Projecting career numbers for Red Sox star Ted Williams
Williams was the runner-up for the AL MVP award in consecutive seasons prior to his hiatus during WWII. He was clearly the best player in baseball at the time and was robbed of the hardware by players from the pennant-winning Yankees.
Teddy Ballgame didn’t miss a beat when he returned in 1946, capturing his first MVP award while leading the Red Sox to the pennant. Health permitting, there’s no reason to believe that Williams wouldn’t have produced at a similar level during those three seasons that he missed during the war.
Williams averaged approximately 182 hits, 37 home runs, 127 RBI, 139 runs scored, and 149 walks in the three seasons he played between 1941 and 1946. Based on those averages, Williams conceivably could have added 546 hits, 111 home runs, 381 RBI, 417 runs scored, and 447 walks during those three years that he missed during WWII.
Projecting the two years during the Korean War is a bit trickier. An injury during the 1950 All-Star game limited him to only 89 games that season. He bounced back with a great 1951 season, leading the league in one-base percentage and slugging, but his production was down slightly from his peak years from the previous decade. Was that due to lingering effects from the injury or was it related to being on the wrong side of 30?
We can’t assume that Williams would have averaged the type of production we projected during his lost years in the 1940s. We also can’t use the same before-and-after strategy to calculate averages for the years he missed while serving in Korea. He was still battling arm soreness in 1951 and broke his collar bone in the spring of 1954, limiting him to 117 games in his first full season after the war.
There isn’t much we can take away from his limited time from 1952-53, aside from that he hit over .400 in that 43-game sample to prove he was still an elite hitter. He probably would have been healthier than he was in the previous two years but was also gradually getting older so those factors somewhat cancel each other out.
If we completely wipe away his production from those two partial seasons and replace it with a very conservative estimate using his 1951 production, we can add another 338 hits, 60 home runs, 252 RBI, 218 runs scored, and 288 walks.