Top 50 Sox Seasons #13: Jimmie Foxx, 1938

.349/.462/.704, 1.166 OPS, 685 PA, 197 H, 119 BB, 50 HR, 175 RBI, 398 TB, 92 XBH, 316 TOB, 182 OPS+
MVP, All-Star starter

The Beast’s sudden collapse (139 OPS+ at age 33, 93 at age 34) robbed him of perhaps being at the forefront of the “greatest hitter” debate, up there with Williams and Ruth. It’s unfair, of course, because for 13 years, Foxx was utterly amazing – so amazing that his 1938 season (I have this as the fifth-best by a hitter in Red Sox history) wasn’t even one of his two best.

But it was far and away his best in a Boston uniform. In 1936, Foxx put up the first impressive season of the live-ball era in Boston. After 1938, it must have seemed like no one would ever put up as impressive a season as this ever again. The next year, Ted Williams made his big-league debut.

By the time 1938 drew to a close, Foxx held the following single-season Red Sox records (* still stands):

  • Runs, 139
  • Home Runs, 50
  • RBI, 175*
  • Walks, 119
  • Slugging Percentage, .704
  • OPS, 1.166
  • ISO, .355*
  • Runs Created, 183*
  • Total Bases, 398
  • Extra Base Hits, 92*
  • Times On Base, 316
  • Runs Produced, 264

Williams topped most of these marks within the next five years, which is why Foxx through no fault of his own tends to be overshadowed, particularly in the discussion of great Boston hitters. He’s received more notoriety recently, when David Ortiz broke his home run record. Foxx’s club total bases record stood for 40 years, until Jim Rice topped it in 1978. No one in Red Sox history has managed as many extra-base hits (Ortiz came within one in 2004), RBI (no one else has even tallied 160) or runs created. No one in the last 50 years has come within 40 of Foxx’s runs produced (RBI+R-HR), and Williams broke that record by only two in 1949.

No wonder, then, that on June 16, the St. Louis Browns walked Foxx all six times he came to the plate – a big-league record.

Key game: Sept. 24. With the Yankees and Red Sox knotted at six in the top of the ninth, Foxx caps a 3-for-3 day by crushing a home run into the left-field upper deck at Yankee Stadium, giving Boston a 7-6 win. It’s Foxx’s 48th of the season.

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