Many players over the course of baseball history have stood in the shadows cast by their superior position peers. Who remembers anycenter fielder from the 1940s not name DiMaggio? There were many great ones: such as Joe’s kid brother Dominic, Terry Moore of the Cardinals, Pistol Pete Reiser of Brooklyn, Stan Spence of Washington and Sam Chapman of the Athletics, to name a few. How many casual fans can tell you the name of great pitchers from the 1800s? My guess is that people will summon the name Cy Young and no one else, forgetting about fellows like Jim McCormick, Dave Foutz and Charlie Buffinton. Buddy Myer, the Senators scrappy second baseman, had much the same fate, playing in the same era as Charlie Gehringer.
Buddy hit .304 as a rookie in 1926 and two years later paced the AL with 30 steals. He was a swift little second baseman who was adept at tallying the three-bagger. In 1931, Buddy led all AL second basemen with eleven triples. Although he was a threat to take the extra base, Buddy’s most valuable commodity may have been his exceptional batting eye. Often, Buddy would post twice as many walks as strikeouts during a season, like he did in 1932 when he scored more runs than any other second baseman.
Possessing an eagle’s eye at the plate, Buddy was a stellar on-base machine for the Senators and led them to an AL pennant in 1933. During the regular season, Myer led all 2B with fifteen triples and hit .300 during the World Series. His on-base skills reached new heights in 1934 when he notched 102 walks – leading all second basemen – and finishing nine shy of league leader Jimmie Foxx. Proving that the man who gets on base scores runs, Buddy crossed the dish 103 times in ’34.
Buddy added a batting title to his hardware in 1935 – finishing the season with a .349 mark. He finished one hit shy of league leader Joe Vosmik. His 100 RBI and 115 runs scored finished second among second basemen to Gehringer, but Buddy beat Charlie in the base hits, doubles, triples and walks departments.
The 1936 season was one plagued with injury for Buddy. Although he saw limited action on the diamond, Buddy walked at a higher rate than AL walks leader Lou Gehrig. The following year a healthy Myer finished second among second baseman – behind Gehringer again – in batting average, but paced all 2B with a .336 batting average and eight triples during the 1938 campaign – his last great season.
So Buddy Myer often didn’t garner the spotlight: he played in an era of Gehringer and Lazzeri, but I’d take Myer over the Yankee man any day of the week. Lazzeri was adept at driving in runs, which had more to do with playing for the mighty Yankees than his actual talents. Buddy Myer brought more to the table than Tony. Myer could hit for a better average, he ran better, was exceptional on the field and owned a tremendous batting eye. Comparing Lazzeri to Myer, Tony comes up wanting in most departments. Lazzeri scored 986 runs – fewer than Myer. Lazzeri also had fewer hits, doubles, triples, an inferior batting average and his strikeout to walk ratio was nearly 1 to 1, while Buddy’s was better than 2 walks for every strikeout. Plus, Lazzeri’s fielding percentage is a hair below league average while Buddy’s six points higher than the average. And, to make one more point, Buddy won a batting title, leading the AL in hitting one season – Lazzeri, all he ever led the league in was strikeouts.
Buddy Myer’s career stats: G 1,923/R 1,174/H 2,131/2B 353/3B 130/RBI 850/BB 965/SO 428/SB 156/BA .303/SA .406