1932 American League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Jimmy Collins

P-Lefty Grove, PHA

P-Red Ruffing, NYY

P-Wes Ferrell, CLE

P-General Crowder, WSH

P-Mel Harder, CLE

P-Ted Lyons, CHW

P-Clint Brown, CLE

P-Tommy Bridges, DET

P-Lefty Stewart, SLB

P-Vic Sorrell, DET

C-Mickey Cochrane, PHA

C-Rick Ferrell, SLB

1B-Jimmie Foxx, PHA

1B-Lou Gehrig, NYY

1B-Dale Alexander, DET/BOS

2B-Charlie Gehringer, DET

2B-Tony Lazzeri, NYY

3B-Willie Kamm, CLE

SS-Joe Cronin, WSH

LF-Heinie Manush, WSH

LF-Al Simmons, PHA

CF-Earl Averill, CLE

CF-Earle Combs, NYY

RF-Babe Ruth, NYY

RF-Ben Chapman, NYY

 

collinsj9ONEHOF-Jimmy Collins, 3B

1897 1898 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1907

.294, 65 HR, 983 RBI, 53.4 Career WAR

 

Jimmy Collins was the first great third baseman and now enters the One-A-Year Hall of Fame, which allows just one player per calendar year. It’s the best of the best and that was certainly Collins. He garnered fame in both hitting and fielding and also managed the first team to win the modern World Series, the 1903 Boston Americans. He is only the third player from the hot corner to make the ONEHOF, along with Deacon White and Home Run Baker. However, though White played more games at third base than any other position, he made more All-Star teams as a catcher, so Collins is really the second player to make this list at third. The full list is here.

Collins, along with Nap Lajoie and Cy Young, were among the new American League’s first superstars. It shouldn’t be a surprise since all three of them did great things in the National League before the turn of the century. It was because of players like those three that the AL got a foothold and is still around today.

The nominees for next year are Hardy Richardson, Elmer FlickJohnny EversLarry DoyleArt FletcherWally SchangJoe Sewell, Al Simmons, Charley JonesFred DunlapGeorge GoreNed WilliamsonBid McPheeSam ThompsonJack ClementsAmos RusieCupid ChildsClark GriffithJesse BurkettJoe McGinnityEd WalshNap RuckerEd KonetchyLarry GardnerJake DaubertBabe AdamsBobby VeachGeorge SislerHeinie GrohCarl MaysDave BancroftUrban ShockerEddie RommelSam Rice, Burleigh Grimes, Dazzy Vance, Goose Goslin, Paul Waner, Lefty Grove, and Lou Gehrig.

grove7P-Lefty Grove, Philadelphia Athletics, 32 Years Old

1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931

25-10, 2.84 ERA, 188 K, .168, 4 HR, 12 RBI

MVP Rank: 14

WAR Rank: 2

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1947)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1928)

 

Led in:

 

1932 AL Pitching Title (5th Time)

WAR for Pitchers-9.5 (4th Time)

Earned Run Average-2.84 (5th Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.193 (3rd Time)

Complete Games-27 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-4 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.380 (6th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-160 (5th Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.13 (6th Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-57 (5th Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.7 (5th Time)

Base-Out Runs Saved-74.22 (5th Time)

Win Probability Added-7.7 (5th Time)

Sit. Wins Saved-5.5 (6th Time)

Base-Out Wins Saved-7.4 (5th Time)

7th Time All-Star-Grove’s Athletics won the American League crown in 1931, their third straight pennant. It was the kind of star-laden team that could win forever, except they didn’t. That was the last AL title for that dynasty and, as it turns out, the great Lefty would never win another crown. However, he would continue to be a dominant pitcher and, as mentioned above, he’s one of the nominees for the ONEHOF, the Hall of Fame of my choosing in which just one player gets admitted per calendar year.

Philadelphia finished in second place this year, 13 games behind the Yankees. The Athletics finished 94-60, due to great hitting, leading the AL in homers with 172. Without doing research because that takes too much time, I believe it’s the first time a team other than the Yankees led the league in dingers.

Grove is going to become a different kind of pitcher starting this season. It was the first year since he started in 1925 that Grove didn’t lead the AL in strikeouts and he’d never lead the league in that category again. However, he is still going to be a fantastic pitcher for quite a few years. That’s the sign of a true legendary pitcher, one who loses the zip he has on his fastball, but is still able to compete and succeed in his latter years. As a matter of fact, I would say there are better years ahead for him than any he’s pitched thus far, though you can certainly argue with me about that.

ruffing2

P-Red Ruffing, New York Yankees, 27 Years Old

1928

18-7, 3.09 ERA, 190 K, .306, 3 HR, 19 RBI

WAR Rank: 5

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1967)

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

 

Led in:

 

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.602

Strikeouts-190

2nd Time All-Star-Ruffing last made the All-Star team for the Red Sox in 1928 and that was only because he was Boston’s lone representative. During the 1930 season, he was traded by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for Cedric Durst and $50,000. What is it about Boston trading away its greats to the their main rivals? After joining the Yankees, Ruffing’s career went on an uptick. This was probably his best year ever.

It was also a great year for the Yankees, as they won the American League pennant by 13 games. With Joe McCarthy at the reins for his second season, he gave New York its first title since 1928. This would be Babe Ruth’s last pennant and last World Series victory. I’ll have more on that in his write-up.

Wikipedia states, “On August 13, 1932, Ruffing threw a complete game shutout and hit a home run in the tenth inning off of Washington Senators‘ pitcher Tommy Thomas to give the New York Yankees a 1–0 victory. Ruffing became the first pitcher in major league history to win a game 1–0, hit a home run in the game, and strike out ten or more batters. Two other pitchers have since achieved this feat: Early Wynn in 1957, and Yovani Gallardo, who did it in 2009. Ruffing won 18 games during the 1932 season. He had a 3.09 ERA, second in the AL only to Lefty Grove‘s 2.84. Ruffing had 190 strikeouts, which led the AL. The Yankees won their first pennant since 1928. Ruffing won his first World Series game during the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. He started Game One, and the Yankees swept the Cubs four games to zero.”

ferrell4

P-Wes Ferrell, Cleveland Indians, 24 Year Old

1929 1930 1931

23-13, 3.66 ERA, 105 K, .242, 2 HR, 18 RBI

MVP Rank: 19

WAR Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

4th Time All-Star-Ferrell turned only 24 before this season and he has already won 20 games four straight seasons for the Indians. He was easily the ace for the Tribe and I have him easily making my Hall of Fame. He never received more than 3.6 percent of the vote for Cooperstown, who were dissuaded by his ERA. It’s true he was no Lefty Grove, but how many pitchers are?

With Roger Peckinpaugh as manager, Cleveland finished in fourth place for the third straight season. The team had average hitting, but led the American League in Adjusted ERA+ (117).

Wikipedia says, “Ferrell was an honest and outspoken individual, and his attitude began to sour during this period of his career. It was suspected that he had anxiety in regard to his shoulder injury, which caused him to angrily react to perceived bad calls by umpires, and teammates who made errors that negatively affected the game. On one occasion, Ferrell refused to be pulled from a game by his manager, and was suspended ten days without pay for insubordination. Because of his volatile temperament he was fined and suspended several times for refusing to leave a game, or for leaving it without permission. After being driven from the mound in one game, he punched himself in the face and began to slam his head into the wall. He had to be restrained by his team to stop him from continuing to hurt himself. Despite the pain in his shoulder, and worsening behavioral issues, he continued to be a durable and effective pitcher. In 1932, Ferrell posted his fourth consecutive 20-win season, with a record of 23–13, struck out 105, and had a 3.66 ERA.”

crowder2

P-General Crowder, Washington Senators, 33 Years Old

1930

26-13, 3.33 ERA, 103 K, .221, 0 HR, 9 RBI

MVP Rank: 27

WAR Rank: 7

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins-26

Innings Pitched-327

Games Started-39

Hits-319

Batters Faced-1,356

2nd Time All-Star-In 1931, Crowder’s first full season with the Senators, he went 18-11 with a 3.88 ERA, good, but not All-Star good. He changed that this season, winning 26 games and showing great durability on the mound. His 327 innings pitched were the most since George Uhle in 1923. I’m rating this as his best season ever.

Walter Johnson guided Washington its second straight third place finish. The Senators went 93-61 due to solid hitting and pitching. It would be Johnson’s last year managing this club on which he toiled so long. In his four years at the helm, he couldn’t get this squad past the Yankees or A’s, but he still went 350-264 during this stretch.

According to Wikipedia, “Crowder won 20 games in three different seasons, including a 26–13 record in 1932, the most wins in the American League. In that same season, Crowder set the record, which he still holds, for the most innings pitched in a season without hitting a batter, with 327.”

SABR adds, “Named Opening Day starter in 1932, Crowder pitched a ten-inning, 1-0 shutout of the Red Sox. It set the tone for his career year, arguably the best season for a Senators pitcher not named Walter Johnson. On May 13 he tossed his seventh and final career two-hitter, shutting out the Tigers, 7-0. The General also went 2-for-3 at the plate with a triple, scored once, and knocked in a run. A capable hitter, Crowder batted .221 in 1932 and finished with a career .194 average (164-for-847).”

harder

P-Mel Harder, Cleveland Indians, 22 Years Old

15-13, 3.75 ERA, 90 K, .181, 0 HR, 13 RBI

WAR Rank: 10

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as P-18

Assists as P-65

1st Time All-Star-Melvin Leroy “Mel” or “Chief” Harder was born on October 15, 1909 in Beemer, NE. The six-foot-one, 195 pound righty pitcher started with Cleveland as an 18-year-old in 1928 and would pitch for the Indians for 20 years. He became a starting pitcher in 1930 and he’d be one of the best American League pitchers of the ‘30s. He received votes 11 times for the Hall of Fame and I can certainly see his merits. However, it’s most likely he’ll fall short for my Hall also. We’ll see.

This season, Harder pitched the first game ever at Cleveland (later Municipal) Stadium on July 31, 1932. SABR has more on that game, stating, “More than 80,000 fans filled the place to capacity. Harder and his teammates were awestruck when they took the field. None had ever played baseball before that many fans before. In fact, no one ever had. Harder lost to Lefty Grove and the Philadelphia A’s, 1-0. The deciding hit was a grounder up the middle by Mickey Cochrane that Harder nearly speared with his glove. Harder was never considered a great fielding pitcher, but he would have plenty of practice scooping up comebackers and covering first on dribblers to the right side. He led the league in pitchers’ putouts or came close in most seasons.”

Cleveland Stadium was easily the largest stadium in baseball and it would be the Indians’ home park through 1993. However, Cleveland didn’t completely give up on playing at League Park and would not fully move into the behemoth until 1947.

lyonst5

P-Ted Lyons, Chicago White Sox, 31 Years Old

1925 1926 1927 1930

10-15, 3.28 ERA, 58 K, .260, 1 HR, 10 RBI

MVP Rank: 19

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1932)

 

5th Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team in 1930, Lyons injured himself in 1931 and would never again start 30 or more games in a season.  However, it wouldn’t be until 1935 he became the “Sunday Pitcher,” pitching with six days rest between starts.

Lew Fonseca took over as manager of the White Sox, who were still terrible. Chicago finished 49-102 and in seventh place in the American League.

SABR says of his previous year’s injury, “During his six-year run as the Sox ace, Lyons carried a heavy workload. He led the AL in complete games and innings pitched twice, and pitched the second-most innings two other times. The load apparently caught up with him in 1931. At age 30 he came down with a sore shoulder and started only 12 games all season. The pain eventually diminished, but the injury changed his career.

“’I lost the good stuff on my fastball,’ Lyons said. ‘I had to come up with something to keep me in the league. The knuckler rescued me then.’ He had thrown a knuckleball occasionally before his injury; after 1931 he relied on it more heavily, though he was never a pure knuckleball pitcher. He reinvented himself as a junkball artist, mixing in his slow curve and what was left of his fastball.”

This season, Lyons became my 103rd inductee into my Hall of Fame and the 39th pitcher. There is no doubt in my mind he will also make the ONEHOF, the Hall of Fame in which just one player per calendar year is inducted.  The full list of both Hall of Fames is here.

brownc

P-Clint Brown, Cleveland Indians, 28 Years Old

15-12, 4.08 ERA, 59 K, .250, 2 HR, 18 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.713

1st Time All-Star-Clinton Harold “Clint” Brown was born on July 8, 1903 in Blackash, PA. The six-foot-one, 190 pound lefty hitting, righty pitching hurler started with Cleveland in 1928 and had his rookie season in 1930. He became a regular pitcher for the Indians, who you might notice have a pretty good staff this year, and had his best season ever.

Find a Grave says, “He played Major League baseball as a pitcher for fifteen seasons with the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. A control pitcher who seldom hit a batter or threw a wild pitch, he had the lowest walk ratio in 1932 and 1933. Debuting on September 27, 1928 with Cleveland when he was 25 years old, he was a starting pitcher during the early years of his career, but later became an effective relief pitcher as the bullpen in baseball was more regularly used. His best season was in 1932 when he won 15 games while posting a 4.08 Earned Run Average and finishing 21 of his 32 starts, and he led the American League with three shutouts in 1930. When he was converted to a reliever, he led the American League in games pitched in 1937 and 1939, and led the league in saves in 1937. He appeared in 434 games during his career with 89 wins against 93 losses, threw 62 complete games and recorded 8 shutouts along with 64 saves. He is on Babe Ruth’s home run victim list, surrendering four to the Ruth.”

Brown died on New Year’s Eve, 1955 at the age of 52.

bridges

P-Tommy Bridges, Detroit Tigers, 25 Years Old

14-12, 3.36 ERA, 108 K, .164, 0 HR, 4 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Shutouts-4

1st Time All-Star-Thomas Jefferson Davis “Tommy” Bridges was born on December 28, 1906 in Gordonsville, TN. The five-foot-10, 155 pound righty pitcher started with the Tigers in 1930, was a rookie in 1931 and had his first stellar year this season. There are a lot of mediocre players in the Hall of Fame from this era, but this is one great player who should be in Cooperstown. There’s also a chance he makes the ONEHOF. Hey, I’m as surprised as you are!

Bucky Harris continued to manage Detroit and guided it to a fifth place finish, with a 76-75 record. The city of Detroit probably doesn’t realize it at this time, but they’re not far from being one of the all-time great teams and Bridges would be an important part of that.

Wikipedia says, “On August 5, 1932, he came within one out of throwing a perfect game. With two outs in the ninth inning, and the Washington Senators trailing 13–0, the Senators pitcher was due to bat. Washington manager Walter Johnson sent pinch hitter Dave Harris to bat, who led the AL that season with 14 pinch hits. Harris hit a single to break up the perfect game.”

To make Cooperstown, you have to have a long career and Bridges pitched well for 16 years. You also have to pitch on winning teams and Bridges would pitch in four World Series’ for Detroit. Bridges would get votes six times, but never get closer than the 7.5 percent of the votes he received in 1964. My guess is the fact he didn’t win 200 games hurt him.

stewart2

P-Lefty Stewart, St. Louis Browns, 31 Years Old

1930

15-19, 4.61 ERA, 86 K, .146, 0 HR, 9 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as P-1.000

2nd Time All-Star-For three years in a row, from 1930 to 1932, Stewart pitched 250 or more innings and made the All-Star team two of those years, 1930 and this season. His ERA was nothing spectacular, but his consistency and his durability put him here.

Bill Killefer managed the Browns again and they continued to be bad, finishing in sixth place with a 63-91 record. The team’s hitting was bad as it was one of three teams not to average five runs a game and its pitching also stunk. If Lefty Stewart is your best pitcher, you probably don’t have a very good staff. This would be the first of 10 straight years the Browns finished sixth place or lower.

After this season, Stewart would be traded by the St. Louis Browns with Goose Goslin and Fred Schulte to the Washington Senators for Lloyd BrownCarl ReynoldsSam West and $20,000. He’d have a decent year for the Senators in 1933, finishing 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA. He started faltering in 1934 and in 1935, after pitching just one game for the Senators, Stewart was traded by the Washington Senators to the Cleveland Indians for Belve Bean. He went 6-6 for Cleveland with a 5.44 ERA and would never pitch in the Majors again.

Altogether, Stewart, despite pitching mainly on bad teams, finished with a 101-98 record with a 4.19 ERA and a 108 Adjusted ERA+. He would eventually move back to his home state of Tennessee where he would die at the age of 74 in Knoxville.

sorrell3

P-Vic Sorrell, Detroit Tigers, 31 Years Old

1930 1931

14-14, 4.05 ERA, 84 K, .118, 0 HR, 8 RBI

Hall  of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

3rd Time All-Star-Sorrell made his third straight (and probably last) All-Star team, but there aren’t many players in Major League history who could claim that. He wasn’t a great pitcher, but he was a good pitcher on a terrible team. Detroit’s going to start getting better, but Sorrell will start fading and not even be able to pitch in a World Series.

SABR says, “Sorrell finished [this] season with a 14-14 record, but was again a hard-luck loser. In 12 of his losses, the Tigers scored three runs or fewer.

“Throughout his life, Sorrell was described as a dignified gentleman. His son said he never heard his father raise his voice but twice: once when he caught his ear in an old door and once on the baseball diamond when his son was a youngster and served as batboy. It’s no wonder that one of Sorrell’s favorite stories about his baseball career involved a loud—some might say uncouth—man. As a rookie in 1928, Sorrell struck out the veteran Ty Cobb, who was in his last year of big-league ball. After Cobb was punched out on a called strike, he argued and cursed with the umpire for what seemed like ten minutes, but was probably just a fraction of that. It would be hard to think of two people with more divergent personalities than Sorrell and Cobb. Vic Sorrell died May 4, 1972, in Raleigh at the age of 71. According to his death certificate, cirrhosis of the liver was the cause of death. He was buried at the Raleigh Memorial Park.”

cochrane6

C-Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia Athletics, 29 Years Old

1927 1928 1929 1930 1931

.293, 23 HR, 112 RBI

WAR Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1947)

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

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-137 (5th Time)

Putouts as C-652 (6th Time)

Assists as C-94 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as C-15 (2nd Time)

Passed Balls-11 (5th Time)

Caught Stealing as C-47 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as C-.993 (2nd Time)

6th Time All-Star-Black Mike played a career-high 139 games this year, including one game at leftfield, the only time in his career he played any position other than catcher. He set career highs in homers (23) and RBI (112), putting together a solid offensive season despite the fact he hit below .300 for one of the rare times in his playing tenure.

SABR says, “Cochrane had all the attributes expected of a great catcher – mastery of calling pitches, good arm, and defensive capabilities – which he supplemented with a mastery of human nature. His psychological knack for handling pitchers, treating each one differently according to perceived needs, helped to maximize pitching efforts on the mound. He also had the attributes expected of any great ballplayer. He hit for average, drew walks, had above-average speed on the basepaths, and could hit for power when needed.

“His exceptional batting eye was also reflected in his patience at waiting out pitchers, piling up 857 career walks and a top 60 ranking in walk percentage. Cochrane also struck out less than once in every 24 plate appearances – topped by just 8 whiffs in 514 at-bats in 1929 – to rank among the top 35 in at bats per strikeout.”

Cochrane is going to make my Hall of Fame next year and will definitely make at least two more All-Star teams. That will give him eight, one less than Charlie Bennett. However, he most likely will make three more, so he might be tied for the lead in that category before it’s all said and done.

ferrellr

C-Rick Ferrell, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

.315, 2 HR, 65 RBI

MVP Rank: 13

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1984)

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

 

1st Time All-Star-Richard Benjamin “Rick” Ferrell was born on October 12, 1905 in Durham, NC. The five-foot-10, 160 pound catcher started with the Browns in 1929 and became their regular catcher the next year. He is the brother of pitcher Wes Ferrell and is shockingly the brother that made the Hall of Fame. I know it’s hard to find good catchers in this era, but this is a terrible pick.

Wikipedia states, “Ferrell made his major league debut with the Browns on April 19, 1929. He spent the 1929 season as a reserve catcher backing up veteran Wally Schang, and had a .229 batting average in 64 games. New Browns manager and former catcher, Bill Killefer, made Ferrell his starting catcher for the next three seasons, and he would catch in more than 100 games in each. His batting average rose to .306 in 1931, elevating him one to one of the best catchers in the American League. Although he led the league’s catchers in errors and passed balls, he also led the league in assists. In 1932, Ferrell hit .315, the best among American League catchers, with 30 doubles and 65 runs batted in. He ended the season ranked 13th in voting for the 1932 American League Most Valuable Player Award.”

I’m wondering how many All-Star teams Ferrell will make in his career. He will never be in the top 10 in WAR, Position Player WAR, or Offensive WAR. He would be in the top 10 in Defensive WAR a few times, but is his defense enough to make him an All-Star numerous times? We shall see.

foxx5

1B-Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics, 24 Years Old, 1st MVP

1928 1929 1930 1931

.364, 58 HR, 169 RBI

MVP Rank: 1

WAR Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1931)

 

Led in:

 

1932 AL MVP

Wins Above Replacement-10.4

WAR Position Players-10.4

Offensive WAR-10.1

Slugging %-.749

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.218

Runs Scored-151

Total Bases-438

Home Runs-58

Runs Batted In-169

Adjusted OPS+-207

Runs Created-202 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-95

Adj. Batting Wins-8.8

Extra Base Hits-100

Times On Base-329

Offensive Win %-.872

AB per HR-10.1

Base-Out Runs Added-99.68

Win Probability Added-9.3

Situ. Wins Added-9.3

Base-Out Wins Added-9.0

Fielding % as 1B-.994

5th Time All-Star-For once the baseball writers and I agree on an MVP pick, but how could we not? Look at those stats above, it was an incredible season and I would go so far as to say it’s Foxx’s best ever. That’s tough to say, because he’s going to put up some monster stats over the next few years, including winning a triple crown in 1933. But I’m sticking with that pick.

According to Wikipedia, Foxx would have won the Triple Crown if the rules then were the same as today. It says, “In 1932, Foxx hit .364, with 58 home runs with 169 RBIs, missing the Triple Crown by just three points in batting average. Foxx actually hit 60 home runs that year, which would have tied Babe Ruth‘s record, but two of the home runs were hit in games that ended up being rained out, so the home runs did not count. Boston Red Sox first baseman Dale Alexander hit .367, but in just 454 plate appearances; he would not have won the batting title under current rules, which are based upon 3.1 plate appearances per team games played.”

Of his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s 60 homer record, SABR says, “The 1932 campaign did not bring another pennant to Philadelphia, but Foxx thrilled fans home and away by making an epic run at Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs. By the first week in May he had belted 19 round-trippers, and he reached 41 by the end of July, a month ahead of Ruth’s pace. In August, Foxx injured his thumb and wrist in a household accident, and although he played through the injury it hampered his power output.”

Posed batting of New York Yankees Lou Gehrig, no date

1B-Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, 29 Years Old

1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931

.349, 34 HR, 151 RBI

MVP Rank: 2

WAR Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1928)

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-156 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-156 (4th Time)

7th Time All-Star-Surprisingly, it had been four years since Babe Ruth, Gehrig, and the mighty Yankees made the World Series. They were back this season and Gehrig was outstanding, hitting .529 with three homers. Yet like most of his career, he was overshadowed by Ruth, who allegedly called his shot in the Series. Still Gehrig helped lead the Yankees to a four-game sweep of the Cubs, the fourth World Series win for the Yankees and the last for Ruth.

Wikipedia says, “In 1932 Gehrig became the first player in the 20th century to hit four home runs in a game, when he accomplished the feat on June 3 against the Philadelphia Athletics. He narrowly missed getting a fifth home run when Athletics center fielder Al Simmons made a leaping catch of another fly ball at the center-field fence. After the game, manager Joe McCarthy told him, ‘Well, Lou, nobody can take today away from you.’ On the same day, however, John McGraw announced his retirement after 30 years of managing the New York Giants. McGraw, not Gehrig, got the main headlines in the sports sections the next day.” SABR has more, stating, “Gehrig joined the Boston Beaneaters’ Bobby Lowe (May 30, 1894) and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Ed Delahanty (July 13, 1896) as the only players to collect four home runs in a game. In the first and fifth innings, Gehrig hit his bombs beyond the fence in left-center field, and in the fourth and seventh, he cleared the wall in right field. With the home run in the fifth inning, Gehrig became “the first man in baseball history to ever hit three home runs in one game for the fourth time.” On top of that, that third home run was a back-to-back-to-back shot, as Earle Combs and Ruth had homered ahead of him.”

alexanderd2

1B-Dale Alexander, Detroit Tigers/Boston Red Sox, 29 Years Old

1929

.367, 8 HR, 60 RBI

MVP Rank: 11

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

1932 AL Batting Title

Batting Average-.367

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.18

Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.89

2nd Time All-Star-Since last making the All-Star team in his rookie year of 1929, Alexander continued to his well for Detroit, but not good enough to make a team already filled with the likes of Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig. This season he played just 23 games for Detroit before he was traded by the Detroit Tigers with Roy Johnson to the Boston Red Sox for Earl Webb.  Once Alexander got to Beantown, he thrived, hitting .372 and ended up leading the AL in batting (.367).

Boston continued to be terrible, finishing in last with a 43-111 record. Shano Collins (11-44) and Marty McManus (32-67) managed the team. Shano would never lead a team again, finishing with a career 73-134 record.

Wikipedia says, “On June 13, 1932, the Tigers traded Alexander with Roy Johnson to the Boston Red Sox, in exchange for Earl Webb, who had set a major league record with 67 doubles in 1931. Webb hit only 19 doubles for the Tigers in 1932 and retired one year later. Alexander won the American League batting crown with a .367 batting average in 1932. He beat Jimmie Foxx by a mere three points, depriving Foxx of the triple crown.

“In the winter between the 1931 and 1932 seasons, Alexander married Verna Hutton from his hometown of Greeneville, Tennessee. He had two sons, Don and Steve, both of whom played baseball. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1970, and died in 1979 at Greeneville, Tennessee, at age 75.” He had a short but effective career.

gehringer4

2B-Charlie Gehringer, Detroit Tigers, 29 Years Old

1928 1929 1930

.298, 19 HR, 104 RBI

MVP Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1949)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1932)

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as 2B-396 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as 2B-30

Double Plays Turned as 2B-110 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Gehringer didn’t make the All-Star team in 1931 as he played just 101 games, but he’s back this year as the American League’s best second sacker. He’s also entering my Hall of Fame. He’s the 10th second baseman to enter; the full list is here. It will be interesting to see where Gehringer ranks among the all-time greats before his career is over.

Bleacher Report says, “Starting with the 1927 season, Gehringer would post batting averages of better than .330 13 times over the next 14 years. The lone exception came in 1932, when Gehringer, by his own admission, began swinging for the fences too often. He finished that season with an average of .298, but he did hit 19 home runs, one off his career best.”

Meanwhile, Baseball Wiki states, “In relative terms, 1931 was an “off” year for Gehringer. His consecutive game streak ended, as he played in 101 games. He also fell below the .300 mark (batting .298) for the only time between 1926 and 1941. Gehringer still had a fine year by most standards, and ended up No. 17 in the 1931 American League MVP voting.

“In 1932, Gehringer was back at full strength, playing in 152 games and hitting .325 with 112 runs, 107 RBIs, and 44 doubles (2nd best in the league). Not generally known a power hitter, Gehringer even hit 19 home runs in 1932, 7th best in the American League. At the end of the year, Gehringer was 9th in the league’s MVP voting.”

lazzeri4

2B-Tony Lazzeri, New York Yankees, 28 Years Old

1927 1928 1929

.300, 15 HR, 113 RBI

MVP Rank: 8

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1991)

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

 

4th Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team in 1929, Lazzeri’s hitting declined. He looked like he was going to be one of the American League’s best hitters of average after increasing from .309 in 1927 to .332 in 1928 to .354 in 1929. After that, his average dropped to .303 in 1930 and then .267 in 1931. After hitting .300 this season, he’ll never reach that benchmark again.

In the Yankees’ World Series sweep over the Cubs, Poosh ‘Em Up hit .294 (five-for-17) with two homers.

June 3 was an interesting day for Tony. SABR says, “On any other day, Yankees third baseman Tony Lazzeri would have owned the newspaper sports-page headlines. But on this day he was overshadowed by four different baseball events. On a day when Lazzeri hit for a natural cycle (single, double, triple, and home run in that order, the homer being a grand slam), Lou Gehrig amazingly hit four home runs and narrowly missed a fifth. On top of that, Babe Ruth launched his 15th home run of the season, second-best in the major leagues. Jimmie Foxx hit his ML-best 19th homer for Philadelphia. Still more headline-worthy, John McGraw announced that he was retiring from baseball after 29 years as manager of the New York Giants because of a two-year battle with a serious sinus condition.”

That’s right, in the same game, there was a cycle and a four-homer game. In case you’re wondering, the Yankees beat the A’s, 20-13. That would have been a fun game to watch!

kamm4

3B-Willie Kamm, Cleveland Indians, 32 Years Old

1923 1925 1926

.286, 3 HR, 83 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as 3B-164 (7th Time)

Assists as 3B-299 (4th Time)

4th Time All-Star-Once Kamm made the All-Star team in 1926, his hitting started to fall off and in the 1931 season, he was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Cleveland Indians for Lew Fonseca. He then made the All-Star team this season for the Indians, but that was mainly due to a lack of good players at that position rather than a great season. There weren’t a lot of greats at this position in the American League. Since Kamm made this list in ’26, Ossie Bluege made it in 1927 and 1928; Jimmie Foxx made it in 1928; Joe Sewell made it in 1929; Marty McManus made it in 1930; and Sewell again made in 1931. You might notice many of these names are greats from other positions, like Foxx, mainly a first baseman, and Sewell, usually a shortstop.

Wikipedia says, “Kamm is one of only 18 players in major league baseball history to have more than 60 runs batted in during a season, without hitting a home run. He is the only player to have ever accomplished the feat twice, with 62 runs batted in during the 1926 season, and 75 runs batted in during the 1931 season.

“Sabermetrician Bill James, in his baseball reference book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, noted that after trading Willie Kamm, the Chicago White Sox did not stabilize the third base position until 1989—a period of 58 years.” That would be an interesting study to see how many of these teams haven’t had a player make the All-Star team over the years. Interesting, but much too time consuming for me!

cronin3

SS-Joe Cronin, Washington Senators, 25 Years Old

1930 1931

.318, 6 HR, 116 RBI

MVP Rank: 6

WAR Rank: 8

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1956)

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

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-1.5 (2nd Time)

Triples-18

Putouts as SS-306 (3rd Time)

Assists as SS-448 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-95 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.959

3rd Time All-Star-Washington’s star shortstop was now easily the best at his position in the American League. He could play defense, as proved by his leading the AL in Defensive WAR (1.5) and he could hit, having a 130 OPS+. His stats didn’t also shine, because he played in Griffith Stadium, a tough park to score runs.

The AL hadn’t had a shortstop like Cronin since Joe Sewell , who moved to third base as he got older. During this era of the Junior Circuit, they had many star outfielders and also a few good first basemen. The leagues tend to go through different eras. There were a lot of good shortstops in the early part of the 20th Century, but that changed in the ‘20s. It’s possible that’s because hitting became such a big part of the game and the shortstops couldn’t always hold their own with the bat.

In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, there were again a boatload of good players at this position. That’s when a bunch of people at shortstop began to make their mark with the bat instead of the glove. They might not have necessarily better than previous shortstops, they just got more recognition because of their flashy numbers.

This season, Cronin finished eighth in WAR (6.2), fourth in WAR Position Players (6.2), sixth in Offensive WAR (5.7), first in Defensive WAR (1.5), 10th in batting (.318), and 10th in Adjusted OPS+ (130). He’s one of the all-time greats at this position to be sure.

manush3

LF-Heinie Manush, Washington Senators, 30 Years Old

1926 1928

.342, 14 HR, 116 RBI

MVP Rank: 3

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1964)

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

 

Led in:

 

Singles-145 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Manush last made the All-Star team as a leftfielder for the St. Louis Browns. He then played in 1929 and 1930 for St. Louis. During the 1930 season, he was traded by the St. Louis Browns with General Crowder to the Washington Senators for Goose Goslin. Despite being 30, Manush’s great years are over, though he might still make this list once more.

Wikipedia says, “In 1932, Manush had one of the best seasons of his career. Continuing as the Senators’ left fielder, he compiled a .342 batting average, fourth highest in the American League, and finished third in American League MVP voting behind Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig. He also ranked among the league’s leaders with 214 hits (second), 121 runs scored (third), 324 total bases (fifth), 14 triples (fifth), a .520 slugging percentage (sixth), and 116 RBIs (sixth).”

Meanwhile, Bless You Boys states, “Manush continued to be one of the premier hitters in the game, putting up a .900 OPS in four of the next six seasons. He hit for a .300 average 11 times in his career, including all but two years from his debut in 1923 to 1934. From 1928 to 1934, he hit for a .345 average with a 130 OPS+. This stretch included another pair of top-five MVP finishes in 1932 and 1933 and an All-Star appearance in 1934, all of which came with the Senators.”

I believe Manush isn’t one of the Hall of Fames best picks. He made it mainly on a handful of good seasons.

simmons8

LF-Al Simmons, Philadelphia Athletics, 30 Years Old

1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931

.322, 35 HR, 151 RBI

MVP Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1953)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1929)

 

Led in:

 

At Bats-670 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-718

Hits-216 (2nd Time)

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

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

8th Time All-Star-In baseball history, there were great players who played outstanding ball well into their thirties. Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, and Walter Johnson, among others, all fall into that category. These are the all-time greats and the reason they’re the all-time greats is because even when they were past their prime, they still were among the best in the games. Simmons is in Cooperstown and in my Hall of Fame and will most likely also make my One-A-Year Hall of Fame (ONEHOF) which is there for just the best of the best. Yet he’s not in the category of those above because he’s not going to have great seasons after the age of 32. For a stretch of about a decade, there weren’t many better players than Bucketfoot Al, but he would decline fairly quickly.

I bring this up because one of the ways I examine players in using Adjusted OPS+.  It’s not a perfect stat, but it gives me a quick view of a player’s offensive stats and helps me to know when they’re starting to fall off from their prime. For seven straight years, Simmons had an OPS+ of 142 or higher and in three of those seasons, it was 172 or above. Starting this season, that number will be at 137 or lower. This season, for instance, he had a lot of hits, but his average dipped by 68 points from 1931 and his slugging dropped by almost .100. He’ll make at least one more of these lists, but that might be it.

averill3

CF-Earl Averill, Cleveland Indians, 30 Years Old

1929 1931

.314, 32 HR, 124 RBI

MVP Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1975)

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

 

Led in:

 

Hit By Pitch-6

Def. Games as CF-153 (3rd Time)

Putouts as CF-409 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as CF-16 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-With Al Simmons moving to leftfield, Averill became the league’s best centerfielder. He was consistent, playing 150 or more games yearly. However, what wasn’t consistent was his hitting. He did hit 32 homers in 1931 and 1932, but he’ll drop to 11 next season and the rest of his career would be up and down. Still, Averill held his own in this big hitting era.

If Rock wouldn’t have started so late in the Majors, he could have put up some impressive career numbers. As it is, he played his first year at the age of 27 and, as you can see, he’s already 30. Players tend to decline at that age, though Averill still has some good seasons left, which is why he’s going to make my Hall of Fame.

I like his nickname “The Earl of Snohomish.” It’s not all that creative. The name he went by was Earl and he was born in Snohomish, WA. However, it’s still took more thought than some of the nicknames nowadays like A-Rod or K-Rod. The last few years they’ve been having games every year where the players can put their nicknames on their jerseys and some of them are decent, but many of them took no thought whatsoever. It would have been tough for Averill to fit The Earl of Snohomish on the back of his jersey.

I’ve never had a nickname that stuck. People just call me Ron or variations thereof. Well, I have been called some things which shouldn’t be repeated!

combs5

CF-Earle Combs, New York Yankees, 33 Years Old

1927 1928 1929 1930

.321, 9 HR, 65 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1970)

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

 

5th Time All-Star-Baseball Reference occasionally adjusted their numbers, specifically WAR, so things just change from year to year for me. Combs at one time needed eight seasons of All-Star teams to make my Hall of Fame, it’s now seven. As a reminder, my Hall of Fame is all numbers based. If the number of All-Star teams made multiplied by Career WAR is over 300, they’re in. Sometime between the time I did Combs’ write-up for his 1930 season and this one, his Career WAR changed.

In his last World Series, Combs hit .375 (six-for-16) with a homer and four RBI.

Wikipedia says, “Miller Huggins once said, ‘If you had nine Combs’ on your ball club, you could go to bed every night and sleep like a baby.”  Joe McCarthy (another longtime Yankee manager) said, ‘They wouldn’t pay baseball managers much of a salary if they all presented as few problems as did Earle Combs.’ Said Babe Ruth: ‘Combs was more than a good ballplayer; he was always a first-class gentleman.’  American sportswriter and baseball historian Fred Lieb wrote of Combs, ‘If a vote were taken of the sportswriters as to who their favorite ballplayer on the Yankees would be, Combs would have been their choice.’

“Combs was selected for induction into the Hall of Fame in 1970 by the Veterans Committee. When he learned of the honor, he said ‘I thought the Hall of Fame was for superstars, not just average players like me.’ Sabermetrician Bill James has listed Combs as one of ten examples of Hall of Fame inductees who do not deserve the honor.

“Combs and his wife Ruth (1901–1989) had three sons, Earle Jr, Charles and Donald. After a long illness, he died on July 21, 1976 (age 77) in Richmond, Kentucky. He is interred in the Richmond Cemetery.”

ruth16

RF-Babe Ruth, New York Yankees, 37 Years Old

1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931

.341, 41 HR, 137 RBI

MVP Rank: 6

WAR Rank: 3

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1923)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1936)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1917)

 

Led in:

 

On-Base %-.489 (10th Time)

Bases on Balls-130 (10th Time)

16th Time All-Star-There’s so much to go over for Babe this year. Let’s start with my list of greatest players of all-time, through 1932. Here’s the list:

  1. Walter Johnson, P
  2. Ruth, RF
  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. Cap Anson, 1B

This season, he also tied for most times making my All-Star team as a rightfielder. Here’s that compilation:

P-Johnson, 18 All-Star teams made

C-Charlie Bennett, 9

1B-Anson, 13

2B-Collins, 17

3B-Home Run Baker, 9

SS-Wagner, 13

LF-Fred Clarke, 10

CF-Speaker, 18

RF-Sam Crawford, Ruth, 9

This will also be the last World Series the Bambino made and the Yankees swept the Cubbies, 4-0. Altogether, he finished his Series career hitting .326 (42-for-129) with 15 homers, 33 RBI, and 33 walks. As a pitcher in 1916 and 1918 Fall Classics, he went 3-0 with an 0.87 ERA.

Finally, here’s a bit on his called shot from Ed Sherman, who wrote a whole book on the subject, “But one quote in particular buoys the naysayers in this debate. It comes from an interview that Ruth did with Hal Totten early in the 1933 season. Totten, a Chicago broadcast pioneer who had been at the game, asked Ruth that next year if he had pointed to center field. Ruth replied:

“…no. It isn’t a fact. Only a…fool would have done a thing like that. You know there was a lot of pretty rough ribbing going on both benches during the World Series. When I swung and missed that first one, those Cubs really gave me a blast. So I grinned at them and held out one finger and told ’em it only takes one to do it.

“Then there was that second strike, and they let me have it again. So I held up that finger again, and I said I still had one left. Now kid, you know…well I wasn’t pointing anywhere. If I had done that, Root would have stuck the ball in my ear. I never knew anybody who could tell you ahead of time where he was going to hit a baseball. When I get to be that kind of fool, they’ll put me in the booby hatch.

“Well, there we have it — solid proof. Babe Ruth said he didn’t do it. If he had pointed, Root would have beaned him. The Cubs pitcher is off the hook and doesn’t have to endure an afterlife of questions about being the sap who gave up the famous homer.” (I put in the ellipsis to replace some of Ruth’s coarser language.

chapmanb2

RF-Ben Chapman, New York Yankees, 23 Years Old

1931

.299, 10 HR, 107 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Stolen Bases-38 (2nd Time)

Caught Stealing-18 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Last season, Chapman made the list as a leftfielder, this season he’s the Yankees’ second rightfielder. He could have been at leftfield again, but since he played more games in right than left, I’ve put him here. Hey, you don’t like it, write your own webpage! I’m sorry, that was rude, forgive me. In the World Series this season, Chapman’s first and only, he hit .294 (five-for-17) with two doubles and six RBI in four games. Did he dazzle the Cubs with his speed? Nope. He tried one steal and was gunned down.

Chapman tried to steal more than anyone in the league as you can see by the categories in which he led the AL above. Going 38-for-56 on the basepaths is acceptable but not great. He’d do worse than that in upcoming seasons. In a time when baseball is a hitter’s sport, it’s not too smart to steal if you don’t absolutely know you’re going to make it.

As a matter of fact, the Yankees, great in everything else, were a horrific base stealing squad. The attempted 143 of them and made only 77, a 54 percent success rate. Lou Gehrig (four-for-15) and Earle Combs (three-for-12) were the worst on the team. As a consolation prize, both of those slowpokes made my All-Star team.

The best stealing team in the league was the Tigers, a team that stole 105 bases and were unsuccessful just 49 times. Their centerfielder, Gee Walker, stole 30 bases and failed just six times.

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