Best player youíve never heard of
JULY 10, 1936 Ė Ever heard of Chuck Klein? If youíre not a rabid baseball fan, chances are, no. He hit four home runs on this date in 1936 and it was no fluke. His home runs in the first, fifth, seventh and tenth innings helped his Philadelphia Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-6. Klein became the fourth player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game (as of this writing 15 players have hit four homers in a game, three did it in extra innings). No one has ever hit five home runs in a game. Klein almost had a fifth home run in the second inning of July 10, 1936 when he sent Pirates outfielder Paul Waner to the wall in right to haul in a long fly ball.
Chuck Klein & Jimmy Foxx
It's odd that Chuck Klein is not among the legendary names that roll off the tongue when talking great hitter, but he had one of the best offensive years in baseball history in 1930:
Batting average .370
Runs batted in
Look at the runs scored and RBI. Klein accounted for a phenomenal 288 runs for the Phillies that year (RBI + runs scored - HRs). Itís difficult to rate the most productive offensive players in a team sport like baseball because someone has to be on base for you to drive them in, and you obviously canít drive yourself in if youíre on base. However, baseball statistician Bill James came up with a Runs Created (RC) formula. According to Jamesí RC formula, Klein's 1930 numbers make it the 11th best Runs Created season ever. The other ten were accomplished by names fans are more familiar with; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds, Jimmy Foxx and Rogers Hornsby, some more than once. Think of all the other great hitters in baseball history; Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, etc.; none of whom had Runs Created years better than Chuck Klein.
The Uniontown Morning Herald
Pennsylvania, July 11, 1936
The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
(1st ed.), Bill James, 1985