Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling
Next up on the list at #191 are Matt Stairs and Vern Stephens, who both have 247 career home runs. I have never heard of Vern Stephens, so I will look him up and post his bio when Dunn catches him.
Vern Stephens was a terrific player in the 1940s and an eight-time all star shortstop. He came up with the St. Louis Browns and was a member of the 1944 Browns team that won its only AL pennant (they lost the World Series to their home town rival Cardinals). As noted by his playing in 1944, Stephens didn't serve in the military in World War II. He lead the AL in RBI in 1944 with 109 and in HRs in 1945 with 24.
Stephens was acquired by the Boston Red Sox prior to the 1948 season. His triple crown stats for his first three seasons as a Red Sox were loaded:
.269 29 137
.290 39 159
.295 30 144
Despite those fantastic power numbers for a shortstop, Stephens' reputation as a shortstop was severely harmed by the Red Sox' late season failures in 1948-50. In 1948 Boston lost a one game playoff against Cleveland for the AL title. In 1949, having a one game lead over the Yankees, Boston lost the final two games of the season, both against New York, and the pennant. In 1950, despite a late season rally, Boston again fell short to the Yankees.
Even though Stephens had tied for the AL RBI lead in both 1949 and 1950, giving him three RBI crowns for his career, it became conventional wisdom that he was inferior to the Yankees shortstop, Phil Rizzuto, who did the "little things" (at the time Stephens was knocking in nearly 100 more runs a season than the "Scooter").
Stephens faded quickly after 1950, when he was only age 29. He never again had a 400 at bat season. He finished his career with a .286 average, 247 HRs, 1174 RBI, a .355 OBP and a .460 S.PCT.
Stephens, born October 23, 1920, died November 3, 1968, age 48.
Of the ten hitters most comparable to Stephens in baseball history, four are in the Hall of Fame: Gabby Hartnett, Tony Lazzeri, Bobby Doerr and Bill Dickey. Two others are near Hall of Famers: Joe Gordon and Joe Torre. His Hall of Fame Monitor score is only 75, primarily because of his short career.