Friday, November 23, 2018

The Worst Red Sox Team of All Time Pt. 11: Smead Jolley

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, here I am coming off of quite possibly the greatest Red Sox season of all time, still talking about the worst Red Sox season of all time.  That's alright.  It's kind of fun.

Let's start with the good things about Smead Jolley.  He led the 1932 Red Sox in home runs (18) and RBIs (99), despite starting the season with the Chicago White Sox.  He had a great hitting line of .309/.345/.480.  He did not strike out much, with just 29 in 560 plate appearances.  He knocked 27 doubles and five triples.

And now for the bad.  He was caught stealing five times in 1932 without a single successful stolen base.  He was woefully inadequate as a fielder.  Stories have widely circulated of him once making three errors on the same play (rolled through his legs, caromed off the wall and rolled back through his legs, then thrown away), though that does not seem to be entirely correct.  Although there is definitely truth to him being a bad fielder.  Despite his excellent hitting numbers (career .305/.343/.475), he spent just four years in the Majors.  Jolley was born to be a designated hitter.

Jolley spent the first two-plus seasons of his career with the White Sox, though he was already 28 when he made his debut.  He had a terrific rookie season in 1930.  He was traded to the Red Sox in late April of 1932 along with Bennie Tate and Johnny Watwood for catcher Charlie Berry and utility man Jack Rothrock.  He quickly became one of the top hitters on the team.  

1933 was Jolley's last season in the Majors.  He was a little disappointing, hitting .282/.325/.445 with nine home runs and 65 RBIs for the Red Sox.  He was traded to the Browns after the season for Carl Reynolds and returned to the minors for several more successful seasons.  

Jolley was always a terrific hitter.  If he could have played just a little bit of defense, he might have had a long Major League career. 

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