Albert Leonard Rosen (born February 29, 1924, in Spartanburg, South Carolina), nicknamed "Al", "Flip", and the "Hebrew Hammer", was an American major league third baseman and right-handed slugger. He played his entire 10-year career (1947-1956) with the Cleveland Indians in the American League, where he drove in 100 or more runs 5 years in a row, was a 4-time All-Star, twice led the league in home runs and twice in RBIs, and was an MVP. Rosen was extremely muscular, and had tremendous power and excellent bat control.
Rosen was a .285 career hitter, with 192 home runs and 717 RBIs in 1,044 games. He was selected for the All-Star Game every year between 1952 and 1955. Rosen appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1955.
Rosen was one of the best all-time Jewish baseball players, along with Hank Greenberg (with whom he became close friends; Greenberg was in the front office with the Indians in the final years of Rosen's career) and Sandy Koufax.
Minor League career
After returning from the Navy in 1946, Rosen played for the 1946 Pittsfield Electrics, where he was initially given a back-up role. He led the Canadian-American League in home runs (16) and RBIs (86), while batting .323, however, and became known as the "Hebrew Hammer".
Rosen played for the Oklahoma City Indians in 1947, and had one of the finest individual seasons in league history. He led all hitters in average (.349), hits (186), doubles (47), extra-base hits (83), RBIs (141), total bases (330), slugging percentage (.619), and on-base percentage (.437). He was elected Texas League MVP.
In 1948 Rosen was Rookie of the Year for Triple-A Kansas City in the American Association.
Major League career; Cleveland Indians
Rosen made his first appearance in the major leagues in 1947 at the age of 23. The next year he won a World Series ring with the Indians.
In his first full season, in 1950, Rosen led the American League in home runs with 37, hitting more than any previous American League rookie. He also averaged a league-best homer every 15.0 at bats, and led the league as well in HBP (10). He batted .287 and had 116 runs batted in, while coming in 5th in the league with 100 walks and a .543 slugging percentage. Despite his home run title, he only came in 17th in the American League MVP Award voting.
In 1951 he led the league in games played, and was 5th in the league in RBIs (102), extra-base hits (55), and walks (85). He batted .265, with 24 home runs.
Rosen led the American League with 105 RBIs and 297 total bases in 1952. He also was 3rd in the league in runs (101) and slugging percentage (.524), 5th in hits (171) and doubles (32), 6th in home runs (28), and 7th in batting average (.302). Still, he only came in 10th in the American League MVP Award voting.
In 1953, Rosen led the American League in home runs (43), runs batted in (145), runs (115), slugging percentage (.613), and total bases (367). He also came in second in OBP, and third in hits (201). He tied for 8th with Mickey Mantle in stolen bases. Defensively, he had the best range factor of all third basemen in the league (3.32), and led it in assists (338) and double plays (38).
He batted .336, and missed winning the batting title (and with it, the Triple Crown) on the last day of the season -- by only 1 percentage point, coming in second to Mickey Vernon. In Washington, the Senators heard that day that Rosen had made an out in his last at-bat, after getting 3 hits earlier in the game. Vernon was still ahead. The Senators conspired to make sure Vernon didn't have to bat again. Mickey Grasso doubled and let himself get picked off. Then Keith "Kite" Thomas singled, and was out when he ran leisurely to second.
He finally won the American League MVP Award in 1953. It was by an unprecedented unanimous vote.
In 1954, while batting .300, he led the league in sacrifice flies with 11, was 4th in SP (.506), and 5th in home runs (24), RBI (102), and obp (.404). He also hit consecutive home runs in the All-Star game despite a broken finger, and was named MVP of the All-Star Game. Casey Stengel said of him: "That young feller, that feller's a ball player. He'll give you the works every time. Gets all the hits, gives you the hard tag in the field. That feller's a real competitor, you bet your sweet curse life." Cleveland won the pennant, but lost to the New York Giants as Dusty Rhodes hit a home run off of Bob Lemon to win it, and give the Giants their last world title. It was his 5th straight year with 100 or more RBIs. Still, after the season Cleveland cut his $42,500 salary to $37,500.
In 1955 Rosen was in the top 10 in the league in at-bats per home run, walks, and sacrifice flies.
Back problems and leg injuries caught up with him, and Rosen retired at the age of 32 in 1956