Lew Burdette passed away yesterday after a fight with lung cancer. I wish his family the best and it seems appropriate that he be the next in line in my series on the 1957 Braves.
If Warren Spahn was the Braves’ ace in 1957, Lew Burdette proved to be one of the better number two men in baseball in 1957. While Bob Buhl probably had a better regular season if you just look at ERA and wins, Burdette’s 1.243 WHIP was second only to Spahn’s in the rotation. He walked only 59 batters in 256 2/3 innings and those numbers earned Burdette his first appearance in an All Star Game.
Burdette finished in the top five in the National League in several categories. He finished fourth in wins (17), third in innings pitched (256 2/3) and he was fifth in with 14 complete games. Burdette was very good in the second half of the season. After a 6-6 first half, Burdette went 11-3 in the second half and he walked only 24 batters in 135 second half innings.
Of course all of this goes out the window once Burdette went to the World Series. After the Braves lost game one to the Yankees, Burdette held the Yankees to two runs and won game two. He then threw a seven hit shutout in game five to give the Braves a 3-2 lead in the series. Then after the Braves lost game six, Burdette threw another seven hit shutout in game seven and the Braves won their first world series since the team was in Boston way back in 1914. Burdette walked away with the World Series MVP after the three complete game wins and it’s one of the best World Series performances by a pitcher in history.
Here’s a look at Burdette’s 1957 numbers:
Games Started 33
Complete Games 14
Innings Pitched 257
Earned Runs 106
Runs Saved Above Average -8
Neutral Wins 12
Neutral Losses 14
This is the first of my analysis of the major players of the 1957 Braves and who better to kick things off with then the Hammer, Hank Aaron. 1957 was Hank Aaron’s first big year as a major league player. After having solid seasons in 1955 (27 homeruns) and 1956 (26 homeruns), Aaron busted out his first 40 homerun season and he belted a league leading 44 homeruns. He also led the league in runs (118) and RBIs (132) and he was third in hitting with a .322 batting average. He also walked away with his first and only MVP after leading the Braves to their first pennant since 1948 and their first World Series win since 1914. Keep in mind that Aaron did all of this as 23 year old.
Oddly, for as many homeruns as Aaron hit, he only hit two homeruns in a game twice. On May 15, 1957, he hit two homeruns and drove in four in a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. On August 15, 1957, he went yard twice and drove in five in a blow out win over the Cincinnati Reds. His best hitting streak came in mid-May. For four straight games, he had two hits and in three of those games he scored two runs and drove in at least two. By the end of that fourth game, Aaron was hitting a season high .383. He’d get close to that mark a few days later with a three hit game but by mid-June he was back down into the .320-.330 range.
His best month was June. He hit .348/.405/.637 in 32 games. He hit eleven homeruns (also a monthly high) and drove in 28 while scoring 23. His worst month was August. It was the only month Aaron hit less then .324 in any given month (he hit .255) although he did belt eight homeruns and drive in 28.
Aaron absolutely killed left handed pitching. He hit .375/.444/.679 against lefties compared to .310/.362/.583 against righties. Aaron was also particularly good with runners in scoring position. In those situations, he hit .340/.436/.673.
Here are Hank Aaron’s final numbers in 1957
Stolen Bases 1
Caught Stealing 1
Johnny Sain was definitely a good one. He and Warren Spahn formed a duo that helped lead the Braves to the National League pennant in 1948. In that season, Sain won 24 games with an ERA of 2.60. It was his third straight 20 win season and he’d win 20 games one more time in 1950. He was also stellar in the 1948 World Series when he threw seventeen innings and gave up only two runs and nine hits. In 1951 he was traded to the Yankees, where he helped the team win three World Series.
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