Historical Player Profiles: Al Simmons

Al Simmons remains one of the most underrated, or perhaps under-recognized, names in baseball history. He was born Aloysius Harry Simmons, and was given the nickname "Bucketfoot Al" by teammates and coaches. The nickname is derived from the term bucketfoot, or striding toward third base on a swing. Also known as bailing out, it's usually coached out of players as being a bad swing flaw, but Simmons didn't appear to struggle with it.

Simmons came up in 1924 with Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, and soon after became a centerpiece (literally playing center field) on a team featuring the likes of future Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane, Lefty Grove, and Jimmie Foxx. He would move to left after a few years, but continued to rake offensively among the league's best for the next dozen years.

Simmons had some great numbers and statistics throughout his career, along with his share of tough breaks. In his first 11 seasons, he averaged 22 HR and 125 RBI. He finished in the top 11 of MVP voting 8 of those 11 years (two of those years, there was no award). In 1925, Simmons had a great year hitting .387 with 24 HR and 129 RBI. He lost the MVP to Roger Peckinpaugh despite annihilating him in every single offensive category. It's among the most lopsided voting injustices in history.

In a cruel twist of irony, there were no MVP awards given in 1929 and 1930 which happen to be Simmons' best two years. Until 1928, the league had given the MVP out, but they had little organization and ever-changing rules to how it was awarded (as evidenced in the 1925 travesty). There was a two year lull until the Baseball Writers Association took over the administration of the award in 1931. During those missed years, Simmons put up the following numbes:

1929 - 114 R, 212 H, 41 2B, 9 3B, 34 HR, 157 RBI, .365 Avg, .398 OB
1930 - 152 R, 211 H, 41 2B, 16 3B, 36 HR, 165 RBI, .381 Avg, .423 OB

It's not for certain he would have won MVP those years as he may have lost to Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth. Indeed, throughout his career, he was overshadowed by some of the greats in the game including Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx. During that miraculous first 11 year stretch, Simmons topped 100 RBI every season and topped 200 hits 6 times. His 253 hits in 1925 is still the single season record for a right handed hitter. He was also fastest in history to 1500 hits (1040 games) and fastest to 2000 hits (1390 games). Final numbers are below:

20 seasons, 2215 G, 1507 R, 2927 H, 539 2B, 149 3B, 307 HR, 1827 RBI, .334 Avg

Simmons' numbers began to decline pretty steadily after 1936. He bounced around to a number of teams before retiring with the Athletics in 1944. He reportedly regretted not getting to 3000 hits and cited that he lacked complete dedication to the game at times, sometimes sitting out after partying the night before. He also reportedly told Stan Musial, whom he mentored, "Never relax on any at bat. Never miss a game (that) you can play."

***Some facts and figures gleaned from www.baseball-reference.com and www.thebaseallpage.com***

1 comment:

  1. A true underrated all-time player. Some remarkable numbers.


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