1930, and the opulence of offense...
Someone once said that is hard to look back on past baseball seasons without commentary on the historical significance of those years. That being said, it should be noted that the first ever night baseball game was played on April 28th in
the Twinkie was invented, and Farm Cow Ollie became the first cow to be milked
in an airplane. (She may also be the ONLY one) Independence, Kansas
Prohibition was in full effect in 1930, and the great depression was gripping the nation. Babe Ruth of the Yankees was paid $80,000. Someone pointed out that the Babe was getting paid more than President Herbert Hoover, and he famously responded, "I had a better year than he did."
Prosperity was hard to find in
you were a big league hitter.
With the depression in full swing, it's hard to imagine anyone with more than they needed. But in baseball, that's exactly what seemed to happen. Many look at the 1930 season as the best season for hitters, and it's hard to disagree. The combined leagues' batting average that year was .296, the highest ever in the modern era; averaged 5.55 runs scored per game, again the highest in the modern era; and the pitchers had an ERA of 4.81, worst in the modern era.
Bill Terry became the last National League hitter to hit over .400. (.401 to be exact). Hack
the NL home run record with 56 homers, a record that stood for 68 years until
Mark McGwire slammed 70. Wilson
still holds the major league record for RBI with 191, averaging 1.23 RBI per
No steroids, no performance enhancing drugs. Just an impressive offensive season. Bad pitching? Maybe. But Casey Stengel used to say, "Good pitching stops good hitting, and vice-versa". Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, Ted Lyons and Wes Ferrell were active pitchers that year, as was 43 year old Grover Alexander and 36 year old Burleigh Grimes (the last of the legal spitball pitchers)
The Cardinals faced the A's in the World Series, with
Philadelphia winning in 6 games, behind the
slugging of Al Simmons and Jimmie Foxx.
So let's look first at the best offensive performances in both leagues,
lowest to best.
Beginning in the
5. Mickey Cochrane PHA 2.6303
4. Jimmie Foxx PHA 2.6895
3. Babe Ruth NYY 2.9927
2. Lou Gehrig NYY 2.9939
1. Al Simmons PHA 3.1829
And the NL:
5. Chick Hafey STL 2.6536
4. Babe Herman BKL 2.7003
3. Kiki Cuyler CHN 2.7588
2. Chuck Klein PHN 2.9795
Wilson CHN 3.0044
Simmons and Wilson would be the Offensive Players of the year, easily. Note that while Bill Terry did hit .401, his overall ranking placed him 7th in the NL.
Value? The players with the highest performance compared to their teams?
5. Earl Webb BOS 1.3781
4. Charlie Gehringer DET 1.4419
3. Carl Reynolds CHA 1.4735
2. Al Simmons PHA 1.5157
1. Goose Goslin STL 1.5970
5. Kiki Cuyler CHN 1.3567
4. Harry Heilman CIN 1.4561
3. Wally Berger BOS 1.4736
Wilson CHN 1.4774
1. Chuck Klein PHI 1.5214
Two things of note. Hack
while he had a fantastic season, had help, as proved by teammate Kiki Cuyler's
top 5 ranking. The same with the Yankees combo of Ruth & Gehrig. Both had
monster offensive years, but they were on a team that scored 1096 runs.
And, if I add the time spent with
Goose Goslin would place 4th on the Most Valuable list.
Gary's book makes for a great Father's Day gift