- 1B, 3B, OF, 2B, SS
- Larry, Poli
- October 5, 1874
- 6' 1"
- 195 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 8-12-1896 with PHI
- Allstar Selections:
- 1901 TC
- Hall of Fame:
The best player in the American League before the rise of Ty Cobb, Napolean Lajoie is considered one of the two or three greatest second baseman to ever play the game. His fame was so great that the Cleveland team was renamed in his honor. As a hitter, he is considered one of the best right-handers in history, and as second basemen only Rogers Hornsby and Joe Morgan rival his all-around offensive skill. In the field he was considered the finest fielding keystoner of the first 50 years of the 20th century.
Best Season - 1901
In a season in which foul balls did not count as strikes, Lajoie took advantage of the rule and batted an impressive .422 to easily win the batting title. He hit safely in his first 16 games of the season and was held hitless in just 17 of the 131 games he played. He led the league in every offensive category of importance. He slugged .643 and had an OBP of .463. He scored 145 runs in 131 games, collected 232 hits, 48 doubles, 14 homers, and drove in 125 runs. All of those totals were league standards. Lajoie also led second baseman in every defensive category. Consider this - the Baltimore Orioles led the new AL that year in batting, with a .294 mark. Lajoie's A's finished second at .289. Without Lajoie the team batted just .271 - so Nap raised his team's average by 18 points! We should remember however, that the 1901 American League was watered down. Lajoie was sort of like Michael Jordan playing in the CBA - a great player whose competition wasn't the best.
A few more facts about Lajoie's 1901 season:
He hit safely in 114 of his 131 games, being shut out just 17 times... Lajoie collected three hits on opening day, three more the next day, then four more in his third game against Boston. He hit in his first 16 games of the season before being blanked by Washington's Bill Carrick on May 17... Lajoie's toughest opponent was Clark Griffith of the White Sox, who held the second baseman hitless three times in 1901. Griffith later became mamager and owner of the Senators... Lajoie collected at least one hit off of every hurler he faced, except: Griffith, Carrick, Joe Yeager, Jerry Nops, George Winter, Frank Morrissey, Ted Lewis, John McNeal, Pete Dowling and Roscoe Hiller. Morrissey won just one game in his entire career, but could boast he was perfect against Lajoie.
Lajoie replaced fellow HOFer -
Lajoie's first regular job was as the Phillies' first baseman in 1897. He replaced future Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers, who signed a lucrative contract to play minor league baseball at the age of 39.
Before 1901 Season: Jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Philadelphia Athletics; June, 1902: Purchased by the Cleveland Bronchos from the Philadelphia Athletics; January, 1915: Purchased by the Philadelphia Athletics from the Cleveland Indians.
Lajoie and teammate Elmer Flick, who also ended up in the Hall of Fame, had a strained relationship. On one occasion, with Philadelphia in 1900, the two came to blows. According to one source, Flick embarrassed Lajoie in front of the team when he insulted Nap's attire. Flick considered Lajoie a hayseed of sorts, or so the story goes. At any rate, the two rarely socialized with each other while they played together for Cleveland. In 1907, when Detroit offered Ty Cobb in a straight-up deal for Flick, manager Lajoie agreed with Cleveland's front office and rejected the deal, despite his personal animosity toward Flick.
On September 27, 1914, in the first game of a doubleheader against New York, Lajoie singled off Marty McHale for his 3,000th career hit.
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