Born on April 10, 1891 in Sioux City, Iowa, Dave Bancroft played 16 seasons in MLB with six of them being in Philadelphia. Bancroft was known for his elite glove and range at shortstop, but is often a forgotten figure in baseball lore.
The disregard of Bancroft may be because he played in a time before Gold Glove awards and All-Star games, so his defensive greatness couldn’t be truly appreciated. It also might be that his offensive numbers that, while good, are nowhere near the numbers of baseball’s best hitters.
Bancroft started his professional career in the Minnesota-Wisconsin League before moving to the Pacific Coast league, and finally being sold to the Phillies in time for the 1915 season. He played with the Phillies from 1915 to 1920 and in his rookie year, helped earn the franchise their first ever National League pennant that eventually led to a loss in the 1915 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.
During his tenure with the Phillies, Bancroft slashed .251/.330/.319 with a .649 OPS and 14 homers. In the middle of the 1920 season, a contract dispute between Bancroft and the Phillies would end with the organization trading Dave to the New York Giants in exchange for shortstop Art Fletcher.
Bancroft would eventually move on to play for the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Robins before ending his career with a 10-game return to the New York Giants in 1930.
Here is a look at some of Dave Bancroft’s greatest career achievements:
- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (1971)
- Highest defensive WAR from 1920-22 (10)
- Most defensive assists in the 1920, '21, and '22 seasons
- Four seasons with the most putouts at shortstop (1918, 1920-22)
- Third in all time putouts at shortstop (4,623)
- Twelfth all time is assists as a shortstop (6,561)
- Second highest range factor per game of all qualifying shortstops (5.971)
Bancroft finished his career batting .279/.355/.358 with a .714 OPS. The numbers certainly don’t stand out by any means; In fact, Bancroft never led the majors in a single offensive category, but in 1971, the Veterans Committee would vote him into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and give him the honors as one of the game’s greatest players.
He was inducted into the Hall as a Philadelphia Phillie, but the best years of his career came with the Giants. He is in no way a slam dunk Hall of Famer, and probably didn’t produce at a hall of fame level offensively, but his greatness both in Philadelphia and baseball as a whole deserves to be acknowledged. Bancroft was truly one of the game’s original defensive wizards.
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