Yogi Berra

When you look at video of Berra hitting it’s hard to imagine that he was so good. He seemed to throw the bat through the hitting zone and he often swung at pitches above the letters, he liked the high fastball. But that just proves that isolated views of swings can’t tell you a lot about success in baseball. Some hitters look great at the plate but never put up good numbers, others look like ugly ducklings and are Hall of Famers.

The image of Berra as a lovable lowbrow is overblown. He was a smart ballplayer, at least from the aspect of instincts. Tommy Henrich once called Berra the smartest baserunner on the team after Mantle. And Yogi was a good hit-and-run man and of course he helped handle those great Yankee pitching staffs, which were consistently shuttling parts in and out year after year, still winning 95-100 games annually.

There’s probably some reason for this, though I don’t know what it is: Berra hit better in the second half of the season than he did the first. Most catchers wear down, but Yogi had a career OPS of .802 in the first-half and .858 after the All-Star break.