Thursday, March 31, 2016

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 16: Bobby Doerr

Years with Boston: 1937-1951 (.288/.362/.461, 223 home runs, 1,247 RBIs)
Best Year in Boston: 1944 (.325/.399/.528, 15 home runs, 81 RBIs)
Bobby Doerr was the first young player acquired by owner Tom Yawkey to become a star.  After a few years of acquiring veteran stars, he changed tactics somewhat and began going after young players to build around.  Doerr and Ted Williams were signed on the same West Coast trip.

Doerr was the second-baseman for the Red Sox over the course of his entire career.  He came up briefly in 1937 then became a regular in 1938.  Doerr started to become a star in 1939 hitting .318/.365/.448 with 12 home runs and 73 RBIs.  These were strong numbers for a second-baseman.  The next season, Doerr hit more than 20 home runs and drove in more than 100 runs for the first time in his career while hitting .291.

Doerr was a nine-time All Star, beginning in 1941 and was part of the core of the Red Sox team that was being assembled in the early 1940's.  Doerr had his best season of his career in 1944, one of the years baseball was decimated by World War II.  He lead the league in slugging percentage and had the highest batting average of his career while being named to the All Star team and finishing in the Top 10 for the AL MVP.

The next season, Doerr served in WWII and did not play at all in the Majors.  He came back the following season along with other stars such as Williams, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky and Boston rolled to the World Series.  Doerr was a big part of the team's success, though his batting average dipped, as he drove in a then-career high 116 and finished third in the AL MVP race.  Boston unfortunately did not hit well as a team in the World Series as they fell to the Cardinals in seven games, but Doerr was a bright spot as he topped the team with a .409/.458/.591 line with a home run and three RBIs.

The next few seasons saw Doerr continue to hit well.  His power actually increased over the next few years as he hit 27 home runs twice and drove in well over 100 runs three times.  He lead the league in triples with 11 in 1950.  Doerr was still a productive hitter in 1951, his final season, at the age of 33.  He hit just under .300 with 13 home runs, however, chronic back problems forced him to retire.

Doerr could have been a Hall of Fame inductee much sooner than he was had he had a few more good seasons.  Unfortunately, with his early retirement due to injuries, Doerr was not elected until the Veterans' Committee inducted him in 1986, one of the better selections by the oft-maligned committee.  Doerr's uniform number 1 was retired by the Red Sox that same season.  Doerr is one of four Hall of Famers to spend his entire playing career with the Red Sox.  He is also currently the oldest living Hall of Famer.

1 comment:

  1. Doerr is one of my favorite players to collect. One of my PC guys.