.342/.497/.667, 1.164 OPS, 672 PA, 176 H, 156 BB, 38 HR, 123 RBI, 142 R, 338 TB, 83 XBH, 334 TOB, 215 OPS+
Postseason: .200/.333/.200, 5-for-25, 5 BB, 5 K, 1 RBI
MVP, All-Star starter
Oh, the eternal guessing game. It’s no surprise that we’ll rank Ted Williams’ 1941 as his personal best season. His 1942 is ranked 16th on this list. Then Williams and the rest of baseball’s stars went to war. When he returned, now 27 years old, Williams put up the line you see here, setting career highs in home runs, walks and total bases. The thought of a hitter like Williams playing the three seasons between ages 23 and 27 – considering he recorded an OPS+ of at least 200 in each of the two seasons before and after that – is indeed tantalizing. The subject has been hashed to death on any number of Web sites, but consider anyway the sheer ability Williams must have had to put up the above numbers after not playing competitive baseball for three full seasons.
Sadly, 1946 could be overlooked by the simple fact that it’s another great Williams season. Williams had already had his revelatory 1941 campaign, thus many of his marks in 1946 were not career highs. He would break all the career highs set in 1946 within the next three years. And for Ted Williams, essentially any career high is a club record that is still standing. Home runs and RBI are the rare exceptions to that rule. By posting his 215 OPS+ in 1946, Williams became the first hitter since Babe Ruth to reach 200 in three consecutive seasons (in which he played). In 1947, he’d set a record with four straight, and that still stands.
The year is often most remembered for what Williams could not accomplish. He could not overcome his pride and force opposing teams to do away with the shift against him. Then, suffering from a sore elbow, Williams struggled through a closely played World Series lost by the Sox in seven games. Despite the
overwhelming nature of the numbers he put up in 1946, and the fact that the writers finally – after two horrific snubs – awarded him an MVP, Williams’ season tends to be overshadowed by those final seven games.
Key game: July 9. In the first All-Star Game in two years, and the first in several more to feature the big-name players who had since gone to war, Williams punctuates a 12-0 American League blowout in a big way. He kicks off the AL barrage by walking in the first and scoring on Charlie Keller’s home run. He adds a solo homer himself in the fourth, then raps an RBI single in the fifth. He singles and scores in the seventh, then with two on and two out in the eighth, slams a three-run blast.
Williams finishes the day 4-for-4, reaching base five times, driving in five runs and scoring four times. He is responsible for seven of the AL’s 12 runs. His 10 total bases are an All-Star record, as are his four hits, four runs, two homers, five RBI and five times on base.