffucult plays that player makes. So gold gloves are a bit sketchy. Mantle probablary only saved 100-125 runs. Of course, I don't know, it is just a prediction. However, Bill James who I metioned earlier says that defense is only a fraction of inportance compared to offense.
Cobb: -100 to -150
Mantle: 100 to 124
Mays: 200 to 250 These are estimates of runs saved.
So defense is not as important as offense because Cobb, Mays and Mantle created over 2000 runs on offense and less than 300 runs on defense.
6) Long careers
I feel that my opponent will try to argue that because Mays has a longer career, his career averages are going to be lower. Here are their averages at the end of the 1968 season when Mantle retired.
I am going to list the averages in order of importance.
Stat, May's Stat, Mantle's stat
OPS+ 160 172
runs created 1999 2038
rc per pa .219 .205
Secondary average . 427 .491
Obp .384 .421
Slg .578 .557
batting average .308 .298
So, my opponent can say that May's last years ruined his averages. I don't approve this argument. It basiclly says "if" Mays retired when Mantle retired, Mays would be better. "If", though are never a good argument. What "if" Mantle was never injuried? Also, why choose 1968 as the time to compare? By choosing 1968, it will eliminate May's bad years and boost his career averages. At the very least Mickey the same favor. Why don't we compare the players at the end of the 1964 season? Here are the stats with Mays listed first.
OPS+ Mays-161, Mantle-177
Runs created Mays- 1578, Mantle-
RC per pa Mays-.197, Mantle-
Secondary average Mays-.427 Mantle-.508
Obp Mays-.388, Mantle-.429
Slg Mays-.589, Mantle-.582
Batting average Mays-.313, Mantle-.309
As you can see, Mantle was far better before the bad years screwed up his averages.
7) Strikeouts
Less strikeouts help advance runners up and create more runs. But if Mantle
Ended up with more runs created, it isn't a valid argument. My opponent can argue that it takes more skill to not strikeout. And that is true, Cobb and Mays get a small advantage. But Cobb was very disruptive and hurt his team. So really, there is no advantage for Cobb.
Mickey wins. Mantle has huge advantages in OPS+, secondary average and runs created.
Mantle is gets on base, hits for power, create runs and win ball games. Thank you and vote for Mickey Mantle.


Being that this is the last round, I will not add any additional arguments but only cite what has already been stated.

First, I would like to point out a complete lack of sources. My opponent talks about the league averages for OBP however, I cannot locate anything older than 2000 (which is on ESPN). Baseball Almanac does not have this data (though it has it for slugging and BA). However, it was already presented back in R3 and backed by sources and never disputed by my opponent, that Cobb had a higher slugging in respect to his era (His era was 54 points lower, while he was only 41 points, lower, giving him a 13 point advantage). My opponent also pointed out that Cobbs had a higher OBP than Mantle anyway, so without providing some kind of evidence that Cobb's dead ball era (which was notorious as the best pitching era in all of baseball) somehow had the highest OPB (despite having the lowest BA, as shown in R3, and the lowest slugging, as shown in R3, it must have been at least 34 points higher to get the numbers that my opponent suggests).

Second, Runs Created. I will preface this by saying that while it does not violate any rules established in this debate, it does go against the commonly held rules of no new arguments. The "Runs Created" numbers that my opponent pulls in the last round are from a theoretical equation developed by Bill James [1]. This is not the number of run that they physically created in their careers. What is important to note, is that the equation by Bill James ALREADY FACTORS IN THE TOTAL PLATE APPEARANCES [2]. Therefore, when my opponent divides by PA, he is doubling up on numbers and making them meaningless.

I will finish by saying that my opponent, in their last round, never addresses how the different eras which skew in Mantles favor and that is why a few of his numbers are better, not his skill.

I thank my opponent for this debate and pass this to the voters.

Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by deever 3 years ago
I forgot to add Mantle's runs created and runs created per plate appearance at the end of the 1964 season. He created 1747 runs at .219 runs per plate appearance. Sorry about it, but still vote for Mantle!
Posted by deever 3 years ago
I would like to debate with you on that argument. I would take Ruth over Cobb though even only using offense (defense doesn't matter in this case though because they both can't play defense).
Posted by Ore_Ele 3 years ago
If I have time, I might want to do a Ruth vs Cobb debate for offensive abilities only (hitting and base running). I'd take Cobb over Ruth.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: CVB for Zo, as I fail to see what his RFD relates to other than "agreed with before/after..."
Vote Placed by Zo 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Mantle is much better than Cobb.
Vote Placed by Pennington 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: I did not like that Con used numerous players in different statistical forms but Pro allowed it. Con was the way better debater but I leave arguments null because Con overwhelmed Pro and Pro could not battle all the players. Its should have been player against player and Con did not show just one of those players was better all around. I also tie conduct. I will give Con his points in S/G because Pro made errors. I also give Con sources.