Scrolling through the all-time best seasons in sWAR found on the Seamheads Negro League Database, the name Dick Lundy doesn’t appear until the 40s, and in total he only makes the one appearance. It’s not surprising, then, that Lundy’s name has essentially been lost to time and Negro Leagues historians. The 5’11 shortstop never played an inning in Major League Baseball or in any form of affiliated ball. He was passed over for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and his name has never been one carried into casual baseball circles.
Of all his great years there is one that stands out among the rest. His 1927 season with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants of the Eastern Colored League should be remembered, but like Lundy himself, it too has long been forgotten. That year Lundy helped guide the Giants to the Negro League World Series before they fell to the mighty Chicago American Giants five games to three. Lundy wasn’t just the starting shortstop for the Giants, he was also the team’s manager.
I won’t get too much into Lundy’s managerial career here, but it was a great one. He managed a number of teams throughout his time in baseball, including many years as a player-manager. He took the Bacharach Giants to two Negro League World Series, where they fell short both times. He managed beyond his playing days and was thought of by his peers as a brilliant tactician and terrific mentor to younger players.
What I mainly want to talk about here is Lundy’s 1927, where he amassed 5.2 sWAR during the regular season and an additional 0.3 sWAR in the NLWS. His total sWAR of 5.5 is the 40th-best season ever produced in known Negro Leagues history, and the third-best by a shortstop. 1927 featured Lundy excelling at all facets of the game, a trait that would define the entirety of his career.
The Jacksonville, Floria native slashed .323/.388/.486 for an OPS+ of 130 in 1927. He had 9 home runs, 21 doubles, and 6 triples in 416 plate appearances. Lundy had 9 stolen bases to only one caught stealing. He walked 35 times and only had five strikeouts in the entire season. A 1.2 K% coupled with a BB/K ratio of 7.00 is excellent. His ISO was slightly above average at .163, but his wOBA of .393 was well above average. When it came to being a hitter Lundy could do it all and he could do it all at the highest level.
The shortstop’s RF/9 of 3.6 put him in the elite category. I get it, RF/9 is a very flawed metric, but for an era where play-by-play data doesn’t exist, it gives a great indication of the type of fielder Lundy was. What gives an even better indication of Lundy’s fielding prowess is the word of mouth that he engendered. I have yet to read a description, biography, story, or anecdote about Lundy that didn’t describe him as one of the best fielding shortstops the game of baseball has ever seen. When the metric says he’s great and word of mouth says he’s great, let me tell you, Dick Lundy was a great fielding shortstop.
Lundy was never quite the complete package throughout the rest of his career as he was in 1927. That’s not to say that he wasn’t still great, because he was through the majority of his career. 1927 was an upper-echelon season from an athlete in the prime of his career, and it’s not surprising that he never quite reached that height again. That doesn’t diminish Lundy’s career in the slightest. A great career is still a great career. When Lundy’s career is taken in totality, 34.2 total sWAR and a 162 game average sWAR of 6.2, it is the National Baseball Hall of Fame that is diminished. That Lundy hasn’t been granted his rightful place among the very best to ever play the game remains a grave injustice. Maybe one day that beleaguered institution will give Lundy his due. Until that happens, the career of one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game remains available for everyone to dig into; Lundy’s legacy deserves to live on.Next post: The Case for Relegation
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