1942 American League All-Star Team

P-Tex Hughson, BOS

P-Hal White, DET

P-Ted Lyons, CHW

P-Al Benton, DET

P-Johnny Niggeling, SLB

P-Johnny Humphries, CHW

P-Dizzy Trout, DET

P-Hal Newhouser, DET

P-Tiny Bonham, NYY

P-Virgil Trucks, DET

C-Bill Dickey, NYY, 1942 ONEHOF Inductee, Most All-Star lists as C-11

C-Birdie Tebbetts, DET

1B-Les Fleming, CLE

2B-Joe Gordon, NYY

2B-Bobby Doerr, BOS

3B-Harlond Clift, SLB

SS-Johnny Pesky, BOS

SS-Phil Rizzuto, NYY

SS-Lou Boudreau, CLE

LF-Ted Williams, BOS, 1st MVP

LF-Charlie Keller, NYY

LF-Bob Johnson, PHA

CF-Joe DiMaggio, NYY

CF-Wally Judnich, SLB

CF-Stan Spence, WSH

P-Tex Hughson, Boston Red Sox, 26 Years Old

281 IP, 22-6, 2.59 ERA, 113 K, 144 ERA+, 2.89 FIP, 1.185 WHIP

102 AB, .176, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .176/.236/.206, 23 OPS+

WAR-6.3

Wins Above Replacement-6.3 (5th)

WAR for Pitchers-6.2 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Red Sox

93-59, 2nd in AL

Manager Joe Cronin

Ballpark: Fenway Park (Hitter’s)

OPS+-109, 2nd in league

ERA+-109, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Ted Williams, 10.4

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-6.2

Wins-22

Innings Pitched-281

Strikeouts-113

Complete Games-22

Batters Faced-1,150

Adj. Pitching Runs-36

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.9

1st Time All-Star-Cecil Carlton “Tex” Hughson was born on February 9, 1916 in Buda, (you guessed it) TX. The six-foot-three, 198 pound righty pitcher started with the Red Sox in 1941 and became their workhorse this season. The last time Boston had the best pitcher in the league was Lefty Grove in 1937. Of course, it helped Tex that Bob Feller was off fighting for his country. This was Hughson’s best season ever.

                SABR gives a good breakdown of his 1942 season, saying, “Hughson emerged as the ace of the Red Sox in his breakout 1942 season (the ‘pitching sensation of the league this season,’ according to Jack Malaney of the Boston Post), in which the Red Sox won 93 games, their most since 1915. Tex completed 22 of his 30 starts, his first start not having come until May 16 (after he again experienced arm troubles in the spring), an amazing number considering his final win total. His career-best 22 wins, against only six losses, led the American League and tied the Cardinals’ Mort Cooper for the major league lead. Hughson also led the league in complete games, innings (a career-high 281), and strikeouts (113). His ERA was an exceptional 2.59. Tex was 5-1 against the World Series-bound Yankees. According to Oren Renick, Tex relished the opportunity to face the Yankees throughout his career. ‘I would rather beat the Yankees once than any other team twice,’ he told Renick. ‘They were the best, and they were cocky, particularly in New York with those Yankee pinstripes on. It was as if you ought not to beat them. You ought to just go out there and rather politely lose.’”

P-Hal White, Detroit Tigers, 23 Years Old

216 2/3 IP, 12-12, 2.91 ERA, 93 K, 136 ERA+, 3.12 FIP, 1.357

77 AB, .169, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .169/.200/.182, 4 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.5 (3rd)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 29 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Detroit Tigers

73-81, 5th in AL

Manager Del Baker

Ballpark: Briggs Stadium (Hitter’s)

OPS+-79, 7th in league

ERA+-127, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Hal White, 5.3

1st Time All-Star-Harold George “Hal” White was born on March 18, 1919 in Utica, NY. The five-foot-10, 165 pound righty pitcher was the ace of a loaded Detroit staff. He started with the Tigers in 1941, was a starting pitcher in 1942 and ’43, and would be a relief pitcher after the war. He had the best Detroit pitching season since Bobo Newsom in 1940 and also his best year ever.

                Baseball in Wartime wraps up his career and life, stating, “White was 16-4 with Buffalo in 1940 and made his major league debut with the Tigers on April 22, 1941. He made four relief appearances in Detroit before returning to Buffalo where he again won 16 games. In 1942 he was back with the Tigers and had his best season in the majors with a 12-12 record and 2.91 ERA in 34 appearances, including 25 starts. He also threw shutouts in his first two starts. In 1943 – his last season before entering military service with the Navy – White was 7-12.

                “He entered military service on January 3, 1944 and was based at Sampson Naval Training Station in New York, where he played on the same service team as Del Ennis and Johnny Vander Meer. He later went to the Pacific as part of the Navy’s Western Pacific Tour. Following the tour, White was appointed recreation director on Guam. ‘I was assigned on the island with Pee Wee Reese,’ he later recalled. ‘Mickey Vernon was assigned to Ulithi, which is a tiny island all by itself.’

                “White remained in baseball for many years as a minor league coach and scout. In 1975, he managed Batavia in the New York-Penn League. He was one of 90 veterans who attended the closing of Tiger Stadium in 1999. Hal White passed away at the age of 82, in Venice, Florida on April 21, 2001.”

P-Ted Lyons, Chicago White Sox, 41 Years Old

1925 1926 1927 1930 1932 1935 1938 1939

180 1/3 IP, 14-6, 2.10 ERA, 50 K, 171 ERA+, 3.12 FIP, 1.070 WHIP

67 AB, .239, 0 HR, 10 RBI, .239/.282/.299, 65 OPS+

WAR-5.2

WAR for Pitchers-4.8 (4th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 12

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1930)

Chicago White Sox

66-82, 6th in AL

Manager Jimmy Dykes

Ballpark: Comiskey Park I (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-81, 6th in league

ERA+-100, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Ted Lyons, 5.2

Led in:

1942 AL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.10

Adjusted ERA+-171

9th Time All-Star-After he made this list in 1939 — the first year Lyons started pitching exclusively on Sundays — he had good, but not great seasons in 1940 and ’41. When Thornton Lee, the best pitcher in the American League in 1941, stumbled this season, it was up to Ol’ Teddy to be the staff ace once again. Surprisingly, after this year, the 41-year-old veteran will miss the next three seasons due to the war.

                SABR wraps up this season and his career, saying, “Theodore Amar Lyons had reached the age of 41 when he began the season of 1942, his 20th and last full year as a pitcher. As usual the Sunday schedule could not be established early in the year because of postponements, and the Sox started miserably, winning just four of their first 22 games. Then Lyons ran off a string of seven wins in a row, all complete games.

                “But Lyons had an excellent year; he won 14 and lost 6; he walked only 26 batters in 180 innings while striking out 50; and his earned run average of 2.10 led the league. These were startling statistics. Above all, consider one more element, that of completions. Lyons started 20 games and completed 20 games, a feat that had not been achieved since Walter Johnson started and completed 26 games for Washington in 1918.”

                Most likely, I’ll be writing up Lyons one more time, for his ONEHOF induction which could come as early as 1944. Lyons died on July 25, 1986 at the age of 85 as the best White Sox pitcher of all time.

P-Al Benton, Detroit Tigers, 31 Years Old

1941

226 2/3, 7-13, 2.90 ERA, 110 K, 136 ERA+, 3.08 FIP, 1.297 WHIP

67 AB, .075, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .075/.075/.090, -55 OPS+

WAR-4.7

WAR for Pitchers-5.6 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (S, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Despite his won-loss record, Benton had a great season. It wasn’t his fault that the Tiger offense was so terrible. He’s the second of five Detroit pitchers who are going to make this list. It was Benton’s best season ever.

                SABR says of this time of his career, “Benton was an All-Star in both 1941 and 1942, putting together back-to-back years of considerable success mixing starting and relieving. He was 15-9 with a 2.97 ERA in 1941, and improved his ERA to 2.90 in 1942, though his won/loss record was 7-13. He didn’t appear in the 1941 All-Star Game, held at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium, but he pitched the final five innings of the 1942 game, in relief of Spud Chandler, giving up just one run on the way to an AL 3-1 win. Benton was credited with a save and not the win.

                “After the 1942 season concluded, Benton joined the United States Navy. He missed the full seasons of 1943 and 1944, but was discharged (due to migraine headaches) in time to rejoin the Tigers in April. He’d played baseball in the Navy and reportedly won 39 games in his two years.”

                This is going to be a familiar statement throughout the next few years. Such and such player had a great year and then would join the armed forces. I have a lot of respect for this greatest generation. I don’t have blinders on, I realize these players had their faults. Still, I admire these players fighting for their country, heck, my country!

P-Johnny Niggeling, St. Louis Browns, 38 Years Old

206 1/3, 15-11, 2.66 ERA, 107 K, 140 ERA+, 3.52 FIP, 1.289 WHIP

72 AB, .139, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .139/.184/.139, -9 OPS+

WAR-4.4

WAR for Pitchers-4.7 (5th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Browns

82-69, 3rd in AL

Manager Luke Sewell

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-81, 6th in league

ERA+-100, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Wally Judnich, 5.2

Led in:

Hit By Pitch-11

Fielding % as P-1.000 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-John Arnold “Johnny” Niggeling was born on July 10, 1903 in Remsen, IA. The six-foot, 170 pound righty pitcher started with the Braves in 1938 at the age of 34. The next season, he was picked up by the Reds at the end of the season. The Browns picked him up off of waivers before the 1940 season and this old man would be a good pitcher during wartime. He was the best Browns pitcher due to Bob Muncrief having an off year.

                SABR says 1942 was a significant year for the aging Niggeling: “In Le Mars, Iowa on February 2, 1942, 39-year-old Johnny Niggeling married 24-year-old Ruth Puglesa from Del Rapids, South Dakota. Ruth had been employed in the town of Le Mars, eleven miles west of Remsen. The couple honeymooned in Pensacola, Florida, where the groom reported for the Browns spring training. Marriage seemed to agree with the aging athlete then, as the season to follow proved the best of his baseball career. He ended it with a 15-11 won-loss record and a 2.66 ERA. Six of those victories were over Boston. That aided the Browns progression to third place. After that season’s end, Niggeling informed the club that Uncle Sam had rejected him for service. Earlier, he had expressed his desire to serve in the armed forces. And although he did not disclose the reason for the turndown, it was most likely because of his persistent stomach problems.” Ted Lyons entered the war at age 41 and Niggeling tried to enlist at age 38. It was a different breed of man back then.

P-Johnny Humphries, Chicago White Sox, 27 Years Old

228 1/3 IP, 12-12, 2.68 ERA, 134 K, 134 ERA+, 3.18 FIP, 1.253 WHIP

80 AB, .225, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .225/.262/.325, 67 OPS+

WAR-4.4

WAR for Pitchers-3.9 (9th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 58 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-John William “Johnny” Humphries was born on June 23, 1915 in Clifton Forge, VA. The six-foot-one, 185 pound righty pitcher started with Cleveland in 1938 and led the American League in games pitched with 45. After the 1940 season, he was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Chicago White Sox for Clint Brown.  This season was his best ever.

                Wikipedia wraps up this man’s life, saying, “John William Humphries (June 23, 1915 – June 24, 1965) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1938 to 1946. Born in Clifton Forge, Virginia, he played for the Cleveland IndiansChicago White Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies. Humphries played college baseball at North Carolina. When Humphries made his Major League debut with the Indians in 1938, he was thought to have the best fastball in the American League. He made 45 pitching appearances as a rookie in 1938 to lead the American League, beating out Bobo Newsom of the St. Louis Browns by one. Between July 13 and July 26, 1942, Humphries pitched ten or more innings in four consecutive starts. As of 2020, no other pitcher had ever pitched more than nine innings in more than three consecutive appearances

“He died in 1965 in New Orleans, Louisiana.”

                There’s not a lot of information on this pitcher who got most of his action during the war years. My guess is that’s going to be common over the next few seasons as there will be so many players filling in for those who went off to war.

P-Dizzy Trout, Detroit Tigers, 27 Years Old

223 IP, 12-18, 3.43 ERA, 91 K, 115 ERA+, 3.73 FIP

75 AB, .213, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .213/.253/.293, 49 OPS+

WAR-4.2

WAR for Pitchers-3.9 (10th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Paul Howard “Dizzy” Trout was born on June 29, 1915 in Sandcut, IN. The six-foot-two, 195 pound righty pitcher started with Detroit in 1939 and participated in 1940 World Series, going 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA. This season, he was part of the vaunted Detroit pitching staff, which has five pitchers on my list. For years and years, Dizzy would be the best player with Trout as a last name. He isn’t anymore!

                SABR says there were a lot of stories told about Trout, but it was hard to determine the veracity of them: “Consumer alert: Some of the stories repeated here probably are not true. The difficulty is, we don’t know which ones.

                “Dizzy Trout was a magnet for tall tales. Many of the stories Trout told, and those told about him, can’t be verified, but they’re too much fun to pass up.

                “One sportswriter said, ‘He had a beautiful sense of humor and sometimes a temper to match.’ Trout’s temper held back his career. Once he dragged a heckler out of the stands and began pummeling him. After Diz was ejected, he thumbed his nose at the crowd. True? Yes. It happened on September 11, 1942, in Detroit.

                “Trout was a fastball pitcher with a curve and a sinking forkball. Manager Del Baker wouldn’t give up on him because Baker believed in his stuff. But after Baker removed him from a game in 1942, the enraged Trout charged the manager in the dugout. Teammate Doc Cramer wrestled him away before he could do any damage to Baker or his own career. That same year he attacked a heckler in the stands.”

P-Hal Newhouser, Detroit Tigers, 21 Years Old

183 2/3 IP, 8-14, 2.45 ERA, 103 K, 162 ERA+, 3.47 FIP, 1.367 WHIP

52 AB, .154, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .154/.200/.192, 7 OPS+

WAR-4.0

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (6th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (inducted in 1992)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Hits per 9 IP-6.713

Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.047

1st Time All-Star-Harold “Prince Hal” Newhouser was born on May 20, 1921 in Detroit, MI. The six-foot-two, 180 pound lefty pitcher started with Detroit in 1939 and by 1940 was a regular starter. This year didn’t look great if you just glance at the won-loss record, but he was one of five Tigers’ pitchers to make this list. He’s got some great years ahead, along with making Cooperstown and my Hall of Fame,

                Baseball Almanac says, “Detroit tied for last in the AL in 1942 with a team batting average of .246, and the lack of run support aggravated Newhouser’s temper.

                “The Tigers southpaw did show signs of greatness. In 1942, for instance, Newhouser led AL pitchers in fewest hits allowed per game, 6.7, lowest opponents batting average, .207, and most strikeouts per game, 5.4. While his 2.45 ERA ranked fourth in the league, his record was 8-14, and that mark was not helped by DetroIt’s sloppy fielding. Only the seventh-place Washington Senators played worse in the field, recording a fielding mark of .962 compared to DetroIt’s .969.

                “Regarding his marriage, Beryl Steele met Hal at a party for teenagers in 1939. Their love grew, and she married the major leaguer on December 2, 1941. Later she explained her favorite pitcher from a wife’s perspective. For the June 1949 issue of Sport Magazine, Milton Gross, who wrote ‘I Married A Pitcher,’ reported that Beryl said baseball for her husband was both an emotional and a physical experience. ‘I guess Hal gets mad on the field,’ she said, ‘but It’s always the same. He gets mad at himself and not at anybody else.’”

P-Tiny Bonham, New York Yankees, 28 Years Old

226 IP, 21-5, 2.27 ERA, 71 K, 152 ERA+, 2.75 FIP, 0.987 WHIP

74 AB, .122, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .122/.167/.122, -18 OPS+

WAR-3.6

WAR for Pitchers-4.0 (8th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Yankees

103-51, 1st in AL, Lost WS 4-1 to STL

Manager Joe McCarthy

Ballpark: Yankee Stadium I (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-110, 1st in league

ERA+-119, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Joe Gordon, 7.7

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.808

Walks & Hits per IP-0.987

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-0.956

Complete Games-22

Shutouts-6

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.958

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.75

Base-Out Runs Saved-40.77

Win Probability Added-5.0

Sit. Wins Saved-4.2

Base-Out Wins Saved-4.8

Fielding % as P-1.000

1st Time All-Star-Ernest Edward “Tiny” Bonham was born on August 16, 1913 in Ione, CA. The six-foot-two, 215 pound righty pitcher started with the Yankees in 1940 and in 1941 pitched against Brooklyn in the World Series, limiting the Dodgers to one run in his complete game victory. This year, the Yankees lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, their first loss in the Fall Classic since 1926 after nine straight postseason victories. Bonham is the first Yankee pitcher to make my list since Red Ruffing in 1939. He is going to die tragically young and I’ll have more on that next year.

                SABR says of this season, “There was no talk of back trouble in 1942. Bonham dominated with a 21-5 record and a 2.27 ERA, second best in the league. He led with six shutouts and tied for the lead with 22 complete games. He allowed less than one walk per nine innings and struck out nearly three times as many batters as he walked, the best ratio in the majors. Baseball writers ranked him fifth in the Most Valuable Player voting; his teammate, second baseman Joe Gordon, won the award.

                “The Yankees won 103 games and faced no significant challenge. Bonham’s twentieth win clinched the pennant on September 14. But the St. Louis Cardinals beat them four games to one in the Series. Bonham lost the second game, 4-3.”

                As you can probably tell, the nickname Tiny is sarcastic, and even though some writers tried to change it to Jumbo, it was Tiny that stuck.

P-Virgil Trucks, Detroit Tigers, 25 Years Old

167 2/3 IP, 14-8, 2.74 ERA, 91 K, 145 ERA+, 2.92 FIP, 1.318 WHIP

65 AB, .123, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .123/.123/.138, -29 OPS+

WAR-3.5

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (7th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would  require seven more All-Star seasons. 64 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.161

1st Time All-Star-Virgil Oliver “Fire” Trucks was born on April 26, 1917 in Birmingham, AL. The five-foot-11, 198 pound righty pitcher started his career by pitching one game in 1941 and then had this good rookie year. He is the fifth Detroit pitcher to make my list which, without researching it, I can honestly say is a record. Trucks has a chance at making my Hall of Fame, but losing a couple years to the war probably dooms that opportunity.

                SABR summarizes his 1942 season, stating, “In 1942 Trucks arrived at spring training anticipating being in the starting rotation. He made his first career start in the fourth game of the season, losing 7-6 to the Browns in St. Louis. In his second start, on his birthday, he notched his first career win, but afterward lost his place in the rotation due to wildness. After being idle for a month Trucks had another poor start, on May 22, and manager Del Baker considered demoting him. Pitching for his future, Trucks tossed a complete-game four-hit victory and followed it with his first career shutout, a six-hit gem against the Athletics at Philadelphia to cement not just his spot on the team, but also in the rotation. By September The Sporting News considered him the best hurler on the staff. He finished his rookie season with a team-high 14 wins and a 2.74 ERA.”

                Incredibly, Detroit had another pitcher, Tommy Bridges, who started over 20 games and he wasn’t too far from making this list. There might not have been a better pitching staff in the history of the game.

C-Bill Dickey, New York Yankees, 35 Years Old, 1942 ONEHOF Inductee, Most All-Star lists as C-11

1929 1930 1931 1933 1934 1936 1937 1938 1939 1941

268 AB, .295, 2 HR, 37 RBI, .295/.359/.373, 108 OPS+

WAR-1.7

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 17

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1954)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1936)

Team Stats

Led in:

Caught Stealing %-60.0 (3rd Time)

11th Time All-Star-There’s a lot to go over with Dickey this year, but we’ll start off with him being inducted into the One-A-Year Hall of Fame (ONEHOF), joining 1800s catchers Charlie Bennett and Buck Ewing and 1910s catcher Roger Bresnahan, as the only backstops. Click on the link above to see the whole list. My guess is eventually Mickey Cochrane and Gabby Hartnett will also make this list, but that’s down the road. As a matter of fact, Hartnett and Cochrane are among next year’s nominees along with Bill Terry and Ted Lyons.        

                Dickey also has now made more All-Star teams at catcher than any other player before him. The full list is here. My guess is he’s also making in 1943.

                The Man Nobody Knows also went to his seventh World Series, but this time he was on the losing end for the first time. He hit .263 (five-for-19) as the Yankees lost to the Cardinals, 4-1.

                SABR mentions Dickey would eventually go off to war, saying, “Five months later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was in World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while giving baseball a green light to continue playing, emphasized that players would be treated just like other men who were eligible for the draft. It took many months for the nation’s Selective Service machinery to get into full gear, and the draft affected relatively few players in 1942. Dickey remained with the Yankees in 1942 and 1943, but missed the 1944 and 1945 seasons in military service.”

C-Birdie Tebbetts, Detroit Tigers, 29 Years Old

308 AB, .247, 1 HR, 27 RBI, .247/.335/.292, 72 OPS+

WAR-0.4             

All-Star: Yes (0-4, 2 K)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 78 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Putouts as C-446

Errors Committed as C-12 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as C-5.31 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-George Robert “Birdie” Tebbetts was born on November 10, 1912 in Burlington, VT. The five-foot-11, 170 pound righty catcher started with Detroit in 1936 and made the All-Star team in 1941. After this year, he’ll lose three seasons to the war.

                As for this campaign, Tebbetts made my list as a fluke, due to a lack of good catchers in the American League. Look at his WAR above, 0.4. That might be the lowest WAR to make my list since the 1870s or 1880s. I have no time to research all that!

                Wikipedia gives us the wrap-up on his career and life, saying, “Despite holding a 3-A draft classification because of his mother’s dependency, Tebbetts applied for an Army Air Corps commission. He joined the military services in August 1942 and was assigned to recruiting duties in Waco, Texas during the Second World War. Tebbetts honed his managerial skills as a player-manager for the Waco Army Flying School’s baseball team. He lost three years of his baseball career to his military service.

                “Perhaps most revealing of Tebbetts’s character is his recollection of an umpire who suffered dizzy spells following his return from the war. Afraid of losing his job, the umpire asked Tebbetts, then the Tigers catcher, to help calling balls and strikes, and Tebbetts tipped him off with hand signals following each pitch.

                “Birdie Tebbetts died on March 24, 1999 in Bradenton, Florida, at the age of 86. On May 28, 2009, Birdie was announced as a Local Legend of Nashua, New Hampshire, and commemorated with a plaque to be placed in Holman Stadium.”

1B-Les Fleming, Cleveland Indians, 26 Years Old

548 AB, .292, 14 HR, 82 RBI, .292/.412/.432, 144 OPS+

WAR-3.7

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 25

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 36 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-156

Intentional Bases on Balls-23

Putouts-1,503

Def. Games as 1B-156

Putouts as 1B-1,503

Double Plays Turned as 1B-152

Fielding % as 1B-.993

1st Time All-Star-Leslie Harvey “Les” or “Mae” Fleming was born on August 7, 1915 in Singleton, TX. The five-foot-10, 185 pound lefty first baseman and rightfielder started with Detroit in 1939. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1940 and then joined the Indians in 1941. After two Major League seasons, he had a total of 24 at bats, so 1942 was his rookie season and while I wouldn’t say it was great, it was good enough to be the best first baseman in a depleted American League. Fleming is the first Indian to make my list at first base since Hal Trosky in 1940. Trosky left baseball due to migraines and his career was just about over.

                Wikipedia wraps up his career and also tells of an affliction he had that was way too common in his day, racism. It says, “In 1942, as Cleveland’s regular first baseman, he set personal bests in games played (156, tied for the American League lead), and most offensive categories. During his long career in minor league baseball, he was selected the Most Valuable Player of the 1948 American Association. In 1950, he knocked in 138 runs in the Pacific Coast League, another Triple-A circuit, but finished 18 RBI behind the league’s leader, Harry Simpson.

                “As a member of the Indians during the 1947 season, Fleming became a teammate of Larry Doby when Doby broke the color barrier in the American League on July 5. On that day the Indians were preparing for a match against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. Fleming was one of the Indians who turned his back to Doby when player-manager Lou Boudreau introduced Doby to his new Indians’ teammates in the clubhouse before the game.”

                Fleming died on March 5, 1980 at the age of 64.

New York Yankees Joe Gordon in dugout with bat, c. 1939

2B-Joe Gordon, New York Yankees, 27 Years Old

1939 1940 1941

538 AB, .322, 18 HR, 103 RBI, .322/.409/.491, 155 OPS+

WAR-7.7

Wins Above Replacement-7.7 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-7.7 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-5.9 (4th)

Defensive WAR-2.5 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (0-4, 3 K)

MVP Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2009)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

1942 AL MVP

Strikeouts-95

Double Plays Grounded Into-22

Def. Games as 2B-147 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as 2B-28 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-121 (3rd Time)

4th Time All-Star-In 1941, the baseball writers and I both gave the Most Valuable Player to Joe DiMaggio over Ted Williams, despite the Splendid Splinter’s incredible year in which he hit over .400, the last Major Leaguer to do that thus far. However, DiMaggio didn’t exactly slouch that year and I’m comfortable with my pick. However, I couldn’t do that to Williams again since he was easily the best player in the league, so he’s got my vote. The winner of the writers’ vote, though, was this man right here, Flash Gordon.

                SABR summarizes this season, saying, “Gordon walked away with the MVP honors in 1942, after hitting .322 with 18 home runs and 103 RBIs. He had a 29-game hitting streak. But he also led the AL in strikeouts with 95 and grounded into a league-leading 22 double plays. For the second straight year the MVP award eluded the Red Sox’ Ted Williams, who had won the Triple Crown and led the league in runs scored and walks. (In 1941, DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak trumped Williams’s .406 batting average.) After losing out to Gordon in ’42, Williams was sportsmanlike, saying, ‘I was glad Gordon got it. I really think he kept the Yankees up there.’

                “The Yankees lost to the St. Louis in five games in the World Series, and Gordon collected only two hits and hit .095, with no RBIs. In the ninth inning of Game Five, with the Yankees trailing, 4-2, he was picked off second base by St. Louis catcher Walker Cooper, a potential Yankees rally fizzled and the game, and the Series, were over a few minutes later. Cardinals manager Billy Southworth later said the pickoff was not just a random play, but that Gordon was ‘the victim of a set play which we had pulled time and again all season in the National League.’”

2B-Bobby Doerr, Boston Red Sox, 24 Years Old

545 AB, .290, 15 HR, 102 RBI, .290/.369/.455, 127 OPS+

WAR-5.4

Wins Above Replacement-5.4 (8th)

WAR Position Players-5.4 (7th)

Offensive WAR-4.3 (8th)

Defensive WAR-1.8 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 11

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1986)

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-5.90 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.84 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.975

1st Time All-Star-Robert Pershing “Bobby” Doerr (pronounced DOUGH-er) was born on April 7, 1918 in Los Angeles, CA. The five-foot-11, 175 pound righty second baseman started with Boston in 1937, became a regular in 1938 and was on his way to a Hall of Fame career as the Red Sox best all-time second baseman, at least before a man named Dustin Pedroia entered the picture. It’s a toss up between the two. Doerr is the first Red Sox to make my list as a second baseman in the team’s long history since 1901.

                The Oregon Encyclopedia says, “In 1937, Doerr debuted at age nineteen with the Red Sox and played in forty-seven games. By 1938, he was a regular. Williams joined the Red Sox in 1939, center fielder Dom DiMaggio in 1940, and shortstop Johnny Pesky in 1942. They were friends for the rest of their lives, and a sculpture of the four as they appeared in 1946 is at Fenway Park. 

                “[Ted] Williams referred to Doerr as the ‘silent captain of the Red Sox.’ As David Halberstam writes, Doerr had ‘an uncommon emotional equilibrium that would stay with him throughout his life. He never seemed to get angry or to get down.’ He was one of the few people who could correct Williams’s swing when it went awry. That didn’t stop Williams from telling Doerr, after their regular argument about swinging with an uppercut (Williams) or swinging level (Doerr): ‘Okay, you wanna be a lousy 280, 290 hitter, go ahead and hit that way.’” 

3B-Harlond Clift, St. Louis Browns, 29 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939 1940

541 AB, .274, 7 HR, 55 RBI, .274/.394/.399, 122 OPS+

WAR-4.2

Offensive WAR-4.3 (9th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 1 percent chance)

Team Stats

6th Time All-Star-After making my list five straight times, Clift had an off season in 1941 but came back for one last decent season here in 1942. He continued to be a walking machine, garnering 100 walks for the fifth straight season and for the sixth time in his last seven seasons. His power had faded. He certainly was not the same player who smashed 34 homers in 1938, but he was still the American League’s best at third base.

                Let’s go to SABR to wrap up the career of this underrated Brown. “But starting in 1942, Clift’s power dried up. While still a reliable defensive third baseman, he managed only seven homers, 55 RBI, and a .274 batting average. The Browns, under Sewell, finished in third place with an 82-69 record, their best season since Clift joined the club in 1934.   

                “Clift tended to the family farm of 50,000 acres. Eventually, however, he lost it all. He admitted that he had made many mistakes dealing with cattle ranching, ‘where you never know how it’s gonna go.’ By the 1980s, Clift was widowed and living alone in a mobile home in Yakima, getting by on his Social Security checks and a small pension from the Association of Professional Ball Players of America.

                “Clift was remembered twice for his career as a ballplayer. He reportedly broke down and cried when he received an invitation to an old-timer’s game at New York’s Shea Stadium, so surprised was he to be remembered at all. Then in 1977, Clift was inducted into the Washington Sports Hall of Fame.”

                “Clift died at the age of 79 on April 27, 1992, at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Yakima. He was buried in Yakima’s Terrace Heights Memorial Park.”

SS-Johnny Pesky, Boston Red Sox, 23 Years Old

620 AB, .331, 2 HR, 51 RBI, .331/.375/.416, 119 OPS+

WAR-6.1

Wins Above Replacement-6.1 (6th)

WAR Position Players-6.1 (5th)

Offensive WAR-5.0 (6th)

Defensive  WAR-2.2 (3rd)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 38 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Hits-205

Singles-165

Sacrifice Hits-22

Assists-465

Def. Games as SS-147

Assists as SS-465

1st Time All-Star-John Michael Paveskovich, more commonly known as John Michael “Johnny” or “The Needle” Pesky was born on February 27, 1919 in Portland, OR. The five-foot-nine, 168 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing infielder started his career with this incredible rookie season. He’s most famous nowadays for having the rightfield foul pole in Fenway Park named after him. He’s the first Red Sox shortstop to make this list since, well, his manager, Joe Cronin, made it last year. Cronin was now 35 and was cutting down on his playing time going forward.

                SABR has much to say about this great year, stating, “By year’s end, Pesky was bound for Boston, offered $4,000 for his first year’s salary. He joined the Sox for spring training just three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. War loomed large over all of baseball, and during Pesky’s rookie year; he spent three evenings a week beginning in May taking classes for the United States Navy, where he was in training to become a naval aviator, in the same program as teammate Ted Williams. Pesky won the shortstop spot in spring training and was assigned number 6. Despite the need to balance baseball with naval training, Johnny Pesky finished the season with a .331 batting average, second only to Williams (.356) in the American League. He led the league in sacrifice hits. There was no ‘rookie of the year’ award yet. That same year, The Sporting News named Johnny the shortstop on its All Star Major League team. And he came in third in the MVP voting, behind Joe Gordon and Ted Williams.

                “Tom Yawkey had his own prize for Pesky. At season’s end, there was a $5,000 bonus for the rookie shortstop — enough to buy his parents a home in Portland. Johnny Pesky never forgot Tom Yawkey’s generosity at a time when Johnny was off to military service, perhaps never to return. Yawkey won fierce loyalty from many of his players; with gestures like this, one can understand why.”

SS-Phil Rizzuto, New York Yankees, 24 Years Old

553 AB, .284, 4 HR, 68 RBI, .284/.343/.374, 103 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.7 (7th)

WAR Position Players-5.7 (6th)

Defensive WAR-3.4 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 19

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1994)

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 79 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-3.4 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-324

Double Plays Turned as SS-114 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.39 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.34 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Philip Francis “Phil” or “Scooter” Rizzuto was born on September 25, 1917 in Brooklyn, NY. The five-foot-six, 150 pound righty shortstop started with the Yankees in 1941 and hit .307 along with leading the American League in Defensive WAR. In the World Series, he hit .111 (two-for-18), but it didn’t stop his squad from beating Brooklyn, 4-1. This season, he became the first Yankee to make my list at shortstop since Lyn Lary in 1931.

                Wikipedia says, “After receiving The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year Award in 1940 while playing with the Kansas City Blues, he played his first major league game on April 14, 1941. Taking over for the well-liked Frank Crosetti, whose batting average had dropped to .194 after several strong seasons, Rizzuto quickly fit into the Yankees lineup to form an outstanding middle infield with second baseman Joe Gordon. In his syndicated column on October 1, Grantland Rice compared the pair favorably to the middle infield of the crosstown Brooklyn Dodgers: ‘Billy Herman and Pee Wee Reese around the highly important keystone spot don’t measure up, over a season anyway, with Joe Gordon and Phil Rizzuto, a pair of light-footed, quick-handed operatives who can turn seeming base hits into double plays often enough to save many a close scrap.’

                “Rizzuto’s rookie season ended in the World Series, and though he hit poorly, the Yankees beat the Dodgers. The following year, Rizzuto led all hitters, for both the Yankees and the opposing St. Louis Cardinals, with 8 hits and a .381 average in the 1942 World Series; the light-hitting shortstop even added a home run after hitting just 4 in the regular season.”

SS-Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians, 24 Years Old

1940 1941

.283, 2 HR, 58 RBI, .283/.379/.370, 117 OPS+

WAR-4.5

WAR Position Players-4.5 (10th)

Defensive WAR-1.7 (5th)

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1970)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Cleveland Indians

75-79, 4th in AL

Manager Lou Boudreau

Ballpark: League Park II and Cleveland Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-92, 4th in league

ERA+-96, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Lou Boudreau, 4.5

Led in:

Caught Stealing-16

Fielding % as SS-.965 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Boudreau made my list for the third straight year, but more importantly for his life, he took over the reins of the Cleveland Indians at the age of 24. It’s hard enough being a young ballplayer, so I can’t imagine the pressures put on The Good Kid having to run the team. It didn’t stop him from having a decent season and he was Manager Boudreau’s best player.

                SABR has a lot to say about Boudreau as skipper and I suggest you read the whole thing. Here’s a bit: “After just a single season, Peckinpaugh was promoted to general manager and while a search was underway for a new manager, Lou sent a letter requesting an interview. On November 24, Lou presented his case. Initially, the vote was 11-1 against him, but George Martin, president of Sherwin Williams Paint Company, felt that a young man would be more desirable at this point than the tried and true. The directors finally agreed on Boudreau, backing him up with a staff of older and more experienced coaches: Burt Shotton, Oscar Melillo and George Susce.

                “Bradley introduced Lou to the press as the new manager, and one wag wrote, “Great! The Indians get a Baby Snooks for a manager and ruin the best shortstop in baseball.” The general feeling around the city was that Boudreau would not be able to handle both being a ballplayer and a manager, but the press was generally kind.

                “Not all of the Indians were happy with the new manager. During his first spring training, Boudreau had three players walk into his office (Ben Chapman, Gee Walker and Hal Trosky) to tell him they had asked for the job and could do a better job than he would. During some conferences on the mound, veteran pitchers would give Boudreau a variation of ‘Listen, college boy, you play shortstop and I’ll do the pitching.’ Especially troublesome was Jim Bagby Jr., who Boudreau considered ‘the nastiest pitcher [I] ever played behind.’ When Boudreau would boot a ball, he would hear razzing about going back to college to learn how to play shortstop.”

Ted Williams of the red sox.

LF-Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 23 Years Old, 1st MVP

1939 1940 1941

.356, 36 HR, 137 RBI, .356/.499/.648, 216 OPS+

WAR-10.4

Wins Above Replacement-10.4 (1st)

WAR Position Players-10.4 (1st)

Offensive WAR-9.9 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (1-4)

MVP Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1966)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1941)

Team Stats

Led in:

1942 Major League Player of the Year (2nd Time)

1942 AL Batting Title (2nd Time)

1942 AL Triple Crown

Wins Above Replacement-10.4 (2nd Time)

WAR Position Players-10.4 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-9.9 (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.356 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.499 (3rd Time)

Slugging %-.648 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.147 (2nd Time)

Runs Scored-141 (3rd Time)

Total Bases-338 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-36 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-137 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-145 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-216 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-168 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-93 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-9.3 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-75 (2nd Time)

Times On Base-335 (3rd Time)

Offensive Win %-.890 (2nd Time)

AB per HR-14.5 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Added-91.45 (2nd Time)

Win Probability Added-9.6 (2nd Time)

Situ. Wins Added-8.2 (2nd Time)

Championship WPA-10.2

Base-Out Wins Added-9.0 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as LF-4 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-For Williams’ first four seasons, his slash line was .356/.481/.642 with an OPS+ of 190. That was his average year! Yet at this point in his career, he hasn’t been given one MVP by the baseball writers. Well, I finally couldn’t overlook the Splendid Splinter and I’ve given him my vote for American League Most Valuable Player. The writers put him below Joe Gordon, which makes no sense to me.

                Bosox Injection says 1942 is Williams’ third best season, stating, “While there’s one clear choice in my mind for selecting his best season, which we’ll get to later this week, picking between these next two is a toss up. Baseball-Reference has Williams’ 1941 and 1942 seasons tied for second-best in his career with 10.4 WAR. While FanGraphs rates ’42 as slightly higher, I’m calling that season the third-best of Teddy Ballgame’s career.

                “His dominance at the plate wasn’t enough to earn him the MVP, as Williams finished as the runner-up to a Yankees player for a second consecutive season.

                “Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon hit .322 with a .900 OPS, 18 home runs and 103 RBI that year. A fine season from a Hall of Fame player but those numbers pale in comparison to Williams’. Gordon’s 7.7 WAR compared to Ted’s 10.4 WAR exemplifies what a joke that ballot was in retrospect.”

                Unfortunately, the writers looked at the top team and figured the Most Valuable Player must come from there. I think that should be used as a tiebreaker but not if one player (Williams) is so much more dominant than the other (Gordon).

LF-Charlie Keller, New York Yankees, 25 Years Old

1940 1941

.292, 26 HR, 108 RBI, .292/.417/.513, 163 OPS+

WAR-6.7

Wins Above Replacement-6.7 (3rd)

WAR Position Players-6.7 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-6.4 (2nd)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 14

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 40 percent chance)

Team stats

Led in:

Power-Speed #-18.2

Def. Games as LF-152 (2nd Time)

Putouts as LF-310 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as LF-2.10

Fielding % as LF-.985

3rd Time All-Star-In Ted Williams’ blurb, I talked a bit about the Most Valuable Player award and how the baseball writers of this time tended to favor those on the pennant-winning team. So the writers gave the American League award to Joe Gordon instead of the obviously deserving Williams. Yet if the scribes were going to honor people on winning teams, how did Keller, who was third in WAR, finish 14th in MVP voting? You would have thought being on the Yankees would give him a boost. Oh, well, I could talk forever about MVPs, but let’s just acknowledge this was Keller’s best season ever.

                Jonah Birenbaum writes in The Score, “Charlie Keller never liked his nickname, a moniker used by fans and writers alike. They called him ‘King Kong.’ Rarely did he respond to it.

                “Still, it fit.

                “In 1942, for the first time in his young career, Keller outproduced DiMaggio, delivering essentially a carbon copy of his previous season – 7.3 WAR with a .930 OPS – while his more celebrated teammate looked vaguely human, managing what were then career lows in average, homers, and slugging percentage.”

                In the World Series, which the Yanks lost to the Cards, 4-1, Keller struggled, hitting just .200 (four-for-20), though he did belt two home runs, both in losses. 

                It’s too bad Keller faded after he turned 30 because he was certainly on his way to a Hall of Fame career. He also had the misfortune of playing at the same time as Williams so he was never the best at his position.

LF-Bob Johnson, Philadelphia Athletics, 36 Years Old

1934 1937 1938 1939

.291, 13 HR, 80 RBI, .291/.384/.451, 135 OPS+

WAR-3.6

All-Star: Yes (1-1)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Philadelphia Athletics

55-99, 8th in AL

Manager Connie Mack

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Neutral)

OPS+-79, 8th in league

ERA+-86, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Bob Johnson, 3.6

Led in:

Assists as LF-17 (4th Time)

Errors Committed as LF-13 (4th Time)

5th Time All-Star-In Johnson’s 1938 blurb, I wrote, “Johnson reminds me of Earl Averill in that he had a terrific career with terrible teams and couldn’t make the postseason (except for three at-bats by Averill late in his tour). Because Indian Bob made the list this year, he’s still keeping his chances alive of making my Hall of Fame. I know he’s going to make two of these All-Star teams for sure, he just has to make one I’m not expecting and then he’s in.”

                Well, this is that season I wasn’t expecting. Johnson made my All-Star team as Philadelphia’s best player. It wasn’t a terrible season by any means, but after nine consecutive years of hitting 20 or more homers and driving in 90 or more runs, it did seem like a letdown.  By WAR, he actually had a better year in 1941, but there was too much competition. This year, Johnson took advantage of the departure of many good players to make my list.

                Since he made it onto my list this year and will certainly make it in 1944, he’s going to be in my Hall of Fame. I think it’s a good choice. Sure, he got a late start in his career and yes, he played on some terrible Athletics teams, but that’s not his fault and he was still one of the most productive players in the American League over a good stretch of time. This, however, is his last year with Philadelphia, but I’ll write that up sometime later.

CF-Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees, 27 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941

.305, 21 HR, 114 RBI, .305/.376/.376, 147 OPS+

WAR-6.4

Wins Above Replacement-6.4 (4th)

WAR Position Players-6.4 (4th)

Offensive WAR-6.0 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (2-4)

MVP Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as CF-154

Putouts as CF-391 (4th Time)

Def. Games as OF-154

7th Time All-Star-After six marvelous seasons, Joltin’ Joe almost looked human this year, admittedly a human who was still better than 99 percent of all other ballplayers. Also, for the sixth time in seven years, DiMaggio found himself on a pennant-winning Yankee team. Unfortunately, he’s going to lose three prime years as he goes off to the war after this season.

                SABR says of this season and that war time, “DiMaggio batted just .305 in 1942, the lowest average of his seven years in the majors, and he also compiled the lowest number of home runs and runs batted in. The Yankees won the pennant, but they lost the World Series to the Cardinals, marking the team’s only loss in 10 trips to the Series during DiMaggio’s career.

                “On February 17, 1943, DiMaggio enlisted in the Army Air Force. Like many other major leaguers, he never saw combat, serving instead in a morale-boosting role by playing on service baseball squads. In June 1944 he was sent to Hawaii, where he continued to play ball but also spent several weeks in a Honolulu hospital suffering from stomach ulcers. After being sent back to the mainland, he was granted a medical discharge in September 1945. In the meantime, his wife had been granted a divorce and custody of their son, Joe, Jr.”

                In the Fall Classic loss to St. Louis, DiMaggio wasn’t to blame as he hit .333 (seven-for-21) though he didn’t have any extra base hits. He won’t have another good Series until 1950.

CF-Wally Judnich, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

.313, 17 HR, 82 RBI, .313/.413/.499, 154 OPS+

WAR-5.2

WAR Position Players-5.2 (9th)

Offensive WAR-5.2 (5th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 16

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as OF-.991

1st Time All-Star-Walter Franklin “Wally” Judnich (pronounced JUD-nick) was born on January 24, 1916 in San Francisco, CA. The six-foot-one, 205 pound lefty centerfielder and first baseman started with St. Louis in 1940 and was a good hitter from the beginning. This year was his best ever, but after it, he, too, like so many during this time, went into military service and would lose three years.

                Wikipedia gives us the wrap-up, stating, “In 1941, Judnich started off the season in a slump, and partway through the season he had a batting average under .200. He remained in the starting lineup for the Browns and rebounded by the end of the season, finishing with a .284 batting average, 14 homers, 40 doubles, and 83 RBIs in a career-high 146 games. Judnich remained as the starting center fielder for 1942. His performance for the season included hitting two home runs and five RBIs in a 9–0 win against the New York Yankees on September 10. For the season, he hit 17 home runs, seventh in the American League, with 82 RBIs and a .313 average, a career-high. He was one of only seven players in the American League to reach the .300 mark in the season, and was the only Browns player to do so. Judnich also finished 16th in MVP voting with 14 votes.

                “After retiring from professional baseball, Judnich moved to Glendale, California, where he lived with his wife and three children. He led a relatively quiet life; when asked of hobbies or interests, he stated during his career, ‘our fans here aren’t interested in those things.’ He died at the age of 55, and was interred at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale.”

CF-Stan Spence, Washington Senators, 27 Years Old

.323, 4 HR, 79 RBI, .323/.384/.432, 130 OPS+

WAR-3.2

Offensive WAR-4.9 (7th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Washington Senators

62-89, 7th in AL

Manager Bucky Harris

Ballpark: Griffith Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-91, 5th in league

ERA+-80, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Stan Spence, 3.2

Led in:

Triples-15

AB per SO-39.3

Errors Committed as CF-11

1st Time All-Star-Stanley Orville “Stan” Spence was born on March 20, 1915 in South Portsmouth, KY. The five-foot-10, 180 pound lefty centerfielder started with Boston in 1940 and ’41 and then was traded by the Boston Red Sox with Jack Wilson to the Washington Senators for Ken Chase and Johnny Welaj. With the Senators, he’d have his best years. He’s the first Senator to make my list as a centerfielder since Ben Chapman in 1936.

                Wikipedia says of this season, “A part-time player for the Boston Red Sox during two years, Spence played his first full-season for the Washington Senators in 1942 and he responded ending third in the American League batting race with a .323 average behind Ted Williams (.356) and Johnny Pesky (.331).”

                Spence brings us to another What the WAR?! moment. You’ll notice his overall WAR is 3.2 and Offensive WAR 4.9. According to Baseball Reference, his Defensive WAR was -1.8. which is one of the worst defensive seasons I’ve seen over the years. Can a centerfielder really lose almost two games over a replacement player with his glove? SABR says he was a good defensive centerfielder, but according to dWAR, he never was above 0.0 in any full year.

                It’s interesting because in 2013, Mike Trout had an awesome year with the bat, but his Defensive WAR was -1.2. I watch Trout more than any other player because we have the Angels on TV where I live and he seems like a great defensive centerfielder. It shows the eyes can be deceived!

1942 National League All-Star Team

P-Mort Cooper, STL, 1st MVP

P-Ray Starr, CIN

P-Larry French, BRO

P-Johnny Vander Meer, CIN

P-Max Lanier, STL

P-Johnny Beazley, STL

P-Bucky Walters, CIN

P-Tommy Hughes, PHI

P-Curt Davis, BRO

P-Al Javery, BSN

C-Ernie Lombardi, BSN

C-Clyde McCullough, CHC

1B-Johnny Mize, NYG

1B-Elbie Fletcher, PIT

1B-Dolph Camilli, BRO

2B-Lonny Frey, CIN

3B-Stan Hack, CHC

SS-Pee Wee Reese, BRO

SS-Marty Marion, STL

LF-Stan Musial, STL

CF-Pete Reiser, BRO

CF-Tommy Holmes, BSN

RF-Mel Ott, NYG

RF-Enos Slaughter, STL

RF-Bill Nicholson, CHC

P-Mort Cooper, St. Louis Cardinals, 28 Years Old, 1st MVP

1939 1940

278 2/3 IP, 22-7, 1.78 ERA, 152 K, 192 ERA+, 2.53 FIP, 0.987 WHIP

103 AB, .184, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .184/.208/.194, 14 OPS+

WAR-8.3

Wins Above Replacement-8.3 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-8.2 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (L, 3 IP, 3 R)

MVP Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Cardinals

106-48, 1st in NL, Won WS over NYY, 4-1

Manager Billy Southworth

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-103, 2nd in league

ERA+-135, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Mort Cooper, 8.3

Led in:

1942 NL Pitching Title

1942 NL MVP

Wins Above Replacement-8.3

WAR for Pitchers-8.2

Earned Run Average-1.78

Wins-22

Walks & Hits per IP-0.987

Hits per 9 IP-6.685

Shutouts-10

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.235

Adjusted ERA+-192

Adj. Pitching Runs-46

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.4

Base-Out Runs Saved-52.69

Win Probability Added-6.4

Sit. Wins Saved-6.3

Championship WPA-18.9

Base-Out Wins Saved-6.1

3rd Time All-Star-Some 128 days before the St. Louis Cardinals started their World Championship season, a day that would live in infamy occurred and would change the United States forever. It would also change baseball, but who cares about that. This is just a game, which is nothing compared to the war, where thousands of Americans would give their lives.

                Yet what a relief for those who were back home that they could put away the tribulations of Europe and the Far East and focus on Mort Cooper utterly dominating National League hitters. Look at the stats in which he led above and you can see why the writers and I agreed on the NL’s Most Valuable Player.

                As for the postseason, SABR says, “Cooper struggled against the Yankees in the World Series, leading sportswriter Dan Daniel to call him a ‘flop.’ In Game One he yielded ten hits, walked three, and surrendered five runs (three earned) in 7 2/3 innings, and was collared with the loss. He fared worse in Game Four, giving up seven hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings, but the Cardinals rallied in the seventh and won the game. Johnny Beazley won Game Five to secure the Redbirds’ first championship since 1934.”

                While leading sportswriters are calling baseball players “flops,” young men are dying on the battlefields around the globe. But that’s okay, that’s what sports are for; to take us away from our troubles. Can someone please tell that to the modern athlete?

P-Ray Starr, Cincinnati Reds, 36 Years Old

276 2/3 IP, 15-13, 2.67 ERA, 83 K, 123 ERA+, 3.47 FIP, 1.207 WHIP

88 AB, .091, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .091/.140/.102, -29 OPS+

WAR-4.8

WAR for Pitchers-5.4 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 23

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 68 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cincinnati Reds

76-76, 4th in NL

Manager Bill McKechnie

Ballpark: Crosley Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-82, 7th in league

ERA+-117, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Lonny Frey, 5.6

1st Time All-Star-Raymond Francis “Ray” or “Iron Man” Starr was born on April 23, 1906 in Nowata, OK. The six-foot-one, 178 pound righty pitcher started with the Cardinals in 1932. After the season, he was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Gus Mancuso to the New York Giants for Ethan AllenJim MooneyBob O’Farrell and Bill Walker. During 1933, he was purchased by the Braves from the Giants. He then went from 1933, when he was 27, to 1941, when he was 35, without playing Major League ball.

                Here on the Reds, he had his best season ever and then would fade quickly and be out of the Majors after 1945.

                SABR wraps up his career, stating, “It wasn’t until the manpower shortages during the World War II years that he finally got a chance to pitch regularly in the big leagues. Although he was in his mid-thirties by that time, he won 15 games in 1942 and made the National League All-Star team. Starr may have been correct when he said, ‘I think I could have been a winner up here since 1931 if they’d ever given me a chance.’

                “When he was just beginning his long career in baseball, Ray had married Doris McBride on November 25, 1925. The couple had two children. Son Billy was born in 1929 and daughter Barbara Ann was born in 1934. Starr raised chickens and hogs on his farm and always kept a number of coon and bird dogs he used for hunting. He moved to a new place a little farther north up Route 51, which was closer to the town of Sandoval than Centralia, and opened a roadside restaurant/tavern called ‘Ray Starr’s Home Plate’ along the highway. He died of an apparent heart attack on February 9, 1963, at the age of 56. Starr was survived by his wife and two children. He was buried in the town cemetery in Carlyle, Illinois.”

P-Larry French, Brooklyn Dodgers, 34 Years Old

1930 1933 1935 1936 1939 1940

147 2/3 IP, 15-4, 1.83 ERA, 62 K, 180 ERA+, 2.50 FIP, 1.104 WHIP

40 AB, .300, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .300/.349/.375, 110 OPS+

WAR-4.8

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (5th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 24

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

Brooklyn Dodgers

104-50, 2nd in NL

Manager Leo Durocher

Ballpark: Ebbets Field (Neutral)

OPS+-103, 1st in league

ERA+-116, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Pee Wee Reese, 6.1

7th Time All-Star-French waited until the last moment, in his last year, before pitching the season that would put him in my Hall of Fame. He is the 122nd player and 44th pitcher to do so. Frenchy was a combo starter-reliever this year, starting 14 games and relieving in 24. He had a great ERA, but didn’t pitch enough innings to qualify.

                SABR tells about his life after baseball, saying, “As stellar as French’s baseball accomplishments were, his 27-year career in the Navy, retiring as a captain in 1969, may have been even more impressive. As a member of Bombardment Group 1 on the battleship New York, French participated in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, and served for 17 months in the European and Pacific Theaters. There was brief speculation that he would return to baseball in 1946 and 1947, but he scuttled those rumors, returning to Los Angeles, where he owned a new-car dealership and had been involved in car financing since at least the mid-1930s. A member of the Navy Reserve since the conclusion of World War II, French was recalled to active duty in January 1951 as the hostilities on the Korean peninsula intensified. In 1965 he was named commander of the Navy Regional Finance Center in San Diego. Upon retiring in 1969, French received the Legion of Merit award for exceptional service.

                “French resided in Point Loma, a coastal community in San Diego, upon his discharge. After his wife, Thelma, died in 1981, he married Barbara Rollins a year later. On February 9, 1987, French died from kidney and heart disease at the age of 79. He was buried in his hometown of Visalia.”

P-Johnny Vander Meer, Cincinnati Reds, 27 Years Old

1938 1941

244 IP, 18-12, 2.43 ERA, 186 K, 135 ERA+, 2.48 FIP, 1.189 WHIP

75 AB, .147, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .147/.210/.160, 9 OPS+

WAR-4.5

WAR for Pitchers-4.6 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (3 IP, 0 R, 4 K)

MVP Rank: 20

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.861 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-186 (2nd Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.48

3rd Time All-Star-If Larry French, mentioned above, is underrated and should be in the Hall of Fame, Vander Meer is a bit overrated and got more Cooperstown attention than he deserved. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have some good years, including this one in which he led the National League in whiffs.

                Here’s some of what Baseball Roundtable says about Vander Meer. It actually thinks he’s a bit underrated. I think he’s overrated, they think he’s underrated, isn’t baseball great? BR says, “Johnny Vander Meer did indeed catch some baseball rainbows.  Most memorably – or, at least, most historically – his tossing of two consecutive no-hitters for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938.  That still-unmatched feat is what Vander Meer is most known for.  That’s not surprising when you consider his career (13 seasons – 1937-43 & 1946-51 … Reds, Cubs, Indians) 119-121 record and the fact that he walked nearly as many hitters as he fanned. Still, early in his career, the hard-throwing southpaw was compared to another up and coming fireballer – future Hall of Famer Bob Feller.   

“Vander Meer led the National League in total strikeouts and whiffs per nine innings pitched in three consecutive seasons (1941-43).

“Vander Meer powered his way to a 16-13, 2.82 record in 1941; 18-12, 2.43 in 1942; and 15-16, 2.82 in 1943 – leading the NL in strikeouts all three seasons and making the  National League All Star team in 1942 and 1943.”

I believe he didn’t pitch enough good seasons or have a long enough career to be in Cooperstown, but it’s hard for baseball historians to overlook his two consecutive no-nos in 1938.

P-Max Lanier, St. Louis Cardinals, 26 Years Old

161 IP, 13-8, 2.96 ERA, 93 K, 116 ERA+, 2.74 FIP, 1.224 WHIP

47 AB, .255, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .255/.327/.255, 66 OPS+

WAR-4.4

WAR for Pitchers-4.0 (6th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. 22 percent chance)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Hubert Max Lanier was born on August 18, 1915 in Denton, NC. The five-foot-11, 180 pound righty hitting, lefty pitching hurler started with St. Louis in 1938 and hit his stride this year, helping the Cardinals to the National League pennant. In the World Series, Lanier didn’t start, but relieved in two games, winning one and not allowing any earned runs in four innings. However, he did allow two unearned runs, both of which were his fault, according to SABR, which says,

                “Though Lanier distinguished himself in World Series competition over the years by posting an excellent 1.71 ERA in 31 2/3 innings, his first appearance in the fall classic, in 1942, was a forgettable one. Facing the New York Yankees in relief, Lanier, pitching the ninth inning in Game One, made two throwing errors and issued a walk in a 7-4 loss. He redeemed himself in Game Four. Entering a game tied 6-6, Lanier held the Yankees scoreless over the final three innings and drove in a run to earn the victory in the Cardinals’ comeback 9-6 win. Johnny Beazley won the next day to secure the Redbirds’ first championship since the Gashouse Gang in 1934.

                “During the offseason, Lanier tended his family’s farm in Denton. He married high-school sweetheart Lillian Bell (Doby) in 1934 shortly before he began his professional career. They had three children, Maxine, Betty, and Hal Lanier, who had a ten-year big-league career (1964-73) as an infielder for the Giants and Yankees. Lillie, Max’s wife, died on December 24, 1948, when her car skidded off an icy road. In October 1949 Lanier married Betty Cunningham, with whom he had a son, Terry.”

P-Johnny Beazley, St. Louis Cardinals, 24 Years Old

215 1/3 IP, 21-6, 2.13 ERA, 91 K, 160 ERA+, 2.87 FIP, 1.180 WHIP

73 IP, .137, 0 HR, 9 RBI, .137/.171/.219, 10 OPS+

WAR-4.2

WAR for Pitchers-4.3 (4th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 13

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 69 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-John Andrew “Johnny” or “Nig” Beazley was born on May 25, 1918 in Nashville, TN. The six-foot-one, 190 pound righty pitcher started with the Cardinals in 1941 and then had a sterling season in St. Louis’ championship year of 1942. In one of those freak occurrences of this great sport, Beazley, who won 31 total games in his career, beat the mighty Yankees twice as the Cardinals beat New York, 4-1, in the Series.

                SABR says, “Games Three and Four went to St. Louis, too, as their pitching and hitting dominated the mighty Yankees. They held a three-games-to-one advantage over the Bronx Bombers, and with the title within reach, Southworth gave the ball to Beazley again for Game Five at Yankee Stadium. Leadoff batter Phil Rizzuto homered for New York in the first, but Slaughter tied the score with a homer of his own in the top of the fourth. The Yankees pushed another run across against Beazley in the bottom of the inning, but St. Louis tied it again it in the top of the sixth.

                “Both Johnny and the Yankees’ Red Ruffing were pitching well, but in the top of the ninth, with Walker Cooper on base, Whitey Kurowski crushed a line-drive home run into Yankee Stadium’s left-field bleachers. St. Louis had a 4-2 lead and New York was down to its final three outs. The first two Yankees up in the ninth reached base on a single and an error, but Joe Gordon was picked off second base by Cards catcher Cooper, and Beazley got the next two on a popup and a groundout to win his second game and clinch the Series.”

                Beazley died at the age of 71 on April 21, 1990.

P-Bucky Walters, Cincinnati Reds, 33 Years Old

1936 1939 1940 1941

253 2/3 IP, 15-14, 2.66 ERA, 109 K, 123 ERA+, 2.89 FIP, 1.167 WHIP

99 AB, .242, 2 HR, 13 RBI, .242/.265/.384, 89 OPS+

WAR-3.9

WAR for Pitchers-3.1 (10th)

All-Star: Yes (1 IP, 0 R, 1 K)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Team Stats

5th Time All-Star-Walters is going to thrive during these war years of watered-down competition which explains why he pitched so well, but wouldn’t make the Hall of Fame. I don’t think that’s fair and he will be making my Hall at some point. That should enough for Ol’ Bucky, who’s one of the best pitchers my favorite team has ever had.

                SABR says, “For an eight-year period before, during, and after World War II, Bucky Walters was the premier pitcher in the National League and one of the best in the major leagues. Over the years from 1939 to 1946, Walters led the majors in wins (141), innings pitched (2,030), complete games (178), support-neutral wins (146), and, among those with 1,000 or more innings pitched, in ERA. In addition, he led National League pitchers in starts and fewest hits allowed per 9 innings (7.96) and ranked second in the league in baserunners allowed per 9 innings (11.06), shutouts (28), and winning percentage (.610) and fourth in strikeouts. Over that period he also earned more Bill James’ ‘Win Shares’–a measure of a player’s contribution to his team’s victories–than any other pitcher.

                “Walters was 31 when World War II began. Though classified 1-A by his draft board, he was not called to military service. His performance fell off somewhat during the war years of 1942 and 1943. He won 15 games each year despite injuring his leg during spring training in 1943 and dealing with a troubled appendix.”

                Hall of Fame! Hall of Fame! (Oh, well, nobody listens to me.)

P-Tommy Hughes, Philadelphia Phillies, 22 Years Old

253 IP, 12-18, 3.08 ERA, 77 K, 107 ERA+, 3.39 FIP, 1.277 WHIP

80 AB, .100, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .100/.111/.100, -36 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-3.9  (7th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 22

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 71 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Philadelphia Phillies

42-109, 8th in NL

Manager Hans Lobert

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-79, 8th in league

ERA+-80, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Tommy Hughes, 3.3

1st Time All-Star-Thomas Owen “Tommy” Hughes was born on October 7, 1919 in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The six-foot-one, 190 pound righty pitcher started with Philadelphia in 1941, would have his best season this year, and then miss three seasons. He was never the same after that.

                The Phillies were beyond terrible this year and Hughes was their only bright spot. On a team that won just 42 games, Hughes won 29 percent of them. At least the put-upon Phils fans had something to root for every four days.

                Wikipedia has a surprisingly long write-up for someone with such a short career. Here’s a bit of it:

                “During his rookie season, on June 3, 1941, Hughes threw a one-hit, 7–0 shutout against the Chicago Cubs, with Lou Novikoff getting the only safety. But his best season came in 1942, when he appeared in 40 games, 31 as a starting pitcher, and set a career high in wins (12) and innings pitched (253), and notched a low 3.06 earned run average. However, with a last-place Phillies team behind him, he lost 18 games, also a career high. Hughes then spent three full seasons (1943–1945) in the United States Army during World War II.

                “Pitching for second-division National League teams that never won more than 65 games in any of his five seasons, Hughes never recorded a .500 winning percentage in the Majors. In 144 games, 87 as a starter, and 688 innings pitched, he gave up 698 hits and 308 bases on balls, with 221 strikeouts, 31 complete games, and five shutouts.”

                Hughes died in Wilkes-Barre, PA on November 28, 1990 at the age of 71.

P-Curt Davis, Brooklyn Dodgers, 38 Years Old

1934 1935

206 IP, 15-6, 2.36 ERA, 60 K, 139 ERA+, 3.31 FIP, 1.117 WHIP

68 AB, .176, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .176/.188/.206, 14 OPS+

WAR-3.2

WAR for Pitchers-3.4 (8th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. No chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Davis made my list his first two seasons when he was the Phillies’ best pitcher in 1934 and 1935. After that he was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies with Ethan Allen to the Chicago Cubs for Chuck Klein and Fabian Kowalik. He pitched for the Cubbies for a couple of years and then was traded by the Chicago Cubs with Clyde ShounTuck Stainback and $185,000 to the St. Louis Cardinals for Dizzy Dean. Davis then pitched for the Cardinals for three seasons and then in mid-1940, he was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Joe Medwick to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Carl DoyleBert HaasErnie KoySam Nahem and $125,000.

                With Brooklyn in 1941, he had his first and only postseason appearance, starting one game against the Yankees and allowed three runs in five-and-a-third innings, losing the game.

                This year, with many of the young people off to war, the old man shined as he helped the Dodgers finish second, just two games behind the Cardinals.

                SABR wraps up his career, stating, “Because of his age, Davis was able to pitch through the war years while most of his teammates went into military service. Durocher began giving him at least four days’ rest between starts as he approached and passed his 40th birthday, and he won 10 games in each of the next three seasons.

                “In 1965 Orioles outfielder Curt Blefary won the American League Rookie of the Year award. The Brooklyn native, born in 1943, was named for Curt Davis. Davis suffered a stroke that same year and died at age 62 on October 12, 1965. His second wife, Lennis, survived; how his first marriage ended is not known. No children were listed among the survivors.”

P-Al Javery, Boston Braves, 24 Years Old

261 IP, 12-16, 3.03 ERA, 85 K, 109 ERA+, 3.10 FIP, 1.261 WHIP

86 AB, .105, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .105/.125/.116, -28 OPS+

WAR-2.6

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (9th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 31

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 83 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Braves

59-89, 7th in NL

Manager Casey Stengel

Ballpark: Braves Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-88, 5th in league

ERA+-89, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Tommy Holmes, 3.3

Led in:

Games Started-37

1st Time All-Star-Alva William “Al” or “Beartracks” Javery was born on June 5, 1918 in Worcester, MA. The six-foot-three, 183 pound righty pitcher started with Boston in 1940 and would pitch a seven-year career with it. This was his best season ever, but he wouldn’t have even made this list if the pitching wasn’t so awful in the National League this year.

                Wikipedia speaks of the New Englander, saying, “Alva William Javery (June 5, 1918 – August 16, 1977) was a professional Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1940–1946, spending all seven seasons with the Boston Bees and Braves. He became a key part of the rotation during World War II, which he did not serve in due to varicose veins. Nicknamed  ‘Beartracks’, he made his debut on April 23, 1940.

                “The 1942 season marked the beginning of his workhorse years, finishing fifth in the National League in innings pitched with 261. He was second on the team to Jim Tobin, who led the league. Javery also started a league-leading 37 games, and finished the season with a 3.03 ERA and was 31st in MVP voting.

                “He showed signs of slowing down in the 1945 season, after pitching in only 17 games and winning two. Two games early in the 1946 season marked the end of his career with the Braves. He was released on May 23, 1946, and sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League due to arm trouble the previous two seasons. Javery died on August 16, 1977, in Putnam, Connecticut.”

C-Ernie Lombardi, Boston Braves, 34 Years Old

1932 1935 1936 1938 1939 1940 1941

309 AB, .330, 11 HR, 46 RBI, .330/.403/.482, 162 OPS+

WAR-3.1

All-Star: Yes (0-1, 1 BB)

MVP Rank: 13

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1986)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

Team Stats

Led in:

1942 NL Batting Title (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.330 (2nd Time)

8th Time All-Star-When I do this webpage, I just go from year-to-year because I want to be surprised like you. What I’m saying is I don’t have the 1943 All-Star team computed so I don’t know the future. So every year I was writing about Lombardi, I said I hoped he’d make my Hall of Fame, but I didn’t know. Well, guess what, he’s in! Incredibly he’s going in as a Brave and not a Red, his longtime team.

                Lombardi is the 123rd inductee to my Hall of Fame and the eighth catcher, joining Charlie Bennett, Roger Bresnahan, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, Buck Ewing, Gabby Hartnett, and Wally Schang. Click here to see the whole list.

                SABR explains why the Reds released him, saying, “Lombardi’s batting average plummeted to .264 in 1941. Differences with general manager Warren Giles and the dramatic drop in his hitting prompted Cincinnati to sell Lombardi to the Boston Braves before the 1942 season.

                “The Braves, who were piloted by Casey Stengel, were an atrocious bunch. First baseman Max West was the leading power hitter with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs. Lombardi, in only 309 at-bats was credited under the rules of the day with leading the league in hitting with a .330 average. During a game with the Reds, Cincinnati catcher Ray Lammano told him, ‘Man, you’re driving McKechnie crazy with the way you’re hitting. He’s pulling his hair out. Lombardi earned a spot on the National League All-Star squad.”

                Lombardi is the first Brave to make my list at catcher since Mickey O’Neil in 1920.

C-Clyde McCullough, Chicago Cubs, 25 Years Old

337 AB, .282, 5 HR, 31 RBI, .282/.331/.398, 117 OPS+

WAR-2.4

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 31 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago Cubs

68-86, 6th in NL

Manager Jimmie Wilson

Ballpark: Wrigley Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-101, 3rd in league

ERA+-89, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Bill Nicholson, 6.0

1st Time All-Star-Clyde Edward McCullough was born on March 4, 1917 in Nashville, TN. The five-foot-11, 180 pound righty catcher started with the Cubs in 1940 and became their starting backstop in 1941. He’s the first Cubbie catcher to make my list since Gabby Hartnett in 1938.

                From a website called On This Day in Chicago Cubs History is this story from July 26, 1942:

                “#OnThisDay in @chicagocubs history ▸ Cubs’ backstop, Clyde McCullough, goes 3-4 knocking three solo homers agains the @phillies at Shibe Park.  McCullough’s three dingers were three of only five he would hit all season and three of eight that Phils pitcher Tommy Hughes would give up during the entire ‘42 campaign.

                “This burst of power is also notable as the first time in@mlb history in which a team lost while one player accounted for all of the club’s runs on three solo homers, as the Cubbies dropped the game 4-3.”

                I like fluky occurrences like this. You have a ballplayer who hit just five homers all season and just 52 for his career and yet three of them come in the same game. It occurred at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, which wasn’t a home run haven like the Baker Bowl, the Phillies old park. It would have even been understandable if it occurred in Wrigley Field on a day the wind was blowing out. None of that was the case.

                McCullough died on September 18, 1982 at the age of 65 in San Francisco.

Johnny Mize full-length with bat on dugout steps as New York Giant

1B-Johnny Mize, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941

541 AB, .305, 26 HR, 110 RBI, .305/.380/.521, 161 OPS+

WAR-6.3

Wins Above Replacement-6.3 (4th)

WAR Position Players-6.3 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-6.0 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (0-2)

MVP Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1981)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1940)

Team Stats

Led in:

Slugging-.521 (4th Time)

Runs Batted In-110 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Added-63.53 (3rd Time)

Win Probability Added-6.4 (2nd Time)

Situ. Wins Added-6.0 (4th)

Base-Out Wins Added-6.7 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-10.85

Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.63

Fielding % as 1B-.995

7th Time All-Star-From 1936 through 1941 with the Cardinals, Mize hit .336, average 26 homers and over 100 RBI as the National League’s best first baseman. That seems like the kind of player you want to keep on your team, especially since Mize was still only 29. Yet the Cardinals made an incredible trade four days after Pearl Harbor as The Big Cat was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Giants for Bill LohrmanJohnny McCarthyKen O’Dea and $50,000. It was a good pickup for the Giants as over the years Mize would take advantage of the short porch in the Polo Grounds and put up some monster home run numbers.

                However, that would have to wait until later, because after this season, Mize would serve three full years of military service, taking away some of his prime producing years.

                Though Mize did hit more homers at home than the road (16-10), he was a better hitter overall on the road. At home, Big Jawn slashed .278/.362/.514 while on the road his slash numbers were .330/.396/.528. It was similar to his new teammate and manager, Mel Ott, who hit a lot more homers at the Polo Grounds than away from there, but in his other stats, it didn’t matter where he played. Good batters like Mize and Ott can hit anywhere.

                Mize is the first Giant to make my list at first base since Bill Terry in 1935. The Big Cat never got to play under Terry as a manager, because he moved to the front office before this season.

1B-Elbie Fletcher, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26 Years Old

1938 1940 1941

506 AB, .289, 7 HR, 57 RBI, .289/.417/.393, 135 OPS+

WAR-5.1

WAR Position Players-5.1 (10th)

Offensive WAR-4.4 (7th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Pittsburgh Pirates

66-81, 5th in NL

Manager Frankie Frisch

Ballpark: Forbes Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-88, 6th in league

ERA+-95, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Elbie Fletcher, 5.1

Led in:

On-Base %-.417 (3rd Time)

Assists as 1B-118 (4th Time)

4th Time All-Star-We all have pictures of what baseball players should look like. First basemen should be muscular behemoths that don’t move too well, but, using a bat that looks like a caveman’s club, smack the ball two miles. One thinks of Mark McGwire or Chris Davis. Or in the era in which Fletcher played, we have Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg or even The Big Cat, Johnny Mize. Fletch played the game differently. His main weapon wasn’t the homer, but the walk. For the third consecutive yare, he walked over 100 times, but he didn’t hit for much power, as his slugging percentage dipped below .400 (.393).

                The fact he led the league in on-base percentage for the third straight time also doesn’t line up with our assumptions. It seems to me people who lead in that category are again the big sluggers, because pitchers are trying to avoid giving them a cookie to hit. In the three seasons before Fletch led in OBP, the leaders were Mel Ott (twice) and Dolph Camilli.    

                After this season, Fletcher would play one more year before joining the navy and missing out on playing in 1944 and 1945. He came back to Pittsburgh in 1946, but wasn’t the same. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1948 and then finished his career with the Braves in 1949. He’d finish his career with a .271 average and 79 homers, but with a very respectable .384 on-base percentage. Fletcher died on March 9, 1994 in Milton, MA at the age of 77.

1B-Dolph Camilli, Brooklyn Dodgers, 35 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941

529 AB, .252, 26 HR, 109 RBI, .252/.372/.471, 144 OPS+

WAR-4.8

Offensive WAR-4.4 (9th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

Team Stats

Led in:

Intentional Bases on Balls-22

Power-Speed #-14.4

Def. Games as 1B-150 (3rd Time)

7th Time All-Star-For new readers, I want to talk about my two Halls of Fame. Hall of Fames? English is hard! Anyway, one of my Hall of Fames is the ONEHOF, which is short for One-A-Year Hall of Fame. As the name would indicate, I admit the best player every year who isn’t already part of that list. That Hall of Fame admits just the best of the best and has baseball’s all-time greats.

                The other Hall is called Ron’s Hall of Fame, because my name is, um, Ron. I took hours thinking of that name! That honor is just a numbers game. I take a player’s career WAR and multiply by the number of times they’ve made this list and if that number is 300 or over, they’re in. Ron’s Hall of Fame will include players like Camilli, who are among the league’s best players year-after-year for a good stretch of time.

                Which of my Hall of Fames is valid? Both. I think players that make the ONEHOF should absolutely be in Cooperstown. Yet 17 of the 71 (24 percent) players I’ve picked for it are not in the real Hall of Fame. However, I also think those that make Ron’s Hall of Fame should get real consideration for Cooperstown and 36 of the 124 (29 percent) players I’ve picked for that Hall have not made the Baseball Hall of Fame.

                Camilli is the 13th first baseman to make my Hall. If you want to see the full list of both Halls, click here. After this season, he was Brooklyn’s all-time home run leader until Gil Hodges took the lead in 1953. He died in San Mateo, CA  on October 21, 1997 at the age of 90.

2B-Lonny Frey, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

1935 1939 1940 1941

523 AB, .266, 2 HR, 39 RBI, .266/.373/.344, 110 OPS+

WAR-5.6

Wins Above Replacement-5.6 (7th)

WAR Position Players-5.6 (4th)

Offensive WAR-4.1 (10th)

Defensive WAR-2.2 (3rd)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 27

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Team Stats

5th Time All-Star-Frey is definitely a player who needs to be looked at through a modern lens, because his stats don’t jump off the page. Yet he has now made five of my lists, with one to come in 1943, giving him half a dozen. He needs seven to make my Hall of Fame and I don’t think that’s going to happen, especially since he’s going to miss two years due to World War II. Still, he ended up with a very good, if not Hall of Fame, career.

                Now every once in a while I have a What the WAR?! moment in which Wins Above Replacement doesn’t make sense to me. Frey brings a lot of those on. Look at the above WAR numbers. He has a 4.1 Offensive WAR, added to a 2.2 Defensive WAR, which in real life would add up to 6.3, but in WAR life, it adds up to 5.6. I don’t understand it.

                Of course, the 4.1 Offensive WAR, which is 10th in the National League, also puzzles me. Frey certainly was decent offensively but 10th in the NL? I know WAR takes things into account like base running and those kinds of things, but where would you even begin to calculate something like that in Frey’s day?

                Still, looking up other second basemen in this era, I have no qualms about Frey being the best in the league at this time. I also have no difficulties with him being this close to making my Hall of Fame.

3B-Stan Hack, Chicago Cubs, 32 Years Old

1934 1935 1936 1938 1940 1941

553 AB, .300, 6 HR, 39 RBI, .300/.402/.409, 142 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (10th)

WAR Position Players-5.3 (9th)

Offensive WAR-5.8 (5th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 20

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1941)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as 3B-.965

7th Time All-Star-There have been many arguments over the years about the viability of Hack as a Hall of Famer or not. To me, it’s a no-brainer as it is to many on the internet. Smiling Stan received Hall of Fame votes seven times, but never more than four-point-eight percent of them. If the Hall is this tough on those players who man the hot corner, no wonder there aren’t many third basemen in Cooperstown.

                Will Hack make the ONEHOF? Well, if he ends up with eight times on the list, probably not. If he ends up with nine, then he’s got a shot. We’ll have to see.

                SABR ponders the same subject, saying, “So why is Stan Hack virtually forgotten today? There are several reasons. He wasn’t the archetypical slugging third baseman, essentially a singles hitter who never hit more than eight home runs in a season. He was overshadowed on some strong Cubs teams by the likes of Gabby HartnettKiki CuylerPhil Cavarretta, and Bill Nicholson. He was even overshadowed by the shortstop on the other side of town, Luke Appling, a similar player who won a pair of batting championships.

                “The 1942 season was the first of the war years. At 32, Hack was too old to be drafted, so he remained in a Cubs uniform. By now his best years were behind him, as his batting averages dropped to .300 and .289. Although Stan kept smiling, the losing was getting to him.”

                I’m sure that’s an affliction that affected many a Cub.

SS-Pee Wee Reese, Brooklyn Dodgers, 23 Years Old

564 AB, .255, 3 HR, 53 RBI, .255/.350/.332, 98 OPS+

WAR-6.1

Wins Above Replacement-6.1 (5th)

WAR Position Players-6.1 (4th)

Defensive WAR-3.6 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

MVP Rank: 25

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1984)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-3.6

Caught Stealing-10

Assists-482

Def. Games as SS-151

Putouts as SS-337 (2nd Time)

Assists as SS-482

Double Plays Turned as SS-99

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.42

1st Time All-Star-Harold Henry “Pee Wee” or “The Little Colonel” Reese was born on July 23, 1918 in Ekron, KY. The five-foot-10, 160 pound righty shortstop started with the Dodgers in 1940 and was such a dazzling fielder that, even playing only 84 games, he finished 26th in MVP voting. In 1941, he helped guide Brooklyn to the World Series, where he went four-for-20 (.200) with 2 RBI as the Dodgers lost to the Yankees, 4-1. This year, Reese made this list due to an incredible glove and would do so throughout his career.

                Reese is the first Dodger shortstop to make my list since Lonny Frey in 1935.

                Wikipedia says, “Reese’s nickname originated in his childhood, as he was a champion marbles player (a ‘pee wee’ is a small marble). Reese was born in EkronMeade County, Kentucky, and raised there until he was nearly eight years old, when his family moved to Louisville. In high school, Reese was so small that he did not play baseball until his senior year, at which time he weighed only 120 pounds and played just six games as a second baseman. He graduated from duPont Manual High School in 1935. He worked as a cable splicer for the Louisville phone company, only playing amateur baseball in a church league. When Reese’s team reached the league championship, the minor league Louisville Colonels allowed them to play the championship game on their field. Reese impressed Colonels owner Cap Neal, who signed him to a contract for a $200 bonus. While playing for the Colonels, he was affectionately referred to by his teammates as ‘The Little Colonel.’

                “It was in the 1942 campaign that he truly established himself, making the National League All-Star team for the first of ten consecutive years and leading National League shortstops in both putouts and assists.”

SS-Marty Marion, St. Louis Cardinals, 25 Years Old

485 AB, .276, 0 HR, 54 RBI, .276/.343/.375, 103 OPS+

WAR-4.7

Defensive WAR-2.8 (2nd)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Doubles-38

1st Time All-Star-Martin Whiteford “Marty” or “Slats” or “The Octopus” or “Mr. Shortstop” Marion was born 48 years before yours truly on December 1, 1916 in Richburg, SC. The six-foot-two, 170 pound righty shortstop started with the Cardinals in 1940 and became their regular shortstop from the beginning. Marion is the first Cardinal shortstop to make my list since Rogers Hornsby in 1918.

                Wikipedia states, “He grew up in Atlanta, where he attended Tech High School and played baseball for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. His older brother, Red Marion, was briefly an outfielder in the American League and a long-time manager in the minor leagues. Nicknamed ‘Slats’, Marion had unusually long arms which reached for grounders like tentacles, prompting sportswriters to call him ‘The Octopus’. A childhood leg injury deferred him from military service in World War II.

                “Marion was also a better-than-average hitter for a shortstop. His most productive season came in 1942, when he hit .276 with a league-leading 38 doubles. In the 1942 World Series, one of four series in which he participated with the Cardinals, he helped his team to a World Championship.”

                Like Pee Wee Reese, Marion will be making a few of these teams, mainly due to defense not offense. With Arky Vaughan no longer the ballplayer he used to be, the crown for the National League’s best shortstop was wide open and Reese and Marion will be battling it out. The difference is Reese is absolutely going to make my Hall of Fame while Marion would need to make my All-Star list every year going forward to do so and he’s not going to do it.

LF-Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals, 21 Years Old

467 AB, .315, 10 HR, 72 RBI, .315/.397/.490, 151 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (9th)

WAR Position Players-5.3 (8th)

Offensive WAR-4.4 (8th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 12

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1969)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Stanley Frank “Stan the Man” or “Stashu” or “Stash” or “The Donora Greyhound” Musial was born on November 21, 1920 in Donora, PA. The six-foot, 175 pound lefty leftfielder started with the Cardinals in 1941 and became their regular leftfielder this year. However, Musial is going to bounce around quite a bit and make this list either as a leftfielder, rightfielder, or first baseman. One thing that won’t change – he’s going to make this list year after year. Musial is the first Cardinal leftfielder to make my list since Joe Medwick in 1939.

                Wikipedia says, “Cardinals manager Billy Southworth used Musial as a left fielder to begin 1942, sometimes lifting him for a pinch-hitter against left-handed pitching. Musial was hitting .315 by late June, as the Cardinals resumed battling the Dodgers for first place in the National League (NL). The Cardinals took sole possession of first place on September 13, and when Musial caught a fly ball to end the first game of a doubleheader on September 27 they clinched the pennant with their 105th win. He finished the season with a .315 batting average and 72 runs batted in (RBI) in 140 games. Musial received national publicity when he was named by St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports editor J. Roy Stockton as his choice for Rookie of the Year in a Saturday Evening Post article.

                “The Cardinals played the American League champion New York Yankees in the 1942 World Series. Representing the winning run at home plate in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 at Sportsman’s Park, Musial grounded out with the bases loaded to end the game . Musial’s first hit of the Series was an RBI single that provided the margin of victory in Game 2, allowing the Cardinals to tie the Series. Over the next three games at Yankee Stadium, Musial had three more hits as the Cardinals defeated the Yankees in the Series four games to one. Musial batted .222 for the Series, with two runs scored.”

CF-Pete Reiser, Brooklyn Dodgers, 23 Years Old

1941

480 AB, .310, 10 HR, 64 RBI, .310/.375/.463, 143 OPS+

WAR-5.5

Wins Above Replacement-5.5 (8th)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (7th)

Offensive WAR-5.7 (6th)

All-Star: Yes (1-3)

MVP Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Stolen Bases-20

Errors Committed as CF-9

2nd Time All-Star-After his outstanding season of 1941, in which I honored him with the National League Most Valuable Player, Reiser had another great year and the future certainly looked bright for the speedy centerfielder. Unfortunately, he’s going to miss the next three seasons while spending time in the Army and never be the same.

                SABR tells about the injury that changed his life: “On July 18, 1942 the Dodgers had an eight game lead over the Cardinals when they went to St. Louis for a four game series. Reiser, batting .356, was riding an eleven-game hit streak. In the eleventh inning of a 6–6 tie on the July 19, Enos Slaughter belted a long drive off Johnny Allen. Reiser raced toward the center-field wall, narrowly avoiding the flagpole that rose from the playing field, and caught Slaughter’s hit in full stride—and then hit the concrete wall an instant later. The ball fell from his glove and, although dazed, he threw the ball to the cutoff man, Reese. By the time Reese fired the ball home, Slaughter had circled the bases to win the game.

                “All attention turned to number 27, who lay on the field motionless, facing the sky, his shoulder separated and blood trickling from his ears. When Durocher reached him, the manager started to cry. Pete was carried off on a stretcher and woke up the next morning in the hospital with a fractured skull and a brain injury. The Cardinals’ team doctor examined him and recommended that he not return to the field that season. In the era before the effects of a concussion were fully understood, Reiser did what gamers do—he returned to the diamond as soon as he could walk. He was dizzy, had a hard time focusing, and felt weak, but there was no keeping him out of the lineup.

                “He would never be the same player again.”

name=”Holmes”>

CF-Tommy Holmes, Boston Braves, 25 Years Old

558 AB, .278, 4 HR, 41 RBI, .278/.353/.357, 111 OPS+

WAR-3.3

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 38 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

AB per SO-55.8

Fielding % as CF-.987

1st Time All-Star-Thomas Francis “Tommy” or “Kelly” Holmes was born on March 29, 1917 in Brooklyn, NY. The five-foot-10, 180 pound lefty outfielder had this very good rookie year and, at least during the World War II years, would have some great seasons. He’s the first Braves centerfielder to make my list since Wally Berger in 1935. He made my list because he has the highest WAR on Boston. He might not have made it otherwise.

                SABR says, “A severe sinus condition kept Tommy Holmes out of the service during World War II, but the chances are that if he had been drafted and sent into harm’s way, several hundred fans from one particular portion of Braves Field would have been willing to follow him into action.

                “For Holmes, [teammate Paul] Waner was nothing short of a revelation. Big Poison preached pulling the ball to right field, and in this curious rookie he had an apt pupil. ‘One day in ’42, I took an 0-for-9 in a doubleheader,’ Tommy recalled nearly 60 years later. ‘I was in the clubhouse moping around, and there was Paul Waner, who liked his sauce, having a beer. He says, “What’s the matter, kid?” I say, “Paul, I was 0-for-9 today.” He says, “Don’t worry about that. Just come out in the morning.” This was the beginning of my hitting life. I was a line-drive hitter, same as Paul. He says, “See that foul line over there? I’m going to show you how to hit it. Never hit the ball where three guys can catch it, not with that wind blowing in at Braves Field. Shoot for the foul lines. If a few go out of play, don’t worry about it. You don’t pay for the balls.”’ (Although Holmes credited Stengel with similar batting tips at the time, he always cited Waner as his chief tutor in later interviews.)”

Full-length of New York Giants Mel Ott, c.1940

RF-Mel Ott, New York Giants, 33 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941

549 AB, .295, 30 HR, 93 RBI, .295/.415/.497, 165 OPS+

WAR-7.1

Wins Above Replacement-7.1 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-7.1 (1st)

Offensive WAR-7.3 (1st)

All-Star-Yes (0-4, 2 K)

MVP Rank: 3

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1930)

New York Giants

85-67, 3rd in NL

Manager Mel Ott

Ballpark: Polo Grounds V (Hitter’s)

OPS+-101, 4th in league

ERA+-102, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Mel Ott, 7.1

Led in:

WAR Position Players-7.1 (3rd Time)

Offensive WAR-7.3 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.912 (2nd Time)

Runs Scored-118 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-30 (6th Time)

Bases on Balls-109 (6th Time)

Adjusted OPS+-165 (5th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-50 (5th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-5.3 (5th Time)

AB per HR-18.3 (9th Time)

Def. Games as RF-152 (4th Time)

Def. Games as OF-152 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as RF-.988 (4th Time)

                15th Time All-Star-There’s so much to write about Master Melvin this season including the fact he took over as the Giants’ manager after Bill Terry retired. Fortunately Manager Ott had rightfielder Ott as his best player which was the main reason New York finished third in the league.

                Ott also entered my all-time greats top 10 this year. My top 10 players of all time through 1942 are:

1. Babe Ruth, RF

2. Walter Johnson, P

3. Ty Cobb, CF

4. Cy Young, P

5. Tris Speaker, CF

6. Eddie Collins, 2B

7. Honus Wagner, SS

8. Rogers Hornsby, 2B

9. Pete Alexander, P

10. Ott, RF

                Cap Anson dropped to 11th. If you look at this list, Ott seems to be the most unrecognized of all the players. But he also might be the most liked among that group, with the possible exception of Big Train Johnson.

                Ott also has made more of my lists at RF than any other player. The leaders at all of the positions are:

P-Johnson, 18 lists

C-Bill Dickey, 11

1B-Anson, Lou Gehrig, 13

2B-Collins, 17

3B-Home Run Baker, 9

SS-Wagner, 13

LF-Fred Clarke, 10

CF-Speaker, 18

RF-Ott, 13

                After this season, Ott is going to start declining a bit, though I can see him still making two more of these lists. He was probably saved by the fact many of the star players were off fighting World War II, but the great ones thrive in whatever situation they face.

Enos Bradshaw Slaughter, St. Louis Cardinals

RF-Enos Slaughter, St. Louis Cardinals, 26 Years Old

1939 1940

591 AB, .318, 13 HR, 98 RBI, .318/.412/.494, 156 OPS+

WAR-6.8

Wins Above Replacement-6.8 (3rd)

WAR Position Players-6.8 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-6.7 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (1-2)

MVP Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1985)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Plate Appearances-687

Hits-188

Total Bases-292

Triples-17

Singles-127

Runs Created-118

Extra Base Hits-61

Times On Base-282

Offensive Win %-.783

Championship WPA-11.8

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list two straight years, Slaughter missed it in 1941 due to missing about 40 games. Otherwise he would have been there. I think there’s no doubt this is his best season ever and only his teammate, Mort Cooper, kept him from winning the National League Most Valuable Player.

                SABR wraps up his season, saying, “Under the guidance of Southworth, St. Louis won three consecutive National League pennants beginning in 1942. Slaughter led the league in hits (188), batting average (.318) and triples (19). He was named to the Sporting News All Star team for his fine season.

                “When the sun set on July 31, 1942, Brooklyn had a firm grasp on first place. The Dodgers were 8½ games ahead of the Redbirds. But the Cards put together an incredible streak, posting a combined 46-12 record in August and September to knock off the Dodgers.

                “Their opponent in the Fall Classic was the New York Yankees. In Game Two, the Cardinals clung to a 4-3 lead when Bill Dickey led off the inning with a single. Tuck Stainback was inserted as a pinch-runner for Dickey, but when Buddy Hassett singled to right field, Slaughter nailed Stainback by ten feet as he tried to take third base. The Cardinals finished off the Yankees to even the series. In Game Three, Slaughter robbed Yankee slugger Charlie Keller of a home run by plucking the ball from the air at the outfield wall to keep it from going out of the park. Slaughter was not the hitting star of the Series (5 for 19 with a homer), but his solid defense showed a well-rounded game.        

                “After the conclusion of the series, Slaughter enlisted in the United States Air Force.”

RF-Bill Nicholson, Chicago Cubs, 27 Years Old

588 AB, .294, 21 HR, 78 RBI, .294/.382/.476, 155 OPS+

WAR-6.0

Wins Above Replacement-6.0 (6th)

WAR Position Players-6.0 (5th)

Offensive WAR-5.9 (4th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 19

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 29 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Hit By Pitch-8

Putouts as RF-252 (2nd Time)

Assists as RF-18

1st Time All-Star-William Beck “Bill” or “Swish” Nicholson was born on December 11, 1914 in Chestertown, MD. The six-foot, 205 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing rightfielder started with the Athletics in 1936, batting 12 times and going hitless. He didn’t play in the Majors again until 1939 when he joined the Cubs and made the All-Star team in 1940 and ’41, though he didn’t make my list. This year, Nicholson made my list but didn’t make the All-Star team. Hmm. His best years would be during wartime, but once all of the players were back, his career would decline.

                SABR tells about his nickname and his 1942 season, stating, “Real Cubs fans never called him Swish. To them he was Big Bill, or Nick. The Swish nickname originated in Brooklyn. The big left-handed hitter always leveled his bat across the plate several times when stepping in to face an opposing pitcher. Dodgers fans would yell, ‘Swish, swish, swish,’ in unison with his practice swings. The name caught on on the East Coast, but was soundly rejected in Chicago. Because news is written in New York, the Swish designation survived and Big Bill has been all but forgotten.

                “On August 15, 1942, Nicholson hit three home runs, two doubles, and a single in a doubleheader against the Pirates. Again it was to no avail as the Cubs were swept. They did better a week later when catcher Clyde McCullough, shortstop Lennie Merullo, and Cavarretta turned a triple play against the Reds in the top of the 11th. Big Bill sent the fans home happy with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the inning off Gene Thompson.”

1941 American League All-Star Team

P-Thornton Lee, CHW

P-Bob Feller, CLE

P-Eddie Smith, CHW

P-Bob Muncrief, SLB

P-Al Benton, DET

P-Charlie Wagner, BOS

P-Denny Galehouse, SLB

P-Mickey Harris, BOS

P-Dutch Leonard, WSH

P-Tommy Bridges, DET

C-Bill Dickey, NYY, Most All-Star lists as C (T)-10

C-Jake Early, WSH

1B-George McQuinn, SLB

2B-Joe Gordon, NYY

3B-Ken Keltner, CLE

SS-Cecil Travis, WSH

SS-Luke Appling, CHW

SS-Joe Cronin, BOS

SS-Lou Boudreau, CLE

LF-Ted Williams, BOS

LF-Charlie Keller, NYY

CF-Joe DiMaggio, NYY, 1st MVP

CF-Sam Chapman, PHA

RF-Tommy Henrich, NYY

RF-Jeff Heath, CLE

P-Thornton Lee, Chicago White Sox, 34 Years Old

1937 1938 1940

22-11, 2.37 ERA, 300 1/3 IP, 130 K, 174 ERA+, 3.54 FIP, 1.165 WHIP

114 AB, .254, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .254/.280/.298, 54 OPS+

WAR-9.0

Wins Above Replacement-9.0 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-8.6 (1st)

All-Star-Yes (3 IP, 4 H, 1 R)

MVP Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 20 percent chance)

Chicago White Sox

77-77, 3rd in AL

Manager Jimmy Dykes

Ballpark: Comiskey Park I  (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-77, 8th in league

ERA+-117, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Thornton Lee, 9.0

Led in:

1941 AL Pitching Title

WAR for Pitchers-8.6

Earned Run Average-2.37

Walks & Hits per IP-1.165

Complete Games-30

Adjusted ERA+-174

Adj. Pitching Runs-56

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.9

4th Time All-Star-This season is going to be an interesting one in the American League as it will feature a .400 hitter and a 56-game hitting streak. You probably know who did those things. But I start with the pitchers and Lee was the best of the lot. On a team that finished just .500, he managed to have a .667 winning percentage and had there been things such as Cy Young Awards in those days, he would have been right in the mix. It was his best season ever. 

                SABR says, “In 1941 Lee had one of the best years any White Sox pitcher has experienced in the lively-ball era. On a team that ranked last in runs scored, Lee posted a career-high 22 wins, led the American League with a 2.37 ERA, topped the major leagues with30 complete games (in a career-high 34 starts), and logged 300⅓ innings. Through much of May and into June, the White Sox pitchers kept the team in second place as close as a half-game out. ‘[Lee’s been] carrying Dykes’ hitless hitters on his back all season,” wrote The Sporting News. Often a tough-luck loser, Lee was locked in a scoreless duel with Red Ruffing of the New York Yankees through ten innings in the Bronx on July 13. In the top of the 11th inning, Lee surrendered a run to lose, 1-0. In Lee’s 11 losses, the White Sox scored just 27 runs combined and were shut out four times. ‘I’ve had the misfortune to stack up against pitchers on their good days,’ said Lee.”          

P-Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians, 22 Years Old

1938 1939 1940

25-13, 3.15 ERA, 343 IP, 260 K, 125 ERA+, 3.46 FIP, 1.394 WHIP

120 AB, .150, 1 HR, 12 RBI, .150/.209/.250, 24 OPS+

WAR-8.2

Wins Above Replacement-8.2 (4th)

WAR for Pitchers-8.2 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (3 IP, 1 H, 4 K)

MVP Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1962)

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Cleveland Indians

75-79, 4th in AL

Manager Roger Peckinpaugh

Ballpark: League Park II and Cleveland Stadium  (Neutral)

OPS+-77, 8th in league

ERA+-117, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Bob Feller, 8.2

Led in:

Wins-25 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.822 (4th Time)

Games Pitched-44 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-343 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts-260 (4th Time)

Games Started-40 (2nd Time)

Shutous-6 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-194 (3rd Time)

Hits Allowed-284

Batters Faced-1.466 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Saved-52.19 (3rd Time)

Win Probability Added-6.6 (2nd Time)

Sit. Wins Saved-4.1 (3rd Time)

Championship WPA-13.7 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Wins Saved-5.6 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as P-44 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-If you look above, you’ll notice Feller just needs one more All-Star team to make my Hall of Fame. What couldn’t have been expected is it won’t be until 1946 when it happens, because of World War II. The Heater From Van Meter is going to miss three complete seasons and then come back at the end of 1945. Many of the greats in both leagues will suffer the same fate.

                Oh, but what a stretch Rapid Robert had over the last four seasons. Using his vaunted fastball, he intimidated batters by being all over the strike zone, as shown by the fact he’s led the American League in walks three times. No one would be higher than his 194 walks this year until another golden-armed righty came along in 1974, when Nolan Ryan would walk 202 batters.

                There’s a great article by SABR about a one-hitter Feller pitched in his last game of the season and I suggest reading the whole thing, but I was interested in this: “Worldwide events conspired to hasten Feller’s entry into the armed forces. Hearing about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while driving from his home in Van Meter, Iowa, to Chicago, Feller immediately decided to enlist in the US Navy, and was inducted at a Navy recruiting office in Chicago two days later. This made Feller the second major-league player to enlist in the armed forces upon the United States’ entry into World War II, Hank Greenberg having enlisted the day before.”

P-Eddie Smith, Chicago White Sox, 27 Years Old

1937 1939

13-17, 3.18 ERA, 263 1/3 IP, 111 K, 129 ERA+, 3.82 FIP, 1.356 WHIP

88 AB, .216, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .216/.281/.261, 45 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacment-5.8 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.3 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (W, 2 IP, 2 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1939, Smith had a decent year in 1940. As a matter of fact, if based only on winning percentage, some would say his 14-9 season topped all of his other campaigns. Of course, winning a game isn’t the only requirement for a good pitcher as Smith demonstrated throughout his career. In this season, he was only 13-17, but finished fourth in WAR for Pitchers.

                Smith is famous for being at the beginning of an incredible stretch of games for a fellow All-Star, as Wikipedia states, “Joe DiMaggio started his 56-game hitting streak on May 15, 1941 by getting one hit in four at bats against Smith. Later that year, Smith was selected to represent the White Sox on the American League‘s All-Star team. He entered 1941 Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 8 at Briggs Stadium as a relief pitcher in the eighth inning and allowed a two-run home run to left-handed-hitting shortstop Arky Vaughan, putting the AL at a 5–3 disadvantage. But he set down the National League squad in order in the ninth, and came away with the victory when Ted Williams hit a three-run, walk-off home run in the ninth, capping the Junior Circuit’s rally.”       

                SABR wraps us his life, saying, “On August 13, 1965, Smith was charged with manslaughter in Beach Haven, New Jersey, in the death of 61-year-old Beaman P. Belvin. The two had apparently gotten into a ‘barroom argument over whose turn it was to play pool.’ They stepped outside, Smith struck Belvin, and Belvin’s head struck the sidewalk. Smith was described at the time as ‘an unemployed bartender.’ The disposition of the case is not described in any readily available newspaper.

                “On January 2, 1994, Smith died, apparently of cancer, at Rancocas Hospital in Willingboro, New Jersey.”

P-Bob Muncrief, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

13-9, 3.65 ERA, 214 1/3 IP, 67 K, 118 ERA+, 3.94 FIP, 1.278 WHIP

76 AB, .237, 0 H, 5 RBI, .237/.266/.276, 42 OPS+

WAR-4.8

WAR for Pitchers-4.6 (5th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Browns

70-84, 6th in AL

Managers Fred Haney (15-29) and Luke Sewell (55-55)

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III  (Hitter’s)

OPS+-96, 3rd in league

ERA+-92, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Bob Muncrief, 4.8

1st Time All-Star-Robert Cleveland “Bob” Muncrief was born on January 28, 1916 in Madill, OK. The six-foot-two, 190 pound righty pitcher started with the Browns in 1937, pitching just one game. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1938 and then came back to St. Louis in 1939, hurling two games. Muncrief didn’t play in the Majors again in 1940 and then had his best season ever this year.

                Wikipedia says, “Muncrief graduated from Ada High School and began his 22-year professional baseball career in 1934. He spent his maiden season in the Class C West Dixie League in the extensive minor-league system of St. Louis’ dominant National League club, the Cardinals, but was acquired by the Browns in 1935; he promptly won 15 games for the Palestine Pals of the West Dixie circuit. Two years later, on September 30, 1937, Muncrief made his MLB debut starting for the Browns against the Detroit Tigers, allowing two runs (one earned) in two innings pitched. The lowly Browns won the game, 10–3, but the victory went to Julio Bonetti, who came on in the third inning and allowed only one run the rest of the way. Muncrief would make just two more appearances on the mound for the Browns (both in September 1939) until 1941.

                “In 1941—baseball’s last pre-World War II season—Muncrief, still a rookie at age 25, began the year in the Brownie bullpen until getting four starting assignments in late May and early June. He joined the Browns’ starting rotation for good in July, and ended up winning 13 games against eight losses, with 12 complete games and two shutouts and a respectable 3.65 earned run average. His 13 victories (for a team that won only 70 of its 154 games all year) were tied for tenth in the American League.”

P-Al Benton, Detroit Tigers, 30 Years Old

15-6, 2.97 ERA, 157 2/3 IP, 63 K, 153 OPS+,4.06 FIP, 1.237 WHIP

50 AB, .060, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .060/.080/.140, -65  OPS+

WAR-4.7

WAR for Pitchers-5.6 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 19

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Detroit Tigers

75-79, 4th in AL

Manager Del Baker

Ballpark: Briggs Stadium (Hitter’s)

OPS+-81, 7th in league

ERA+-109, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Al Benton, 4.7

Led in:

Hits per 9 IP-7.421

1st Time All-Star-John Alton “Al” Benton was born on March 18, 1911 in Noble, OK. The six-foot-four, 215 pound righty pitcher started with the Athletics in 1934 and ’35 as a combo starter-reliever. He didn’t play in the Majors again until 1938 when he joined the Tigers and they used him the same way. In 1940, he didn’t start at all and led the American League in saves with 17. This season, he started 14 games and relieved in 24.

                SABR states, “He started about half the games in which he appeared, both in 1938 and 1939 (he was 6-8, 4.36 in 1939), but became a full-time reliever in 1940. Working in 42 games, he led the majors with 17 saves (a statistic that was calculated later), though his record was 6-10, 4.42. The Tigers won the pennant, losing the World Series in seven games to Cincinnati.

                “Manager Del Baker said, ‘We never could have won the pennant without him. He saved game after game where he didn’t pitch an entire inning. He was in a tough spot every time he walked to the box.’ Nonetheless, in the Series itself, Baker had him warming up in the bullpen on one or more occasions but never called on him to pitch. Benton did, however, receive a full Series share. Bobo Newsom was 2-1 in his three games, working all but one inning of his three starts. In the spring of 1941, Newsom declared of Benton, ‘There is the best relief pitcher in the business right over there. There’s a man for you. Works harder and better’n anybody I ever saw. You don’t mind leaving a game in his hands when you gotta go.’”

P-Charlie Wagner, Boston Red Sox, 28 Years Old

12-8, 3.07 ERA, 187 1/3 IP, 51 K, 135 ERA+, 4.47 FIP, 1.388 WHIP

63 AB, .159, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .159/.197/.175, -2 OPS+

WAR-3.9

WAR for Pitchers-4.2 (6th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 88 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Charles Thomas “Charlie” or “Broadway” Wagner was born on December 3, 1912 in Reading, PA. The five-foot-11, 170 pound righty pitcher started with the Red Sox in 1938 and had his best season ever this year. He lost three full seasons to military service and never came back to his peak.

                Wikipedia says, “After being used in both starting and relief duties, he enjoyed his first full season as a starter in 1941. He was the second in a pitching rotation that included Dick NewsomeMickey Harris and Lefty Grove. Wagner finished with a 12–8 record and three shutouts, and his 3.07 earned run average was the best on the Boston pitching staff and the third best in the American League, being surpassed only by Thornton Lee (2.37) and Al Benton (2.97), and over Marius Russo (3.09).

                “In 1942, Wagner compiled career-highs in victories (14, eight in AL), starts (26), complete games (17, seventh in AL), strikeouts (52), innings pitched (205​13), and had a 3.29 ERA. After the season, he left his team to serve in the Navy during World War II. Wagner returned to the Red Sox in 1946, along with teammates Ted WilliamsDom DiMaggioBobby DoerrJohnny PeskyTex Hughson and Joe Dobson. He pitched his final game on August 8, 1946, ending with a 1–0 mark in 30​23 innings.

                “Wagner appeared before the Boston faithful on Opening Day 2005. He spoke to the crowd, ‘Let’s Play Ball.’ Wagner died a year later in 2006 at age 93 after suffering a heart attack in his car following a Reading Phillies game.”

P-Denny Galehouse, St. Louis Browns, 29 Years Old

9-10, 3.64 ERA, 190 1/3 IP, 61 K, 119 ERA+, 3.84 FIP, 1.319 WHIP

68 AB, .191, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .191/.214/.221, 14 OPS+

WAR-3.7

WAR for Pitchers-3.9 (8th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000

1st Time All-Star-Dennis Ward “Denny” Galehouse was born 30 years before the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1911 in Marshallville, OH. The six-foot-one, 195 pound righty pitcher started with Cleveland in 1934 and then after the 1938 season, he was traded by the Cleveland Indians with Tommy Irwin to the Boston Red Sox for Ben Chapman. Before 1941, he was purchased with Fritz Ostermueller by the St. Louis Browns from the Boston Red Sox and would have his best seasons ever for the Browns.

                Wikipedia states, “He played semipro baseball in Doylestown. He was 18 years old in 1930 when he entered professional baseball with the Johnstown Johnnies of the Middle Atlantic League. Between 1931 and 1934, he registered double-digit wins, earning a promotion to the major leagues in 1934.

                “Galehouse made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1934, but he did not become a regular pitcher until 1936. He remained in Cleveland through the 1938 season. His best seasons came in the 1940s with the St. Louis Browns and Boston Red Sox; he won either 11 or 12 games four times during those years. “

                Can you imagine how miserable Galehouse’s birthday was this year? It was a day that will live in infamy and his birthday probably reminded him of that terrible day for the rest of his life. It’s interesting he made my list on the same year his day of birth would be at its most significant. Hey, it’s not his fault!

P-Mickey Harris, Boston Red Sox, 24 Years Old

8-14, 3.25 ERA, 194 IP, 111 K, 128 ERA+, 3.28 FIP, 1.418 WHIP

55 AB, .109, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .109/.319/.127, 21 OPS+

WAR-3.7

WAR for Pitchers-3.5 (10th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 35 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Maurice Charles “Mickey” Harris was born on January 30, 1917 in New York, NY. The six-foot, 195 pound lefty pitcher started with the Red Sox in 1940 and then became a regular starter this year. However, he wouldn’t play for the next four seasons in the Majors due to the war. This was his best season ever though some may argue it was his 1946 season in which Harris went 17-9.

                Harris had no lack of self-confidence. Go to SABR and read about how his mouth got him into trouble in the 1940 season. I’m going to focus on his words during 1941. SABR says,

                “Harris’s first full season came the following year, in 1941. Harris himself acknowledged early in the spring that he had been unprepared for a full season the previous year:

                “’My trouble last season?’ remarked Harris, ‘That’s easy to answer.… In one word. Inexperience! I wasn’t ready.…               

                “’I’m frank to admit that I still have a lot to learn, but I know that I’m much better equipped right now than a year ago this month, and I sure hope I stay with the Sox this time.’

                “After his baseball career ended, Mickey held jobs as a car salesman in North Cambridge, Massachusetts, as the Western New York salesman for AMF bowling equipment, and as a maintenance worker for Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and Alexander Hamilton Insurance Company. Both maintenance positions were held in his home of Farmington, Michigan, where he had lived for 15 years.

                “Mickey Harris died of a heart attack suffered while bowling on April 15, 1971. He was 54 years old.”

P-Dutch Leonard, Washington Senators, 32 Years Old

1939 1940

18-13, 3.45 ERA, 256 IP, 91 K, 117 ERA+, 2.92 FIP, 1.270 WHIP

88 AB, .102, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .102/.112/.125, -36 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (7th)

MVP Rank: 20

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 75 percent chance)

Washington Senators

70-84, 6th in AL

Manager Bucky Harris

Ballpark: Griffith Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-91, 6th in league

ERA+-93, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Cecil Travis, 6.7

Led in:

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.211

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.92

Putouts as P-20

3rd Time All-Star-Not too many players had better careers after turning 30 than the ol’ knuckler, Leonard. Before he was 30, he was 30-38 with a 3.47 ERA. After his third decade, he went 161-143 with a 3.20 ERA and would pitch in the Majors until he was 44, as only knucklers tend to do, with a few exceptions.

                SABR says, “Leonard’s first four seasons in Washington were nearly identical, with ERAs around 3.50 and about two walks and three strikeouts per game. Because he struck out few batters, he was more dependent on his defense than the average pitcher. His fluctuating won-loss records reflect the quality of the Senators’ fielders as well as the whims of luck. In his 18-13 year in 1941, he was the league’s best in fielding independent pitching, a statistic that measures a pitcher’s performance without regard to the fielders behind him.”

                I have put two different Dutch Leonards on my All-Star teams and, at this point, the 1910s Leonard and the 1940s Leonard both have the same amount of All-Star teams, three.  This Dutch Leonard is going to pass him. The old Dutch Leonard is famous for having the lowest ERA of all-time, a 0.96 ERA in 1914. The lowest ERA this Dutch Leonard will have is 2.13 in 1945. I’m pretty sure he’s going to make my list that season.

                I’ve always liked the ERA stat, because a pitcher’s job is to not give up runs and earned run average does a good job of recording that. There is no easy stat like that for batters, though there are modern stats that gauge that.

P-Tommy Bridges, Detroit Tigers, 34 Years Old

1932 1933 1934 1936 1937 1939 1940

9-12, 3.41 ERA, 147 2/3, 90 K, 133 ERA+, 3.77 FIP, 1.341 WHIP

47 AB, .085, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .085/.157/.106, -32 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-3.7 (9th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Team Stats

8th Time All-Star-Every time I do a write-up for Tommy Bridges, I’m surprised at how good he is. One might look at the fact that he pitched only 147 2/3 innings this year and had a 9-12 record and say he shouldn’t be here, but his other stats tell a different story. This is his eighth time on my list and I believe he’s going to make nine and have a shot at making the One-A-Year Hall of Fame (ONEHOF).

                Going strictly by WAR, Bridges is the third best pitcher in Detroit Tigers’ history, behind only Hal Newhouser and Justin Verlander. Newhouser is in the Hall of Fame and Verlander will be.

                Wikipedia says, “In 1941, he set the Tigers career strikeout record, surpassing George Mullin‘s mark of 1,380. His team record for career strikeouts was broken in 1951 by Hal Newhouser, and remained the top mark for a right-hander until Jack Morris broke it in 1988.”

                One thing I haven’t mentioned is how small Bridges was. SABR explains, “Baseball players in the 1930s weren’t nearly as big as they are today, but even then, few could write about Bridges without mentioning his slight build. In just the first few years of his career, he was described at various weights ranging from 144 pounds to 165 pounds. In 1940 Ed Bang noted of Bridges, ‘It has been said of him, most of his weight is heart.’ After the war, Red Smith described Bridges as ‘a wry-necked, thin-featured old gentleman about as big as 80 cents worth of liver.’ Back in 1933, Tigers manager Bucky Harris said, ‘Honestly, he has more sheer courage than any ballplayer I ever saw.’”

C-Bill Dickey, New York Yankees, 34 Years Old, Most All-Star lists as C-10 (t-Gabby Hartnett)

1929 1930 1931 1933 1934 1936 1937 1938 1939

348 AB, .284, 7 HR, 71 RBI, .284/.371/.417, 109 OPS+

WAR-2.3

Defensive WAR-0.9 (6th)

All-Star: Yes (1-3)

MVP Rank: 13

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1954)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1936)

New York Yankees

101-53, 1st in AL, Won WS over BRO, 4-1

Manager Joe McCarthy

Ballpark: Yankee Stadium I (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-102, 2nd in league

ERA+-112, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Joe DiMaggio, 9.4

Led in:

Caught Stealing %-51.2 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as C-.994 (4th Time)

10th Time All-Star-Dickey didn’t make my list in 1940 as his batting average dipped to .247 and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Yankees didn’t make the World Series that year. However, Dickey and New York are back – Dickey on my list and New York as World Champions. In the World Series, The Man Nobody Knows hit just .167 (three-for-18) with a double. It didn’t matter as the Bronx Bombers beat the Dodgers, 4-1.

                Dickey is now tied with Gabby Hartnett for most times on my list as a catcher with 10. He will one day make my ONEHOF, the One-A-Year Hall of Fame.

                Wikipedia wraps up his career, saying, “The 1941 season marked Dickey’s thirteenth year in which he caught at least 100 games, an MLB record. He also set a double play record and led AL catchers with a .994 fielding percentage.

                “Dickey suffered a shoulder injury in 1942, ending his streak of catching at least 100 games in a season. When Dickey’s backup, Buddy Rosar, left the team without permission to take examinations to join the Buffalo police force and to be with his wife who was about to have a baby, Yankees manager Joe McCarthy signed Rollie Hemsley to be the second string catcher, relegating Rosar to the third string position.  Dickey saw his playing time decrease with the addition of Hemsley. He returned for the 1942 World Series, but was considered to be fading.

                “Dickey was an excellent quail hunter. He spent part of his retirement in the 1970s and 1980s residing in the Yarborough Landing community on the shore of Millwood Lake in southwestern Arkansas. He died in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1993.”          

C-Jake Early, Washington Senators, 26 Years Old

355 AB, .287, 10 HR, 54 RBI, .287/.338/.468, 116 OPS+

WAR-2.1

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 36 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as C-16

Double Plays Turned as C-13

Passed Balls-17

1st Time All-Star-Jacob Willard “Jake” Early was born on May 19, 1915 in Kings Mountain, NC. The five-foot-11, 168 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher started with Washington in 1939 and became their main catcher in 1940. He’s the first Senator to make my list as a catcher since Muddy Ruel in 1927. This was Early’s best year offensively, but it’s still possible his glove will lead him to another time or two on my All-Star teams.

                Wikipedia says, “Early made his major league debut with the Washington Senators on May 4, 1939 at the age of 24. He served as a reserve catcher, backing up future Baseball Hall of Fame member, Rick Ferrell. Former catcher and Senators coach Benny Bengough helped Early develop his catching skills.

                “The Senators traded Ferrell to the St. Louis Browns in May 1941, leaving Early to share catching duties with Al Evans. Early out-hit Evans and ended the season having caught the majority of the team’s games with a career-high batting average of .284 along with 54 runs batted in and a team-high 10 home runs.”

                Seeing that phrase “Baseball Hall of Fame member, Rick Ferrell” brings to mind what a bad pick that was. If any of the Ferrell brothers deserved to have a plaque in Cooperstown, it was the pitcher, Wes. Wes Ferrell made my list six times, won 193 games, set a record for homers by a pitcher with nine, and made my Hall of Fame. Rick made my list three times, hitting for a decent career average of .281, but never was among the league’s best offensive players.

1B-George McQuinn, St. Louis Browns, 31 Years Old

495 AB, .297, 18 HR, 80 RBI, .297/.388/.479, 125 OPS+

WAR-4.3

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-10.48 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.995 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-George Hartley McQuinn was born on May 29, 1910 in Arlington, VA. The five-foot-11, 165 pound lefty first baseman started with the Reds in 1936, didn’t play in the Majors in ’37, and then joined the Browns in 1938, where he would be their first baseman for 11 years. He’s the first Brownie to make my list as a first baseman since Lu Blue in 1929.

                The era of the great first basemen seems to be over in the American League. This is the first season without Jimmie Foxx or Lou Gehrig since 1925. Gehrig retired in 1939 and Foxx started fading this year, dropping below 20 homers for the first time since 1928. By the way, a fading Foxx season still has a .300 average and 105 RBI.

                McQuinn hit for the cycle against Boston this season. SABR describes it, saying, “George McQuinn led the offense as the Browns swept the Boston Red Sox, 9-3 and 4-3, in a doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park on July 19, 1941. McQuinn’s 4-for-5 performance in the first game included the only batter’s cycle of the 1941 season.

                “After [Charlie] Wagner retired the first two batters in the bottom of the first innings, McQuinn ‘inaugurated the bombardment … by whacking his 11th round-tripper over the whole right-field works.’ The ball sailed over the right-field pavilion roof. An inning later Joe Grace homered, sending the ball bouncing off the pavilion roof. In the third, McQuinn tripled with two outs and scored on Wally Judnich’s single to right, making the score 3-0. After Wagner walked Roy Cullenbine, he was lifted for Jack Wilson, who retired Grace on a grounder to second to end the inning.”

                McQuinn would follow with a single in the fourth and a double in the sixth to complete the cycle.

2B-Joe Gordon, New York Yankees, 26 Years Old

1939 1940

588 AB, .276, 24 HR, 87 RBI, .276/.358/.466, 118 OPS+

WAR-5.2

WAR Position Players-5.2 (8th)

Defensive WAR-1.9 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (1-2, 1 R)

MVP Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2009)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-156

Errors Committed as 2B-32 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-109 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-With Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak garnering so many headlines this season, some of the other Yankee greats might be forgotten. One of those greats, Gordon, was now easily the best second sacker in the league and was a big cog in leading the Yankees back to the World Series this season and for five of the last six years. In the Series, Gordon shined, hitting .500 (seven-for-14) with a double, triple, and homer, as New York bested Brooklyn, 4-1.

                Wikipedia repeats what I said, but fills in the details, stating, “In 1941 he batted .276 with 24 HR and 87 RBI, scoring 104 runs and teaming with rookie shortstop Phil Rizzuto to lead the AL in double plays; Gordon placed seventh in the MVP vote as New York returned to the top of the standings. In the 1941 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers he played phenomenally, hitting .500 with stellar defense. In Game 1 he started the scoring with a solo home run in the second inning, had an RBI single and was walked twice (once intentionally), and turned a double play with the tying run on first base to end a 3-2 win. In Game 2, he was walked three times, once intentionally, and had three double plays in a 3-2 loss. In Game 3 he tripled, walked and had four assists, one of them to end the 2-1 win. He doubled in two runs in the ninth inning of Game 4 to give the Yankees their final 7-4 lead, four batters after Dodger catcher Mickey Owen famously dropped a third strike which would have ended the game. And he drove in another run in the final 3-1 victory in Game 5. His five double plays (three of them in Game 2) remain a record for a five-game Series. After the Series, Yankees manager Joe McCarthy said, ‘The greatest all-around ballplayer I ever saw, and I don’t bar any of them, is Joe Gordon.’”

3B-Ken Keltner, Cleveland Indians, 24 Years Old

581 AB, .269, 23 HR, 84 RBI, .269/.330/.485, 118 OPS+

WAR-4.6

Defensive WAR-1.1 (5th)

All-Star: Yes (1-1, 1 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Assists as 3B-346

Double Plays Turned as 3B-36 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.62

Fielding % as 3B-.971

1st Time All-Star-Kenneth Frederick “Ken” or “Butch” Keltner was born on Halloween, 1916 in Milwaukee, WI. The six-foot, 190 pound righty third baseman started with Cleveland in 1937 and would have a decent career. He’s the first Indian to make my list at the hot corner since Odell Hale in 1936.

                So what is Keltner most famous for in 1941? As so many things in this season, it all goes back to Joltin’ Joe. Wikipedia gives the details, saying, “ In the 1941 All-Star Game, he spearheaded a ninth inning four-run rally as the American League fought back from a 5-3 deficit. Keltner beat the throw to first base for an infield single to start the rally. Three batters later, he scored on a groundout before Ted Williams followed with a two-out, game-ending, three-run home run.

“Two weeks later, in a game against the New York Yankees on July 17, 1941, Keltner became part of baseball history when he made two impressive, backhanded defensive plays against Joe DiMaggio, as the latter attempted to extend his 56-game hitting streak. DiMaggio walked and grounded out in his other two plate appearances, as the record-setting hitting streak came to an end.”

                Keltner is going to have some outstanding seasons, but not enough of them to make the Hall of Fame. He will be back on this list at some time, but I don’t see him as a Hall of Famer. Baseball writer Bill James came up with the Keltner List to evaluate those who belong or not.

SS-Cecil Travis, Washington Senators, 27 Years Old

1937 1938

608 AB, .359, 7 HR, 101 RBI, .359/.410/.520, 150 OPS+

WAR-6.7

Wins Above Replacement-6.7 (5th)

WAR Position Players-6.7 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-7.5 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 1 R, 1 2B)

MVP Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Hits-218

Singles-153

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1938, Travis had an off season in 1939 and then moved to third base in 1940. He had a pretty good year, just not an All-Star year. This year, he was back at short and was the best shortstop in the American League. It was his best season ever as his .359 average finished only behind Ted Williams .406. Yes, you heard me right, his .359 average was better than the man who hit in 56 straight games, Joe DiMaggio, who hit .357.

                SABR says, “Travis is remembered not only as a pure, line-drive hitter but also as one of the classiest players in the game. He was a quiet, unassuming star, and American League umpires once voted him their favorite player. Such names as Ted Williams, Bob Feller, and Bowie Kuhn (who served as a batboy and scoreboard operator for the Senators during Travis’ tenure) have called for Travis’ induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Travis supporters point out that the war had effectively ended his career just as he was reaching new heights, and that even with his precipitous postwar decline, his career .314 compares favorably with all but two Hall of Fame shortstops (Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan). Characteristically, though, Travis himself refuses to campaign for himself. ‘I was a good player, but I wasn’t a great one,’ he told Furman Bisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (October 3, 1999). He has never bemoaned the playing years lost to military service. ‘We had a job to do, an obligation, and we did it. I was hardly the only one’ (Marty Appel). Travis was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1975 and into RFK Stadium’s Hall of Stars in 1993.

                “Cecil Travis passed away on December 16, 2006, of congestive heart failure, on his farm in Riverdale, Georgia. He was 93.”

SS-Luke Appling, Chicago White Sox, 34 Years Old

1933 1935 1936 1937 1939 1940

566 AB, .348, 0 HR, 79 RBI, .348/.420/.442, 123 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (9th)

WAR Position Players-5.3 (6th)

Offensive WAR-4.7 (9th)

Defensive WAR-1.7 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1964)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

Team Stats

Led in:

Assists-473 (4th Time)

Def. Games as SS-154 (2nd Time)

Assists as SS-473 (5th Time)

7th Time All-Star-Looking at all of these incredible stats like Appling’s .348 average made me wonder if scoring in the American League was up this season. Believe it or not, it wasn’t. The average runs per game of 4.74 was the lowest it had been in the league since 1926. However, it didn’t stop Appling from having a great season as he had his highest average since his .388 in 1936.

                SABR says, “Championships eluded the White Sox and the Cubs year after year. Ironically, the two greatest players in Chicago, Luke Appling and Ernie Banks, both shortstops, never played in a World Series.

                “Appling was a pitcher’s nightmare. He could and would foul off pitch after pitch until he got the one he wanted. Pitchers would get so frustrated they’d almost dare him to hit the blasted thing. Appling struck out only 528 times in his career and coaxed out 1,302 walks.

                “DiMaggio got a break during his 56-game hitting streak in 1941 when he hit a slow roller that bounced up on Luke. Joe was given a hit on the play to keep his streak going at 30 games.”

                At the very least, Appling has four of these lists left which will give him 11. He’s a certainty for the ONEHOF, the One-A-Year Hall of Fame that inducts the best of the best. Based on WAR, Appling was the best player ever in White Sox history. Yet there aren’t many who remember this great shortstop, so he’s getting his due on this page!

SS-Joe Cronin, Boston Red Sox, 34 Years Old

1930 1931 1932 1933 1938

518 AB, .311, 16 HR, 95 RBI, .311/.406/.508, 138 OPS+

WAR-4.8

WAR Position Players-4.8 (10th)

Offensive WAR-5.4 (6th)

All-Star-Yes (0-2, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 11

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1956)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1938)

Boston Red Sox

84-70, 2nd in AL

Manager Joe Cronin

Ballpark: Fenway Park (Hitter’s)

OPS+-108, 1st in league

ERA+-99, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Ted Williams, 10.4

Led in:

Sacrifice Hits-14

6th Time All-Star-Considering I do this page that bases its All-Star team primarily on WAR, I have very little understanding of the stat. I went back and looked at Cronin’s 1939 and 1940 seasons and both seasons he had Offensive WARs of 4.8 and Defensive WARs of 0.0 and 0.1 respectively and yet his overall WAR both seasons were 4.0 or below. What the WAR?! Because of that, Cronin didn’t make my list and is going to finish at six lists, which won’t be enough to put him in the ONEHOF.

                Wikipedia states, “As early as 1938, it was apparent that Cronin was nearing the end of his playing career. Red Sox farm director Billy Evans thought he had found Cronin’s successor in Pee Wee Reese, the star shortstop for the Louisville Colonels of the Triple-A American Association. He was so impressed by Reese that he was able to talk Yawkey into buying the Colonels and making them the Red Sox’ top farm club. However, when Yawkey and Evans asked Cronin to scout Reese, Cronin realized he was scouting his replacement. Believing that he was still had enough left to be a regular player, Cronin deliberately downplayed Reese’s talent and suggested that the Red Sox trade him. Reese was eventually traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he went on to a Hall of Fame career. As it turned out, Evans’ and Yawkey’s initial concerns about Cronin were valid. His last year as a full-time player was 1941; after that year, he never played more than 76 games per season.

                “In the last months of his life, Cronin struggled with cancer that had invaded his prostate and bones; he suffered a great deal of bone pain as a result. Cronin came to Fenway Park for one of his last public appearances when his jersey number 4 was retired by the Red Sox on May 29, 1984. He died at the age of 77 on September 7, 1984, at his home in Osterville, Massachusetts. He is buried in St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in nearby Centerville.”

SS-Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians, 23 Years Old

1940

579 AB, .257, 10 HR, 56 RBI, .257/.355/.415, 107 OPS+

WAR-4.8

Defensive WAR-1.6 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (2-2, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 17

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1970)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star teams. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Doubles-45

Sacrifice Hits-14

Putouts as SS-296

Fielding % as SS-.966 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Boudreau made this list for the second consecutive year and will have plenty more in the future. Next season, he’s going to overtake Joe Cronin as the American League’s best player-manager and he’ll eventually lead the Indians to a pennant. As for this season, Boudreau didn’t hit all that great, but flashed good leather and that’s why he’s here.

                Of course, as with many of these players, The Good Kid has a connection to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Wikipedia says, “Boudreau helped make history in 1941 as a key figure in stopping the 56-game hitting streak by Joe DiMaggio. After two sparkling stops by Keltner at third base on hard ground balls earlier in the game, Boudreau snagged a bad-hop grounder to short barehanded and started a double play retiring DiMaggio at first. He finished the season with a modest .257 batting average, but had a league-leading 45 doubles.”

                There would be no way of Boudreau knowing this season would be the last for a while in which he could focus purely on playing the game and not having to do double duty. Maybe if he did, he would have enjoyed it more. Either way, his life is going to change after this season and Cleveland will have one its all-time great skippers. We don’t have player-managers nowadays because managing has become too much work, what with having to employ shifts and account for the statistical probabilities of every situation. Of course, it was Boudreau who started the shifts but I’m getting ahead of myself!

               
LF-Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 22 Years Old

1939 1940

456 AB, .406, 37 HR, 120 RBI, .406/.553/.735, 235 OPS+

WAR-10.4

Wins Above Replacement-10.4 (1st)

WAR Position Players-10.4 (1st)

Offensive WAR-10.7 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (2-4, 1 HR, 1 2B)

MVP Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1966)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1941)

Team Stats

Led in:

1941 Major League Player of the Year

1941 AL Batting Title

Wins Above Replacement-10.4

WAR Position Players-10.4

Offensive WAR-10.7

Batting Average-.406

On-Base %-.553 (2nd Time)

Slugging %-.735

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.287

Runs Scored-135

Home Runs-37

Bases on Balls-147

Adjusted OPS+-235

Runs Created-183 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-104

Adj. Batting Wins-9.8

Times On Base-335 (2nd Time)

Offensive Win %-.914

Intentional Bases on Balls-25

AB per HR-12.3

Base-Out Runs Added-93.53

Win Probability Added-7.9

Situ. Wins Added-8.3

Base-Out Wins Added-8.7

Errors Committed as Lf-10

Double Plays Turned as LF-2

3rd Time All-Star-Just look at those stats above and give this season its due. It had been 11 years since any batter hit .400 and that was Bill Terry (.401) in 1930. It has now been 80 years since the Splendid Splinter batted .406 here in 1941 and who knows if it will ever happen again. It’s been 28 years since Tony Gwynn hit .394 in 1994 and no one has gotten close since.

                Bleacher Report fumes that Williams didn’t win the 1941 MVP, losing to Joe DiMaggio and his 56-game hitting streak. Well, I also gave my MVP to Joltin’ Joe, so I hope BR doesn’t hate me. The sports website makes good points, though, saying, “He did not win the MVP even though he refused to take a seat on the last day of the season, with a batting average of .39955, good enough for MLB to write in the record books as .400. He only went on to play both games of a double-header that day and batted a measly 6-for-8. I have a feeling there is a line in there somewhere about a true MVP putting the team ahead of the individual, even on the last day of a lost season.

“Don’t get me wrong—DiMaggio hit an awesome .408 during his 56-game hitting streak, but Williams hit .412 during that same stretch. In fact, he started his own hitting streak the same day DiMaggio began his, and Williams hit .489 during those 23 games.”

LF-Charlie Keller, New York Yankees, 24 Years Old

1940

507 AB, .298, 33 HR, 122 RBI, .298/.416/.580, 162 OPS+

WAR-6.7

Wins Above Replacement-6.7 (6th)

WAR Position Players-6.7 (4th)

Offensive WAR-5.9 (5th)

All-Star: Yes (0-1, K)

MVP Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 60 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-137

Putouts as LF-325

Double Plays Turned as LF-2

2nd Time All-Star-After two seasons at rightfield, Keller moved to leftfield this year and would remain there the rest of his career. He’s the first Yankee leftfielder to make this list since George Selkirk in 1939. New York sure had a lot of talented players at this time. Of course, a team can’t win the championship five out of six years if it didn’t have a boatload of talent.

                Wikipedia says, “His most productive season came in 1941, when he hit .298 and posted career-highs in home runs (33) and RBI (122), while also hitting 10 triples and 24 doubles, making it his first 30-20-10 season. “

                I’m not sure it was his most productive season, but this season and the next, 1942, are comparable. Keller’s problem is he’s going to have about five really good seasons and then a bunch of mediocre ones.

                This was Keller’s second World Series and after hitting .438 in the 1939 Series, he came back this year and smacked .389 (seven-for-18) with two doubles, five runs, and five RBI in helping the Yankees beat the Dodgers, 4-1.

                At 24 years old and what with hitting 33 homers this year, it certainly looked like Keller was off to a long and fruitful career. He was on the right team at the right time with the right skills. After three seasons, he is most similar in abilities to none other than Manny Ramirez. Baseball imitates life in that sense. There are people who have such bright futures, but the flame extinguishes quickly.

FILE–New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio follows through on a hit during a 6-4 exhibition win against the Cardinals at St. Petersburg, Fla., in this March 11, 1939 photo. Don Padgett is catching for the Cardinals. The Yankees center fielder captivated and inspired a nation coping with the Depression and World War II, and his fame endured and even grew after retirement in 1951. (AP Photo/File) ORG XMIT: NY226

CF-Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees, 26 Years Old, 1st MVP

1936 1937 1938 1939 1940

541 AB, .357, 30 HR, 125 RBI, .357/.440/.643, 185 OPS+

WAR-9.4

Wins  Above Replacment-9.4 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-9.4 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-8.6 (2nd)

Defensive WAR-0.7 (8th)

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 3 R, 1 2B)

MVP Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Team Stats

Led in:

1941 AL MVP (2nd Time)

Total Bases-348 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-125

Extra Base Hits-84

Championship WPA-11.1 (2nd Time)

Putouts as CF-377 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as CF-5 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as OF-5

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.83

6th Time All-Star-According to the baseball writers, DiMaggio earned his second MVP this year. According to me, it’s his first, because I gave the 1939 MVP to Bob Feller. According to many, he shouldn’t have won it this year because Ted Williams had such an incredible year. It’s a tough choice and I couldn’t resist DiMaggio’s marvelous 56-game hitting streak or the fact he led his team to its fifth championship in six years.

                In the World Series, Joltin’ Joe hit .263 (five-for-19) with just one RBI. Still, the Yankees beat the Dodgers, 4-1.

                On Joe DiMaggio’s fan page, there is a breakdown of his incredible hitting streak game by game. It says, “Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak began on this day [May 15] in 1941 with a humble RBI single against the Chicago White Sox.

                “Game 30: June 17, 1941

                “In what would be his final at-bat of the game, DiMaggio hit a grounder toward shortstop. Hall of Famer Luke Appling ranged to his left, glove down. Suddenly, the ball came up on Appling. Of that, the world is certain.

                “After a painful wait came the signal from [official scorer Dan] Daniel: ‘Hit,’ he flashed as the crowd roared.

                “Joe’s streak, however, had reached 30—a new Yankee record.

                “Game 45: July 2, 1941

                “On Newsome’s very next pitch, Joe made an adjustment. This time, with two runners on, DiMaggio hit a towering fly directly over Williams’ head. Ted turned and watched the ball sail into the bleachers as Willie Keeler and his 44-game hitting streak were eclipsed.

                “DiMaggio wouldn’t keep the fans in suspense. He went 3-for-4, scoring three times in a 10-3 New York rout. The streak now stood at 56 consecutive games with a hit.”

                I know the above is choppy so click on the link and read the whole thing. There’s a ton of information!

CF-Sam Chapman, Philadelphia Athletics, 25 Years Old

552 AB, .322, 25 HR, 106 RBI, .322/.378/.543, 144 OPS+

WAR-4.9

WAR Position Players-4.9 (9th)

Offensive WAR-4.7 (10th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 12

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Philadelphia Athletics

64-90, 8th in AL

Manager Connie Mack

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Hitter’s)

OPS+-94, 4th in league

ERA+-87, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Ben Chapman, 4.9

Led in:

Assists as CF-21

Errors Committed as CF-15 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as CF-5

Putouts as OF-416

Assists as OF-21

Errors Committed as OF-15

Double Plays Turned as OF-5

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-3.15 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-3.10

1st Time All-Star-Samuel Blake “Sam” Chapman was born on April 11, 1916 in Tiburon, CA. The six-foot, 180 pound righty centerfielder started with the Athletics in 1938 and was Philadelphia’s lone representative this year. This would be his last year before missing four seasons serving in the Navy and he’d never have another year this good.

                SABR says, “Chapman’s best season offensively was 1941, when he hit a career-high .322. Although Sam’s record was obscured that season by the legendary feats of Ted Williams (hitting .406 for the season) and Joe DiMaggio (hitting safely in 56 straight games), he placed fifth in the league in slugging percentage (.543) and fifth in total bases (300) while setting career highs with 25 home runs, 178 hits, 29 doubles, 9 triples, and 97 runs scored. He drove in 106 runs.

                “’That year was my proudest achievement in baseball,’ Chapman told the author more than 40 years later. ‘It was my fourth year in the major leagues, and I was just learning to play because I never had any minor-league experience. I hit some home runs and knocked in some runs. It was a good year for me.’

                “For his entire life, Chapman, who died at the age of 90 in 2006, retained some fond memories of having played in an era that was generally considered to be as exciting as any in baseball history.

                “In the long history of Philadelphia baseball, few players enjoyed such a loyal and enthusiastic following as the former A’s outfielder. He was a very special player and a very special person.”

RF-Tommy Henrich, New York Yankees, 28 Years Old

538 AB, .277, 31 HR, 85 RBI, .277/.377/.519, 136 OPS+

WAR-5.5

Wins Above Replacement-5.5 (8th)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (5th)

Offensive WAR-5.2 (7th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 14

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Putouts as RF-228

Fielding % as RF-.976

1st Time All-Star-Thomas David “Tommy” or “The Clutch” or “Old Reliable” Henrich was born on February 20, 1913 in Massillon, OH. The six-foot, 180 pound lefty rightfielder started with the Yanks in 1937 and this year came into his own. Just what the Pinstripers needed, another All-Star! All three outfielders for the Bronx Bombers made my list this year. Henrich is the first Yankee rightfielder to make my All-Star team since, well, Charlie Keller last season, but Keller moved to left to make room for The Clutch.

                Wikipedia wraps up his season and World Series, saying, “Henrich broke out with a 1941 season in which he had a career-high 31 homers – third in the AL behind Ted Williams and Keller – and was fifth in the league with 106 runs. Facing the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, he singled and scored in a 2-run eighth inning in Game 3, and New York hung on to win 2-1. But one of the most famous moments in postseason history occurred when he came to the plate with two out in the ninth inning of Game 4; Brooklyn had a 4-3 lead, one out away from tying the Series. Henrich swung at a full-count breaking curveball for strike three, but catcher Mickey Owen couldn’t handle the ball, which got past him; Henrich began to move toward first base almost as soon as he saw the ball had dropped sharply, and when he saw it get past Owen he took off running. DiMaggio then singled, and Keller doubled to score both runners and take the lead; Gordon later doubled to bring in two more runs, and the Yankees had a 7-4 victory and a 3-1 Series lead. Henrich had a solo home run in Game 5 as the Yankees took the game 3-1, and won another championship.”

RF-Jeff Heath, Cleveland Indians, 26 Years Old

1938

585 AB, .340, 24 HR, 123 RBI, .340/.396/.586, 162 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (10th)

WAR Position Players-5.3 (7th)

Offensive WAR-6.1 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (0-2, 1 BB, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 25 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Triples-20 (2nd Time)

Caught Stealing-12

Power-Speed #-20.6

Errors Committed as RF-11

Errors Committed as OF-15

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list as a leftfielder in 1938, Heath’s hitting fell tremendously and it didn’t look good for the lefty hitter. This season, Cleveland moved Heath to rightfield and he came back strong. He’s the first Indian rightfielder to make my list since Braggo Roth in 1917. So, of course, Cleveland moved him back to leftfield after this season.

                Wikipedia says, “The Indians finished the [1940] season with an 89–65 record in [Oscar] Vitt’s last season as manager and Heath a career-low .219 average. (sic) The Indians lost the AL pennant by one game to the Detroit Tigers and Heath received much of the blame, although Vitt was released as the team’s manager and replaced by Roger Peckinpaugh.

                “Peckinpaugh announced in December 1940 Heath would remain a starting outfielder with the club. Heath came back in 1941 with a season campaign in which he again led the AL with 20 triples, batted .340 (fourth in the league), and was third in slugging behind Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. He also finished second in total bases and RBIs (behind DiMaggio) as well as second in hits, made his first All-Star team, and finished eighth in the Most Valuable Player award voting. In 1941, Heath became the first player in American League history to record a 20-20-20 season. Heath had 32 doubles, 20 triples, and 24 home runs. This feat would not be equaled until George Brett accomplished the feat in 1979.”

                Would have you picked Heath as the last 20-20-20 man before Brett? I wouldn’t have!

1941 National League All-Star Team

P-Whit Wyatt, BRO

P-Bucky Walters, CIN

P-Elmer Riddle, CIN

P-Ernie White, STL

P-Claude Passeau, CHC

P-Jim Tobin, BSN

P-Johnny Vander Meer, CIN

P-Hal Schumacher, NYG

P-Cliff Melton, NYG

P-Paul Derringer, CIN

C-Harry Danning, NYG

C-Ernie Lombardi, CIN

1B-Dolph Camilli, BRO

1B-Elbie Fletcher, PIT

1B-Johnny Mize, STL

2B-Lonny Frey, CIN

3B-Stan Hack, CHC

3B-Jimmy Brown, STL

SS-Arky Vaughan, PIT, 1941 ONEHOF Inductee

SS-Billy Jurges, NYG

LF-Joe Medwick, BRO

LF-Danny Litwhiler, PHI

CF-Pete Reiser, BRO, 1st MVP

RF-Dixie Walker, BRO

RF-Mel Ott, NYG

P-Whit Wyatt, Brooklyn Dodgers, 33 Years Old

1939 1940

22-10, 2.34 ERA, 176 K, 159 ERA+, 2.77 FIP, 1.058 WHIP

.239, 3 HR, 22 RBI, .239/.272/.367, 75 OPS+

WAR-7.6

All-Star: Yes (2 IP, 0 R, 1 BB)

MVP Rank: 3

WAR Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Brooklyn Dodgers

100-54, 1st in NL, Lost 4-1 in WS to NYY

Manager Leo Durocher

Ballpark: Ebbets Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-107, 1st in league

ERA+-119, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Pete Reiser, 8.0

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-6.7

Wins-22

Walks & Hits per IP-1.058

Shutouts-7

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.146

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.77

Adj. Pitching Runs-43

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.7

Base-Out Runs Saved-50.47

Win Probability Added-4.8

Sit. Wins Saved-5.5

Championship WPA-26.7

Base-Out Wins Saved-5.6

3rd Time All-Star-It had been since 1920 the Dodgers (who were then the Robins) won the National League crown. In 1938, the Dodgers were in seventh place, so they hired a 33-year-old mouthy man named Leo Durocher, who brought them to third place in his first year, second place in his second year, and finally to first for the first time since ’20 this season. They lost to the Yankees, 4-1, but the Dodgers are going to be a team to be reckoned with going forward.

                Brooklyn did a good job of picking up outcasts from other teams, including this pitcher, who had his best year ever. He gave the Dodgers their only win in the Series, going 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA.

                SABR wraps up his season,

                “Wyatt’s 22 wins against 10 losses topped the National League and paced Brooklyn to the pennant and a cross-borough World Series against the Yankees. He was third, behind teammates Dolph Camilli and Pete Reiser, in the 1941 National League MVP vote.

                “On October 2, 1941, Wyatt pitched what he recalled as the highlight of his career. His 3-2 complete-game win in Game Two at Yankee Stadium snapped the Yankees’ ten-game World Series winning streak extending back to Game Five in 1937. ‘I was proud of that game. They had all those hitters and had won all those consecutive games in the World Series, and I beat them,’ he remembered in the Smith interview.

                “With the Dodgers on the verge of elimination, Wyatt came back with another strong effort in Game Five but was bested, 3-1, as Brooklyn managed only four hits. One of them was Wyatt’s third-inning double that led to the Dodgers’ only run.”

P-Bucky Walters, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1936 1939 1940

19-15, 2.83 ERA, 129 K, 127 ERA+, 3.13 FIP, 1.258 WHIP

.189, 0 HR, 9 RBI, .189/.239/.245, 37 OPS+

WAR-7.0

All-Star: Yes (2 IP, 3 H, 1 R)

MVP Rank: 28

WAR Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Cincinnati Reds

88-66, 3rd in NL

Manager Bill McKechnie

Ballpark: Crosley Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-83, 8th in league

ERA+-114, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Bucky Walters, 7.0

Led in:

Innings Pitched-302 (3rd Time)

Complete Games-27 (3rd Time)

Hits Allowed-292

4th Time All-Star-After winning two straight National League titles and then the World Championship in 1940, the Reds declined a bit due to a lack of hitting. You’ll notice above they finished dead last in team OPS+. They did have marvelous pitching, however, as four of their hurlers are going to make this list. The first of them is this two-time Ron’s Most Valuable Player, Walters. He declined a bit, too, though not as much as the MVP voters would indicate. He finished 28th in MVP votes despite finishing third in WAR.

                Walters is going to make it into my Hall of Fame for sure, though he fell short of Cooperstown. He received voted 15 times, with the highest percentage he received being 23.7 in 1968. There is a webpage called buckywalters.org that says to “Help us get Bucky to the National Baseball HALL OF FAME…”

                It starts,

                “My Name is Jeffrey Walters, grandson of William H.””Bucky”” Walters. Several years ago I began a personal quest to accumulate information on the career of my late grandfather. I was amazed at the extent of his career and now pursue the introduction of Bucky Walters as a prospective 2003 veteran inductee into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame at Cooperstown.” A modest man, my grandfather never discussed his career. I never realized the legacy of my grandfather… now that I am older, I know he preferred it that way.”

                I don’t know the last time this page was updated, but he’s certainly got my support. That should help him!

P-Elmer Riddle, Cincinnati Reds, 26 Years Old

19-4, 2.24 ERA, 80 K, 161 ERA+, 3.29 FIP, 1.103 WHIP

.225, 0 HR, 9 RBI, .225/.257/.282, 52 OPS+

WAR-6.2

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 5

WAR Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 23 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

1941 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.24

Win-Loss %-.826

Adjusted ERA+-161

Fielding % as P-1.000

1st Time All-Star-Elmer Ray Riddle was born on July 31, 1914 in Columbus, GA. The five-foot-11, 170 pound righty pitcher started with the Reds in 1939. In the 1940 World Series, which Cincinnati won, he pitched one inning, allowing no runs and striking out two. This year was his best year ever as can be seen from his stats above.

                Wikipedia wraps up this season and his life, saying,

                “Riddle began 1941 in the Reds’ bullpen, but on June 15 he was given a starting assignment against the New York Giants, and hurled a complete game victory. It was the first of seven straight complete game wins, including two shutouts. The day the skein ended, July 23 against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Riddle had an unblemished 11–0 won-lost record and a sterling 2.14 ERA. Riddle went on to win eight of his final 12 decisions, and, although the Reds fell to third in the standings, he ranked fifth in the polling for the 1941 National League Most Valuable Player Award. After a disappointing 1942 season, Riddle bounced back in 1943 by winning 21 of 32 decisions for Cincinnati, tying him with Rip Sewell and Mort Cooper for the most victories in the Majors.

                “For his MLB career, Riddle appeared in 190 games, compiling a 65–52 career record and 3.40 ERA in 1,023 innings pitched, with 342 strikeouts, 57 complete games and 13 shutouts. He allowed 974 hits and 458 bases on balls.

                “Riddle died in his hometown, Columbus, at the age of 69.”

P-Ernie White, St. Louis Cardinals, 24 Years Old

17-7, 2.40 ERA, 117 K, 158 ERA+, 3.38 FIP, 1.138 WHIP

.190, 0 HR, 10 RBI, .190/.220/.241, 26 OPS+

WAR-5.5

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 6

WAR Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 38 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Cardinals

97-56, 2nd in NL

Manager Billy Southworth

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-96, 4th in league

ERA+-119, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Ernie White, 5.5

1st Time All-Star-Ernest Daniel “Ernie” White was born on September 5, 1916 in Pacolet Mills, SC. The five-foot-11, 175 pound righty throwing, lefty hitting pitcher started with St. Louis in 1940 and then had this, his best season ever. According to WAR, he was the Cardinals’ best player this year, even better than Johnny Mize.

                We again turn to Wikipedia to fill in the blanks of White’s life and career. It says,

                “White pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 3 of the 1942 World Series, defeating the New York Yankees 2–0 at Yankee Stadium, as the Cardinals beat New York in five games in the only World Series ever lost by the Yanks during Joe McCarthy’s 15+-year term as manager. During the previous season, 1941, White enjoyed his best campaign, winning 17 of 24 decisions, compiling an ERA of 2.40, and finishing sixth in the NL Most Valuable Player poll.

                “White served in the U.S. Army during World War II missing the 1944–45 seasons. While in Europe he participated in the Battle of the Bulge.

                “Because of a sore arm, White pitched in only one game and four innings for the 1947 Braves, and spent most of that campaign as a coach on the staff of Boston manager Billy Southworth. But he was able to return to the mound for 15 games and 23 innings with Boston’s 1948 NL championship team before embarking on a 15-year (1949–62; 1964) career as a minor league manager in the farm systems of the Boston/Milwaukee Braves, Cincinnati RedsKansas City Athletics, Yankees and New York Mets, winning three league championships.

                “White died in Augusta, Georgia, at the age of 57 from complications following knee surgery.”

P-Claude Passeau, Chicago Cubs, 32 Years Old

1936 1937 1939 1940

14-14, 3.35 ERA, 80 K, 104 ERA+, 3.22 FIP, 1.359 WHIP

.221, 3 HR, 12 RBI, .221/.239/.349, 67 OPS+

WAR-4.3

All-Star: Yes (L, BS, 2 2/3 IP, 5 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Chicago Cubs

70-84, 6th in NL

Manager Jimmie Wilson

Ballpark: Wrigley Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-98, 3rd in league

ERA+-94, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Stan Hack, 5.9

5th Time All-Star-Every time I write up Passeau, I’m amazed at how good of ballplayer he was. He didn’t get one Hall of Fame vote, but he’s going to make my Hall of Fame as he could end up making this list eight times. Though all he’s remembered for this season is a terrible All-Star game in which he gave up the game-winning homer to Ted Williams.

                SABR has more on that, stating,

                “’Passeau is undoubtedly the most underrated flinger in the loop’ wrote Dan Daniel of the New York World-Telegram in 1941. He was the Cubs’ only reliable starter. Passeau’s record dropped to 14-14, but he led the staff in practically every meaningful pitching category. One of the best hitting pitchers of his generation (a .192 average with 15 home runs and 80 RBIs for his career) Passeau clouted his only grand slam — off his nemesis Casey — and a career-best five runs batted in on May 19 in a complete-game drubbing of the Dodgers, 14-1.

                “Passeau was named to the first of five All-Star squads in 1941 and was involved in one of the midsummer classic’s greatest moments. Just two days before the All-Star Game, he tossed a complete game on two days’ rest and arrived in Detroit feeling the effects of overwork. Passeau entered the game in the seventh inning. With two outs and two men on in the ninth, Ted Williams victimized Passeau by launching a dramatic walk-off home run at Briggs Stadium to give the AL an exciting 7-5 victory.”

P-Jim Tobin, Boston Braves, 28 Years Old

12-12, 3.10 ERA, 61 K, 114 ERA+, 3.56 FIP, 1.214 WHIP

.184, 0 HR, 9 RBI, .184/.257/.233, 42 OPS+

WAR-4.2

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 21

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Braves

62-92, 7th in NL

Manager Casey Stengel

Ballpark: Braves Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-87, 6th in league

ERA+-90, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Jim Tobin, 4.2

Led in:

Assists as P-71

Range Factor/Game as P-2.61

1st Time All-Star-James Anthony “Jim” or “Abba Dabba” Tobin was born on December 27, 1912 in Oakland, CA. The six-foot, 185 pound righty pitcher started with Pittsburgh in 1937. After the 1939 season, he was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates with cash to the Boston Bees for Johnny Lanning. He became a regular starter this year for the Braves. By the way, sometime between 1940 and 1941, the Bees became the Braves once again. It will never change again (through 2021).

                SABR has a lot to say about the knuckler’s 1941 season. Here’s just a taste:

                “Tobin’s late-season success raised the ante in 1941. Once called the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ by Boston sportswriter Howell Stevens as much for his husky frame as for his unflappable presence on the mound, Tobin unexpectedly struggled while opponents teed off on his flat knuckler. With a 2-4 record and 5.27 ERA, Tobin was relegated to mop-up duty in June and fared no better. ‘Jim was pitching for his job,’ suggested beat reporter Jack Malaney when he took the mound in the second contest of a July 4 twin bill against the Philadelphia Phillies in Boston. Ignoring rumors of his imminent trade or demotion to the minors, Tobin responded with a gem, a two-hit shutout, to commence what Howell Stevens described as ‘one of the most astounding’ pitching stretches in recent Braves history. Tobin, whom the Boston press playfully called Abba Dabba and Shamus (a nod to his Irish descent), as well as Old Ironsides, completed 17 of 18 starts with a stellar 2.27 ERA in 174⅓ innings.”    

                Read the whole thing.

P-Johnny Vander Meer, Cincinnati Reds, 26 Years Old

1938

16-13, 2.82 ERA, 202 K, 128 OPS+, 3.02 FIP, 1.317 WHIP

.132, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .132/.154/.145, -16 OPS+

WAR-4.0

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Hits per 9 IP-6.840 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-8.032

Strikeouts-202

2nd Time All-Star-After Vander Meer made this list in 1938 due to pitching two consecutive no-hitters, he then had two difficult seasons in 1939 and 1940. According to Wikipedia,

                “After his impressive rookie season, Vander Meer had a disappointing 1939 season, when he fell ill during spring training, and then suffered an injury when he slipped on a wet pitching mound in Pittsburgh. He posted a 5–9 record and an earned run average of 4.67. Early in the 1940 season, he began to experience problems controlling the accuracy of his pitches. In June, the Reds released him back to the minor leagues where he played for the Indianapolis Indians and went 6–4. He returned to the major leagues in September and posted a 3–1 record, including a 12-inning victory against Philadelphia on September 18, that clinched the National League pennant for the Reds…In the 1940 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Vander Meer made only one appearance when he entered Game 5 in the fifth inning with the Reds trailing 7–0. He pitched three scoreless innings as the Reds lost 8–0. It would be the only post-season appearance of Vander Meer’s career.”

                That brings us to this season, which I again lazily leave to the Internet encyclopedia:

                “In 1941, Vander Meer’s performance improved somewhat with a 16–12 record and six shutouts while leading the league with 202 strikeouts. On June 6, 1941 in a game against Philadelphia, he allowed only one hit. Vander Meer later recalled that the only hit in the game could have been ruled an error, as shortstop Eddie Joost fielded the ground ball, then dropped it before throwing to first base.”

P-Hal Schumacher, New York Giants, 30 Years Old

1933 1935

12-10, 3.36 ERA, 63 K, 110 ERA+, 3.97 FIP, 1.291 WHIP

.152, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .152/.222/.167, 10 OPS+

WAR-4.0

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Giants

74-79, 5th in NL

Manager Bill Terry

Ballpark: Polo Grounds V (Hitter’s)

OPS+-94, 5th in league

ERA+-94, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Mel Ott, 4.8

3rd Time All-Star-After last making my list in 1935, Schumacher continued to be a steady starting pitcher for the Giants, just not a great one. Still, he helped guide his team to the 1936 and 1937 World Series, both of which the Giants lost to the Yankees. Prince Hal didn’t fare too well in those campaigns, going   1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in 1936 and 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in 1937.

                This will most likely be Schumacher’s last season on my list, so I want to wrap it up with a story from Bill James Online. Well, part of a story. To set it up, James is doing some Mythbusting on a story from Rob Neyer. You have to click on the link and read the whole thing, including Neyer’s version. Here’s James’ research:                    

“It was indeed a Giants-Cardinals game in St. Louis, and Hal Schumacher was pitching. In the fourth inning, the Giants led 3-2, but the Cardinals had men on first and second. Jimmy Brown (not Johnny Mize) was batting. The Times game story relates, ‘Umpire Klem, officiating behind the plate, suddenly turned away and walked off to address some pointed remarks in the direction of the Cardinal dugout. But Schumacher, noticing this too late, went through with his delivery anyway, only to see his pitch hammered to right for a single by Brown to drive in another run.’                        

                “The Giants protested, of course, but Klem said that the hit was legal. This was in spite of the fact that he’d had his back to the play. ‘Making no impression upon Klem,’ reports the Times, the Giants ‘turned upon Ziggy Sears, the first base umpire, who, by reason of listening to a lengthy discourse, seemed to indicate he agreed with them. But Klem refused to be budged…’”

                Like I said, read the whole thing. It’s great!

                Schumacher died on April 21, 1993 in Cooperstown, NY at the age of 82.

P-Cliff Melton, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1937

8-11, 3.01 ERA, 100 K, 123 ERA+, 3.54 FIP, 1.245 WHIP

.115, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .115/.143/.115, -27 OPS+

WAR-3.5

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

2nd Time All-Star-After a remarkable rookie year in 1937, the last time Melton made my list, he declined a bit over the next few seasons. His innings pitched kept dropping and even this year, he pitched just under 200 frames. He would come back and be an All-Star in 1942 and then decline and be out of the game by 1944.

                SABR summarizes his career and life, stating,

                “Richard Kucner of the Baltimore News-American asked in an October 1969 Baseball Digest article: ‘Was [Melton] a flash-in-the-pan or a good pitcher with the misfortune of being a tough-luck loser?’ ‘Tough-luck loser’ is a misleading characterization. Cliff Melton did encounter adversity over much of his career and, on balance, may have been better off without the screwball, since by all accounts he had his 1937 success without it. But rather than a ‘loser,’ he was a gritty competitor. While he did indeed lose games–often complete games pitched through pain–he persevered for eight seasons in the major leagues and five more in the post-war Pacific Coast League, always trying to improve himself, ready to take the ball when his spot in the rotation came up or when he was needed in relief. The 1937 season that lifted hope wasn’t a ‘flash-in-the-pan.’ It was pure Cliff Melton, for one season unhampered by all that had, and would, haunt so much of his pitching career.

                “Cliff and Mary Angela stayed in Baltimore. He watched Cliff Jr., quarterback the Baltimore City College football team, played as much golf as he could fit in, and worked until retirement for a lumber company operated by Lou Grasmick, a teammate with the 1950 Seals. He died of cancer on July 28, 1986, in Baltimore. He was 74 years old.”

P-Paul Derringer, Cincinnati Reds, 34 Years Old

1934 1938 1939

12-14, 3.31 ERA, 76 K, 109 ERA+, 3.62 FIP, 1.257 WHIP

.155, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .155/.155/.167, -9 OPS+

WAR-3.4

All-Star: Yes (2 IP, 2 H, 1 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

4th Time All-Star-Do you remember the last time four pitchers from one team made my list? If you do, you should go on Jeopardy, because it was a long time ago. Nap Rucker, Doc Scanlan, Cy Barger, and George Bell all made my list from the 1910 Brooklyn Superbas. I went back and looked at my write-up of that season and apparently four pitchers making my list from the same squad didn’t impress me, because I never made a comment about it. Sorry I gave you the short shrift, Superbas!

                Wikipedia will wrap up his career by saying,

                “In 1940 he was 20–12 with a 3.06 ERA and 115 strikeouts, and threw a pair of one-hitters, as Cincinnati repeated as NL champions; he finished fourth in the MVP voting, with first baseman Frank McCormick taking the trophy for the Reds for the third year in a row (Ernie Lombardi had won it in 1938). Derringer finally broke his run of bad breaks in the 1940 World Series against the Detroit Tigers; after losing Game 1 by a 7–2 score, he rebounded with complete game wins in Games 4 and 7. Walters contributed two other victories as the team won its second title, and first since 1919.

                “Derringer slipped to marks of 12–14 and 10–11 in 1941 and 1942, though he was named to his fourth and fifth consecutive All-Star teams. In January 1943 his contract was sold to the Chicago Cubs, and he had seasons of 10–14 and 7–13 in 1943 and 1944 before having one last excellent campaign.

                “In 1958 Derringer was named a founding inductee into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. He died in Sarasota, Florida at age 81.”        

C-Harry Danning, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1939 1940

.244, 7 HR, 56 RBI, .244/.292/.355, 80 OPS+

WAR-1.4

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

MVP Rank: 35

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Putouts as C-530 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as C-5.23 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-When I wrote up Danning last year, I mentioned his wife lost twin boys during childbirth and it affected the rest of his 1940 season. Judging by his stats this year, he still wasn’t completely over it, though in a season bereft of good catchers, Danning still was the best in the National League based on WAR.

                Let’s see what SABR has to say about Danning’s All-Star Game appearance, shall we?

                “In his fourth and final All-Star Game in 1941, Danning replaced Al Lopez behind the plate in the seventh inning. The National Leaguers took a 5-3 lead into the ninth. Right-hander Claude Passeau gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out before Joe DiMaggio grounded into a force-out to narrow the lead to one run.

                “As the cocky ‘Kid’ Ted Williams brought his .405 batting average to the plate, manager Bill McKechnie gathered his catcher and infielders around Passeau. The venerable left-hander Carl Hubbell was in the bullpen, but not warmed up. With two away and runners at first and third, there was an open base, but the Book says never to put the winning run in scoring position, and McKechnie managed by the Book. Passeau pitched to Williams.

                “Williams mashed a 2-1 fastball far into the upper deck at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium. As he frolicked around the bases with the game-winning home run, the press-box managers were second-guessing McKechnie, but Danning never did, at least not publicly.”

                I wonder what Williams’ batting average ended up being this season?

C-Ernie Lombardi, Cincinnati Reds, 33 Years Old

1932 1935 1936 1938 1939 1940

.264, 10 HR, 60 RBI, .264/.325/.374, 97 OPS+

WAR-1.0

All-Star: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1986)

ONEHOF: No

Ron’s: No. (Would require one more All-Star season. 1 percent chance)

Led in:

Passed Balls-16 (9th Time)

7th Time All-Star-I wrote a few years back Lombardi would have to catch some breaks to make my Hall of Fame. He caught one of them this season, which leaves him just one season short. What was that break? There were a lack of good catchers in the National League this season and Lombardi made my list with just a 1.0 WAR. It was his worst hitting year thus far in his career if judged by OPS+ or any of the three slash categories above. He would come back as a hitter in 1942 and my guess is he’s finally going to make my Hall. Depending on the other catchers in the league, he could also make it in 1945 or 1946. Maybe putting his Hall of Fame plaque as his picture on this page will inspire him to bear down and give it his all and many other clichés.

                One of the things I didn’t know about Lombardi, despite this being my seventh write-up for him is he interlocked his hands on the bat like a golfer. Lombardi’s Hall of Fame page says,

                “Nothing about Lombardi was conventional, including his batting grip: He held the baseball bat like a golf club, interlocking his hands. There was no reason to ever change to a more conventional grip, because Lombardi was able to rip line drives like few before or since.

                “He had to hit scorching line drive – because that was about the only way he could get a hit. Lombardi hit .306 for his career even though teams could play him deeper than anyone else in the game. Infielders knew Lombardi’s lack of speed would give them time to get the ball to first from deep in the hole or even from the shallow part of the outfield. Infielders kept moving farther back against Lombardi, buying time to try to handle his line drives.”

1B-Dolph Camilli, Brooklyn Dodgers, 34 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939 1940

.285, 34 HR, 120 RBI, .285/.407/.556, 164 OPS+

WAR-6.8

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 1

WAR Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. 50 percent chance)

Led in:

1941 NL MVP

Home Runs-34

Runs Batted In-120

Strikeouts-115 (4th Time)

Runs Created-118

Adj. Batting Runs-48

Adj. Batting Wins-4.9

AB per HR-15.6

Base-Out Runs Added-71.10

Situ. Wins Added-5.4

Championship WPA-25.6 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Wins Added-7.0

6th Time All-Star-There is a lot of complaining about Most Valuable Player awards nowadays. People say they’re given only to players from winning teams without considering their stats. It happens less frequently now because we have all of the modern stats, but it certainly occurred a lot in the days of Dolph Camilli. He won the National League MVP while playing for the pennant-winning Dodgers. In the last three seasons, both the AL and NL chose MVPs from the team that took the crown. I have picked someone just four times with just Bob Feller’s two MVPs (as picked by yours truly) going against the grain.

                I’m not saying Camilli shouldn’t have won the MVP, he did have his best season ever, and the truth is I picked his teammate, Pete Reiser. I just think in these days writers looked at the team a player played on and batting average. It’s been since 1936 that a pitcher was picked.

                SABR wraps up Camilli’s MVP season, saying,

                “His 34 home runs led the National League in 1941, as did his 120 RBIs. He was indeed an important part of the push to the pennant, part of why he was named for a second time to the All-Star team and was voted the league MVP.

                “Manager Leo Durocher once described Camilli as ‘a quiet gentle man who was as strong as an ox.’ 

                “Camilli played in each game of the 1941 World Series, taken by the Yankees in five, but only hit .167 – three hits in 18 at-bats. He struck out six times, and drove in just one run.”

1B-Elbie Fletcher, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old

1938 1940

.288, 11 HR, 74 RBI, .288/.421/.457, 147 OPS+

WAR-5.9

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 14

WAR Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Pittsburgh Pirates

81-73, 4th in NL

Manager Frankie Frisch

Ballpark: Forbes Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-99, 2nd in league

ERA+-105, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Elbie Fletcher, 5.9

Led in:

On-Base %-.421 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-118 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-118 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-10.72 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.34 (4th Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Fletcher is the first Pirate other than Arky Vaughan to lead the team in WAR since 1932 when Paul Waner reigned. Waner and Vaughan are two of the all-time greats while Fletch had a good stretch but would fade quickly. Thanks to his ability to draw the base on ball, this was Fletcher’s best season ever.

                Fletcher’s .421 on-base percentage made it the second of three straight years he’d lead the National League in this category. Pittsburgh, thanks to Fletcher and Vaughan, led in this category quite a bit during this time, as a player from the Pirates led in OBP six of nine years between 1934 and 1942. Ralph Kiner would lead the NL in OBP in 1951 and that’d be the last time until Barry Bonds in 1991.

                I didn’t mention this last season, but Fletcher’s 119 walks in 1940, along with Dolph Camilli’s 119 walks in 1938, were the most since Jimmy Sheckard’s 122 in 1912. Sheckard made five of my lists and fell just short of making my Hall of Fame. Sheckard’s 147 walks in 1911 were the record until Babe Ruth came along in 1920 with 150 free passes.

                The point is players didn’t see the value of drawing walks back here in the ‘40s that they do now. Only three players – Fletcher, Camilli, and Mel Ott drew 100 walks in the National League this year, with one other player having 90.  In 2019, the last full year in the Majors, there were four players in the National League drawing 100 or more bases on balls with another three players having 90 or more.

1B-Johnny Mize, St. Louis Cardinals, 28 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939 1940

.317, 16 HR, 100 RBI, .317/.406/.535, 156 OPS+

WAR-5.3

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 1 R, 1 2B)

MVP Rank: 9

WAR Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1981)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1940)

Led in:

Intentional Bases on Balls-16

6th Time All-Star-Mize had been rising steadily in the home run category over the last few years with consecutive totals from 1936-40 being 19, 25, 27, 28, and 43. He missed a few games this year, but that doesn’t explain why his home run total dipped to 16. However, it might explain why it’s his last year with the Cardinals.

                SABR says of this season, “In 1941, with most of the Gas House Gang gone, the Cardinals made a serious run at the National League pennant, winning 97 games, but finishing 2½ games behind Brooklyn, which won its first flag since 1920. As it turned out, rookie Stan Musial joined the Cardinals for the final two weeks of the season, batting .426 in 12 games. Mize, who missed the end of the season with a bum leg, complained, ‘We might have gone ahead and won the pennant’ if Rickey had brought Musial up sooner.”

                I’ll have more on Mize’s trade to New York next season, but that trade happened on Dec 11, 1941, so it while it was big it didn’t garner the press it could have. Four days previously, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, entering the United States into World War II. It would change a whole generation of lives in America and that included baseball lives.

                I’m sure the war and the havoc it wreaked will be mentioned a lot by me in the next few years. It’s a good reminder that baseball is just a game, a diversion, to give us a distraction from the troubles of the world.

2B-Lonny Frey, Cincinnati Reds, 30 Years Old

1935 1939 1940

.254, 6 HR, 59 RBI, .254/.345/.359, 98 OPS+

WAR-4.6

All-Star: Yes (1-1, CS)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. 67 percent chance)

Led in:

Def. Games as 2B-145 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.970

4th Time All-Star-Back in 1939 when the Reds won the National League pennant, all four infielders – Frank McCormick, Frey, Billy Werber, and Billy Myers – all made my list. Here in 1941, it’s down to just Frey. It’s how quickly the game can change and it also helps explain why the Reds didn’t win the pennant this year. They had great pitching but terrible hitting. The Reds had four pitchers make the list and just Ernie Lombardi and Frey make it as position players.

                Frey has been the NL representative at second base on my list for the last three years and baseball has agreed for two of them. Who are the other top second basemen in the league at this time? Well, there is Billy Herman, who got traded from the Cubs to the Dodgers this season. Herman is a five-time member of this list. He’s a better hitter, but not a better overall player than Frey.

                My favorite, however, might be Creepy Crespi of the Cardinals. He had his first full year this season and actually finished 18th in the MVP voting. According to Wikipedia, when asked how he got the nickname Creepy, Crespi answered, “Well, it’s an involved thing…I used to hear a lot of different stories. But I think the best one is (from) some sportswriter. He said the way I creep up on a ball, because I run low to the ground after a ground ball.”

                You might want to read the whole Wikipedia article as it talks about a leg injury he picked up in the army and all the disasters that beset that leg afterwards.

3B-Stan Hack, Chicago Cubs, 31 Years Old

1934 1935 1936 1938 1940

.317, 7 HR, 45 RBI, .317/.417/.427, 142 OPS+

WAR-5.9

All-Star: Yes (1-2, 1 BB, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 12

WAR Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1941)

Led in:

Plate Appearances-694 (3rd Time)

Hits-186 (2nd Time)

Singles-141

Times On Base-286 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 3B-150 (5th Time)

6th Time All-Star-Welcome to Ron’s Hall of Fame, Smilin’ Stan! He is the 120th player I’ve admitted and the sixth third baseman, joining Home Run Baker, Jimmy Collins, Larry Gardner, Heinie Groh, and Deacon White. (Note: I have White inducted as a third baseman, but his best years came as a catcher.) Third base has less representatives in my Hall than any other position. Hack, Gardner, and Groh have not made Cooperstown as of yet. Go here to see the full list and links. It’s a longshot for him to make the ONEHOF, but it’s not impossible.

                A website called This Day in Chicago Cubs History has a nice write-up of why Hack is underrated. Here’s some of it:

                “There have been 116 Cubs hitters to produce a season of 5.0 WAR or higher (at the end of the 2017 MLB season).  Stan Hack has 5 of those.  Only 8 Cubs hitters have 5 or more seasons of 5.0+ WAR.

  • Ron Santo                8
  • Sammy Sosa            7
  • Cap Anson               7
  • Billy Williams         5
  • Ernie Banks             5
  • Ryne Sandberg        5
  • Stan Hack                5
  • Hack Wilson            5

Only Stan Hack & Sammy Sosa are not in the Hall of Fame.

                “Until Kris Bryant plays a few more years with the Cubs, Stan Hack is really the only Cubs 3B in team history that you can compare closely with Ron Santo.  The numbers below are Ron Santo & Stan Hacks career stats with the Cubs only from Fangraphs.com.  Santo’s additional 400+ plate appearances, significant advantage in home runs (337 to 57) and better defense accounts for WAR comparison of 71.9 to 55.8 for Santo over Hack, however WAR is a cumulative statistic.    WRC+ is a very good measure of a hitters overall offensive value and accounts for how the hitter compared to others of his own era (A WRC+ of 100 indicates that a player is league average).  Santo only has a slight advantage over Hack with a 128 WRC+ to Hack’s 124.”

3B-Jimmy Brown, St. Louis Cardinals, 31 Years Old

.306, 3 HR, 56 RBI, .306/.363/.406, 110 OPS+

WAR-4.2

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No

1st Time All-Star-James Roberson “Jimmy” Brown (I feel good!) was born on April 25, 1910 in Jamesville, NC. The five-foot-eight, 165 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing infielder started with the Cardinals in 1937 as a second baseman, moved to shortstop in 1939, back to second in 1940, and played his only regular year at third this season. That’s what it took to get him on this list. He’s the 1,063rd player on my list and the 96th third baseman. He’s the first Cardinal third baseman to make my list since Pepper Martin in 1933.

Wikipedia wraps up his life and career, saying,

“After a decent season in 1940, he came back with another great year in 1941, tying a career high in triples with 9, earning a career high batting average with .306, and finishing 4th in MVP voting. This, however, was still not enough to earn an all-star appearance. In 1942 he managed to earn his lone all-star appearance and finish 13th in MVP voting. Despite this and leading the league in at-bats with 606, his batting average dipped to .256, a career low. Despite this, during the 1942 World Series, he led all Cardinals’ hitters in batting average with .300 en route to their World Series victory.

“Brown enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces after playing 34 games during the 1943 season. When World War II ended, his contract was sold for $30,000 on January 5, 1946, to the Pittsburgh Pirates; he played the 1946 season as a utility infielder before being released by the Pirates on November 15.

                “After leaving Boston in 1952, he was a manager for minor league teams in the farm systems of the Cardinals, Braves and Cincinnati Reds. He died December 29, 1977 in Bath, North Carolina.”

SS-Arky Vaughan, Pittsburgh Pirates, 29 Years Old, 1941 ONEHOF Inductee

1932193319341935193619371938 1939 1940

.316, 6 HR, 38 RBI, .316/.399/.455, 140 OPS+

WAR-4.8

All-Star: Yes (3-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI)

MVP Rank: 35

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1941)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1985)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1935)

10th Time All-Star-Vaughan is one of the great underrated players of all time, but on this site. He already made my Hall of Fame six seasons ago and this season becomes the ninth shortstop inducted into the One-A-Year Hall of Fame (ONEHOF), a separate place of honor for the all-time greats. Vaughan is the first shortstop to be inducted since 1914. He joins fellow shortstops George Wright (inducted in 1876), Jack Glasscock (1890), John Ward (1896), George Davis (1904), Bill Dahlen (1905), Honus Wagner (1906), Bobby Wallace (1907), Joe Tinker (1914). Click on the link above for the whole list and links to these players. I have him rated as the 27th greatest player of all-time through 1941.Next year’s ONEHOF nominees are Gabby Hartnett, Bill Dickey, Bill Terrry, and Mickey Cochrane.

                SABR mentions he missed a lot of playing time this year due a spike wound and a concussion from being plunked in an exhibition game. It also summarizes his great All-Star Game, saying,

                “Despite his drop in production, Vaughan was again selected as the starting shortstop for the National League All-Star team. In the All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Vaughan had perhaps his most memorable performance. After getting a single early in the contest, he homered in the seventh with a man on base, putting the National League ahead, 3–2. In the next inning, Vaughan hit his second successive two-run homer, raising the National League’s lead to 5–2. Vaughan appeared to be the day’s hero until Ted Williams of the Red Sox won the game for the American League, 7–5, with a dramatic ninth-inning, three-run homer.”

SS-Billy Jurges, New York Giants, 33 Years Old

1933

.293, 5 HR, 61 RBI, .293/.361/.386, 109 OPS+

WAR-4.0

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

2nd Time All-Star-Since making my list in 1933, Jurges continued playing through 1938 with the Cubs and even made the All-Star team in 1937. The reason he didn’t make my All-Star team is a lack of bat, though he continued to be a dazzling fielder, even leading the National League in Defensive WAR in 1935. After the ’38 season, Jurges was  traded by the Chicago Cubs with Frank Demaree and Ken O’Dea to the New York Giants for Dick BartellHank Leiber and Gus Mancuso. He then made the NL All-Star team in 1939 and 1940. He’s the first Giant shortstop to make my list since Bartell in 1938.

                I do a lot of copy and pasting from SABR because it has already done so much research and its writers put me to shame. Well, so do most writers, but the point is when I put a link to a SABR article on my page, you should also click it and read all of the details they have because I don’t have enough room for all of it. For instance, I’m going to put a short clip about Jurges’ temper here, but there’s sooooo much more on the page itself. Anyway, SABR says,

                “Jurges’ biggest ruckus took place on July 15, 1939, with Jurges playing in his first year with the Giants. With the Giants leading the Reds 4-3 in the eighth inning and a runner on first, Harry Craft hit a line drive into the stands down the left-field line. Home-plate umpire Lee Ballafant called the shot fair – a home run, but the whole Giants team protested. First-base umpire George Magerkurth came to Ballafant’s support and found himself face-to-face with an angry Billy Jurges. These two contestants, neither involved directly in the play or the call, disputed the hardest and received the most severe recriminations. They faced off, each loosely sloshing tobacco juice. Billy let some wetness fly in the ump’s direction, then took a blow from Magerkurth and returned one of his own. The terrific row that ensued left three Giants, including Jurges, expelled. ‘I’ve knocked out a few pitchers in my day,’ said Craft, ‘but that was the first time I ever knocked out a ballclub.’ Reds starting pitcher Johnny Vander Meer later said, ‘Jurges was right. The ball was foul by 15 feet.’”

Brooklyn Didgers Joe Medwick taking batting practice, 1942

LF-Joe Medwick, Brooklyn Dodgers, 29 Years Old

1933 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939

.318, 18 HR, 88 RBI, .318/.364/.517, 141 OPS+

WAR-4.4

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1968)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Led in:

Fielding % as LF-.983 (5th Time)

7th Time All-Star-During the 1940 season, the Hall of Famer Medwick was Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Curt Davis to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Carl DoyleBert HaasErnie KoySam Nahem and $125,000. It’s rare a player of Medwick’s caliber was traded in those days, but it really helped the Dodgers, who won the National League pennant. In the World Series, which Brooklyn lost to the Yankees, 4-1, Medwick hit .235 (four-for-17) with a double. He’s the first Brooklyn player to make the list at leftfield since Lefty O’Doul in 1932.

                Wikipedia puts a bow on his career, stating,

                “Medwick helped lead the Dodgers to a pennant in 1941, but had lost much of his dominance. He was traded to the New York Giants in 1943. During a USO tour by a number of players in 1944, Medwick was among several individuals given an audience by Pope Pius XII, who had been Cardinal Secretary of State before his elevation to the papacy. Upon being asked by the Pope what his vocation was, Medwick replied, ‘Your Holiness, I’m Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal.’

                “Medwick was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in 1968. After his election, he said, ‘This was the longest slump of my career. I had gone 0 for 20 before, but never 0 for 20 years.’  Medwick died in 1975 of a heart attack in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was buried at St. Lucas Cemetery in Sunset Hills, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.”

LF-Danny Litwhiler, Philadelphia Phillies, 24 Years Old

.305, 18 HR, 66 RBI, .305/.350/.466, 134 OPS+

WAR-3.8

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 34

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Philadelphia Phillies

43-111, 8th in NL

Manager Doc Prothro

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Neutral)

OPS+-84, 7th in league

ERA+-82, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Danny Litwhiler, 3.8

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-148

Putouts as LF-327

Assists as LF-13

Errors Committed as LF-14

Double Plays Turned as LF-3

Putouts as OF-393

Errors Committed as OF-15

1st Time All-Star-Daniel Webster “Danny” Litwhiler was born on August 31, 1916 (79 years before my niece) in Ringtown, PA. The five-foot-10, 198 pound righty leftfielder makes my list as the only representative for the Phillies this season. He’d never have a season like this again, but he’d be a decent player for 11 years. He’s the first Phillie to make the list at leftfield since Morrie Arnovich in 1939.

                Wikipedia tells of some significant milestones in his life, saying,

                “He was the first Major Leaguer to have an error-free season. That same season, 1942, he also became the first player to stitch together the fingers of his glove.

                “In 1942, he recorded 308 putouts and 9 assists without making an error for a 1.000 fielding percentage. He had an errorless streak of 187 games before making an error on May 20, 1943, the only error he made that season as he led all outfielders in fielding percentage for the second straight year with a .996 fielding percentage.

                “During his coaching career, he invented a very effective method of drying baseball fields after rain using calcined clay which was marketed as Diamond Grit, enabling play to resume very quickly and in the process saving organized baseball millions of dollars over the decades. He also invented the use of the radar gun for timing pitches, which effectively revolutionized the assessment of pitchers. It first came on the market in collaboration with the Jugs company, known as the Jugs Gun.

                “Litwhiler died on September 23, 2011 in Clearwater, Florida at age 95.”

CF-Pete Reiser, Brooklyn Dodgers, 22 Years Old, 1st MVP

.343, 14 HR, 76 RBI, .343/.406/.558, 164 OPS+

WAR-8.0

All-Star: Yes (0-4, 2 K, GDP)

MVP Rank: 2

WAR Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

1941 NL Batting Title

Wins Above Replacement-8.0

WAR Position Players-8.0

Offensive WAR-7.0

Batting Average-.343

Slugging %-.558

On-Base Plus Slugging-.964

Runs Scored-117

Total Bases-299

Doubles-39

Triples-17

Adjusted OPS+-164

Extra Base Hits-70

Offensive Win %-.786

Hit By Pitch-11

Win Probability Added-6.8

Putouts as CF-355

Assists as CF-14

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.77

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.78

1st Time All-Star-Harold Patrick “Pistol Pete” Reiser was born on March 17, 1919 in St. Louis, MO. The five-foot-11, 185 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing outfielder started with Brooklyn in 1940, had this incredible MVP season (according to me anyway) and then would never get close to this level of play again. In the World Series, Reiser went four-for-20 (.200) with a double, triple, and homer as Brooklyn lost to the Yankees, 4-1. He’s the first Dodger to make centerfield on my list since Len Koenecke in 1934.

                SABR speaks of his spectacular season, stating,

                “Reiser worked his way into the starting lineup early in 1941, playing center field between veterans Joe Medwick and Dixie Walker. Pistol Pete started hot and stayed hot, torturing enemy pitchers at the plate and on the base paths, while making remarkable catches and throws in the outfield. His teammates and the Brooklyn fans knew they were seeing something rare and special.

                “Reiser finished the year with a .343 average to win the batting crown by a wide margin. He led the National League with thirty-nine doubles, seventeen triples, 117 runs scored, and a .558 slugging percentage, and finished second to teammate Dolph Camilli in voting for the Most Valuable Player award.

                “In the World Series, the Dodgers lost two of the first three games to the Yankees. In Game Four, Reiser’s fifth-inning two-run homer over the Ebbets Field scoreboard off Atley Donald gave Brooklyn a 4–3 lead. But Mickey Owen’s infamous ‘dropped third strike’ with two out in the ninth allowed the Yankees to rally for a 7–4 win. A day later, the Yanks clinched the Series with a 3–1 victory.”

RF-Dixie Walker, Brooklyn Dodgers, 30 Years Old

.311, 9 HR, 71 RBI, .311/.391/.452, 132 OPS+

WAR-5.6

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 10

WAR Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 42 percent chance)

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as RF-7

Assists as OF-19

Double Plays Turned as OF-8

Range Factor/Game as RF-1.85

1st Time All-Star-Fred “Dixie” or “The People’s Cherce” Walker was born on September 24, 1910 in Villa Rica, GA. The six-foot-one, 175 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing outfielder started with the Yankees in 1931, didn’t play in the Majors in 1932, and then was back on with the Pinstripes in 1933. During the 1936 season, Walker was selected off waivers by the White Sox. After 1937, Dixie was Traded by the Chicago White Sox with Vern Kennedy and Tony Piet to the Detroit Tigers for Marv OwenMike Tresh and Gee Walker. Then during the 1939 campaign, he was selected off waivers by Brooklyn and would have the best seasons of his career. He’s the first rightfielder from Brooklyn to make my list since Buzz Boyle in 1934. All three Dodger outfielders made my list this season.

                Walker almost lost his starting position this season to a former superstar, according to SABR, which says,

                “Before the start of spring training in 1941, the Dodgers signed former Pittsburgh Pirates great Paul Waner. The future Hall of Famer played well in spring training, leading Durocher to announce that the thirty-eight-year-old Waner, not Walker, would be his opening day right fielder. Five thousand outraged Brooklyn fans signed a petition supporting Walker, but Durocher, backed by MacPhail, refused to yield. However when Waner got off to an atrocious start, the Dodgers released him and reinstalled Walker in right, where, with occasional exceptions, he would remain a fixture for the next seven years.”

                Unfortunately, Walker is most famous for reaction to Jackie Robinson playing, but there’s plenty of time for that later.

RF-Mel Ott, New York Giants, 32 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1931 193219331934 19351936 1937 1938 1939 1940

.286, 27 HR, 90 RBI, .286/.403/.495, 150 OPS+

WAR-4.8

All-Star: Yes (0-1, K)

MVP Rank: 19

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1930)

Led in:

Def. Games as RF-143 (3rd Time)

Assists as RF-18 (4th Time)

Assists as OF-19 (2nd Time)

14th Time All-Star-For the first time since 1933, Ott wasn’t the best player at his position according to Wins Above Replacement. This year, he finished below Dixie Walker in WAR, 5.6-to-4.8. In 1933, he finished below Chuck Klein, 7.9-to-5.8. This was also the first year he didn’t finish in the top 10 in WAR since 1928. All of this info could be telling us he’s starting to fade, but the truth is he’s got some good seasons left. I’ve mentioned many times about players hurt by World War II and the time it took away from their career. Ott might be the rare player helped by the war because he stood head-and-shoulders above the watered down competition.

                With his 12th time making my list at rightfield, he now ties with the great Paul Waner for most times as an all-star at this position. He’ll be passing him next season. I also have Ott rated as the 11th greatest player of all-time through this year, right behind Cap Anson. Master Melvin and Babe Ruth are my all-time rightfielders.

                This season, Ott hit his 400th home run, joining Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig as the only players at this time to have that many. He had passed Rogers Hornsby in 1937 to become the all-time National League home run champ and would remain so until Willie Mays passed him in 1966.

                Starting in 1942, Ott will pull double duty, as he takes over as the manager of the New York Giants.

1940 American League All-Star Team

P-Bob Feller, CLE, 2nd MVP

P-Bobo Newsom, DET

P-Johnny Rigney, CHW

P-Schoolboy Rowe, DET

P-Elden Auker, SLB

P-Dutch Leonard, WSH

P-Tommy Bridges, DET

P-Ken Chase, WSH

P-Thornton Lee, CHW

P-Johnny Babich, PHA

C-Frankie Hayes, PHA

C-Billy Sullivan, DET

1B-Rudy York, DET

1B-Jimmie Foxx,  BOS

1B-Hal Trosky, CLE

2B-Joe Gordon, NYY

2B-Charlie Gehringer, DET

3B-Harlond Clift, SLB

SS-Lou Boudreau, CLE

SS-Luke Appling, CHW

LF-Hank Greenberg, DET

LF-Ted Williams, BOS

CF-Joe DiMaggio, NYY

CF-Barney McCosky, DET

RF-Charlie Keller, NYY

P-Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians, 22 Years Old, 2nd MVP

1938 1939

27-11, 2.61 ERA, 261 K, 163 ERA+, 2.89 FIP, 1.133 WHIP

.157, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .157/.211/.270, 25 OPS+

WAR-9.8

All-Star: Yes (2 IP, 1 R, 3 K)

MVP Rank: 2

WAR Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1962)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Cleveland Indians

89-65, 2nd in AL

Manager Ossie Vitt

Ballpark: League Park II and Cleveland Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-90, 4th in league

ERA+-118, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bob Feller, 9.8

Led in:

1940 Major League Player of the Year

1940 AL Pitching Triple Crown

1940 AL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-9.8 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-9.9 (2nd Time)

Earned Run Average-2.61

Wins-27 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.133

Hits per 9 IP-6.884 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-7.333 (3rd Time)

Games Pitched-43

Innings Pitched-320 1/3 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-261 (3rd Time)

Games Started-37

Complete Games-31 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-4

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.212

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.365

Batters Faced-1,304

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.89

Adj. Pitching Runs-63 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.4 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Saved-72.49 (2nd Time)

Win Probability Added-8.8

Sit. Wins Saved-6.8 (2nd Time)

Championship WPA-28.0

Base-Out Wins Saved-7.6 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-43

3rd Time All-Star-As I’m writing this, we’re living in the era of Covid. (As a matter of fact, I am in quarantine after testing positive.) The 2020 season was a mini-season and there were complaints that players lost some valuable time by not being able to play a complete 162 games. Yet starting in a couple years, great players like Rapid Robert Feller are going to lose many years due to something much worse than the Coronavirus, World War II.

                It had to be especially painful for Feller, who put together two of the best pitching seasons ever back-to-back in 1939 and this season. Look at those stats in which he led above. I almost got carpal tunnel typing all of those!

                Yet the writers didn’t give Feller the MVP either season. Last year, they gave it to Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, who played only 120 games, and this year, they gave the award to Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg, who undoubtedly had a great season, but in my eyes, it wasn’t even close to Feller.

                The Baseball Hall of Fame page has a story about Feller’s opening day no-hitter, stating,

                “On April 16, 1940, Bob Feller threw the first Opening Day no-hitter in history.

                “In front of an announced crowd of 14,000 fans in Chicago on Opening Day, Feller walked five but struck out eight. The Indians’ lone run came on a fourth-inning triple by catcher Rollie Hemsley that scored Jeff Heath, but Feller retired 15 in a row between the fourth and eighth innings to make the run stand up.

                “’I knew I had a chance for a no-hitter,’ Feller said. ‘But I tried to put it out of my mind by reminding myself you never have a no-hitter until the last man is out.’”

P-Bobo Newsom, Detroit Tigers, 32 Years Old

1934 1938 1939

21-5, 2.83 ERA, 164 K, 168 ERA+, 3.70 FIP, 1.269 WHIP

.215, 0 HR, 16 RBI, .215/.222/.262, 21 OPS+

WAR-7.3

All-Star: Yes (3 IP, 0 R, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 4

WAR Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. 67 percent chance)

Detroit Tigers

90-64, 1st in AL, Lost WS 4-3 to Cincinnati Reds

Manager Del Baker

Ballpark: Briggs Stadium (Hitter’s)

OPS+-101, 2nd in league

ERA+-118, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Bobo Newsom, 7.3

Led in:

Adjusted ERA+-168

4th Time All-Star-Detroit is the answer to a trivia question as the only American League squad except the Yankees to win an American League crown between 1936 and 1942. They put together a solid squad this year led by the itinerant Newsom, who actually managed to play a whole season on one team. He was probably Detroit’s best player, despite Hank Greenberg winning the Most Valuable Player.

                In his first World Series, Newsom shined, going 2-1 with a 1.38 ERA, completing all three games. Unfortunately, the Tigers had to occasionally rest Newsom and the lost the Series to the Reds, 4-3.

                SABR has an excellent article one of Newsom’s World Series wins, dedicated to his father. Here’s just a snippet:

                “Newsom had a well-established persona; he was frequently called ‘Loud Louie,’ and was a pop-off who could be abrasive and prone to brag and make bold, self-serving predictions. But not after pitching perhaps his greatest game. He had given it his all in honor of a father he loved who had so recently died. Entering the Tigers clubhouse, he quickly retreated to the trainer’s room seeking to pour out his emotions and escape the presence of reporters as tears streamed down his cheeks.

                “Newsom’s teammates and the writers respected his need to be alone,but after awhile Bobo moved to his locker and spoke in a solemn manner. ‘Naturally, I don’t feel as good as I might. It was the hardest game I ever pitched and I wanted to win more than I ever did before. After a player said his dad would have been very proud of him, Newsom responded — ‘I’d give my World Series check for him to have seen it.’”

P-Johnny Rigney, Chicago White Sox, 25 Years Old

1938 1939

14-18, 3.11 ERA, 141 K, 143 ERA+, 3.83 FIP, 1.176 WHIP

.215, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .215/.240/.258, 28 OPS+

WAR-6.7

All-Star: No

WAR Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago White Sox

82-72, 4th in AL

Manager Jimmy Dykes

Ballpark: Comiskey Park I (Hitter’s)

OPS+-87, 8th in league

ERA+-119, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Jimmy Rigney, 6.7

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000

3rd Time All-Star-This is one of those very good seasons not indicated by the regular stats. It was actually Rigney’s best season ever, but he had no run support and it hurt his won-loss record and was also the reason he received no MVP votes.

                Wikipedia wraps up this season, his career, and his life, saying,

                “In 1940, he recorded 14 wins with a career-high 3.11 ERA, pitching an 11-inning, 1–0 shutout against the visitors New York Yankees (June 20). It was the first time since 1919 that the Yankees had been shut out in extra innings by one pitcher. After that, he won 13 games in 1941 and was 3–3 before joining the United States Navy in May 1942. After being discharged in 1945, he returned to Chicago, but his playing time was limited by arm injuries. He retired after the 1947 season.

                “In an eight-season career, Rigney posted a 63–64 record with 605 strikeouts and a 3.59 ERA in 197 appearances, including 132 starts, 66 complete games, 10 shutouts, five saves, and ​1186 13 innings of work.

                “Rigney died in Wheaton, Illinois, seven days shy of his 70th birthday.”

                According to the numbers I have above, the White Sox are the worst hitting team and they do only have one position player on this list, Luke Appling. Meanwhile, they’re the best pitching team and they have Rigney and Thornton Lee representing. Chicago, in its history, always has good pitching and weak hitting, usually because of the stadium in which it played. It should be noted at this time in its history, Comiskey Park actually helps hitters more than pitchers.

P-Schoolboy Rowe, Detroit Tigers, 30 Years Old

1934 1936

16-3, 3.46 ERA, 61 K, 137 ERA+, 4.05 FIP, 1.260 WHIP

.269, 1 HR, 18 RBI, .269/.319/.433, 86 OPS+

WAR-5.6

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 7

WAR Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 40 percent chance)

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.842

Fielding % as P-1.000 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1936, Rowe fell apart. He only pitched a total of 52 1/3 innings in 1937 and 1938 and he pitched most of those years in the minors. In 1939, he pitched 164 innings, but had a 4.99 ERA and a 97 ERA+. It certainly didn’t look like Schoolboy would ever be one of the American League’s great pitchers again. Oh, but what a comeback he had this year! He helped Detroit to the World Series, but unfortunately got roughed up by the Reds in his two starts. He only pitched a total of three-and-two-thirds innings and gave up seven runs as he lost both games. The Reds won the Series, 4-3.

                SABR wraps up his remarkable season, stating,

                “[T]he 30-year-old Rowe was sidelined for four weeks after just his second start of the 1940 season. But Rowe made a ‘courageous comeback’ and posted a remarkable 16-3 record (and league-best .842 winning percentage) for a team few expected to contend for the pennant. Rowe won eight of nine decisions in the last two months of the season when the team needed him most, as the Tigers overcame a four-game deficit on September 3 to win take the pennant by one game over the Cleveland Indians. ‘Six months ago,’ wrote H.G. Salsinger, ‘there were probably only two men in baseball who believed Lynwood Thomas Rowe would stage a thorough comeback. One was Rowe; the other was [manager Del] Baker.’ Rowe’s success in the regular season did not carry over to the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. He was shelled in both of his starts. He yielded five runs and eight hits in 3⅓ innings in Game Two and was tagged for two runs and four hits in just a third of an inning in Game Six. The overwhelmingly underdog Tigers lost a heartbreaking Game Seven, 2-1.”

P-Eiden Auker, St. Louis Browns, 29 Years Old

1937

16-11, 3.96 ERA, 78 K, 116 ERA+, 4.21 FIP, 1.498 WHIP

WAR-4.8

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 29

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Browns

67-87, 6th in AL

Manager Fred Haney

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-88, 6th in league

ERA+-90, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Elden Auker, 4.8

Led in:

Putouts as P-27

Errors Committed as P-4

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list for the Tigers in 1937, Auker pitched one more season for Detroit and then was traded by the Detroit Tigers with Chet Morgan and Jake Wade to the Boston Red Sox for Pinky Higgins and Archie McKain. He had a disappointing season for the Red Sox and so was then purchased by the Browns. Auker had a great year and ended up the Browns’ best player.

                Let’s wrap up Auker’s career and life and by that I mean, let’s let Wikipedia do it:

                “Before the 1939 season, Auker was traded by Detroit to the Red Sox for Pinky Higgins and Archie McKain. That season was Ted Williams‘s rookie year in Boston, and the two would develop what became a lifelong friendship during the season. However, Auker chafed playing under Red Sox manager Joe Cronin, and his 9–10 record in the year was the lowest win total of any full season he played. Auker finished his career playing three seasons with the Browns (1940–1942). During the 1941 season, he gave up hits to Joe DiMaggio during two games of DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak.

                “Auker appeared at the last game played at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 1999. Auker spoke at the ceremony and told the crowd: ‘Never forget us, for we live on by those that carry on the Tiger tradition and who so proudly wear the olde English D.’

                “In 2001, Auker published his memoirs, entitled Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms, written with Tom Keegan.                 “He died due to congestive heart failure, at age 95, in his home in Vero Beach, Florida.”

P-Dutch Leonard, Washington Senators, 31 Years Old

1939

14-19, 3.49 ERA, 124 K, 120 ERA+, 3.66 FIP, 1.405 WHIP

.158, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .158/.167/.158, -13 OPS+

WAR-4.7

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 80 percent chance)

Washington Senators

64-90, 7th in AL

Manager Bucky Harris

Ballpark: Griffith Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-88, 7th in league

ERA+-91, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Dutch Leonard, 4.7

Led in:

Hits Allowed-328 (2nd Time)

Losses-19

Assists as P-72 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-4

Range Factor/Game as P-2.49 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-At a time when the Senators were miserable, at least they could depend on Ol’ Dutch stepping on the mound every four or five days. True, he led the American League in losses and hits allowed, but he didn’t have much hitting or defense to back him up, so he makes my list for the second consecutive season.

                SABR speaks about his best pitch, saying,

                “Dutch Leonard rode his knuckleball to a 20-year big league career, baffling batters, catchers, and umpires until he was 44 years old. As Jackie Robinson described Leonard’s knuckler, ‘It comes up, makes a face at you, then runs away.’

                “Joining the Crackers in June 1936, Leonard met his new catcher, Paul Richards, another washout from the majors. After getting a look at the knuckler, Richards told him, ‘You keep throwing it, and it’s my job to catch it.’ Leonard said, ‘Richards was the first catcher I ever worked with who wasn’t too timid to call for my knuckleball.  Leonard went 13-3 with a 2.29 ERA, best in the league, and helped Atlanta win the pennant.”

                Isn’t the knuckleball an unusual pitch? Almost everything else in sports relies on the best athletes in the world giving it their all, but the knuckle requires holding back and purposely throwing slow pitches up to confuse batters.  Sometimes a hockey player might purposely shoot a slower shot to confuse a goalie or a soccer player might bloop one over the goalie’s head instead of kicking as hard as he or she can, but none of these is as prevalent as the knuckle.

P-Tommy Bridges, Detroit Tigers, 33 Years Old

193219331934 1936 1937 1939

12-9, 3.37 ERA, 133 K, 141 OPS+, 3.55 FIP, 1.310 WHIP

.176, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .176/.211/.206, 5 OPS+

WAR-4.7

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (inducted in 1939)

7th Time All-Star-First of all, before reading this, take a look at Jackie the Baseball Bloggess’s post here. It talks about the Baseball Writers Association of America not electing anyone for the Hall of Fame in 2021. One of the players not inducted is Curt Schilling. Now I don’t want to get political, but it because of Schilling’s statements from the right that he hasn’t been voted in yet. To me, he’s a no-brainer, but since the baseball writers skew left, it’s not a surprise.

                What’s that have to do with Tommy Bridges? To me, he’s a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame also, but he’ll never get in. I don’t think it’s political, I think he just pitched at a run-happy time of the sport, so his stats look less stellar than they really are. That’s why I like having this page and getting to do my own votes for the Hall of Fame. Bridges is in my Hall of Fame.

                One of the depressing things to me about sports is how political it’s become. I’ve actually stopped watching sports for right now, but might pick up baseball again here in 2021. I don’t know why ballplayers of all sports can’t see what they do as a gift and just go out to entertain the fans – all fans – and get their minds off their troubles for a few hours. Maybe I’m just naïve.

                Bridges helped Detroit make the 1940 World Series and he won the one game he started in the Series, allowing four runs (three earned) in a complete game victory. However, the Tigers fell to the Reds, 4-3.

P-Ken Chase, Washington Senators, 26 Years Old

15-17, 3.23 ERA, 129 K, 129 ERA+, 4.24 FIP, 1.540 WHIP

.163, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .163/.198/.239, 16 OPS+

WAR-4.6

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 51 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Bases on Balls-143

Wild Pitches-12

1st Time All-Star-Kendall Fay “Ken” or “Lefty” Chase was born on October 6, 1913, 16 years before my mom, in Oneonta, NY. The six-foot-two, 210 pound lefty pitcher started with Washington in 1936, became a regular in 1938, and had his best season ever this year despite leading the American League in walks and wild pitches.

                Wikipedia says he gave up a famous hit, stating,

                “A hard-throwing pitcher, Chase entered the majors in 1936 with the Washington Senators, playing six years for them before joining the Boston Red Sox (1942–43) and New York Giants (1943). While in Washington, he was part of a rotation that included Dutch LeonardWes Ferrell and Sid Hudson. On April 29, 1939, Ken Chase gave up hit number 2,721 of Lou Gehrig’s career. Lou Gehrig never recorded another hit as he willingly pulled himself out of the lineup the next day. He never played another game.

                “Chase’s most productive season came in 1940 with the Senators, when he set career-numbers with 15 wins, a 3.23 ERA, and 129 strikeouts. He struggled with poor control during the season, allowing 143 walks and 12 wild pitches to lead the American League.

                “Following his playing retirement, Chase ran a dairy business. He died in his hometown of Oneonta at age of 71.”

How sad that what Chase is known for is a hit he gave up instead of having a decent career. It wasn’t great as this will most likely be his only time on my list, but it wasn’t terrible.

P-Thornton Lee, Chicago White Sox, 33 Years Old

1937 1938

12-13, 3.47 ERA, 87 K, 128 ERA+, 3.58 FIP, 1.224 WHIP

.274, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .274/.307/.321, 62 OPS+

WAR-4.2

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 33 percent chance)

Led in:

Errors Committed as P-4

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1938, he had an okay season in 1939, but it wasn’t good enough for me. He came back this year despite a losing record. That’s the deal with Lee, he didn’t often have eye-popping won-loss records, but that’s because of a lack of run support not talent.

                SABR agrees with me, saying,

                “Lee’s commanding four-hit complete game against the Cleveland Indians in his first start of the 1940 season inaugurated a dominating two-year stretch during which he completed 54 of 61 starts. The White Sox finished in fourth place again in ’40, and Lee finished with a losing record (12-13), primarily due to poor run support. His 24 complete games trailed only Bob Feller’s 31. What might he have done had he started more than 27 times? Dykes continued to juggle his six primary starting pitchers so that Lee could face the left-handed sluggers on the Indians and Yankees (15 of his 27 starts were against them).

                “Lee’s success rested with a blazing, sinking fastball, a sharp-breaking overhand curveball, and his control. Syndicated sportswriter Harry Grayson wrote, ‘[Lee] did little more than rear back and pump the pill in there’ as a member of the Indians, but Muddy Ruel transformed him into one of game’s best left-handers. ‘Ruel took me in hand and cured my wildness,’ said Lee. ‘He picked out flaws in my delivery and pretty soon I had better than average control.’”

                For a short stretch of time, there weren’t many better pitchers than Lee. If he could’ve done this over more seasons, he might be in Cooperstown.

P-Johnny Babich, Philadelphia Athletics, 27 Years Old

14-13, 3.73 ERA, 94 K, 119 ERA+, 3.98 FIP, 1.317 WHIP

.116, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .116/.146/.128, -27 OPS+

WAR-4.1

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 19

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require infinite All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Philadelphia Athletics

54-100, 8th in AL

Manager Connie Mack

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-89, 5th in league

ERA+-85, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Johnny Babich, 4.1

1st Time All-Star-John Charles “Johnny” Babich was born on May 14, 1913 in Albion, CA. The six-foot-one, 185 pound righty started with Brooklyn in 1934 and 1935 and, um, wasn’t great. He went 14-25 in those years with a 5.46 ERA and so was then traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers with Gene Moore to the Boston Bees for Fred Frankhouse. For the Bees, he was even worse, pitching just three games and allowing seven earned runs in six innings. He then went to the minors until 1940.

                At this point in Babich’s career, he is 14-25 with a 5.57 ERA and a 71 ERA+. So what happened this season? Who knows, but it was such a fluke year for Babich as he was the A’s best player, according to WAR. It was the only year he ever had a winning record and the only time his ERA was below four.

                There is a long article from the Oakland Oaks on Babich’s career. Here’s just a bit of it:

                “The Philadelphia A’s drafted John from the Yankees for the 1940 season. Five of John’s 14 wins that year were against the Yankees. The last win knocked the Yankees out of the pennant race. After that game, Yankee manager Joe McCarthy ranted and raved in the Yankee clubhouse, yelling, ‘Babich, Babich, Babich. Who…ever heard of Babich?’ Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon responded, ‘Well, apparently our scouts didn’t.’ By many accounts, John Babich had personally cost the Yankees the 1940 American League flag.”

                Babich died on January 19, 2001 in Richmond, CA.

C-Frankie Hayes, Philadelphia Athletics, 25 Years Old

.308, 16 HR, 70 RBI, .308/.389/.477, 126 OPS+

WAR-2.8

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

MVP Rank: 20

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 29 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Errors Committed as C-17 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-60 (3rd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Franklin Witman “Frankie” or “Blimp” Hayes was born on October 13, 1914 in Jamesburg, NJ. The six-foot, 185 pound righty catcher started with Philadelphia in 1933 and 1934 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1935. He was back as a 21-year-old in 1936 and became the A’s regular catcher. He had a decent career, but it’s hard to tell how many of these lists he’ll make. It always is for catchers. He’s the first A’s catcher to make this list since Mickey Cochrane in 1933.

                Wikipedia wraps up his career, stating,

                “His batting average improved in 1940, when he posted a .308 batting average with 16 home runs and 70 runs batted in. Hayes’ on-base percentage also improved from .348 in 1939 to .389, and was once again named as a reserve player for the American League team in the 1940 All-Star Game.

                “When he caught 155 games in 1944, he set a still-standing American League record for games played in a season as catcher. His accomplishment of 312 consecutive games caught remains an unbroken major league record.

                “Hayes operated a sporting goods store in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, after his playing career. He died at the age of 40 in Point Pleasant in 1955, eight years after retiring as a professional baseball player. His family declined to reveal the cause of his death. However, TheDeadBallEra.com lists it as retroperitoneal hemorrhage in the site’s ‘Too Young to Die’ entries for 1955.”

                Even though I did this wrap up for Hayes, it’s still possible he’s going to make this list in the future.

C-Billy Sullivan, Detroit Tigers, 29 Years Old

.309, 3 HR, 41 RBI, .309/.399/.450, 112 OPS+

WAR-2.0

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 38 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

1st Time All-Star-William Joseph “Billy” Sullivan was born on October 23, 1910 in Chicago, IL. The six-foot, 170 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher started as a third baseman for the White Sox in 1931, moved to first base for Chicago in 1932 and actually received some MVP votes and finished his time with the Pale Hose in 1933. Sully then came to Cincinnati in 1935, again playing first, and then went to the Indians in 1936, where he finally moved to catcher. He’s the first Detroit catcher to make this list since, well, last year, when Rudy York was the Tigers’ main catcher.

                After the 1938 season, Sullivan was traded by the Cleveland Indians with Ed Cole and Roy Hughes to the St. Louis Browns for Rollie Hemsley. Then after the 1939 season, he was traded by the St. Louis Browns to the Detroit Tigers for Slick Coffman. That ended up being a good thing for Sully, who ended up on the American League pennant-winning team and got to play in his only World Series. He hit .154 (two-for-13) with five walks as the Tigers lost to the Reds, 4-3.

                SABR explains he was actually Billy Sullivan, Jr., as his dad also played in the Majors. It says,

                “Although [Billy Sullivan, Sr.’s}  son Joseph, a second baseman and captain on the University of Notre Dame team, turned down an offer from the White Sox in order to pursue a law career, his son, Billy, Jr., began his own twelve-year major league career with the White Sox in 1931, playing with Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, the St. Louis Browns, Detroit, Brooklyn, and Pittsburgh. When Billy caught for Detroit in the 1940 World Series, the Sullivans became the first father and son to have played in the Fall Classic. Baseball dopesters frequently remarked that if Billy, Sr. could hit like his son, and if Billy, Jr. could field like his father, they would be ‘the best catcher in the history of the game.’”

                Sullivan died on January 4, 1994 in Sarasota, FL.

1B-Rudy York, Detroit Tigers, 26 Years Old

1938 1939

.316, 33 HR, 134 RBI, .316/.410/.583, 145 OPS+

WAR-4.9

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 14 percent chance)

Led in:

Games Played-155

Championship WPA-21.9

Def. Games as 1B-155

3rd Time All-Star-It’s very rare a team will mess with something successful like a power-hitting catcher like Rudy York and an outstanding first baseman like Hank Greenberg. Yet this year, Detroit moved Greenberg to leftfield and York to first base and it worked. For this year, at least. Both players made my list and Detroit won the American League crown. In the World Series, York hit .231 (six-for-26) with a triple and a homer, but the Tigers lost to the Reds, 4-3.

                Wikipedia says everything I just said, but with more words:

                “Realizing that York was not best suited to the catcher position, and seeking to get his bat into the lineup on a full-time basis, the Tigers in 1940 shifted slugger Hank Greenberg from first base to left field, allowing York to return to his natural position at first base. The move proved successful as Greenberg and York each played 154 games and ranked highly among the league’s batters in several key batting statistics: first and second in RBIs (150 and 134); first and second in total bases (384 and 343); first and second in doubles (50 and 46); and first and third in home runs (41 and 33). The power duo of Greenberg and York helped propel the Tigers to the American League pennant with a 90–64 record.”

                One wonders if this move would have been made if the Yankees weren’t so dominant during this time. It’s possible the Tigers felt they had to try some bold move if they were ever to move past the Bronx Bombers.

1B-Jimmie Foxx, Boston Red Sox, 32 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1938 1939

.297, 36 HR, 119 RBI, .297/.412/.581, 150 OPS+

WAR-4.5

All-Star: Yes (0-3, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 6

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1938)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1931)

Boston Red Sox

82-72, 4th in AL

Manager Joe Cronin

Ballpark: Fenway Park (Hitter’s)

OPS+-104, 1st in league

ERA+-92, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Ted Williams, 6.6

12th Time All-Star-Rudy York had the highest Wins Above Replacement of any first baseman in the American League, the first time since 1925 anyone other than Foxx or Lou Gehrig led in that category. This will be the last great season for Double X as his career is starting to fade out. He might possibly make this list in 1941, but I doubt it, so I’m going to use this write-up to wrap up Foxx’s life and career.

                I believe Foxx to be the 17th greatest player of all-time through 1940, behind Christy Mathewson.  He, along with Cap Anson, Lou Gehrig, and Roger Connor, are on my all-time All-Star team, again through 1940. His last homer of 1940 gave him 500, making him just the second player, along with the Bambino, to have 500 dingers at this point in baseball history.

                SABR wraps up his almost mythical life, saying,

                “In the twenty-first century, Jimmie Foxx is often caricatured as a drunken failure. That is wrong. Jimmie drank heavily toward the end of his career, but there is no evidence that he was anything more than a moderate drinker until around 1940, when extreme adversity pushed him in the wrong direction. It is also true that life was often unkind to Foxx after his playing days, but, until near the end of his career, he was one of baseball’s greatest success stories. Jimmie always did his best, and did so with grace and charm. He should primarily be remembered for his joyful demeanor and Olympian talent.”

                Foxx died at the age of 59 on July 21, 1967 in Miami, FL.

1B-Hal Trosky, Cleveland Indians, 27 Years Old

1934 1939

.295, 25 HR, 93 RBI, .295/.392/.529, 138 OPS+

WAR-4.1

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

3rd Time All-Star-In Trosky’s 1939 write-up, I already gave him his death blurb, giving him up for dead and assuming he wouldn’t make any more of these lists. Well, you know what they say about assuming….Trosky proved me wrong and had a good enough season this year to make this list once again.

                What a set of first basemen the American League had in the Thirties and Forties! Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, and then occasional entries from people like Trosky, who weren’t part of that elite set, but still one of the better players in the league. The reason Trosky wasn’t better was because he started declining at an early age. Click on his 1939 link above for more information about his early demise.

                After this season, Trosky played just 89 games for Cleveland in 1941 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1942 or 1943. He played for the White Sox in 1944, but his best days were far behind as he only hit .241 with just 10 homers. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1945 and then finished his career with the White Sox in 1946. That was his last appearance in The Show at the age of 33.

                Trosky had the misfortune of playing for the Indians in a dry spell for the squad. After winning the American League pennant in 1920, they wouldn’t win another league title until 1948. Only three times in that stretch did they even finish second, though they did often finish in the first division.

2B-Joe Gordon, New York Yankees, 25 Years Old

1939

.281, 30 HR, 103 RBI, .281/.340/.511, 121 OPS+

WAR-6.1

All-Star: Yes (0-2, 2 K)

MVP Rank: 23

WAR Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2009)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

New York Yankees

88-66, 3rd in AL

Manager Joe McCarthy

Ballpark: Yankee Stadium I (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-100, 3rd in league

ERA+-104, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Joe DiMaggio, 7.3

Led in:

Games Played-155

Power-Speed #-22.5

Assists-505 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 2B-155 (2nd Time)

Assists as 2B-505 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-After four straight championships, the Yankees fell to third this year. Slackers! It wouldn’t last long as the Bronx Bombers will be on top of the baseball world again by next year. Maybe it was this drop of out of third that dropped Flash Gordon to 23rd in the MVP voting, because he certainly didn’t deserve to be that low. He’s taken over from Charlie Gehringer as the Junior Circuit’s best second sacker.

                Wikipedia shares some info on Gordon’s 1940 season, saying,

                “In 1940 Gordon again increased his home run total to 30 and was second on the team to DiMaggio in homers and RBI (103), leading the AL in assists and posting career highs in runs (112), triples (10), slugging average (.511), total bases (315) and stolen bases (18) while hitting .281. On September 8, he hit for the cycle. But the Yankees finished two games behind Detroit, in the only year between 1936 and 1943 that they lost the pennant.”

                Gordon set many career highs this season for New York. His 112 runs, 173 hits, 32 doubles, 10 triples, 18 stolen bases, .511 slugging, and 315 total bases all were his highest ever. Offensive WAR would say there would be three better hitting seasons than this and that’s mainly because Gordon started getting on base more as he got older.           

                One thing Gordon never struggled with was defense. From 1938-through-1943, he finished in the top three in Defensive WAR and would finish in the top four for 10 consecutive playing seasons.

2B-Charlie Gehringer, Detroit Tigers, 37 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939

.313, 10 HR, 81 RBI, .313/.428/.447, 119 OPS+

WAR-4.3

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 23

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1949)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1932)

12th Time All-Star-For the last couple of years, I’ve been wondering how many of these lists Gehringer had left and now I can absolutely, positively say this is his last one. Still, making my All-Star team 12 times is not a small feat as only 23 players in baseball history up to this point have done so. I would rank The Mechanical Man as the 20th greatest player of all-time through 1940, right behind Eddie Plank, the A’s pitcher from early 1900s.

                Gehringer also played in his last World Series this year, hitting just .214 (six-for-28) as Detroit lost to Cincy, 4-3.

                Wikipedia wraps up his long life and his career, stating,

                “Gehringer enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the 1942 season. He served three years, and was released in 1945.

                “During his major league career, Gehringer lived with his mother in Detroit. Gehringer’s father died in 1924, and Gehringer moved her from the family farm outside Fowlerville, Michigan, to Detroit. Gehringer recalled that she was a diabetic and ‘needed someone to look after her.’

                “Gehringer did not marry until after his mother died, and when he did get married in 1949, he did not let anything stand in the way—not even his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Gehringer missed his Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 13, 1949, because he did not want it to interfere with his wedding, which was to take place five days later. Gehringer’s marriage to his wife, Josephine (née Stillen), lasted until his death more than four decades later.

                “Gehringer died in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan on January 21, 1993 at age 89.”

3B-Harlond Clift, St. Louis Browns, 27 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939

.273, 20 HR, 87 RBI, .273/.396/.463, 120 OPS+

WAR-4.3

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. 33 percent chance)

Led in:

Assists as 3B-329 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 3B-32 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as 3B-.959 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-This is the fifth straight time Clift has made my All-Star team and yet during that time, he received MVP votes just twice and went to the All-Star Game just once. I have him as having only a 33 percent chance of making my Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. He’s definitely the best American League third sacker of his time.

                There is a page called Hall of Fame Debate that talks about the underrated Clift, saying,

                “An on-base stud throughout his brief Major League career, Harlond coupled fine batting averages with a propensity for walks, enabling him to post an enviable career on-base percentage of .390.  The keen visioned hot corner custodian walked in the excess of 80 times every year from his rookie season in 1934 until his last great year in 1942–six times eclipsing the 100 walk plateau.

                “In 1940, he led Major League third basemen in RBI while finishing second in the American League with 104 walks.”

                For those of you who’ve read my write-ups on Mel Ott, I’ve mentioned walks didn’t mean too much to the writers during this time. When people picked players for the All-Star team or MVP votes, they looked at batting average first and usually where a team finished. Clift only hit over .300 twice in his career and played for some awful teams, so he wasn’t drawing too much attention.  Nowadays, he would be lauded because his modern stats look so good. My guess is he’s going to fall short of my Hall of Fame, but he’s worth the conversation.

SS-Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians, 22 Years Old

.295, 9 HR, 101 RBI, .295/.370/.443, 112 OPS+

WAR-5.8

All-Star: Yes (Def. Replacement)

MVP Rank: 5

WAR Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1970)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Led in:

Defensive WAR-2.5

Games Played-155

Double Plays Grounded Into-23

Def. Games as SS-155

Assists as SS-454

Double Plays Turned as SS-116

Fielding % as SS-.968

1st Time All-Star-Louis “Old Shufflefoot” or “Handsome Lou” or “The Good Kid” Boudreau was born on July 17, 1917 in Harvey, IL. The five-foot-11, 185 pound righty shortstop started with Cleveland in 1938 and became its regular shortstop this year. He would have an outstanding career and will make my Hall of Fame easily and will also make Cooperstown…eventually.

                SABR talks about a revolt on the Indians that year, stating,

                “The 1940 season looked promising but would be tumultuous for the Cleveland Indians. Feller opened the season with a 1-0 no-hitter, and the Indians were in contention for the pennant all season long. But the season was marred by a rebellion of Cleveland ballplayers (not including Boudreau) who were unhappy with Vitt, who’d been known to bad-mouth his players with derogatory remarks. The 10 players, thereafter known as the ‘Crybabies.’ complained to owner Alva Bradley in early June. Nothing was done and Vitt remained the manager for the rest of the season. The story hit the newspapers immediately, but the Indians continued to play well and went into Detroit on August 22 with a 5 ½ game lead over the second-place Tigers.

                “Boudreau kept his views to himself, but later wrote, ‘Had I been asked my opinion, I would have urged them to either wait till the end of the season, or to meet with Vitt himself and not with Bradley. But I wasn’t asked, I didn’t volunteer and the veterans did what they felt they had to do. The Indians didn’t win the pennant that year, losing to Detroit by one game. Boudreau had a good season despite all the turmoil, batting .295, clouting nine homers, and driving in 101 runs. Defensively Lou led all shortstops in the American League.”

CHICAGO – 1940. Luke Appling, shortstop for the Chicago White Sox, takes batting practice before a game at Comiskey Park in 1940. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)

SS-Luke Appling, Chicago White Sox, 33 Years Old

1933 1935 1936 1937 1939

.348, 0 HR, 79 RBI, .348/.420/.442 123 OPS+

WAR-5.5

All-Star: Yes (2-3, 2B)

MVP Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1964)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

Led in:

Putouts as SS-307 (2nd Time)

6th Time All-Star-With Lou Boudreau now in the league, Appling would have competition as the Junior Circuit’s best shortstop. Still, Luscious Luke’s decent bat and great glove will continue to put him on these lists for a long time and my guess is he’s going to eventually make the hallowed ONEHOF, the One-a-Year Hall of Fame that inducts just one player every calendar year.

                This season was the year Appling got closer to winning a pennant than any other time, as the White Sox finished in fourth place, eight games out of first. As SABR says,

                “Luke Appling had the misfortune of playing for the White Sox during some of their leanest years. A decade before his arrival, the franchise had been devastated by the Black Sox Scandal, when eight players conspired to fix the 1919 World Series and were banned from baseball, and the team did not compete again until the 1950s. Appling, a happy-go-lucky man and a notorious hypochondriac, was one of the Sox’ few bright lights. He never got to play in a World Series, as his career was ending just as the team embarked on a period of competitiveness highlighted by their 1959 pennant.

                “At a time when America, along with the rest of the world, was struggling to cope with the worst depression in its history and the ominous rise of fascism in Europe, baseball provided some diversion from dark times. Appling started his major league career in 1930, just about the beginning of the Depression. The best word to describe Luke Appling is durability, a quality he showed throughout his baseball career and his life. He was emblematic of an America struggling through the Depression and digging into their psyches (perhaps unknowingly) to prepare for another world war. Appling endured and so did America.”

LF-Hank Greenberg, Detroit Tigers, 29 Years Old

1934 1935 1937 1938 1939

.340, 41 HR, 150 RBI, .340/.433/.670, 171 OPS+

WAR-6.8

All-Star: Yes (0-2)

MVP Rank: 1

WAR Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1956)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1940)

Led in:

1940 AL MVP

Offensive WAR-7.0

Slugging %-.670

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.103

Total Bases-384 (2nd Time)

Doubles-50 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-41 (3rd Time)

Runs Batted In-150 (3rd Time)

Runs Created-166 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-64

Adj. Batting Wins-5.9

Extra Base Hits-99 (4th Time)

Offensive Win %-.812

AB per HR-14.0 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as LF-147

Putouts as LF-246

Assists as LF-13

Errors Committed as LF-15

Errors Committed as OF-15

6th Time All-Star-It was in the writings of Bill James I first read about the defensive spectrum. His theory was as players got older they moved from more difficult positions to easier to play positions. The order of the positions from hardest to easiest are:

SS-C-2B-CF-3B-RF-LF-1B-DH

                So as a player aged, he’d slide from left to right on the spectrum. Yet this year, Greenie slid from right to left, moving from first base to leftfield. It was only a move of one position so it wasn’t dramatic and it certainly led to Greenberg having a great season. The writers picked him for MVP. He’s the first Tiger to be on my list as a leftfielder since Bob Fothergill in 1927.

                Hammerin’ Hank’s Tigers lost to the Reds in the World Series, 4-3, but it wasn’t Greenberg’s fault. He hit .357 (10-for-28) with two doubles, a triple, and a homer. He still has a championship in his future.

                What’s no longer in Greenberg’s future is making my Hall of Fame as it is now in his present. He made it this year by making his sixth All-Star team while having a Career WAR of 55.7. He is the 119th player in my Hall of Fame and the 12th first baseman. He’s not going to have a long enough career to make my ONEHOF, the Hall of Fame of my design that admits just one player per calendar year.

                It’s going to be a few years before the Detroit slugger makes my list again. He’s going to play just 19 games in 1941 and then go to war, so he won’t have another full season until 1946.

LF-Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 21 Years Old

1939

.344, 23 HR, 113 RBI, .344/.442/.594, 162 OPS+

0-0, 4.50 ERA, 1 K, 116 ERA+, 1.84 FIP, 1.500 WHIP

WAR-6.6

All-Star: Yes (0-2, 1 BB)

MVP Rank: 14

WAR Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1966)

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Led in:

On-Base %-.442

Runs Scored-134

Times On Base-292

2nd Time All-Star-Williams moved from rightfield to leftfield this year and would be there the rest of his career. He’s the first Red Sox player to make this list at that position since Moose Solters in 1935. At the age of 21, The Kid already established himself as one of the American League’s great stars. With some players, it takes a while for them to hit their groove. With Teddy Ballgame, he came in grooving!

                Wikipedia spends a lot of ink on 1940, saying,

                “Williams’s pay doubled in 1940, going from $5,000 to $10,000. With the addition of a new bullpen in right field of Fenway Park, which reduced the distance from home plate from 400 feet to 380 feet, the bullpen was nicknamed ‘Williamsburg’, because the new addition was ‘obviously designed for Williams’. Williams was then switched from right field to left field, as there would be less sun in his eyes, and it would give Dom DiMaggio a chance to play. Finally, Williams was flip-flopped in the order with the great slugger Jimmie Foxx, with the idea that Williams would get more pitches to hit. Pitchers, though, were not afraid to walk him to get to the 33-year-old Foxx, and after that the 34-year-old Joe Cronin, the player-manager. Williams also made his first of 16 All-Star Game appearancesin 1940, going 0-for-2. Although Williams hit .344, his power and runs batted in were down from the previous season, with 23 home runs and 113 RBIs. Williams also caused a controversy in mid-August when he called his salary ‘peanuts’, along with saying he hated the city of Boston and reporters, leading reporters to lash back at him, saying that he should be traded. Williams said that the ‘only real fun’ he had in 1940 was being able to pitch once on August 24, when he pitched the last two innings in a 12–1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, allowing one earned run on three hits, while striking out one batter, Rudy York.”

CF-Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees, 25 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939

.352, 31 HR, 133 RBI, .352/.425/.626, 173 OPS+

WAR-7.3

All-Star: Yes (0-4)

MVP Rank: 3

WAR Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Led in:

1940 AL Batting Title (2nd Time)

WAR Position Players-7.3 (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.352 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-173

Base-Out Runs Added-69.50 (2nd Time)

Win Probability Added-5.6 (2nd Time)

Situ. Wins Added-4.8 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Wins Added-6.5 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-Poor Joltin’ Joe! This was the first season he went home with no championship under his belt. I’ll tell you this, it certainly wasn’t DiMaggio’s fault. He continued to be one of the best players in the American League at this time along with one of the greatest of all time. Over the next decade or so, it will be a battle between the Yankee Clipper and the Splendid Splinter for best player in the league.

                Wikipedia explains why stats don’t tell the whole story for Mr. Coffee, saying,

                “DiMaggio might have had better power-hitting statistics had his home park not been Yankee Stadium. As ‘The House That Ruth Built’, its nearby right field favored the Babe’s left-handed power. For right-handed hitters, its deep left and center fields made home runs almost impossible. Mickey Mantle recalled that he and Whitey Ford witnessed many DiMaggio blasts that would have been home runs anywhere other than Yankee Stadium (Ruth himself fell victim to that problem, as he also hit many long flyouts to center). Bill James calculated that DiMaggio lost more home runs due to his home park than any other player in history. Left-center field went as far back as 457 ft [139 m], where left-center rarely reaches 380 ft [116 m] in today’s ballparks. Al Gionfriddo‘s famous catch in the 1947 World Series, which was close to the 415-foot mark [126 m] in left-center, would have been a home run in the Yankees’ current ballpark. DiMaggio hit 148 home runs in 3,360 at-bats at home versus 213 home runs in 3,461 at-bats on the road. His slugging percentage at home was .546, and on the road, it was .610.” 

CF-Barney McCosky, Detroit Tigers, 23 Years Old

.340, 4 HR, 57 RBI, .340/.408/.491, 124 OPS+

WAR-4.2

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 16

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Hits-200

Triples-19

1st Time All-Star-William Barney McCosky was born on April 11, 1917 in Coal Run, PA. The six-foot-one, 184 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing outfielder started with Detroit in 1939 and right away became its regular centerfielder. He’s the first Tiger to make my list at this position since Heinie Manush in 1926.

His fantastic season helped lead the Tigers to the World Series, where McCosky hit .304 (seven-for-23) with a double and seven walks. It didn’t help as Cincinnati won the Series, 4-3.

                Wikipedia wraps up his season and career, stating,

                “His most productive season came for the 1940 Detroit Tigers American League champions, when he was among the AL league leaders with a .340 batting average (6th in the AL), 200 hits (tied for 1st in the AL), 19 triples (1st in the AL), 123 runs (3rd in the AL), 264 times on base (4th in the AL), and 39 doubles (7th in the AL). In the World Series, he hit .304 (7-for-23) with five runs as Detroit lost to the Cincinnati Reds in seven games. McCosky finished No. 16 in the MVP voting for 1940. Since 1940, the only Tiger to exceed McCosky’s 19 triples is Curtis Granderson in 2007.

                “McCosky married his wife, Jane, in 1946. After his baseball career ended, he operated Barney McCosky’s party store on Joy Road between Greenfield and Southfield in Detroit from 1953 to 1963. He then worked as an automobile salesman at Les Stanford Chevrolet in Dearborn, Michigan, until he retired in 1982.

                “In 1982, McCosky and his wife moved in Venice, Florida, where they lived for 14 years. In 1996, McCosky died from jaw cancer at Bon Secour-Venice Hospital in Venice. He was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.”

RF-Charlie Keller, New York Yankees, 23 Years Old

.286, 21 HR, 93 RBI, .286/.411/.508, 141 OPS+

WAR-5.6

All-Star: Yes (0-2, 1 K)

WAR Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 67 percent chance)

Led in:

Bases on Balls-106

1st Time All-Star-Charles Ernest “King Kong” Keller was born on September 12, 1916 in Middletown, MD. The five-foot-10, 185 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing outfielder started with the Yankees in 1939 and was a big part of their championship team. This year, his batting average dipped from .334-to-.286, but his ability to walk continued to give him a high on-base percentage (.411). He’s the first Yankee rightfielder on this list since George Selkirk in 1935. However, after this season, he’s moving to leftfield for the rest of his career.

                Wikipedia tells us about his nickname and various other tidbits, saying,

                “His ability to hit massive fly balls and home runs earned him the nickname ‘King Kong’.

                “A splendid all-round athlete at the University of Maryland, where he earned a degree in agricultural economics in 1937, Keller joined the Yankees in 1939 and quickly became the regular left fielder, with Tommy Henrich patrolling right field and Joe DiMaggio in center field. For much of ten American League seasons, Keller, DiMaggio, and Henrich formed one of the best-hitting outfields in baseball history.

                “Through much of his career, Keller was a feared slugger and a competent fielder. In his rookie season he hit .334 with 11 home runs and 83 RBI in 111 games. Keller hit three homers and batted .438 as the Yankees swept four games from the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.

                “In his second MLB season, Keller hit .286 with 21 home runs, 93 RBI, 18 doubles and a career-high 15 triples.”

1940 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Carl Hubbell, P

P-Claude Passeau, CHC

P-Bucky Walters, CIN, 2nd MVP

P-Larry French, CHC

P-Rip Sewell, PIT

P-Whit Wyatt, BRO

P-Freddie Fitzsimmons, BRO

P-Kirby Higbe, PHI

P-Lon Warneke, STL

P-Dirk Errickson, BSN

P-Mort Cooper, STL

C-Harry Danning, NYG

C-Ernie Lombardi, CIN

1B-Johnny Mize, STL

1B-Dolph Camilli, BRO

1B-Frank McCormick, CIN

1B-Elbie Fletcher, PIT

2B-Lonny Frey, CIN

3B-Stan Hack, CHC

3B-Billy Werber, CIN

SS-Arky Vaughan, PIT

SS-Eddie Miller, BSN

CF-Terry Moore, STL

CF-Jim Gleeson, CHC

RF-Mel Ott, NYG

RF-Enos Slaughter, STL

1940 ONEHOF Inductee

Carl Hubbell, P

1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938

253-154, 2.98 ERA, 1677 K, 130 ERA+, 3.55 FIP, 1.166 WHIP

.191, 4 HR, 101 RBI, .191/.212/.227, 18 OPS+

Career WAR-68.2

                For 10 straight years, from 1929-38, there weren’t many better pitchers than King Carl. He helped lead the Giants to a World Championship in 1933 and two more National League pennants in 1936 and ’37. Unfortunately in those years, the other team from the Big Apple was romping through baseball like Godzilla through Tokyo. He is the first pitcher inducted in the ONEHOF since Lefty Grove in 1936.

                Hubbell also won his share of individual honors, winning two NL MVPs in 1933 and ’36. The surprising thing about those trophies is that I also gave him MVPs in the same years. It’s very rare the writers and I agree.

                Next year’s nominees for the ONEHOF, the One-A-Year Hall of Fame in which just one player per calendar year is chosen, are Gabby Hartnett, Bill Terry, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, and Arky Vaughan.

                Along with all of the other lists I keep, I also have a list of the all-time 25-man All-Star team through the year on which I’m currently working. Hubbell just entered that list this year as the 10th pitcher and the 30th best player of all-time (through 1940). He knocked John Clarkson off of that list. Someday I might actually display that list, but who knows when.

                My pick for Meal Ticket’s best year was 1936 when he went 26-6, with a 2.31 ERA. He led the National League in WAR (10.0) and was the anonymous choice by the writers. Of course, 1933 was pretty good, too, when he went 23-12 with a 1.66 ERA.

P-Claude Passeau, Chicago Cubs, 31 Years Old

1936 1937 1939

20-13, 2.50 ERA, 124 K, 149 ERA+, 3.00 FIP, 1.133 WHIP

.204, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .204/.278/.306, 63 OPS+

WAR-7.6

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 16

WAR Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Chicago Cubs

75-79, 5th in NL

Manager Gabby Hartnett

Ballpark: Wrigley Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-99, 3rd in league

ERA+-106, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Claude Passeau, 7.6

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-6.9

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.257

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.00

Errors Committed as P-7

4th Time All-Star-Passeau is going to make my list many times in the World War II years due to leanness of talent, but it should be noted he’s already made four All-Star teams when everyone still played. According to WAR, he was the best pitcher in the National League this year and I would certainly rate this year as his best ever. I’m surprised Passeau never received one Hall of Fame vote.

                SABR says,

                “As the Cubs fell on hard times after 14 consecutive winning seasons (1926-1939), Passeau became one of the team’s enforcers. He had a penchant for throwing inside, regularly dusting off batters, and worked quickly (complete-game victories under two hours were de rigueur). The Sporting News asserted that Passeau’s ‘temper make[s] many of the game’s best hitters duck in terror of his high hard one. Although he paced the circuit in hit batsmen just once (1938), Passeau was one of the instigators in the team’s beanball wars with the Dodgers in the early 1940s. In a highly publicized event on July 19, 1940, at Wrigley Field, Passeau flung his bat at pitcher Hugh Casey of the Dodgers after being dusted off twice and then hit in the back by a pitch in the eighth inning. That precipitated a bench-clearing brawl. Rumors later surfaced that Dodgers manager Leo Durocher had ordered Casey to plunk Passeau.”

                There are many players whose career look less impressive due to the teams for which they toiled. Passeau and Arky Vaughan are certainly among those.

P-Bucky Walters, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old, 2nd MVP

1936 1939

22-10, 2.48 ERA, 115 K, 154 ERA+, 3.85 FIP, 1.092 WHIP

.205, 1 HR, 18 RBI, .205/.231/.256, 34 OPS+

WAR-6.9

All-Star: Yes (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R)

MVP Rank: 3

WAR Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Cincinnati Reds

100-53, 1st in NL, Won WS over Detroit, 4-3

Manager Bill McKechnie

Ballpark: Crosley Field (Neutral)

OPS+-93, 4th in league

ERA+-125, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Bucky Walters, 6.9

Led in:

1940 NL Pitching Title (2nd Time)

Earned Run Average-2.48 (2nd Time)

Wins-22 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.092 (2nd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-7.112 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-305 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-29 (2nd Time)

Batters Faced-1,207 (2nd Time)

Adjusted ERA+-154 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-46 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.1 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Saved-55.08 (2nd Time)

Win Probability Added-4.6 (2nd Time)

Sit. Wins Saved-5.4 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Wins Saved-6.2 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Everyone always says my Reds are the oldest team in baseball, but that’s not exactly true. This particular Reds’ squad started as the Red Stockings in the American Association in 1882 and won the league pennant that year. They wouldn’t win another one until 1919 when the team, now the National League Reds, beat the White Sox in the World Series, five games to three, under suspicious circumstances. They went another 20 years without winning a pennant before taking the 1939 NL crown and then being swept by the Bronx Bombers. This year, they won it all, their first World Championship in 21 years and their first World Series victory that wasn’t (allegedly) thrown to them.

                The World Series of 1940 was the first Fall Classic to go seven games since the 1934 Series in which the Cards beat the Tigers, 4-3. Walters won both of his starts, allowing just three runs in 18 innings and Paul Derringer garnered the other two victories.    

                Wikipedia gives more details:

                “Nevertheless, in the 1940 Series, facing Detroit, Walters gave the National League its first Series game victory since 1937 with a three-hitter in Game 2. Four days later, he evened the Series for the Reds in Game 6 with a five-hit shutout. He also became the first pitcher in 14 years to hit a home run in the Series. In Game 7, the Reds won the second world championship of their modern (post-1900) history.”

                He also won his second MVP, as determined by me. The writers gave it to his teammate, Frank McCormick.

P-Larry French, Chicago Cubs, 32 Years Old

1930 1933 1935 1936 1939

14-14, 3.29 ERA, 107 K, 114 ERA+, 3.43 FIP, 1.236 WHIP

.165, 0 HR, 9 RBI, .165/.237/.200, 23 OPS+

WAR-5.1

All-Star: Yes (2 IP, 0 R, 2 K)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

6th Time All-Star-It’s surprising the Cubs had two of the best three pitchers in the league and still did so poorly 75-79. As a matter of fact, they had a plus-45 run differential and should have finished 82-72. Who knows what happened and who knows whether the manager deserves blame at that point.

                Anyway, French had another great season, but this would be his last full year with the Cubs as he’d be traded to Brooklyn next season. That’s where he’ll have the season that puts him in my Hall.

                SABR says,

                “A modest player who never sought the spotlight, French was quick to give his future Hall of Fame catcher credit. ‘Hartnett taught me more about pitching in two weeks than I had learned in Pittsburgh for six years. He got me to do two things. … One was to throw my curve ball to right-handed hitters, and the other was to throw my screw ball to left-handed hitters.’ French also took advice from former Cleveland workhorse George Uhle, who served on the Cubs’ coaching staff in 1940. ‘[H]e showed me how, by taking a little longer stride, I could break my curve ball high and inside on a right-handed hitter. French split his 28 decisions, completed 18 of 33 starts (the highest marks since 1934), and posted a sturdy 3.29 ERA in 246 innings.”

                Even though French has made six of my lists and five of them since the All-Star Game started in 1933, this was the only year he made the All-Star roster. He really was an underrated workhorse.

P-Rip Sewell, Pittsburgh Pirates, 33 Years Old

16-5, 2.80 ERA, 60 K, 136 ERA+, 3.72 FIP, 1.244 WHIP

.192, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .192/.224/.288, 41 OPS+

WAR-4.6

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 25

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Pittsburgh Pirates

78-76, 4th in NL

Manager Frankie Frisch

Ballpark: Forbes Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-105, 1st in league

ERA+-88, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Arky Vaughan, 6.9

1st Time All-Star-Truett Banks “Rip” Sewell was born on May 11, 1907 in Decatur, AL. The six-foot-one, 180 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing pitcher started his Major League career by pitching 10 2/3 innings for Detroit in 1932 at the age of 25 and then didn’t play in another Major League game until he was 31, when he joined the Pirates. He’s going to make this list a couple more times.

                Part of the reason he was out of the league for a spell is because he took on a famous teammate, according to Wikipedia, which states,

                “In 1934, he got a second chance with the Tigers, attending spring training with the team. However, he got into a fight with Hank Greenberg in Lakeland, Florida. According to Sewell, Greenberg made a comment about Sewell’s southern heritage, and Sewell responded with a comment about Greenberg’s Jewish heritage. The fight was eventually broken up by the police, and the next day, Sewell was called in by manager Mickey Cochrane, who told him: ‘Rip, don’t think I feel any less about you for it; in fact, I think more of you. But we’ve got thirty pitchers and only one first baseman. What do you think I’m going to do?’ (Donald Honig, Baseball When the Grass Was Real (1975), p. 253) Sewell spent the 1934 season playing for the Toledo Mud Hens.

                “Greenberg, however, gave a different account of the fight in his autobiography. According to Greenberg, Sewell kept mouthing off, even after Greenberg asked to be left alone. Greenberg described the fight as follows: ‘As we got off the bus, I grabbed Sewell and started pummeling him. He couldn’t fight, so he grabbed me around the knees. . . . I was embarrassed for him.’ (Hank Greenberg, ‘Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life’, p. 52)”

P-Whit Wyatt, Brooklyn Dodgers, 32 Years Old

1939

15-14, 3.46 ERA, 124 K, 117 ERA+, 3.67 FIP, 1.233 WHIP

.175, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .175/.195/.238, 15 OPS+

WAR-4.5

All-Star: Yes (2 IP, 0 R, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 29

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Brooklyn Dodgers

88-65, 2nd in NL

Manager Leo Durocher

Ballpark: Ebbets Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-90, 6th in league

ERA+-116, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Dolph Camilli, 5.4

Led in:

Shutouts-5

2nd Time All-Star-Thanks to these next two pitchers, Wyatt and Freddie Fitzsimmons, Brooklyn had one of the National League’s best staffs. Unfortunately, only Dolph Camilli could hit, but all of that would change soon enough. The Dodgers’ second place finish was their highest since they finished in the same position in 1924. Player/Manager Leo Durocher was starting to gain some fame as a leader.

                Ebbets Field didn’t make it easy on the pitchers who called that park their home. Not that it stopped Wyatt, who was 10-8 in Brooklyn with a 3.37 ERA and 5-6 on the road with a 3.62 ERA. Three of his league-leading five shutouts were at home. If only Wyatt would have learned to pitch before he turned 31, there’s no doubt the righty would have had some Hall of Fame attention. He’s probably going to make this list just two more times and when the war ended, so did his career.

                Going back to the Bums’ home park, Brooklyn did much better on the road pitching than they did at home. At home, the Dodgers went 41-37 with a 3.73 ERA while when traveling, they went 47-28 with a 3.28 ERA. The arms of Flatbush had an incredible 17 shutouts between them, 10 on the road.  It showed early on this team was better than the numbers might display and they’ll show that over the next few years. This year, they ran out of gas in the second half of the season, next year they won’t.

P-Freddie Fitzsimmons, Brooklyn Dodgers, 38 Years Old

1926 1938

16-2, 2.81 ERA, 35 K, 144 ERA+, 3.38 FIP, 1.079 WHIP

.106, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .106/.176/.128, -17 OPS+

WAR-4.4

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.889 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Fat Freddie could no longer chew up innings as he did for the Giants from 1926-34, but when he did pitch for the Dodgers, he was still effective. He had a higher Pitchers’ WAR than his teammate, Whit Wyatt, but I have him after him just because of Fitzsimmons’ awful hitting. This most likely is his last season on the list.

                In the World Series for the Dodgers in 1941, Fitzsimmons started one game against the Yankees, but got no decision despite pitching seven inning and allowing just four hits and no runs.

                SABR says,

                “Pitching more than 3,000 innings had taken a toll on Fitzsimmons’ arm. In constant pain during his last few seasons, his elbow swelled and his arm seemed to curl up after each outing, making it impossible to hold a ball for several days. ‘[Fitz’s] arm was so crooked,’ said [Brooklyn manager Leo] Durocher, ‘that he literally could not reach down and pick anything up. … [His arm] threw him off balance and gave him a rolling, swinging gait.’

                “Fitzsimmons retired with his wife, Helen, to Yucca Valley, where he enjoyed an active outdoor life and occasionally scouted. At the age of 78, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on November 18, 1979. He was cremated and the ashes buried at the Montecito Memorial Park in Colton, California.”

                What a tragic end for the rotund pitcher. There are no extra details on why he offed himself on the SABR page.

P-Kirby Higbe, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old

14-19, 3.72 ERA, 137 K, 105 ERA+, 3.73 FIP, 1.283 WHIP

.165, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .165/.189/.194, 8 OPS+

WAR-4.3

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 21

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Philadelphia Phillies

50-103, 8th in NL

Manager Doc Prothro

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Neutral)

OPS+-77, 8th in league

ERA+-89, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Kirby Higbe, 4.3

Led in:

Strikeouts-137

Bases on Balls-121 (2nd Time)

Wild Pitches-9

1st Time All-Star-Walter Kirby Higbe was born on April 8, 1915 in Columbia, SC. The five-foot-11, 190 pound righty pitcher started with the Cubs in 1937, pitching just one game in ’37 and two games in ’38. After pitching nine games for Chicago in 1939, he was traded by the Chicago Cubs with Ray Harrell and Joe Marty to the Philadelphia Phillies for Claude Passeau. Higbe ended up having his best season ever this year for the Phillies. He’s going to be traded again before next season, joining a deep Dodgers’ staff.

                SABR says,

                “Kirby Higbe, a good old boy from South Carolina was a hell-raiser all his life. He was a hard thrower who developed his fastball in childhood by tossing rocks and later saw it compared to Bob Feller’s. Higbe had a taste for alcohol and a lust for living that landed him in trouble a few times, but he was honest about himself, admitting he had made mistakes that he regretted. 

                “In 1940 the Phillies were last again. Higbe, 14-19, again led the league in walks, but now also led in strikeouts.  He was selected to the All-Star team, but did not play. While it may have been painful to play for a losing team, the regular work helped Kirby a great deal, work he likely would not have had on a pennant contender.”

                For someone who had a reputation as a wild man, it seems surprising he actually missed playing time early in his career due to homesickness. You can read about that at the SABR link.

P-Lon Warneke, St. Louis Cardinals, 31 Years Old

1932 1933 1934 1935

16-10, 3.14 ERA, 85 K, 126 ERA+, 3.70 FIP, 1.216 WHIP

.209, 1 HR, 13 RBI, .209/.253/.267, 41 OPS+

WAR-4.3

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 1 percent chance)

St. Louis Cardinals

84-69, 3rd in NL

Managers Ray Blades (14-24), Mike Gonzalez (1-5), and Billy Southworth (69-40)

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-101, 2nd in league

ERA+-104, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Johnny Mize, 7.7

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000

5th Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team in 1935 for the Cubs, Warneke continued to be effective, if not great. After the 1936 campaign, he was traded by the Chicago Cubs to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ripper Collins and Roy Parmelee. He continued to be a stellar pitcher for the Cards and would be for a few seasons.

                Wikipedia says,

                “After his playing career ended, Warneke umpired in the Pacific Coast League for the 1946, 1947, and 1948 seasons. In 1949, he became a National League umpire, working that season on a three-man umpiring crew with Jocko Conlan and Bill Stewart. Warneke umpired through the 1955 season, working a total of 1055 games while making 44 ejections. He was an umpire for the 1952 All-Star Game and for the 1954 World Series; he was umpiring along the left field line when Willie Mays made “The Catch” on September 29, 1954. Warneke resigned as an umpire after the 1955 season.

                “Warneke was a businessman in Hot Springs, Arkansas, before serving as County Judge of Garland County, Arkansas, from 1963 to 1972. Warneke was elected to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame on January 19, 1961, and still leads all Arkansas players in many Major League pitching categories including winsgames startedinnings pitchedcomplete games, and shutouts. Warneke died on June 23, 1976, at his home in Hot Springs; he is buried in Owley Cemetery in Montgomery County. On July 21, 2011, Warneke was posthumously inducted into the Reading Baseball Hall of Fame.”

P-Dick Errickson, Boston Bees, 28 Years Old

12-13, 3.16 ERA, 34 K, 116 ERA+, 4.14 FIP, 1.401 WHIP

.157, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .157/.157/.181, -4 OPS+

WAR-3.9

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 78 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Bees

65-87, 7th in NL

Manager Casey Stengel

Ballpark: Braves Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-87, 7th in league

ERA+-84, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Eddie Miller, 4.8

1st Time All-Star-Richard Merriwell “Dick” or “Lief” Errickson was born on March 5, 1912 in Vineland, NJ. The six-foot-one, 175 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing pitcher started with Boston in 1938 and then had his best season ever this year. It was a year the Bees didn’t have much talent and even Casey Stengel couldn’t keep them out of seventh place.

                There isn’t much on Errickson on the net. Historic Baseball says,

                “Dick Errickson, a pitcher who won 36 games in the major leagues, died on Nov. 28, 1999 in Vineland, N.J.

“He made his major league debut on April 27, 1938 for the Boston Braves and finished the season with a 9-7 record in 34 games.

“His most productive season came in 1940 when he was 12-13 in 236.1 innings pitched with a 3.16 ERA. The Braves finished in seventh place that season.”

It’s always harder to write up players like Errickson who don’t do too much significant in their careers and yet there are more players like him than there are the all-time greats. Through 1940, 38 players have made 10 or more of these lists. Meanwhile, 449 players have only made one All-Star team and you can bet even more have made none.

After this season of tossing 236 1/3 innings, Errickson’s arm gave away and he’d last just two more years and go 9-18 for Boston and the Cubs. He wouldn’t pitch again after 1942. Oh, by the way, how great (and yet unoriginal) that Errickson’s nickname is Lief.

P-Mort Cooper, St. Louis Cardinals, 27 Years Old

1939

11-12, 3.63 ERA, 95 K, 109 ERA+, 3.85 FIP, 1.348 WHIP

.157, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .157/.167/.181, -6 OPS+

WAR-3.6

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

2nd Time All-Star-Cooper made my list for the second consecutive season and he’s going to make it a few more times. He didn’t have a long enough career to make the Hall of Fame, but during the World War II years, he was one of the league’s best hurlers.     

                SABR says,

                “The Cardinals and Cooper again got off to sluggish starts in 1940. Team owner Sam Breadon had little patience with managers who did not produce immediate results, and with the team 14 games below .500, he fired Ray Blades. New manager Billy Southworth, an agreeable and communicative skipper, and a fatherly figure to his players, instituted a platoon system and juggled his pitching staff to create the best matchups. The team responded by going 69-40 to finish in third place. But Cooper was inconsistent. Through August 6 he won just six games and lost eight. He caught fire in the last seven weeks, completing seven of ten starts and tossing two six-hit shutouts. Though he finished with a losing record (11-12), Cooper was a workhorse, logging 230 2/3 innings and completing 16 of 29 starts. With a surfeit of major-league-ready pitchers in the minors, the Redbirds were on the verge of a decade-long period of pitching excellence.”

                Cooper would have many difficulties in his life, many self-inflicted. He had married in 1933 and his first wife died in a car accident in 1936. Right now, in 1940, he was married to Bernadine Owen, but this too wouldn’t last long.

C-Harry Danning, New York Giants, 28 Years Old

1939

.300, 13 HR, 91 RBI, .300/.349/.454, 119 OPS+

WAR-3.8

All-Star: Yes (1-1, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Giants

72-80, 6th in NL

Manager Bill Terry

Ballpark: Polo Grounds V (Hitter’s)

OPS+-93, 5th in league

ERA+-103, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Mel Ott, 5.4

Led in:

Def. Games as C-131 (2nd Time)

Putouts as C-634 (2nd Time)

Assists as C-91 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as C-15

Double Plays Turned as C-13 (2nd Time)

Passed Balls-7

Caught Stealing as C-37 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-5.70

Range Factor/Game as C-5.53

2nd Time All-Star-I wrote up last season as his final time on this list, but it’s always hard to predict for catchers. That being said, I’m going to cut and paste from something I cut-and-pasted last season. Wikipedia says,

                “Then, on June 15, 1940, he hit for the cycle in a game against Pittsburgh. His home run came on an inside-the-park home run that landed 460 feet (140 m) on the fly in front of the Giants’ clubhouse, wedged behind the Eddie Grant memorial.”

                Catchers don’t hit for cycles all that often so that’s quite a feat.

                You might wonder the last time the Giants finished as low as sixth and it was in 1932, John McGraw’s last for the squad. As you might be able to guess, current manager Bill Terry is not long for his spot on the bench.

                This was a tough year for Danning as SABR mentions:

                “In the offseasons, Danning was still living with his mother at home in Los Angeles. He eloped to Mexico in January 1940 to marry Diane Nygord, a 25-year-old New Yorker called Dee Dee, whom he had known for only a couple of weeks.

                “Danning was on the way to his best year in 1940, leading the league in hitting for most of the summer, when his pregnant wife underwent an emergency appendectomy. Their twin boys were born dead. Evidently shaken by the family tragedy, he struggled through the last two months of the season to finish at .300 with a career-high 91 RBIs.”

C-Ernie Lombardi, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1932 1935 1936 1938 1939

.319, 14 HR, 74 RBI, .319/.382/.489, 138 OPS+

WAR-3.2

All-Star: Yes (1-2)

MVP Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1986)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 1 percent chance)

Led in:

Passed Balls-7 (7th Time)

6th Time All-Star-You might want to go back to Schnozz’s 1939 write-up to read about Lombardi’s big goof in the 1939 World Series. It’s good the big man got a shot at redemption as the Reds again won the National League pennant and then beat the Tigers in the World Series, 4-3. However, Lombardi only played in two games, going one-for-three (.333) with a double and a walk. According to SABR,

                “The 1940 season offered a different climax. Powered by a 23-8 record in September, the Reds coasted to their second pennant in a row. They had 100 wins, besting second-place Brooklyn by 12 games. But Lombardi badly sprained his right ankle on September 15 at Brooklyn. His season was over, and when it was time for the World Series, backup Jimmie Wilson caught most of the games, with Lom able to catch in only one. Behind two wins each from Walters and Derringer, the Reds topped the Detroit Tigers in seven games.

                “In Lombardi’s ten years with the Reds, he hit over .300 in seven. By all accounts he was a terrific teammate and a good-hearted person. Like most people, he had his peculiarities. He did not believe in signing autographs. It wasn’t until a youngster asked if he was illiterate that Lombardi, to dispute the point, signed the scrap of paper.”

                He needs to make two more of these lists to make my Hall of Fame. I base it all on numbers, but if I went by feelings, I’d definitely add Schnozz. He might make it anyway.

Johnny Mize of the Cardinals batting.

1B-Johnny Mize, St. Louis Cardinals, 27 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939

.314, 43 HR, 137 RBI, .314/.404/.636, 177 OPS+

All-Star: Yes (0-2)

MVP Rank: 2

WAR Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1981)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1940)

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-7.7

WAR Position Players-7.7 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-8.0 (2nd Time)

Slugging %-.636 (3rd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.039 (3rd Time)

Total Bases-368 (3rd Time)

Home Runs-43 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-137

Adjusted OPS+-177 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-147 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-61 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-6.0 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-87 (3rd Time)

Times On Base-269 (2nd Time)

Offensive Win %-.813 (3rd Time)

AB per HR-13.5

Base-Out Runs Added-66.25 (2nd Time)

Situ. Wins Added-6.2 (3rd Time)

Base-Out Wins Added-6.4 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-First things first for the best first baseman in the National League, Mize made my Hall of Fame. He’s the 118th member of Ron’s Hall of Fame, located in a Trump Hotel, just to irritate people, and the 11th first baseman inducted. It was easier for him to make my Hall than it would be for him to enter Cooperstown, which took him until 1981. Shocking!

                SABR has quite a bit about this great season, saying,

                “Mize recalled arriving for spring training in 1940 at the Cardinals’ camp in St. Petersburg, Florida. When he walked into the clubhouse he saw 43 bats lined up along the clubhouse wall — his bats, some left over from the year before, and new ones ordered by the team at his request. The clubhouse man ‘was most vigorously complaining that they occupied an entire bat trunk. I asked him how he expected me to work without my tools — for which he had no answer,’ Mize said. Or, as his teammate Gutteridge said, ‘When you hit .350, they buy you all the bats you want.’

                “So Mize started the 1940 season with 43 bats, and when it was over he’d hit a club record 43 home runs, leading the league in that category and in RBIs (137). ‘To this day I wonder what would have happened if I had started the season with 61 bats,’ he mused in How to Hit.”

                I gave the MVP to Bucky Walters, the Reds hurler, and the writers gave it to Frank McCormick, the Cincinnati first baseman. Mize could’ve easily won it from either of us.

1B-Dolph Camilli, Brooklyn Dodgers, 33 Years Old

1936 1937 1938 1939

.287, 23 HR, 96 RBI, .287/.397/.529, 146 OPS+

WAR-5.4

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 12

WAR Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 75 percent chance)

Led in:

Win Probability Added-6.7 (2nd Time)

Championship WPA-14.5

5th Time All-Star-Out of every 100 players who make this list once, only 20 percent of them make it five times, which puts Camilli among the elite. His making my Hall of Fame is still going to come down to him making my list in 1942 and since I don’t peek ahead, you’ll have to wait just like I do. “ His best year is still ahead. In Camilli’s 1937 blurb, I copied the following from SABR,

“In later recalling his days as a Phil and playing at Baker Bowl, Camilli said, ‘We always faced tough pitching in that park. Other teams knew we had good hitting and they didn’t pitch any humpty dumpties against us and often they were left-handers. As a result, I think I hit them better than right-handers. I hit the left-handers good and the more I saw them, the better I hit them.’”

I was wondering how true that was, so let’s take a look at the lefty Camilii’s stats against left-handed pitchers.  For his career, Camilli  had a line of .289/.395/.518/.913 against righties and .244/.366/.433/.799 against lefties. That’s not terrible, but it’s nothing compared to his stats against right-handed throwers.

Maybe he was just talking about 1937, when I wrote this and that has possibilities. (I’m not sure when the interview took place.) In 1937, his stats vs. righties were .337/.444./.604/1.048 and vs lefties were .320/.426/.568/.994. So it looks like his hitting vs. lefties would decline over the years, but it was pretty strong when he played in Philly.

1B-Frank McCormick, Cincinnati Reds, 29 Years Old

1939

.309, 19 HR, 127 RBI, .309/.367/.482, 132 OPS+

WAR-5.4

All-Star: Yes (0-1, SH)

MVP Rank: 1

WAR Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 13 percent chance)

Led in:

1940 NL MVP

At Bats-618 (2nd Time)

Hits-191 (3rd Time)

Doubles-44

Double Plays Grounded Into-23

Outs Made-451

Putouts-1,587 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-155 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,587 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-146 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.995 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-One of the good things about this modern stat era in which we live is writers don’t just look at batting average and RBIs and pick their MVP, usually from a team that won it all. Those statistics certainly helped McCormick in winning it this season. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a horrible choice; he is in the top 10 in WAR, but I’m not even sure he was the best player on his team, never mind the league. I couldn’t have picked him higher than sixth, behind teammates Bucky Walters and Lonny Frey and behind fellow first baseman Johnny Mize. I gave Walters my MVP.

                Until I read McCormick’s SABR page, I didn’t realize there had been a suicide on the Reds this season. It says:

                “In 1940, the Reds won it all and McCormick, who drove in 127 runs and led the league in hits and fielding percentage again, as well as in doubles (44), was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player. (Curiously, the American League MVP was also a tall, strapping Bronx native, Hank Greenberg.) Frank hit just .214 in the World Series this time, but strong performances from Werber and pitching aces Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters helped Cincinnati topple the Tigers in seven games. Unfortunately, the joy of the Reds’ championship season was dampened by the suicide on August 2 of backup catcher Willard Hershberger, who had been despondent about calling for the wrong pitches in a loss the day before. (He was hitting .309 at the time.)”

1B-Elbie Fletcher, Pittsburgh Pirates, 24 Years Old

1938

.273, 16 HR, 104 RBI, .273/.418/.437, 137 OPS+

WAR-5.3

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 19

WAR Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

On-Base %-.418

Bases on Balls-119

Hit By Pitch-9

Assists as 1B-104 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.25 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.99 (3rd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-When Fletcher last made my list in 1938, he was a first baseman for the Boston Bees. During the 1939 year, Fletch was traded by the Boston Bees to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Bill Schuster and cash. He is the first Pirate to be an All-Star at this position since Gus Suhr in 1938. Suhr fell apart after that season and 1940 was his last year. Fletcher took over and was one of the many good National Leaguers at this position. That’s why he’s so unrecognized.

                A website called Pirates Prospects has a lot on the 1940 season. Here’s a bit:

                “The stats for Fletcher show a big split between his performance at Forbes Field and on the road. He batted .317/.482/.520 at home and .237/.363/.371 on the road. So perhaps this next number is a bit surprising. Despite the 267 point split in OPS, he drove in 55 of those 104 runs on the road.

                “Fletcher was second on the Pirates in RBIs in 1940 (Maurice Van Robays, 116). He was second in homers behind Vince DiMaggio (19) and third in OPS behind DiMaggio and Deb Garms, who won the NL batting title in 1940 with a .355 average. Fletcher was second in runs scored behind the 113 from Arky Vaughan.

                “Fletcher’s .418 OBP is tied for 38th best in a season for the Pirates. His 119 walks still ranks fifth all-time. It was actually a team record at the time, barely surpassing the record of 118 set by Arky Vaughan four years earlier. Fletcher had the record for ten years until it was broken by Ralph Kiner.”

2B-Lonny Frey, Cincinnati Reds, 29 Years Old

1935 1939

.266, 8 HR, 54 RBI, .266/.361/.371, 101 OPS+

WAR-6.8

All-Star: No

WAR Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 75 percent chance)

Led in:

Defensive WAR-3.3

Stolen Bases-22

Def. Games as 2B-150

Putouts as 2B-366

Assists as 2B-512

Double Plays Turned as 2B-111

3rd Time All-Star-Junior Frey’s heritage was certainly ruined by missing two seasons for World War II. He almost certainly would have made my list in 1944 or 1945 and if he did, he would be in my Hall of Fame. I doubt he would have made Cooperstown regardless, since his stats didn’t reflect his true value, with the glove. It’s that glove that made him fifth in WAR this year. Despite the good year, Frey, like Lombardi, didn’t get to play too much in the World Series because of an injury. SABR has more details, stating,

                “Frey led the league with twenty-two stolen bases in 1940, and he was fourth in runs scored (102) and sixth in walks (80). Defensively, he led all National League second basemen in games played, assists, chances, putouts, double plays, and fielding percentage.

                “The Reds made it back to the World Series in 1940 and defeated the Detroit Tigers in seven games to capture their first title since 1919. ‘We were so confident,’ boasted Frey. ‘It was almost ridiculous to say we were going to get beat.’ Frey sat out most of the Series with a toe injury; he batted twice as a pinch hitter and made one late-game appearance at second base.”

                It has long been a complaint of WAR that it tends to overrate the good fielders who do well in Defensive WAR. How good of player is Andrelton Simmons really? Or how good was Frey this year? I know he had great numbers with the glove, but was he really the fifth best player in the NL?

3B-Stan Hack, Chicago Cubs, 30 Years Old

1934 1935 1936 1938

.317, 8 HR, 40 RBI, .317/.395/.439, 133 OPS+

WAR-5.3

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 8

WAR Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Led in:

Hits-191

Times On Base-269 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 3B-148 (4th Time)

Putouts as 3B-175 (4th Time)

Assists as 3B-302 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 3B-27 (3rd Time)

5th Time All-Star-Hack didn’t make this list last season due to a lack of power and a difficult year fielding, according to dWAR. He’s back this year, again displaying both bat and glove in sync as the National League’s best third sacker. He would not lose any playing time to World WAR II and he’ll have some good seasons coming up.

                Wikipedia sums up his season, saying,

                “He had another outstanding campaign in 1940, topping the league in putouts (175), assists (302) and double plays (27), finishing fourth with a .317 batting average, and tying for the NL lead in hits (191). He was one behind the league leader with 21 steals, and was fourth in doubles (38, a personal best), fifth in runs (101), and sixth in on-base percentage (.395) and total bases (265). Although he did not make the All-Star team, he finished eighth in the MVP balloting. On May 17 of that year, he suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by a foul ball while standing on third base as a baserunner.”

                The website, Not in Hall of Fame agrees Hack should be in Cooperstown. It states,

                “Hack had no slugging numbers, but that was not what he was paid to do.  His main goal was to get on base and defend the hot corner and he did both tasks very well.  He did accumulate some of his numbers during a weakened league (during World War II), but he was a consistent performer who should have got more Hall of Fame votes than he did.”

3B-Billy Werber, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1934 1939

.277, 12 HR, 48 RBI, .277/.361/.416, 113 OPS+

WAR-4.8

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Fielding % as 3B-.962

3rd Time All-Star-Werber and Stan Hack were the best third basemen in the National League, yet neither was selected to the All-Star Game. Well then, who was? It was Cookie Lavagetto and Pinky May. Lavagetto played for the Dodgers and hit just .257 with a measly .344 slugging and a 90 OPS+. May at least hit .293, but again with no power. It’s possible May was just there to represent the Phillies.

                One thing Werber has that Hack doesn’t it a championship to his name and he won that this year. He was outstanding in the World Series, hitting .370 (10-for-27) with four doubles as the Reds beat the Tigers, 4-3.

                There’s a lot in Werber’s SABR write-up about the suicide of his teammate, Bill Hershberger, and I suggest you read it. Here’s more from the season:

                “Werber had another strong year in the leadoff slot, hitting .277, finishing third in the league in runs scored with 105, and fourth in steals with 16. He reduced his errors by half to 17 and led the league in fielding by third basemen with a fielding percentage of .962. Early in the season, on May 13, Werber stroked four consecutive doubles in a 14-inning game, becoming the first batter to hit four doubles in a game in both leagues.

                “The regular season, however, was punctuated by tragedy. Willard “Bill” Hershberger, the Reds’ backup catcher, suffered from severe depression, although his teammates did not realize the size of the problem.         

                “…The Reds had a doubleheader against the Braves on the next day, and Hershberger did not show up at the ballpark. During the doubleheader, the hotel staff found Hershie, who had committed suicide in his hotel room.” 

SS-Arky Vaughan, Pittsburgh Pirates, 28 Years Old

1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939

.300, 7 HR, 95 RBI, .300/.393/.453, 134 OPS+

WAR-6.9

All-Star: Yes (1-3, 1 R, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 15

WAR Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1985)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1935)

Led in:

Games Played-156 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-689

Runs Scored-113 (2nd Time)

Triples-15 (3rd Time)

Times On Base-269 (3rd Time)

Assists-546 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed-52 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as SS-155 (6th Time)

Assists as SS-542 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as SS-52 (3rd Time)

9th Time All-Star-Can you believe Vaughan has made nine straight All-Star lists and he’s only 28 years old? But here’s the thing about Arky – some people make this list through consistency, but the Pittsburgh shortstop is piling up incredible years season after season. He has now been in the top 10 in WAR eight straight years and only one of those was he ever out of the top five. I’ve already given him one Most Valuable Player, but he never got higher than third from the writers.

                You also might have noticed in Carl Hubbell’s write up at the top of this post that he’s one of five players up for the ONEHOF next season and he’s got a good shot.

                Along with everything else, Vaughan also was named the captain of the Pirates this season. His only negative was his 52 errors, the most at shortstop in the National League since Tommy Thevenow of the Phillies in 1930 who had 56.

                This will be the last of eight straight seasons Vaughan has led the Pirates in WAR. It was an incredible stretch for one of the most underrated players I’ve written about lo these many years. It’s not going to stop him from making this list. It’s my guess he’s got at least two more of them and that will give him 11, which would make him second in the shortstop category, just two behind another great Pirate at this position, Honus Wagner, someone that everyone has heard of.

SS-Eddie Miller, Boston Bees, 23 Years Old

.276, 14 HR, 79 RBI, .276/.330/.418, 111 OPS+

WAR-4.8

All-Star: Yes (0-1, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 13

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Putouts as SS-405

Double Plays Turned as SS-122

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.97 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.91 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.970

1st Time All-Star-Edward Robert “Eddie” or “Eppie” Miller was born on November 26, 1916 in Pittsburgh, PA. The five-foot-nine, 180 pound righty shortstop started with Cincinnati in 1936 and 1937 before departing the Majors for 1938. In 1939, he was acquired in a trade with the Yankees and would have a decent National League career, mainly due to his mitt. He would make seven All-Star teams.

                Wikipedia says,

                “Born in Pittsburgh, Miller made his Major League debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 1936 as a 19-year-old. He played in 41 games over 2 seasons with the Reds before being traded to the New York Yankees in 1938 in exchange for Willard Hershberger. Miller never played for the Yankees at the major league level and was subsequently traded to the Boston Bees less than a year later.

                “He became the starting shortstop while in Boston, and established himself as one of the National League’s best shortstops during his four seasons there. His first season with Boston was shortened when he fractured his ankle in a collision with Al Simmons. He recovered in 1940 to a career-best .276 for the Bees while leading all NL shortstops in fielding percentage and appearing in the MLB All-Star Game. While his batting average fell over the next two seasons with Boston, he led all shortstops in fielding percentage both years.”               

                The reason Eppie made my list is this was his best hitting year ever. His .276 average would be the highest for his career and while he would have better power numbers later in his term, it was during a time when the whole league was hitting.

CF-Terry Moore, St. Louis Cardinals, 28 Years Old

.304, 17 HR, 64 RBI. .304/.356/.475, 123 OPS+

WAR-4.9

All-Star: Yes (0-3, 1 BB, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 18

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Power-Speed #-17.5

Def. Games as CF-133

Assists as CF-11 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as CF-4 (3rd Time)

Putouts as OF-383 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-3.09 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.96 (3rd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Terry Bluford Moore was born on May 27, 1912 in Vernon, AL. The five-foot-11, 195 pound righty centerfielder started with St. Louis in 1935 and finally learned to hit over the last couple years. This was the only season he hit over .300 (.304) and tied for his high in homers with 17.

                SABR states,

                “He was a productive hitter, but never an elite one. ‘Everybody knows my weakness,’ he said, motioning to fastballs high and tight. Slotted first or second in the lineup, the right-handed batter had more walks than strikeouts in his career — twice as many in two seasons. A slender 5’11” and 160 pounds when he came up, he totaled only 20 home runs in his first four years. Then he put on 30 pounds, most of it in his chest and shoulders, and slammed 17 homers in both 1939 and 1940. But he took more pride in his fielding: ‘Hitting is mostly luck.’

                “Over the years he endured a plague of business misfortunes. A nightclub and a bowling alley he owned both burned. A tornado demolished another of his bowling lanes. Burglars stole one of his World Series rings.

                “Terry Moore died at 82 on March 29, 1995, after a long illness. The chronicler of his Cardinal teams, the Post-Dispatch’s Bob Broeg, wrote, ‘For a chance to play a boy’s game as a man, he was always grateful.’”

                I suggest you read the whole SABR article about possible racism charges against Moore and make your own decision.

CF-Jim Gleeson, Chicago Cubs, 28 Years Old

.313, 5 HR, 61 RBI, .313/.389/.470, 139 OPS+

WAR-4.2

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 68 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

1st Time All-Star-James Joseph “Jim” or “Gee Gee” Gleeson was born on March 5, 1912 in Kansas City, MO. The six-foot-one, 191 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing centerfielder started with Cleveland in 1936, didn’t play in the Majors in 1937, and then came to the Cubs in 1939. He had a short five-year career and this was easily his best year.

                Wikipedia, take it away:

                “Gleeson played all or parts of five seasons (1936; 1939–42) in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland IndiansChicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. In his best season, for the 1940 Cubs, Gleeson appeared in 129 games, batted 485 times and made 152 hits, including 39 doubles, 11 triples, five home runs and 61 runs batted in; he batted .313 that season. Overall, Gleeson appeared in 392 Major-League games, batting .263 with 16 home runs and 154 RBI. Defensively, he posted a .972 fielding percentage playing at all three outfield positions.

                “He remained in the game after his playing career ended as a minor league manager, and Major League scout and coach. Although he worked for a time for his ‘hometown’ Kansas City Athletics as a scout and Major League coach (1957), he spent much of his career in the New York Yankees‘ organization, serving as the first-base coach on Yogi Berra‘s staff during the Yanks’ 1964 pennant-winning season.

                “He died in Kansas City at the age of 84.”

                It’s interesting to me how many players have that one good season and then are never heard from again.

RF-Mel Ott, New York Giants, 31 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1931 193219331934 19351936 1937 1938 1939

.289, 19 HR, 79 RBI, .289/.407/.457, 137 OPS+

WAR-5.4

All-Star: Yes (0-0, 1 R, 1 BB)

WAR Rank: 7

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1930)

Led in:

Assists as RF-10 (3rd Time)

13th Time All-Star-Where is Ott going to finish among the all-time greats? He’s going to end up making possibly 17 of these lists. Only seven others have done that. At this point in his career, I would rate Master Melvin as the 12th greatest player of all-time up to this point, right behind Lou Gehrig. After next season, he will possibly rank 11th and at some point will enter the top 10.

                So is Mel Ott one of the top 10 players of all-time? Probably not now, because many other greats have played since he hung up his leg kick in 1947, but I have almost no doubt he’s in the top 20 players ever. Think about it, at the age of 31, with five full seasons left, he’s already in the top dozen players that had ever played the game.

                Let’s talk about 1940 a bit, shall we? It will be the last of 12 straight seasons in which Ott finished in the top 10 in WAR in the National League. He was the greatest player in his league, but rarely the best in the league for any one season. This just proved his consistency. Many players come and go on this list, but very few can put together a string of seasons like the powerful lefty from Louisiana.

                If you look at the writings of the day, you’ll read many glowing reports of this man and not just of his baseball skills, but his humanity. That didn’t happen much in those days.

RF-Enos Slaughter, St. Louis Cardinals, 24 Years Old

1939

.306, 17 HR, 73 RBI, .306/.370/.504, 134 OPS+

WAR-4.7

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1985)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as RF-5 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as RF-.987

2nd Time All-Star-Some players get off to outstanding starts in their careers and have their best seasons towards the beginning on their tenure. That’s not Slaughter, which will show you how great this player will be. He made my All-Star lists last year and this year, but hasn’t shown everything he can do yet. Even though he has made my list twice, he hasn’t been picked for an All-star team yet. He did get some MVP recognition in 1939 and finished ninth in WAR Position Players with a 4.7 in 1939, but he’s got some better seasons ahead. Country is another one who had to wait awhile to make the Hall of Fame, but he’ll make it sooner for me.

                From what I’ve read about Slaughter, he’s a lot like Pete Rose, hustling everywhere he went on the field. Judging from his stolen base stats, he probably didn’t have much speed, yet he always hit a lot of triples, just like Rose.

                Speaking of Rose, since it’ll be many seasons before I’m writing about him, even though I’m a Reds fan, I’ve never been a big Pete Rose fan. Others who like the Reds argue all the time for him to be in Cooperstown, but I couldn’t care less. There’s no doubt Rose is going to make my Hall of Fame and my ONEHOF, because those are based on numbers, but that doesn’t mean he actually deserves those honors. Pete Rose always seemed to care more about Pete Rose than he did about his team.


1939 American League All-Star Team

P-Bob Feller, CLE, 1st MVP

P-Bobo Newsom, SLB/DET

P-Lefty Grove, BOS

P-Red Ruffing, NYY

P-Ted Lyons, CHW

P-Dutch Leonard, WSH

P-Tommy Bridges, DET

P-Johnny Rigney, CHW

P-Mel Harder, CLE

P-Eddie Smith, PHA/CHW

C-Bill Dickey, NYY

C-Rudy York, DET

1B-Jimmie Foxx,  BOS

1B-Hank Greenberg, DET

1B-Hal Trosky, CLE

2B-Joe Gordon, NYY

2B-Charlie Gehringer, DET, ONEHOF Inductee

3B-Red Rolfe, NYY

3B-Buddy Lewis, WSH

3B-Harlond Clift, SLB

SS-Luke Appling, CHW

LF-Bob Johnson, PHA

LF-George Selkirk, NYY

CF-Joe DiMaggio, NYY

RF-Ted Williams, BOS

P-Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians, 20 Years Old, 1st MVP

1938

24-9, 2.85 ERA, 246 K, 154 ERA+, 3.35 FIP, 1.244 WHIP

.212, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .212/.316/.283, 56 OPS+

WAR-9.7

All-Star: Yes (3 2/3 IP, 1 H, 2 K)

MVP Rank: 3

WAR Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1962)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Cleveland Indians

87-67, 3rd in AL

Manager Ossie Vitt

Ballpark: League Park II and Cleveland Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-97, 3rd in league

ERA+-108, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Bob Feller, 9.7

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-9.7

WAR for Pitchers-9.2

Wins-24

Hits per 9 IP-6.887 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-7.463 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-296 2/3

Strikeouts-246 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-24

Bases on Balls-142 (2nd Time)

Wild Pitches-14

Adj. Pitching Runs-55

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.4

Base-Out Runs Saved-65.64

Sit. Wins Saved-5.8

Base-Out Wins Saved-6.8

2nd Time All-Star-At the age of 20, Rapid Robert already was the best player in the American League, according to me anyways. I gave him the AL MVP, joining Nap Lajoie in 1906 as the only Cleveland players to earn this award. Those are also the two years, thus far, in which Indians (or the Naps, in Lajoie’s case) led the AL in WAR. Feller’s was 9.7, Lajoie’s was 10.0. In case you’re wondering, Joltin’ Joe earned the writers’ vote for MVP and he’s a good choice, but he played only 120 games, which hurt him in my eyes. Jimmie Foxx also finished above Feller and he played in just 124 games. In my mind, Feller earns the crown.

                Wikipedia says,

                “In 1939, Feller received his first career Opening Day start, against the Tigers, after a match against the Browns was rained out. He won the game 5–1, allowing three hits. On Mother’s Day, Feller pitched against the Chicago White Sox with his family in attendance. One pitch was fouled off by Marv Owen into the seats and into the face of Feller’s mother; he went on to win the game. Feller finished the 1939 season leading the AL in wins (24), complete games (24) and innings pitched (296.2), and led the majors for a second consecutive year in both walks (142) and strikeouts (246).”

                Feller’s 246 strikeouts were the most in either league since Dazzy Vance K’d 262 in 1924. Later on in his career, the Heater From Van Meter will shatter his own high.

P-Bobo Newsom, St. Louis Browns/Detroit Tigers, 31 Years Old

1934 1938

20-11, 3.58 ERA, 192 K, 136 ERA+, 3.83 FIP, 1.365 WHIP

.191, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .191/.198/.217, 4 OPS+

WAR-7.7

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 19

WAR Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 75 percent chance)

St. Louis Browns

43-111, 8th in AL

Manager Fred Haney

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-82, 8th in league

ERA+-81, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Harland Clift, 3.3

Detroit Tigers

81-73, 5th in AL

Manager Del Baker

Ballpark: Briggs Stadium (Hitter’s)

OPS+-94, 4th in league

ERA+-114, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bobo Newsom, 6.8

Led in:

Games Started-37 (4th Time)

Complete Games-24 (2nd Time)

Batters Faced-1,261 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Bobo (not Boba, you Star Wars nerds!) is one of the most fun of all the players to write about. For one thing, he didn’t really start to shine until he turned 30, with the exception of his 1934 season when he was 26. Second, he never stays at a place for long and yet continues to be one of baseball’s most effective pitchers. As a matter of fact, if not for the great year by Bob Feller, he would be the Junior Circuit’s best hurler. I think picking him 19th in the MVP voting was a travesty.

                Surprise, surprise, surprise, Newsom was traded once again this year. After a 3-1 start with the Browns, he was traded by the St. Louis Browns with Beau BellRed Kress and Jim Walkup to the Detroit Tigers for Mark ChristmanGeorge GillBob HarrisVern KennedyChet Laabs and Roxie Lawson. It would be a good trade for Newsom, who would help the Tigers to an American League crown in the near future.

                SABR states,

                “Newsom repeated as a twenty-game winner in 1939. He was 3-1 for St. Louis, and 17-10 following a May 13 trade to the Detroit Tigers.”

                I should mention how horrid the Browns were this season. They were 9-11 before Bobo was traded and went 34-100 afterwards. In the long history of the Browns/Orioles franchise, it was the worst season ever, though it was almost beat by the Orioles of 2018. Shockingly, their manager, Fred Haney, would one day manage a World Series champ.

P-Lefty Grove, Boston Red Sox, 39 Years Old

1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1935 1936 1937 1938

15-4, 2.54 ERA, 81 K, 185 ERA+, 3.60 FIP, 1.246 WHIP

.134, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .134/.237/.179, 6 OPS+

WAR-6.8

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 15

WAR Rank: 5

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1936)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1947)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1928)

Boston Red Sox

89-62, 2nd In AL

Manager Joe Cronin

Ballpark: Fenway Park (Hitter’s)

OPS+-100, 2nd in league

ERA+-104, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Jimmie Foxx, 6.9

Led in:

1939 AL Pitching Title (9th Time)

Earned Run Average-2.54 (9th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-185 (9th Time)

13th Time All-Star-This will be Grove’s last All-Star season, so let’s see his place in history. I would rate him the fifth greatest pitcher of all-time (though 1939), behind Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Pete Alexander, and Kid Nichols. I would rate him the 14th best player through this point in history, right behind Nichols. It was an incredible career.

                Wikipedia says,

                “Grove retired in 1941 with a career record of 300–141. His .680 lifetime winning percentage is eighth all-time;[9] however, none of the seven men ahead of him won more than 236 games. His lifetime ERA of 3.06, when normalized to overall league ERA and adjusted for the parks in which Grove played during his career, is fifth all-time among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched (behind Mariano RiveraClayton KershawJim Devlin, and Pedro Martínez) at 48 percent better than average

                “In 1969, Grove was voted the left-handed starting pitcher for Major League Baseball’s 100th anniversary team. In 1999, Grove was ranked number 23 on The Sporting News list of Baseball’s Greatest Players. He ranked second, behind only Warren Spahn, among left-handed pitchers. That same year, Grove was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In the 2001 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball AbstractBill James ranked Grove as the 19th best baseball player of all time and the second-best MLB pitcher of all time.

                “He died in Norwalk, Ohio, on May 22, 1975, and was interred in the Frostburg Memorial Cemetery in Frostburg, Maryland.”

P-Red Ruffing, New York Yankees, 34 Years Old

1928 1932 1935 1936 1937 1938

21-7, 2.93 ERA, 95 K, 148 ERA+, 3.98 FIP, 1.226 WHIP

.307, 1 HR, 20 RBI, .307/.347/.342, 78 OPS+

WAR-5.0

All-Star: Yes (3 IP, 4 H, 4 K)

MVP Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1967)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

New York Yankees                                                                 

106-45, 1st in AL, Won WS 4-0 over CIN

Manager Joe McCarthy

Ballpark: Yankee Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-111, 1st in league

ERA+-132, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Joe DiMaggio, 8.4

Led in:

Win Probability Added-5.9 (2nd Time)

Championship WPA-10.2 (4th Time)

7th Time All-Star-Led by Ruffing and others, the Yankees had a monster season and won their fourth straight championship. New York became the first team ever to do so, unless you count the old National Association, which existed from 1871-75. The Boston Red Stockings won four straight league titles from 1872-to-1875. Still, it seems the Yankees’ feat was more impressive.

                As for Ruffing, he won his one start in the World Series, allowing just four hits and one run. He’s also going to pitch well in the 1941 World Series against Brooklyn going 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and then slump a bit in 1942 Series, going 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA. He’d finish his World Series career with a 7-2 record with a 2.63 ERA. Take that, Clayton Kershaw (3-2 with a 4.46 in the WS)!

                It should be noted Ruffing showed the power of human will as he had this wonderful career despite missing four toes, lost in an accident in his youth.

                Wikipedia says,

                “Ruffing threw a fastball, a ‘sharp’ curveball, and a slider. According to AL umpire Bill Summers, ‘[O]n account of Red Ruffing, the slider got to be the thing.’ Joe Paparella, also an AL umpire, said ‘The first game I ever worked behind the plate in the major leagues was against the guy who invented the slider and had the best slider ever seen — Red Ruffing’.

                “Ruffing suffered a stroke in 1974, at the age of 68, which left him paralyzed on his left side. As a result, he used a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. This was Ruffing’s second stroke, and he also suffered from kidney and heart problems. He contracted skin cancer, necessitating the partial amputation of one of his ears. He died on February 17, 1986, at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, of heart failure.”

Posed pitching of Ted Lyons as Chicago White Sox

P-Ted Lyons, Chicago White Sox, 38 Years Old

1925 1926 1927 1930 1932 1935 1938

14-6, 2.76 ERA, 65 K, 173 ERA+, 3.22 FIP, 1.089 WHIP

.295, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .295/.348/.344, 76 OPS+

WAR-4.8

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 17

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1932)

Chicago White Sox                                                                 

85-69, 4th in AL

Manager Jimmy Dykes

Ballpark: Comiskey Park I (Hitter’s)

OPS+-83, 7th in league

ERA+-111, 3rd in league                                                        

WAR Leader-Ted Lyons, 4.8

Led in:

Walks & Hits per IP-1.089

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.355 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.500

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.22

8th Time All-Star-Ted Lyons is known as “Sunday Teddy” because during his career there came a time he pitched only on Sundays. There is a tendency to assume like I did that it began fairly early in his career, but the truth is it didn’t begin until this season. It would seem to mess up a rotation, but it worked for the White Sox, who were having a good stretch of seasons. Unfortunately, Chicago was having this good run in the time the Yankees were virtually unstoppable.

                There is very good article by Thomas L. Karnes, writing for SABR, about how it came to be Lyons started pitching exclusively on the Lord’s Day. I’ll just put a portion, but I suggest you read the whole thing.

                “Lyons got off to a fast start in 1939, losing his first game in April, but then no more until July. By what appears to have been the combination of a matter of chance and an unusual amount of rain along the eastern seaboard, Lyons started games on Sunday, May 21; Tuesday, May 30 (Memorial Day); Sunday, June 4, and Sunday, June 11. Lyons won all of those games; and, moreover; the Sox, who finished in sixth place the year before, were drawing significantly larger crowds whenever the veteran righthander took the mound.

                “I am inclined to credit manager Dykes with the stratagem. But in any case Lyons is the only pitcher to have continued this schedule over a period of several seasons. Normally, only rain on a Sunday would throw the plan out of operation, since Dykes could scarcely afford to carry a pitcher who worked only every ten days or more, even if his name happened to be Lyons.”

P-Dutch Leonard, Washington Senators, 30 Years Old

20-8, 3.54 ERA, 88 K, 121 ERA+, 3.80 FIP, 1.233 WHIP

.221, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .221/.229/.253, 27 OPS+

WAR-4.7

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 83 percent chance)

Washington Senators                                                           

65-87, 6th in AL

Manager Bucky Harris

Ballpark: Griffith Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-92, 5th in league

ERA+-94, 6th in league                                                          

WAR Leader-Buddy Lewis, 5.6

Led in:

Hits Allowed-273

Assists as P-56

Range Factor/Game as P-1.94

1st Time All-Star-Emil John “Dutch” Leonard was born on March 25, 1909 in Auburn, IL. The six-foot, 175 pound righty pitcher started with Brooklyn in 1933 and wasn’t a bad starter/reliever for them for four years. He didn’t pitch in 1937 in the Majors and then started with Washington in 1938, becoming solely a starting pitcher. That led to this year, his best thus far, but he’s off to a pretty good career and if he can make one fluke All-Star list, will make my Hall of Fame.

                Leonard peripherally participated in the most famous baseball event of 1939. According to Wikipedia,

                “On July 4, 1939, Leonard pitched a complete game and the Senators defeated the New York Yankees in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. At the conclusion of the first game, Lou Gehrig delivered his famous ‘luckiest man on the face of the earth’ speech.”

                 SABR tells us about his nickname, which is familiar to us old-time baseball fans. It states,

                “Emil John Leonard was born on March 25, 1909, in Auburn, Illinois, the first of five children of Emil and Julia Leonard. His parents were not Dutch, but immigrants from Belgium.Leonard was nicknamed after an earlier pitcher called Dutch Leonard, who wasn’t Dutch, either. (Crime writer Elmore Leonard said he got the nickname Dutch from the knuckleball pitcher, who was famous when Elmore was in high school.)

                In 1939 he won 20, lost 8, for a sixth-place club that recorded only 65 victories. He was the Senators’ first 20-game winner since their pennant season of 1933.”

P-Tommy Bridges, Detroit Tigers, 32 Years Old

1932 1933 1934 1936 1937

17-7, 3.50 ERA, 129 K, 139 ERA+, 3.41 FIP, 1.247 WHIP

.197, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .197/.278/.225, 27 OPS+

WAR-4.7

All-Star: Yes (2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 3 K)

MVP Rank: 22

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

6th Time All-Star-Bridges didn’t make the Hall of Fame in 1938, as he had one of his lowest ERA+’s ever. He had turned 31 and it wouldn’t have been a surprise if was the beginning of the end. But no, he’s back and he’s still got some good seasons left. This sixth All-Star list for Bridges puts him in my Hall of Fame. He is the 116th member and the 43rd pitcher to make it. The full list is here.

                SABR states,

                “As great as his curveball was, Bridges was far from a one-pitch pitcher. Contemporary stories about him rarely fail to mention his fastball—in fact, sometimes there’s no mention of his curveball at all—and Mickey Cochrane said that Bridges actually won more games with his fastball than his curve. Bridges himself said, ‘A curve isn’t worth a hoot unless they respect your fastball.’

                “Then again, Bridges’ curve was often so unhittable that it didn’t matter much if the hitters knew it was coming. As Birdie Tebbetts, who caught Bridges for eight seasons, remembered many years later, ‘Bridges won for 12 years with a curve every hitter knew was coming. He tipped off every curve, but if he got rid of the tip-off, he wouldn’t have been able to throw the curve.’”

                I’m glad Bridges made my Hall of Fame. Am I unhappy he isn’t in Cooperstown? A little bit, yeah. But just like Cooperstown is not the ultimate judge of talent, my list isn’t either. After all, it’s just a game.

P-Johnny Rigney, Chicago White Sox, 24 Years Old

1938

15-8, 3.70 ERA, 119 K, 129 ERA+, 3.66 FIP, 1.335 WHIP

.200, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .200/.220/.250, 18 OPS+

WAR-4.4

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 20

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

2nd Time All-Star-Rigney made my list for the second consecutive year. Last year, he mainly relieved, starting just 12 of his 38 games. This year, he moved to starter, starting 29 games and had a very good season. He’ll make this list in 1940 and then that will probably be it. Still, having three All-Star seasons isn’t to be dismissed.

                SABR says,

                “On a warm August Monday night in Chicago, the sports news centered on baseball at Comiskey Park, where the White Sox would be playing their first night game at home. Afterward, the Chicago Tribune described the event: ‘In the inaugural of night major league baseball in Chicago more than 30,000 watched John D. Rigney of River Forest turn in a handsome three hit performance to beat the St. Louis Browns, 5 to 2.’ Playing under the lights had been the ambition of J. Louis Comiskey, White Sox president-owner, but he had died a month before (July 18). Instead, “baseball under the stars was a hit from the moment young Charles Comiskey II [Louis’s son] pressed two switches at 8.25 o’clock that brought out the green in relief. It was as though one had suddenly walked into bright sunshine.

                “Rigney, Chicago’s big right-hander, faced the minimum through the first five innings, fanning six. A leadoff walk to Glenn in the sixth ended the perfect game. Then Chicago shortstop Luke Appling had ‘an almost unprecedented fit of the fumbles. Obviously affected by the lights, Appling botched three grounders and a catch, each of which could have resulted in a double play.”

P-Mel Harder, Cleveland Indians, 29 Years Old

1932 1933 1934 1935 1938

15-9, 3.50 ERA, 67 K, 125 ERA+, 4.23 FIP, 1.332 WHIP

.139, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .139/.195/.208, 4 OPS+

WAR-4.3

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. 1 percent chance)

6th Time All-Star-With Bob Feller now on the team, it was easy to overlook Harder, but he now has six All-Star lists and is still one of the best pitchers in the game. However, he will most likely not make another list and is going to fall one short of making my Hall of Fame. That shouldn’t take away from a great career.

                Wikipedia says,

                “In 1940, he posted a 12–11 record, as the Indians finished one game behind the pennant-winning Detroit Tigers, wasting an early September lead amid clubhouse rancor; it would be the only season in his career in which the Indians came within ten games of the AL flag. After several more years in which his record hovered near .500, earning his 200th victory in 1944, Harder ended his career in 1947 with 1160 strikeouts and a 3.80 ERA. In addition to his 223 victories, his 186 losses remain a club record. Ironically, the Indians won the World Series the year after he retired.           

                “From 1948 into the 1950s, he guided what became known as the Indians’ ‘Big Four’ pitching rotation, featuring Feller, Bob LemonEarly Wynn and Mike Garcia; Harder had successfully transformed Lemon from an infielder into a top pitcher while working with him in the mid-1940s, and he taught future 300 game-winner Wynn the breaking ball and changeup. 

                “In 2002, Harder died in Chardon, Ohio at age 93; at the time of his death, he had been one of only five living players who had played in the 1920s.”

P-Eddie Smith, Philadelphia Athletics/Chicago White Sox, 25 Years Old

1937

10-11, 3.79 ERA, 70 K, 126 ERA+, 4.59 FIP, 1.442 WHIP

.115, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .115/.246/.135, -1 OPS+

WAR-4.2

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Philadelphia Athletics                                                          

55-97, 7th in AL

Manager Connie Mack (25-37) and Earle Mack (30-60)

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Neutral)

OPS+-90, 6th in league

ERA+-81, 7th in league                                                          

WAR Leader-Bob Johnson, 6.6

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1937, Smith, who had predicted a great season in 1938, instead had an awful year. This year, he’s back on this list. He pitched just three-and-two-thirds innings for the A’s before he was put on waivers and picked up by the White Sox. It ended up being a pretty good pick-up for the Windy City squad.

                SABR wraps up his year, stating,

                “His 1938 stats were discouraging. Working mostly in relief (he had just seven starts, but closed a league-high 27 games), he was 3-10 and his ERA rose to 5.92.

                “Smith was placed on waivers early in the 1939 season, despite having a 1-0 record. It’s a good illustration of why wins and losses can be deceptive He had come into a 6-6 tie game in Boston, and gave up two runs in the bottom of the sixth, handing the Red Sox the lead. In the top of the eighth, he was due to lead off but was replaced by pinch-hitter Lou Finney, who drew a base on balls. Though Smith was therefore irretrievably out of the game, the score was still 8-6 in favor of the Red Sox. But the Athletics scored six runs in the eighth, and Smith was given the W. Connie Mack wasn’t fooled, though. After 3 2/3 innings in three appearances, he’d given up five runs, four of them earned, and had a 9.82 ERA.

                “The White Sox claimed him on April 27 and he pitched markedly better, starting 22 games for them and recording a 3.69 ERA for Chicago. He finished the year 10-11 for both teams. The highlight was a complete-game two-hitter on July 5, a 2-1 win over Cleveland. It was his first win in 10 attempts against the Tribe.”

C-Bill Dickey, New York Yankees, 32 Years Old

1929 1930 1931 1933 1934 1936 1937 1938

.302, 24 HR, 105 RBI, .302/.403/.513, 133 OPS+

WAR-5.5

All-Star: Yes (0-3, 1 R, 1 BB)

MVP Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1954)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1936)

Led in:

Def. Games as C-126 (2nd Time)

Putouts as C-571 (6th Time)

Fielding % as C-.989 (3rd Time)

9th Time All-Star-Baseball players tend to age quickly once they hit the three-decade mark and catchers even more so. Dickey, at age 32 this season, had yet another incredible season, smacking over 20 homers for the fourth consecutive year. He also set career highs in walks (77) and strikeouts (37). Yet after this year, his hitting is going to plummet and my guess, but it’s just a guess, is he only has one more of these lists left.

                Playing in his fifth World Series, all of which the Yankees won, Dickey hit .267 with two homers and five RBI as New York swept Cincinnati.

                This was a tough year for Dickey, as his good friend, Lou Gehrig, retired. SABR says,

                “The Yankees’ world was changing. Col. Jacob Ruppert died on January 13, 1939. Lou Gehrig reported to St. Petersburg, Florida, for 1939 spring training weak and tiring. Dickey could see that his roommate was suffering, but was also holding out hope that he would return to past glory. ‘Pay no attention to Lou’s slow development,’ said Dickey during spring training. ‘He’s sound, his timing is coming along and when we open in Boston a week from Monday, he’ll be the same old Iron Horse. If there is anybody on this club that I really know, it’s Lou.’               

                “Gehrig’s return to his usual high standard of performance was not to be. He went to McCarthy and asked to be replaced in the lineup since he was of no help to the team. On May 2, his playing streak ended at 2,130 games. Eventually he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and he died in 1941.”

C-Rudy York, Detroit Tigers, 25 Years Old

1938

.307, 20 HR, 68 RBI, .307/.387/.544, 129 OPS+

WAR-2.7

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 33

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 25 percent chance)

2nd Time All-Star-Through three season as catcher, York has made two of my lists and has 88 homers by the age of 25. However, Detroit didn’t want all of that hitting playing only two-thirds of the time, so starting next season, they’ll move York to first base and move Hank Greenberg to the outfield. While he was a sensational catcher, he’d only a good first baseman and has almost no chance of making my Hall of Fame.

                I forgot to mention last year about a record York set in 1937 – most homers in a month (18). SABR has details, saying,

                “Rudy hit home runs in four of the first six games in which he appeared behind the plate. By August 19 he had produced 8 homers and 27 runs batted in for the month, numbers that would have reflected an excellent full-month’s showing for most other players. But Rudy wasn’t through. The first game of a doubleheader on August 22 began a streak of 5 consecutive games in which he hit at least one home run (he hit two in the first game of an August 24 doubleheader), producing 12 more runs batted in along the way. Heading into the game of August 31 against Washington’s Pete Appleton, Rudy had 16 home runs for the month, just one shy of Ruth’s record of 17 in a calendar month set in September 1927. Rudy came through in a big way that day, hitting two home runs and knocking in seven runs, which gave him 49 runs batted in for the month of August. Doc Holst noted that the 7,000 fans in Navin Field that day ‘…saw that it was York’s day to establish himself as a greater home run hitter than Ruth and the Indian delivered.’”

1B-Jimmie Foxx, Boston Red Sox, 31 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1938

.360, 35 HR, 105 RBI, .360/.464/.694, 188 OPS+

0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 K, Infinite ERA+, 0.97 FIP, 0.000 WHIP

WAR-6.9

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 2

WAR Rank: 4

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1938)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1931)

Led in:

On-Base %-.464 (3rd Time)

Slugging %-.694 (5th Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.158 (5th Time)

Home Runs-35 (4th Time)

Adjusted OPS+-188 (5th Time)

Runs Created-149 (5th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-64 (5th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-5.9 (5th Time)

Offensive Win %-.833 (5th Time)

AB per HR-13.3 (4th Time)

Situ. Wins Added-5.5 (4th Time)

11th Time All-Star-With his 11th All-Star season, according to yours truly, it’s time to look at where Double-X stands in the all-time great category. Only 21 players have more of these lists than Foxx and only four first baseman have made more than Foxx’s 10 at this position – Cap Anson, 13; Lou Gehrig, 13; Roger Connor, 12; and Dan Brouthers, 11. I would put him as the 18th greatest player of all-time at this point, behind Connor. He’ll pass him next year. He joins Anson, Gehrig, and Connor on my all-time All-Star team through 1939.

                SABR says,

                “Consistent with the behavioral norms of his era, Jimmie Foxx rarely said anything about his almost constant battle against chronic, so-called sinus pain. But in 1939, Ted Williams joined the Red Sox, and immediately bonded with Foxx. The two men talked about their rare but mutual gift for power-hitting along with many other topics. So, when Jimmie sidetracked to Philadelphia for further treatment of his problem during a trip from Chicago to Washington on May 12, 1939, Williams knew all about it. For the record, Foxx was administered the new ‘radio beam treatment’ without any apparent results. Within a few days of returning to Boston, he suffered a relapse. That prompted Boston team physician James Conway to assert that Foxx should have been in the hospital back in 1937 instead of playing baseball.

                “Later that season, Jimmie succumbed to the constant pain in his lower abdomen, and checked himself into St. Joseph’s Hospital in Philadelphia on September 9, where an emergency appendectomy was performed. When questioned by his surgeon prior to the operation, Foxx admitted that he had experienced symptoms for the past one-and-a-half-years! He finally sought treatment only when the pain became unbearable. This cost Jimmie the remainder of the 1939 season.”

1B-Hank Greenberg, Detroit Tigers, 28 Years Old

1934 1935 1937 1938

.312, 33 HR, 113 RBI, .312/.420/.622, 156 OPS+

WAR-5.4

All-Star: Yes (1-3, 1 R, 1 BB)

MVP Rank: 18

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1956)

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Led in:

Strikeouts-95

Fielding % as 1B-.993

5th Time All-Star-The American League certainly wasn’t lacking for superstars at first base during this time in baseball history, yet that’s going to change somewhat moving forward. Before the Junior Circuit could boast of Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Greenberg, yet this would be Gehrig’s last year and he played only eight games, Foxx is starting to decline, and by next season, Hammerin’ Hank is going to be an outfielder. His hitting won’t be affected and his fielding, well, let’s just say it won’t hurt the team any more than it did at first base.

                On September 1 of this year, Germany invaded Poland and World War II started. The United States wouldn’t enter until 1941. At this point in the war, Adolf Hitler was already ransacking businesses owned by Jews and, of course, would lead to the Final Solution which started in 1941. Imagine hearing all of this going on and being a Jewish ballplayer, as Greenberg was. Other ballplayers were certainly affected by the war, but maybe not as much as Hank.

                The war will have tremendous consequences to baseball and I certainly realize that’s the least of World War II’s problems. But starting in just a few years, many of the game’s greats lost multiple prime years. Greenberg would be one of them, out from 1942-44 and part of 1945. He probably would have had 450 career homers instead of the 331 he ended up with. Hammerin’ Hank had his best season in 1938, but he still has some good years left.

1B-Hal Trosky, Cleveland Indians, 26 Years Old

1934

.335, 25 HR, 104 RBI, .335/.405/.589, 155 OPS+

WAR-5.2

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 30

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1934, Trosky continued to play every day and put up some monster numbers. In 1936, he hit 42 homers and led the American League in RBI with 162 and in total bases with 405. I know what you’re saying, so how come he didn’t make your list that year? Well, truth be told, there were a lot of good first basemen in 1936. Four of them already made the list that year and Trosky, while a very good hitter, was awful with the glove and it hurt him.

                Wikipedia says,

                “His best numbers came in his third full year in the major leagues, 1936, when he led the American League in RBIs and total bases. His 162 RBIs also set a team record that stood for 63 years, while his 405 total bases that year remain a franchise best. He also had a career-high 42 home runs, .343 batting average, 216 hits, and a .644 slugging percentage. Despite being hailed as the next Babe Ruth, he is widely considered one of the best players to never make an All-Star team. The reason for this omission was the ill-fortune of being an American League first baseman at the same time as Hall of Fame first basemen Lou GehrigJimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg.

                “Starting in 1938, Trosky started experiencing near constant migraine headaches, which began to affect his vision. After nearly being hit by a pitch, he announced on July 12, 1941, to Indians manager Roger Peckinpaugh and reporters, ‘a fellow can’t go on like this forever. If I can’t find some relief, I’ll simply have to give up and spend the rest of my days on my farm in Iowa.’ Peckinpaugh replaced Trosky with Oscar Grimes. Trosky retired in 1946 at age 33.”

                Trosky died on June 18, 1979 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the age of 66.

2B-Joe Gordon, New York Yankees, 24 Years Old

.284, 28 HR, 111 RBI, .284/.370/.506 123 OPS+

WAR-6.3

All-Star: Yes (0-4, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 9

WAR Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2009)

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Led in:

Assists-461

Def. Games as 2B-151

Putouts as 2B-370

Assists as 2B-461

Double Plays Turned as 2B-116

1st Time All-Star-Joseph Lowell “Joe” or “Flash” Gordon was born on February 18, 1915 in Los Angeles, CA. The five-foot-10, 180 pound second baseman started with the Yankees in 1938 and is the first Pinstriper to make my list at his position since Tony Lazzeri in 1932. He would have a great career and I’m surprised it took him until 2009 to make the Hall of Fame.

                In the World Series in 1938, Gordon hit .400 (six-for-15) with two doubles and a homer, while this season, he hit just .143 (two-for-14) with no extra base hits. It didn’t matter, the Yankees won championships both years.

                Wikipedia states,

                “His 25 home runs as a rookie set an American League record for second basemen, surpassing Detroit Tiger Charlie Gehringer‘s previous record of 19. Gordon would hold the AL record for home runs by a second baseman 64 years before being surpassed by Bret Boone‘s 36 home runs in 2001.

                “1939 saw Gordon improve his batting average to .284 and top his own home run mark with 28. He led the AL in putouts, assists and double plays, and was second on the team to Joe DiMaggio and fifth in the league in both homers and RBI (111). On June 28 he hit three home runs; he made his first of nine All-Star teams, and finished ninth in the MVP vote. In the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds he hit only .143, but scored the first run in a 2-1 Game 1 victory. In Game 4, he drove in the tying run with one out in the ninth inning, and the Yankees scored three in the tenth to win 7-4 and complete another sweep for their fourth straight championship.”

2B-Charlie Gehringer, Detroit Tigers, 36 Years Old, 1939 ONEHOF Inductee

1928 1929 1930 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938

.325, 16 HR, 86 RBI, .325/.423/.544, 139 OPS+

WAR-5.0

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 14

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1949)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1932)

Led in:

Fielding % as 2B-.977 (6th Time)

11th Time All-Star-When I wrote about Gehringer last season, I wondered if he would even make another of these lists. Surprise, he did! He might make one more, but it’s going to be close. One thing that can absolutely, positively be said about the Mechanical Man is he one of the all-time greats in the sport and he is entering the prestigious ONEHOF, the One-A-Year Hall of Fame of my choosing in just one player is inducted every calendar year. He joins fellow second basement Ross Barnes, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby, and Frankie Frisch. You can see the full list by clicking on the link above by his name. Next year’s nominees are Gabby Hartnett, Carl Hubbell, Bill Terry, Mickey Cochrane, and Bill Dickey.

                Of course, once you’re part of the prestigious ONEHOF, then the question is asked where a player ranks among the all-time greats. For Gehringer, he’s certainly not in the same category as Collins, Hornsby, or Lajoie, who are all top 12 greats at this time, but I would rate him the 23rd best player of all time, behind 1890s shortstop George Davis. If he sneaks in another All-Star list, I’d put him in the top 20.

                Since we’re doing lists, where does Gehringer rank in Detroit’s all-time greats, based on Baseball Reference’s WAR? You might be shocked that he ranks third, behind only Ty Cobb and Al Kaline. The Tigers trotted out many great players over the decades, but very few with the consistency of Charlie G.

3B-Red Rolfe, New York Yankees, 30 Years Old

1935 1936 1938

.329, 14 HR, 80 RBI, .329/.404/.495, 130 OPS+

WAR-6.6

All-Star: Yes (1-4)

MVP Rank: 27

WAR Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Runs Scored-139

Hits-213

Doubles-46

Times On Base-295

4th Time All-Star-It is no coincidence Rolfe has made this list three of the four consecutive years in which the Yankees won the World Series. He’s just a solid ballplayer and got the recognition of his peers. This was his best season ever and yet he might not make another of these lists. In the World Series, he hit just .125 (two-for-16) with two runs scored, but New York won the crown anyway.

                SABR wraps up his life, stating,

                “The Yankees secured their fourth straight pennant in 1939, chalking up 106 wins, to best the second-place Red Sox by 17 games. Red led the league with 213 hits, 46 doubles, and 139 runs, hit.329, and finished 27th in the MVP voting. From August 9 to 25 he scored at least one run in 18 consecutive games. In the World Series, the Yankees swept the Cincinnati Reds in four straight. Red’s 1939 World Series ring was the one he proudly wore the rest of his life.

                “The Yankees conducted a fan survey in 1969, to determine their ‘all-time’ greatest team; Red Rolfe was voted the third baseman. On July 8, 1969, a little more than a month after Dartmouth’s Memorial Field was renamed Rolfe Field, Red’s kidneys failed and the Pride of Penacook died at the age of 60; he was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Penacook.

                “Rolfe’s major-league career was relatively short, consisting of only nine full big-league seasons. During that brief period, his impressive résumé included six pennant winners, five world championships and four All-Star selections. His career numbers included 1,175 major-league games, with 257 doubles and 67 triples; his lifetime stats included a .289 batting average, a .360 OBP, a .773 OPS, and a WAR (wins above replacement) of 23.5.”

3B-Buddy Lewis, Washington Senators, 22 Years Old

.319, 10 HR, 75 RBI, .319/.402/.478, 132 OPS+

WAR-5.6

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Triples-16

1st Time All-Star-John Kelly “Buddy” Lewis was born on August 10, 1916 in Gaston County, NC. The six-foot-one, 175 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing third baseman and rightfielder started with Washington as an 18-year-old in 1935. He became its regular third baseman the next year and had his best season ever this campaign. He would be another of those players who would lose three full years to the war. He’s the first Senator to make the All-Star list at third base since Ossie Bluege in 1928.

                SABR has an interesting bit on Lewis, saying,

                “’With a fine disregard of flying regulations here came this big flying machine roaring from behind the center field fence and only a few hundred feet in the air and there were a few panicky seconds. And then George Case [who was waiting to bat] removed his cap and began to wave it violently as the plane dipped a wing sharply in salute and winged its way Westward.’

                “The pilot who buzzed Griffith Stadium was the Washington Senators’ once and future right fielder, Lieutenant Buddy Lewis, who had visited his teammates on a day off from the Army Air Force and was heading back to his base. The ballpark stood less than two miles from the US Capitol and the White House. If Lewis pulled that stunt today, he’d be looking at a surface-to-air missile or, if he was lucky, a court martial. He got off with a reprimand. There was a war on.

                “Lewis missed 3½ years of baseball while serving in World War II. A speedy left-handed batter, he joined the Senators when he was 19 and spent his 11-year career with the team. He retired at 33 with a batting average just below .300. He could have played longer, but said his death-defying wartime experiences took away some of his enthusiasm for the game.

                “Lewis was elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and the city of Gastonia named its American Legion baseball field after him. He was 94 when he died of cancer on February 18, 2011.”

3B-Harlond Clift, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

1936 1937 1938

.270, 15 HR, 84 RBI, .270/.402/.411, 107 OPS+

WAR-3.3

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 38 percent chance)

Led in:

Bases on Balls-111

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.48 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.41 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Regular readers of this site know I’m a big Harlond Clift supporter as he is underrated year after year. This year actually wasn’t one of his better years, but he made my list as the Browns’ best player. It still won’t help him make the Hall of Fame, but it does show that on bad teams, he still managed to shine.

                SABR says,

                “Harlond Clift was the major leagues’ first modern third baseman, an outstanding defensive player who also possessed power, production, and patience at the plate. Until Clift came to the majors in 1934, third basemen – with the notable exceptions of Home Run Baker and Pie Traynor – were primarily thought of as being similar to second basemen and shortstops. Most teams were satisfied to have the hot corner manned by a good glove man, even if he wasn’t much of a hitter. At 5-feet-11 and 180 pounds, the right-handed-hitting and -throwing Clift changed that way of thinking, and future third basemen including Eddie MathewsAl RosenRon Santo, and Ken Boyer carried on what Clift started in the 1930s and early ’40s            

                “For all of his accomplishments and pioneering efforts at third base and as a hitter, Clift had the misfortune to have played his entire 12-year major-league career with the St. Louis Browns and Washington Senators, two of the least successful franchises. The teams Clift played on had a won-lost percentage of just .423 and they finished in the first division only three times in a dozen seasons. As a result, Clift’s solid and sometimes excellent career went virtually unnoticed. He was selected for only one All-Star Game, and The Sporting News (based in St. Louis, where Clift played most of his career) never chose him for its postseason major-league all-star team.”

SS-Luke Appling, Chicago White Sox, 32 Years Old

1933 1935 1936 1937

.314, 0 HR, 56 RBI, .314/.430/.368, 103 OPS+

WAR-4.3

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 33

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1964)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

Led in:

Assists-461 (3rd Time)

Assists as SS-461 (4th Time)

Errors Committed as SS-39

5th Time All-Star-After missing much of 1938 with a broken leg, Appling is back as the American League’s best shortstop. It wasn’t his best season ever, but there was no doubt if he played a full year, there wasn’t a better shortstop in the AL. If you ask people what Appling is most famous for nowadays, you might hear about his homer as a 77-year-old at an Old Timers game and yet he very rarely hit them during his playing career.

                Baseball Reference says,

                “’I played with him and against him, and he was the finest shortstop I ever saw. In the field, he covered more ground than anyone in the league. As a hitting shortstop, there was no one in his class.” – Eddie Lopat

                “Appling was famous among his teammates for complaining day in and day out about minor ailments such as a sore back, a weak shoulder, or shin splints. While much of this complaining was probably for show, it earned him the moniker ‘Old Aches and Pains’. He did suffer one serious injury: a broken leg that cost him much of the 1938 season. He was also well known for his ability to foul off pitches, leading to the story that he once fouled off 10 pitches in a row on purpose when ownership refused to provide baseballs to autograph because they were too expensive; he was supposedly never refused a ball again.”

                In case you’re wondering who Eddie Lopat is, who gave the quote above (I did), he was a pitcher for the White Sox and Yankees for a good stretch of time and will make a few of these lists in the future.

LF-Bob Johnson, Philadelphia Athletics, 33 Years Old

1934 1937 1938

.338, 23 HR, 114 RBI, .338/.440/.553, 156 OPS+

WAR-6.6

All-Star: Yes

MVP Rank: 8

WAR Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Led in:

Power-Speed #-18.2 (2nd Time)

Putouts as LF-307 (4th Time)

Assists as LF-15 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as LF-13 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as OF-150

Range Factor/Game as LF-2.42 (4th Time)

4th Time All-Star-Even terrible teams had to have at least one good player and that was the role Johnson played on the terrible A’s. At this point in his life, Connie Mack, the longtime Athletics’ managers, is 76 and he’ll  never win another pennant nor rarely have a team that’s over .500. Yet he kept going until he was 87. Wikipedia says,

                “During the 1937 and 1939 seasons, (Earle) Mack managed the Athletics when his father (by then in his mid-70s) was ill. It was widely expected that when his father retired, Earle would manage the team and Connie Jr. (Earle’s younger half-brother) would run the front office. This was not to be.”

                Wikipedia (again) states,

                “Johnson took full advantage of playing in Shibe Park, which had long been a decidedly friendly environment for right-handed hitters such as (Al) Simmons and Jimmie Foxx

                “After hitting .306 and .313 in 1937 and 1938, Johnson posted a career-high mark of .338 in 1939 – third in the AL behind Joe DiMaggio (.381) and Foxx (.360) – and placed eighth in the MLB Most Valuable Player Award voting; he was also third in the AL with 114 RBI.”

                With Ted Williams now in the league, there’s going to be an obvious best player at rightfield. He’s going to join the no-doubt best centerfielder, Joe DiMaggio. However, leftfield will still be open to different players as the best at the position and Johnson is certainly in consideration. If Johnson can make two more of these lists (one he’s going to make for sure), he’ll be in my Hall of Fame. The suspense is killing me, I hope it will last. (Gene Wilder, we salute you!)

LF-George Selkirk, New York Yankees, 31 Years Old

1935

.306, 21 HR, 101 RBI, .306/.452/.517, 148 OPS+

WAR-5.8

All-Star: Yes (1-2, 1 RBI, 2 BB)

WAR Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Fielding % as OF-.989

2nd Time All-Star-When Selkirk made this list back in 1935, he was in rightfield and replacing the game’s greatest player, Babe Ruth. Since then he’s moved to leftfield, the first Yankee at that position on my All-Star team since Joe DiMaggio in 1936. Of course, after that DiMaggio moved to center and Twinkletoes Selkirk moved to left. What a career, eh? All we ask of you, George, is to replace the Sultan of Swat and Joltin’ Joe.

This was his best season ever and yet he surprisingly got no MVP votes. In the World Series, in which New York swept Cincinnati, Selkirk hit .167 (two-for-12) with a double.

SABR says,

“Twinkletoes reached his career high for home runs in 1939 with 21. On May 27, 1939George smashed two home runs off Philadelphia Athletics starter, Bob Joyce. The next day, Selkirk went yard twice. He victimized Joyce again on both homers when the rookie entered the game as a reliever in the fourth inning. 

“George and Norma retired to Florida, settling in Fort Lauderdale. He spent much of his time pursuing his two interests other than baseball, golf and hunting. His performance as a baseball player was not forgotten; he was inducted into the International League Hall of Fame in 1958 and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. George Selkirk passed away on January 19, 1987, after a long illness.”

Selkirk might not be the greatest player of all time, but very few players can claim five World Series rings on their resume.

CF-Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees, 24 Years Old

1936 1937 1938

.381, 30 HR, 126 RBI, .381/.448/.671, 184 OPS+

WAR-8.4

All-Star: Yes

MVP Rank: 1

WAR Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Led in:

1939 Major League Player of the Year

1939 AL Batting Title

1939 AL MVP

WAR Position Players-8.4

Offensive WAR-7.3

Batting Average-.381

Base-Out Runs Added-70.07

Win Probability Added-4.9

Championship WPA-6.2

Base-Out Wins Added-6.4

Fielding % as CF-.985

4th Time All-Star-What a season for Joltin’ Joe! He won his first of three MVPs and was part of the Yankees record-setting fourth straight championship. In the World Series, DiMaggio hit .313 (five-for-16) with a homer and three RBI as New York swept the Reds. His most important achievement, however, was, in just his fourth season, he entered my Hall of Fame, joining centerfielders Earl Averill, Max Carey, Ty Cobb, Billy Hamilton, Paul Hines, and Tris Speaker. The full list, along with links to those players, is here.

                The YES Network states,

                “Of the dozens of players in New York Yankees history that helped make the Bombers the best baseball club of all time, few made the kind of profound cultural impact that Joe DiMaggio did in his heyday.

                “Along with his 13 All-Star nods, two batting titles, nine rings and one completely unbeatable record, DiMaggio would collect three American League MVPs, the first of which was awarded to him on this day in 1939.

                “That staggering .381 clip was the highest DiMaggio would post in his career, and since 1930, only 12 other players have ever matched a .381 batting average in a single season.

                “1939 was also an important year for the great Yankees centerfielder as he first earned the nickname ‘Yankee Clipper’ by stadium announcer Arch McDonald, who gave Joe the moniker for his speed and grace in the outfield.”

                The next write-up will be of his longtime rival, setting up a Yankee Clipper vs. Splendid Splinter battle for many years.

RF-Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 20 Years Old

.327, 31 HR, 145 RBI, .327/.436/.609, 160 OPS+

WAR-6.8

All-Star: No

WAR Rank: 6

MVP Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1966)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Led in:

Total Bases-344

Runs Batted In-145

Runs Created-149

Extra Base Hits-86

Def. Games as RF-149

Putouts as RF-254

Assists as RF-11

Errors Committed as RF-19

Errors Committed as OF-19

1st Time All-Star-Theodore Samuel “Ted” or “The Kid” or “Teddy Ballgame” or “Splendid Splinter” or “Thumper” Williams was born on August 30, 1918 in San Diego, CA. The six-foot-three, 205 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing leftfielder made my list at rightfield this year, but it would be the only season at that position. The rest of his career would be in front of the Green Monster. Needless to say, he got off to an incredible start and wouldn’t let until he was done. We’ll never know what he could have done had he not missed five whole or part seasons due to war. Unfortunately one thing Williams never did was win the World Series.

                Wikipedia wraps up his 1939 season, saying,

                “He made his major league debut against the New York Yankees on April 20, going 1-for-4 against Yankee pitcher Red Ruffing. This was the only game which featured both Williams and Lou Gehrig playing against one another. In his first series at Fenway Park, Williams hit a double, a home run, and a triple, the first two against Cotton Pippen, who gave Williams his first strikeout as a professional while Williams had been in San Diego. By July, Williams was hitting just .280, but leading the league in RBIs. Johnny Orlando, now Williams’s friend, then gave Williams a quick pep talk, telling Williams that he should hit .335 with 35 home runs and he would drive in 150 runs. Williams said he would buy Orlando a Cadillac if this all came true. Williams ended up hitting .327 with 31 home runs and 145 RBIs, leading the league in the latter category, the first rookie to lead the league in RBIsand finishing fourth in MVP voting. He also led the AL in walks, with 107, a rookie record. Even though there was not a Rookie of the Year award yet in 1939, Babe Ruth declared Williams to be the Rookie of the Year, which Williams later said was ‘good enough for me’.”

1939 National League All-Star Team

P-Bucky Walters, CIN, 1st MVP

P-Claude Passeau, PHI/CHC

P-Hugh Casey, BRO

P-Larry French, CHC

P-Bob Bowman, STL

P-Bill Lee, CHC

P-Paul Derringer, CIN

P-Luke Hamlin, BRO

P-Mort Cooper, STL

P-Whit Wyatt, BRO

C-Harry Danning, NYG

C-Ernie Lombardi, CIN

1B-Johnny Mize, STL

1B-Dolph Camilli, BRO

1B-Frank McCormick, CIN

2B-Lonny Frey, CIN

3B-Billy Werber, CIN

SS-Arky Vaughan, PIT

SS-Billy Myers, CIN

LF-Joe Medwick, STL

LF-Morrie Arnovich, PHI

RF-Mel Ott, NYG

RF-Ival Goodman, CIN

RF-Enos Slaughter, STL

RF-Max West, BSN

P-Bucky Walters, Cincinnati Reds, 30 Years Old, 1st MVP

1936

27-11, 2.29 ERA, 137 K, 170 ERA+, 3.81 FIP, 1.125 WHIP

.325, 1 HR, 16 RBI, .325/.357/.433, 110 OPS+

WAR-9.7

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 1

WAR Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Cincinnati Reds

97-57, 1st in NL, Lost 4-0 to NYY in WS

Manager Bill McKechnie

Ballpark: Crosley Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-99, 2nd in league

ERA+-119, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Bucky Walters, 9.7

Led in:

1939 NL Pitching Triple Crown

1939 NL MVP

1939 NL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-9.7

WAR for Pitchers-8.2

Earned Run Average-2.29

Wins-27

Walks & Hits per IP-1.125

Hits per 9 IP-7.053

Innings Pitched-319

Strikeouts-137

Games Started-36 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-31

Batters Faced-1,283

Adjusted ERA+-170

Adj. Pitching Runs-55

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.0

Base-Out Runs Saved-62.58

Win Probability Added-6.3

Sit. Wins Saved-5.3

Championship WPA-20.0

Base-Out Wins Saved-7.0

2nd Time All-Star-It had been since the year of the Black Sox (1919) that my Reds won a National League pennant, but everything came together this year and they took the NL crown. An amazing eight players on the Reds made this list, which might be a record, but I’m too lazy to check. Unfortunately, they met a juggernaut Yankees squad and were swept in the World Series, but better times are coming soon.

                Since making the 1936 All-Star list for the Phillies, Walters continued to pitch steadily despite having the hitter-friendly Baker Bowl as a home. During the 1938 season, he was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Cincinnati Reds for Spud DavisAl Hollingsworth and $50,000. It ended up being a great pickup for the Redlegs as Walters would give them many great seasons and, judging by WAR, would end up being the second best Cincinnati pitcher of all-time, behind Noodles Hahn.

                Walters easily won the NL MVP, from the writers and from me. How could he not? Look at those stats in which he led above and then don’t forget to look at how well he ripped the ball this season. Wikipedia says of this incredible year:

                “In 1939 and 1940, Walters helped the Reds win two straight National League pennants, in each season leading NL pitchers in wins, ERA, complete games and innings pitched. His most productive season came in 1939, when he won the Triple Crown with 27 victories, a 2.29 ERA, and 137 strikeouts (tied with Claude Passeau). For his performance, Walters garnered Most Valuable Player honors, the second of three straight Cincinnati players to win the award (Ernie Lombardi and Frank McCormick were the others).”

Studio portrait (part of a promotional ‘Picture Pack’) of American baseball player Claude Passeau (1916 – 1986), of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago, Illinois, 1939. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

P-Claude Passeau, Philadelphia Phillies/Chicago Cubs, 30 Years Old

1936 1937

15-13, 3.28 ERA, 137 K, 120 ERA+, 3.25 FIP, 1.247 WHIP

.165, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .165/.182/.216, 6 OPS+

WAR-5.8

All-Star: No

WAR Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Philadelphia Phillies

45-106, 8th in NL

Manager Doc Prothro

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-84, 8th in league

ERA+-76, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Morrie Arnovich, 3.9

Chicago Cubs

84-70, 4th in NL

Manager Gabby Hartnett

Ballpark: Wrigley Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-93, 5th in league

ERA+-103, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Claude Passeau, 5.0

Led in:

Strikeouts-137

Fielding % as P-1.000

3rd Time All-Star-I don’t think I noted last year that in the middle of the 1938 season, the Phillies abandoned the hitter-friendly Baker Bowl and started sharing Shibe Park with the Athletics. What a culture shock it must have been for the team to move from a bandbox to a park that generally favored pitchers. It didn’t help Passeau much, however, as he started 2-4 for the Phillies and then was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Chicago Cubs for Ray HarrellKirby Higbe and Joe Marty.

                For the Cubs, it all came together for the tall righty and he ended up having a very good season. The Cubbies sure had a way of finding diamonds in the rough in those days and Passeau would have a great career for Chicago despite being 30 at this time.

                SABR says,

                “Passeau had a reputation as one of the fiercest competitors in baseball with a temper to match. In his return to Shibe Park, on July 13, 1939, he got into a fight with his former roommate, Hugh Mulcahy, who had dusted him off with two inside pitches. The two pitchers tangled when Passeau bunted and was tagged out by Mulcahy. In the ensuing brawl, benches cleared, and Passeau was cold-cocked. In his next start Passeau was ejected in the fifth inning when he argued with the first-base umpire after being called out on a close play. ‘Claude Passeau’s southern blood didn’t boil over today’ wrote Edward Burns. ‘For the first time in three starts, Claude avoided the heave-ho,’ and tossed a complete-game victory over the Dodgers to push the Cubs briefly into second place.”

P-Hugh Casey, Brooklyn Dodgers, 25 Years Old

15-10, 2.93 ERA, 79 K, 139 ERA+, 3.88 FIP, 1.240 WHIP

.203, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .203/.234/.243, 26 OPS+

WAR-5.2

All-Star: No

WAR Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 24 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Brooklyn Dodgers

84-69, 3rd in NL

Manager Leo Durocher

Ballpark: Ebbets Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-89, 6th in league

ERA+-112, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Dolph Camilli, 6.4

Led in:

Hit By Pitch-11

Fielding % as P-1.000

1st Time All-Star-Hugh Thomas “Fireman” Casey was born on October 14, 1913, 76 years before my niece, Elizabeth, in Atlanta, GA. The six-foot-one, 207 pound righty pitcher started with the Cubs in 1935 and then didn’t play in the Majors until this year, his best ever. Casey got the privilege of playing in Leo “The Lip” Durocher’s first season as a manager. Lippy, of course, would go on to a Hall of Fame managing career.

                SABR says,

                “’He knows how to pitch,’ determined new Dodgers skipper Leo Durocher after observing Casey in spring training in 1939. In his first starting assignment, on May 30, Casey drew as his opponent New York Giants’ ace Carl Hubbell. Before a crowd of nearly 59,000 at the Polo Grounds, Casey outpitched the future Hall of Famer, 3–1. 

                “He finished the 1939 campaign 15-10 for a third-place Dodgers team, working mostly as a starter. At the time, Casey’s pitching repertoire consisted of a ‘sneaky fast’ hard one, a pitch quicker than it appeared when juxtaposed with his superior curve, and his ‘splitter.’ ‘He has a head on him—and he has heart,’ said Durocher. ‘You won’t see him flinch in the jam.’”

                SABR also speaks of his tragic end:

                “During the early morning of July 3, 1951, Casey made two phone calls from his hotel room. One was to his good friend Gordon McNabb, an Atlanta real-estate agent. The other was to his wife. In both cases, he announced that he was going to kill himself. With the estranged Mrs. Casey on the line begging him not to do it, Casey placed a 16-gauge shotgun to his head. At about the same time, McNabb and his wife were about thirty feet away from Casey’s room, rushing to stop him from acting out his threat. All three heard the single shot fired from the shotgun. According to Kathleen Casey, Hugh’s final words were, ‘I am innocent of those [paternity] charges.’”

    

P-Larry French, Chicago Cubs, 31 Years Old

1930 1933 1935 1936

15-8, 3.29 ERA, 98 K, 119 ERA+, 3.22 FIP, 1.314 WHIP

.192, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .192/.244/.260, 34 OPS+

WAR-4.9

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

5th Time All-Star-Since making my list in 1936, French had mediocre seasons the next two years, going 16-10 with a 99 ERA+ in 1937 and 10-19 with a 101 ERA+ in 1938. He’s back this year, on his way to making my Hall of Fame. Should those who are steady, but not great, make the Hall of Fame? Cooperstown doesn’t think so, as he didn’t get one vote from the writers, but I think he was one of the best pitchers in the National League for years, so I have no problem putting him in my Hall. I think that’s what he’d prefer anyway.

                SABR agrees he didn’t get his recognition, saying,

                “One of the most overlooked and underrated pitchers of the 1930s, southpaw Larry French was a ‘glutton for work,’ according to the Pittsburgh Press. Over a seven-year stretch (1930-1936), French relied on a devastating screwball and good control to average 16 wins and 268 innings per season; during that time only Carl Hubbell logged more innings, and only Hubbell and Dizzy Dean won more often. Traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1935, French helped lead the North Siders to a pennant that season and again in 1938.

                “French rebounded with a 15-8 record and 3.29 ERA in 1939. The summer months were consumed by reports in the Chicago press that French was in Hartnett’s ‘doghouse’ or that the players were feuding, given that the 31-year-old hurler made only one start between June 15 and August 8.”

                Since that newspaper pictured above is from June 21, that must be his one start.

P-Bob Bowman, St. Louis Cardinals, 28 Years Old

13-5, 2.60 ERA, 78 K, 158 ERA+, 3.75 FIP, 1.187 WHIP

.085, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .085/.157/.106, -30 OPS+

WAR-4.8

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 30

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 90 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Cardinals

92-61, 2nd in NL

Manager Ray Blades

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-105, 1st in league

ERA+-115, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Johnny Mize, 7.7

1st Time All-Star-Robert James Bowman was born on October 3, 1910 in Keystone, WY. The five-foot-10, 160 pound righty pitcher had this magnificent rookie year, mainly as a relief pitcher, though he did start 15 games. It would be his only shining moment, as he crashed quickly and would be out of the Majors by 1942.

                As good as this season was, he was more famous for an errant pitch in 1940, according to SABR, which states:

                “Things were going well for Bowman before a June 18 start against the Dodgers in Brooklyn. In four June appearances (three starts) he had collected two wins. On the morning of the 18th he entered the elevator of the Hotel New Yorker with some teammates and encountered Dodgers player-manager Leo Durocher and recently acquired (from St. Louis) outfielder Joe Medwick. Durocher said he did not plan to play that afternoon because of bruises received the day before. The brash righty popped off, ‘Of course you ain’t going to play. You know I’m going to pitch.’ Durocher prophetically replied, ‘You won’t be in there when I get to bat. Tensions continued until Bowman was heard shouting, ‘I’ll take care of you! I’ll take care of both of you!’

                “After Bowman surrendered hits to the first three batters he faced, Medwick came up. The first pitch to the cleanup hitter struck him behind the left ear. Carried off the field on a stretcher, Medwick was taken to Brooklyn’s Caledonian Hospital and diagnosed with a concussion. Meanwhile turmoil prevailed on the field. Convinced the beaning was intentional – an extension of the elevator encounter – the Dodgers sought revenge. Team president Larry MacPhail stood before the Cardinals dugout threatening to take the players on individually or collectively. The umpires restored order before fists were thrown and the game resumed after Bowman’s retreat to the showers. In a statement to sportswriters, MacPhail accused Bowman of cowardly actions. As Bowman left the ballpark under police escort, MacPhail sent a wild swing at the pitcher.

                “Admitted to Bluefield Sanitarium, Bowman died on September 4, 1972.”

P-Bill Lee, Chicago Cubs, 29 Years Old

1937 1938

19-15, 3.44 ERA, 105 K, 114 ERA+, 3.97 FIP, 1.346 WHIP

.126, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .126/.159/.155, -16 OPS+

WAR-4.5

All-Star: Yes (L, 3 IP, 3 R)

MVP Rank: 19

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 1 percent chance)

Led in:

Games Started-36 (3rd Time)

Assists as P-80

3rd Time All-Star-After pitching an MVP season in 1938 (as judged by yours truly), Lee declined a bit this year and this will probably be the last time he makes this list. Like so many before him, he hit a wall when he turned 30 and never was the same again. Part of the reason for the decline is he developed eye problems. SABR has more details:

                “Lee never again reached the level of success he enjoyed in his first six seasons. In fact, his career is marked by two distinct phases: After compiling a 106-70 record and averaging annually 262 innings pitched with a 3.21 ERA, Lee followed with eight generally below-average seasons and a cumulative 63-87 slate. What happened? A confluence of factors precipitated Lee’s radical decline: Several years of overwork had taken their toll and his skills eroded rapidly even while he avoided major arm injuries; his eyesight deteriorated, leading him to wear glasses, still a novelty, especially for pitchers; his contract squabble with the increasingly notoriously cheap P.K. Wrigley took an emotional toll; and he played for bad teams.               

                “Lee was a lifelong resident of Plaquemine. Upon retiring from baseball, he became a successful businessman. After working as an insurance agent for Pan American Life, he went into banking, and rose to the position of director of the Plaquemine Bank and Trust Company. On June 15, 1977, Bill Lee died at the age of 67. He was buried at the Protestant Cemetery in Plaquemine. He wife, Amanda, was buried next him upon her death in 1994.”

P-Paul Derringer, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1934 1938

25-7, 2.93 ERA, 128 K, 132 ERA+, 3.15 FIP, 1.183 WHIP

.209, 0 HR, 17 RBI, .209/.216/.236, 21 OPS+

WAR-4.5

All-Star: Yes (3 IP, 0 R, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 17 percent chance)

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.781 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.047

Hits Allowed-321 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-3.657

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.15

3rd Time All-Star-Cincinnati had the best pitching in the National League and that was mainly due to league MVP Bucky Walters and this man, the hot-tempered Oom Paul Derringer. He helped lead the Reds to the World Series, where they were swept by the Yankees. Derringer pitched two games in the Series, going 0-1 while tossing 15 1/3 innings with a 2.35 ERA. The Reds would finally break through next year and Derringer would be a big part of that.

                If you’ve read the past write-ups about Derringer, you know he had no control over his temper. Look at SABR’s notes on an incident this season:

                “Dizzy Dean and Derringer never liked each other, and this resulted in a fight between the two before a game in June of 1939, when the Cardinals were visiting the Reds. Punches were swapped, and then they wrestled each other to the ground where they were separated by other players and sent to their respective dugouts. Derringer’s teammates said that Dean had been riding Paul for quite a while.”

                Put that alongside what he did on the mount, as Wikipedia says,

                “His best season followed for the 1939 league champions as he was among the leaders in wins, ERA, strikeouts, innings and shutouts, and led the league with a .781 winning percentage – a new team record. He finished third in the MVP voting, won by teammate Bucky Walters. But in the World Series against the New York Yankees, he couldn’t collect a victory as the Reds were swept; he lost a heartbreaking 2–1 decision in Game 1 when the Yankees scored in the ninth inning, and got no decision in the Reds’ 10-inning loss in Game 4 after leaving in the seventh inning with a 3–2 lead.”

P-Luke Hamlin, Brooklyn Dodgers, 34 Years Old

1938

20-13, 3.64 ERA, 88 K, 112 ERA+, 4.22 FIP, 1.146 WHIP

.126, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .126/.135/.184, -17 OPS+

WAR-4.3

MVP Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Games Started-36

Home Runs Allowed-27

2nd Time All-Star-It is the nature of my All-Star teams that pitchers that are workhorses do well on my list. It is because a player’s WAR increases the more he plays and so Hamlin’s two best seasons, according to Wins Above Replacement, were 1938 and 1939 when he pitched 237 1/3 and 269 2/3 innings respectively. He’ll drop below 200 innings for the rest of his career and is most likely done making these lists.

                Wikipedia wraps up his career, stating,

                “His best year was 1939 when he went 20–13 and had 10 complete games in 269-2/3 innings pitched. Hamlin’s 20 wins was 4th best in the National League, his WHIP was 1.146 (3rd in the NL), and he also finished #10 in the National League Most Valuable Player voting in 1939. 

                “Hamlin’s performance declined after 1940, as his ERA jumped from 3.06 to 4.24 in 1941. Dodgers manager Leo Durocher lost faith in ‘Hot Potato’, who had blown a number of leads over the 1941 season. When Dodgers boss Larry MacPhail sent a messenger between games of a double header telling Durocher to start Hamlin in the second game, Durocher erupted in anger. But Durocher complied with the boss’s order and started Hamlin, who gave up 4 runs before getting an out and lasted only 2 innings. After seeing an old political campaign poster for the Abe LincolnHannibal Hamlin ticket, Durocher once quipped: ‘It proves Lincoln was a great man; he could even win with Hamlin.’

                “Hamlin died in 1978 at age 73 in Clare, Michigan.”

P-Mort Cooper, St. Louis Cardinals, 26 Years Old

12-6, 3.25 ERA, 130 K, 127 ERA+, 3.52 FIP, 1.448 WHIP

.232, 2 HR, 11 RBI, .232/.243/.362, 57 OPS+

WAR-3.6

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. 56 percent chance)

Led in:

Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.554

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.256

1st Time All-Star-Morton Cecil “Mort” Cooper was born on March 2, 1913 in Atherton, MO. The six-foot-two, 210 pound righty pitcher started with St. Louis in 1938 and would be off and running to a decent career. His best seasons would be during the World War II years.

                SABR says,

                “[In 1938], Cooper made an auspicious big-league debut by pitching a three-hitter to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2, in Shibe Park on September 14. (He also issued a career-high eight walks.) He made three more appearances and, relying primarily on his fastball, finished with a 2-1 record. He attributed his heater’s effectiveness to the way he snapped his wrist as he released the ball. ‘If I didn’t pop the wrist, I wouldn’t be faster than any infielder,’ he said.

                “Cooper began his first full season with the Cardinals as a spot starter and reliever. He struggled until just before the All-Star break, when he earned a victory by tossing three scoreless innings in relief and then pitched his first complete game of the season, a six-hit win against the Pirates, to improve his record to 4-3. Given a chance to start regularly, Cooper fulfilled his promise, winning eight of 11 decisions and finished 12-6. Only the Dodgers’ Hugh Casey (15 victories) had a better rookie season.”

                Between Casey and Cooper, it would be this big man from the Cardinals who would end up having the more productive career. The best rookie in baseball this year, however, came from the American League and he was Splendid. Whoops, I said too much!

P-Whit Wyatt, Brooklyn Dodgers, 31 Years Old

8-3, 2.31 ERA, 52 K, 177 ERA+, 3.51 FIP, 1.165 WHIP

.167, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .167/.231/.194, 13 OPS+

WAR-3.2

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

1st Time All-Star-John Whitlow “Whit” Wyatt was born on September 27, 1907 in Kensington, GA. The six-foot-one, 185 pound righty pitcher started with Detroit in 1929 and was a utility pitcher with it until 1933 when, during the season, he was traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Chicago White Sox for Vic Frazier. He stayed with the White Sox until 1936 and then after that year, Wyatt was drafted by the Cleveland Indians from the Chicago White Sox in the 1936 rule 5 draft. He pitched one season for Cleveland and then didn’t play Major League ball in 1938. At this point in his life, Whit was 30 years old and had a record of 26-43 with a 5.22 ERA. It was surprising he’d lasted this long.

                Going to the Senior Circuit revived Wyatt and it all started with this year. SABR says,

                “The new scenery was a tonic for the now-31-year-old Wyatt and of mutual benefit to the second-division Dodgers. After getting a no-decision in his first start of the season in a game at Philadelphia in which he pitched 10 innings, Wyatt got the victory in each of his next three appearances, one of which was in relief. On June 27, 1939, he went 16 innings against the Boston Bees but did not get a decision; the game was halted due to darkness after 23 innings with the teams tied 2-2. He badly injured his knee in a collision at first base in a game against the Reds on July 19 and didn’t pitch again the rest of the season. Still, he was 8-3 in 16 starts, was named to the first of four consecutive NL All-Star teams, and helped lift Brooklyn to a respectable third place.”

C-Harry Danning, New York Giants, 27 Years Old

.313, 16 HR, 74 RBI, .313/.359/.479, 122 OPS+

WAR-4.2

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Giants

77-74, 5th in NL

Manager Bill Terry

Ballpark: Polo Grounds V (Neutral)

OPS+-96, 3rd in league

ERA+-98, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Mel Ott, 5.8

Led in:

Def. Games as C-132

Putouts as C-550

Assists as C-80

Double Plays Turned as C-13

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-43

Caught Stealing as C-35

1st Time All-Star-“Harry the Horse” Danning was born on September 6, 1911 in Los Angeles, CA. The six-foot-one, 190 pound righty catcher started with the Giants in 1933 and was receiving MVP votes as early as 1937. In 1938, he made his first All-Star team, but only this year, Danning finally had the prestigious honor of making my list.

                Wikipedia wraps up Horse’s career:

                “Danning was born in Los Angeles and is Jewish. He was nicknamed ‘Harry The Horse’ for Damon Runyon‘s Broadway character. He attended Los Angeles High School in Los Angeles. His brother, Ike Danning, played for the St. Louis Browns in 1928.

                “On June 9, 1939 against the pennant-winning Cincinnati Reds at the Polo Grounds, Danning was one of five Giants to hit a home run in the fourth inning, breaking the prior record of four home runs by a team in one inning. Remarkably, all five were hit by the Giants with two outs. Then, on June 15, 1940, he hit for the cycle in a game against Pittsburgh. His home run came on an inside-the-park home run that landed 460 feet (140 m) on the fly in front of the Giants’ clubhouse, wedged behind the Eddie Grant memorial.

                “Danning retired from baseball after serving in the military, working later as a minor league coach. He received one vote each for the Hall of Fame in both 1958 and 1960. In 1996 he was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

                “He died in Valparaiso, Indiana, at the age of 93. His obituary and photograph appeared in the December 13, 2004, edition of Sports Illustrated magazine.”

C-Ernie Lombardi, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

1932 1935 1936 1938

.287, 20 HR, 85 RBI, .287/.342/.487, 119 OPS+

WAR-2.8

All-Star: Yes (2-4)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1986)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. 1 percent chance)

Led in:

Errors Committed as C-10 (3rd Time)

Passed Balls-15 (6th Time)

Range Factor/Game as C-4.99

5th Time All-Star-From Lombardi’s 1938 write-up: “My guess in Lombardi is not done making these lists, but just in case he is, I’m going to wrap up his career. I’m sure I’ll regret that later.” It only took one season for that to look like a bad decision and I’m wondering if Lombardi can make three more of these lists to make my Hall of Fame.     

                Lombardi made the first of two World Series this year as his Reds lost to the Yankees in four straight. Schnozz didn’t help much, going three-for-14 (.214) with no extra base hits. Unfortunately, during this Series, Lombardi gained some unwanted fame. Baseball History Come Alive explains:

                “DiMaggio singled to right driving in Crossetti from third. Reds’ outfielder Ival Goodman fumbled the ball and hurried a throw to relay man Frank McCormick. Keller hustled around the bases beating the throw home and barreled into catcher Ernie Lombardi, hitting Ernie in the groin and knocking him to the ground.

                “Ernie was in pain and momentarily dazed. DiMaggio, immediately sizing up the situation, raced around the bases and scored while the ball was just a few feet away from the immobile Lombardi. Three runs had scored on a single! The press had a field day with the play and immortalized it ‘Lombardi’s Big Snooze,’ and that’s how it’s remembered in baseball lore even to this day.

                “According to baseball historian Bill James ‘Lombardi was the Bill Buckner of the 1930s, even more innocent than Buckner, and Buckner has plenty of people who should be holding up their hands to share his disgrace. Lombardi’s selection as the Series goat was absurd. Yankees were already ahead three games to none and that DiMaggio’s run merely made the final score 7-4.”

1B-Johnny Mize, St. Louis Cardinals, 26 Years Old

1936 1937 1938

.349, 28 HR, 108 RBI, .349/.444/.626, 178 OPS+

WAR 7.7

All-Star: Yes (0-1, K)

MVP Rank: 2

WAR Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1981)

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Led in:

1939 NL Batting Title

WAR Position Players-7.7

Offensive WAR-7.8

Batting Average-.349

Slugging %-.626 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.070 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-353 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-28

Adjusted OPS+-178

Runs Created-156 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-66

Adj. Batting Wins-6.3

Extra Base Hits-86 (2nd Time)

Times On Base-293

Offensive Win %-.828 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Added-63.24

Situ. Wins Added-6.3 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Wins Added-5.9

Errors Committed as 1B-19 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-If it wasn’t for the dominating year of Bucky Walters, the Reds’ pitcher, the Big Cat would have won his first MVP, both from the writers and me. It was really an incredible year, tied for his highest WAR in his career with 1940, which is why next year he’ll be entering my Hall.

                Will Mize end up being one of the all-time greats at his position? I guess it would depend on how you define that term. We’re 68 years into baseball history and there are already some all-time greats at first base – Cap Anson, Lou Gehrig, Roger Connor, and Jimmie Foxx. I do think Mize is going to join those four in making the ONEHOF, the Hall of Fame of my design that inducts just one player a year and includes only the greatest, but I don’t think he’s going to end up being better than those four or many of the other great first basemen to come in the next 81 seasons.

                Did playing in Sportsman Park, with its short rightfield, help the lefty Mize? It depends what year you’re talking about. In 1936 and 1937, along with this season, not really. However, in 1938, definitely. He hit 22 of his 27 homers at home and incredibly drove in 77 of his 102 RBI in St. Louis.

                This year, however, he hit 15 of his 28 homers at home and his OPS in St. Louis and away was comparable. Sportsman’s Park, in general, was a hitter’s park and could certainly help lefties, but it only sporadically did so for Big Jawn.

1B-Dolph Camilli, Brooklyn Dodgers, 32 Years Old

1936 1937 1938

.290, 26 HR, 104 RBI, .290/.409/.524, 144 OPS+

WAR-6.4

All-Star: Yes (0-1, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 12

WAR Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. 83 percent chance)

Led in:

Games Played-157 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-110 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-107 (3rd Time)

Win Probability Added-5.6

Def. Games as 1B-157 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-129

4th Time All-Star-First base was a strong position in the National League at this time, though certainly not Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg strong. Still, Johnny Mize and Dolph Camilli consistently made this list and they were no slouches.

                Wikipedia says,

                “In March 1938, Camilli was traded to the Dodgers in a move that new general manager Larry MacPhail hoped would spark a change in the team’s image from lovable losers to solid contenders. He drove in 100 or more runs in four of the next five seasons, being named an All-Star in 1939 and 1941 and becoming team captain. He also led the National League in walks in 1938 and 1939, but in the latter year became the first player to have three 100-strikeout seasons.”

                It seems finishing 12th in the Most Valuable Player voting is a little low for the season Camilli had, but in these days, the first stat people looked at was batting average and it hurt the Dodgers’ first baseman he hit below .300. He also whiffed over 100 times which was also uncommon in that time, so that didn’t help him either. I think his MVP season of 1941 is better than this one, but they’re close.

                Will Camilli make my Hall of Fame? Well, he’s going to make my list in 1940 and 1941 and then will need one more. It will all come down to 1942 and it’s a good possibility. I certainly think he should have gotten more of a look from Cooperstown than he did.

1B-Frank McCormick, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

.332, 18 HR, 128 RBI, .332/.374/.495, 130 OPS+

WAR-5.0

All-Star: Yes (0-4, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Stars seasons. 22 percent chance)

Led in:

Hits-209 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-128

Championship WPA-13.5

Putouts-1,518

Putouts as 1B-1,518

Double Plays as 1B-153

Fielding % as 1B-.996

1st Time All-Star-Frank Andrew “Buck” McCormick was born on June 9, 1911 in New York, NY. The six-foot-four, 205 pound righty first baseman started with the Reds in 1934 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1935 or 1936. He again played part time in 1937 before becoming Cincinnati’s regular first baseman in 1938 and led the National League in at-bats (640) and hits (209). Buck is part of phenomenal Reds infield that includes every one of them on this list. McCormick is the first Reds’ first baseman to make this list since Jake Daubert in 1922.

                Wikipedia says,

                “The 1939 season saw another strong showing from McCormick both offensively and defensively. He led the National League in hits (209), drove in 128 RBIs to become the league’s RBI champion and finished first in fielding percentage at first base (.996). His impressive performance during the latter half of the season was recognized as being a key factor in the Reds’ drive to win the pennant. The Reds advanced to the 1939 World Series, where they lost to the New York Yankees in a four-game sweep. In spite of his team’s performance, he was still able to maintain a .400 batting average throughout the series. His contributions to the team that year led to him being accepted into the ‘Jungle Club’ of Reds’ infielders, who gave him the nickname ‘Wildcat’.”

                In case you’re wondering about this “Jungle Club” mentioned, as I am. SABR explains, kind of:

                “That year also, as teammate Billy Werber describes in his autobiography, the eager McCormick was admitted to the Cincinnati infielders’ ‘Jungle Club’ and christened ‘Wildcat.’ (Second baseman Lonnie Frey was ‘Leopard,’ shortstop Billy Meyers was ‘Jaguar,’ and Werber styled himself ‘Tiger.’)”

2B-Lonny Frey, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

1935

.291, 11 HR, 55 RBI, .291/.388/.452, 123 OPS+

WAR-6.5

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 2B, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 19

WAR Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 80 percent chance)

Led in:

Sacrifice Hits-25

2nd Time All-Star-Since last making this All-Star team as a shortstop for Brooklyn in 1935, Frey switched positions and teams. After the 1936 campaign, he was traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the Chicago Cubs for Woody English and Roy Henshaw. With the Cubs in 1937, he played all over the place, but more games at short than anywhere else. After that season, Frey was purchased by the Reds, switched to second, and started to shine. He’s the first Reds second baseman on this list since Tony Cuccinello in 1931.

                SABR says,

                “Although several key players were in place when McKechnie arrived, including Frank McCormick, Paul Derringer, and Ernie Lombardi, it was the 1938 additions of pitcher Bucky Walters and second baseman Lonny Frey that turned the Reds from also-rans into champions. Walters was the league’s best pitcher in 1939 and 1940, while Frey helped to anchor one of the best defensive infields ever.

                “The 1939 season was Frey’s best as he helped lead the Reds to the National League pennant. At the start of the season, McKechnie persuaded him to forget switch-hitting and bat exclusively left-handed. He also suggested that Frey try to pull the ball more. Frey responded by hitting .291 with eleven home runs, a league-leading twenty five sacrifice hits. He made the first of his three appearances in the All-Star Game, where he knocked in the National League’s only run. Arthur Patterson of the New York Herald Tribune was floored. ‘Anyone predicting this spring that Linus Frey not only would play a full game at second base in the All-Star Game but also avert a shutout for the National League . . . would have been gently led away to the nearest psychopathic ward and barred from the press box for life,’ he wrote.15 However, the year ended with a thud for Frey—an 0-for-17 collar in the World Series, which the New York Yankees swept in four games.”

3B-Billy Werber, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

1934

.289, 5 HR, 57 RBI, .289/.388/.389, 108 OPS+

WAR-3.9

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 22

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Runs Scored-115

Assists as 3B-308 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as 3B-34

Double Plays Turned as 3B-32

Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.22 (3rd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list as a member of the Red Sox in 1934, Werber continued to play well, but never hit as good as he did in that year. After the 1936 season, he was traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Philadelphia Athletics for Pinky Higgins. Before this season, Werber was purchased by the Reds and he helped them to the National League pennant. He’s the first Reds’ player to make this list at third base since Chuck Dressen in 1927.

                Wikipedia says,

                “In his first National League season, Werber became the first player ever to bat on television during a game between Cincinnati and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field (August 26, 1939). He ended the season with a .289 average in 147 games and led the league with 115 runs. In the post-season, Cincinnati faced the Yankees in the 1939 World Series and lost in four games.”

                Werber hit .250 (four-for-16) with no extra base hits in the Series.

                More on that first televised game from Diamonds in the Dusk:

                “’It was August 26, 1939 — I was leading off for Cincinnati against the Dodgers,’ he said in a 2008 interview.

                “The game was tele- vised from Ebbets Field on station W2XBS (later to become WNBC-TV) as an experiment at the New York World’s Fair. There were just 400 TV sets in the New York area at the time, but the television display at the Fair drew a large crowd.

                “The inaugural telecast featured two cameras – one high above home plate and the other along the third base line. Dodger radio broadcaster Red Barber did the commentary.

                “Werber led off against Brooklyn’s Luke Hamlin to become the first televised batter in baseball history. Werber didn’t recall the outcome of that first plate appearance, but he contributed a single and an RBI to the Reds’ 5-2 victory in that historic game. That was the first game of a doubleheader.”

SS-Arky Vaughan, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938

.306, 6 HR, 62 RBI, .306/.385/.424, 119 OPS+

WAR-5.8

All-Star: Yes (1-3, 1 R, 1 BB)

WAR Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1985)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1935)

Pittsburgh Pirates

65-86, 6th in NL

Manager Pie Traynor

Ballpark: Forbes Field (Pitching)

OPS+-95, 4th in league

ERA+-93, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Arky Vaughan, 5.8

Led in:

Assists-531

Def. Games as SS-152 (5th Time)

Putouts as SS-330 (3rd Time)

Assists as SS-531 (2nd Time)

8th Time All-Star-I’ve been teaching Sunday School for 20 years now, so whenever I write up Vaughan, I always think of the kids’ song, “Arky Arky,” which tells the story of Noah and the flood. Then I also think, how did a player of this caliber go unnoticed for so long. Again, Vaughan was in the top five in Wins Above Replacement, but didn’t receive one MVP vote. Hey, Arky buddy, I’m sure your family knows you’re getting tons of recognition from this page, so don’t you fret!

                SABR says,

                “Once considered a liability defensively, Vaughan improved his fielding dramatically from 1938 through 1940. He led the NL three times in assists, twice in putouts, and once each in total chances per game and double plays.

                “The Pirates fell to sixth place in 1939, their final season under Pie Traynor. Vaughan batted a solid .306 and again made the All-Star team. He started at shortstop for the National League at Yankee Stadium and scored his team’s only run. A few days later, on July 19, Vaughan hit for the cycle for the second time in his career, again going 5-for-5.”      

                SABR also has a whole article on Vaughan’s cycle. Here’s just the part on his homer, his first hit of the game:

                “A pair of right-handers opposed each other on the mound. Terry named Bill Lohrman as his starter, while Pittsburgh’s skipper Pie Traynor countered with Mace Brown. Lohrman ‘was on the mound just long enough to become the loser (3 innings).’ After Lohrman retired Lloyd Waner, Vaughan opened the scoring when he ‘poled a home run into the right upper deck’ with one out. The ball barely passed inside the foul pole and ‘settled among the sparsely populated seats.’”

SS-Billy Myers, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

.281, 9 HR, 56 RBI, .281/.369/.393, 103 OPS+

WAR-5.7

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 14

WAR Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Defensive WAR-2.9

Errors Committed-42

Errors Committed as SS-42

Double Plays Turned as SS-110

1st Time All-Star-William Harrison “Billy” Myers was born on August 14, 1910 in Enola, PA. The five-foot-eight, 168 pound righty shortstop started with the Reds in 1935 and had always been good defensively, but finally produced some decent offense this year and that’s why he’s on this list. He’s one of the many reasons the Reds won the National League pennant. Myers is the first Reds’ shortstop to make this list since Buck Herzog in 1915.

                The Reds are the first team to have all four infielders make this list since the 1913 Philadelphia Athletics. It should be no shock both of these teams won their league’s pennant. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, the met the Yankees’ juggernaut and lost in four straight in the World Series. Myers did pretty well, going four-for-12 (.333) with a triple and two walks.

                SABR says,

                “Pitching and defense carried Cincinnati through the 1939 season. The Reds allowed far fewer runs than any other National League club that season. Myers contributed to the excellent defense. It was said that one of the keys to the Reds triumph was their keystone pair of Myers and Frey. Although neither was league’s best at his position, together they formed a much stronger combination than any of the other contenders could put on the field. The Cincinnati infielders did everything well – covered territory, made the double-play pivot, stole signs, and rarely struck out. Myers was particularly adept at anticipating where a ground ball would be hit and at stealing signs. Writer Talmage Boston quoted Bucky Walters as saying of the infielders, ‘They were all good, fast, and smart. Myers had his best year at the plate in 1939, hitting .281. He led all National League shortstops in double plays and was second in both assists and putouts. Unfortunately, he also led the league in errors.”

LF-Joe Medwick, St. Louis Cardinals, 27 Years Old

1933 1935 1936 1937 1938

.332, 14 HR, 117 RBI, .332/.380/.507, 131 OPS+

WAR-4.7

All-Star: Yes (0-4, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1911)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-149 (6th Time)

6th Time All-Star-This will be Medwick’s last full season with the Cardinals, for whom he had so many good seasons. So many good seasons, in fact, that this year, Ducky is entering my Hall of Fame. In order to make my Hall, I take a player’s Career WAR, which for Medwick is 54.3, and multiply it number of All-Star teams made, which is six, and if that number is over 300, he’s in. Muscles is in as the 115th inductee to my Hall of Fame and the 10th leftfielder. The full list is here.

                Medwick also hit 48 doubles this year, giving him 40 or more two-baggers for seven straight years, which would be a National League record until another Cardinal, Stan the Man, came along.

                Retro Simba has an article on a controversial incident involving Medwick. Here’s just a smidge:

                “On Aug. 1, 1939, the Cardinals were one strike away from completing a win at home against the Braves when manager Ray Blades removed Medwick from left field for a defensive replacement.

                “Blades said the move was made for strategic reasons. Medwick said it was done to humiliate him.

                “As Lynn King, a reserve outfielder, trotted out to take over in left, Medwick ‘staged a temperamental demonstration that showed his total disregard for his manager’s ideas of how to run a ballclub,’ the Star-Times reported.

                “According to published reports, Medwick ‘threw his glove high in the air, dug up the turf with his spikes as he marched sullenly toward his glove, and kicked the glove around with disgust before he picked it up.’”

                I suggest you read the whole thing.

LF-Morrie Arnovich, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

.324, 5 HR, 67 RBI, .324/.397/.413, 124 OPS+

WAR-3.9

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 18

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 44 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Putouts as LF-267 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as LF-2.11 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Morris “Morrie” or “Snooker” Arnovich was born on November 16, 1910 in Superior, WI. The five-foot-10, 168 pound righty leftfielder started with Philadelphia in 1936 and this year had a fluky good season. Don’t expect him back on this list again. Arnovich is the first Phillie to make this list as a leftfielder since Chuck Klein in 1931.

                SABR says,

                “The son of Orthodox Jewish parents Charles Arnovich and Rosy Arnovich (nee Dorf), Morrie kept Kosher all his life. He had one brother and two sisters. One of his sisters attained a master’s degree. His father owned a chain of gasoline stations. Arnovich enrolled at Superior State Teachers College but left before he graduated, to play professional baseball. He was a good athlete at Superior, starring in basketball and baseball. At the school he earned the nickname of ‘Snooker’ due to his proficiency at the British style of pocket billiards.

                “Then in 1939, Morrie had his best year. Through June of the 1939 season he was hitting National League pitching at a .400 clip. When asked about his rise from an average hitter to a .400 one, he gave credit to an altered stance and a special bat as well as hard work. On July 19, 1939, the Philadelphia fans honored Morrie for his good work. At one point Gerry Nugent, president of the Phils, tagged Arnovich as an untouchable should any trade talk concerning Morrie arise. 

                “Morrie married Bertha Aserson on July 10, 1956. Arnovich ran a successful sporting goods and jewelry store. He was the basketball coach at a local Catholic high school. Morris Arnovich died on July 20, 1959, at his home in Superior of a coronary occlusion. He was 49 years old. His wife Bertha survived him. There were no children. Arnovich is buried in the Hebrew Cemetery in Superior, Wisconsin.”

RF-Mel Ott, New York Giants, 30 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936