Thursday, October 22, 2015

Should 56 be 74 for DiMaggio? If so, remember 84!

Earlier in the summer we reflected on the greatest hitting season in the Major Leagues - 1941.

But getting hits isn't the only measure of offensive success -- as the old adage goes 'A walk is as good as a hit', right?  With the World Series nearing, let's take a look at an arguably more impressive feat than Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak:  Ted Williams' streak of reaching base safely in 84 straight games in 1949.

In addition to being married to Marilyn Monroe (and having fresh roses delivered to her grave twice weekly for two decades after her death!), DiMaggio is famous for getting at least one base hit in 56 straight games.  But after game 57 when he didn't get a hit, he proceeded to get a hit in the next 16 straight games.  But he also had a walk in game 57, and got walked in the game before the big streak started as well, making 74 games in a row that he reached base safely.  Definitely impressive.

Williams' string of consecutive games reaching base is far less sexy - his longest hitting streak was 23 games in a row, and that came during the same '41 season that DiMaggio set the world on fire - but it is at least as impressive.

Starting on July 1 two weeks before the All-Star game, he was on base in every game until basically the end of the season!  Hard to imagine that kind of efficiency.

Also consider that in the 65 seasons since Williams reached base safely in over half of the season in a row, the closest anyone has come to his record was in 2006 when Orlando Cabrera got on base in 63 straight games.  That perspective drives home what an accomplishment Williams' 1949 was, and also how it's kind of funny that it doesn't get the same credit as DiMaggio's hitting streak.

While this might not have a lot to do with financial planning directly, it DOES have to do with one of the biggest obstacles to achieving financial success: perception.  The perception in baseball is that hitting is more important (or at least more difficult) than merely getting on base, even though the truth is that getting on base regardless of how it happens is both truly valuable and truly difficult.

Similarly, conventional wisdom is that picking the right investments and predicting what the markets are going to do is the most important part of financial planning.  But in reality, there are many more things (like how much you save and how much you pay in taxes) that have far greater impact on your financial success. 

If you find yourself struggling to figure out the difference between truth and perception as it applies to your financial situation, we can help.

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