Why Mickey Mantle Expected to Do Better Than His Triple Crown Season

Why Mickey Mantle Expected to Do Better Than His Triple Crown Season

New York City : NY : USA | Jul 04, 2012 at 9:20 AM PDT
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Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris

It was the best that Mickey Mantle had felt during spring training since 1956. As the 1961 regular season approached, Mantle was batting .526, including 13 hits in his last 17 trips to the plate, along with hitting five home runs. He couldn't wait for the exhibition games to end.

He told the baseball writers baseball writers, "I don't remember when I've felt better at this state. I ought to have my best year."

In the Triple Crown season of 1956, Mantle led the majors in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) with an 11.0. Duke Snider finished with a 7.3 WAR.

Runs Above Replacement Level (RAR) wasn't even a contest. Mantle's 114 first was well ahead of Snider's 74. He led in most of the modern measurements, which is ironic because no one knew about it until recently.

In 1960, the first season that he and Roger Maris were teammates, Mantle did well. After all, he led the league with 40 home runs, but there was criticism because he had his lowest batting average since his rookie season.

Mantle hit .275/.399/.558. All that was important to the "experts" was that he hit only .275, despite hitting 40 home runs. Maris won the MVP.

Having such a healthy, successful 1961 spring training was significant to Mantle and the Yankees. New manager Ralph Houk played a role in creating the new Mantle. He said Mantle would be the team leader.

When he arrived at spring training, Mantle was more friendly and outgoing. His off-beat sense of humor showed. One incident illustrates the new Mantle, as told by a baseball writer.

"He waved and hollered hello at me in the parking lot a little while ago. What happened to him?

Houk replied, "He's grown up."

The season became one of the most memorable in baseball history as Mantle and Maris chased Babe Ruth's single season home run record. Mantle hit 54 home runs, Maris set a new record with 61 and the Yankees won the World Series after missing two seasons.

The spring training and most of the 1961 season illustrated just how great Mantle could have been.

HaroldFriend is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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