Has anyone ever had a better season than Lou Boudreau in 1948?
Boudreau started managing the Cleveland club (as well as playing shortstop) in 1942, (at age 24!) and the team had finished right around the .500 mark from ’42 to ’47, but in 1948 Cleveland went 97 – 58 to win the junior circuit pennant, finishing 1 game ahead of the Red Sox and 2 1/2 games up on the Yankees. Lou played 152 games at shortstop, and hit .355 on 199 hits. He scored 116 runs, hit 18 home runs, and drove in 106. He walked 98 times, with just 9 strike outs. He only stole 3 bases, but one of them was home, shown below.
On the last day of the season, October 4th, with everything on the line, Cleveland beat Boston 8-3 in Boston to win the title. Boudreau went 4 for 4, and hit two home runs.
Boudreau had some help on that Cleveland club. Joe Gordon hit 32 home runs and drove in 124, while Ken Keltner hit 31 home runs and drove in 119. Dale Mitchell hit .336. Bob Lemon and Gene Bearden each won 20 games, and Feller won 19. I just noticed that the Indians also had a guy named Satchell Paige on the team that year too. Ol’ Satch went 6-1, with a 2.48 ERA, and pitched in the Series, for 2/3rds of an inning in game 5.
Cleveland faced the Boston Braves in the 1948 World Series. The Braves had finished at 91 and 62, 6 and a half up on the Cardinals, and had Al Dark, Eddie Stanky, Johnny Sain, and Warren Spahn. Sain went 24-15 on the season. But Cleveland won the Series, 4 games to 2, and Handsome Lou won the MVP award for the year.
Lou Boudreau played 15 years in the big leagues, 13 with Cleveland and 2 with Boston. He finished with a lifetime batting average of .295, was a 7 time all-star, and the MVP of 1948, when he had one of the best seasons you could ever have. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame (inducted is a strange word. why not elected? invited? anyway…) in 1970. Lou passed away on August 10th, 2001, at age 84.
Good game, Lou.
Oh yeah, he also lead the American League’s shortstops in fielding. Eight times.