clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ten Best Seasons: Shortstop

New, 13 comments

(10) Ray Chapman (1917)

563 AB, .302/.370/.409, 28 2B, 13 3B, 2 HR, 52 SB

Honors: 10th BA, 8th OBP, 9th SLG, 8th OPS, 8th Games, 6th AB, 3rd Runs, 8th Hits, 8th Total Bases, 9th 2B, 4th 3B, 4th SO, 3rd SB, 10th Adj OPS+, 5th RC, 6th XBH, 7th Times on Base, 1st Sac Hits

In the waning years of the Dead Ball Era, slugging .409 was an accomplishment. Add in Chapman's defense (which was excellent), and you have the best shortstop in the AL at the time. He was contemplating retirement at the end of the 1920 season, so he may not have had a Hall of Fame career even if he had lived, but that doesn't diminsh the tragedy of August 16, 1920 any less.

(9) Joe Sewell (1923)

553 AB, .353/.456/.479, 41 2B, 10 3B, 3 HR

Honors: 4th MVP Voting, 6th BA, 4th OBP, 8th SLG, 5th OPS, 5th Games, 7th Hits, 10th Total Bases, 5th 2B, 4th RBI, 2nd BB, 5th 1B, 5th Adj OPS+, 6th RC, 4th Times on Base, 10th HBP, 4th AB/SO

In August of 1920, Joe Sewell was playing in New Orleans of the Southern Association when he was called into the manager's office. Harry Lunte, Cleveland's utility infielder, had pulled a muscle, and the Indians were desparate for a shortstop. Manager Tris Speaker had no choice but to purchase the contract of the 21-year-old shortstop. Sewell hit .329/.412/.414 down the stretch to help the Indians win the pennant.

(8) Lou Boudreau (1947)

538 AB, .307/.388/.424, 45 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR

Honors: All-Star, 3rd MVP Voting, 8th BA, 9th OBP, 10th OPS, 7th Hits, 1st 2B, 10th 1B, 9th Adj OPS+, 6th XBH, 8th Times on Base, 5th HBP, 2nd SH, 1st AB/SO

A year later, Boudreau would blow these numbers out of the water, but his 1947 campaign was still really good. Lou finished third in the MVP race behind two guys named Williams and DiMaggio.

(7) Joe Sewell (1925)

608 AB, .336/.402/.424, 37 2B, 7 3B, 1 HR

Honors: 3rd MVP Voting, 2nd Games, 5th AB, 5th Hits, 9th 2B, 10th RBI, 5th 1B, 4th Times on Base, 10th SH, 1st AB/SO

Even in an era of contact hitters, Sewell was a contact freak. In 1925 he struck out 4 times in 608 AB. He has a career BB/SO ratio of 842/114. When analysts talk about AL records that will never be broken, Sewell's career AB/SO ratio should be among them.

(6) Terry Turner (1906)

584 AB, .291/.338/.372, 27 2B, 7 3B, 2 HR, 27 SB

Honors: 8th AB, 8th Runs, 6th Hits, 9th Total Bases, 5th 2B, 10th RBI, 7th 1B, 9th RC, 8th XBH, 9th Times on Base

Believe it or not, Turner's OPS+ in 1906 was 123. Terry is the franchise leader in games played with 1619; he played for the Indians from 1904-1918, which I believe is the longest consecutive tenure for a position player in franchise history.

(5) Lou Boudreau (1943)

539 AB, .286/.388/.388, 32 2B, 7 3B, 3 HR

Honors: All-Star, 10th MVP, 10th BA, 4th OBP, 9th OPS, 10th Games, 7th 2B, 4th BB, 7th OPS+, 9th RC, 4th Times on Base

Boudreau was exempt from service during World War II because of an old basketball injury from his college days. He was also manager by this time, and kept the Indians competitive through the war years.

(4) Jhonny Peralta (2005)

504 AB, .292/.366/.520, 35 2B, 4 3B, 24 HR

Honors: 10th SLG, 10th Adj OPS+

Peralta didn't get a single MVP vote despite slugging .520 as a shortstop. It's amazing how times have changed. He's the only post-1950 player to gain a spot on this list.

(3) Lou Boudreau (1940)

627 AB, .295/.370/.443, 46 2B, 10 3B, 9 HR

Honors: All-Star, 5th MVP Voting, 1st Games, 3rd AB, 10th Total Bases, 2nd 2B, 9th 3B, 10th RBI, 9th XBH, 8th Times on Base

Lou's first full season. Boudreau was originally a third baseman, but switched to shortstop in 1939 while playing for Buffalo. He and double play partner Ray Mack were called up at the same time. Mack teamed with Boudreau until 1946, when he was dealt to New York for, among others, Gene Bearden.

(2) Lou Boudreau (1944)

584 AB, .327/.406/.437, 45 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR

Honors: All-Star, 6th MVP Voting, 1st BA, 2nd OBP, 7th OPS, 9th Games, 8th AB, 6th Runs, 2nd Hits, 10th Total Bases, 1st 2B, 4th Adj OPS+, 6th RC, 8th XBH, 2nd Times on Base, 1st AB/SO

The competition was extremely weak thanks to World War II, but Boudreau posted a 145 OPS+ in 1944. He was 26, and at his peak at the plate and in the field.

(1) Lou Boudreau (1948)

560 AB, .355/.453/.534, 34 2B, 6 3B, 18 HR

Honors: AL MVP, All-Star, 2nd BA, 2nd OBP, 4th SLG, 3rd OPS, 7th Games, 5th Runs, 3rd Hits, 6th BB, 4th 1B, 2nd Adj OPS+, 3rd RC, 6th XBH, 2nd Times on Base, 1st AB/SO

The Dream Season. Bill Veeck almost dealt Boudreau before the season, but thankfully the deal was nixed. Boudreau was an almost unanimous MVP selection, getting 22 of the 24 first place votes. And he finished the season as mananger of the World Champions