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Some would say that 1957 was Ted Williams’ greatest year. It’s the year he turned 39 and entered his 40th year. Ted won his fifth batting title (and we’ve seen how close he came a couple of other times), with a .388 batting average. It was the 11th time he’d led the league in on-base percentage and the ninth time he’d led in slugging percentage. Had he collected just five more hits, he would have hit .400. And he set a major-league record reaching base in 16 consecutive plate appearances, an astonishing accomplishment which more than 50 years later remains a record. And four of the 16 plate appearances resulted in home runs, two of them pinch-hit home runs. On September 22nd, the Yankees simply walked him three times. They threw only one strike in 15 pitches – and that was only because the bases were loaded. Ted hit a grand slam. He hit at a phenomenal .454 pace in the second half of the season, and would have seemed to be a lock for the MVP, but – once again – a couple of writers seemed to hold something against him. One writer in Chicago only listed him as the 10th best player in the league, and another in Chicago listed him ninth. Consequently, the close vote gave the MVP to Mickey Mantle. There was another Red Sox player who lost out on an award he probably deserved – third baseman Frank Malzone. It was officially his rookie year, and in September the baseball writers set standards for the number of at-bats a rookie was allowed to have in prior years that might exclude him from Rookie of the Year consideration. The standard was set just high enough to exclude Malzone, and thus went to New York’s Tony Kubek. A comparison of stats shows a big difference between the two, for instance Frank’s 103 RBIs to Tony’s 39. Frank did win one award – a Gold Glove, the first one ever bestowed. In later years, there was one awarded in each league, but in 1957 there was just one for all of baseball and it went to Frank Malzone. He won the Gold Glove again in 1958 and 1959. Malzone hit .292 and drove in 103 runs, which led the team in RBIs – though he shared the honor with Jackie Jensen. Williams drove in 87 runs, and hit 38 homers.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Frank Malzone, Jackie Jensen, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Tony Kubek

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