Hall of Fame: Nap Lajoie (1937)

Yikes.

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG *OPS+  TB 
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+
1896 21 PHI NL 39 175 36 57 12 7 4 42 7 1 11 .326 .330 .543 129 95
1897 22 PHI NL 127 545 107 197 40 23 9 127 20 15 .361 .392 .569 155 310
1898 23 PHI NL 147 608 113 197 43 11 6 127 25 21 .324 .354 .461 137 280
1899 24 PHI NL 77 312 70 118 19 9 6 70 13 12 .378 .419 .554 169 173
1900 25 PHI NL 102 451 95 152 33 12 7 92 22 10 .337 .362 .510 140 230
1901 26 PHA AL 131 544 145 232 48 14 14 125 27 24 .426 .463 .643 200 350
1902 27 TOT AL 87 352 81 133 35 5 7 65 20 19 .378 .419 .565 175 199
PHA AL 1 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 .250 .250 .250 36 1
CLE AL 86 348 81 132 35 5 7 64 19 19 .379 .421 .569 177 198
1903 28 CLE AL 125 485 90 167 41 11 7 93 21 24 .344 .379 .518 169 251
1904 29 CLE AL 140 553 92 208 49 15 6 102 29 27 .376 .413 .552 205 305
1905 30 CLE AL 65 249 29 82 12 2 2 41 11 17 .329 .377 .418 151 104
1906 31 CLE AL 152 602 88 214 48 9 0 91 20 30 .355 .392 .465 169 280
1907 32 CLE AL 137 509 53 152 30 6 2 63 24 30 .299 .345 .393 134 200
1908 33 CLE AL 157 581 77 168 32 6 2 74 15 47 .289 .352 .375 135 218
1909 34 CLE AL 128 469 56 152 33 7 1 47 13 35 .324 .378 .431 151 202
1910 35 CLE AL 159 591 94 227 51 7 4 76 26 60 .384 .445 .514 199 304
1911 36 CLE AL 90 315 36 115 20 1 2 60 13 26 .365 .420 .454 143 143
1912 37 CLE AL 117 448 66 165 34 4 0 90 18 28 .368 .414 .462 147 207
1913 38 CLE AL 137 465 66 156 25 2 1 68 17 33 17 .335 .398 .404 132 188
1914 39 CLE AL 121 419 37 108 14 3 0 50 14 15 32 15 .258 .313 .305 83 128
1915 40 PHA AL 129 490 40 137 24 5 1 61 10 6 11 16 .280 .301 .355 100 174
1916 41 PHA AL 113 426 33 105 14 4 2 35 15 14 26 .246 .272 .312 79 133
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----
21 Seasons 9589 3242 163 1599 21 85 .338 .380 .467 150
2480 1504 657 83 380 516 4474

1 Triple Crown (1901)

Of French-Canadian descent, Napoleon Lajoie was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on September 5, 1874.

He started his career in 1896 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, but in 1901, he crossed the city to be a member of the Philadelphia Athletics. That season, he had one of the greatest seasons ever as he hit .426/.463/.643, especially for a second baseman. The same year, Najoie was intentionally walked with the bases loaded, the second in history and only one of six players ever (Almer Dalrymple, Del Bissonette, Bill Nicholson, Barry Bonds, and Josh Hamilton). One year later, the Phillies filed an injunction against Najoie, saying he could only play for the Phillies, but instead, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, who renamed themselves the Naps in his honor. Until 1905, Najoie was the best player in the majors.

Ty Cobb arrived in the majors in 1905, and the two quickly began an intense rivalry. That rivalry boiled over in 1910. The two were locked in a close battle for the hitting title, and both wanted the prize, a Chalmers automobile. Instead of trying to add to his average, Cobb took the last two games off, sure his average was high enough. Najoie, however, was well-liked, definitely more than the obnoxious and sometimes violent Cobb. The St. Louis Browns allowed Najoie to go 8-for-8 in the final series, six of them on bunts when the third baseman played unusually far back on such a speedy hitter, to officially win the title (Cobb may not have won anyway as one of his games happened coincidentally to be counted twice). Choosing not to take sides, the Chalmers Auto Company gave both players a car.

The slick-fielding second baseman returned to the Athletics for two final seasons. In perspective as a second baseman, Lajoie’s numbers are staggering (side note: I had never heard of him before this — a key reason I’m doing this as there will be many more I don’t know). He was elected into the Hall of Fame as the leading vote-getter in 1937 with 168 of the 201 votes.

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One Response to “Hall of Fame: Nap Lajoie (1937)”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    Yeah, Hornsby was great, and he was a Cardinal. But I don’t get how people pick him as the greatest 2b of all time over Lajoie.

    Must be because of the Home Runs, but what would Nap had hit in the 20’s?

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