We have five Hall-of-Famers of various types in today’s season. Tim Raines leads the way as the top seed with sluggers Joe Medwick and Hank Greenberg, manager Joe Torre, and Negro League star Monte Irvin representing the Cooperstown contingent. Brian Giles, Larry Doyle, and Carl Reynolds make up the rest of the field.
If all he could do was steal bases, Tim Raines would have secured his reputation as an all-time great. But his talent was in more than one dimension: he hit .294 in his 22-year career with a .385 on-base percentage and scored over 1500 runs in 2502 games. Oh yeah, he also stole 808 bases, leading the league four times. A seven-time All-Star, Raines was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 2017.
The National League’s last Triple Crown winner (way back in 1937 for the St. Louis Cardinals), Joe “Ducky” Medwick hit .324 lifetime, scored 1198 runs and drove in 1383 more. He had some pop in his bat, too: slugging 540 doubles, 113 triples, and 205 home runs over seventeen seasons. A beaning in 1938 appears to have affected his production as his numbers fall off a bit after that time. A member of the 1934 Cardinals “Gashouse Gang,” Medwick was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1968.
Due to military service before and during World War II, Hank Greenberg lost five peak years of his baseball career. Despite this, he still slugged 331 home runs in what amounts to nine complete seasons, maintaining a .314 batting average. He picked up two MVP trophies and was selected for five All-Star teams. He was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1956.
He’s in the Hall-of-Fame as a manager but it should be noted that Joe Torre was a pretty fair hitter in his day. In eighteen seasons Torre was named to nine All-Star teams and hit for a .297 average with 252 home runs. He also won the National League MVP award in 1971.
Brian Giles qualified for the playoff based on his 1183 career walks which boosted his .291 batting average to a healthy .400 OBP. His power numbers are also worth noting: 411 doubles and 287 home runs give him a .507 slugging average. I will be watching his performance.
Larry Doyle‘s 127 career triples qualified him for the tournament but he also hit a respectable .290 in fourteen big league seasons. He picked up the Chalmers Award in 1912 honoring him as the most valuable player in the National League.
Carl Reynolds also qualified for the tournament based on his triples. He had 107 in his thirteen years between 1927 and 1939, batting .302 over the period.
Roy Campanella was quoted as saying “Monte was the best all-around player I have ever seen. As great as he was in 1951, he was twice that good 10 years earlier in the Negro Leagues.” Finally getting his chance to play in the Majors in 1949, Monte Irvin hit .293 over the next eight years with 99 home runs. It’s a shame we won’t get to see a true representation of his abilities in the tournament.
In a classic battle between power and speed, Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg led the way with 255 homers as five players qualified for Round 3. Joe Medwick led in average with .237 vs the league’s .219 as every team batted above .200. Two Greenbergs hit 31 HRs and as a team, Tim Raines stole 1010 bases while the rest of the league only managed 814. Raines3 stole 146 bases on the year.
- Greenberg8 had a 3-HR game
- Raines3 had three 6 SB games.
- There were 4 no-hitters including one where Ducky Medwick’s Roger Clemens walked the second Greenberg batter and was otherwise perfect.
Greenberg, Raines, Brian Giles, Medwick, and Larry Doyle head to Round 3 as the others pack their bags for Round 2.