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Enos Slaughter


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I was looking at Nick Markakis's comps on BB-ref.com and came across Enos Slaughter. I don't think I ever realized just how good a player he was. He was a 10-time all-star who was in the top 3 in MVP voting three times. He was literally at his peak when WWII interrupted his career for 3 years -- he had a 156 OPS+ and finished 2nd in the MVP voting in 1942 before he went to war at age 26, and when he returned he had a 130 OPS+ and finished 3rd in the MVP voting. He'd be much higher on the career leaderboard in various categories but for those three years he missed.

I like him a lot as a comp for Nick to shoot for. He was the no. 4 comp for Nick last year, and could be even higher on the comp list after this season. Slaughter as a 24-year old 3rd year player hit .306/.370/.504, good for a 133 OPS+. He had improved gradually each year to that point, and kept improving for 2 more years before he headed off to the war. His string of all-star appearances began in his 4th season.

I'd be satisfied if Nick matched that career. Of course, I'd like to squeeze in those extra three prime seasons at ages 27-29. :D

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<img src = "http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/Ssport/SLAUPHU008000~Enos-Slaughter-s-Mad-Dash-1946-Posters.jpg">

I also really like the quote that the page sponsor put up:

"On the ball field he is perpetual motion itself. He would run through a brick wall, if necessary, to make a catch, or slide into a pit of ground glass to score a run." - Arthur Daley, NY Times
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When Slaughter was a minor leaguer in Columbus, Georgia he came running towards the dugout from his post in the outfield. He slowed down near the infield and began walking the rest of the way. Manager Eddie Dyer told him, "Son, if you're tired, we'll try to get you some help." For the rest of his career, Slaughter ran everywhere he went on a baseball field.[citation needed]


Love that.

It's somewhat unfortunate that Slaughter is probably best known for several supposed incidents of racism, mostly involving Jackie Robinson. There is apparently a serious question of whether those incidents ever took place or whether the ones we know happened were actually racially motivated (i.e. when he spiked Jackie at first base).

In any event, even if he was a racist, he was one of a great many at that time (and there are still plenty around, let's be honest). That wouldn't excuse it, but perhaps explains it somewhat.

Anyway, IIRC I had the pleasure of meeting him at All Star Fanfest in 1993 and he was a very nice man, actually most of the oldtimers there were, and it was quite a thrill for me being 10 years old and seeing all of those greats from the pictures and stories in the books I had at home (the main one I think was the 20th Century Baseball Chronicle or something like that).

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