OOTP Stan Musial resembled flesh and blood Stan Musial pretty closely. OOTP Stan Musial is a Dodgers legend and has some lesser counting stats due to retiring after the 1959 season while the real Musial stuck around and was pretty good for four more seasons. OOTP Musial did not go to war in 1945 so he gains back another year of prime production in that respect.
Our Musial was selected 4th overall in the 1940 draft. He was passed over by the A’s, Reds, and Senators for Sid Gordon, Tex Hughson, and Johnny Beazley, respectively. Musial did not spend a day in the minor leagues, debuting in 1941 with a 326/425/548 batting line in 131 games.
The Dodgers had won a World Series as recently as 1939 but dropped off significantly for 1940, allowing them the opportunity to draft 4th that year and select Musial. But even with Stan the Man’s instant production the team took a little more time to fully rebuild. Musial and Johnny Mize were a strong 1-2 punch in the middle of the Brooklyn lineup but there wasn’t much else to speak of at that time.
A third place finish in 1943 showed the franchise making progress as Harry Brecheen fortified the pitching and then in 1944 they surged to a National League pennant. Musial only played 99 games that year as injuries to his groin and oblique limited his availability in the first half of the season. But Mize was the NL MVP that season and Claude Passeau went from an oft-injured average starter to ace, posting a 27-8 record with a 159 ERA+ in 324.2 innings. He would be the Cy Young winner for that season.
Musial did his usual good work when he was in the lineup, contributing plenty to the team’s success. And he picked up Mize’s slack in the World Series against the St. Louis Browns. Mize had hit an astonishing 8 homers in the five game 1939 World Series and was pitched very carefully this time around. So Musial hit .306 and drove in 12 runs in this one, including 4 in the clinching Game 7 win and the Dodgers were again champions.
They won it all again in 1946 and 1947. Musial hit even better in each of these World Series and both regular seasons were MVP years for him. He would win six MVPs in all during his career. But the 1947 World Series was the last time he tasted the postseason. The team was rarely bad during his reign, but they also didn’t participate in any pennant races either, finishing ten or more games out in all but two of his remaining years.
In addition to his six MVP awards (which included four straight from 1945-48) , Musial was also Rookie of the Year in ‘41, won three Gold Gloves, and was named to an incredible seventeen All Star games. His longest hitting streak stretched over April and May of 1942, ending up at 26 games.
He hit his 400th of 443 home runs on August 27, 1957 at home against the Cubs. It was a solo homer in the sixth inning of an ordinary 8-3 loss, but also a tender moment as it had been announced only weeks earlier that the team would be leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles, of all places, at the season’s conclusion. Musial stayed on the field near the dugout for over five minutes after completing his trot around the bases as the fans paid tribute to him and said an early goodbye to their team at the same time.
The Los Angeles fans got to see Musial smack his 3,000th hit on May 7 of the following year. It was another loss, this time to the Phillies. It wasn’t lost on many that there were nearly twice as many Dodgers fans in attendance as for the big homer milestone in Brooklyn the previous year, but those people also noticed the generic feel to the cheers for Musial’s accomplishment. He would wrap up his career with 3,217 hits. That mark is 7th on the all-time list, between Rogers Hornsby and Wade Boggs.
Musial hit .321 for his career, 43rd on the lifetime leaderboard. His .401 OBP is 40th. 8th all time is his 1,053.19 VORP, eclipsing just barely that of Ty Cobb. He scored the 15th most runs of all time with 1,701, and his 1,679 runs driven in is 15th best. Although that mark is about to be surpassed by Vladimir Guerrero, currently one RBI behind Musial.
Musial’s best season by OPS+ came in his final MVP year of 1953. He hit 340/422/646 that year for a 194 OPS+. His 39 homers were the most of his career and his 114 RBIs only surpassed by the 119 he drove in in 1948.
Musial’s body began to show signs of breakdown during the 1959 season that would be his last. His worst injury of the year was a balky shoulder that sent him out of the lineup in mid-August with an estimated recovery time of six weeks. Musial worked hard to get back into the lineup, just in case this was the end and made it back with four games to play. He got in one road game as a tuneup, in St. Louis, and then played the final series of the year at home against the Cubs. The Dodgers swept the Cubs. Musial could only manage one base hit in the series, a single in the first game, but his eyes still worked and he scratched out a few walks as well.
Musial announced his retirement a week later and was easily elected to the Hall of Fame for the 1962 class.