Eddie “The Brat” Stanky, also known as the Greek God of On-Base Percentage, was a fine little second baseman who got the most out of his modest abilities. Former Chicago White Sox outfielder Eddie Carnett once told me that Stanky couldn’t hit, he couldn’t run and he couldn’t throw, but he was a helluva second basemen. Where he was viewed lacking in physical tools he more than made up for in baseball intellect.
Stanky made his professional debut as a 19-year-old with the Greeneville Buckshots of the East Dixie League in 1935. By the early 1940s, it appeared that The Brat would be a minor league journeyman, but when World War II took Major Leaguers away from the diamond, some minor league veterans were given their chance. Stanky made the most of his. Eddie joined the Cubs in 1943 and led National League second basemen in walks and runs scored as a 27-year-old rookie. Early in the ’44 season, the Cubs traded him to the Brooklyn Dodgers where he’d enjoy some of his finest seasons.
Stanky enjoyed his breakout year with the Dodgers in 1945. That season he paced the National League in runs scored (128) and walks (148). The Alabama native posted his first .400+ on-base percentage that year–there would be six more years of that to follow. When World War II ended, the stars came back to the diamond and players like Stanky–minor league veterans–were scrutinized in 1946 to validate their status as Major Leaguers. The Brat validated his status by leading the National League with 137 walks, a .436 on-base percentage and 20 sacrifices. Although he was generally regarded as lacking in tools, he finished seventh in MVP voting.
He posted his third straight season of 100+ walks in 1947 and was named to his first All-Star team that season. Eddie finished second in the league in bases on balls while leading NL second basemen in runs scored. Because of his presence, the Dodgers used Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson at first base and the duo led Brooklyn to the World Series in ’47, which they ultimately lost to the Yankees. The Dodgers wanted to move Jackie out from first base and cleared second base for him by swapping Stanky to the Braves for Bama Rowell.
Determined to prove that the Dodgers made a bonehead play by trading him, Stanky had a terrific year in Boston. He was hitting a mighty .320 with an otherworldly on-base percentage of .455 when an injury sidelined him. Eddie only played in 67 games for the Braves in ’48 but was back in time to help them out in the World Series. He hit .286 with an astronomical on-base percentage of .524 in the World Series, but the Indians of Gene Bearden beat the Braves.
Healthy again in 1949, Stanky led Major League second basemen with 113 walks. He hit a nifty .285 and posted a great on-base percentage of .417. But his finest hour came the following year after a trade sent him to the New York Giants. Traded with shortstop Alvin Dark for sluggers Sid Gordon and Willard Marshall, The Brat made the NL All-Star again by leading the senior circuit in on-base percentage (.460) and walks drawn (144). Stanky hit an even .300, scored 115 runs (the only NL 2B to score over 100) and reached his highwater mark for stolen bases. He and former teammate Jackie Robinson were the only two .300-hitting second basemen in the Majors.
The Giants were NL Champions in 1951 with Stanky still his brilliant on-base percentage self at the age of 35. The Brat posted his fourth straight year of an on-base percentage over .400 and also showed uncommon pop that season by swatting 14 homeruns–the only year he eclipsed ten. But for the third time in three tries, Stanky was a member of the team that lost the World Series.
Stanky’s days as a regular were essentially over after 1951. The Cardinals acquired him in 1952 to be their player/manager, but Stanky did far more managing than playing, thanks to Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst entrenched at second base. He managed the Cardinals for three and a half years before his firing. Later, in the 1960s, the White Sox named Stanky manager and he piloted the Pale Hose for two and half seasons. His last managerial work came with the Texas Rangers in 1977, when he won the lone game he piloted.
G 1,259/R 811/H 1,154/2B 185/3B 35/HR 29/RBI 364/BB 996/SO 374/SB 48/BA .268/SA .348/OBP .410