Introducing… Frank McCormick

The perfect case study to show that Bill James’ similarity scores are bogus, the most similar player to McCormick is listed as George Kelly.  Kelly was a poor natural hitter who struck out twice as much as he walked while McCormick walked twice as much as he struck out.  Although Frank was named to nine consecutive All-Star teams, he received very little support for Hall of Fame induction.

McCormick made his Major League debut in 1934 with the Reds, but Cincy had future Hall of Famer Jim Bottomley stationed there.  McCormick didn’t stick in the Majors until 1938.  That year, Frank set the National League ablaze with his flaming lumber.  He made the first of nine straight NL All-Star teams while kicking off a string of three straight years in which he led the senior circuit in base hits.  The Cincy first baseman was a terror at the plate as a rookie in ’38.  He finished second in the league in doubles and paced National League first basemen with 106 RBI.  His most notable trait was his ability to make contact.  In 640 at-bats, Frank fanned just 17 times.

McCormick finished fourth in MVP voting in 1939 when he paced the National League in base hits (209) and RBI (128).  He led the Reds to the World Series in 1939 with a robust season batting average of .332 and slugging average of .493.  The New York Yankees manhandled the Reds in the Fall Classic but Frank hit an even .400 in the contest.

The Reds returned to the World Series in 1940 with Frank winning the MVP Award that season.  The National League’s Most Valuable Player led the league in hits and doubles, as he put together an amazing three-year span of 40+ doubles, 100+ RBI, 190+ hits and .300+ batting averages.  Frank  finished second in the NL with 127 RBI and was one of two (Johnny Mize being the other) first basemen to hit .300.  The Reds rushed to the World Series and won the title, downing the mighty Detroit Tigers in seven games.

His numbers fell in 1941 but Frank nevertheless made the NL All-Star team and drove in 97 runs.  World War II began to take players away with machine gun rapidity but the aging McCormick, in his early 30s, stayed in the Major Leagues.  The fact that he was able to remain on the diamond and play has possibly hurt his Hall of Fame induction status, since he played through the fighting and still failed to net 2,000 career base hits.

Frank reached .300 again in 1943 but his power numbers fell, like everyone else in the game, because supplies were needed for the war and balls were made with a less lively core material.  That ’43 season, McCormick paced National League first basemen in doubles.  He flourished in 1944, his last great season, when he paced National League first basemen in homeruns and doubles.  He also enjoyed his fourth 100 RBI season in ’44. 

When the boys returned from the war, the Reds sold their aging slugger to the Phillies for $30,000.  A woeful organization, the Phillies were hoping Frank would instill much-needed thunder in their lineup, but they acquired him a year or two too late.  The Phillies released him early in the 1947 season and he caught on with the Braves of Spahn and Sain.  McCormick helped the Braves reach the World Series in 1948 and he ended his career with on an NL champion squad.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,534/R 722/H 1,711/2B 334/3B 26/HR 128/RBI 954/BB 399/SO 189/SB 27/BA .299/SA .434

www.sabr.org

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1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    Most guys that get named to nine All-Star teams receive a bit of support for the HOF but Frank is an exception. That might have plenty to do with when he played: during WWII. But Frank was a top hitter before the war and should be reevaluated. His HOF chances are slight.

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