Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where Have You Gone, Frank McCormick?

The answer to yesterday's trivia question was (you guessed it) Frank McCormick. At the time he was playing, it looks like he had a better rep with the writers than Johnny Mize (who was better), but he only received a handful of HOF votes over several years. He never struck out, but he never walked either. But I think the main reason no one remembers him is that his career didn't really start until he was 27. Had he had an earlier start, he might have put up more counting stats. I don't think that the lack of walks hurt him. The conventional wisdom of the time didn't really discount a batter that didn't walk that often. The thinking was that walks were the result of wild pitching and not patient hitting. (McCormick liked to swing at the first ptich.) One of my commenters made a point about Charlie Dressen jerking him around, but AFAICT, McCormick never even played pro ball until 23. His SABR bio has a six year gap between 17 and 23.

There haven't been many first basemen like him since then. The slick fielding contact hitting type hasn't really appeared since the days of Steve Garvey. I don't really have much more to add at the moment (work beckons), but I was trying to come up with a candidate for the best obscure player and he is one of them.

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