Another long one so bear with me (read it in chunks). This is the AL recap -
Polo grounds gazette
Sunday, April 18, 1948
Day is tomorrow so let’s get on with the American League Preview.
1948 American League Preview
St. Louis Browns The Browns season ended last December when their best players –
Vern Stephens (ss), Jack Kramer (SP), and Ellis Kinder (SP) – were sent to
Boston for a pile of money and a few bit players. Being the second team in a city too small for
two teams has brought St. Louis to these straights. Had they been able to move to Los Angeles as
the original plan called for, they might not find themselves in such financial
difficulties. But, Pearl Harbor changed
all of that and so new manager Zack Taylor has his hands full with a team of
mostly un-seasoned rookies and 2nd year men.
Pitching – With Kramer and Kinder
gone, the Browns will have to count on 2nd year starters Cliff
Fannin and Fred Sandford to carry the bulk of the pitching. Veteran Nels Potter may help and spot starter
Sam Zoldak will round out the starting rotation. Rookie Ned Garver has raised some eyebrows in
spring training and hopes to break into this starting staff. He is rumored to be able to carry his own
weight with his bat, too. Other rookies
or 2nd year pitchers are Frank Biscan, Bryan Stephens, Ray Shore,
and, from Boston, Al Widmar: none of whom are expected to provide more than relief
Infield - The only pickup made in the
off-season was to purchase the contract of veteran Jerry Priddy from
Washington. Priddy will help stabilize
an otherwise young infield with his glove at second and a decent bat. Third base is stable with Bob Dillinger who
provides a good lead-off man and at first base, Chuck Stevens returns from last
year. At shortstop, the young Eddie Pellagrini
and Sam Dente will vie for the position.
Both were backup players with Boston last year; the loser will end up as
the utility player.
Outfield – Last year’s starters – Paul
Lehner (cf), Al Zarilla (lf), and Ray Coleman (rf) all return but, other than
Zarilla, have little more than a year under their belts. Pete Layden, another rookie, may try to step
in if these others fail but this is still a very inexperienced outfield. Whitey Platt, a backup in Chicago two years
ago, is also in line to move in if needed.
Catching – Young Les Moss (only 23)
returns for his 2nd year as the starting catcher. Moss has potential and may grow in this his
second full season. The veteran Roy
Partee came from Boston to help shore up the position and teach young Moss the
Outlook – If Zack Taylor can keep this
team of rookies out of the basement, he has accomplished a lot. The projection here is last place unless a
lot of these rookies have breakout years.
Chicago White Sox The only thing that may keep St. Louis out of the basement is the
equally poor White Sox team. Whereas the
Browns have almost no one with more than 2 years experience, the White Sox have
very few players under the age of 30 on the team. These older players have already proved that
they cannot win so there is no reason to expect more out of Chicago this
season. Manager Ted Lyons will have a
very hard time staying ahead of St. Louis in the standings.
Pitching – Last season’s ace, Eddie
Lopat, has been traded to the Yankees in exchange for catcher Aaron Robinson
and pitcher Bill Wight. The starting rotation looks like it will be veterans
Orval Grove, Joe Haynes, and Frank Papish.
None of these pitchers have done much in their careers. While essentially a 26 year old rookie, Bill
Wight will likely be given a chance to work his way into the rotation. The remaining starters will have to come from
2nd year man, Glen Moulder, 22 year old rookie, Howie Judson, and
Bob Gillespie. The bullpen will be held
down by the venerable Earl Caldwell (43 years old!) and Earl Harrist. The overall pitching situation is not good
unless the young Bill Wight and Howie Judson step up.
Infield – Nothing characterizes this
team more than 41 year old Luke Appling.
Old Aches and Pains is still their best shortstop but can’t play there
every day so he will split his time between short and third. Appling is almost certainly the best player
on this team – which says a lot. First
base will be held down by former Red Sox veteran, Tony Lupien. Lupien is fresh from his legal fight to get
back pay from his military service days.
He has been out of the majors for 2 years and is not likely to be at the
level that he performed 4 years ago.
Veteran Don Kolloway will move between 2nd and 3rd
– depending on where Appling is playing and veteran Cass Michaels will hold
down short when Appling is at third; although Michaels best position is
certainly not shortstop but second.
Veteran utility player Floyd Baker can bring a glove to third and help
out elsewhere but his bat leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, this is an old infield that will be
slow to get to ground balls. This
combined with the average – at best – pitching staff makes for a deadly
Outfield – The outfield will consist of
veteran right fielder, Taffy Wright, 2nd year centerfielder Dave
Philley, and former infielder, Bob Kennedy.
Wright can still hit, even at 36 years of age but Philley will have to
cover more ground to make up for Wright’s slowing legs. Young Dave Philley looks solid everywhere; in
the field and at the plate. He should
keep improving and offers South Side fans cause for hope. Bob Kennedy plays a good outfield and has
excellent bat control; being one of the best bunters in the league. Backup veteran Ralph Hodgins’ best years were
during the war. Rookies Ralph Weigal and
Jim Delsing can try to break into this lineup but are long shots. There is no power to speak of – neither here
in the outfield or anywhere on this team.
If the Pale Hose don’t make a trade, they are going to be looking up at
the rest of the league on the homerun list.
Catching – The Eddie Lopat trade
brought Aaron Robinson over from the Yankees.
Robinson brings a decent bat and catching experience – at least against
right-handed pitching. He does not hit
well against left-handers and will likely platoon with veteran receiver Mike
Tresh. Tresh is a serviceable veteran
who knows what he is doing behind the plate but does not bring much offense
with him. It is hoped that Robinson is
an upgrade at the plate.
Outlook – The veterans on this team
may keep Chicago out of last place but there is not much hope for the future
here. South Side fans may be looking at
some long summers ahead. The projection
is for seventh place in the American League this year.
Washington Senators The Nats are a curious mix of young and old. They are a stable team that is set at most
positions and have a solid 4 man pitching rotation and a relief ace. Only their lack of power and lack of any real
star will keep them from moving up into the first division this season. Manager Joe Kuhel will earn his money if he
can bring this team into 4th place.
Pitching – The starting rotation of
Early Wynn, Sid Hudson, Mickey Haefner, and Walt Masterson is solid and gives
Washington a chance at improving. All
are veterans of the game. Wynn is a
young aggressive throw-back to the old school.
He is as likely to drill a batter when he feels like it as anyone in the
game. Hudson is a 33 year old veteran
who was probably better before the war but is still a solid starter. 35 year old Haefner’s knuckleball doesn’t
tire his old arm and 28 year old Masterson already has several years under his
belt. Full-time reliever, Tom Ferrick, gives
Washington the closest thing to a Joe Page out of the bullpen. The rest of the staff will consist of rookie
Dave (Forrest) Thompson, veteran Ray Scarborough, and veteran Milo
Candini. Both Thompson and Scarborough
will be given spot starts to see who ends up the as the 5th starter.
Infield – The infield is a solid unit
for Washington. Slick fielding Mickey
Vernon holds down first base and can help with the bat. Rookie Al Kozar will be given a shot at
second base coming off of a fine minor league season in ’47. The veteran Mark Christman, formerly with the
Browns during their pennant run in 1944, brings stability and a fair bat to
short, while 21 year old 2nd year man Eddie Yost will play third and
bat lead-off. Yost is very adept at
getting on base. Even though his speed
is not what you would expect at leadoff, his ability to be on base a lot helps
make things happen. With Washington’s
lack of power, they need as many base runners as they can get. Veteran John Sullivan will act as utility man
and help out with his glove at short when needed.
Outfield – Both Gil Coan in left and
Junior Wootton in center are being given their first full year as
starters. The jury is still out as to
whether they are ready for this step.
Veterans Tom McBride and Sherry Robertson will platoon in right and
provide some guidance for the youngsters.
The outfield bench is not deep so look for Washington to make some moves
as the season progresses.
Catching – The catching is in the
capable hands of Jake Early and Al Evans, as it has been for so many years here
in Washington. Early and Evans will
split time, mostly as a platoon combination.
They bring a knowledge of the pitching staff and passable bats to the
picture. Rookie Len Okrie is waiting in
the wings but is to be kept in the minors for more seasoning.
Outlook – Manager Joe Kuhel has a
solid foundation to work with but no stars to raise this team’s prospects. If his management can swing a mid-season deal
for some power, he may be able to improve his outlook. Right now, they look like a 6th
place team, however.
Philadelphia Athletics – This is a team that looks
like it is coming together. They moved
up to 5th last season and could easily move up this season. In fact, the next three teams – Philadelphia,
Detroit, and Cleveland – all are similar.
They all have potential, possibly to even challenge the top teams, but
also have big question marks. The team
that solves its question marks first, will contend this season.
Pitching – The strength of this team is
in its pitching staff. The A’s have a
young, aggressive staff that can compete with anyone in the league. Their only problem may be figuring out who
starts since they probably have 6 quality starters on this team. Phil Marchildon, the former WWII POW, is
coming off of a 19 win season and leads this staff. Phil is a 34 year old veteran and provides
experience to the rest of this mostly young staff. The veteran Canadian, Dick Fowler is only 27
and young Joe Coleman will only be making his 2nd year as a
starter. Last year’s Sporting News rookie pitcher of the
year, Bill McCahan can start and Carl Scheib, who was a swing man last year,
looks ready to be a full-time starter.
This brings us to the much heralded rookie, Lou Brissie. The 24 year old Brissie was hurt in the war
but was signed to a contract by Connie Mack, even while he was still on
crutches. He has a specially modified
brace for his leg while he pitches but is reported to have a lively fastball. Brissie is ready to start this season and
will be given the chance to make this starting staff even stronger. Pitching will not be a problem for the White
Elephants this year.
Infield – The infield is solid, if not
spectacular. 2nd year man
Ferris Fain is already proving to be able to get on base, second base man Pete
Suder may be the weakest link in this unit but is a veteran infielder who can
play the other positions if called upon.
Shortstop Eddie Joost has also become adept at getting on base, has a
decent glove, and a little pop in his bat, while at third the veteran Hank
Majeski is solid at bat and in the field.
The bench is thin with a big question mark in Rudy York. While York hit 21 homers last season, he has
not been able to stick with anyone long and it is felt that this could be his
last chance with any team.
Outfield – The outfield is set with
veteran center fielder Sam Chapman, young right fielder Elmer Valo, and former
Detroit star Barney McCosky in left.
Chapman is a good fielder and can help with the bat. Valo is young and improving; both in the
field and at the plate. The only
question mark may be McCosky’s back. His
back injury limited him to just 92 games in 1947 but he claims he is healthy
now. He brings a potent bat to the
position if he is healthy. Again the
bench is thin with rookie Don White expected to fill in if there are injuries.
Catching – Former Yankee Buddy Rosar
brings this team valuable pennant-chase experience and a decent enough
bat. Veteran backups Herman Franks and
Mike Guerra will spell Rosar as needed but they are not at his level.
Outlook – 84 year old Connie Mack
finally may have a team that can compete after 17 years of frustration. This team will go as far as its young
pitchers can carry it and if they can avoid injuries. There biggest weaknesses are lack of power
and a pretty weak bench. They will have
to scrap for runs and avoid injuries but could surprise some people. Although picked here for 5th
place, they could easily finish 4th or 3rd – or who
Cleveland Indians – The Indians are a team with
potential but having so many question marks it is hard to project where they
will finish. The rumor going around the
league is that owner Bill Veeck tried to trade manager and shortstop Lou
Boudreau to the Browns for Vern Stephens but when the Browns wanted cash, Veeck
balked and so Stephens ended up in Boston.
Veeck reportedly loves Boudreau the player but not Boudreau the
manager. Boudreau will be tasked this
year with the big project – finding out if Larry Doby can play the
outfield. No one doubts his talent but
having him targeted for centerfield is a huge leap of faith. To start with, Boudreau will play Doby in
right field until he is sure that Doby is ready for the move to center. To cover their bets, the Indians picked up
the center fielding wizard, Thurman Tucker, over the winter as well as veteran
flychaser, Wally Judnich.
Pitching – Pitching is actually the
bigger question mark for Cleveland. They
only have one established starter – Bob Feller.
As good as Feller is, he can’t pitch every day. Last season’s swing man, Bob Lemon, will be
given the chance to be the second starter.
He is big and has a good fastball, though he only started 15 games in
1947. After that, it is hard to find the
rest of the rotation. Al Gettel returns
having started 21 games last year and the erratic Don Black managed 28 starts
in ’47. Steve Gromek is probably slated
for a swing man. The Indians have 2
young rookies to try out – knuckleballer Gene Bearden and Bill Kennedy. Both are lefties so one should make this
starting squad. They did bolster their
bullpen by picking up full-time reliever Russ Christopher who joins Ed Klieman
to give Cleveland one of the better bullpens in the league. Cleveland will have to solve this pitching
puzzle to make any progress this year.
Infield – Certainly the strength of
this team, Cleveland has the best fielding infield in the league with Joe
Gordon and Lou Boudreau up the middle and can challenge Boston as the best
hitting infield. Veteran third sacker
Ken Keltner returns. Only first base is a question mark but young Eddie
Robinson looks poised to take over full-time responsibility for first
base. Johnny Barardino was picked up
over the winter to give Cleveland a veteran infielder who can fill in at all
Outfield – All hinges on the progress
of Larry Doby. The sooner he is ready to
move to centerfield, the sooner the Cleveland outfield can settle down to take
care of business. Leftfield is in the
capable hands (or bat) of 2nd year man, Dale Mitchell, who also
provides Cleveland a stable lead-off man.
Thurman Tucker and Wally Judnich will alternate with Doby to cover
center and right fields. Allie Clark was
added this winter in a trade with the Yankees and gives the Tribe some needed
right-handed hitting in the outfield but he is not known as a glove man. Look for Cleveland to pick up another
right-handed bat for the outfield sometime this season as the bench consists of
lefties Hal Peck and Hank Edwards and the better seen at the plate than in the
field Pat Seerey; although at least Seerey is right handed.
Catching – Jim Hegan holds down the
catching position and he is beginning to look like a regular fixture here. Last year was his first year as the starter
and he did a remarkable job – possibly being the best receiver in the
league. Cleveland is thin at back up,
counting on rookie Joe Tipton to spell Hegan.
Outlook – With all of the question
marks on this team, it is hard to imagine that all of them can come
together. 4th place seems
like the best prediction but they could easily slide beneath Philadelphia and
Washington or rise to third place. It
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers are now 3 years
away from their 1945 championship and have 2 second place finishes since. The question that manager Steve O’Neill needs
to answer is – Are the Tigers a team heading back to first or are they sliding
farther away? The Tigers did not make
any deals over the winter worth noting so they are relying on their existing
team from last season along with a few key rookies to try to improve their
Pitching – The Tigers are about as
solid as any team when it comes to their starting rotation. Veterans Hal Newhouser, Dizzy Trout, Virgil
Trucks, and Fred Hutchinson are set and give Detroit the deepest starting 4 in
the league. The 20 year old rookie from
last year, Art Houtteman, gives them a young but proven 5th
starter. Add the veterans Al Benton,
Stubby Overmire, and Hal White and Detroit can afford the luxury of looking at
the 23 year old Ted Gray as a future starter.
Pitching should be no problem for Detroit.
Infield – Here is where the
experiments begin. The search for Hank Greenberg’s replacement continues and
the Tigers will give rookie Sam Vico a chance at winning the job. If Vico falters, 31 year old rookie Paul
Campbell will be given a chance. Likewise, young Johnny Lipon will be handed
the shortstop role. Lipon, while not a
rookie, is playing his first full season since 1943; having lost time due to
the war. The former shortstop, Eddie
Lake, is still on the team but is slated for the utility role. At third base, young George Kell is starting
to look like a future star. Both his
excellent glove and bat may rank him as the premier hot corner man in the
league. Second base is held down by the
aging Eddie Mayo. Rookie Neil Berry is
being groomed to replace Mayo and will spend some time in on-the-job training.
Outfield – Centerfield is set with 3rd
year man Hoot Evers. Evers provides a
decent glove and good bat. Right field
provides Detroit’s only power hitter, Pat Mullin. Mullin’s glove and arm are only so-so but he
makes up for that with his bat. About
the only position up for grabs in Detroit is left field. Dick Wakefield, the former Red Sox hitter, is
still trying to find his batting stroke from the early forties while young
second year man, Vic Wertz, is challenging Wakefield. Wertz has the better arm so Wakefield will
have to hit to keep Wertz on the bench.
Veteran backup man, Jimmy Outlaw can spell any of the starters as well
as fill in at third if needed.
Catching – Catching is in the capable
hands of Bob Swift. Swift, while not the
premier receiver in the league, is still better than average and is
durable. He has the veteran Hal Wagner,
the former Red Sox receiver, to back him up and provide some left-handed
hitting at the position.
Outlook – It looks like Detroit slides
to third place this year. Their rookie
additions are not likely to keep up with the Yankees and Red Sox. If they could find another power hitter or
one of the rookies comes through, their pitching can carry them far but it says
here that they will fall just short.
New York Yankees – The defending champions
return with their team intact from last year plus they added Eddie Lopat to
their starting rotation in a trade with the White Sox. The only thing keeping them from repeating
may be the improved Red Sox. Manager
Bucky Harris can just turn in the lineup card every day and watch what happens.
Pitching – While New York pitching
isn’t top-of-the-line, they are close.
Allie Reynolds has risen to be the ace of this staff and should keep
improving. Eddie Lopat will definitely
benefit from improved offensive support and the young Vic Raschi is poised to
take the next step forward in his development.
Raschi really only turned in a half of a season last year and now wants
to prove that he can perform for a full year.
Spec Shea, who was an impressive 14-5 last year as a rookie, rounds out
the starting staff. The Yankees can turn
to Red Embree, who started for Cleveland last season, as a swing man. The real advantage that New York has is in
the person of Joe Page. Many thought
Page was the MVP last year as he set a new level of achievement for relief
pitchers to strive for. Most great
Yankee teams of the past had good pitching – and this team is no exception.
Infield – If there are any cracks in
the Yankees armor, it could be the infield.
First baseman George McQuinn is 38 years old and showing his age. There is not much in the wings to replace
him, either. Snuffy Stirnweiss has yet
to prove that he is as good as during the war years – although he is certainly
a solid second baseman. The rock of this
infield is Phil Rizzuto. His sure hands
and leadership of this team is unquestioned.
With the possible exception of Cleveland, New York has the best overall
shortstop in the AL. Third base is kind
of a question mark for New York and will probably end up a platoon arrangement
between 4th year veteran Bill Johnson and young Bobby Brown. Brown has had a couple of cups of coffee with
the parent team but this year he will be given a chance to play all year. Beside third, Brown will be the utility
infielder when needed.
Outfield – Any team with Joe DiMaggio
in centerfield is in good shape. Add
Tommy Henrich in right and you have a contender. The Yankee Clipper has shown no signs of
slowing down yet and should turn in another stellar performance. Old Reliable, Henrich, has been with the team
since 1939. The only question mark in
the outfield is left field where the health of Charlie Keller is the
problem. King Kong only played in 45
games last year and it is uncertain how much longer he can play. He is likely to be platooned this year with
Johnny Lindell to give him ample rest.
Lindell is a quality player in his own right as he enters his 6th
season with New York. A couple of
rookies are on the team, Cliff Mapes and Bud Stewart, but are not likely to see
much action. Young Larry Berra can also
fill in at right field and is likely to see action there to keep his bat in the
Catching – 2nd year man Larry (Yogi)
Berra only needs to learn to be a better catcher before he assumes the position
full time. The Dodgers ran at will
against him in the World Series last year so there is still a question mark as
to whether he is a catcher or an outfielder.
Until he is able to catch every day, young Gus Niarhos will split time
with Yogi – although Yogi’s bat will be wanted most of the time. The Yankees have the potential to have the
best catching in the league – but probably not this season.
Outlook – The Bronx Bombers will be in
the thick of the pennant race all year – unless disaster overtakes them in the
form of a Joe DiMaggio injury or a major breakdown by one of their star
pitchers. Whether they can stop Boston
is the question that this season will answer.
Boston Red Sox – It looks like Tom Yawkey
bought the pennant when he purchased Vern Stephens and Jack Kramer from St.
Louis and then got Ellis Kinder thrown in for a handful of backup players. Getting Stephens adds more offensive to an
already good offense and allows Johnny Pesky to take over at third – where
Boston has had trouble filling in a name.
Add new manager Joe McCarthy to the mix and this sure looks like a
Pitching – If anything can hold Boston
back this year, it will be their pitching.
They fell off last year from their 1946 champions because of their
pitching collapse. Tex Hughson is now
gone – trying to work his way back from an injury in the minors. Dave Ferriss may no longer be effective and
Mickey Harris is returning from arm troubles last year. McCarthy will then have to chose from
newcomers Kramer and Kinder, veteran curve-baller, Joe Dobson, veteran Denny
Galehouse, and rookie lefty Mel Parnell.
McCarthy loves 7 man pitching staffs so this should be right up his
alley. Lefty Earl Johnson is a swing man
and raw rookie Mickey McDermott may even get a look – though he walks more
players than he strikes out right now.
Infield – With all due respect to the
Indians, this infield may be the best hitting infield in baseball. With Bobby Doerr, Vern Stephens, and Johnny
Pesky, they have a solid hitting group and Doerr and Stephens are pretty fair
with the glove. At first base, McCarthy
will experiment with the former Washington star, Stan Spence. Though primarily an outfielder for the Nats,
McCarthy wants him to play first and hit behind Ted Williams in the lineup. Spence may platoon somewhat with last year’s
starter, Jake Jones. Jones is a
dead-pull hitter who can be dangerous in Fenway but not so much on the road. The bench will be manned by rookie Billy
Goodman who can play all infield positions.
Outfield – Similar to New York, Boston
is set at two positions in the outfield, left field and center. With Ted Williams in left and Dom DiMaggio
patrolling center, Boston can deliver runs and DiMaggio adds a stellar
glove. Only right field remains a question
mark. Sam Mele and the veteran Wally
Moses are fighting for the position and it may end up being a platoon
arrangement. Of course, Spence can also
help out in the outfield when called upon.
Catching – Birdie Tebbetts holds down
the starting catch’s job and, like Cleveland’s Jim Hegan, is a superb receiver
– though his bat is only so-so. Veteran
backup Matt Batts is still here to spell Tebbetts as needed and provide a sure
Outlook – The Red Sox should be the
class of the league this year. Adding
Stephens, Kramer, and Kinder brings this team back to where it was two years
ago when they won 106 games. Marse Joe
should feel right at home managing this pennant contender.
2. New York
8. St. Louis