Jimmie Fox


Sultan of Swat
Staff member
I think it's time to talk about one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform in my opinion that would be Jimmie Fox.

Jimmie Fox was a great baseball player he had a life time batting average of .325, 534 career home runs, and had 1922 career rbi's.

He played for four different teams, was a three time MVP.

Foxx had his breaktrough season in 1929 when he was named the full time first baseman with the A's. He hit .354 and had 33 home runs that season. I believe his best season has to be in 1938 when he won the MVP. He hit .349, 50 home runs and a remarkable 175 rbi's.

Foxx is one of the best right handed sluggers to ever play baseball.

It's time to talk about the great Jimmie Foxx.


Ever since 1940 or so, it's been accepted as an article of faith that Jimmie Foxx was the second-greatest 1Bman of all time--clearly inferior to Lou Gehrig, but just as clearly superior to everyone else. And until about 2 years ago, I concurred with everyone else in this judgment.

No more. I have seen Foxx's career home/road splits, both for the years he was in Shibe Park (a great place for a pull hitter, but a lousy place for a straightaway hitter) and for the years he was in Fenway Park (a dream matchup, if ever there was one). For his years in Philadelphia, Foxx had a .360 batting average, a .469 on-base percentage and a .697 slugging average at home--unreal numbers--but a .321 batting average, a .412 on-base percentage and a .588 slugging average on the road. Those are still very good numbers, even in the context of that offense-crazed era, but they're tame compared to the home stats.

And then Foxx got traded to Fenway. In one season, his slugging average was something like 350 points higher at home than on the road. (Not a misprint.) For his years in Boston as a whole, here are Foxx's home/road splits: .341/.452/.660 at home, .299/.407/.552 on the road.

Those are night-and-day differences. He wasn't as big a home-park "fraud" as Chuck Klein, the #1 fraud of the century, who was a left-handed hitter in what was the greatest left-handed hitter's paradise of the century, and at exactly the right point in time. But he was a much bigger fraud than Mel Ott, who hit 323 HR's in the Polo Grounds and only 188 on the road, but whose other stats (like batting average) show the Polo Grounds actually DISfavored him in many respects.

Not so Foxx. His career OPS+ of 163 is #11 all-time, but it can't be anywhere near that high if you just go by his road games. He was a pull-hitting fly ball hitter in 2 paradises for his type, and to overlook that in assessing him is clearly wrong.

Granted, even Foxx's road stats for his years in Fenway and Shibe make him a great player. But in my considered opinion, they don't make him as good as Frank Thomas or Jeff Bagwell, given the far more difficult ballparks in which Thomas and Bagwell played. I'll change that opinion if it's satisfactorily proven that Thomas and/or Bagwell used steroids or HGH for a meaningful part of their careers, but so far that hasn't happened, and since Thomas was a potent behemoth pretty much from Day One, he either cheated all along or he didn't cheat at all. I think it's the latter.

Last, I think Foxx has to take a hit in the ratings for his self-destruction via alcohol. I've heard a story about Foxx's drinking late in his career which got to me third hand, but both sources are impeccable as far as I'm concerned. If it's true, Foxx was unquestionably an extreme alcoholic, and not the occasional drunk one puff-piece bio paints him as. Speaking as a reformed drunk with 27 years of sobriety, I'd like to say Foxx's incredibly precipitous falloff as a player--he hit his 500th HR at age 32, while still a RH-hitter in Fenway Park, then hit only 34 more the rest of his career--is wholly consistent with the notion he was a four-alarm drunk whose problem, like Hack Wilson's, sent him completely over the deep end.

Now, I'm one of those who believes Dick Allen, huge personality warts and all, is the best eligible player not in the Hall of Fame, and I'm fond of citing the fact his career OPS+ was higher than Willie Mays'. Foxx's was even higher, and if I'm going to be such a big Allen proponent despite the early age at which his alcohol-tainted career ended, I can't come down TOO hard on Foxx for the same thing. But Foxx was the guy who had a shot at 800 or more HR's, having gotten to 500 at age 32 and playing in the ideal park, and he pissed that chance away (pardon my French) for love of his booze. Shame on him.

So, while I still recognize Foxx as one of the 40 greatest players ever, and possibly one of the 30 greatest players ever, I don't buy into the orthodoxy that says he's second only to Gehrig as a 1Bman. He's #4 on my list, and Albert Pujols, in the unlikely event he's not a PED user, looks likely to overtake Foxx (and possibly everyone else as well).

So: Jimmie Foxx, great player? Absolutely; no 2 ways about it. Jimmie Foxx, one of the very greatest hitters and the #2 1Bman of all time? Not in my book.
Foxx is one of my all time favorite players. Lefty Gomez once said Foxx had "muscles in his hair". He was a good, but not great man. Ted Williams called him a "big, lovable teddy bear of a guy". It's a shame his life ended so early, all because of chocking on a bone.

One thing I see about Foxx is that he was built for his era. When you look at his numbers, and then adjust them to the 750 run context of today's leagues (Bill James often does this), you see that his era helped him:



Double X

I think the best things about Foxx are the stories. Ex.

1. The way he was found was that he was plowing a field on his family's farm in Maryland when a major league scout passed by asking for directions to the place he was going. Foxx lifted the entire plow out of the ground and pointed in the right way.
2. Foxx once hit a ball off the wall in center field so hard that it bounced back and he barely made it sliding into second base.
3. Once when pulling back a swing on a bad pitch, he had swung so hard that when he checked his swing, his legs gave out and he landed on his back
4. One player, i'm not sure who, once said "you can point to anyplace in the ballpark and i dont care how far away it is, if you tell me that Foxx hit one there, i'll believe you"
5. He once walked 8 times in 8 at bats in one game.
6. He was gentle as a lamb.


Yeah, he was. Fortunately for those around him, he was even one of those habitual drunks who becomes a mellow, nice guy when bombed. But he still was an inveterate drunk, and it ruined his career far too soon.

Now, I've said--and will continue to say--that Dick Allen is the #1 most deserving H.O.F. candidate of those who are eligible, and I've specified that this is on the basis of the great career he DID have, not the other-worldly, incaculably awesome career he MIGHT have had, but for his self- and team-destructive reactions to his horrific treatment. (I very strongly recommend William Kashatus's great book on Allen's career. It doesn't gild the lily, letting you know just how out-of-control Allen's behavior and drinking got, but it also tells you what a horribly racist bunch of goons Phillies fans were when their first black star (Allen) arrived in 1964, the abuse he took, and the life-threatening abuse he took when fed to the wolves as the Phils' first black Triple-A prospect... when their Triple A club was in Little Rock, Arkansas, right smack in the middle of the civil rights movement.

So, I'm saying Allen's an all-time great player NOT because of what he could have been, but because if you ignore what he could have been and just focus on what he did, it's plenty enough to make him not only a Hall of Famer, but a good one. Kind of like what most would say about Mickey Mantle, only Mantle clearly was the better player.

Well, what about Foxx, then? He had 500 HR's at age 32 and drank himself into oblivion, despite being a beloved player whom fans would have embraced as he re-wrote many of Ruth's records. Instead, he let alcohol do to his career what it had done to Hack Wilson's--and that's no exaggeration. It makes me mad as hell, and I know a lot more than most people do about what alcohol can do to your mind.

But if I'm going to take such a strongly pro-Allen perspective, and if I'm going to rate Williams and Mantle #4 and #5 despite the fact both obviously could have been much better players, but for their, ahem, attitude problems, don't I have to give Foxx the same credit?

Well, yes, to a point. But his career home/road splits show he was a very good road player and Babe Ruth II at home. His splits in Shibe are incriminating. His splits in Fenway, especially his Twilight Zone-esque splits in 1938, are unreal. THAT counts.

Like everyone else, I spent decades automatically rating Foxx #2 at 1B, behind only Gehrig and in front of "automatic" #3 Hank Greenberg.

No longer. I have moved Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell ahead of Foxx. That's no great shame, and Foxx probably makes the bottom of my #21-#30 section of total players, so I think I'm not punishing him for what he could have done. But I'm going to look at this from time to time, because through age 32, this dude was set to break a lot of Ruth's records. Since he came up about 15 years before that, you can make a case that that's enough of a career to put him at #2 at 1B. If it weren't for his ridiculous home/road splits in the Fenway years--really ridiculous splits--I'd have left him at #2 for sure. If it comes out that Thomas and Bagwell were PED users, "XX" will be back to #2 on my list.

If that happens, I'll have to write his kids or grandkids. I'm sure they'll be thrilled. (lol)