The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Archive for the tag “Shoeless Joe Jackson”

Baseball’s Surprising Stats: Joe Jackson

This is part 3 of my series, “Baseball’s Surprising Stats.”  The object of this series is to revisit players most of us already know something about, then to uncover one fact or statistic about that player that isn’t widely known.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the career of Shoeless Joe Jackson.  Specifically, we are going to research one particular question that I discovered I did not know the answer to when I started brainstorming ideas for this series.

The particular question that I discovered I didn’t know the answer to was, “How many batting titles did Shoeless Joe Jackson win during his career?”

Shoeless Joe Jackson is third on the all-time ...

Shoeless Joe Jackson is third on the all-time list. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Joe Jackson was banned from baseball at the end of the 1920 baseball season, he finished his career with a lifetime batting average of .356, the third highest career batting average of all-time.

Jackson’ s career high batting average was .408 in 1911.   Unfortunately for Joe, Ty Cobb of Detroit, just 24-years old, won his 4th batting title that year with a .420 mark.

Jackson batted .395 the following season, only to finish second once again to Ty Cobb’s league-leading .409 average.

In 1913, Cobb dropped below .400, hitting a mere .390, but Joe Jackson finished 17 points behind Cobb with a .373 mark.  Thus, three consecutive second place finishes for Jackson in the race for the A.L. batting title.

In 1914, Jackson dropped down to .338, good for 4th best in the league.  1915 was even worse.  His .308 batting average was the second lowest of his career.


JacksonCleveland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1916 saw Jackson rebound to .341, but that was just 3rd best in the league behind Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb.  In 1917, Jackson hit a career low .301, which would have to be considered his own personal Mendoza Line.

Jackson was injured for most of the 1918 season; he played in only 17 games.  In fact, Jackson topped 100 games played just nine times.

Jackson returned to prominence in 1919 and 1920.  During those two years, he hit .351 and .382, respectively.  Neither mark, however, was good enough to win a batting title.  Jackson finished 4th in 1919 (Cobb won yet another title), and he finished 3rd in 1920, behind George Sisler (.407) and Tris Speaker.

After the 1920 season in which Babe Ruth slugged a record 54 home runs (no one before had ever reached even 30 homers), it was clear that the advent of the live-ball era had begun.

Probably, Joe Jackson expected at that point that he would still be playing Major League baseball for several more years.  He also might have expected that his first batting title was not too far off.  After all, his .382 batting average in his final season was the third highest mark in his career.

But due to the repercussions of the Black Sox Scandal, Joe Jackson was not to play another inning of Major League baseball.

The question that I posed at the beginning of this article was, “How many batting titles did Joe Jackson win his career?”

The answer, which I have to admit came as a bit of a surprise to me, is that despite finishing his career with the 3rd highest career batting average of all-time, Joe Jackson never won a batting title.

Jackson is probably the greatest hitter of all-time never to have won a batting title.  But, of course, batting titles are just one measure of greatness.  By any other measure on the field, Joe Jackson remains one of the greatest, if one of the most controversial, baseball players of all time.


50 Best Players Not in The Baseball Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a nod to Graham Womack’s baseball blog, Baseball Past and Present. He is currently putting together a list, based on votes from his readers that he is tabulating, of the 50 best players not currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This project also fits in well with my recent series, “Cleaning Up the Hall of Fame.” 

This is the list I submitted to him for consideration.  I chose not to include either Pete Rose or Shoeless Joe Jackson because everyone knows that both of them would already be in The Hall, if not for their alleged ethical / legal indiscretions.

The first five players on the list would receive my vote for the Hall of Fame.  Some of the other 45 players might ultimately get my vote as well, but I am undecided at this point.  After the first five, they are in no particular order.

1)  Jeff Bagwell
2)  Barry Larkin
3)  Alan Trammell
4)  Ron Santo
5)  Tim Raines
6)  Minnie Minoso
7)  Dale Murphy
8)  Reggie Smith
9)  Dave Parker
10) Gil Hodges
11) Dwight Evans
12) Lance Parrish
13) Al Oliver
14) Graig Nettles
15) Willie Randolph
16) Edgar Martinez
17) Ted Simmons
18)  Eric Davis
19)  Darryl Strawberry
20)  Lee Smith
21)  Sparky Lyle
22)  Dan Quisenberry
23)  Carl Furillo
24)  Jimmy Wynn
25)  J.R. Richard
26)  Boog Powell
27)  Larry Walker
28)  Rusty Staub
29)  Luis Tiant
30)  Thurman Munson
31)  Dick Allen
32)  Jack Clark
33)  Will Clark
34)  Don Mattingly
35)  Roger Maris
36)  Rocky Colavito
37)  Bobby Grich
38)  Tommy John
39)  Jim Kaat
40)  Tony Oliva
41)  Vada Pinson
42)  Bobby Murcer
43)  Fred McGriff
44)  Rick Reuschel
45)  Bobby Bonds
46)  Ron Guidry
47)  Keith Hernandez
48)  Ken Boyer
49)  Kevin Brown
50)  Wes Ferrell
There are, of course, many other players that could have been included on this list.  If I do this again next year, I am sure I will change my mind about certain players.
Who would you add or subtract?  I’m curious to know which of my choices you think are the worst, and which players you would have chosen instead.
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