- OF, 1B
- Wahoo Sam
- April 18, 1880
- 190 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-10-1899 with CIN
- Hall of Fame:
Some have challenged Sam Crawford's status as a Hall of Famer, but the truth is that Crawford was one of the best sluggers of his era, hands down. Consider: Crawford retired as the American League career leader in home runs, extra-base hits, total bases, RBI, and triples. From 1910 to 1915 (when he was 30-35 years old), Sam led the AL in games played, total bases, RBI, extra-base hits, and triples. He was second in homers and hits, third in runs created, fourth in slugging, and batted .320 for that six-year stretch. He ranked that high while Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Home Run Baker, and Joe Jackson were in their prime. His total of 643 RBI from 1910-1915 were 118 more than his closest rival in the American League! Somehow however, it took a campaign by Cobb to get his teammate into the Hall of Fame.
1918 LA: 96 games, 38 runs, 104 hits, 14 doubles, seven triples, one HR, 8 SB, .292 AVG 1919 LA: 173 games, 103 runs, 239 hits, 41 doubles, 18 triples, 14 HR, 14 SB, .360 AVG 1920 LA: 187 games, 99 runs, 239 hits, 46 doubles, 21 triples, 12 HR, 3 SB, .332 AVG 1921 LA: 178 games, 92 runs, 199 hits, 44 doubles, 10 triples, nine HR, 10 SB, 103 RBI, .317 AVG Stats provided by Ron Selter
Sam had better raw numbers in other years (100 RBI and runs scored in 1911 when he also batted .378), and he hit more extra-base hits in other seasons (64 in 1913), but in '07 he was still the go-to guy on the Tigers. He finished near the top of the AL in most offensive categories in '07. He was second in batting (.323), second in SLG (.461), third in OPS (.826), third in hits (188), runnerup in total bases, doubles, and triples, and led the AL in runs scored (102).
For a player to eclipse Sam Crawford's career mark of 312 triples, he would have to average 20 per year for more than 15 seasons.
Crawford jumped from the National League to the Tigers in the American League prior to the 1903 season. This came about only after a legal dispute over his rights, which was the big news in Cincinnati during the winter. Crawford siged deals with both the Reds and the Tigers, but a judge awarded him to Detroit, the team he signed with first. He didn't necassarily want to leave Cincinnati, he was motivated mostly by the promise of more money.
For his era, Crawford struck out a little much, but that's really reaching for a weakness. He was very, very good player, probably one of the most underrated Hall of Famers.
Crawford finished about 40 hits shy of 3,000 for his major league career, but of course, 3,000 hits was not a magical number in those days. He went on to play a few more years in the Pacific Coast League and could very well have stuck it out in the big leagues to get to 3,000 hits, had the milestone been a milestone then, or had he wanted to make less money hanging on with another team. By 1917, the Tigers were done with him, and they treated him rather shabby considering his many years of production. He was let go in mid-season, and wasn't even asked to travel on most of ther road trips prior to being released. Detroit had Harry Heilmann ready to step in.
Like Al Oliver in his day, Sam Crawford was regarded as the hardest-hitter in the league during his prime. He was constantly being robbed of base hits on great plays on balls he hit extremely hard. "None of them can hit quite as hard as Crawford," Fielder Jones said once. "He stands up at the plate like a brick house and he hits all the pitchers, without playing favorites."
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