Year Inducted: 1970 (BBWAA, ballot # 10, 232/300)
Player-managers haven’t been a thing in baseball in years. It’s a very stressful position, balancing the roles to a team as a player as well as running a club with (presumably) a great number of your friends and trying to win ballgames. Most of the time, in earlier decades of the game, player-managers typically were star players that had been in the game for a long time, or ones towards the ends of their careers. Rarely would it happen that a player would be named manager very early in his career. One player that became a manager only three years into his career was Lou Boudreau.
Cleveland fans and media were concerned that Boudreau, one of if not the top shortstops in the AL in the 1940’s, would regress due to the stresses of being a manager. Boudreau went on to put up a strong 15-year career, 13 years of which were spent in Cleveland. He hit .295/.380/.415, with a wRC+ of 122. In his career Boudreau managed to hit 68 homers to go along with 385 doubles and 66 triples. Boudreau didn’t typically hit in the middle of the lineup, so he didn’t have many opportunities to drive in a lot of runs. He still managed to top 100 RBI twice, finishing his career just shy of 800 RBI’s. He was also a poor base runner, so he only scored 861 runs and stole only 51 bases.
As was the case with many shortstops, it wasn’t the bat that got Boudreau inducted but the glove. Boudreau was a fantastic defensive shortstop, being worth over 200 runs defensively and ranking 12th all-time among shortstops defensively at the time of his retirement. While obviously not fleet of foot, Boudreau relied on his intelligence and range to make a lot of outs at an important position.
Boudreau was an excellent player, but how was he as a manager? He was OK. He was one of the first to primarily use shifts on players. During a double header against the Red Sox, he noticed that Ted Williams was pulling the ball a lot (he hit 3 HR in the first game), so he instructed all of his infielders to shift to the right in the second game against Williams. He grounded one to Boudreau, playing in the second baseman’s position, who promptly threw to first for the out. Besides the shift, he guided the Indians to one World Series victory in 1948, helped integrate the American League with Larry Doby and Satchel Paige, but had a mediocre record overall.
Boudreau was a strong player. A solid hitter and great defender at a key position, all while for most of his career having to juggle the duties of a manager. An excellent selection for the Hall of Fame.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 10/10/16, this catcher had a short career due to a car accident, WWII and segregation.