P-Cy Young, CLV
P-Nig Cuppy, CLV
P-Frank Killen, PIT
P-Pink Hawley, PIT
P-Bill Hoffer, BLN
P-Frank Dwyer, CIN
P-Kid Nichols, BSN
P-Jouett Meekin, NYG
P-Harley Payne, BRO
P-Ted Breitenstein, STL
C-Deacon McGuire, WHS
C-Jack Clements, PHI
1B-Roger Connor, STL
2B-Cupid Childs, CLV
3B-Bill Joyce, WHS/NYG
SS-Hughie Jennings, BLN
SS-Bill Dahlen, CHC
SS-Gene DeMontreville, WHS
LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI
LF-Joe Kelley, BLN
LF-Mike Smith, PIT
LF-Jesse Burkett, CLV
CF-Billy Hamilton, PHI
RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG
RF-Tom McCreery, LOU
1896 ONEHOF Inductee-John Ward
1878 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 1887 1890
164-103, 2.10 ERA, 920 K, .275, 26 HR, 869 RBI, 64.0 WAR
For any new readers, every year I pick a player who I believe to be the best player not currently in the ONEHOF, the One-a-Year Hall of Fame. I also have a second Hall of Fame, which is creatively called Ron’s Hall of Fame, in which any player whose career WAR multiplied by the number of All-Star teams made is 300 or greater is in. You’ll see those in the individual player write-ups.
The following list is the prestigious ONEHOF and the Yes or No indicates whether that player is in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. The picks thus far are:
1871-George Zettlein, P (No)
1872-Al Spalding, P (Yes)
1873-Bobby Mathews, P (No)
1874-Dick McBride, P (No)
1875-Ross Barnes, 2B (No)
1876-George Wright, SS (Yes)
1877-Cal McVey, 1B (No)
1878-Deacon White, 3B (Yes)
1879-Tommy Bond, P (No)
1880-Cap Anson, 1B (Yes)
1881-Jim O’Rourke, LF (Yes)
1882-Joe Start, 1B (No)
1883-Paul Hines, CF (No)
1884-Jim McCormick, P (No)
1885-Will White, P (No)
1886-Tim Keefe, P (Yes)
1887-Pud Galvin, P (Yes)
1888-Mickey Welch, P (Yes)
1889-Dan Brouthers, 1B (Yes)
1890-Jack Glasscock, SS (No)
1891-Roger Connor, 1B (Yes)
1892-Harry Stovey, 1B (No)
1893-Charlie Bennett, C (No)
1894-John Clarkson, P (Yes)
1895-Old Hoss Radbourn, P (Yes)
1896-John Ward, SS (Yes)
ONEHOF Nominees for 1897: King Kelly, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson, Bid McPhee, Sam Thompson, Kid Nichols, Jack Clements, Billy Hamilton
Ward was probably the most famous two-way player before George Herman Ruth came along. His pitching WAR was 28.4 and his WAR from the other positions was 35.6. He made All-Star teams at pitcher, shortstop, centerfield, and rightfield.
P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 29 Years Old
1891 1892 1893 1894 1895
28-15, 3.24 ERA, 140 K, .289, 3 HR, 28 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Wins Above Replacement-10.7 (3rd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-10.1 (3rd Time)
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.347 (5th Time)
Shutouts-5 (3rd Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.258 (3rd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-3.36 (3rd Time)
Adj. Pitching Run-57 (3rd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-5.1 (3rd Time)
Assists as P-145 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-Cleveland fans might not have seen a whole lot of pennants in their day, but at least every couple days, they got to watch the great Cy Young on the mound. Every year, I do this All-Star team and the pitchers come and go. As a matter of fact, the fireballer Amos Rusie didn’t even make the list this season. Yet season after season, Young and Kid Nichols are on the list. As for his pitching, Young finished first in WAR (10.7) and first in WAR for Pitchers (10.1). He pitched 414 1/3 innings, second to Pittsburgh’s Frank Killen, with a 3.24 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He also led the league in Ks for the first time, while continuing to keep his walks at a minimum. Wikipedia says, “In 1896, Young lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning when Ed Delahanty of the Philadelphia Phillies hit a single.” SABR has more details: “That game came within one out of being a no-hitter when Ed Delahanty, playing first base and batting third in the order, managed a clean hit to short right field in the ninth after Cooley and Hallman had flied out. The Philadelphia Public Ledger said that ‘Cooley had been robbed of the first hit of the game by Burkett.’ It is purely speculative, although plausible, that, due to the Delahanty reputation, the outfield may have been playing back, which allowed the ball to land in short right field.”
That pitching, combined with the hurling of teammate Nig Cuppy, led Cleveland to an 80-48 record. Though the Spiders were in first place after July 7, Patsy Tebeau’s team never really had much of a chance against Baltimore after that, finishing nine-and-a-half out of first.
P-Nig Cuppy, Cleveland Spiders, 26 Years Old
25-14, 3.12 ERA, 86 K, .270, 1 HR, 20 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. No chance)
2nd Time All-Star-Cuppy paired with Cy Young to dominate on the mound for the Spiders. If they could hit as well as they could pitch, they could have broken the string of Baltimore pennants. You can’t blame Cuppy, who finished second in WAR (10.5) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.8), both to teammate Young (10.7 and 10.1, respectively). He pitched 358 innings with a 3.12 ERA, which was third to Cincinnati’s Billy Rhines (2.45) and Boston’s Kid Nichols (2.83), and a 146 Adjusted ERA+. It was Cuppy’s best season ever.
It’s also most likely his last All-Star season. He continued pitching with the Spiders through 1898, before moving to St. Louis in 1899, Boston in 1900, and then the American League Boston Americans in 1901. He’d never pitch over 171 2/3 innings again and would be done by the time he was 31. It makes what Young is doing that much more impressive, as he was able to put together a decades-long string of great pitching years.
SABR tells about an innovation Cuppy brought to the game: “According to the Cleveland Press, one day in 1894 Cuppy announced that he was going to spring a surprise on fans and players alike at that afternoon’s game. When the game began Cuppy walked out into the pitcher’s box wearing a glove on his left hand. Other fielders had worn gloves before, but this was believed to be the first time in history that a pitcher had used a glove. By the end of the season use of the glove had been adopted by other pitchers.”
P-Frank Killen, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old
1891 1892 1893
30-18, 3.41 ERA, 134 K, .231, 2 HR, 25 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
Wins-30 (2nd Time)
Innings Pitched-432 1/3
Def. Games as P-52
4th Time All-Star-Since last making the All-Star team in 1893, Lefty Killen pitched in limited duty for the Pirates. This season, the team said, “What the heck! Throw Killen’s arm out!” He had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR (8.3) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.5). He led the National League in innings pitched with 432 1/3, with him and Cy Young being the only pitchers over 400 innings. Killen also had a 3.41 ERA and a 123 ERA+. It was the second time Killen won 30 or more games.
Killen’s team, the Pirates, with Connie Mack at the helm, finished in sixth place with a 66-63 record. The problem was in games in which Lefty didn’t get the decision, Pittsburgh finished 36-45.
He did have some trouble, according to SABR, which says, “Killen might have paid less attention to hecklers [in] 1896, but he didn’t lose any of his on-the-field aggression. In a game against Cincinnati at League Park on July 31, Killen charged home plate to argue with umpire Bud Lilly, who had changed his call on Eddie Burke’s fly down the left-field line from foul to hit. According to the Pittsburgh Daily Post, Lilly ‘let go at’ Killen, apparently under the impression that the pitcher would strike him. Killen retaliated by landing ‘a couple of blows on (Lally’s) face’ before a riot erupted with players, spectators, and police rushing onto the field. When order was finally restored, Killen was under arrest and escorted to the local police station. Killen was ultimately fined $25 while team owner William Kerr publicly condemned the umpire for provoking the incident.”
P-Pink Hawley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 23 Years Old
22-21, 3.57 ERA, 137 K, .239, 1 HR, 21 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Not gonna happen)
3rd Time All-Star-Now that Frank Killen was back from his injury, Hawley could relax and pitch only 378 innings, after pitching 444 1/3 in 1895. I mentioned in Killen’s blurb that the Pirates were 36-45 in games in which he didn’t garner the decision. Well, they were 14-24 in games not decided by either of their aces. Pink finished fifth in WAR (8.1) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.0), behind Cleveland’s duo of Cy Young (10.1) and Nig Cuppy (9.8). He had a 3.57 ERA and a 117 ERA+. He most likely has one All-Star season left.
Here’s more on Hawley from SABR: “While pitching for the Pirates, Hawley earned the nickname ‘Duke of Pittsburgh’ because of his stylish dress and good looks. He was known to wear diamonds and other items of high fashion and developed a reputation similar to that of a matinee idol in Pittsburgh. Later a cigar was named Duke of Pittsburgh after Hawley. Boxes of these cigars featured his picture.
“At one point during his tenure with the Pirates, Hawley refused to accept a bribe from a gambler who offered him $20,000 dollars to throw a game. The gambler told Hawley if he didn’t take the bribe he would go back to his room a $2,400 a year pitcher. Hawley replied that he would but he’d be able to sleep at night.” Part of the benefit about the huge salaries for modern day players is less temptation to throw games to gamblers. I admire Hawley’s integrity.
P-Bill Hoffer, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old
25-7, 3.38 ERA, 93 K, .304, 0 HR, 15 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
Win-Loss %-.781 (2nd Time)
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.029
2nd Time All-Star-I know nowadays we are sophisticated and no longer judge pitchers by won-loss records, but still, you have to admire Hoffer’s 78-24 record he compiled from 1895-97. It helps to be on a team that scores at the rate Baltimore plated runs. Still, even if the Orioles are scoring in droves, Hoffer has to do his part and he did, finishing sixth in WAR (8.0) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). He pitched a relatively low 309 innings with a 3.38 ERA and a 127 ERA+. To show you why win-loss records can be so undependable, Hoffer is actually going to have an Adjusted ERA+ of 97 in 1897, but still end up with a 22-11 record.
Baltimore won its third straight pennant this season, finishing 90-39 under the guidance of Ned Hanlon. It dominated the league almost from the beginning to the end, being led by an offense averaging 7.5 runs per game. The second highest team in runs scored was Philadelphia, which averaged 6.8 runs per game. However, the Orioles combined this lethal hitting with great pitching, something no other team was able to do this season, so they beat second-place Cleveland by nine-and-a-half games.
Baseball Reference has this quote from Hoffer, “I couldn’t pitch my best when I wasn’t mad. McGraw would yell at me ‘You fat-headed Dutchman’ and maybe some other insults. Then I’d get mad and throw that ball so damned hard.”
Wikipedia mentions, “In 1901 he archived the dubious honor of being the losing pitcher in the American League’s first game.”
P-Frank Dwyer, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old
1892 1894 1895
24-11, 3.15 ERA, 57 K, .264, 0 HR, 15 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
4th Time All-Star-Dwyer made the All-Star team yet again, despite not being a pitcher who would ever rate among the National League’s best. Yet year-after-year, he was the best the Reds had to offer from the mound. This season was his best ever as he finished seventh in WAR (7.6) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.2). Dwyer pitched 288 2/3 innings and his ERA (3.15) was fourth in the league. His Adjusted ERA+ of 147, however, was third, behind teammate Billy Rhines (189) and Boston’s Kid Nichols (160). Rhines would have made the All-Star team if he pitched more than 143 innings.
The Reds fought valiantly for the title, but ended up short, finishing in third place. Managed by Hall of Famer Buck Ewing, Cincinnati ended with a 77-50 record, 12 games out of first. It was actually in first place as late as August 19, but finished 8-20 the rest of the season. An injury to Rhimes kept them from getting closer to the pennant.
Wikipedia has a wrap-up of his career, though I do think he has another All-Star team left in him. It says, “John Francis Dwyer (March 25, 1868 – February 4, 1943) was an American right-handed pitcher and manager in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Stockings (1888–1889), Chicago Pirates (1890), Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers (1891), Milwaukee Brewers (1891), St. Louis Browns (1892) and Cincinnati Reds (1892–1899). He currently ranks 61st on the MLB career complete games List (270) and 85th on the MLB career hits allowed list (3,301).”
P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 26 Years Old
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895
30-14, 2.83 ERA, 102 K, .190, 1 HR, 24 RBI
Hall of Fames:
7th Time All-Star-One of the good things about doing this year-by-year All-Star team is that players aren’t getting compared to people in other eras, but to their peers. Kid Nichols versus Cy Young is a valid comparison because they’re pitching at the same time, the 1890s, when hitters ruled the earth. Young will eventually finish with a longer career and, of course, have an award named after him, but if judged at this point, the award could have easily been the Kid Nichols Award.
Nichols finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (7.2), pitching 372 1/3 innings with a 2.83 ERA, behind only Cincinnati’s Billy Rhines (2.45), who pitched only 143 innings. He was second in Adjusted ERA+ (160) to Rhines (189), also.
After finishing sixth in 1895, Boston improved to a 74-57 record and a fourth place finish. Frank Selee managed the team for the seventh straight season and has some better years ahead.
If you’re wondering how Nichols made the Hall, SABR says, “Sportswriters such as Grantland Rice would periodically advocate for Nichols’ election to the Hall of Fame, and Nichols’ contemporaries such as Cy Young were reportedly in his corner, but the biggest single boost to his consideration may have come in April of 1948 when a legend who was in many ways his exact opposite, Ty Cobb, loudly and repeatedly clamored for Nichols to join him at Cooperstown.” The real question, of course, is how did it take so long! He had a ton of wins, many pennants, and was the second greatest pitcher of his era. Nichols should have gone in long before 1949.
P-Jouett Meekin, New York Giants, 29 Years Old
26-14, 3.82 ERA, 110 K, .299, 2 HR, 16 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
2nd Time All-Star-I have to stop making predictions. In Meekin’s 1894 blurb, I said it was probably his first and only All-Star team and then he proves me wrong. The only reason he made it, however, is that he was the Giants’ best pitcher. Amos Rusie sat out the year and Meekin had to take over as the staff ace. (Read Rusie’s 1895 write-up for more details). It’s not like Meekin’s year was terrible. He pitched 334 1/3 innings with a 3.82 ERA and a 110 ERA+. But it wouldn’t have made the cut in many seasons.
It’s interesting to note losing their ace didn’t hurt the Giants too much. In 1895, they were coached by three men to a 66-65 ninth place finish. This season, Arthur Irwin (36-53) and Bill Joyce (28-14) guided the team to a higher finish (seventh) though they had a worse record (64-67). They had a 38-53 record in games not decided by Meekin.
Meekin is to blame for a plague which infected the game, the intentional walk. Wikipedia says, “Meekin fell off somewhat in 1895. Battling a sore arm, he gave up 30 hits in one game that year, losing 23-2 to St. Louis. For some reason, he was not removed from the game, even though several times, he ‘staggered when about to pitch.’ Meekin won just 16 games, and his earned run average rose 1.60 from the previous season. However, he rebounded for two more 20-win seasons in 1896 and 1897. In one game in 1896, Meekin threw the first intentional walk in baseball history, to slugger Jimmy Ryan. The strategy worked when the next hitter struck out to end the game.”
P-Harley Payne, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 28 Years Old
14-16, 3.39 ERA, 52 K, .214, 0 HR, 10 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require 68 more All-Star seasons. Um, impossible)
1st Time All-Star-Harley Fenwick “Lady” Payne was born on January 9, 1868 in Windsor, OH. This was his first Major League season and he did decently for the Bridegrooms, pitching 241 2/3 innings with a 3.39 ERA and a 121 ERA+. However, in the long history of great Dodgers pitchers, it’s not like the name of Lady Payne is going to stand out.
Brooklyn dropped from fifth to 10th this season, finishing 58-73 under the guiding hand of Dave Foutz. Its pitching was actually decent, but this team couldn’t hit, averaging 5.2 runs a game in a league that averaged 6.0 runs. It was the Bridegrooms’ first losing season under Foutz and he would never manage again.
After this season, Payne pitched in 1897-98 for Brooklyn, before moving over to the Pirates in 1899. His career record was 30-36, with a 4.04 ERA and a total of 148 strikeouts. According to WAR, he had such a bad year pitching in 1897 that he added more value to the team as a hitter than as a pitcher. And as a hitter, he slashed .236/.288/.255. His pitching must have been dreadful. Oh, wait, I can look these things up! From the mound in 1897, Lady pitched 280 innings with a high 4.63 ERA and a low Adjusted ERA+ of 88. He’d only pitch six more games in his career after that.
Payne’s 1896 season is one of multiple seasons in baseball history which was a fluke. I always think of Brady Anderson’s 50 home run season, something out of the ordinary. Anderson’s highest home run total outside of 1996 (ironically 100 years after the season I’m writing of) was 24 in 1999.
P-Ted Breitenstein, St. Louis Browns, 27 Years Old
1893 1894 1895
18-26, 4.48 ERA, 114 K, .259, 0 HR, 12 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Slight chance)
4th Time All-Star-Breitenstein snuck in on this All-Star team, which increases the chance he makes Ron’s Hall of Fame. He wasn’t the greatest pitcher of his era, but he was usually the best hurler on his team and did most of his good pitching in a huge hitter’s era. So even though his ERA has been over four during the last three seasons, his Adjusted ERA+ was over 110 in two of those years. Breitenstein was a throwback to the men who would take the ball every other day, though he finally pitched below 350 innings this season. He finished with 339 2/3 innings, a 4.48 ERA and a 96 ERA+.
I’m not the only one who thought Breitenstein at least deserved a look at the Hall of Fame. In 1937, he received 0.5 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers of America. Here’s another interesting tidbit. Breitenstein’s career WAR was two higher than Sandy Koufax and both were in the top 10 in league WAR four times. So it might seem ridiculous, but if Theo makes Ron’s Hall of Fame with a 160-170 record and a 4.03 ERA, he would deserve it. I suspect he’ll make only one more All-Star team, but he does win 20 games in 1897 and 1898, so, well, we’ll see.
I know it’s blasphemy, but since it’s going to be many years before I’m writing about the great Sandy Koufax, it doesn’t look like he would make Ron’s Hall of Fame. He has great stats, but he also played in a pitcher’s era in a huge pitcher’s park for a very good team. But most importantly, he didn’t do it long enough. Man, if any Dodgers fans read this page, they’d hate me!
C-Deacon McGuire, Washington Senators, 32 Years Old
1890 1891 1895
.321, 2 HR, 70 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Not much of a chance)
Def. Games as C-98 (2nd Time)
Putouts as C-349 (2nd Time)
Errors Committed as C-30 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as C-14 (2nd Time)
Stolen Bases Allowed as C-205 (5th Time)
4th Time All-Star-It is hard to predict the All-Star worthiness of catchers since they play fewer games than the other positions (especially during this time) and so very rarely build up big stats. So that being said, my prediction in McGuire’s 1891 blurb that he wouldn’t make another All-Star team continues to look worse. If he wasn’t dead for the last 81 years, I’d say he’s deliberately mocking me! Unlike 1895, when McGuire caught every game for the Senators, this season he only caught 98. That total still led the league, though. He slashed .321/.379/.416 for an OPS+ of 109, which are good numbers, not great, but for the position he plays, they’re fantastic.
There’s an old saying that the Washington Senators were first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League. Well, they weren’t much better in the National League. They did improve from 10th to ninth this season, but Gus Schmelz’ squad still finished with a 58-73 record.
Here’s Robert W. Bigelow’s write-up of McGuire on SABR, “James Thomas McGuire, who would be known as ‘Deacon Jim’ based on his gentlemanly, fair-play approach to the game, was the most durable catcher of his era. It was widely reported that he was never put out of a game or fined. He was steady in performance and temperament with some of his greatest baseball years taking place for terrible teams. He was not flamboyant but hardworking, and though he was appreciated as a baseball great in his home of Albion, Michigan, his place in baseball history is all too often overlooked. He endured aches, pains, and injury — including breaking every finger of both hands — to create a legacy of resilience and fortitude that encompassed a then-unheard-of 26 big-league seasons at arguably the sport’s most demanding position.”
C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 31 Years Old
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895
.359, 5 HR, 45 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Virtually impossible)
7th Time All-Star-Since Major League baseball has a long and storied history, it gives many opportunities to play the game of “What if?” What if Clements had, at an early age, been moved from behind the plate to a position like first base? He had an Adjusted OPS+ over 120 for seven straight seasons from 1890-96, but never played over 109 games in any season during that stretch. Except for his 1900 season in which he played only 16 games, this will be the last time he hits that mark. He had great power for his day and a great batting eye, but in the age in which he played, it was impossible to have much durability as a catcher. There are numerous stories about gnarled hands for those who played backstop regularly.
Philadelphia lost Billy Hamilton this season and thus lost any chance it had of winning the pennant. It could still score, finishing second in the league in runs scored, but allowed opponents to score in droves. The Phillies finished in eighth place, 28-and-a-half games out of first, with a 62-68 record. Billy Nash managed for his first and only season.
In 184 at-bats, Clements slashed .359/.427/.543 for an OPS+ of 156. He will still play four another four years, but no longer hit at this kind of pace. I would say he’s no longer going to make any All-Star teams, but I did that before with this lefty and he proved me wrong four times. If only…
1B-Roger Connor, St. Louis Browns, 38 Years Old
1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893
.284, 11 HR, 72 RBI
Hall of Fames:
ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted 1891)
Assists as 1B-94 (3rd Time)
Fielding % as 1B-.988 (4th Time)
13th Time All-Star-I said in Connor’s 1893 write-up he wouldn’t make any more All-Star teams, but here he is again. From 1880 to 1893, either Connor, Dan Brouthers, Cap Anson, or a combination of the three made the All-Star team. It seemed strange in 1894 when that all stopped. It was the greatest hitting era in baseball history and, all of a sudden, the game’s greatest hitters no longer appeared on the lists. Connor wouldn’t have made it this season, but there was a dearth of good hitting at the baseball’s top hitting position this season.
Along with playing, Connor jumped in the manager’s seat for the first and only time in his career. Since he went 8-37, that’s understandable. The others that coached the Browns to an 11th place finish were Harry Diddlebock (7-10), Arlie Latham (0-3), Chris Von Der Ahe (0-2), and Tommy Dowd (25-38). Altogether the team went 40-90.
Connor was now the Major League’s leading home run hitter of all-time, finishing with 137 after this season and adding one more next year. Babe Ruth wouldn’t pass him until 1921. The big man slashed .284/.356/.433 with 10 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 111. That would have been decent for that day, but it was his lowest batting average ever up to this point, his lowest on-base percentage since 1882, his lowest slugging average since 1884, and his lowest Adjusted OPS+ ever up to this point. And Connor still made the All-Star team. Farewell from the list, you gentle Giant.
2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 28 Years Old
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894
.355, 1 HR, 106 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. 50-50 chance)
Def. Games as 2B-132 (2nd Time)
Putouts as 2B-375
Assists as 2B-487
Errors Committed as 2B-53 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-73
Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.53
6th Time All-Star-Okay, here’s the deal. Childs is going to have decent seasons in 1897 and 1898 and, if no other second baseman can play better than him, he’s going to make my Hall of Fame. I’m good with that. He couldn’t hit for power, but he could do everything else and at a high level. There was no SABR or Bill James in his day, yet he did those things which pleased the statheads like get on base and play a solid defensive second base. How much did he help the great Cy Young with his play behind him?
Childs finished fifth in WAR Position Players (6.2), ninth in Offensive WAR (5.1), and, for the only time in his career, in the top 10 in Defensive WAR, finishing fifth (1.4). He slashed .355/.467/.446 with 25 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 117. It was Childs’ highest batting average ever.
SABR wraps up his season, “Childs bounced back in 1896 with a monster year. He had 177 hits, 100 walks, 24 doubles, 106 RBI, and scored 106 runs in 132 games. Childs struck out just 18 times during the season. He finished the 1896 National League season with a .467 on-base percentage a .355 batting average and 25 stolen bases.
“Childs did not hit well in either of the Temple Cup Series. Even though the Spiders and Orioles were bitter rivals on the ball field, Childs always remained popular in his hometown. ‘Cleveland second baseman Paca Childs is a Baltimorean and has many friends in this city,’ wrote the Baltimore Sun after an Orioles home stand against the Spiders during the 1894 season.”
3B-Bill Joyce, Washington Senators/New York Giants, 28 Years Old
.333, 13 HR, 94 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star teams. Impossible)
AB per HR-36.5 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Joyce was busy this year, playing and managing (see Jouett Meekin’s blurb for his managing details). As a hitter, he had his last great season, finishing sixth in WAR Position Players (6.2) and third in Offensive WAR (6.6), behind Baltimore’s Hughie Jennings (7.2) and Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty (6.9). That was despite being traded on August 1 by the Senators for the Giants’ Duke Farrell, Carney Flynn, and $2,500. For the Senators, Joyce slashed .313/.452/.506 for an OPS+ of 152, but really turned in on for New York, slashing .370/.502/.539 for an OPS+ of 178. Joyce led the league in homers and it was the third consecutive season for him with double digit dingers.
SABR shows how tough Joyce was, stating, “On April 22, 1896, Joyce suffered a broken nose when he was struck in the face by a pitch. Six days later, he contributed four hits in a 9-5 Washington victory, including one of the longest home runs ever hit at the Baltimore ballpark. On May 30, he hit for the cycle in the first game of a doubleheader at Pittsburgh. And on June 26, he homered twice in a 9-3 triumph over the Baltimore Orioles; the victory improved the Senators’ won-lost record to 27-23, and the team, in fifth place, was called ‘the surprise of the season.’ But the Senators dropped 22 of their next 29 games and plummeted to ninth place. Captain Joyce and Manager Schmelz were at odds over how to handle the team. To restore harmony, the Senators traded Joyce to the New York Giants on July 31, much to the dismay of the Washington faithful.”
SS-Hughie Jennings, Baltimore Orioles, 27 Years Old
.401, 0 HR, 121 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star teams. Slim chance)
WAR Position Players-8.3 (2nd Time)
Defensive WAR-1.8 (3rd Time)
Hit By Pitch-51 (3rd Time)
Putouts as SS-377 (4th Time)
Double Plays Turned as SS-70 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as SS-6.56 (3rd Time)
Fielding % as SS-.928 (3rd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Ee-Yah had his best season ever in helping lead Baltimore to another National League crown. He finished third in WAR, behind only Cleveland pitchers Cy Young and Nig Cuppy; first in WAR Position Players (8.3); first in Offensive WAR (7.2); and first in Defensive WAR (1.8). Wow! Jennings hit .401, second to Cleveland’s Jesse Burkett (.410); had a .472 on-base percentage, second to Boston’s Billy Hamilton (.478); and slugged .488. He also stole 70 bases and ended up with an Adjusted OPS+ of 151. You can see above the defensive stats in which he led. With Ee-Yah anchoring the defensive at shortstop, it was another successful season for the Orioles.
Jennings is the all-time leader in getting plunked. Wikipedia says, “The fiery Jennings was also known as one of the most fearless players of his time, allowing himself to be hit by pitches more than any other player. In one game, he was hit by a pitch three times. In 1896, he was hit by pitches 51 times—a Major League record that still stands. In just five seasons with the Orioles from 1894 to 1898, Jennings was hit by pitches an unprecedented 202 times. During one game, Jennings was hit in the head by a pitch from Amos Rusie in the 3rd inning, but managed to finish the game. As soon as the game ended, Jennings collapsed and was unconscious for three days.” Man, these were some tough birds playing in the 1800s. Nowadays, because of concussion protocols and club timidity because of the amount of salary doled out, players are handled with kids gloves.
SS-Bill Dahlen, Chicago Colts, 26 Years Old
.352, 9 HR, 74 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Slam dunk)
2nd Time All-Star-Bad Bill Dahlen, the fiery Colts shortstop, hadn’t made the All-Star team since 1892. His defense hadn’t come around at that time, but now he’s one of the best defensive players in the league, according to Defensive WAR. He finished third in that category this season with a 1.5 mark, behind only Baltimore shortstop Hughie Jennings (1.8) and Brooklyn shortstop Tommy Corcoran (1.6). One thing the election of Jennings to the Hall of Fame with a 42.3 WAR and the lack of induction of Dahlen with a 75.2 WAR tells us is how blinded we are to offensive stats. But Dahlen had the 10th highest Defensive WAR of all time and played in the deadball era. To me, it’s not even close, but in the 1800s, they didn’t have these fancy com-put-ors or Baseball Reference, so Jennings in and Dahlen’s out and no one’s going to listen to me.
The Colts still had Cap Anson as their manager, now in his 18th season as a Chicago coach. Cap led his team to a 71-57 fifth place finish.
Because I focused on Bad Bill’s glove, I feel like I’m giving short shrift to his bat. He finished ninth in WAR (7.1); third in WAR Position Players (7.1), behind Jennings and Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty (7.3); and fifth in Offensive WAR (6.3). He slashed .352/.438/.553 with 51 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 156. That slugging was only behind Delahanty (.631). Dahlen’s going to end up being in the top 10 in Offensive WAR six times, but because of the era in which he played, the stats won’t look as impressive.
SS-Gene DeMontreville, Washington Senators, 23 Years Old
.343, 8 HR, 77 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
Def. Games as SS-133
Assists as SS-479
Errors Committed as SS-97
1st Time All-Star-Eugene Napoleon “Gene” DeMontreville was born on March 10, 1873 in St. Paul, MN and might have the longest name of any All-Star thus far. Standing five-foot-eight and weighing in at 165 pounds, he was Washington’s best player and the third shortstop to make the team. He started by playing two games for Pittsburgh in 1894 and then played 12 games for the Senators in 1895. This season, DeMontreville became a fulltime shortstop and did well, slashing .343/.381/.452 for an OPS+ of 119. He’s not going to have a dazzling career but might make two or three All-Star teams. According to Wikipedia, “DeMontreville had a 36-game hitting streak from 1896 to 1897. The streak was over the last 17 games of 1896 and the first 19 games of 1897. This streak was not discovered until 2007; it ranks as the tenth-longest hitting streak in Major League Baseball history.”
Baseball Reference says of him, “’The stars of the season of 1896 were few, but among them were Gene DeMontreville and pitcher Payne, both of whom were rated (not good enough) for Syracuse. Well, we can’t always guess correct.’ – Sporting Life’s Syracuse correspondent, pointing out that both Gene DeMontreville and Harley Payne made good in the majors in 1896.”
Did DeMontreville really hit .343? Look at this from SABR: “He became a cause célèbre in 1899 when the July 8 issue of The Sporting News revealed that Washington owner J. Earle Wagner had gloated to Cincinnati writer Harry Weldon that in 1897 Washington scorekeepers had inflated Demontreville’s average from .285 to .345 (since reduced to .341) to make him seem a more valuable commodity to Baltimore manager Ned Hanlon and admitted the club had done similar padding with Bill Joyce, which was why Joyce’s average had dropped so precipitously after he was traded to New York in 1896.” Before making a judgment, read the whole thing.
LF-Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old
1893 1894 1895
.397, 13 HR, 126 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star team. Definitely)
Slugging %-.631 (3rd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-1.103 (2nd Time)
Doubles-44 (2nd Time)
Home Runs-13 (2nd Time)
Runs Batted In-126 (2nd Time)
Adjusted OPS+-190 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-146 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-67 (3rd Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-6.2 (3rd Time)
Extra Base Hits-74 (2nd Time)
Offensive Win %-.849 (2nd Time)
4th Time All-Star-Delahanty continued to dominate his time. With the loss of Billy Hamilton and the decline of Sam Thompson, Big Ed took it upon himself to generate offense for Philadelphia and was fantastic. He finished eighth in WAR (7.3); second in WAR Position Players (7.3), to Baltimore shortstop Hughie Jennings (8.3); and second in Offensive WAR (6.9), again behind Jennings (7.2). He hit .397, third in the league behind Cleveland’s Jesse Burkett (.410) and Jennings (.401); had a .472 on-base percentage, third behind former teammate Hamilton (.478) and Jennings (.472); and a league-leading .631 slugging average, his highest ever. Delahanty also stole 37 bases and had a league-leading Adjusted OPS+ of 190. He was the epitome of power in his day.
There is an article by SABR on Delahanty’s greatest day, his four-homer performance on July 13. Here are the details of his last one, but I’d suggest reading the whole thing: “With Chicago fans behind him, many standing on their seats, Delahanty fooled everyone and bunted the first pitch foul. His action brought shouts from the grandstands: ‘Line it out, Del!’ Ed enjoyed this stunt and waited on Terry’s next pitch, a slow, outside curve. The bat, it was reported, impacted with the sound of a ‘rifle shot.’ The hit carried over 450 feet, beyond Lange, and bounded onto the roofs of the center-field clubhouses. Delahanty easily scored his fourth home run without a throw. As he crossed the plate, Terry was waiting to shake his hand. Outfielder Lange hid the ball under the clubhouse for a souvenir, and the fans remained standing on their seats cheering wildly for about 10 minutes. After the game, spectators followed Del to the omnibus and offered him congratulatory claps on his back. A local gum factory recognized Ed’s achievement by giving him a box of gum for each home run. One Chicago paper wrote that if it were not for Delahanty’s hitting the overheated fans would have ‘cursed the day baseball was invented.’”
LF-Joe Kelley, Baltimore Orioles, 24 Years Old
.364, 8 HR, 100 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. About 33 percent chance)
3rd Time All-Star-If any player is overrated in history because of the time in which he played, it’s Kelley. He piled up some monster numbers, but in the 1890s, those numbers were scattered all over the place like feed in a chicken coop. Those 87 stolen bases with which Kelley led the league this season are the only category in which he led in his 17-year career. My guess is he has one or two more All-Star seasons, but that’s about it. It’s not like making four or five All-Star teams is insignificant, but it makes for a difficult Hall of Fame case. I imagine the Veteran’s Committee which inducted him in 1971 looked at the dismal offensive numbers of the 1960s, then looked at the shining batting averages of the 1890s, and said, wow, Kelley must have been fantastic! And he was very good and he might even still make my Hall of Fame, but it’s going to be close.
Kelley finished 10th in WAR (7.0), fourth in WAR Position Players (7.0), and fourth in Offensive WAR (6.5). He hit .364, with a .469 on-base percentage, and a .543 slugging average, which led to a second-place 164 Adjusted OPS+, behind only Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty (190).
The baseball people of his time did love Kelley. John McGraw, his teammate said, “Joe had no prominent weakness. He was fast on the bases, could hit the ball hard and was as graceful an outfielder as one would care to see.” That Baltimore team would have been something to watch.
LF-Mike Smith, Pittsburgh Pirates, 28 Years Old
1887 1888 1893
.362, 6 HR, 94 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Virtually no chance)
4th Time All-Star-Smith didn’t make the All-Star teams in 1894 and 1895, but his hitting shined this season, putting him back on the team. He was eighth in the league in WAR Position Players (5.7) and 10th in Offensive WAR (4.9). In a league full of good outfielders, it’s no small feat to make this team. Smith certainly wasn’t in the Billy Hamilton or Ed Delahanty class of players, but not too many were. Yet Smith held his own.
After this season, Smith played for Pittsburgh one more year, before going to Cincinnati from 1898-1900 and then the Giants, also in 1900. In 1901, he finished his 14-year career with Pittsburgh and Boston. He had an interesting career, garnering 30.3 WAR as a position player and 12.6 as a pitcher. In his short time on the mound, he had a couple of great seasons and it’s interesting to imagine what kind of career Smith would have had if he could have remained a pitcher.
Union Dale Cemetery has an obituary on Smith, which says, “Elmer Ellsworth Smith, better known as ‘Mike Smith,’ was a left handed pitcher and outfielder in the early days of baseball. Although born in Allegheny (now Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood), Smith’s career started in 1886 when, at age 18, he pitched for a team in Tennessee. Smith’s prowess was noticed by the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who signed him after only ten games down South. Smith spent the next thirteen years in the major leagues playing for The New York Giants, The Boston Beaneaters, and eventually coming back home to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1892. By the time he became a Pirate, his signature fastball had ruined his pitching arm and he was brought on as an outfielder.” He certainly was known in his old neighborhood.
LF-Jesse Burkett, Cleveland Spiders, 27 Years Old
.410, 6 HR, 72 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Undoubtedly)
1896 NL Batting Title (2nd Time)
Batting Average-.410 (2nd Time)
Plate Appearances-647 (2nd Time)
Hits-240 (2nd Time)
Singles-191 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as OF-133
3rd Time All-Star-Burkett hit .400 for the second consecutive season and also led the league in hitting both of those years. This year, Crab finished 10th in WAR Position Players (5.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (5.5). Along with leading the league in hitting, he finished seventh in on-base percentage (.461) and fifth in slugging (.541). Burkett’s batting average and slugging average were his highest ever. He also stole 34 bases and ended up with a 157 OPS+ (5th in the National League). It was an all-around great season. Burkett’s most significant feat in 1896 was setting the all-time record for hits, at that time, with 240. It wouldn’t be bested until Ty Cobb did so in 1911.
Crab’s specialty was bunting and fouling off pitches, according to SABR, which says, “Additionally, in the era before fouls counted as strikes, Burkett became a master at fouling off pitch after pitch until he found an offering to his liking, or worked a walk (he ranked among the league’s top ten in free passes 12 times during his career). Indeed, as one commentator later observed, Burkett seemed to take special pleasure in fouling off tough pitches: ‘He would do a snappy little jig after tipping off a good pitch, or snapping one on a low line into the left field section of the grandstand or the left field bleachers, very well pleased with himself.’” Those who were around in his era judged Burkett the greatest bunter of all-time, which accounted for his high average.
CF-Billy Hamilton, Boston Beaneaters, 30 Years Old
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895
.366, 3 HR, 55 RBI
Hall of Fames:
On-Base %-.478 (4th Time)
Bases on Balls-110 (4th Time)
Times on Base-304 (3rd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Why would the great Billy Hamilton be traded from Philadelphia to Boston? Why would Jerry Seinfeld return the jacket? The same reason-spite!
SABR says, “But Billy quarreled with manager Arthur Irwin, with Irwin complaining to the papers that Billy was a ‘disorganizer.’ The Phillies finished nine and a half games behind Baltimore and seven in back of the Cleveland Spiders. Irwin was dismissed, and on November 14, 1895, in one of the worst trades in Philadelphia baseball history, the Phillies sent Hamilton to the Boston Beaneaters for third baseman Billy Nash, who replaced Irwin as manager of the ballclub.
“Boston manager Frank Selee, seeking to replace the aggression of Tommy McCarthy (recently traded to Brooklyn), put Billy in the leadoff spot and gave him free rein on the base paths. Billy’s speed and enthusiasm energized the Boston lineup, and his .366 average and 153 runs scored led the Beaneaters to a fourth place finish in 1896.”
It’s always shocking when players of Hamilton’s quality get traded. I’m a Los Angeles Kings fan and was shocked by Wayne Gretzky coming to the City of Angels. I’m sure Bostonians weren’t happy at the Bambino going to New York. I hear LeBron James taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach caused a little bit of a stir.
Anyway, here are the 1896 stats for Hamilton. He finished seventh in WAR Position Players (5.8) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.8). He slashed .366/.478/.468 with 83 stolen bases and a 145 Adjusted OPS+. Those stolen bases were behind only Baltimore’s Joe Kelley (87) and Chicago’s Bill Lange (84).
RF-Mike Tiernan, New York Giants, 29 Years Old
1888 1889 1890 1891
.369, 7 HR, 89 RBI
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star teams. Virtually no chance)
Def. Games as OF-133
5th Time All-Star-From 1892 to 1895, Silent Mike slashed .307/.391/.459 for an OPS+ of 126 and yet didn’t make one All-Star team. That’s how tough the competition was in the outfield in the mid-1890s. In an era when .400s were frequent, .289s and .309s didn’t cut it. He had his best season in 1895, slashing .347/.427/.527 and still couldn’t make the team, partially because of lack of defense. If he could have just stepped it up just a bit a couple of those seasons, we might be referring to Hall of Famer Mike Tiernan.
As for this season, Tiernan played every game for the Giants and slashed .369/.452/.516 with 35 stolen bases and a 158 Adjusted OPS+. His batting average and on-base percentage were career highs. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (5.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (5.4).
After this season, Silent Mike would finish his career with the Giants from 1897-99. It’s rare to have a player who sticks with one team for the whole time in which he plays, but Tiernan spent all 13 years with New York. He is 16th in WAR all-time with the Giants, behind 1910s shortstop Art Fletcher. Check with your friends who are Giants’ fans and see if they could name either of those two. As Wikipedia says, “He is the Giants’ all-time franchise leader in triples and stolen bases. One of the great home run hitters of the 19th century, he hit 106 of them, which ties him with Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers for fourth most among 19th century ball players.”
RF-Tom McCreery, Louisville Colonels, 21 Years Old
.351, 7 HR, 65 RBI, 0-1, 36.00 ERA, 0 K
Hall of Fames:
Ron’s: No (Would require 28 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
1st Time All-Star-Thomas Livingston “Tom” McCreery was born on October 19, 1874 in Beaver, PA. He played 31 games for Louisville in 1895, before moving to rightfield fulltime this season. He was one of the bigger players of his day at five-foot-11 inches, 180 pounds, but he had decent speed. McCreery had his best season ever, slashing .351/.409/.546, all career highs, with 26 stolen bases and a, yes, career-high 155 Adjusted OPS+. After this season, he’d play for Louisville in 1897, New York in 1897-98, Pittsburgh in 1898-1900, Brooklyn in 1901-1903, and Boston in 1903. He’d never leave the National League.
If Tom McCreery is your best player, then you’re probably not a very good team, and Louisville as dreadful. John McCloskey (2-17) and Bill McGunnigle (36-76) led the Colonels to a last place 38-93 record. Can you lead a team to last place? Well, if you can, they did. They couldn’t score runs and they allowed a lot of them to score, so that pretty much guarantees a bad record.
He accomplished an all-time feat in 1897, according to Wikipedia, which states, “In 1897, McCreery posted career-highs in runs (91), stolen bases (28), RBI (67), games played (138), and hit .289. On July 12, he hit three inside-the-park home runs, becoming the only player in major league history to hit three inside-homers in a single game.” I told you, for a bigger guy, he had pretty good speed, which led to a lot of triples and inside-the-park home runs for him.