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Monday, May 02, 2005

Jimmie Foxx

Jimmie Foxx

Eligible in 1951.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 02, 2005 at 06:33 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. jingoist Posted: May 02, 2005 at 07:30 PM (#1304954)
The ultimate no-brainer for HoM induction.
How many guys get to play 100 games over 3 seasons before they are even 20 years old.
Truly an inner-circle HoMer; would have been the very best 1B-man for 10+ years had not a certail Mr. Gehrig existed.
3-time MVP; 1.038 OPS and a 163 OPS+ ; guys like that don't grow on trees; I rank him slightly better than Mark McGuire for second-best all-time 1B-man.
This guy has so much gray and black ink he could start his own newspaper!
   2. Evan Posted: May 02, 2005 at 07:37 PM (#1304972)
Would he have been the greatest catcher ever?
   3. DavidFoss Posted: May 02, 2005 at 08:29 PM (#1305092)
would have been the very best 1B-man for 10+ years had not a certail Mr. Gehrig existed.

I'm going to duck when I say this, but I have seen some argue he may have been better than Gehrig. I don't agree, but its at least been discussed. He was at least a better fielder than Gehrig... faster runner, too.

Fastest to 500 HR by a full season, but only finished with 534.

Would he have been the greatest catcher ever?

He played 3B in four all-star games due to 1b being overcrowded with stars in the AL in the 1930s. Could he have been the greatest 3b ever?
   4. Chris Cobb Posted: May 02, 2005 at 08:41 PM (#1305115)
On Foxx as the ultimate no-brainer: the Bambino, at least, would disagree. But he should be a unanimous #1 pick in 1951. Probably he'll land second on a couple of ballots, though.

On the potential to be the greatest catcher ever. No, Gibson's in the way of that, I think.

On the potential to be the greatest 3b ever. I'd take Mike Schmidt.
   5. Carl G Posted: May 02, 2005 at 08:47 PM (#1305131)
'Probably he'll land second on a couple of ballots, though.'

He's no Jake Beckley! :)
   6. OCF Posted: May 02, 2005 at 09:00 PM (#1305161)
My offense-only system has a nonlinear "big years bonus" built in. Sorting the list of players I've worked up by that component only and ignoring all other factors, I get:

Ruth 241
Cobb 171
Gehrig 151
Wagner 121
Speaker 109
Ott 98
Foxx 88
E. Collins 87
Lajoie 74
J. Jackson 63
Heilmann 52
Crawford 51
Greenberg 48
P. Waner 46

This is the component that's friendliest to Foxx; most of the guys ahead of him had some career-length advantages over Foxx. The fact that Foxx did play in high-scoring times somewhat blunts the impact of his raw stats.

But of course there's no precedent for not electing a hitter of this stature to the HoM, as soon as possible.

Since we'll almost certainly elect Foxx in 1951, he won't share the ballot with Ott in 1952. If Foxx and Ott were on the same ballot, in which order would you rank them? Not that it ultimately matters.

Could he have been the greatest 3b ever?

You know, Ott played some of that as well.
   7. jingoist Posted: May 02, 2005 at 09:06 PM (#1305172)
Chris; you are correct. I inacurately stated the obvious, that he is a no-brainer and not the single ultimate no-brainer that, in fact, Mr. Ruth was/is.
Nonetheless I have always thought Foxx was "cheated a bit" in terms of the limelight he actually never received due to the existence of Lou Gehrig.
Unfortunate timing all around as he had Greenberg to contend with later in his career......interesting that Gehrig is his Most Similar over at BBref and with a coefficient of .871 he's not all that close.

Can any readers recommend a biography of Foxx?
   8. Max Parkinson Posted: May 02, 2005 at 09:11 PM (#1305177)

In my rankings of all (white) players active through 1950, they are 10 (Foxx) and 12 (Ott), with Lajoie in between the two. I'd be very tempted to tie them at 1.
   9. Chokeland Bill Posted: May 05, 2005 at 12:37 AM (#1311967)
Foxx is the better hitter, but I think Ott was better overall. Their careers covered basically the same exact years (Foxx 1925-1945, Ott 1926-1947). Ott played 400 more games, mainly because he was still a very good player at ages 34-36, while Foxx was practically done at 34. This, combined with an edge defensively, gives Ott a fairly significant edge in career value (by BPro's metrics, I'd have to find my copy of the NHBA for the Win Shares). Ott also seems to have a slight edge in 5-year peak (looking at the best 5 consecutive years, Warp3).
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 05, 2005 at 12:48 AM (#1312035)
Foxx is the better hitter, but I think Ott was better overall.

I agree. If Ott was on the ballot in '51, he would be my #1 pick.
   11. Kelly in SD Posted: May 05, 2005 at 09:04 AM (#1313133)
Sometimes I wonder what he would have done if he hadn't been such a big fan of alcohol. According to a Ted Williams quote in the Biographical Encyclopedia Baseball he loved his scotch and bragged about how much he would drink. And yet he was done at 34. He and Mantle - retiring at 36 - what would their numbers have looked like if they had Stan Musial's training style?

Before anyone mentions him, I know Ruth lived life hard, but Ruth was Ruth - very good at age 39.
   12. Gadfly Posted: May 05, 2005 at 07:53 PM (#1314786)

I'm not so sure that you can completely blame alcohol for the somewhat premature end of Foxx's career.

In 1942, the 34-year-old Foxx suffered a severe rib injury (not sure if they were broken or fractured) that pretty much wiped out his year. He was not hitting that poorly with Boston before the injury (.270-.392-.460, League for year .257-.329-.357), but then was traded to the Cubbies where he hit terribly while injured.

In 1943, the 35-year-old Foxx sat out the season while he went through a rancorous divorce. I've never seen it actually written, but I got the impression that Foxx wanted to keep his income down for purposes of the divorce.

In 1944, the 36-year-old Foxx tried a comeback with Cubbies, but the team wouldn't play him regularily, he didn't hit at all (1 for 20, mostly as a pinch hitter) and he had problems with management. The Cubbies eventually released him.

In 1945, the now 37-year-old Foxx caught on with the Phillies, were he played pretty well in his last season, though again with playing time issues.

A couple of additional notes about all this:

1) After being traded to the Cubbies in 1942, Foxx played only in the National League. Foxx complained about the National League, stating that the ball was dead and he didn't know the unpires or pitchers. Foxx, a disciplined hitter, would have obviously been better off staying in the American League.

2) Foxx had a lesser George Sisler type problem. Foxx had allergies and sinus problems and usually hit poorly in the early season (April and May). At these and other times during his career, Foxx's sinuses would get infected and he would have vision problems. Foxx usually hit very well during the summer. After 1942, Foxx only got to play in the summer in 1945.

3) Foxx was somewhat bitter that he wasn't picked up by the Athletics in 1942 (he had to be waived out of the AL). Apparently some of the old A players who were running the team during Connie Mack's senility period were not fond of Foxx.

Foxx's career could have very easily ended quite differently. The Athletics first baseman from 1942 to 1945 was a guy named Dick Siebert. In 1946 George McQuinn (who was a good player) played first but hit .225 and got traded away. In 1947, Ferris Fain took over.

Dick Siebert, while not a bad player, wasn't the equal of Foxx. If the Athletics had picked up the 34-year-old Foxx in 1942 and traded the 30-year-old Siebert away, Foxx probably could have held the A's first base job from 1943 to 1946 and then backed up Ferris Fain in 1947.

The end of his career could have gone like this:
1943 25
1944 25
1945 15
1946 25
1947 5
Which would give him 614 career HRs.

That's just a goof, but luck and injuries and his divorce seem to have had just as much to do with the premature end of his career as booze.
   13. TomH Posted: May 09, 2005 at 02:16 PM (#1322992)
I was about to make a comment about Foxx vs Mel Ott, but now I see I would only be seconding what's already been said. I too have Ott ahead of Foxx -- if Jimmy were not eligible until 52, he'd have to wait a year until Gibson and Ott wnet in first.

Leaving him off the all-century team for Mark McGwire WAS pretty silly tho.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: May 09, 2005 at 05:03 PM (#1323312)
tidbits from, some of them seem a little farfetched....

"Born at Sudlersville, MD, Foxx grew strong doing chores on his father's farm. At age ten, he had had enough of farm life, and tried to join the army. Rejected by the military, he turned to sports, especially his first love, track. He played high school baseball and was soon demonstrating the power which would make him famous. His power displays caught the attention of Frank "Home Run" Baker, who was managing Easton of the Eastern Shore League.

At bat, Foxx presented a menacing picture. A strong, powerful man, he held the bat at the end and stood fairly deep in the batter's box, using a wide stance and a full stride into the ball. As the pitch approached, his powerful arm muscles flexed visibly before he hit the ball.

In 1932 Foxx hit 58 homers; he might have hit more than 60 if not for a spell in August when he suffered from an injured wrist. Five times he hit the right field screen in St. Louis; the screen was not there when Ruth hit 60 HR in 1927. Also in 1932, a screen that Ruth hadn't had to contend with was erected in left field in Cleveland. Reportedly, Foxx hit that at least three times.

August 19, 1945: In game two of a doubleheader against the Reds, 37-year-old slugger Jimmie Foxx makes his first ML start, pitching the first seven innings for Philadelphia. He leaves with a 4–1 lead, and Andy Karl saves Foxx's only ML decision, a 6–2 final. Double X's career ERA in 10 ML appearances is 1.52.
   15. jingoist Posted: May 09, 2005 at 10:29 PM (#1324037)
I saw a posting over on the 1951 ballot whereby a voter posited that Double XX was "about #40 all-time".
That got me to thinking; where does the electorate think Mr. Foxx is all-time based upon those already elected to the HoM?
Behind Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Johnson, Alexander, Hornsby and Speaker perhaps but where is Jimmy? Also where do voters think Mr. Foxx will rank all-time after completing their voting through 2007?
I apologize if I am causing "noise in the network" and diluting valuable analysis time and energy but I've always been extremely enamored of the feats of Mr. Jimmy Foxx.
I think he's the #2 all-time 1B-man, nudging out McGuire; I also think he's in the top 30 all-time greatest players ever.
   16. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 01, 2021 at 11:44 PM (#6032110)
Jimmie Foxx and Josh Gibson are very comparable. I doubt Gibson would've been a full-career catcher in an integrated league. Conversely, I can imagine Foxx catching his whole career (and pitching a bit) if confined to the Negro Leagues.
   17. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 02, 2021 at 06:16 PM (#6032285)
Holy cow, a 16-year-old discussion! I was 25 the last time we talked about this!
   18. Rally Posted: August 03, 2021 at 08:09 AM (#6032479)
There are a lot of similarities between Foxx and Gibson, starting with their initial position. Totally agree that a black Foxx would be a primary catcher, but with the smaller rosters certainly a multi-position star. Most of the Negro League stars at least filled in as pitchers here and there. Certainly Foxx, who pitched 22 innings when he was 37, would have done this semi-regularly.

As great as Foxx was though, I don’t think he was in Josh’s class as a hitter. Josh’s OPS+ was 215. That probably doesn’t mean he’d be 215 in MLB, but what impresses me more than the number is how far ahead he was of his competition. He’s 30 points ahead of #2 (min 2000 pa), Charleston. There are a bunch, 5 guys in the 160-185 range, and Josh is just another level ahead of them.

That makes it seem likely that the only hitters on Josh’s level were Williams and Ruth, and he was the greatest RHB who ever lived.

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