Hall of Fame: Mel Ott (1951)

His trademark leg-kick. Reminds me Paul O’Neill and Kirby Puckett.

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG *OPS+  TB   SH
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
1926 17 NYG NL 35 60 7 23 2 0 0 4 1 1 9 .383 .393 .417 119 25 0
1927 18 NYG NL 82 163 23 46 7 3 1 19 2 13 9 .282 .335 .380 91 62 4
1928 19 NYG NL 124 435 69 140 26 4 18 77 3 52 36 .322 .397 .524 138 228 10
1929 20 NYG NL 150 545 138 179 37 2 42 151 6 113 38 .328 .449 .635 165 346 10
1930 21 NYG NL 148 521 122 182 34 5 25 119 9 103 35 .349 .458 .578 150 301 20
1931 22 NYG NL 138 497 104 145 23 8 29 115 10 80 44 .292 .392 .545 151 271 1
1932 23 NYG NL 154 566 119 180 30 8 38 123 6 100 39 .318 .424 .601 174 340 3
1933 24 NYG NL 152 580 98 164 36 1 23 103 1 75 48 .283 .367 .467 138 271 4
1934 25 NYG NL 153 582 119 190 29 10 35 135 0 85 43 .326 .415 .591 168 344 1
1935 26 NYG NL 152 593 113 191 33 6 31 114 7 82 58 .322 .407 .555 158 329 5
1936 27 NYG NL 150 534 120 175 28 6 33 135 6 111 41 .328 .448 .588 178 314 10
1937 28 NYG NL 151 545 99 160 28 2 31 95 7 102 69 .294 .408 .523 150 285 4
1938 29 NYG NL 150 527 116 164 23 6 36 116 2 118 47 .311 .442 .583 178 307 2
1939 30 NYG NL 125 396 85 122 23 2 27 80 2 100 50 .308 .449 .581 174 230 11
1940 31 NYG NL 151 536 89 155 27 3 19 79 6 100 50 .289 .407 .457 137 245 5
1941 32 NYG NL 148 525 89 150 29 0 27 90 5 100 68 .286 .403 .495 150 260 6
1942 33 NYG NL 152 549 118 162 21 0 30 93 6 109 61 .295 .415 .497 165 273 3
1943 34 NYG NL 125 380 65 89 12 2 18 47 7 95 48 .234 .391 .418 133 159 4
1944 35 NYG NL 120 399 91 115 16 4 26 82 2 90 47 .288 .423 .544 171 217 2
1945 36 NYG NL 135 451 73 139 23 0 21 79 1 71 41 .308 .411 .499 151 225 2
1946 37 NYG NL 31 68 2 5 1 0 1 4 0 8 15 .074 .171 .132 -14 9 2
1947 38 NYG NL 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -100 0 0
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
22 Seasons 9456 2876 72 1860 0 896 .304 .414 .533 155 109
2730 1859 488 511 89 1708 5041

12 All-Star games (1934-1945)

Oh, the irony. Melvin Thomas Ott was born on this day in 1909 (what are the freakin’ odds?) in Gretna, Louisiana. Two of his uncles played semi-professional ball, and from them, he learned to play the game. Though short and stocky, Ott became the best player in his town. By age 14, he was playing and excelling as a semi-pro. After getting on another semi-pro team after the Southern Association refused him for being too small, a scout sent him to a tryout for John McGraw. Ott didn’t believe him until the scout dragged him there himself.

McGraw was impressed from the moment he laid eyes on the 16-year old. He reportedly foretold that he would be one of the greatest left-handed hitters of his age. Told he was too small to continue catching, Ott was moved to the outfield where McGraw personally taught him. For the next two seasons at ages 17 and 18, Ott stayed with the team because McGraw didn’t want someone else to ruin him, and taking it a step farther, Ott was forbidden to fraternize with veteran players who would corrupt him. At age 19, Ott was thrust into the starting lineup when right-fielder Ross youngs died from kidney problems.

From that moment on, Ott became one of the greatest right fielders in history. He could hit for power, draw walks, and play splendid defense. 1929 was arguably his best season with 42 HR, 151 RBI, 37 2B, and a line of .328/.449/.635, good enough for an OPS+ of 165 (he would beat that in 6 seasons, but the other numbers weren’t quite as impressive). He would stay remarkably durable and productive. He was the first MLB player to have 8 consecutive seasons with 100+ RBI (to be followed later by Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa, Chipper Jones, and Albert Pujols), and would have 10 straight if not for the 1937 season in which he drove in 95. As a defender, he was remarkable. In 1929, he helped turn 12 double plays as an outfielder, and after he threw out 26 people that season, he wouldn’t throw out that many again, though that was mainly because no one would run on him. He would win one World Series in 1933, but after losing in 1936 and 1937, the team moved Ott to third base, which he handled with grace (do not see Michael Young). In 1941, Ott became the player-manager for the New York Giants, the team he always played for, but the job took its toll on the man. It began to affect his playing, but he remained productive until 1946, when he was hit in the head during Spring Training. A few weeks later, he suffered a knee injury and would never be the same. He retired a year later.

Ott was a well-respected player, and he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951 with 87.2% (197 of 226) of the vote. I’m not sure why it took so long considering how phenomenal he was, but he failed in 1949 and 1950, though he was close.

Ott is one of those players I had heard of before but knew nothing about. It’s amazing how a player that good could have gotten past me, but I don’t think many talk about him very much. He was a pretty amazing player, and he would have been fun to watch.

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