The original Craig Biggio, Pratt was a doubles hitting machine and run producer extraordinaire for a middle infielder. Although he hit few homeruns, Pratt’s bat ripped two-baggers with authority and he was adept at chasing his mates around the bases. The iron-man second baseman led the AL in games played four years running (1913-1916) and only played one year in which he appeared in fewer than 120 games.
As a rookie with the 1912 St. Louis Browns, Del received plenty of praise by garnering 8% of the MVP vote. The rookie second sacker led his AL peers in homeruns and triples, slugging a respectable .426 during The Deadball Era. Del sidestepped the Sophomore Jinx in 1913 by leading AL second basemen in doubles and runs batted in. His 87 RBI were the top total among all major league middle infielders that season.
Pratt’s specialty was the two-bagger and he showed his knack for the double in 1914, pacing all middle infielders with 34. His fine season netted him 16% of the MVP votes. In 1915, he had more combined extra base hits than any infielder in the American League. Although his batting average fell to .267 in 1916, Del led the junior circuit with 103 RBI: the only 100 RBI man in the major leagues during the season.
After a very disappointing 1917 campaign, Del was packaged in a deal that sent him and veteran Eddie Plank to the Yankees for Urban Shocker, who would go on to become the Yankees pet jinx. In his first year in New York, Del led all second basemen in runs scored and followed up that season by hitting .292 in 1919. Per usual, Del paced all major league second basemen in doubles in 1919.
With the advent of a new baseball, The Deadball Era officially ended and Del rung in the new era by hitting .314 while leading the American League in games played. Pratt drove in 97 runs in 1920 – the highest mark by all major league middle infielders. Del became a 100 RBI man for the second time in his career in 1921. He and the great Rogers Hornsby were the only two second basemen in the Majors with 100 RBI. Pratt’s 36 doubles and .461 slugging average topped his AL position peers that year as well.
In 1922, Del finished second in the AL with 44 doubles, hitting .301 for the Boston Red Sox. Pratt’s trade to the Red Sox enabled the Yankees to obtain pitcher Waite Hoyt and catcher Wally Schang – two key ingredients to their dynasty. But the BoSox didn’t regret the deal. Del hit for averages of .324 and .301 while playing for Boston before shipping him to Detroit for pitcher Howard Ehmke and hard-hitting Babe Herman.
Pratt’s first year in Detroit, 1923, he hit .310 and in his final Major League season, 1924, Pratt hit .303 with just ten strikeouts in 429 at-bats. Although Del Pratt didn’t enjoy a lengthy career, he was often in the lineup on a daily basis and was a master at smacking the two-bagger. Eight times in Pratt’s career he finished in the Top Ten in doubles.
Del Pratt’s career stats: G 1,835/R 856/H 1,996/2B 392/3B 117/HR 43/RBI 966/SB 246/BA .292/SA .403