Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Worst Red Sox Team of All Time Pt.1: Dale Alexander

Failure is often even more fascinating than success.  I am definitely intrigued by the 1932 Boston Red Sox, the worst Red Sox team of all time.  The team finished with a record of 43-111, for a winning percentage of .279 and very little went right.
Well, it was not all bad all the time.  Dale Alexander won the batting title, the first Red Sox player to do so, despite having players like Tris Speaker, Jimmy Collins, Buck Freeman, and Babe Ruth spend time with Boston since 1901, it took until 1932 before a Boston player won the batting title.  Under current rules, he would not have qualified for the batting title though.

Dale "Moose" Alexander did not start the 1932 season with the Red Sox.  He came up with the Detroit Tigers in 1929 and led the league in hits while hitting 25 home runs, driving in 137 runs, and hitting .343.  It was a very impressive rookie season.  His numbers declined a little the next season and then dropped dramatically in 1931 to the point that he hit just three home runs.  He started the 1932 season slowly, hitting just .250 with no home runs and four RBIs through 23 games when he was traded to the Red Sox along with Roy Johnson for Earl Webb.

The Red Sox definitely got the best of the deal.  Johnson will be talked about in a later post.  As mentioned, Alexander came back to win the batting title in 1932.  In 101 games with the Red Sox the rest of the season, Alexander's bat came alive.  He knocked out 140 hits in 432 plate appearances.  While his power did not return to his 1929/1930 levels, he was still one of the more powerful bats in the Red Sox lineup, as he led the team in slugging percentage (.524 with Boston), was second in RBIs (56), tied for second in doubles (27), and was third in home runs (8).  For the Red Sox, Alexander batted .372/.454/.524 to improve his season line to .367/.454/.513.  He finished 11th in the MVP vote.

Early in his career, Alexander was not a very good defensive first-baseman.  He led the league in errors twice early on.  This improved considerably by the time that he was acquired by Boston.  He cut his errors all the way down to six and finished third in the league in fielding percentage by a first-baseman.  His range was probably not very good, and perhaps the decrease in errors came as a result of not getting to as many balls.

Alexander played just one more season in the Majors.  He stayed with Boston for the 1933 season, but his numbers declined considerably.  He hit just .281/.336/.380 with five home runs and 40 RBIs.  Injuries likely had an effect and probably led to him never making another Major League appearance.  He played a few more years in the minor leagues.

Dale Alexander was one of the few bright spots for the Red Sox in a miserable 1932 season.  His career was short, but he proved to be a great hitter whose time was cut short due to defensive deficiencies.  He is an interesting answer to the trivia question of who was the first Red Sox player to win the batting title.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize Alexander 's. Rookie year was that good.