PFotD: Willie Mays is 80 years old today
May 6th 2011 is the 80th birthday of Willie Howard Mays. In a blog where we focus on player value as a means of comparing players and eras, Mays is going to probably get around 800 thousand mentions.
His sustained excellence is baffling. In a previous post I discussed how great Dale Murphy was for the Braves, despite being shy of Hall of Fame credentials. Based on WAR (Baseball Reference), Willie Mays had a better year than Dale Murphy’s best career year (7.5) 11 times, and matched him once. Mays possesses a career WAR of 154.7, or exactly 3.5 times as high as the impressive Murphy. This mark puts him 4th all time, behind Babe Ruth, his godson Barrold Q. Bonds, and Ty Cobb.
When Mays was 20 years old, he debuted in the majors and was the Rookie of the Year. When he was 40 years old, he OPS’ed .907, or approximately what Adrian Gonzalez did in San Diego last year as a 28 year old.
Dude could play.
Hat tip to you, Mr. Mays. If you send me your address I’ll send you a celebratory cobbler.