Saturday, October 22, 2022


Back to those hitters who--yes--sizzle when the weather gets hot (and don't cool off in September). 

We are up to the 1940s now--a decade that, due to WWII, will feature a few very unfamiliar names. Let's get started...

Remember, whenever you see numbers in red typeface, you're looking at a newly-set "second half" record. And Ted Williams' stretch run in '41 produced new records in BB and OBP. His second half in this year ranks #3 all-time in OPS+.

Joe DiMaggio's famous 1941 hitting streak occurred from mid-May to mid-July, and wasn't part of his second half--which, as you can see,  actually proved to be inferior to the second half he put up in 1940.

Teddy Ballgame wasn't too shabby in the "summer of '42" before going off to war. Two young hitters from St. Louis--Enos Slaughter and Wally Judnich--pop into prominence here. One would wind up in the Hall of Fame, while the other would flame out by the end of the decade and become a forgotten man.

Stan Musial, not yet hitting HRs, still has a very solid second half in '43; Dick Wakefield looks like a budding superstar in '44, but he'd return after the war and prove to be disappointing. 

Nobody had a sufficiently hot hand in 1945 to crack the Top 300...

What? Someone actually puts up a half-season with a higher OBP than Ted Williams? Yes, indeed: it's our man Roy Cullenbine, hitting close to .400 in what is by far the greatest half-season of his career. (He'd hit .224 the next year and get released.) And Whitey Kurowski out-slugs everyone during the 1946-47 stretch runs--even Ralph Kiner, who hits 31 of his 54 HRs in 1947 in the second half.

And Harry (the Hat) Walker had his joy & fun in his half-season in the sun in 1947, with the lowest HR total of any player making the Top 300 during the 1940s.

A fascinating second-half duel between Musial and Willliams plays out as their two teams just miss their chance to finish in first place. Ralph Kiner hits 31 HRs in the second half again.

Summing up: there's one .400+ half-season (Williams in '41), four instances of a .500+ OBP (Williams 3 times, plus Cullenbine), and two half-seasons with .700+ SLG (Williams in '41 and Musial in '49). Of the 29 half-seasons in the 40s that make it into the Top 300, 16 occurred in the AL, 13 in the NL.

The 50s are up next...