Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The M&M Boys

Today we saluted the M&M boys, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, who were featured in the movie 61*. Yankee Stadium was the "house that Ruth built" and Mantle and Maris challenged Ruth's single season home run record of 60 during the 1961 season. Mantle and Maris had different personalities. Mantle was the leader of the 1961 team and enjoyed life, especially late in the evening. In contrast, Maris was shy and did not like all of the media pressure during the chase to break Ruth's record.

In class, we compared batting statistics for the two players. From a career perspective, Mantle was clearly the better offensive player -- his average OPS value was significantly higher than Maris' average OPS. Also, Maris' home run total of 61 in 1961 was unusual relative to his home run totals in his other years. Many people thought that Maris was not deserving of breaking Ruth's record, but this assessment is a bit unfair. Maris had a few great seasons, winning the MVP (most valuable player) title two consecutive seasons.

We concluded with a rolling dice activity. We considered two hypothetical players, Jeff and Bobby, who we know have mediocre and good probabilities of getting on-base. By rolling 10-sided dice, we looked at the performances of these two players in 10 plate appearances. By writing down the results of the rolls in a table, we can look at the relationship between a player's ability (value of p) with his performance (number of times on-base).

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