Jimmie Foxx (1925-35) : The A’s Greatest Hitter

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Few players struck more intimidation, fear—and home runs—upon pitchers in his day than the brawny, powerful Foxx, memorably once described in the words of New York Yankees pitching ace Lefty Gomez: “He wasn’t scouted, he was trapped.”
While A’s manager-owner Connie Mack paid extravagant fees to build up his great Philadelphia teams of the late 1920s and early 1930s, he paid peanuts for a teenage Foxx only after receiving inside info about him from former Athletic Frank “Home Run” Baker, then a minor league manager. Debuting with the A’s at a youthful 17, Foxx took some four years to work his way into the everyday lineup, in part because the A’s weren’t sure where to put him; he was brought up as a catcher and dabbled in the outfield and third base before Mack finally put him at first base, where he evolved into a solid defensive asset.
But it was at the plate where Foxx clearly earned his money. He was a monster presence in the batter’s box, and his numbers (to say nothing of his looks) soon drew parallels to Babe Ruth. He averaged 33 homers and 131 runs batted in over the A’s three consecutive pennant-winning years of 1929-31, but he was merely warming up. In 1932, Foxx came perilously close to matching Ruth’s single-season home run record, finishing with 58—a record for right-handed hitters that would hold until Mark McGwire toppled it in 1998. Foxx also led the American League that year with 151 runs scored and 169 knocked in—and under current rules would have won the triple crown, but his .364 batting average was a close second to Dale Alexander, whose .367 mark qualified simply because he played in over 100 games.
A year later, Foxx would be acknowledged—then as now—as a triple crown winner while winning his second straight AL MVP award, hitting .356 with 48 homers and 163 RBIs. Foxx further proved he was at peak performance throughout the year by clubbing three homers in one game, four in a doubleheader, hitting for the cycle in another game and once knocking in nine runs.
Because he commanded critical marquee attention for the A’s, Foxx was one of the last players from the team’s second dynasty to be traded off by Mack, who two years earlier had begun cleaning house as he couldn’t afford to retain all of his stars under the financial burden of the Great Depression. Foxx ended up alongside star pitcher and former Philly teammate Lefty Grove in Boston and continued his one-man wrecking crew act, winning one more MVP for the Red Sox in 1938.
The 1930s would belong to Foxx; he’s one of three players, along with Ruth in the 1920s and McGwire in the 1990s, to hit over 400 homers in one decade, and his 1,404 RBIs during the 1930s are the most recorded by any player in any decade.

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