A Case For Buddy Myer

Fans of sports teams have been known to gripe about ill representation, whether it be at an All-Star Game or some other function, but Washington Senators fans have a legitimate gripe when it comes to their lack of representation at  basbeball’s Hall of Fame.  A number of great Senators haven’t received much support by voters, even with such quality candidates like Mickey Vernon, Cecil Travis, Eddie Yost, Frank Howard and the former star second baseman Buddy Myer.  When a player plays the bulk of his career with that capitalized “W” on his cap, he fails to get the exposure a player of the same caliber acquires when he sports pinstripes or plays in a larger venue.  Many baseball fans have complained, justifiably so, of the Hall of Fame’s New York bias, pointing to players with lesser stats on better teams having been inducted over superior players on lesser teams.  But the Hall of Fame isn’t perfect, far from it, and when one understands the location of the museum, it shouldn’t take the application of too much reason to understand the NY bias.

Buddy Myer, had there been no Charlie Gehringer, would be considered the best second baseman of his era.  He had other peers that were quality players, two, Billy Herman and Tony Lazzeri, have been inducted to the Hall of Fame, but the portside-swinging second baseman stacks up awfully well to those two gents.  Gehringer, The Mechanical Man, was clearly the cream of the 1930s 2B crop, but his runner-up might be left out of the Hall of Fame.  Myer was a gifted, all-round performer who had terrific offensive value and possessed a glove superior to both Herman and Lazzeri.  Buddy’s career fielding percentage at second base was an impressive .974 (five points above league average at the position) while Herman and Lazzeri fielded at an identical .967 clip. 

Myer had a substantial edge in career fielding percentage over both Herman and Lazzeri.  The Washington second baseman led the AL twice in fielding percentage while the slugging New York Yankee, Tony Lazzeri, never paced the junior circuit in fielding.  The Washington man accumulated more career putouts at second base than Laz, but Tony hit with authority while Buddy, whose homefield was the cavernous Griffith Stadium, hit more to contact.  The two men were terrific second basemen but newspaper writers of the time knew Lazzeri was inferior to Buddy at playing the position.  An article written during the prime of their careers compared Myer more favorably to Charlie Gehringer, regarded by all analysts as the best 2B of their time, than Tony Lazzeri.

Offensively, Buddy Myer left little to be desired.  The Senators weren’t known for their slugging, due in most part to their massive home stadium, but blasting the sphere, regardless his homefield, was never Buddy’s offensive game.  The best contact hitter among second basemen of his day–not named Gehringer, of course–Myer owned an enviable batting eye.  The Senators second basemen played ten years in which he had twice as many walks as strikeouts.  Charlie Gehringer is the only second basemen who played in roughly the same era to top Myer’s mark with twelve seasons–nobody else even comes close.  Billy Herman had five years in which he walked twice as much as he fanned while Red Schoendienst had five as well.  Yankee Hall of Famers Joe Gordon and Tony Lazzeri had one such year combined between the two, with Gordon achieving the feat.

One of the most interesting facts on Buddy Myer is that he is the only American League infielder of the prewar years to win a batting title and not be named to the Hall of Fame.  Buddy employed his remarkable batting eye to advantage, which enabled him to be a threat for a batting title year after year.  What his sharp eye also did was enable him to post some impressive on-base percentages.  Buddy’s career OBP of .389 exceeds all of his aforementioned Hall of Fame peers, with the typical exception of Gehringer.  Lazzeri’s career on-base percentage was nine points below Myer at .380, followed by Herman’s .367, Gordon’s ,357 and Red Schoendienst’s rather poor .337 career on-base percentage.  His on-base skills allowed him to be rack up more career stolen bases with 157 than Lazzeri (148), Gordon (89), Schoendienst (89) and Herman (67).

Although he wasn’t a slugger in the Lazzeri mold, Myer was a terrific run producer–better than Billy Herman.  The mite second basemen posted a 100 RBI/100 run scored season during his career, a feat never achieved by Herman or Red Schoendienst.  When looking at their runs manufactured average, the combination of runs scored with runs driven in, Myer has an edge on the Hall of Famers as well.  Myer average 1.053 runs manufactured per game during his career, which is an average that eclipses Herman’s 1.042 and blows Schoendienst’s meager 0.901 average out of the water. 

When an analyst wants to make a case for a player’s Hall of Fame induction, the best way is by comparing his stats to players already enshrined.  Myer’s career stats are pretty fair indeed, with many exceeding the standards of the gents already enshrined.  Billy Herman was widely regarded as the top second baseman of the National League during the pre-war years they played in, and Myer has many similarities to Herman in the most common of stats.  Buddy Myer scored 1,174 runs to Herman’s 1,163.  Myer drove in 850 runs compared to Herman’s 839.  Herman’s batting average was a point higher at .304 to Myer’s .303, as was Herman’s .407 slugging average–Myer had a career .406 SA.  But in the third slash line category, which makes Myer’s slash line far superior to Herman’s, is the 22 point separation Buddy has in on-base percentage: .389 to Herman’s .367.  When compared to his Hall of Fame peers, Buddy Myer looks to be a very strong candidate for enshrinement.

1 comment
  1. Joe Williams said:

    Nice piece! He is on my list of overlooked ballplayers not enshrined in Cooperstown.

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