1934 – Bob on Joe Harris

Joe Harris had a really nice career as it was. He’s also one of those guys you can make a “What If” case for. So here’s my attempt at a “real” Joe Harris career.

Harris got his career started a little late, making the low minors as a 21-year-old in 1912 (he had a few games in the low minors in ’08) and did well enough that that he moved up a notch in 1913 and 1914 that he got a cup of coffee with the Yankees in ’14. In ’15, he went back to the mid-minors and did okay, and took the same league by storm in ’16, good enough that Cleveland gave him a shot in ’17, where he played well. World War One wiped out all of ’18 and half of ’19. In ’20, he joined an outlaw league (for more money and a post-baseball career opportunity) and Landis banned him for life because of it. Obviously, life is short, since Landis rescinded the ban after the ’21 season. From 1922 to 1927, Harris was a pretty fair hitter and fielder, tho by this time he was in his thirties.

What might his career have looked like without WWI and Landis?

I took his totals from ’17 and ’19 and multiplied his stats by 10 percent (giving him a little extra playing time). This gives him another 191 Games Played, with 608 At Bats, 199 Hits, 42 Doubles, 6 Triples, 1 Home Run and 97 Walks, for .327/.420/.421 slash numbers. For ’20 (I’m assuming that he’d stay in the Majors) and ’21, I added ’22 and ’23 together and again multiplied by 10 percent for a little extra playing time.This adds 287 Games, 980 At Bats, 307 Hits, 64 Doubles, 22 Triples, 21 Homers, 90 Walks, for .313/.371/.488 slash numbers.

Adding it all up, Harris could have had for career totals…
1448 Games
4623 At Bats
661 Runs
1469 Hits
307 Doubles
92 Triples
68 Homers
782 RBIs
600 Walks
.318 Batting Average
.396 On Base Average (not counting HBP and Sacrifice Flies)
.468 Slugging
133 OPS+
202 Win Shares

Good player, but not historically great. His rate stats are quite good. Better than George Kelly anyway. Not quite the hitter that Chick Hafey was, but a much better fielder. So giving Harris credit for things he didn’t do (for whatever reasons) as I did, put him in the Kelly/Hafey mix. Did Harris play at a “real” HOF level? Not quite, but he was one fine ballplayer. Thanks, SkeptiSys, for bringing his name up. I’m glad I took some time to look at Harris, tho I’ll leave Wingo alone, since he only had one modestly successful season for a modestly successful team. Grimes I’ll let be as well. Two nice seasons don’t make for a HOF (or GOR) career, tho I wonder if anybody else in baseball history had 99 Runs and 99 RBIs in the same season. Injuring one’s back as Grimes did in ’23 tends to shorten careers that start with such promise.

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