Have Polemic, Will Travel.
His achievements are more impressive considering that baseball was his third best sport, track was first, football second.Plus, he was a lifelong Republican.(and stealing home seems easier than it should have been back in the day, when you consider Babe Ruth stole home 10 times and Lou Gehrig did it 15 times, Jackie Robinson did it 19 times, Ty Cobb a mindboggling 54 times)
Ruth stole home 10 times? Oh my god. It was probably that blazzing speed.Thanks for the head's up on Jackie, Pooh. He was slightly before my time; never got to see him play. But he was the Man.
The thing about Robinson is that Robinson the Icon totally overshadows Robinson the player. One could argue that he is the most underrated player of all time. Aside from Rogers Hornsby, he's the first 'hitting' 2nd Baseman of the modern era (his OPS is about .120 over the league average for his career. Baseball Prospectus has his EqA, [a stat combining several hitting stats, comapared to a league average and normalized at .270] at .309. Bill James argues that he was a vastly underrated defensive player and lists him as the 4th best 2nd Baseman of all time (behind Joe Morgan, Eddie Collins and Hornsby) and that's having missed probably 4 seasons as he debuted at age 28.
You're right about his symbolic and iconic status far outdistanced his onfield performance. Morgan has to be the greatest second basemen ever but, for some reason, I never think of Robinson in those terms. Those stats are fascinating.
My proofreader is doing a lousy job... sorry.Given the inroads that modern major leaguers have made, it's odd to see names like Hornsby and Collins still up there in terms of the All-Time Great. Wasn't Roberto Alomar supposedly destined to preempt everyone and grab the title?
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