I just want to wish a happy birthday to MLB superstar and Hall of Fame centerfielder Willie Mays! The Say Hey Kid was before my time, but having heard stories, read books, seen spotty footage, and of course studied statistics, it seems pretty apparent to me that Mays was as good as it gets in the Outfield. When talking about five tool players, no one seemed to be better than Willie, who hit .302 (average) with 660 home runs (power) 338 steals (speed) and 12 gold gloves (defense and arm). Willie was elected into the Hall of Fame his first year of eligibility with 94.7% percent of the vote, or 409/432 voters (It's safe to say, sadly, that the 23 people who did not vote for Mays probably did so out of racism, as his statistics clearly merit HOF enshrinement).
Mays is a player that may never be duplicated. I believe the closest we have ever (and may ever) see was Ken Griffey Jr. Had injuries not taken their toll on Griffey he would have almost certainly eclipsed Mays in home runs, and his .284 average is certainly comparable to Mays' .302. Griffey will go down as one of the best center fielders of all time, but still does not measure up with the numbers put up by Mays.
I read a recent article stating that (to paraphrase) "Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen is this generations Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays". Comparing Cutch and Mays at this stage in their career looks like this:
Happy 83rd Willie!