1931 American League All-Star Team

P-Lefty Grove, PHA

P-Wes Ferrell, CLE

P-George Uhle, DET

P-George Earnshaw, PHA

P-Lefty Gomez, NYY

P-Lloyd Brown, WSH

P-Rube Walberg, PHA

P-Vic Sorrell, DET

P-Firpo Marberry, WSH

P-Earl Whitehill, DET

C-Mickey Cochrane, PHA

C-Bill Dickey, NYY

1B-Lou Gehrig, NYY

1B-Lu Blue, CHW

1B-Jimmie Foxx, PHA

2B-Max Bishop, PHA

3B-Joe Sewell, NYY

SS-Joe Cronin, WSH

SS-Lyn Lary, NYY

LF-Al Simmons, PHA

LF-Ben Chapman, NYY

LF-Goose Goslin, SLB

CF-Earl Averill, CLE

RF-Babe Ruth, NYY

RF-Earl Webb, BOS

 

grove6P-Lefty Grove, Philadelphia Athletics, 31 Years Old, 2nd MVP

1926 1927 1928 1929 1930

31-4, 2.06 ERA, 175 K, .200, 0 HR, 12 RBI

MVP Rank: 1

WAR Rank: 2

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1947)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1928)

 

Led in:

 

1931 AL Pitching Triple Crown (2nd Time)

1931 AL MVP

1931 AL Pitching Title (4th Time)

WAR for Pitchers-10.4 (3rd Time)

Earned Run Average-2.06 (4th Time)

Wins-31 (3rd Time)

Win-Loss %-.886 (3rd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.077 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-175 (7th Time)

Complete Games-27

Shutouts-4

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.823 (5th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-217 (4th Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.01 (5th Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-74 (4th Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-7.5 (4th Time)

Base-Out Runs Saved-87.84 (4th Time)

Win Probability Added-11.8 (4th Time)

Sit. Wins Saved-8.0 (5th Time)

Base-out Wins Saved-9.1 (4th Time)

Fielding % as P-1.000

6th Time All-Star-Now that we baseball fans are educated by the sabermatricians, we know wins and pitcher winning percentage is not important. Those numbers are influenced by the support of the team and many a mediocre pitcher has been overrated due to those archaic stats. However, that doesn’t mean looking at a 31-4 record doesn’t still give goosebumps, especially when the pitcher is as good as my pick, and the baseball writers’ pick, for American League Most Valuable Player, Lefty Grove.

Philadelphia, managed by Connie Mack, won its third straight AL title, finishing 107-45. Led by Al Simmons, the A’s could hit and led by Lefty, they were the best hurling team in the league. They lost to the Cardinals, four games to three, in the World Series. It would be the last league title for Mack.

I mentioned in an earlier Grove blurb he didn’t have the most ebullient personality, but he did lose his temper after a loss this season. SABR says, “In what was probably an unprecedented display of postgame pique, Grove tried to tear off the clubhouse door, shredding the wooden partition between lockers, banged up the lockers, broke chairs and ripped of his shirt, buttons flying. ‘Threw everything I could get my hands on — bats, balls, shoes, gloves, benches, water buckets, whatever was handy,’ he told author Donald Honig. If Grove couldn’t break one record, he might as well break another.”

In what would turn out to be Grove’s final World Series, he went 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA.

ferrell3

P-Wes Ferrell, Cleveland Indians, 23 Years Old

1929 1930

22-12, 3.75 ERA, 123 K, .319, 9 HR, 30 RBI

MVP Rank: 11

WAR Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Complete Games-27

Bases on Balls-130

Assists as P-74

3rd Time All-Star-Ferrell continued to be the Indians’ best pitcher and one of the best pitchers in the American League. His ERA might look high, but it ranked ninth in the league, while his Adjusted ERA+ of 123 ranked seventh. Here in the wild hitting Thirties, looking at straight stats isn’t always the right solution.

Cleveland, managed by Roger Peckinpaugh (pictured with Ferrell above), finished in fourth for the second straight season, with a 78-76 record. Ferrell led the Indians’ good pitching, while Earl Averill helped the team score the second most runs in the AL.

Ferrell’s nine homers this year is still the all-time record for homers in one season as a pitcher. There have been eight players who have hit seven, including Ferrell himself in 1933. Or as SABR says, “In his best year at the plate with the Indians, 1931, the right-handed hitting Ferrell compiled a .319 average with 30 runs batted in, 9 home runs, and 6 doubles in 48 games. Only outfielder Earl Averill (32) and first baseman Ed Morgan (11) had more home runs among his teammates.

“One reason for Ferrell’s temperamental behaviour may have been the growing anxiety he felt about his pitching arm. He first experienced pain in his right shoulder while warming up for a game against the Boston Red Sox on May 8, 1931. For the rest of that season he could only throw his fast ball intermittently. Increasingly, he came to rely upon his off-speed pitches.

“He pitched a no-hitter against the St Louis Browns on April 29, 1931.”

uhle5P-George Uhle, Detroit Tigers, 32 Years Old

1922 1923 1926 1930

11-12, 3.50 ERA, 63 K, .244, 2 HR, 9 RBI

WAR Rank: 8

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as P-1.000

5th Time All-Star-Unless something strange happens, George “The Bull” Uhle is going to fall short of making my Hall of Fame just as he fell short of making Cooperstown. This was his last productive season, though the writers didn’t think so, as he received no MVP votes. It was probably his 11-12 record, something valued highly in those days, that kept him from getting his name on any of those ballots.

Detroit, managed by Bucky Harris, dropped from fifth to seventh this year with a 61-93 record. Its lack of hitting hurt the team the most.

Did Uhle create the slider? According to SABR, “One day while pitching batting practice, with Tigers outfielder Harry Heilman in the cage, Uhle began to experiment with a new pitch. He released the baseball off his middle finger, much like a bowling ball. ‘What kind of a curve is that?’ asked the Hall of Fame outfielder. ‘Hey, that’s not a curve. That ball was sliding,’ replied Uhle. A new pitch called the slider was created, and George Uhle took full credit for it.

“In retirement, Uhle worked as a manufacturer’s representative for Arrow Aluminum Company. He enjoyed attending Indians games with clients at Cleveland Stadium. He never retired. Uhle died on February 26, 1985, as a result of a 20-year bout with emphysema. He was survived by his wife Helen, and their three children.”

Also, it should be noted in 110 at bats against Uhle, Babe Ruth hit just four homers. However, the Bambino did hit .336 against The Bull.

earnshaw2

P-George Earnshaw, Philadelphia Athletics, 31 Years Old

1929

21-7, 3.67 ERA, 152 K, .263, 2 HR, 13 RBI

MVP Rank: 11

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Though he had a 22-13 record in 1930, Earnshaw’s league-leading 139 walks and a mediocre 106 Adjusted ERA+ kept him from making my list last season. It didn’t stop the A’s from winning the title though. Moose came back this year and was one of the reasons Philadelphia won its third straight American League pennant.

According to SABR, “Earnshaw contributed a 21-7 record and a 3.67 ERA. He again finished second to Grove in strikeouts and held opposing batters to a .288 on-base percentage, trailing only Grove’s .271. On September 5 Earnshaw pitched no-hit ball into the eighth inning before the Boston Red Sox’ Marty McManus grounded a single through shortstop. Earnshaw finished with a one-hitter in an 8-0 win.

“[In the World Series,] Earnshaw pitched well in the second game but lost when Bill Hallahan shut out the A’s, 2-0. He won the Game Four with a two-hit shutout and lost the decisive seventh game, 4-2. Catcher Cochrane was anointed the goat for letting the Wild Horse run wild, but Martin said neither Grove nor Earnshaw knew how to hold baserunners on because they didn’t allow many runners. Martin stole four of his five bases off Earnshaw.”

For the season, Earnshaw finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9); seventh in ERA (3.67); third in innings pitched (281 2/3), behind two teammates, Rube Walberg (291) and Lefty Grove (288 2/3); and eighth in Adjusted ERA+ (122). He’s probably got one more All-Star team left in him, but it most likely won’t be for the A’s.

gomez

P-Lefty Gomez, New York Yankees, 22 Years Old

21-9, 2.67 ERA, 150 K, .133, 0 HR, 3 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1972)

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 57 percent chance)

 

1st Time All-Star-Vernon Louis “Lefty” or “Goofy” Gomez was born on November 26, 1908 in Rodeo, CA. The six-foot-two, 173 pound left-handed pitcher started with the Yankees in 1930 and didn’t do too well, going 2-5 with a 5.55 ERA. That changed this year as he would be one of the American League’s best pitchers for most of the next decade. Does he deserve to be in Cooperstown? We have many years to have that argument.

Bob Shawkey was out and Joe McCarthy took over the reins for the Yankees. McCarthy managed the Cubs from 1926-30 and led them to a pennant in 1929. That was nothing compared with what he would do with his new club. This year, New York finished second with a 94-59 record, 13-and-a-half games behind the A’s. It led the AL in runs scored, led by the bat of Babe Ruth. The problem for the Yankees was their pitching, but with Gomez around, that would change over the next few seasons.

Oh, how medicine has changed over the years! Look at this snippet from Wikipedia, which says, “Coming into the 1931 season, Gomez had good pitching velocity, but the Yankees were concerned about the pitcher’s slender frame of 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) and 155 pounds (70 kg). Following a common medical strategy of the time, the team had most of his teeth extracted; they also had him drink three quarts of milk daily and gave him an unlimited meal allowance for road games. Gomez registered the second-best ERA in the American League in 1931.”

brownl

P-Lloyd Brown, Washington Senators, 26 Years Old

15=14, 3.20 ERA, 79 K, .229, 0 HR, 12 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-Lloyd Andrew “Gimpy” Brown was born on Christmas, 1904 in Beeville, TX. The five-foot-nine, 170 pound lefty pitcher started Brooklyn in 1925, going 0-3 and then not pitching in the Majors again until 1928 when he pitched for the Senators. This season was his best ever.

How great must it have been to be a pitcher under the tutelage of manager Walter Johnson? He led the Senators to a third-place 92-62 record. It was indeed the pitching that propelled Washington, as its hitting was just mediocre.

SABR says, “There was a scare during spring training in March 1930. The car driven by Brown’s wife plunged into a river near Hattiesburg as she drove in a party of five cars carrying player wives; she was not seriously injured. Brown led the Senators in victories in 1930, with a 16-12 (4.25 ERA) record, but just by a hair. Four other Senators each had 15 wins: General Crowder, Bump Hadley. Sad Sam Jones, and Firpo Marberry. The team finished in second place, eight games behind the Athletics. He had another very good year in 1931 – 15-14 (3.20 ERA) –; though the Senators finished third.

“At the end of his life, Brown had been ‘critically ill and destitute’ but fortunately was befriended by John Priestes. Priestes had been an outfielder in the Phillies system and who played in 14 games for the Tampa Tarpons in 1955, but had gone on to become successful in the construction business. He came by to visit Brown, picked up his medical bills, and provided transportation for him until Brown died from cancer on January 14, 1974, in Opa-locka, Florida. Priestes was given the Good Guy Award by the Florida Major League Scouts Association to be presented that November in St. Petersburg.”

walberg2

P-Rube Walberg, Philadelphia Athletics, 34 Years Old

1929

20-12, 3.74 ERA, 106 K, .124, 0 HR, 6 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Innings Pitched-291

Batters Faced-1,248

Fielding % as P-1.000

2nd Time All-Star-In 1930, Walberg struggled a bit, despite Philadelphia winning the American League pennant, going 13-12 with a 4.69 ERA. In the World Series that year he pitched in one game, pitching four-and-two-thirds innings, allowing two runs, and losing the game. He’d do a bit better this year in the Fall Classic.

This season, Walberg finished fourth in WAR for Pitchers (5.7), eighth in ERA (3.74), first in innings pitched (291), and ninth in Adjusted ERA+ (120). In the World Series loss to the Cardinals, he relieved in two games, pitching a total of three innings and giving up one run. The Cardinals beat the A’s, four games to three.

SABR says, “Rube had 140 complete games in his big-league career with 15 shutouts. He pitched 2,644 innings in his major-league career, which extended to the age of 41. He won 155 games while losing 141. During World Series play, Walberg compiled a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings.

“After retiring from baseball, Walberg and his wife owned a bar in Mt. Airy, a northern suburb of Philadelphia, for several years. He loved to reminisce with customers about the Athletics’ glory days. Walberg also did some scouting for the Athletics. After selling the bar, the Walbergs moved to Miami, Florida, where their daughter worked for the Strategic Air Command. They lived there for several years until the humidity became a problem for Walberg. They moved to Mesa, Arizona, which was a better climate for Walberg. He died in Tempe, Arizona, on October 27, 1978.”

sorrell2

P-Vic Sorrell, Detroit Tigers, 30 Years Old

1930

13-14, 4.15 ERA, 99 K, .159, 0 HR, 3 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Sorrell made his second consecutive All-Star team and has a good shot at a third next season. If you’ve heard of this man before, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din, and yet for a little while, he was one of the Junior Circuit’s best pitchers.

SABR says, “The Tigers slumped to seventh place in 1931 and tied a franchise record with 93 losses. Though not a star, Sorrell was ‘regarded as the steadiest of the Tigers pitchers.’ He enjoyed some of his best games of the year against the Yankees. In six starts against them, he went 3-1 with four complete games and a 2.94 ERA. Two of the wins came during a two-week period in June. First, he tossed a ten-inning six-hitter to defeat Lefty Gomez in the Bronx. The other was a wild contest at Navin Field. Though Sorrell was not at his best (he surrendered 12 hits and seven walks in 11 innings), he picked up the win in dramatic fashion when Johnny Grabowski, pinch-hitting for Sorrell, executed a perfect walk-off squeeze bunt to score Marty McManus for an exciting 8-7 win. Sorrell’s third extra-inning complete-game victory of the season came in his next to last start, a 3-2 victory over the Senators at Griffith Stadium. Sorrell finished the season at 13-14; however, in 13 of the losses, the Tigers scored three runs or less (23 runs total). En route to setting career highs with 32 starts, 19 complete games (sixth best in the AL), and 245 innings, he also issued a career-high 114 walks. Eleven of them came in a complete-game 4-1 loss to the White Sox on September 6. The umpire of that contest was his former manager, George Moriarty, who had returned to umpiring after his stint as the Tigers’ skipper.”

 

marberry2

P-Firpo Marberry, Washington Senators, 32 Years Old

1929

16-4, 3.45 ERA, 88 K, .232, 1 HR, 8 RBI

MVP Rank: 13

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Saves-8 (5th Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Firpo Marberry achieved fame mainly to being one of the first great relief pitchers, but it should be noted the three seasons (I’m guessing) he’s going to make this list, he was mainly a starter. In these days, good pitchers were used in both roles and that was certainly the case with Marberry, who pitched in 45 games this year and started 25 of those.

Wikipedia says, “Marberry was never a full-time starter, but was often considered one of the few great pitchers that could go back and forth from the bullpen to being a starter, since there were so few of his era. In 1930 and 1931, Marberry was employed primarily as a starter, and posted an overall record of 31–9 for the two seasons. In 1931, showcasing his talents as both a starter (25 starts), and a reliever (20 appearances), he posted a 16–4 record with a 3.45 ERA (5th in the league) and 88 strikeouts. While he picked up 11 complete games and 1 shutout as a starter, he also had 7 saves, and finished 13th in MVP voting (Lefty Grove won the award).”

It should be noted save did not become an official stat until 1969 and wasn’t in general use until 1960, so all of these saves stats before that were retroactively figured out by people who had more time on their hands than even me. Firpo Marberry has 99 saves, a lot for the time in which he pitched, but nobody would have known that back then.

whitehill2

P-Earl Whitehill, Detroit Tigers, 32 Years Old

1927

13-16, 4.08 ERA, 81 K, .155, 0 HR, 5 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs Allowed-22

Range Factor/Game as P-2.41

2nd Time All-Star-Since last making the All-Star team in 1927, Whitehill continued to be a solid pitcher for the Tigers, having double digit wins every year. Interestingly, in both seasons he made this list, he allowed more walks than strikeouts. In 1927, he walked 105 and struck out 95. This season, be allowed 118 free passes and whiffed 81.

In his 1927 blurb, I mentioned he was married to a beautiful woman named Violet Oliver who was falsely rumored to be the model for the Sunmaid Raisins “maiden.” According to SABR, “Later in life, all may not have been happy, as (upon Whitehill’s death) there was rumored to be a divorce petition on file, but there is no evidence of a formally granted decree. In 1931, however, all was happy enough as the Whitehills welcomed their only child, daughter Earlinda.”

SABR also adds: “Over 10 years Whitehill posted a 133-120 record for the Tigers. Control was a feature of his game, and he used his array of off-speed pitches to win 14 or more games ten times, too often for mediocre teams.  In 1931, two years after the Yankees began issuing uniform numbers to players, Whitehill was assigned number 11 by the Tigers. He was switched to 15 in 1932.”

This season, Whitehill finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.3), fifth in innings pitched (271 1/3), and also allowed the most long balls (22) in the American League. Hey, just because someone walks a lot of people and gives up a lot of dingers doesn’t make him a bad pitcher.

cochrane5

C-Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia Athletics, 28 Years Old

1927 1928 1929 1930

.349, 17 HR, 89 RBI

MVP Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1947)

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

 

Led in:

 

Passed Balls-6

5th Time All-Star-There’s no way you could know this, but at this point in his career, at only the age of 28, only eight catchers have made more All-Star teams than Mickey Cochrane’s five. The leader at this time is Charlie Bennett, an 1800s backstop, who made nine All-Star teams. It’s just difficult to last too long at this position because of the daily grind.

Wikipedia says, “Cochrane was a catalyst in the Athletics’ pennant-winning years of 19291930 and 1931, during which he hit .331, .357 and .349 respectively. He played in those three World Series, winning the first two, but was sometimes blamed for the loss of the 1931 World Series, when the St. Louis Cardinals, led by Pepper Martin, stole eight bases and the Series. However, in his book The Life of a Baseball Hall of Fame Catcher, author Charlie Bevis cites the Philadelphia pitching staff’s carelessness in holding runners as a contributing factor. Notwithstanding this, the blame for the 1931 World Series loss dogged Cochrane for the rest of his life.”

Certainly, giving up all of those steals would impute some of the blame on Cochrane, but it should also be noted his hitting was way below his standards. Black Mike hit only .160 (four-for-25) and had no extra base hits as the A’s lost to the Cards, four games to three. He had hit .400 in 1929, dropped to .222 in 1930, and then down again to his mark this year. He’d be able to rebound a bit when he played in the World Series with the Tigers.

dickey3

C-Bill Dickey, New York Yankees, 24 Years Old

1929 1930

.327, 6 HR, 78 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1954)

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as C-670

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-55

Caught Stealing as C-46

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-6.30

Range Factor/Game as C-5.98

Fielding % as C-.996

3rd Time All-Star-In these days, it wasn’t easy to catch daily. It pummeled the body so much, catchers needed their rest. Yet Bill Dickey would catch 100 or more games 13 straight years, he was just too valuable to have out of the lineup. This year, dWAR rates him ninth in the American League, the first of six times The Man Nobody Knows made the top 10 in that category. Combined with his always steady bat, he made the All-Star team for the third consecutive season and he’s only 24. He’s not up to Mickey Cochrane’s level yet, but he’s no slouch.

SABR says of this season, “New York finished second to the Athletics in 1931. Dickey continued his outstanding play. He made only three errors behind the plate and continued to swing a hot bat, with a .327 batting average and 78 RBIs. He collected five hits in a game on May 17 at Detroit’s Navin Field and had seven RBIs in a 17-0 pasting of the Browns on September 17 at Yankee Stadium.   He was rewarded with the first of six nominations as catcher to The Sporting News All Star Team.”

One could have a good argument over who had the better career – Black Mike Cochrane or Dickey. Offensively, Cochrane dominated while behind the plate Dickey prevailed. What hurts Mickey in this discussion is his relatively short 13-year career. Dickey would play 17 years and that doesn’t include the two he missed due to World War II. I would probably give it to New York’s backstop. It should be noted Dickey’s best seasons are yet to come.

gehrig61B-Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, 28 Years Old

1926 1927 1928 1929 1930

.341, 46 HR, 185 RBI

MVP Rank: 2

WAR Rank: 3

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1928)

 

Led in:

 

Plate Appearances-738 (2nd Time)

Runs Scored-163

Hits-211

Total Bases-410 (3rd Time)

Home Runs-46

Runs Batted In-185 (4th Time)

Extra Base Hits-92 (4th Time)

Times On Base-328 (3rd Time)

6th Time All-Star-In 1901, the American League was formed and Nap Lajoie won the Triple Crown, leading the league with 125 RBI. Some 10 years later, Ty Cobb set the new AL record with 127 RBI, but that just lasted one year to when Home Run Baker knocked in 130 runners. In 1920, you can guess who broke this record as the Bambino brought in 135 runs and then the next year, he drove in 168. Then his teammate Gehrig set the new AL record with 173 in 1927, tying that in 1930. This year, the Iron Horse set the Junior Circuit record that still remains today, 185. Hank Greenberg had 184 RBi in 1937 and he’s the only one to get close. In the National League, the record is Hack Wilson’s 191 in 1930.

Along with being a baseball fan, I am also a movie fan and finally watched The Pride of the Yankees. It’s an interesting movie because there’s not a ton of baseball in it, just a picture of Gehrig, the son, the husband, and the lunch pail-carrying ballplayer. It’s known mainly for Gehrig’s final speech at Yankee Stadium and I’ll cover that as I get towards the end of his career. Though I wasn’t close to being alive when Gehrig played, it seemed to me Gary Cooper did a good job portraying Lou, despite the fact he never had played baseball before. Interestingly, Cooper was actually three inches taller than the Yankees’ first baseman. If you’re a baseball fan, you should see it. You can probably find it streaming somewhere. I found it on Hoopla.

blue3

1B-Lu Blue, Chicago White Sox, 34 Years Old

1928 1929

.304, 1 HR, 62 RBI

MVP Rank: 17

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts-1,452 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-155 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,452 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team two straight years for the Browns, Blue had an off season in 1930, so right before the 1931 campaign began, he was purchased by White Sox for $15,000. He ended up being the White Sox best player as he continued to hold his own at this very tough position.

Donie Bush managed the White Sox for the second straight year and the team declined from seventh to eighth, finishing with a 56-97 record. When you have a team that can’t hit and probably had the worst pitching staff in the league, that will happen. Bush was gone after the season.

Wikipedia says, “After a poor performance in 1930, the Browns sent a new contract to Blue reducing his salary of $14,500 to less than half that amount. Blue refused to sign on those terms, and on April 3, 1931, the Browns sold Blue to the Chicago White Sox. Blue returned to the leadoff spot for the White Sox and responded with one of the best seasons of his career. He compiled a .304 batting average and ranked among the American League leaders with 15 triples (second), 127 bases on balls (second), 309 times on base (third), a .430 on-base percentage (fifth), 119 runs scored (sixth) and 13 stolen bases (tenth). He also had an outstanding season defensively, leading the league’s first basemen with 1,452 putouts, and ranking among the league leaders with 81 assists (third), 105 double plays turned (fourth), and a 10.14 range factor per nine innings (fourth). His 16 errors also ranked second in the league. He wound up 17th in the voting for the 1931 American League Most Valuable Player award.

“Blue died at his home in Alexandria, Virginia in 1958 at age 61. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Blue’s cause of death was acute congestive heart failure due to bronchopneumonia with chronic arthritis as a contributing condition.”

foxx41B-Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics, 23 Years Old

1928 1929 1930

.291, 30 HR, 120 RBI

MVP Rank: 25

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (inducted in 1931)

 

Led in:

 

Strikeouts-84 (3rd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Jimmie Foxx became the 101st player inducted into my Hall of Fame and the ninth first baseman, joining Cap Anson, Jake Beckley, Dan Brouthers, Roger Connor, Lou Gehrig, Ed Konetchy, George Sisler, and Harry Stovey. You can see the full list here along with all the links for the above players.

In what would end up being Foxx’s last World Series, he again produced big numbers for the Athletics, hitting .348 (eight-for-23) with a home run, but the A’s lost to the Cardinals, four games to three.

SABR repeats what I said above, but with better writing and more details. Take a look: “After winning consecutive World Series, the Athletics had an even better regular season in 1931. The team won 107 games and cruised to the pennant easily despite competition from a Yankees team that scored nearly seven runs per game. Foxx continued to play a key role, but was hampered by serious knee and foot injuries, as well as the beginnings of sinus trouble that would haunt him in later years. Still, he hit 30 home runs and had 120 runs batted in, the third of 12 consecutive seasons of over 30 home runs. In the World Series, the A’s again faced the Cardinals, but this time Philadelphia was upset mainly because the storied exploits of Cards outfielder Pepper Martin. Foxx hit .348 in the Series and smashed a ball completely out of Shibe Park in Game Four. In his three postseason appearances, Foxx hit .344 with four home runs. However, the 1931 World Series was the last one for Foxx and the Philadelphia Athletics.”

bishop2

2B-Max Bishop, Philadelphia Athletics, 31 Years Old

1928

.294, 5 HR, 37 RBI

WAR Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-2.2

2nd Time All-Star-Since making the All-Star team in 1928, Bishop continued to field well and walk a lot, but the rest of his game declined. This year, his hitting came back somewhat, as he stroked for a .294 average and again helped lead the Athletics back to the American League title. Unfortunately, his poor hitting came back in the Series, as he went four-for-27 (.148) with no extra base hits and three walks. Philadelphia lost to the Cardinals, four games to three.

Wikipedia states, “Eight times he collected 100 walks, leading the AL with 128 in 1929; twice walked eight times in a doubleheader, to set a major league record; twice draw five walks in a single game, to become the only major leaguer to do this twice and recorded a 2.55 walk-to-strikeout ratio (1153-to-452), as his walk percentage of .204 is only surpassed by Ted Williams‘s .207. He also scored 100 or more runs during four consecutive seasons (1928–1931), with a career-high 117 in 1930. Rated as one of the best fielders in the game, Bishop led AL second basemen four times in fielding percentage and played 18 World Series games without committing an error, recording 29 putouts and 40 assists in the 1929, 1930 and 1931 World Series. When Bishop scored 117 runs in 1930, he became the only man in major league history to score at least 70 runs while collecting more runs than hits.”

It’s unclear whether or not Bishop will be back on this list. He’s still a good fielder, but his hitting isn’t going to do him any favors.

sewell8

3B-Joe Sewell, New York Yankees, 32 Years Old

1921 1923 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929

.302, 6 HR, 64 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1977)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1928)

 

Led in:

 

AB per SO-60.5 (7th Time)

8th Time All-Star-When I first started writing about Sewell, there was doubt that he would make my Hall of Fame, but he just kept making All-Star teams. He’s now at the point where it wouldn’t shock me if he makes the ONEHOF, the Hall of Fame of my creation that admits just one player a season.  He could make it now, in all honesty, but if he somehow makes another All-Star team, he’s a sure thing.

After 11 years of playing for Cleveland, Sewell was released and then gobbled up by the Yankees. The picture up above is of two Hall of Famers, Sewell and Lou Gehrig. On a page at the Baseball Hall of Fame, Sewell says of Gehrig, “’He (Gehrig) was one of the nicest fellows that you’d ever be around. You can’t say nice enough things about him,’ Sewell added. ‘And he was loyal to everybody. If he liked you he couldn’t do enough for you. I can’t remember all the time that he and I roomed together of him ever criticizing anybody or saying any bad things about anybody.’”

More from this page, which has a plethora of quotes from Little Joe, “’I’ve been asked that I betcha thousands of times,’ Sewell told Roberts of questions about this renowned batting eye. ‘Back when I was going to elementary school, we had to walk about a quarter of a mile and I can’t ever remember when I couldn’t throw up a Coca-Cola cap or a rock and hit it with a broomstick handle or a hickory stick or a limb or something. … I would develop my reflexes and my coordination and my timing. I didn’t know I was doing it. But when I got into high school ball I very seldom struck out. … When I was through with college and hit the major leagues, that was the easiest part about it – the hitting.’”

cronin2

SS-Joe Cronin, Washington Senators, 24 Years Old

1930

.306, 12 HR, 126 RBI

MVP Rank: 7

WAR Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1956)

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

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-156 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as SS-155 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-323 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-94 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team in 1930, Cronin put together another solid season, proving he’d be a force to be reckoned with for many years. He was one of those rare shortstops who had a good glove (common) combined with a powerful bat (not-so-common). For the second straight year, he hit double digit dingers, stroking 12.

I mentioned in Joe’s 1930 blurb he would eventually marry the niece of Clark Griffith, the Senators’ owner. For some reason, SABR spends a lot of ink on this portion of his life. I normally wouldn’t mention this fan magazine twaddle, but I still need some words for this write-up, so…

“Other than baseball, the principal excitement in Joe’s life was his relationship with Mildred Robertson. Per Joe Engel’s prophesy, Joe and Mildred had taken to each other right away, but it was anything but a whirlwind romance. Joe began by dropping in to the office more often than he needed to, but their courtship became more traditional in the spring of 1930 during spring training. As her uncle’s secretary, Mildred accompanied the team to their spring camp in Biloxi, Mississippi, every year. By the time the Senators returned from spring training to Washington in 1930, Joe and Mildred were dating twice a week when the team was home. Joe was adamant that the relationship remain a secret lest people write that Joe was trying to get in good with the boss.”

Stay tuned to this website for more from “The Shortstop and the Owner’s Niece.”

lary

SS-Lyn Lary, New York Yankees, 25 Years Old

.280, 10 HR, 107 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as SS-155

1st Time All-Star-Lynford Hobart “Lyn” or “Broadway” Lary was born on January 28, 1906 in Armona, CA. The six-foot, 165 pound righty shortstop started with the Yankees in 1929 and was a decent hitter at his position for his first three seasons. That’s going to fade after this season and he’ll end up bouncing around teams in both leagues.

SABR says, “Babe Ruth called him ‘Broadway’ because Lyn Lary loved the theater in New York, and Lary’s obituary in The Sporting News said he ‘tried his best to live up to the nickname the Babe hung on him. He was one of the best dressers in the majors and drove a big eight-cylinder car that had a silver nameplate on the door.’ And Lary married Mary Lawlor, who was part of the original 1925 cast in former Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee’s Broadway musical No, No, Nanette.

“Early in [1931] came another mental lapse. It came in the top of the ninth, with two outs and New York down by two runs. Lefty Gomez told the story several years later: ‘Lou Gehrig was fighting Babe Ruth for the home run championship. I think they finished in a tie, 49 to 49. Lary was on base. Gehrig belted one of his super-specials over the right-field wall, and jogged around, for the ball game. We kept our eyes on Gehrig. We never paid any attention to Lary. He touched third, and then streaked for the dugout, where he took a drink of water. … [Gehrig rounded the bases and crossed the plate – where he was ruled out, for passing Lary on the basepaths]. We did not realize that Lary had failed to score, and that the Gehrig home run was nullified. Lary could not explain the lapse.’ The date was earlier in the season than Gomez had made it seem; it was on April 26 in Washington. Lary did say that the ball had landed in the seats and then popped back onto the field and that he thought that Gehrig had flied out. The game ended without either run scoring, and the Yankees lost, 9-7. Gehrig was credited with a triple.”

simmons7LF-Al Simmons, Philadelphia Athletics, 29 Years Old

1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930

.390, 22 HR, 128 RBI

MVP Rank: 3

WAR Rank: 5

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1953)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1929)

 

Led in:

 

1931 AL Batting Title (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.390 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as LF-.986 (3rd Time)

7th Time All-Star-When great players of this era are being discussed, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig have to be at the top of the list and that’s totally fair. Yet, Bucketfoot Al shouldn’t be forgotten as one of the premier hitters of his day and his hitting helped lead the A’s to their third straight American League title. Then, despite losing the World Series four games to three to the Cardinals, it wasn’t Simmons’ fault as he hit .333 (nine-for-27) with two doubles and two homers.

SABR wraps up his season, stating, “In 1931, the A’s won their third straight AL pennant, by 13.5 games over the Yankees, going 107–45. Simmons won his second batting title, hitting .390 with 22 home runs, 128 RBI, 100 runs scored, 200 hits, 37 doubles, 13 triples and a .641 slugging percentage while playing in only 128 games. He finished third in AL MVP voting behind his MVP teammate Lefty Grove and the Yankees’ Lou Gehrig. The A’s were upset in their quest for a third consecutive World Series title, losing the World Series in seven games to the Cardinals. Simmons hit .333 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI in the series.”

Though there’s no way anybody knew it at the time, this would be Simmons’ last outstanding season. He’d never be in the top 10 in WAR again and only one more time will he be in top 10 in WAR Position Players. Research it and you’ll be surprised how often this happens when a player turns 30 and it even happens to the greats.

chapmanb

LF-Ben Chapman, New York Yankees, 22 Years Old

.315, 17 HR, 122 RBI

MVP Rank: 15

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Stolen Bases-61

Caught Stealing-23

Power-Speed #-26.6

Range Factor/Game as LF-2.45

1st Time All-Star-William Benjamin “Ben” Chapman was born on Christmas, 1908 in Nashville, TN. The six-foot, 190 pound righty outfielder would garner fame for his speed, leading the American League in steals numerous times. When Miller Huggins managed the Yankees, he didn’t like stealing because he wanted people on base for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to drive in. Based on Chapman’s 61 steals, we can see Joe McCarthy had a different mentality. Those steals would be the most in the Majors between 1921 and 1961. (George Case also had 61 in 1943).

While it was Chapman’s speed which gained him fame, his racism gained him infamy. This would be especially clear in the Jackie Robinson days, when he would abuse the Dodger as a manager of the Phillies, but it appeared even in his time as a player. Wikipedia says, “It was in New York that the extent of Chapman’s bigotry first surfaced. He taunted Jewish fans at Yankee Stadium with Nazi salutes and disparaging epithets.”

Let’s talk baseball, shall we? Chapman played third base as a rookie in 1930 and then moved to the outfield this year. According to SABR, “Manager Joe McCarthy explained: ‘He didn’t get the ball away quickly enough for an infielder and lost too many double plays. He had a full arm action instead of a snap throw. This was an asset in the outfield but a handicap in the infield. There wasn’t any question that he belonged in the outfield.’” I have him as a leftfielder, but he also played a lot of rightfield, too.

goslin7

LF-Goose Goslin, St. Louis Browns, 30 Years Old

1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1930

.328, 24 HR, 105 RBI

MVP Rank: 20

WAR Rank: 10

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1968)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1928)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as LF-151 (5th Time)

Assists as LF-13 (4th Time)

Errors Committed as LF-14 (7th Time)

7th Time All-Star-For a stretch of time from 1924-through-1931, there weren’t too many better players than Leon Allen Goslin, known as Goose. He didn’t lead in a lot of stats because he played in the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig era, but he was always the best player on whatever team of which he happened to be a member. Browns fans didn’t always have a lot to root for, but they had the joy of watching Goose smack a baseball.

As for the Browns, Bill Killefer managed them to a fifth place finish, up from sixth in 1930, with a 63-91 record. They were a middle of the road team, whether it came to hitting or pitching.

Goslin would end up making three more World Series, giving in five in total. He made it 1933 with the Senators again and with Detroit in 1934 and 1935. He won his second championship with the Tigers in the latter season.

Wikipedia says, “Goslin was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968, along with Kiki Cuyler, by the Veterans Committee. When he was inducted into the Hall, Goslin broke down and cried. ‘I have been lucky’, he said, ‘I want to thank God, who gave me the health and strength to compete with these great players. I will never forget this. I will take this to my grave.’

“After retiring from baseball, Goslin operated a boat rental company on Delaware Bay for many years, until he retired in 1969. He died in Bridgeton, New Jersey, aged 70 [in 1971], and is buried in the Baptist Cemetery, Salem, New Jersey.”

averill2

CF-Earl Averill, Cleveland Indians, 29 Years Old

1929

.333, 32 HR, 143 RBI

MVP Rank: 4

WAR Rank: 7

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1975)

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

 

Led in:

 

At Bats-627

Def. Games as CF-155 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as OF-155 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-When I originally wrote Averill’s blurb for 1929, I said there was a chance he wasn’t going to make my Hall of Fame. However, he was actually a sure thing and I’ve changed that write-up since then. One of two things happened. Either I made a mistake (very likely) or his career WAR changed on Baseball Reference between the time I wrote that and today (not as likely). As a reminder, I pick my Hall of Fame based solely on numbers. I multiply the number of All-Star teams made by the player’s career WAR and if the number is 300 or over, that player is in. Averill’s career WAR is 51.1 so he would need to make six All-Star teams. No doubt he is going to do that.

Averill’s Hall of Fame page states, “Averill posted similar numbers in 1930 with 19 homers, 119 RBI and a .339 average, then found his power stroke in 1931 with 32 homers, 143 RBI and 140 runs scored. During his first 10 big league seasons, he averaged 22 home runs, 107 RBI and 114 runs scored a season and hit .319.

“’I thank the good Lord he wasn’t twins,’ said Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez, whose Yankees battled the Indians in the American League throughout the 1930s. ‘One more like him probably would have kept me out of the Hall of Fame.’” Averill probably would have made the Hall of Fame sooner if his career had been longer. He’s only going to end up playing 11 full seasons.

ruth15

RF-Babe Ruth, New York Yankees, 36 Years Old

1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930

.373, 46 HR, 162 RBI

MVP Rank: 5

WAR Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1923)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1936)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1917)

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-10.5 (10th Time)

WAR Position Players-10.5 (11th Time)

Offensive WAR-10.7 (10th Time)

On-Base %-.495 (9th Time)

Slugging %-.700 (13th Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.195 (13th Time)

Home Runs-46 (12th Time)

Bases on Balls-128 (9th Time)

Adjusted OPS+-218 (12th Time)

Runs Created-184 (9th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-98 (10th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-9.0 (10th Time)

Times On Base-328 (8th Time)

Offensive Win %-.879 (11th Time)

AB per HR-11.6 (13th Time)

Base-Out Runs Added-97.01 (8th Time)

Win Probability Added-8.4 (9th Time)

Situ. Wins Added-8.2 (11th Time)

Base-Out Wins Added-9.2 (8th Time)

15th Time All-Star-For many of the 15 years I’ve been written about the Bambino, I’ve typed a list like the one above with all of those categories in which Ruth led the American League. However, after this season, he will no longer lead in any of those categories, except for walks. He’s still going to make the All-Star team, probably for the next three years, but when compared to himself, Ruth is going to look mortal.

I have Ruth rated as the fourth best player of all time through 1931. The full list can be seen here

Ruth also hit his 600th homer. Pinstripe Alley says, “The very next day, beleaguered Browns starter George Blaeholder pitched for the Browns. The righthander allowed five homers to Ruth in his career, and one of these clouts would occur that day.

“The Yankees had a 1-0 lead entering the third inning, when Blaeholder put two runners on for the ever-dangerous ‘Sultan of Swat.’ Ruth crushed a poorly-placed pitch high in the air, soaring far from home plate. By the time the ball came down, it had flown over the bleacher roof and crashed down onto a car parked on Grand Boulevard for a tape-measure home run. It was fitting that Ruth’s 600th homer would be such a monstrous shot.

“At the end of the day, here was how the all-time home run standings looked:

    1. Babe Ruth, 600
    2.  Rogers Hornsby, 293
    3. Cy Williams, 251
    4. Lou Gehrig, 221
    5. Hack Wilson, 205”

webb

RF-Earl Webb, Boston Red Sox, 33 Years Old

.333, 14 HR, 103 RBI

MVP Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-67

Def. Games as RF-151

Errors Committed as RF-16

Errors Committed as OF-16

1st Time All-Star-William Earl Webb was born on September 17, 1897 in White County, TN. The six-foot-one, 185 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing rightfielder started with the Giants in 1925, batting just four times. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1926 and then played for the Cubs in 1927 and ’28. He then took another year off from the Majors in 1929 before coming to the Red Sox in 1930. He had a decent season in his first year for Boston, but in 1931 he had one of those freaky years that happen occasionally. It was easily it was his best season ever.

In 1871, in the National Association, Cap Anson led the league with 11 doubles. Ross Barnes broke that in 1872 with 28 and again in 1873 with 31. In 1875, Cal McVey stroked 36 doubles. Then the National League’s King Kelly hit 37 doubles in 1882 and then Ned Williamson topped that the next year with 49. In 1887, Tip O’Neill, playing in the American Association, hit 52 and that held until Ed Delahanty, playing in the NL in 1899, crushed 55 doubles. Tris Speaker hit 59 doubles 24 years later in the American League and then George Burns hit 64 in 1926. Most of those player on that list are great players with multiple All-Star appearances, but it was Webb this season who set the all-time record for two-baggers with 67. Webb would never hit more than 30 in any other season.

Webb played out his career with the Red Sox, Tigers, and White Sox, retiring in 1933. He died in Jamestown, TN at the age of 67 on May 23, 1965.

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