Earl Naylor in an unknown scenario
Bridging the Two-Way Gap

Bridging the Two-Way Gap: Earl Naylor

The history of Earl Naylor as a two-way player is neither long or impressive. He qualified in one season as a two-way player and spent the rest of his career mainly serving as a positional player with the occasional minor league appearance as a pitcher. Based upon how hs lone two-way effort went it’s not surprising that Naylor didn’t make a concerted effort to return to his two-way endeavor in the following years.

1942 is the season of record as far as Naylor’s two-way career is concerned. That season while playing for the Philadelphia Phillies he pitched in 20 games, fielding first base in 1, left field in another single game, center field in 23, and right field in 12 games. As a right-handed hurler Naylor didn’t provide any stats to write home about. He started 4 of his 20 games and accumulated 60.1 innings on the mound. He finished the season with a 6.12 ERA, 1.608 WHIP, 4.31 FIP, and 54 ERA+. As a right-handed hitter, Naylor didn’t fare any better. Slashing .196/.246/.232 in 182 plate appearances. His OPS+ of 44 was dreadful, and really, he was as bad hitting the ball as he was throwing it. He wasn’t a bad fielder, but, when your total rWAR is -2.3 it’s pretty clear that said fielding isn’t making you worth the continued playing time.

Naylor’s two-way attempt was jumpstarted by the Phillies being a bad team. That plus a strong throwing arm led to Phillies manager Hans Lobert giving the Kansas City product a shot at toeing the rubber. It’s not like the Phillies had many good options at pitcher, but maybe they should have made sure Naylor could actually hit major league pitching before trying to play him on both sides of the ball? It was only one season, but Naylor goes down in history as one of the worst legitimate two-way players in all of baseball.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Democrat and Chronicle

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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