It’s hard to write about our fifth honoree without mentioning a certain white player, but I’ll try anyway. John Henry (Pop) Lloyd played in the very thick of the deadball era but left no doubt about the potency of his bat, let alone all the other parts of his marvelous game.
One of the most deeply documented players on the Negro Leagues Database, Lloyd shows up with more than 5,600 plate appearances, more than 1,700 hits, and more than 850 runs scored. Each of those places second only to Oscar Charleston.
Pop’s .338/.389/.446 career line yields “only” a 140 OPS+, and falls only 39thamong players with 500 or more plate appearances in the NLDB. However, 3,069 of his currently known trips to the plate (54 percent) come from seasons in the lively ball era beginning in 1920—Lloyd’s age-36 season. Our view of his offensive abilities skews toward his baseball golden years and undersell his greatness as a batter.
If we, instead, look at the deadball era itself (1901–1919) Lloyd places fifth among all hitters with 500 or more plate appearances with a 162 OPS+. A shortstop who hits like an outfielder, makes all the plays, and runs the bases with controlled aggression—that’s John Henry Lloyd.
Lloyd generally figures in the discussions of Negro League GOATs. In fact, that discussion always includes him, and three of the other four other players we’ve elected thus far: Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Oscar Charleston. We believe there’s room for a few others, too, but these four always have a seat at this particular table. And with good reason.
Congratulations to our latest inductee, John Henry Lloyd!