Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Augie Galan Born
Augie Galan is a name I know for a rather obscure reason, he's Johnny Damon's most similar player (at least through last year), a fact I discovered while perusing Damon's stat page this past off-season. Galan--whose first name is short for "August," incidentally--was obviously not quite the media darling Damon is. That being said, Galan was a pretty good player, albeit one with an oddly late peak.
Galan first saw time in 1934 for the Cubs, hitting .260 in just under two-hundred at-bats. The next year would prove his coming out party however, as the switch-hitting Galan played left field full time for the pennant-winning Cubs, hitting .314/.399/.467 at age twenty-three and seemingly launching the start of a highly productive career. For a while after that however, it appeared 1935 would be a fluke season as Galan struggled in 1936 (losing more than a hundred points of slugging) and although he bounced back somewhat by 1939 to be a productive hitter, his OPS+ never topped one hundred in the years 1940-1942.
Perhaps because of weakened wartime competition, or perhaps just because of a late peak, Galan--who was by now thirty-one years old--had a renaissance in the following years. In 1943 Galan, now with the Dodgers in Brooklyn, put together a 137 OPS+, bettering his performance in 1935. The next year would be even better as Galan had the best year of his career, hitting .318/.426/.495, good for the sixth best OPS+ in the league. Galan's numbers would drop the next season, but so would the rest of the league's and he managed his best ever OPS+ result, finishing fifth.
Galan would remain an effective player through 1947, and hit well in limited duty in 1948; some reports credit this to his abandoning switch-hitting after the 1944 season, although I'm not quite sure why giving the platoon advantage would help one as a hitter. After his playing days ended after the 1949 season, Galan managed briefly in the Pacific Coast League (he was from California) and for the Giants under Mel Ott before retiring from the game to manage meat markets in San Francisco. He died in late December of 1993.