Introducing… Al Rosen

One of the game’s top sluggers during his heyday, Al Rosen’s time in the sun was relatively short.  From 1950 to 1954, the slugging third baseman drove in 100 or more runs every season and was the American League’s MVP in 1953.  But Al was 26 when he was given his first everyday assignment and was done at the age of 32.  Like Hall of Famer Hack Wilson, Rosen scorched the Majors for a handful of seasons but didn’t produce over a vast length of time.

Rosen signed with the Indians in 1942 but quickly lost valuable seasoning time when he was drafted into the military.  He spent three years in service and when he got out he was able to get the minor league time he needed.  Al put up solid numbers for the Pittsfield Electrics in 1946 and did even better when promoted to AA Oklahoma City in 1947.  The Indians gave Al a brief look at the end of the ’47 season and did the same in 1948 when he terrorized pitchers at Kansas City.  But with Kenny Keltner at third in Cleveland, Rosen’s path was blocked.

When Keltner’ s bat mysteriously deteriorated in 1949, the Indians summoned Al to the Majors and he quickly established himself as a star.  In 1950, his first year as a regular, Rosen led the AL in homeruns.  The top dog among hot corner custodians, Al’s 116 RBI and .543 slugging average topped American League third basemen.  Always fine in the on-base department, Al had his first .400+ on-base percentage in ’50.

His bat cooled off a little in 1951 but he still managed to lead Major League third basemen in homeruns and RBI.  Named to his first All-Star team in 1952, Al led the American League in RBI and total bases.  The following year he would add on to his league leading departments when he paced the junior circuit in runs, slugging average and homers, along with consecutive RBI and total bases crowns.  At the top of his game in ’53, Al stroked 43 homers, drove in 145 runs and slugged at a .613 clip which earned him the MVP Award.  He missed the Triple Crown by the slightest of margins as his .336 batting average was a fraction of a point behind batting title winner Mickey Vernon.

The Indians romped to the World Series in 1954 and Al hit .300 for the third straight year.  Also for the third straight year, Rosen was named to the AL All-Star squad.  The ’54 season marked Al’s fifth straight 100+ RBI campaign and the Cleveland slugger led AL third basemen in homeruns and RBI.  Rosen’s .506 slugging average is modest by today’s standards but it was the only plus .500 mark among AL infielders. 

Just like Kenny Keltner, Rosen’s production dipped mightily when he reached his early 30s.  His batting average fell from .300 in 1954 to a career low of .244 in 1955.  The power was still there, indicated by him leading AL third basemen in homers, but when he had another so-so year in ’56 the Indians looked for a replacement.  After his playing days were over, Al had a lengthy career as an executive.  He was named the General Manager of the Houston Astros in 1980 (the year they won the NL West flag) and served in that capacity until 1985.  He later served as the Giants GM from 1986 to 1992.

THE NUMBERS

G1,044/R 603/H 1063/2B 165/3B 20/HR 192/RBI 587/SO 385/BA .285/SA .495/OBP .384

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1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    Rosen’s career is far too brief for HOF consideration. He was excellent for too short a window for HOF voters to regard him as a serious candidate for election. In order for him to get in, his career as an executive would have to be added to his playing career.

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