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Travis Jackson

Travis Jackson

Position(s):
SS, 2B, 3B, OF
Nicknames:
Stonewall
Born:
December 2, 1903
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 10"
Weight:
160 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-27-1922 with NY1
Hall of Fame:
1982

 

Boyish Travis Jackson entered and exited the major leagues as a winner. In 1922 as an 18-year old he had a cup of coffee with the Giants in late September after they clinched the pennant, and in 1936 in his final season, he played third base for the Giants as they again won the pennant. In between, Jackson helped the Giants to three other World Series appearances and ascended to the role of team captain, succeeding Rogers Hornsby. Jackson never led the league in any offensive categories, and he was never regarded during his playing days as the star of his team or as more than a very good ballplayer. Yet, in 1982 the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee elected him to Cooperstown's shrine, apparently based on his six .300 seasons as a shortstop/third baseman. 

Best Season: 1929

Like others who had frequent nagging injuries, it's hard to pick Jackson's best season. In 1930 he hit a career-high .339, but played just 116 games. He enjoyed just four season of 140 or more games, the best of which was in 1929 when he set a career standard with 270 total bases on the strength of 21 doubles, 12 triples and 21 home runs. He hit .294, which was exactly the league average. never a great defensive infielder, Jackson did lead NL shortstops in fielding, chances, assists and double plays in 1929.

Jackson and Wright

In 1930, the Sporting News ran an article that discussed "the big topic for debate" among New York fans. The issue was which shortstop, Brooklyn's Glenn Wright or the Giants' Travis "Stoney" Jackson was the best in the National League. The article mentioned that Jackson deserved considerable attention for his throwing arm, which was called "the greatest among the infielders of the majors." It went on to give the nod to Jackson, based on the fact that he'd "established his supremacy over a number of years." Wright was actually a couple of years older than Jackson, but "Stonewall" had debuted two years earlier than his elder.

A close examination of Wright's career shows that had he had some better luck he may have been the player who ended up in Cooperstown.

After their 1930 seasons (in which Wright outperformed Jackson), their career lines were as follows: Jackson's batting average was .300, with a .457 slugging percentage, .349 OBP, 94 homers, 574 RBI, 544 runs scored. Wright was at .301 with a .457 SLG, .337 OBP, 73 home runs, 612 RBI and 478 runs.

Take note that Wright had virtually identical totals despite playing nearly 200 games less than Jackson to that point in their careers. Unfortunately for Wright, he only played one more full season in the majors after he turned 30. Wright is largely forgotten today, but he was every bit the equal of Jackson during their prime years.

Judging Jackson

Jackson's career average of .291 and slugging mark of .433 are decent figures for a shortstop, even from the 1920-1930 era. But a closer look tells the story behind the numbers. Jackson compiled those figures in a league that hit .283 and slugged .397. Thus he was less than 10% better than his league in slugging and roughly 3% better than his league in hitting. That means that his .291 mark is less impressive than Dave Concepcion's .267 (in a .255 league), and Woodie Held's .422 (in a .372 league).

 

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Tagged:
1922 World Series, 1936 World Series, 1982 Hall of Fame, Baseball History, New York Giants, Shortstop, Travis Jackson

Comments

  • friarjim said: I enjoy these bios of players that have slipped under my radar. These are very respectable numbers for an infielder of the 20's and 30's. 3:50PM 11/16/11
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