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At age 42, selfish Rickey had already been living contract to contract for 6 years. He'd been re-acquired by the 2001 Padres, who were also inexplicably unaware of the dreadful reputation he'd built with many teams, including the San Diego Padres. On the last day of the season, Henderson had 2,999 career hits. But he asked not to play that game, because it was Tony Gwynn's last, and he didn't want to take any of the attention away from Gwynn. And besides, fading 43-year-old pariahs are such hot commodities on the free agent market, especially ones who think only of themselves.
Is there really any doubt DiMaggio was a better ballplayer than Ott or Yaz?
Well, if you want to go by "what happened" with Dimaggio in Fenway Park against a pitching staff whose ERA was in the top half of the league in 8 out of Dimaggio's 13 years, his 162 game average production** was a .334 BA, 40 home runs, 152 RBI and a 1.015 OPS. His corresponding numbers for Yankee Stadium, based on 875 games against all opponents, were a .315 BA, 27 home runs, 133 RBI and a .938. I'd say those numbers pretty much speak for themselves.
Piazza was NOT a bad defensive catcher.
No real reason to expect something similar of DiMaggio though, and when you're comparing based on rate stats this matters.
If I'm drafting in a fantasy league, I take Williams or Bonds. If I'm actually assembling men I have to work with and who have to work with my other players, I take Musial.
But if he'd kept up his strength and conditioning like most modern players, or even just spent his winters stomping around in the woods hunting the way that the old time country ballplayers used to, then there's probably a very good chance he could have stretched his peak. But when you spend your leisure hours outside the ballpark mostly sitting on your butt or lying in bed, then making it much past your early 30's isn't something you should count on.
Depends on when he began his rehab, since Dimaggio's neglect of his body dated back to when he started hanging out late nights at the Broadway joints, chain smoking and drinking like a fish. That stuff can wear you down after a while, and it goes a long way to explaining why so few players back then played into their late 30's.
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