25 March 2008

1934 American League

The Tigers won the pennant by a seven-game margin over the Yankees, with an exceptional offense and good pitching. They lost the World Series in seven games, though. The emergence of a young Hank Greenberg gave the Tigers the push they needed. Cleveland was a distant third, while Boston was just at .500 and in fourth place. Philadelphia, St. Louis, Washington (in a big falloff from the previous year's pennant) and Chicago made up the second division.

In a display of how different things were in 1934, consider these things: it was the middle of the depression, and before night baseball started, no team drew one million fans. The Tigers led in attendance with a little over 900,000. Only the Yankees and Tigers averaged over 11,000 fans per game. The Browns drew just over 100,000, or about 1500 per game. It was a tough time at the box office.

Mickey Cochrane won the MVP for the pennant winners, but Lou Gehrig won the Triple Crown for the second-place team. Gehrig had a .363 average, just ahead of the Tigers' Charlie Gehringer at .356, hit 49 homers to best Jimmie Foxx's 44, and drove in 165 runs to finish ahead of Hal Trosky's 142. Gehrig also led in on-base, slugging, OPS, and total bases. Gehringer led with 134 runs and 214 hits, Hank Greenberg had 63 doubles, Ben Chapman had 13 triples, and Billy Werber stole 40 bases.

The Yankees had another Triple Crown winner in pitcher Lefty Gomez, who had 26 wins, 158 strikeouts, and a 2.33 ERA to lead the league. Second-place finishers were Schoolboy Rowe with 24 wins, Tommy Bridges with 151 strikeouts, and Mel Harder with a 2.61 ERA.

Win Shares leaders, players; Lou Gehrig (New York) 41, Charlie Gehringer (Detroit) 37, Earl Averill (Cleveland) 33, Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia) 32, Hank Greenberg (Detroit) 31, Hal Trosky (Cleveland) 28, Bill Werber (Boston) 26, Billy Rogell (Detroit) 24, Al Simmons (Chicago), Mickey Cochrane and Marv Owen (Detroit) 23.

WS leaders, pitchers; Lefty Gomez (New York) 31, Schoolboy Rowe (Detroit) 28, Mel Harder (Cleveland) 27, Tommy Bridges (Detroit) 22, Bobo Newsom (St. Louis) 21, Wes Ferrell (Boston) and Johnny Murphy (New York) 18, Fritz Ostermueller (Boston), Monte Pearson (Cleveland) and Red Ruffing (New York) 17.

WARP3: Gehrig 10.1, Gehringer 8.6, Averill 7.4 (best year), Foxx 6.4, Bob Johnson (Philadelphia) 5.2, Werber 5.0, Greenberg 4.7, Cochrane and Babe Ruth (New York) 4.6, Tony Lazzeri (New York) 4.5, Bill Dickey (New York) 4.4, Simmons 3.8 (last big year), Rogell and Rollie Helmsley (St. Louis) 3.7.

Pitchers; Gomez 6.6, Harder 6.5, Rowe 5.7 (first full year), Ostermueller 4.4 (rookie), Ferrell 4.3, Bobby Burke (Washington) 4.2, Newsom 4.1 (rookie), Bridges 3.8, George Earnshaw (Chicago) 3.4, Murphy (rookie, best year, by far his most use), and Johnny Welch (Boston) 3.3.

WAR leaders, position players: Gehrig 11.5, Foxx 9.6, Gehringer 9.2, Averill 7.4, Greenberg 7.1, Werber 6.3, Trosky 6.1, Rogell 5.4, Simmons and Johnson 5.3, Manush 5.2. Pitchers: Gomez 8.1, Harder 6.8, Rowe 5.8, Bridges 5.7, Newsom 4.9, Ostermueller 4.6, Murphy 4.4, Burke and Ferrell 3.9, Blaeholder 3.8.

Actual MVP voting(top 15):
Place Name Team Points
1 Mickey Cochrane DET 67
2 Charlie Gehringer DET 65
3 Lefty Gomez NYY 60
4 Schoolboy Rowe DET 59
5 Lou Gehrig NYY 54
6 Hank Greenberg DET 29
7 Hal Trosky CLE 18
8 Wes Ferrell BOS 16
9 Marv Owen DET 13
10 Jimmie Foxx PHA 11
11 Al Simmons CHW 9
12 Roy Johnson BOS 8
12 Billy Werber BOS 8
14 Goose Goslin DET 6
15 Sam West SLB 5
The voters zeroed in on a top five of three Tigers and two Yankees. Three more Tigers came in down-ballot. The Detroit team really impressed the BBWAA voters.

Best player: Lou Gehrig. Larrupin' Lou won the Triple Crown, but couldn't win the MVP. He gets this award, though, but I was tempted to vote for Gehringer. Gehrig's .363-49-165 line is too hard to ignore. Gehringer didn't have the same power, but his defense supplements his .356-11-127 line as he was second in batting average. Earl Averill had a terrific year at .313-31-113 and nets third place, with Jimmie Foxx #4 at .334-44-130. Hank Greenberg's first big year, with a .339-26-138 line and all those doubles, gets him #5.

Best pitcher: Lefty Gomez. Again, Lefty is the best pitcher in the league, but this time it is Gomez putting up Grove-like stats, with a 26-5 record and a league-leading ERA of 2.33. Mel Harder places second with a 20-12, 2.61 season. Schoolboy Rowe places 3rd in his first full year with a 24-8 record and 3.45 ERA. Tommy Bridges' 22-11, 3.67 earns him 4th, with Bobo Newsom's 16-20, 4.01 for the lowly Browns good enough for 5th.

Best rookie: Hal Trosky made a strong showing in his first full year, going .330-35-142. Bobo Newsom second with a 16-20 record and 4.01 ERA, which still meant a 124 ERA+. Johnny Murphy and Fritz Ostermueller also earn notice.

Best manager: Mickey Cochrane will take this trophy, for guiding the Tigers to their first pennant since 1909.

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