Introducing… Burt Shotton

A terrific on-base machine during the Deadball Era, Shotton was a valuable leadoff man for the old St. Louis Browns.  A middling team during his tenure with the club, Burt was an offensive igniter who reached base by any means necessary.  Due to his excellent on-base skills, Shotton scored plenty runs in the low scoring era in which he played.  After his playing days he had a fine career as a manager.  He replaced Hall of Fame skipper Leo Durocher, who was suspended from baseball for “conduct detrimental to baseball,” i.e. consorting with gamblers and mobsters, and led Brooklyn to two World Series appearances in 1947 and ’49.

Shotton broke in with the Browns in 1909 but didn’t stick.  After spending the entire 1910 season back in the bushes, St. Louis brought him back for a second trial in 1911.  He made good on his second trip to the Majors.  In 1912, Burt led American League outfielders in walks drawn with 86 which boosted his on-base percentage to an enviable .390.  He raised both his walks total and on-base percentage in 1913 when he paced the AL with 99 walks and posted a .405 on-base percentage–good for sixth in the junior circuit.  His on-base skills were of great value.  The Browns were a second division team in 1913 but Burt scored over 100 runs, which made him the only player on a second division club to eclipse the 100 runs scored mark.  Shotton accounted for 20% of all Browns runs.

But Burt’s game wasn’t just geared around his batting eye.  A swift outfielder, he finished second to legendary center fielder Tris Speaker in steals among American League gardeners in 1914.  But the following year would be one of Shotton’s best.  At the top of his game in 1915, Burt paced AL left fielders in walks (118), runs (93) and thefts (43).  For the second time in his career he eclipsed the .400 on-base percentage plateau.  The Federal League operated in both the 1914 and 1915 seasons but Burt remained loyal to the Browns.  After the upstart league folded, talented players were reshuffled into the older leagues and many players who flourished during the three league platform started to struggle… but not Burt.

In fine form in 1916, Shotton led the American League with 110 walks.  He also posted his fourth straight year of 40 or more stolen bases, scored 97 runs and finished second in assists from the outfield.  But Burt then suffered through his worst season in the Majors in 1917 and the Browns traded him to the Senators for pitcher Bert Gallia.  Shotton rebounded in Washington and enjoyed his last good year at the Major League level.  He topped American League left fielders in walks and stolen bases.  After the season the Cardinals claimed him off waivers and he spent a few seasons as a reserve outfielder for the Redbirds.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,387/R 747/H 1,338/2B 154/3B 65/HR 9/RBI 290/SB 293/BA .271/OBP .365/SA .333

www.baseballisms.com

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