JIMMIE RANDOLPH HALL | CF/LF/RF | 1963-1966 | CAREER STATS
G PA AVG OBP SLG OPS+ WARP WS
573 2104 .269 .334 .481 124 13.5 76
signed with the Senators as an 18-year-old in 1956, but didn't make it to the big leagues until three years after the team moved from Washington to Minnesota. A 25-year-old rookie in 1963, he initially served as a reserve outfielder on a team that had veterans Harmon Killebrew
, Bob Allison
, and Lenny Green
established as starters. He struggled early on, hitting just .188 in 80 at-bats through the end of May, but then got his big break when Green went down with an injury in June.
It wasn't quite Lou Gehrig replacing Wally Pipp, but Hall stepped in as the center fielder and had a big rookie year. At a time when the league as a whole hit a measly .247/.310/.380 and teams scored just 4.1 runs per game, Hall hit .260/.342/.521 with 33 homers and 65 walks in 571 plate appearances. Despite ranking among the AL's top 10 in slugging percentage, homers, runs scored, total bases, and OPS, Hall finished just third in the Rookie of the Year balloting behind Gary Peters and Pete Ward.
His adjusted OPS+ of 136 in 1963 not only ranked seventh in the league that season, it's a number that only 14 of the Twins' hitters have topped in the 45 years since then. What made Hall's rookie season particularly impressive was that he ended up with those outstanding overall numbers despite playing sporadically and performing horribly through the first two months. Then from June 1 through the end of the year Hall batted .273/.354/.556 with 31 homers and 77 RBIs in 116 games.
Hall's rookie campaign was more than enough for him to supplant Green as the Twins' center fielder going forward, and in the 13th game of the 1964 season Hall, Killebrew, Allison, and 25-year-old rookie Tony Oliva hit four consecutive extra-inning homers in a 7-3 win over the A's. While not an outstanding defensive foursome (Allison played mostly first base that year), they combined to blast 138 homers on the season and the Twins led the league with 221 homers while no other team reached even 190.
Despite all that power, the Twins won just 79 games in 1964 because of a mediocre pitching staff and some tough breaks. Hall turned in a solid sophomore season, batting .282/.338/.480 with 25 homers while making his first All-Star team, but was involved in an incident that might have led to his early decline. Playing center field and batting sixth in a May 27 game against the Angels, Hall led off the fifth inning and was hit on the cheek by a pitch from southpaw Bo Belinsky.
Hall immediately left the game, but returned to the starting lineup about a week later and played well for the remainder of the season while wearing a special protective flap on his batting helmet. However, there's quite a bit of speculation that the beaning ultimately led to his being timid and ineffective versus left-handed pitchers, and could help explain why he was finished as a productive player by his sixth season. Of course, that theory has some holes in it.
First and foremost is that Hall struggled against southpaws prior to the beaning, like many left-handed batters do, hitting just .235/.297/.338 against them during his rookie campaign. Beyond that, whatever negative impact the incident had on his hitting ability certainly didn't show up for several years. In fact, Hall had arguably his best all-around season in 1965, making his second All-Star appearance while hitting .285/.347/.464 and setting career-highs in batting average, on-base percentage, and RBIs.
In large part thanks to Hall's excellent third season, the Twins went 102-60 in 1965 to win the American League pennant by seven games over the White Sox and then matched up against the Dodgers in one of the best World Series in baseball history. Because the Dodgers' three-man rotation included a pair of dominant lefties in Sandy Koufax and Claude Osteen, manager Sam Mele decided to bench Hall in five of the seven games.
The move was somewhat understandable considering how good Koufax and Osteen were and how bad Hall's .240/.272/.333 line against lefties was in 1965. On the other hand, his replacement in center field, rookie Joe Nossek, was one of the worst hitters in the league and hit just .228/.262/.325 against lefties himself. Hall started the two games that right-hander Don Drysdale pitched, going 1-for-7 with five strikeouts, Nossek went 4-for-20, and Koufax tossed a Game 7 shutout to win the series.
Hall remained a power threat in 1966, smacking 20 homers in 356 at-bats, but hit .239/.302/.449 for his worst season in four years with the Twins. He was phased out in center field, giving way to rookie Ted Uhlaender while spending time in both outfield corners, and was used mostly as a platoon player and bench bat. That was Hall's last season in Minnesota. On December 2, 1966 he was traded to the Angels along with Don Mincher and Pete Cimino for Dean Chance and Jackie Hernandez.
Chance became the ace of the Twins' pitching staff for two seasons and Mincher went on to have a quality post-Minnesota career. As for Hall, despite being only 29 years old he had exactly one more decent season left in him. Hall hit .249/.318/.404 with 16 homers in 129 games for the Angels in 1967, which doesn't look very good until you consider that the league hit .236/.300/.351 in what was one of the lowest-scoring periods in baseball history. His modest .722 OPS was good for a solid 117 OPS+.
Hall stuck around for another three seasons, playing for four teams while hitting .208/.277/.297 in 618 plate appearances. He flamed out quickly, but Hall's impact on the Twins was significant. He packed 98 homers into just four seasons in Minnesota despite playing at a time when big offensive numbers were rare, and played a passable center field while doing so. If you adjust his numbers with the Twins to today's hitting environment, they look something like .285/.340/.525.
TOP 25 ALL-TIME MINNESOTA TWINS RANKS:
Slugging % .481 6th
OPS .815 12th
Homers 98 13th
Adjusted OPS+ 124 13th