I was watching a special on the MLB Network about the 1967 Red Sox. It’s called The Impossible Dream:Red Sox Nation Begins. The premise was that 1967 marked a watershed moment in Red Sox history, that it turned a city’s attention towards its baseball team. I like that it’s narrated by Boston native John Slattery. Adds some local color to the show.
There were interviews and adjectives thrown around and yet, I still wanted to know what was implied by watershed as in how did it translate into numbers. Thanks to baseball reference, I had my wish. Attendance at Fenway did more than spike from 1966-1967. It doubled, from 811,172 (10,014 per game) to 1,727,832 (21,331 per game.) That may or may not be a record.
There is a dialogue between two players from that team – Rico Petrocelli and Mike Andrews and also an extensive interview with Carl Yastrzemski. I don’t remember all the details of the show, but one really sticks out – that Yaz carried the team on his back for most of the season.
This type of single-handed contribution screams of WAR or Wins Above Replacement Player. I’m not too knowledgeable when it comes to today’s statistical analysis, but I don’t think the formula or factors or complicated math matters. What does matter is the intent – to determine how valuable a player is to his team. That’s interesting and in this case, it proved to parallel the word “carried team on his back.”
The all-time single season WAR leader begins with Babe Ruth (14.3 in 1923) and is followed by Ruth as well (12.9 in 1921) and who is third? Yaz in 1967 with 12.5.
Those numbers don’t speak to me the way a batting average above .300 does or an OB% above .400, but one day, they might…….