Are Streaks Overrated?
Two of the most impressive individual streaks are Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak and Orel Hershiser’s 59 consecutive scoreless innings. For their accomplishments they took home the 1941 MVP and the 1988 Cy Young Award. However, were they the best that year? You be the judge.
Joe DiMaggio - 193 Hits in 541 At Bats (.357), 122 Runs, 43 Doubles, 11 Triples, 30 HRs, 125 RBI, 4 SB, 76 Walks, 13 Ks (wow), .440 On-base %, .643 Slugging %, 1.083 OPS
Ted Williams – 185 Hits in 456 At Bats (.406), 135 Runs, 33 Doubles, 3 Triples, 37 HRs, 120 RBI, 2 SBs, 147 Walks, 27 Ks, .553 On-base %, .735 Slugging %, 1.287 OPS
Yes, the Yankee Clipper had the streak and his team won the World Series, but Ted Williams numbers were simply amazing. His batting average was the 19th highest ever, the 8th highest in the 20th Century, and it hasn’t been approached since. His On-base % is the third highest ever, and the highest if you discount Barry Bonds’ steroid-aided 2002 & 2004 seasons. His Slugging % is the 17th best ever, and tenth or eleventh (depending on whether you think Jeff Bagwell used steroids in 1994) ever if you take away Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa’s steroid aided years. The Splendid Splinter had almost as many hits as the Yankee Clipper in 85 fewer at bats. He scored more Runs, hit more HRs, and walked almost twice as much as Joe DiMaggio. Obviously with the spectacular season Joltin’ Joe had, plus the streak, I can’t argue his worthiness for the MVP. However, Ted Williams numbers were, in fact better.
Now let’s look at the 1988 Cy Young Race.
Orel Hershiser – 35 Games, 34 Starts, 267 Innings, 23-8 (.742 winning percentage), 2.26 ERA, 1.052 WHIP, 15 Complete Games, 8 Shutouts, 178 Strikeouts, Gold Glove.
David Cone – 35 Games, 28 Starts, 231-1/3 Innings, 20-3 (.870 winning percentage), 2.22 ERA, 1.115 WHIP, 8 Complete Games, 4 Shutouts, 213 Strikeouts.
Again, Orel took his team on his back and they rode him to the World Series title. He had that unbelievable streak. However, if you are looking at the numbers as a whole you’ll see Cone won nearly as many games, at a much higher clip, with a lower ERA and more Strikeouts. Orel had a little better WHIP and finished what he started twice as often as Cone. Like the Joe D-Ted Williams debate, either answer is correct. While I can easily justify Orel winning the Cy Young that year, if you simply look at the stats, you’ll see Cone had the better numbers.
So are streaks overrated? In some instances I’d say they are. However, when they are as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s and Orel Hershiser’s coupled with a World Series title, I’d say not in these cases.