What might have been: Projecting 10 MLB interrupted careers

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 10: Players observe a moment of silence for deceased pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 prior to the Royals 2017 home opener against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on April 10, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 10: Players observe a moment of silence for deceased pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 prior to the Royals 2017 home opener against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on April 10, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Lyman Bostock

Bostock was a 27-year-old star outfielder with the California Angels when he was gunned down while riding in the back seat of an automobile in Gary, Indiana.

The shooter, apparently the jealous ex-husband of one of the car’s other occupants, fired into the car with a shotgun, striking Bostock in the head. He died a few hours later. At trial, the shooter was found innocent by reason of insanity.

Completing his fourth MLB season at the time of his death, Bostock was an established star. In three previous seasons with the Twins and this one with the Angels, he had a career .311 average with 250 RBIs, a .361 on base average, and a .791 OPS.

He got MVP votes in each of his last two seasons.

Dying as early as he did on his career path makes projecting what Bostock might have accomplished especially dicey; so many natural elements might have intervened. Baseball-Reference projects the closest comparable to Bostock as Curt Walker, an outfielder with the 1920s Cincinnati Reds.

The best way to speculate about what Bostock might have done, then, is to look at what Walker actually did.

Bostock was concluding his age 27 season when he was killed. From his age 28 season onward, Walker played six more full seasons, accumulating 909 hits in 2,998 official at bats. That works out to a .303 average. Atop the 624 hits in 2,004 official at bats Bostock actually had, that projects to have allowed him to conclude his career in 1983 with a .306 batting average, not far from the .311 average he actually had.