Year Inducted: 1951 (BBWAA, ballot #7, 179/226)
Babe Ruth’s single season home run record was considered one of the most hallowed records in the entire sporting world. Not only was it thought to be untouchable, but it was seen as the zenith season, one that if someone were to surpass it would have to be the greatest season on record. But, only five years after the record was set, there was a serious challenge to it. A right handed slugger from Philadelphia hit 58 homers, and would have tied Ruth’s record had 2 additional homers not been erased due to rainouts. The event must have traumatized Jimmie Foxx because, to his dying day, he carried the two box scores around with him to prove that he did, in fact, hit 60 homers in one season.
Record-holding or not, Foxx was one of the greatest hitters of all-time. In 20 seasons, The Beast slashed an amazing .325/.428/.609 with a wRC+ of 158. Foxx broke into the league at age 17, and by the age of 21 he began a stretch of 12 seasons with 30 or more homers and 13 seasons with 100 or more RBI leading many writers and fans to think of him as the right handed Babe Ruth. By age 32, Foxx had amassed 500 homers in his career and for more than 60 years he was the youngest ever to reach the plateau (A-Rod was slightly younger). In total, Foxx ended his career with 534 homers, 125 triples and 485 doubles. His power numbers saw him drive in plenty of runs, leading the league three times in RBI three times and totaling 1922 RBI in his career. Foxx, while an imposing presence (Lefty Gomez once said that he had muscles in his hair) in the batter’s box, was not the most graceful runner. Foxx only stole 87 bases in his career while he was worth -18.6 runs as a baserunner.
Defensively, Foxx played quite a few positions. He came up as a catcher for the A’s, but was soon installed as the primary first baseman while seeing time in the outfield and third base. Despite his size, Foxx was a relatively agile first baseman, being worth +21 fielding runs which may not be the best ever, but is still good. Foxx was definitely not like other sluggers like Willie McCovey and Harmon Killebrew in that he could field the ball decently for his size.
Despite being the youngest player to collect his 500th homer ever, Foxx would only amass another 34 homers in his career, having a giant drop in production starting at age 34. Most sources attribute it to one of two things. The first is a sinus issue. Even back to the early 1930’s, Foxx was constantly battling sinus problems and in his mid-30’s, after being hit in the forehead during an exhibition game, the pain got to be unbearable at times for the big slugger. In order to dull the pain, Foxx would turn to alcohol, which also hastened the end of his dominance. While not as heavy a drinker as other players, Foxx’s drinking did increase significantly towards the end of his career, when he wouldn’t be able to get to his hotel room without visiting every tavern between there and the ballpark on the way.
While Foxx’s vices may have prematurely halted his dominance, his career numbers shine bright. He retired with the second most homers, fifth most RBI and was one of only 10 position players to be worth over 100 fWAR. While the BBWAA was still suffering from a backlog of incompetance, Foxx gained enshrinement on what is listed as his 7th year on the ballot. This is a bit of a misleading number because when voting first opened, active players were considered eligible, so despite retiring after 1945, Foxx had been getting Hall of Fame votes back in 1936. Foxx was easily one of the most dominating hitters of all-time, and will always be remembered as such.
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On deck 12/14/16:
#13- The first African American manager in history
#12- This left fielder took over for Ted Williams, and seemed to do an OK job there