We move into the 30s as we continue to survey the hitters who surged in the second half. There will be many familiar names along with a few surprises. If you are new to this, know that this list is the top 300 second-half performances per the batter splits at Baseball Reference and it has been sorted in descending order of OPS+. Statistical shapes for these hitters are still relatively diverse, but that will start to change as we move closer to the present day. Let's get started...
Al Simmons' injury-plagued second-half in 1931 just made the cut in plate appearances--it was quite a run for the mainstay of the Philadelphia A's, who won their third consecutive pennant (but were upset by the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series that year.) Chick Hafey of the Cards made it onto this list for the second time in '31 with his own .400+ second half.
Of course the biggest bopper of them all is the fellow who ranks lowest on this chart according to OPS+: Hack Wilson, who set records in second-half HR and RBI in his incredible 1930 season. (Hack's 191 RBI for the season weren't enough to get the Cubs back into the World Series that year, however).
Babe Ruth's truncated second half in 1932 produced a new record for OBP (a staggering .557) and boosted this performance into the top fifteen all-time despite the relative modesty of the counting numbers. Ruth hit .379 in the second half of '32 but became the first player to rank in the Top 300 of second-half performers with a sub-.300 BA (which we've color-coded in white text on a flashing orange background). Jimmie Foxx became the premier hitter in the AL in the early 30s, hitting 58 HRs in 1932...and his follow-up season wasn't too shabby either!
Lou Gehrig pushes his way into the Top 40 with his second-half performance in 1934, though the Yankees do not win the pennant; Hank Greenberg's Tigers do that in both '34 and '35, with Hank's doubles-dominant years providing a lot of firepower. (Greenberg hit 63 doubles in '34, nearly 60% of them in the second half--and his total of 36 second-half doubles set a record that has yet to be broken.) Arky Vaughan hit .385 in 1935, so you can anticipate what his first-half numbers are going to look like...!
Some new names here--Rudy York, Earl Averill, Dolph Camilli and Joe DiMaggio--join the second-half sizzlers. Averill is the first hitter to hit .400+ since the 1931 season, and Lou Gehrig comes within one RBI of tying Hack Wilson's 1930 record total. (The Gehrig-DiMaggio tandem has its one truly devastating season, combining for more than 200 RBI...in little more than half a season!)
More new names--including one we'll be seeing a lot of in the coming years (Ted Williams). But it's Johnny Mize who crashes into the Top 30 with a truly awesome second-half performance. Hank Greenberg hits 58 HRs in 1938, 36 of them in the second half--a new record. Jimmie Foxx, now in Boston, hits 50 on the year but can't quite keep pace with the masher from Detroit. The Browns' fine third sacker Harlond Clift hits 26 of his 34 HRs in the second half to push his way into the Top 200.
In this decade, only three .400+ BA performances, but twelve .700+ SLG performances (ten of them in the American League; the NL offensive environment takes a nosedive after the monster 1930 season). But our first and only sub-.300 BA season (thus far) in the Top 300 second-half performances occurs in the AL, and it's Babe Ruth who does it.
Back soon with the 40s...