Year Inducted: 1945 (Veterans Committee)
In the 1800s, the Boston Braves employed a pair of outfielders who were dubbed the Heavenly Twins. Both of these players were of Irish-Catholic decent from New England families who employed speed as a primary weapon. The two became good friends over the years and help popularize certain styles of play, such as the hit-and-run. Interestingly enough, both made it to the Hall of Fame. Having already covered Tommy McCarthy in many previous posts, it’s time to look at the other half of that dynamic duo-Hugh Duffy.
Duffy, the undoubtably better of the Heavenly Twins, played in the big leagues for parts of 17 seasons, mostly with the Boston Braves. He hit .324/.384/.449 with a wRC+ of 118 while playing solid defense in center field. He hit 106 home runs to go along with 325 doubles and 125 triples, consistently finding himself near the top of the leaderboards in extra base hits and run production (1302 RBI and 1552 runs scored). Duffy was also an excellent base runner, stealing over 500 bases in his career and being worth more than 37 runs on the bases according to Fangraphs.
Upon his retirement, Duffy ranked 11th in batting average, sixth in home runs, 7th in RBI, 7th in steals and 13th in hits. Duffy’s numbers suffer from a steep and sudden decline, exacerbated but minor nagging injuries and a brief detour as a manager. After subpar seasons in 1899 and 1900, Duffy left the Braves for the newly formed American League, and joined the newly formed Milwaukee Brewers. His batting average was still above .300, but he was only able to play in 79 games as he was player-manager for the Brewers and dealing with nagging injuries of his own. After managing, but not playing, in the following two seasons, he became the player-manager for the Phillies for three years. He played in fewer than 50 games total in those years, and was fired as a manager and opted to retire.
Duffy, fully healthy and in his prime, was an exquisite all-around player. He hit for both average and power, possessing a strong throwing arm (over 200 career assists), great fielding abilities (ranked 5th among outfielders in fielding runs) and was an excellent base runner. An overall great choice for Hall of Fame induction.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 9/29/16, lets stick in the old era and look at one of the top first basemen of the time and who used to be the career leader in triples.