Flashback: Joe DiMaggio’s 1937 Season

Have you ever looked at Joe DiMaggio‘s Baseball Reference page?

It is quite a sight to behold but there is one year that sticks out among the rest when you first take a look at it: 1937.

I knew Joe DiMaggio was good, all New York Yankee fans know that, but this particular season was more than good. The words that came to my mind were astonishing, astounding, wonderful, stupendous, marvelous, and startling.

I obviously was never able to watch DiMaggio play in person – my father did, lucky bastard. My first memories of Mr. DiMaggio were his Mr. Coffee commercials back in the 1970′s but I knew all about him from my father and I knew he was a Yankee legend.

So let’s take a look at Joe DiMaggio’s 1937 Season, shall we?

Up first, his batting average: .346

Now, I know, batting average isn’t the most important number anymore – and his other numbers will show you why I’m so impressed with this particular season but still, .346 is great.

Next, his on base percentage: .412

This number is nothing to sneeze at either considering DiMaggio’s career OBP was .398. Getting on base over 40% of the time is considered very good and you want that in your number three hitter, especially when your number four hitter is Lou Gehrig.

Third, his slugging percentage (total bases/at bats – in this case 418/621): .673

DiMaggio averaged a .579 slugging percentage for his career and 1937 was his best year. He had 215 total hits, 35 doubles and 15 triples – I’ll get to his home runs in a bit.

Next up, his OPS (on base + slugging): 1.085

DiMaggio actually surpassed this number in his MVP campaign of 1939 (his OPS that year was an astonishing 1.119) and came close to duplicating it in his record setting 1941 MVP campaign (1.083) but this number is what sets him apart from Charlie Gehringer of the Detroit Tigers (.978) who actually took home the MVP Award in 1937.

Gehringer, a Hall of Fame second baseman for the second place Tigers, led the American League in batting average (.371) and on base percentage (.458 ) but DiMaggio, in is second year in the bigs, surpassed Gehringer in every other category – DiMaggio finished with 46 home runs and 167 RBI while Gehringer ended his season with fourteen and 96 respectively.

Other fun numbers from DiMaggio’s 1937 season:

  • 37 strikeouts
  • 64 walks
  • 151 games played

Joe DiMaggio may have just missed winning the MVP in 1937 but don’t shed any tears for Joltin’ Joe, he was able to capture the award in 1939, 1941 and 1947. He finished with a career line of .325/.398/.579/.977 and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1955, appearing on 223 out of 251 ballots.

Stacey is co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money, co-host of the It's About The Money, Stupid podcast and is a monthly contributor to ESPN's SweetSpot Blog. She is a former contributor at Aerys Sports and High Heat Stats. She has contributed to group projects at Baseball: Past And Present and the Hall of Stats. Her work has appeared in USA Today's Sports Weekly and most recently, she wrote four pieces for Derek Jeter: Celebrating the Yankees' Captain Clutch, a magazine printed by i5 Publishing.

6 thoughts on “Flashback: Joe DiMaggio’s 1937 Season

  1. roadrider

    Joe D was the real deal – no question. And don;t forget that he had to hit into the real Death Valley (402 to LF, 457 to LCF and 461 to CF) for his entire career and missed 3 seasons of his prime for military service.

    I guess if Hal had owned the team when Joe D. held out the following season he would have let him sit out the season and signed the 1938 equivalents of Suzuki, Canzler, Diaz and Neal to replace him (of course, the reserve clause obviated the need for the actual owners at that time to do so).

    I only saw Joe D. play in an Old-Timers game in 1970. He stood at the plate with that wide stance, ripped a line drive down the LF line and strode gracefully into 2B with a stand-up double.

    I saw him one other time in the early 80s when he stepped out of an elevator into a mid-town hotel lobby that I happened to be in at the time. Everyone froze for a moment and then kind of trailed behind him as he strode (gracefully, of course) out the front door and into a cab. He didn’t rush or run but effortlessly maintained his distance from everyone. OK, given what I later read about his interactions with common folk it’s probably best that no one actually approached him or attempted to engage him in conversation.

    I guess it’s better to admire from afar.

  2. Duh, Innings!

    Joe DiMaggio was robbed of the 1937 and 1948 ALMVP awards.

    He should’ve had at least five ALMVP awards, “at least five” because I think he would’ve won an ALMVP award in at least one of the years he served in the military in between his second and third ALMVP awards.

  3. Bruce J

    Holly cow (in honor of Scooter)! I knew Joe D was a true hall of fame member. But 369 so over 13 seasons. Today that might be accumilated by most players in 2 seasons.
    It was a different game during his run, I guess.

  4. blehmann

    This last stat is my favorite Joe D. stat: 369 career strikeouts against 361 career home runs. And I was at that 1970 Old-Timers Game; my only shot at seeing Joe D except on TV. What an all time great player!

  5. Miguel

    “Tigers, led the American League in batting average (.371) and on base percentage (.458 )”

    Actually, the great Lou Gehrig, led the the league in OBP(.473). http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1937.shtml#ALmvp

  6. hawaii dave

    My Dad saw him play at the stadium and I was raised learning about all the greats….I feel bad for kids that grew up in other areas or were Mets fans….but personally, I grew up in the time zone between dynasties….my childhood was filled w memories of Horace Clark, Roy White, Fritz Peterson and and a bunch of other super stars.

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