The Battle of Stinky Sox

Boston 1B Dale Alexander (left), shown here sharing trade secrets with another decent first baseman on Opening Day, 1933, won 1932 AL batting crown despite the complete ineptitude of his teammates.
The next round of the Worst of the Worst Tournament pits the #4 seed Boston Red Sox of 1932 and the #13 Chicago White Sox of 1948. Ironically, this edition of the White Sox appears on Diamond Mind’s Worst of the Worst disk, but my research reveals the ’32 vintage of the Red Sox to be a far inferior team. In fact, the 1932 Red Sox were the worst in franchise history — still holding franchise records for most number of losses (111), worst “winning” percentage (.279), and lowest attendance (182,150). 1932 marked the final season under the ownership of Harry Frazee who sold to a 30-year-old heir to a lumber fortune, Thomas Yawkey.

As is the case wth many of these atrocious teams, Boston manager Shano Collins quite in disgust on June 19 with the Red Sox record at 11-44. The team finished an amazing 64 games behind the world champion Yankees. Yet, among this ineptitude, the team produced the American League batting champion. In fairness, Dale “Moose” Alexander played a little more than half the season with Boston, arriving from Detroit on June 15. Alexander had a .250 average in only 23 games with Detroit. But he caught fire and won the batting title with a .367 average. He edged Philadelphia’s Jimmie Foxx by three points and deprived Foxx of what would have been a second straight Triple Crown. Consecutive triple crown seasons have yet to be achieved in baseball.

The 1932 Red Sox were a team of names: shortstop Rabbit Warstler, outfielder Smead Jolley, and third baseman Urbane Pickering. Pitching for this team was a real adventure, but the pitching was the stronger side of the equation. Boston had a ERA+ of 89 for 1932, compared to a 76 OPS+ for its’ offense. After this disastrous season, the Red Sox would not finish in last place for another 60 years.

The 1948 Chicago White Sox lost 101 games and appear to be somewhat of an equal match to the 1932 Red Sox in that their offense posted a 79 OPS+ and 87 ERA+ for the pitching staff. These Pale Hose did not feature a batting champion, but did have two Hall of Famers in uniform. 41-year-old Luke Appling was winding down his Hall of Fame career at short, and in the dugout, 47-year-old “Sunday” Ted Lyons was the manager. Lyons was inducted in 1955 for his playing career as a White Sox pitcher from 1923 – 1946. Lyons became known as a “Sunday pitcher” late in his career by pitching once a week for most of his career. He took over as manager in 1946, and 1948 was his final season as Chicago dropped to a 51-101 record. Appling and Lyons are one-two on the franchise’s list of career WAR.

The clubs were paired up in a replay of 50 154-game seasons against one another. The team that loses the most seasons advances in this worst-of-the-worst tournament. Though many of the seasons were close, the 1932 Red Sox advance easily by dropping 37 of the 50 seasons. The clubs tied with 77-77 records in four of the seasons. Despite the presence of the batting champ Alexander, the Red Sox were futile in so many ways. Alexander (.349/.434./489) led all batters in on-base percentage, slugging and second in batting average. But, teammates Rabbit Warstler (.196/.247/.245), Marty McManus (.221/.304/.358), and Marv Olsen (.233/.326/.284) more than made up for Alexander’s efforts. The 4th seed 1932 Red Sox will face the 12th seed 1954 Philadelphia Athletics in the second round.

Complete Worst of the Worst Tournament bracket

Credit to Garry Brown’s 2012 tribute to the 1932 Red Sox and SABR’s biography of Dale Alexander.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *