1952 Harvey Kuenn – .325/.349/.400 with two steals in 84 PA
Perhaps no player was more hyped after their September call up that Kuenn, who was labeled a Hall of Fame caliber shortstop after he hit a blistering .325 with the Tigers in 1952.
Of course, Kuenn effectively lived up to that hype before injuries derailed his career. He made eight consecutive All-Star appearances to begin his career, leading the league in hits four times and doubles three times while winning a batting title in 1959.
From 1952-1962, Kuenn had racked up 1,791 hits, 313 doubles and a .309/.359/.420 slash line. He was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Unfortunately, injuries absolutely decimated Kuenn in his 30’s, and he only played in 397 more games. He still hit a tidy .271/.342/.344, but he only managed 301 more hits and a -0.7 bWAR in that time.
As such, Kuenn is one of the first ‘what-if’ shortstops who never reached their potential. Still, Kuenn was at his best in the Motor City, slashing .314/.360/.426 with a 21.0 bWAR in Detroit. That is good enough to rank him quite highly on our list of the greatest shortstops in team history.
In this case, Kuenn’s electric September was a solid sign of things to come.
This September, the Detroit Tigers will likely see a couple of players make their big league debuts. Christin Stewart will be the most notable. It’s worth remembering that whether he performs well or not is not necessarily an indication of things to come. The above examples prove that.