1954 Cleveland Indians: The hitters

Bobby Avila in 1954

In February we looked at pitching staff. We now will shift our focus to the bats. First off is a position by position breakdown compared to the rest of the league.

While the strength of the historic 1954 team was its pitching staff, the hitters were actually very good as well. Let's take a peek at them by position. [Note: League Average is all of the stats at that position divided by the other seven AL teams]

Catcher

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Jim Hegan

131

468

55

40

0

235

293

375

242

Hal Naragon

42

112

9

12

0

240

303

300

276

Mickey Grasso

2

8

2

1

0

333

500

833

250

Total

588

66

53

0

237

298

366

249

League Average

628

53

68

1

260

326

375

268

Jim Hegan played just a hair under 80% of the plate appearances as the full time catcher with Hal Naragon as his main backup and Mickey Grasso getting into two September games. These totals are not surprising as Hegan was never a good hitter, only netting one full season with an OPS+ of 90+. His forte was defense which got him five All-Star game nods.

First Base

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Vic Wertz

80

312

32

47

0

279

347

496

278

Bill Glynn

53

169

16

18

1

263

308

404

265

Al Rosen

44

189

30

48

3

348

431

626

308

Rocky Nelson

1

1

0

0

0

000

000

000

000

Total

671

78

113

4

293

360

602

282

League Average

671

76

78

4

273

342

414

280

Glynn started the first nine games before manager Al Lopez moved Al Rosen over there. At the June 1 trade deadline, the Indians stole Vic Wertz from the Orioles. Wertz didn't take full control of the position until late July. But Rosen thrived in his time at the first base bag. Rosen and Wertz definitely led this position to be a strength.

Second Base

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Bobby Avila

140

625

109

67

9

344

404

483

342

Hank Majeski

22

66

9

7

0

333

364

460

352

Sam Dente

7

21

2

0

0

158

200

263

158

Rudy Regalado

1

1

0

0

0

000

000

000

000

Al Rosen

1

1

0

0

0

000

000

000

000

Total

714

120

74

9

336

393

473

336

League Average

661

77

48

8

260

333

340

276

Our first clearly dominant position. Avila definitely earned his third place MVP vote with that spectacular season. Majeski also did well in his limited playing time here. Overall this position was a full 193 OPS over the other seven AL teams, fantastic.

Third Base

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Al Rosen

87

367

45

51

3

276

387

447

270

Rudy Regalado

48

195

21

23

0

257

330

322

269

Al Smith

21

88

19

8

0

388

523

627

418

Hank Majeski

10

35

2

4

0

156

203

313

143

Total

685

87

86

3

277

379

423

279

League Average

663

73

69

6

274

362

392

290

It seems odd that Smith actually was the better hitter over Rosen, but look at that crazy BAbip. But definitely, another win at this position over the league.

Shortstop

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

George Strickland

110

433

43

37

2

213

314

313

237

Sam Dente

52

172

15

19

0

275

329

342

274

Bobby Avila

7

11

2

0

0

200

273

200

200

Al Smith

2

3

0

0

0

333

333

333

333

Al Rosen

1

1

0

0

0

000

000

000

000

Total

620

60

56

2

231

317

319

248

League Average

643

69

46

5

255

320

344

273

Initially, I felt this position was going to be one of the weakest overall. And it actually was, but looking at how they performed compared to the rest of the league, it really was not all that bad. A -8 in OPS is definitely acceptable as the rest of the infield (sans catcher) was way above average.

Left Field

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Al Smith

94

417

70

35

2

259

376

402

284

Wally Westlake

49

193

24

31

0

290

361

515

278

Dave Pope

18

68

13

8

1

290

343

419

320

Dale Mitchell

6

20

2

0

0

167

250

167

167

Vic Wertz

2

8

1

1

0

286

250

286

250

Dave Philley

1

2

1

0

0

000

000

000

00

Total

708

111

75

3

267

363

426

280

League Average

607

80

89

6

266

356

429

271

I thought this position would fare better than it did, but Smith obviously preferred his stint at third better than in left. This group defines league average with the exception of scoring runs, a +31 over the average.

Center Field

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Larry Doby

153

673

94

126

3

272

362

484

272

Wally Westlake

4

12

1

3

0

182

182

273

286

Dave Pope

4

9

4

3

1

625

667

1250

800

Total

694

99

132

4

275

363

490

278

League Average

663

77

78

9

275

351

404

291

Easily the one position with the highest percentage going to one player, Doby. And although Doby finished in second in MVP voting, that was primarily due to his home run (32) and RBI totals. He also scored runs at a higher clip, but the average and on base percentages were very close to league average.

Right Field

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Dave Philley

125

516

46

60

2

226

310

350

226

Al Smith

17

72

12

7

0

295

380

426

304

Wally Westlake

14

57

8

6

0

204

304

327

235

Dave Pope

5

15

1

1

0

154

200

154

200

Vic Wertz

2

10

1

1

0

125

300

125

125

Total

670

68

75

2

229

314

348

234

League Average

662

75

64

6

268

333

389

287

We were due for another bad position somewhere, and here we have it. But a lot of the poor numbers here are due to that 234 BAbip, extremely low. And as poor as the overall numbers were, they still were on par with scoring and driving in runs. That on base percentage is pretty good considering how low the average is.

Pitcher

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Bob Lemon

34

110

11

9

0

211

255

326

261

Early Wynn

34

105

10

4

0

183

240

215

210

Mike Garcia

35

93

5

4

0

136

184

136

183

Art Houtteman

24

76

6

10

1

277

294

354

315

Bob Feller

18

55

6

1

0

188

250

208

290

Don Mossi

11

23

1

0

0

158

273

158

333

Ray Narleski

14

19

0

0

0

000

059

000

000

Hal Newhouser

11

14

0

1

0

154

154

154

154

Dave Hoskins

5

8

1

0

0

000

125

000

000

Bob Hooper

5

5

0

0

0

000

000

000

000

Bob Chakales

2

5

0

0

0

333

500

333

333

Jose Santiago

1

1

1

0

0

-

1000

-

-

Total

514

41

29

1

227

234

227

229

League Average

467

27

25

1

203

208

203

210

No surprise here that the pitchers outhit the competition as both Lemon and Houtteman were good career hitting pitchers. They outscored the competition due to Avila, Doby and Rosen of course.

Pinch Hitting

G

PA

R

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

BAbip

Dale Mitchell

49

49

5

6

0

333

429

429

325

Hank Majeski

28

28

1

6

0

308

357

308

364

Dave Pope

22

22

2

1

0

263

364

421

333

Bill Glynn

16

16

1

0

0

133

188

133

182

Rudy Regalado

12

12

1

1

0

125

417

125

167

Wally Westlake

12

12

1

1

0

182

250

273

182

Total

185

16

21

0

259

368

335

295

League Average

200

13

27

0

211

306

301

241

Only the top six are shown here, but another fourteen players were used as pinch hitters, including Luke Easter, Rosen, Wertz and Lemon. Mitchell was obviously the de facto pinch hitter that year and did an excellent job at it, with an 857 OPS. And overall, these hitters had a significant advantage over the competition.

Summary

Other than catcher and right field, pretty much every position was at least league average with second base, third base and center field positions of strength. Both the pitchers and pinch hitters contributed to make the overall hitting a definite plus. Probably not nearly as strong as the pitching advantage, but certainly a lineup that gave other teams fits.

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