From Jacques Fournier to John Mayberry

December 21, 2017
  

2017-69

36.  Jacques Fournier (1923-1925)

              After Sisler the best first baseman in baseball was Jacques Fournier.   Fournier was a Lou Gehrig type, a big, strong left-handed power hitter:

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Jack

Fournier

1923

1

22

102

.351

.999

27.24

George

Kelly

1923

2

16

103

.307

.814

22.06

Jim

Bottomley

1923

3

8

94

.371

.960

21.31

Joe

Hauser

1923

4

17

94

.307

.873

20.10

Earl

Sheely

1923

5

4

88

.296

.759

19.49

 

     

 

   

 

 

Jack

Fournier

1924

1

27

116

.334

.965

29.44

George

Kelly

1924

2

21

136

.324

.902

23.84

Earl

Sheely

1924

3

3

103

.320

.837

21.11

Joe

Hauser

1924

4

27

115

.288

.874

20.78

Jim

Bottomley

1924

5

14

111

.316

.862

20.47

 

     

 

   

 

 

Jack

Fournier

1925

1

22

130

.350

1.015

26.70

Jim

Bottomley

1925

2

21

128

.367

.992

24.59

George

Kelly

1925

3

20

99

.309

.821

21.57

George

Grantham

1925

4

8

52

.326

.906

20.60

Earl

Sheely

1925

5

9

111

.315

.831

20.21

 

              Fournier was a good-looking, self-confident guy who had been raised in a family of some means.   In those years the Dodger players stayed during spring training two to a room in a not-very-good hotel in Clearwater, Florida, but according to Ira Smith (Baseball’s Famous First Basemen) Fournier stayed by himself in a much better hotel.   He was usually seen around town with some smokescreen, an actress or a model, and he talked to reporters about running for the Senate after he was out of baseball, although I don’t think he ever did.  

              The other thing I always think about in re Fournier is that the White Sox may have pitched their team history into a 40-year funk by a bad decision on Fournier.   Fournier was the White Sox first baseman from 1914 to 1916, and he was good for two years.  In 1914, just 24 years old, Fournier hit .311 and had the highest OPS of any major league first baseman.   In 1915 he hit .322, upped his OPS by almost 100 points with the aid of 18 triples, and had an OPS 87 points higher than any other major league first baseman.   I have him rated as the #2 first baseman of 1915. 

              In 1916 he had an off season; I don’t know if he was injured or what, but he had a bad year.  The White Sox sold Fournier to a Pacific Coast League team and purchased Chick Gandil from Washington to play first base for them.   Gandil wasn’t the hitter than Fournier had been in 1914-1915 or would be in the 1920s, but he was a better fielder, which was the thing in that era. 

              In 1917 the White Sox won the pennant.   The switch from Fournier to Gandil was widely praised by the press, cited as one of the key reasons the White Sox won the pennant.   I think this is a superstitious interpretation of history.   If A happens and then B happens, people will always write than A caused B, whether there was any actual connection or not.   The White Sox moved from second in 1916 to first in 1917 primarily because Eddie Cicotte pitched 187 innings with a 1.78 ERA, second-best in the league, in 1916, but 347 innings with a 1.53 ERA, best in the league, in 1917; otherwise it was pretty much the same team.  

              But the switch from Fournier to Gandil led to a long term disaster.   Gandil arranged the fix of the 1919 World Series; he was the guy who knew the gamblers and carried the money.   So if they don’t make that switch from Fournier to Gandil in 1917, here’s what happens, maybe:

              1)  They win the pennant anyway in 1917,

              2)  Fournier has a Hall of Fame career,

              3)  The 1919 team doesn’t throw the World Series,

              4)  The 1920 team wins the American League again,

              5)  Some other team becomes the center of the gambling scandals, and

              6)  The White Sox remain an upper-echelon American League team for the next 20 years. 

              Fournier fought his way back to the major leagues and became the #1 first baseman in the major leagues, but he lost what should have been his best years, when he should have been the cleanup hitter on perhaps the best team in baseball. 

 

37.  The Lou Gehrig Years (1926-1938)

              Lou Gehrig was the best first baseman in baseball from 1926 until 1937.   These are the rankings:

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Lou

Gehrig

1926

1

16

112

.313

.969

30.06

Jim

Bottomley

1926

2

19

120

.299

.870

24.35

George

Grantham

1926

3

8

70

.318

.890

22.52

George H.

Burns

1926

4

4

114

.358

.889

19.49

Joe

Judge

1926

5

7

92

.291

.808

19.10

 

             

 

Lou

Gehrig

1927

1

47

175

.373

1.240

38.12

Jim

Bottomley

1927

2

19

124

.303

.896

26.05

Bill

Terry

1927

3

20

121

.326

.907

23.47

Joe

Judge

1927

4

2

71

.308

.783

18.50

Lu

Blue

1927

5

1

42

.260

.748

17.73

 

             

 

Lou

Gehrig

1928

1

27

142

.374

1.115

39.38

Jim

Bottomley

1928

2

31

136

.325

1.030

26.36

George

Grantham

1928

3

10

85

.323

.894

24.74

Bill

Terry

1928

4

17

101

.326

.912

24.53

Del

Bissonette

1928

5

25

106

.320

.940

23.11

 

             

 

Lou

Gehrig

1929

1

35

126

.300

1.013

36.15

Jimmie

Foxx

1929

2

33

117

.354

1.088

30.70

Bill

Terry

1929

3

14

117

.372

.941

26.28

Dale

Alexander

1929

4

25

137

.343

.977

23.47

Jim

Bottomley

1929

5

29

137

.314

.959

22.38

 

             

 

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Lou

Gehrig

1930

1

41

174

.379

1.194

37.46

Jimmie

Foxx

1930

2

37

156

.335

1.066

32.57

Bill

Terry

1930

3

23

129

.401

1.071

29.62

Eddie

Morgan

1930

4

26

136

.349

1.014

23.86

Dale

Alexander

1930

5

20

135

.326

.878

19.92

 

             

 

Lou

Gehrig

1931

1

46

184

.341

1.108

36.42

Jimmie

Foxx

1931

2

30

120

.291

.947

31.48

Bill

Terry

1931

3

9

112

.349

.926

29.24

Eddie

Morgan

1931

4

11

86

.351

.961

22.03

George

Grantham

1931

5

10

46

.305

.851

20.63

 

             

 

Lou

Gehrig

1932

1

34

151

.349

1.072

37.57

Jimmie

Foxx

1932

2

58

169

.364

1.218

36.79

Bill

Terry

1932

3

28

117

.350

.962

29.95

Ripper

Collins

1932

4

21

91

.279

.802

19.32

Eddie

Morgan

1932

5

4

68

.293

.804

19.02

 

             

 

Jimmie

Foxx

1933

1

48

163

.356

1.153

37.62

Lou

Gehrig

1933

2

32

139

.334

1.030

37.12

Bill

Terry

1933

3

6

58

.322

.798

26.50

Ripper

Collins

1933

4

10

68

.310

.816

21.70

Joe

Kuhel

1933

5

11

107

.322

.851

20.64

 

             

 

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Lou

Gehrig

1934

1

49

165

.363

1.172

38.62

Jimmie

Foxx

1934

2

44

130

.334

1.102

33.77

Hank

Greenberg

1934

3

26

139

.339

1.005

26.81

Bill

Terry

1934

4

8

83

.354

.878

26.28

Ripper

Collins

1934

5

35

128

.333

1.008

25.25

 

             

 

Lou

Gehrig

1935

1

30

119

.329

1.049

36.43

Jimmie

Foxx

1935

2

36

115

.346

1.096

30.48

Hank

Greenberg

1935

3

36

170

.328

1.039

29.53

Ripper

Collins

1935

4

23

122

.313

.915

23.44

Zeke

Bonura

1935

5

21

92

.295

.849

22.63

 

             

 

Lou

Gehrig

1936

1

49

152

.354

1.174

36.12

Jimmie

Foxx

1936

2

41

143

.338

1.071

27.52

Johnny

Mize

1936

3

19

93

.329

.979

25.22

Zeke

Bonura

1936

4

12

138

.330

.908

24.31

Hal

Trosky

1936

5

42

162

.343

1.026

21.56

 

             

 

Lou

Gehrig

1937

1

37

159

.351

1.116

32.47

Johnny

Mize

1937

2

25

113

.364

1.021

31.26

Hank

Greenberg

1937

3

40

183

.337

1.105

30.16

Jimmie

Foxx

1937

4

36

127

.285

.929

27.01

Dolph

Camilli

1937

5

27

80

.339

1.034

24.92

 

              Jimmie Foxx in ’38 hit 50 homers and drove in 175 runs:

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Jimmie

Foxx

1938

1

50

175

.349

1.166

30.92

Hank

Greenberg

1938

2

58

146

.315

1.122

30.86

Johnny

Mize

1938

3

27

102

.337

1.036

30.74

Dolph

Camilli

1938

4

24

100

.251

.879

26.00

Hal

Trosky

1938

5

19

110

.334

.948

25.08

 

 

38.  Summarizing the Greatest First Basemen from 1900 to 1938

              Lou Gehrig was clearly the greatest first baseman of this era.   The chart below has Hall of Famers highlighted in blue and bold face, as we have done before. The totals for Beckley, Tenney, and Hickman include seasons before 1900.   Mize, Greenberg, and Frank McCormick were still in mid-career in 1938, so we left them out of the chart below, but included Foxx’s values post-1938 because he was nearer the end of his career:

 

Rank

First

Last

1

2

3

4

5

YOPDI

From

To

1

Lou

Gehrig

11

1

0

0

0

117

1923

1939

2

Jimmie

Foxx

2

9

1

1

1

90

1925

1945

3

George

Sisler

6

1

0

0

0

67

1915

1930

4

Frank

Chance

6

0

0

1

0

62

1898

1914

5

Harry

Davis

0

7

0

0

1

50

1895

1917

6

Hal

Chase

3

1

2

0

3

48

1905

1919

7

Jack

Fournier

3

2

0

0

1

45

1912

1927

8

Jim

Bottomley

0

4

1

0

2

34

1922

1937

9

Ed

Konetchy

1

2

1

1

1

31

1907

1921

10

Bill

Terry

0

0

6

2

0

28

1923

1936

11

Wally

Pipp

0

1

4

2

0

27

1913

1928

12

George

Kelly

0

2

1

2

0

22

1915

1932

13

Joe

Judge

0

2

0

1

3

19

1915

1934

13

Fred

Merkle

1

0

0

4

1

19

1907

1926

15

Stuffy

McInnis

1

1

0

0

1

18

1909

1927

16

Dots

Miller

0

1

2

0

1

16

1909

1921

16

Jake

Stahl

1

0

1

0

1

15

1903

1913

18

Doc

Hoblitzell

0

1

1

1

1

14

1908

1918

19

Fred

Tenney

4

0

1

1

0

12

1894

1911

20

Vic

Saier

0

1

1

0

0

11

1911

1919

21

Jake

Beckley

0

2

4

1

3

10

1888

1907

21

Jake

Daubert

0

0

1

2

2

10

1910

1924

21

Charlie

Hickman

0

0

2

1

1

10

1897

1908

 

              Charlie Hickman is the player identified in some old Encyclopedias as "Piano Legs" Hickman.   As was true in the other groups, the YOPDI score matches up very well with Hall of Fame selection, but in this group the Hall of Fame line is drawn more at 60 points than at 80.  In the hit-or-miss group. . .well, in the "hit" portion of the hit-or-miss group we have four players:  Jim Bottomley, Bill Terry, Jack Beckley and George Kelly. 

              One can certainly make an argument, with regard to Bill Terry and perhaps to Bottomley, that this method is not fair to them because they happened to be competing in an exceptional group of players.   Bill Terry is being compared head to head to Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg.  It is hardly an ordinary collection of first basemen.   It’s an extraordinary case. 

              OK, not arguing the point.  Bottomley’s best seasons are mostly before Gehrig and Foxx, so it is harder to make that case for him.  If I was selecting a new Hall of Fame, I certainly could do without Bottomley, and possibly without Bill Terry as well, although Terry was an exceptionally good player. 

              Beckley was not a truly dominant player, but he has a different argument; he was very good for a long period of time.  He got almost to 3,000 career hits.   It’s a different case.   And George Kelly. . .well, as I have said before, I just think his was an absurd selection.   George Kelly was not anywhere near being a Hall of Fame player, and he does not belong in the Hall of Fame.

              There is actually a flaw on this list, which I will acknowledge now and deal with at more length later, which is that "Boots" Grantham was excluded from the list, since I had him marked as a career second baseman.   He actually should be on the list above. . .will explain later. 

              In terms of peak value, these are the highest Peak Values among first basemen from 1900 to 1938:

Rank

First

Last

YEAR

Peak

 

Rank

First

Last

YEAR

Peak

1

Lou

Gehrig

1928

39.38

 

26

Ray

Grimes

1922

23.37

2

Jimmie

Foxx

1933

37.62

 

27

Jake

Stahl

1909

23.28

3

Frank

Chance

1906

32.69

 

28

Del

Bissonette

1928

23.11

4

Johnny

Mize

1937

31.26

 

29

Vic

Saier

1914

22.98

5

Hank

Greenberg

1938

30.86

 

30

Dots

Miller

1913

22.97

6

George

Sisler

1920

30.34

 

31

Fred

Tenney

1902

22.67

7

Bill

Terry

1932

29.95

 

32

Wally

Pipp

1916

22.18

8

Jack

Fournier

1924

29.44

 

33

Dan

McGann

1905

22.00

9

Harry

Davis

1906

28.79

 

34

Joe

Judge

1920

21.99

10

Jim

Bottomley

1928

26.36

 

35

Fred

Luderus

1913

21.43

11

Dolph

Camilli

1938

26.00

 

36

Earl

Sheely

1924

21.11

12

Hal

Chase

1915

25.72

 

37

Gus

Suhr

1936

20.88

13

Ed

Konetchy

1910

25.64

 

38

Lew

Fonseca

1929

20.81

14

Ripper

Collins

1934

25.25

 

39

Joe

Hauser

1924

20.78

15

Hal

Trosky

1938

25.08

 

40

Jake

Beckley

1900

20.73

16

Fred

Merkle

1912

25.04

 

41

Joe

Harris

1923

20.66

17

Stuffy

McInnis

1912

24.67

 

42

Joe

Kuhel

1933

20.64

18

Zeke

Bonura

1936

24.31

 

43

Chick

Gandil

1913

20.55

19

Charlie

Hickman

1903

23.97

 

44

Tim

Jordan

1906

20.39

20

Eddie

Morgan

1930

23.86

 

45

George H.

Burns

1918

20.31

21

Doc

Hoblitzell

1911

23.85

 

46

Jim

Nealon

1906

20.24

22

George

Kelly

1924

23.84

 

47

Kitty

Bransfield

1908

20.24

23

Jake

Daubert

1915

23.79

 

48

John

Anderson

1905

20.22

24

Babe

Borton

1915

23.49

 

49

Jiggs

Donahue

1905

20.00

25

Dale

Alexander

1929

23.47

 

50

Claude

Rossman

1908

20.00

 

              In this group, an automatic Hall of Fame selection requires a Peak Value of around 30.   Below that, Hall of Fame selection is a matter of either luck, or of having something else to tilt the vote in your direction. 

39.  The Mize-Musial-Hodges-Musial Era (1939-1958)

              Basically, from 1938 to 1958, the #1 first baseman in baseball is either Johnny Mize, Stan Musial or Gil Hodges.    The count actually is seven years as #1 for Musial, five years for Mize, four for Hodges, and one each for Phil Cavaretta and Augie Galan (during World War II), and one each for Mickey Vernon and Ted Kluszewski.   Musial switches between the outfield and first base.   When he is in the outfield he ranks first at his outfield spot, or maybe second behind Ted Williams; when he is at first base he ranks first at first.   

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Johnny

Mize

1939

1

28

108

.349

1.070

32.12

Jimmie

Foxx

1939

2

35

105

.360

1.158

30.29

Hank

Greenberg

1939

3

33

112

.312

1.042

27.68

Dolph

Camilli

1939

4

26

104

.290

.933

27.21

Hal

Trosky

1939

5

25

104

.335

.994

25.27

 

             

 

Johnny

Mize

1940

1

43

137

.314

1.039

31.94

Dolph

Camilli

1940

2

23

96

.287

.926

27.08

Jimmie

Foxx

1940

3

36

119

.297

.993

25.15

Hal

Trosky

1940

4

25

93

.295

.920

24.60

Frank

McCormick

1940

5

19

127

.309

.850

24.01

 

             

 

Johnny

Mize

1941

1

16

100

.317

.941

30.58

Dolph

Camilli

1941

2

34

120

.285

.962

27.66

Elbie

Fletcher

1941

3

11

74

.288

.878

22.20

Frank

McCormick

1941

4

17

97

.269

.740

21.24

Jimmie

Foxx

1941

5

19

105

.300

.917

19.81

 

             

 

Johnny

Mize

1942

1

26

110

.305

.901

31.54

Dolph

Camilli

1942

2

26

109

.252

.843

25.27

Elbie

Fletcher

1942

3

7

57

.289

.810

21.58

Frank

McCormick

1942

4

13

89

.277

.721

20.29

Mickey

Vernon

1942

5

9

86

.271

.725

20.21

 

             

 

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Mickey

Vernon

1943

1

7

70

.268

.744

22.46

Nick

Etten

1943

2

14

107

.271

.775

22.07

Rudy

York

1943

3

34

118

.271

.893

21.92

Frank

McCormick

1943

4

8

59

.303

.758

21.41

Elbie

Fletcher

1943

5

9

70

.283

.791

20.74

 

             

 

Phil

Cavarretta

1944

1

5

82

.321

.841

24.68

Frank

McCormick

1944

2

20

102

.305

.853

23.96

Nick

Etten

1944

3

22

91

.293

.865

22.78

Ray

Sanders

1944

4

12

102

.295

.812

21.85

Rudy

York

1944

5

18

98

.276

.792

21.34

 

             

 

Augie

Galan

1945

1

9

92

.307

.864

28.92

Phil

Cavarretta

1945

2

6

97

.355

.949

27.79

Nick

Etten

1945

3

18

111

.285

.824

21.11

Ray

Sanders

1945

4

8

78

.276

.760

19.57

Frank

McCormick

1945

5

10

81

.276

.729

19.16

 

             

 

Stan

Musial

1946

1

16

103

.365

1.021

39.69

Johnny

Mize

1946

2

22

70

.337

1.013

29.65

Hank

Greenberg

1946

3

44

127

.277

.977

27.62

Mickey

Vernon

1946

4

8

85

.353

.910

25.17

Johnny

Hopp

1946

5

3

48

.333

.827

20.90

 

             

 

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Stan

Musial

1947

1

19

95

.312

.902

34.27

Johnny

Mize

1947

2

51

138

.302

.998

29.65

Jackie

Robinson

1947

3

12

48

.297

.810

20.79

George

McQuinn

1947

4

13

80

.304

.832

20.37

Roy

Cullenbine

1947

5

24

78

.224

.823

18.00

 

             

 

Johnny

Mize

1948

1

40

125

.289

.959

26.69

Ferris

Fain

1948

2

7

88

.281

.808

18.51

Eddie

Waitkus

1948

3

7

44

.295

.764

16.06

Earl

Torgeson

1948

4

10

67

.253

.770

15.66

Eddie

Robinson

1948

5

16

83

.254

.715

15.28

 

             

 

Gil

Hodges

1949

1

23

115

.285

.813

19.34

Ferris

Fain

1949

2

3

78

.263

.754

19.17

Johnny

Mize

1949

3

19

64

.263

.794

18.75

Eddie

Robinson

1949

4

18

78

.294

.840

18.14

Mickey

Vernon

1949

5

18

83

.291

.801

17.05

 

             

 

Stan

Musial

1950

1

28

109

.346

1.034

36.53

Earl

Torgeson

1950

2

23

87

.290

.885

26.29

Walt

Dropo

1950

3

34

144

.322

.961

22.69

Gil

Hodges

1950

4

32

113

.283

.875

22.10

Eddie

Robinson

1950

5

21

86

.295

.846

19.75

 

             

 

First

Last

YEAR

Rank

HR

RBI

Avg

OPS

Value

Gil

Hodges

1951

1

40

103

.268

.901

24.18

Eddie

Robinson

1951

2

29

117

.282

.866

21.69

Earl

Torgeson

1951

3

24

92

.263

.812

19.88

Mickey

Vernon

1951

4

9

87

.293

.781

19.51

Ferris

Fain

1951

5

6

57

.344

.921

19.45

 

             

 

Gil

Hodges

1952

1

32

102

.254

.886

24.83

Ted

Kluszewski

1952

2

16

86

.320

.892

22.70

Eddie

Robinson

1952

3

22

104

.296

.848

21.38

Mickey

Vernon

1952

4

10

80

.251

.746

21.32

Ferris

Fain

1952

5

2

59

.327

.867

19.63

 

             

 

Gil

Hodges

1953

1

31

122

.302

.943

25.61

Mickey

Vernon

1953

2

15

115

.337

.921

25.33