Sunday, October 23, 2022


We move into the fifties, with holdover superstars and a procession of African-American sluggers coming into their own...let's get to it:

1950 was a big hitters' year overall, which might explain why no one cracked the Top 300 with a second half performance. There were four of them in 1951, top-lined by sluggers amping it for two teams that met in a fateful payoff series (Bobby Thomson and Roy Campanella). It's clear that Thomson's heroics that year weren't limited to his walk-off homer against Ralph Branca.

Negro League veteran slugger Luke Easter was the "king of the second half" in 1952.

Slugging came back into vogue in 1953-54, with three sluggers (Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Duke Snider) each posting a SLG north of .700. Ted Kluszewski found his power stroke in the second half of 1954 and kept on mashing the ball at an accelerated rate into the 1956 season. 

And here is our first Willie Mays sighting...

And our first Mickey Mantle sighting...

Do you remember the player who actually hit better (we're talking BA right now...) than Ted Williams' monumental.454 in the second half of 1957? We'll tell you later...for now, however, savor the astonishment of a 306 OPS+.

Ernie Banks gets his HR stroke in gear this year, just two shy of 30 over the last half of 1957.

Mantle, Mays and the short-season heroics of young Willie McCovey...but nobody topped 40-year-old Ted Williams: his ranking in 1958 was at #76, still better than everyone who'd been on the lists for 1956-57 and 1958-59.

The only African-American sluggers not to make an appearance on the second-half lists in the 50s: Henry Aaron and Frank Robinson. Fear not; we will see them in the 60s...

In the 50s we have one .400+ BA, two .500+ OBP, one .800+ SLG...all attributable to Ted Willliams. They were three more SLGs above .700. There were 17 instances where players hit 20+ HRs in the second half, and just once instance where a player made it into the Top 300 with a BA lower than .300 (Duke Snider, 1957).

Williams set a new record for highest OBP in a second half (a mind-boggling .594), but his .454 second-half BA fell just short of Harry Heilmann's .457 back in 1927. As Casey Stengel liked to say: you could look it up. All hail Heilmann!