1895 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Old Hoss Radbourn

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Pink Hawley, PIT

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Clark Griffith, CHC

P-Nig Cuppy, CLV

P-Bill Hoffer, BLN

P-Ted Breitenstein, STL

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Al Maul, WHS

P-Frank Dwyer, CIN

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Deacon McGuire, WHS

1B-Ed Cartwright, WHS

2B-Bid McPhee, CIN

3B-John McGraw, BLN

SS-Hughie Jennings, BLN

LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI

LF-Joe Kelley, BLN

LF-Jesse Burkett, CLV

LF-Fred Clarke, LOU

CF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Mike Griffin, BRO

CF-Bill Lange, CHC

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

RF-Willie Keeler, BLN

 

radbourn91895 ONEHOF Inductee-Old Hoss Radbourn

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1889 1890

309-194, 2.68 ERA, 1830 K, 76.0 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)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1895: King Kelly, Monte Ward, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson, Bid McPhee, Sam Thompson

Old Hoss Radbourn is most famous for his record 59 wins in 1884 or he might be most famous for flipping the bird in a group picture from the same time. Actually, neither of those is true. Nowadays, Radbourn is famous for a Twitter account in his name which analyzes modern problems in old-timey language. See it @OldHossRadbourn.

young5

P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 28 Years Old

1891 1892 1893 1894

35-10, 3.26 ERA, 121 K, .214, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-11.6 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-12.1 (2nd Time)

Wins-35 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.185 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.826 (4th Time)

Shutouts-4 (2nd Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.95 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-73 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.2 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-120

5th Time All-Star-As the league adjusted to having its mound moved farther back in 1893, pitchers had to adjust to the proliferation of hitting going on in the National League. Cy Young, who pitched in the 50 foot pitcher’s mound era and in the 60 feet-six inch era, pitched great whatever the circumstances. This is his fifth straight All-Star team and the fourth consecutive year he is in the top four in WAR. It is the fifth of 15 consecutive years he’ll be in the top six in that overarching category. He’ll be in the top six in WAR 17 out of 18 years. This season, Young pitched 369 2/3 innings, the first year since 1890 he was under 400, with a 3.26 ERA and a 152 ERA+. His Adjusted ERA+ was second to Washington’s Al Maul (197). Of course, Maul pitched just 135 2/3 innings, 234 less than Cyclone.

It was a good season for Young’s Spiders. Patsy Tebeau led them to an 84-46 record, three games behind Baltimore. The two top team then played a Temple Cup Series at the end of the season which Cleveland won, 4-1. As for Young, according to Wikipedia, “[I]n 1895. Young won three games in the series and Cleveland won the Cup, four games to one. It was around this time that Young added what he called a ‘slow ball’ to his pitching repertoire to reduce stress on his arm. The pitch today is called a changeup.” That’s all he needed, another weapon.

hawley2

P-Pink Hawley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 22 Years Old

1894

31-22, 3.18 ERA, 142 K, .308, 5 HR, 42 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Games Pitched-56

Innings Pitched-444 1/3

Shutouts-4

Hit By Pitch-33 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-56

2nd Time All-Star-Hawley, who made the All-Star team in 1894, was traded before this season. SABR writes, “Following the 1894 season Hawley pitched for the Browns in an exhibition game against the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League. The Browns, led by Hawley’s 14 strikeouts, won the game 14-0. Pittsburg player-manager Connie Mack witnessed the performance and told Pirate officials he just had to have Hawley. As a result of Mack’s interest a deal was worked out which sent Hawley to the Pirates for pitcher Red Ehret and $3,000. The trade seemed like quite a gamble at the time as Ehret had enjoyed six straight seasons of double-digit wins while Hawley had gone 30-58 with a 4.45 ERA in three seasons with the Browns.

“Frank ‘Lefty’ Killen, who had anchored the Pirate staff in 1893-94, missed the majority of the 1895 season with an arm injury. Hawley stepped into the breach. In 1895, the best year of his career, the 22 year-old Pink appeared in a league-high 56 games, including 50 starts for the Pirates. He wound up leading the league in innings pitched with more than 440. He also led the league with four shutouts, while his 31 wins were good for second in the league behind the 35 recorded by Cleveland’s Cy Young. No Pirate has won more games in a season since then.”

Despite all of this, Pittsburgh finished in seventh place with a 71-61 record, 17 games out of first. As mentioned, the Pirates were coached by Connie Mack.<

nichols6

P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 25 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894

26-16, 3.41 ERA, 148 K, .230, 0 HR, 18 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Saves-3 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.644 (3rd Time)

6th Time All-Star-When you look at Kid’s career so far, you are amazed at how good he is and you haven’t seen the next three years, all of which he’ll lead the National League in wins. He has now made six consecutive All-Star teams and is probably two or three years from making the ONEHOF to complete the trifecta of making all three Hall of Fames. This season, Nichols was third in WAR (9.7), behind Cy Young (11.6) and Pink Hawley (10.9), and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.1), behind only Young (12.1). He pitched 390 2/3 innings with a 3.41 ERA and a 146 ERA+. Just a typical Nichols season.

It still didn’t help the Beaneaters get close to winning the pennant. Frank Selee, in his seventh season of managing Boston, led the team to 71-60 sixth place finish.

The effects of the mound moving back 10 feet in 1893 were starting to lesson. In 1892, the year before the mound moved back, the teams in the league averaged 5.1 runs per game. The next year, after the mound moved back to 60 feet, six inches, the scoring average rocketed to 6.6 a game. Last year was insane for the batters as teams averaged 7.4 a game. It was a year featuring four .400 hitters, three from the same team. This season, that total dropped a bit to 6.6 a game, as the pitchers were catching up with the hitters. That’s why Nichols’ 4.75 ERA in 1894 looks so out of place for a man who had a lifetime 2.96 ERA.

griffith2

P-Clark Griffith, Chicago Colts, 25 Years Old

1894

26-14, 3.93 ERA, 79 K, .319, 1 HR, 27 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (as Pioneer/Executive)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

2nd Time All-Star-It seems to me that pitchers are going to be underrated during this hitting era, while hitters will be overrated. Griffith is going to wind up his career with a 237-146 record and a 3.31 ERA, but he’s not going to make the Hall of Fame as a player. He probably should have. This season, The Old Fox finished fourth in WAR (8.8) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (8.1). You can see by that .319 average, he helped himself with the bat. He pitched 353 innings with a 3.93 ERA and a 130 ERA+. The innings would start to come down for Griffith and, indeed, were dropping for the whole league. The last year that featured any pitcher pitching 500 or more innings was in 1892, the year before the mounds were moved back. By 1909, no one would ever throw 400 or more innings again.

One of prime abusers of arms was Colts manager Cap Anson. His team made a comeback from their three year skid of playing under .500 ball and finished fourth with a 72-58 record. Anson was still the team’s regular first baseman at 43 years old and has two years left.

                Here’s Wikipedia on Anson’s use of his rotation: “Cap Anson was the player-manager of the Colts during Griffith’s tenure and he utilized a rotation of only three starting pitchers. Just before Griffith’s arrival on the team, pitcher Bill Hutchinson had thrown more than 600 innings in a single season for Anson, which may have contributed to a decline in Hutchinson’s career. Griffith tried a new pitch to increase his longevity. By modifying the grip of a curveball, he threw a pitch similar to the screwball that Christy Mathewson had developed. He also often scuffed balls with his spikes or rubbed them in the grass.”

cuppy

P-Nig Cuppy, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old

26-14, 3.54 ERA, 91 K, .286, 0 HR, 25 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-George Joseph “Nig” Cuppy born George Koppe was born on July 3, 1869 in Logansport, IN. As you could guess, according to Wikipedia, “His nickname, ‘Nig’, is often adjudged to be a racist reference to his dark complexion. In the first half of the 20th century, before the game was integrated, ballplayers with a dark complexion were sometimes nicknamed ‘Nig’.” There is a tendency to complain about political correctness nowadays and some of it can be overblown, but I’m glad we don’t live in an era where a derogatory epithet like this can be a commonly used nickname. However, because this is a history page, I’m not going to shy away from use of his name when needed.

You can see why the Spiders finished second with two dominant pitchers like Cy Young and Cuppy. Cuppy finished fifth in WAR (8.6) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (7.9). He pitched 353 innings with a 3.54 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He was also a good hitter, as Wikipedia points out, “On August 9, 1895, Cuppy scored five runs against the Chicago Colts in an 18–6 victory, the most runs ever scored by a pitcher in a major league baseball game.”

SABR tells us Cuppy needed a pitch clock. “Cuppy was known as a slow pitcher, not only for the number of off-speed pitches he threw, but also because of the time he took between deliveries, which many hitters found frustrating. Newspapers of the day took delight in describing Cuppy’s actions in the pitcher’s box. One reporter wrote, ‘It is really amusing to those in the stands to witness the maneuvers of this little twirler with the swarthy complexion and pearly teeth. He fondles the ball, rubs it on the back of his neck, grins at the batsman, and then stops to adjust his cap and hitch up his trousers. He does all this several more times before he delivers the ball to the batsman.’”

hoffer

P-Bill Hoffer, Baltimore Orioles, 24 Years Old

31-6, 3.21 ERA, 80 K, .214, 0 HR, 9 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.838

Shutouts-4

1st Time All-Star-William Leopold “Bill” or “Chick” or “Wizard” Hoffer was born on November 8, 1870 in Cedar Rapids, IA. He was small at five-foot-nine, 155 pounds, but he had an incredible rookie year, his best season ever. Wizard finished sixth in WAR (8.4) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.7) for the first place Orioles. He pitched 314 innings with a 3.21 ERA, third behind Washington’s Al Maul (2.45) and Pittsburgh’s Pink Hawley (3.18), and a 149 ERA+, third behind Maul (197) and Cy Young (152). Hoffer was a big part of the reason the Orioles allowed the least runs in the league. Wikipedia says his 31 wins are a record for a rookie, but it doesn’t say which seasons it’s counting. Al Spalding was technically a rookie in 1876 when the National League formed and he won 47 games. However, he had pitched five seasons for the National Association, the professional league which formed before the NL. George Bradley won 33 as a rookie in the National Association in 1875. Silver King won 32 as a rookie in 1887 in the American Association. There may be others, but research is hard. My point is, um, you can’t always trust Wikipedia!

That’s part of the reason why Baltimore won its second straight National League pennant. Coached by Ned Hanlon, it finished 87-43, three games ahead of Cleveland.  The Orioles languished six-and-a-half games back early in the season, but soon after a streak in which they won 19 out of 20 games in August, they were back on top to stay. They did, however, lose their second straight Temple Cup – a championship series played between the National League’s top two teams – to Cleveland.

breitenstein3

P-Ted Breitenstein, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

1893 1894

19-30, 4.37 ERA, 131 K, .190, 0 HR, 18 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Games Started-51 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-47 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-182

Hits Allowed-468 (2nd Time)

Losses-30

Earned Runs Allowed-213 (2nd Time)

Batters Faced-1,936 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-46 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as P-14

3rd Time All-Star-St. Louis had four coaches this season – Al Buckenberger (16-34), Chris Von Der Ahe (1-0), Joe Quinn (11-28), and Lou Phelan (11-30) – but they all had the same strategy, which was pitch Breitenstein till he drops. In an era where teams were using more pitchers and innings pitched were falling, Breitenstein still managed to pitch 438 2/3 innings, second only to Pittsburgh’s Pink Hawley. In those innings, he finished eighth in WAR (7.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (8.4). His ERA (4.37) was high and that worked out to a 110 Adjusted OPS+. Still, considering he was pitching for the 11th place Browns, it was a good season. Will Breitenstein get the three additional All-Star teams which will propel him to my Hall of Fame? Probably not, he most likely will make one more.

The great Baseball Reference says, “Although primarily a pitcher, Breitenstein typically appeared in a few games in the outfield each season, with a peak of 16 appearances in 1895. He generally wasn’t a strong hitter, except in 1899, when he hit .352 in 105 at-bats. He also umpired a couple of games as a fill-in in 1900.”

Three of the six top spots for most innings pitched by a lefthander since 1893, when the mound was moved back to its current distance of 60 feet, six inches, are held by Breitenstein, including the top two. He pitched 447 1/3 innings in 1894 and 438 2/3 innings this year. He also holds the sixth spot with 382 2/3 innings in 1893.

rusie6P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 24 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894

23-23, 3.73 ERA, 201 K, .246, 1 HR, 19 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

Strikeouts per 9 IP-4.599 (5th Time)

Strikeouts-201 (5th Time)

Shutouts-4 (4th Time)

6th Time All-Star-Rusie made his sixth consecutive All-Star team, but of those six seasons, this is his worst. He finished 10th  in WAR (6.2) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). The Hoosier Thunderbolt finished third in innings pitched (393 1/3), behind Pittsburgh’s Pink Hawley (444 1/3) and St. Louis’ Ted Breitenstein (438 2/3). He had a 3.73 ERA with a 124 ERA+. It was a good season, just not a Rusie season.        From 1883-through-1892, the Major League leader in strikeouts has 300 or more. We are now in a stretch of 10 seasons in which the highest amount of pitcher Ks will be 239. It isn’t until Rube Waddell takes over this category that the 300 strikeout seasons will return.

After making the Temple Cup the year before, the Giants fell to ninth place with a 66-65 record. George Davis (16-17), Jack Doyle (32-31), and Harvey Watkins (18-17) all took turns at the helm.

Rusie won’t make the All-Star team next season, because as Wikipedia explains, “Amos Rusie won his last strikeout crown in the 1895 campaign with 201. However, he finished with a mediocre (by Rusie’s standards) 23 wins and 23 losses. After a bitter contract dispute with Giants’ owner Andrew Freedman, Rusie responded by publicly thumbing his nose at Freedman — the 19th century variant of the middle finger. He was fined $200 (he made only $2,500 a year). Rusie refused to play until Freedman returned his money and ended up holding out for the entire 1896 season. It was a fiasco for baseball; fans boycotted and the press railed against the owners. Owners implored Rusie and Freedman to compromise; neither would budge. The holdout was finally settled just before the 1897 season, as the owners collaborated for recoupment of the garnished wages, as well as a $5,000 settlement ($143,940 in today’s dollars). This was partially out of respect for Rusie. However, the primary motivator was the threat of legal action against the reserve clause had his case gone to court.”

maul

P-Al Maul, Washington Senators, 29 Years Old

10-5, 2.45 ERA, 34 K, .250, 0 HR, 16 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

1895 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.45

Adjusted ERA+-197

1st Time All-Star-Albert Joseph “Smiling Al” Maul was born on October 9, 1865 in Philadelphia, PA. He was tall and lanky at six-foot, 175 pounds and had been playing for a while now. He started one game with the Union Association Philadelphia Keystones in 1884 and then didn’t play again in the Major Leagues until 1887, when he joined the National League Philadelphia Quakers. He then moved to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1888 and 1889. In 1890, he finally became a fulltime pitcher with the Players League Pittsburgh Burghers and then moved to the NL Pirates in 1891, where he again went back to limited duty. Now we come to his Washington days as he started with it in 1893 and really figured it out this season, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.9). He didn’t pitch a ton of innings, only 135 2/3, but led the league in ERA and Adjusted ERA+. Maul’s probably got one more All-Star season left.

His team, the Senators, moved from 11th to 10th in the league with a 43-85 record. Gus Schmelz coached the team for his second season.

Many of the players during this era died young, but not Maul. Baseball Reference says, “Al Maul was believed to be the last surviving player from the Union Association. In addition to his one game in the 1884 Union Association, he won 16 games in the 1890 Players League and played for years in the National League as a pitcher and outfielder, also playing a lot of first base in 1888. He led the 1895 National League in ERA and was second in 1898.” He died at the age of 92.

dwyer3

P-Frank Dwyer, Cincinnati Reds, 27 Years Old

1892 1894

18-15, 4.24 ERA, 46 K, .265, 1 HR, 16 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons)

 

3rd Time All-Star-Dwyer keeps sneaking onto All-Star teams, now being here as the best player on the Reds. He pitched 280 1/3 innings with a 4.24 ERA and a 117 ERA+. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but Dwyer was consistent and that’s why the Reds kept putting him out there day-after-day. As a Reds fan, I can’t imagine I’d be too excited to see this team if Dwyer was the best pitcher, but c’mon, it’s the 1890s, how much was there to do in Cincinnati?

And the team wasn’t terrible. Buck Ewing, a Cooperstown Hall of Famer, Ron’s Hall of Famer, and ONEHOF nominee, joined the Reds this year and coached the team to an eighth place 66-64 record. In League Park, which was a hitters ballpark, it was the Reds’ pitching, led by Dwyer, which most helped the squad.

Dwyer isn’t going to make my Hall of Fame because he needs five more All-Star seasons to do so and only have four more seasons left. Probably two of those will be of All-Star caliber. However, it does seem to me he’s the kind of pitcher someone would take up a cause for when it comes to the Hall. They’d throw out stats like he won 20 games three times and his ERA was 3.84, pretty good for his time. Dwyer just consistently pitched well and pitched often for a lot of years. That’s not enough for the Hall of Fame, of course, but teams need pitchers like Dwyer if they’re going to succeed.

clements6C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 30 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894

.394, 13 HR, 75 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

AB per HR-24.8 (2nd Time)

6th Time All-Star-Back in Clements’ 1892 blurb, I wrote he probably made his last All-Star team. Since then, he’s made three. All-Star catchers are hard to predict because of the lack of games they play. This season, a 132-game season, only one catcher caught more than 100 games and I’ll write about him next. Clements only caught 88 games, but impressed in those, hitting .394, the highest average ever for a catcher, with a .446 on-base percentage, and a .612 slugging average, his highest ever. Clements’ Adjusted OPS+ was 171 which was, you guessed it, also his highest ever. It makes you wonder how well Clements could have done if the Phillies moved him to first instead of using him exclusively behind the plate. He might have hit 20 home runs in 1893 and 1895.

And if Philadelphia could have worked Clements’ bat into the lineup more often, it might have won the crown, as the Phillies finished in third place with a 78-53 record. This team smacked the ol’ horsehide, leading the league in runs scored, but it’s pitching was abysmal. It finished nine-and-a-half games behind Baltimore. Arthur Irwin, who won a pennant with the 1891 American Association Boston Reds, coached his second season with the Phillies. He wouldn’t manage a third.

This season was a pain, literally, for Clements. SABR says, “In 1894 Clements was off to his best start ever until a broken ankle shelved him after just 46 games. He then hit .394 the following year, still the record for the highest average by a catcher with enough appearances to be a batting title qualifier, despite suffering all season from hemorrhoids.”

mcguire3

C-Deacon McGuire, Washington Senators, 31 Years Old

1890 1891

.336, 10 HR, 97 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-133

Putouts as C-412

Assists as C-180 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as C-40 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as C-12

Passed Balls-28

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-293 (4th Time)

Caught Stealing as C-189 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Back in 1891, when McGuire made his last All-Star team, I said it would be his final one. Wrong again! I never took into account this man’s amazing durability. In Clements’ blurb, I mentioned how brutal it was for catchers in these days before masks, good gloves, and chest protectors, yet McGuire planted himself behind the plate every game for Washington. Second place in that category was Brooklyn’s John Grim, who caught 92 games. It’s truly incredible what McGuire did. And not only was he out there every day, he also was a good player, slashing .336/.388/.478 for an OPS+ of 123.

Wikipedia calls this season his best ever, stating, “McGuire had the best season of his career in 1895 as he hit .336 with 48 extra bases hits (including 10 home runs), 97 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. His WAR rating of 4.0 was, by far, the highest of his career. Defensively, he set a new major league record by catching all 133 games. The Sporting News in October 1895 called McGuire’s 133 games the ‘record of records’:

“’Catcher Jim McGuire’s correct record of League games caught in this season is 133, 128 of which appear in the standing of the club, four were tie games and one the postponed Boston game. He is to-day in excellent condition. This is the record of records in the league, and many a year will roll by before it is equaled.’” It would be interesting to see month-by-month stats for McGuire to see if he was affected in the latter half of the season by catching every game.

cartwright

1B-Ed Cartwright, Washington Senators, 35 Years Old

.331, 3 HR, 90 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 38 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Assists-95

 

1st Time All-Star-Edward Charles “Ed” or “Jumbo” Cartwright was born on October 6, 1859 (70 years before my mom) in Johnstown, PA. He lived up to his nickname, being five-foot-10 inches, but a hearty 220 pounds. His Major League career started with the 1891 American Association St. Louis Browns and then he didn’t play in the Majors again until 1894 with the Senators. This was easily his best season ever, but it was also a bit of good fortune on Cartwright’s part that he played in a time when Cap Anson, Dan Brouthers, and Roger Connor were on their way down. Jumbo slashed .331/.400/.494 with 50 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 130. All of this happened for him at the age of 35. He would play two more years for Washington to finish his career.

There’s an unusual trend going on in baseball at this time – the uprising of great outfielders and the dearth of good infielders. Back in the 1880s, it was the opposite as it was difficult to find three good outfielders to put on the All-Star teams, but now there are only four infielders, one at each position, on this team, while there are nine outfielders. I think it’s just coincidence, but it could also be that managers are starting to see the importance of putting their good athletes in the outfield, especially in this era of inflated runs scored. In the past, Cartwright would have never made this All-Star team, because there was too much competition as a first sacker.


1894 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-John Clarkson

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Jouett Meekin, NYG

P-Ted Breitenstein, STL

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-George Hemming, LOU/BLN

P-Pink Hawley, STL

P-Sadie McMahon, BLN

P-Clark Griffith, CHC

P-Frank Dwyer, CIN

C-Wilbert Robinson, BLN

C-Jack Clements, PHI

1B-Jake Beckley, PIT

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

3B-George Davis, NYG

3B-Lave Cross, PHI

3B-Bill Joyce, WHS

SS-Hughie Jennings, BLN

LF-Joe Kelley, BLN

LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI

CF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Hugh Duffy, BSN

CF-Jake Stenzel, PIT

CF-Mike Griffin, BRO

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

 

clarkson91894 ONEHOF Inductee-John Clarkson

1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891

328-178, 2.81 ERA, 1978 K, 84.0 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 (Hi, I’m Ron), 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)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1895: King Kelly, Monte Ward, Old Hoss Radbourn, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson

Clarkson started with Worcester in 1882, but then established his fame as the main pitcher for Cap Anson’s White Stockings from 1884-1887, winning 53 games in 1885. He then pitched for Boston from 1888-92, winning 30 games three times, including 49 in 1889. He finished his career with Cleveland from 1892-94.

rusie5P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 23 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

36-13, 2.78 ERA, 195 K, .280, 3 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1894 NL Pitching Title

1894 NL Pitching Triple Crown

Wins Above Replacement-14.3 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-14.3

Earned Run Average-2.78

Wins-36

Walks & Hits per IP-1.410

Hits per 9 IP-8.635 (4th Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-3.953 (4th Time)

Strikeouts-195 (4th Time)

Games Started-50 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-3 (3rd Time)

Bases on Balls-200 (5th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-188

Adj. Pitching Runs-112 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-9.3 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-113 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as P-14 (4th Time)

5th Time All-Star-For the second straight year, the Hoosier Thunderbolt led the league in WAR and, in a league with Cy Young and Kid Nichols, was the dominant pitcher of his time. It was mainly because of Rusie the mounds were moved back in 1893 by 10 feet and yet it seems to be Rusie reaping the rewards. Baseball Reference lists him as winning the pitching Triple Crown, but no one cared about this back then and, compared to the batting Triple Crown, it draws little interest nowadays. I don’t really have to list everything Rusie accomplished because you can see above, he dominated the league. It was his best season ever.

The New York Giants had the two best pitchers in the league and, by WAR, the two best players in the league. They should have won it all, but ended up falling three games short to the Baltimore Orioles. Those pitchers did allow the Giants to lead the league in fewest runs allowed, but their hitting lacked, as they placed ninth in the league in runs scored. John “Monte” Ward guided the team to an 88-44 record, but they weren’t in first place at any time during the season. Ward would never manage again.

There was an unofficial championship series going on at this time. Wikipedia reports, “After the conclusion of the 1894 regular season, a Pittsburgh sportsman named William C. Temple sponsored a trophy for the winner between the regular season 1st and 2nd place teams in the National League. The runner-up Giants swept the Baltimore Orioles, who featured Hall of Famers John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson, 4-0. Amos Rusie was virtually untouchable in the Temple Cup, giving up only one earned run while winning two complete games and compiling a 0.50 ERA; if that was not enough, he even batted .429. Amos Rusie’s win total that year was fourth best since the establishment of the modern pitching distance of 60’-6″.”

meekin

P-Jouett Meekin, New York Giants, 27 Years Old

33-9, 3.70 ERA, 137 K, .276, 5 HR, 29 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.786

Wild Pitches-22

1st Time All-Star-George Jouett Meekin was born on February 21, 1867 in New Albany, IN. He was tall for his day at six-foot-one and weighed in at 180 pounds. This season is the epitome of a fluke season as it was great, but he’ll most likely never make another All-Star team. Meekin played with the 1891-92 Louisville Colonels, 1891 in the American Association and 1892 in the National League. He then moved to the 1892-93 Washington Senators. At this point in his career, Meekin was 29-51 with a 4.33 ERA and an 87 ERA+. For whatever reason, the 27-year-old figured it out with the Giants this season. He finished second in WAR (11.6), behind only teammate Amos Rusie (14.3) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.3), again behind only Rusie (14.3). In 418 innings (third in the league behind St. Louis’ Ted Breitenstein’s 447 1/3 and Rusie’s 444), he had a 3.70 ERA (behind, you guessed it, Rusie’s 2.78) for an Adjusted ERA+ of 141 (you know the drill, behind Rusie’s 188). This was already a phenomenal season and if it wasn’t for his Hall of Fame teammate, it would have been more recognized.

Meekin could also hit, smashing five homers and, on the Fourth of July, provided the fireworks with three triples, a record for pitchers even to this day. He would remain with the Giants through 1899 and then finish off his career with the Beaneaters and Pirates. Meekin had other decent years, but 1894 stands is easily the year for which he’ll be remembered.

breitenstein2

P-Ted Breitenstein, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

1893

27-23, 4.79 ERA, 140 K, .220, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Games Pitched-56

Innings Pitched-447 1/3

Games Started-50

Complete Games-46

Hits Allowed-497

Earned Runs Allowed-238

Batters Faced-1,987

Def. Games as P-56

Putouts as P-42 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Breitenstein pitched his way to his second straight All-Star season and he made it this year due to endurance. In 1893, he led the National League in ERA, this season his earned run average ballooned. Still, the amount of innings he garnered still made this a good season. Theo finished third in WAR (9.6), behind New York’s Amos Rusie (14.3) and Jouett Meekin (11.6), and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (9.7). He led the league with 447 1/3 innings pitched with a 4.79 ERA and a 112 ERA+. It certainly wasn’t as great as the previous season, but in an era in which runs were being scored in bunches, it wasn’t as bad as it looks. No left-hander since 1893 ever had more innings pitched.

As for the Browns, Doggie Miller managed his only season and finished with a 56-76 record, in ninth place, 35 games out of first. Led by Breitenstein and Pink Hawley, St. Louis had decent pitching, but putrid hitting.

The moving back of the mound in 1893 continued to have profound effects on the league. In 1892, when the mound was a 50 feet, there were 5.1 runs scored per game. The next season, the mound moved back to 60 feet, six inches and there were 6.6 runs per game. In 1894, that increased to 7.4 runs per game. In 2016, the Major Leagues averaged 4.48 runs per game, so you can see it was a whole different ball game than we’re seeing nowadays.

young4

P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 27 Years Old

1891 1892 1893

26-21, 3.94 ERA, 108 K, .215, 2 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.334 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.019 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Baseball is cyclical, moving back and forth between whether hitters dominate or pitchers do. This tide can be affected by rule changes or just player adjustments or steroids. Young, the greatest control pitcher of all-time, walked over 100 batters for the fourth straight season, but you can see he still led the league in fewest bases on balls per nine innings. He’s adjusting and will never walk over 75 batters in a year for the rest of his career. For the season, Young finished fourth in WAR (9.2) and third in WAR for Pitchers (10.1), behind only New York’s Amos Rusie (14.3) and Jouett Meekin (11.3). Young’s hitting was his worst ever, coming in at a -1.0 WAR, which allowed Ted Breitenstein to have a better WAR despite having a worse year pitching. Young pitched 408 2/3 innings with a 3.94 ERA and a 138 Adjusted ERA+, which was third behind Rusie (188) and Meekin (141). Ho-hum, another great Cy Young season.

Except for 1892, Young’s pitching wasn’t helping the Spiders much in the standings. Manager Patsy Tebeau guided the team to a 68-61 record, which was only good enough for sixth in the standings and 21-and-a-half games out of first. Their pitching was pretty good, their hitting, not so much.

John Clarkson, this year’s ONEHOF inductee, and Cy Young were teammates from 1892-94 and Clarkson would retire from Major League duties after this season. It was the passing of the torch, but it wasn’t completely amicable, as Young, the great one, made less money than Clarkson, the former great one, $2,500-$2,300. Can you imagine how much money Young would make nowadays?

nichols5

P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 24 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

32-13, 4.75 ERA, 113 K, .294, 0 HR, 34 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Shutouts-3

5th Time All-Star-If someone asked you which Braves franchise player won the most games in their career, you might rightly guess Warren Spahn, who won 356 for the Braves. For second place, you’d probably throw out names like Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine. You would then be laughed at and scorned and told, no, it’s Kid Nichols, of course! He won 329 games for the club when it was the Beaneaters and before it was the Braves. He had another great season, finishing fifth in WAR (8.2) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (8.0). He pitched his usual 407 innings with a decent 1894 ERA of 4.75 and 124 ERA+. When I start writing up the hitters, you’re going to see some monster numbers, but it’s important to remember numbers are only helpful if calculated in fair comparisons.

With the help of Nichols and coached by the great Frank Selee, Boston finished in third place with a 83-49 record, eight games behind Baltimore. It scored more runs than any other team, but its pitching, especially in games Nichols wasn’t on the mound, was average.

In Nichols’ own words, he tells how he got his nickname: “When I first joined the Kansas City Club, at 17 years of age, being of light build, I looked even younger.

“The public and the newspapers called me ‘Kid.’ This name has remained with me throughout the years. I’m best known as Charles ‘Kid’ Nichols.” I suggest you read the whole thing and I’m guessing I’ll be quoting from it before Kid’s career is over.

hemming2

P-George Hemming, Louisville Colonels/Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

1893

17-19, 4.27 ERA, 70 K, .257, 2 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons)

 

2nd Time All-Star-Hemming made the All-Star team for the second straight season and had his best year ever, finishing seventh in WAR (6.9) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). Between Louisville and Baltimore, he pitched 339 2/3 innings with a 4.27 ERA and a 120 ERA+. After this season, he’d pitch for Baltimore (1895-96) and go back to Louisville (1897). It’s wasn’t a great career or even a good one, but, for the time in which he pitched, it was a decent one.

The 1890s Baltimore Orioles were known as one of the greatest teams of all-time. They also had the reputation of one of the dirtiest teams of all-time. Led by Ned Hanlon, they won the first of three straight league titles with an 89-39 record. They were second in runs scored and runs allowed and first in run differential. They certainly had a lot of superstars on the team, but they also had a win at all cost attitude.

On the opposite side of the spectrum was Hemming’s other team, the Colonels, who finished in last place with a 36-94 record, 54 games behind Baltimore. The Orioles’ former coach, Billy Barnie, held the reins, but would leave the team after this disappointing season.

You need ballplayers to win games, though occasionally a team that doesn’t have many All-Stars will win. But for the most part, the team with the best players wins. Baltimore had five All-Stars, while Hemming was the only one for the Colonels. He finished 13-19 for Louisville and 4-0 for the Orioles.

hawley

P-Pink Hawley, St. Louis Browns, 21 Years Old

19-27, 4.90 ERA, 120 K, .264, 2 HR, 23 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Losses-27

Hit By Pitch-21

Games Finished-10

1st Time All-Star-Emerson Pink Hawley was born on December 5, 1872 in Beaver Dam, WI. I love that ballplayers come from places like Beaver Dam. He was average height at five-foot-10 and weighed 185 pounds. He was now pitching his third year for the Cardinals and, while he has yet to have a winning season, was improving every season. This season, he finished ninth in WAR (6.7) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (6.6), pitching 392 2/3 innings with a 4.90 ERA and a 110 ERA+. It’s incredible to see all of these high ERAs on this prestigious All-Star team, but it was a huge hitters’ year.

SABR writes, “He was born Emerson Pink Hawley on December 5, 1872, in Beaver Dam to Francis and Cornelia (Davis) Hawley. Beaver Dam is a small town which lies about 65 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Emerson was born one of two twins, the other being named Elmer. People had trouble telling the twins apart so the nurse who assisted in their birth pinned a blue ribbon to one and a pink one to the other. This resulted in Emerson being given the middle name Pink, and the brothers were known thereafter as Pink and Blue.

“The Hawley boys grew up in Beaver Dam where Pink attended the Wayland Academy. The Wayland Academy is a private school located in Beaver Dam. The Hawley twins had an older brother, Fred, and the three of them became legends in Beaver Dam baseball. Pink was the pitcher, Blue the catcher and Fred the first baseman. The twins were known as the Pink and Blue battery and both appeared to have bright futures as Blue was every bit as talented as his twin. But Blue’s life was cut short by pneumonia in 1891.”

mcmahon5

P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 26 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

25-8, 4.21 ERA, 60 K, .286, 0 HR, 25 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

5th Time All-Star-You don’t hear the name Sadie McMahon much, but he has now made five straight All-Star teams, two in the American Association and three in the National League. And in Baltimore’s first great year on its eventual great run, Sadie was the team’s best pitcher. He finished eighth in the league in WAR for Pitchers (6.0), tossing 275 2/3 innings with a 4.21 ERA and a 129 ERA+. He’d pitch well over his final three years, but his innings would continue to be reduced and he’s most likely made his last All-Star team.

SABR has much to say about McMahon’s part in the Orioles’ amazing run: “He continued to pitch well, winning over 20 games each year from 1892 through 1894. In 1894 he was having one of his best seasons, with a 25-8 record, when he was sidelined by a shoulder injury at the end of August. The Orioles won the pennant anyway, but lost the postseason Temple Cup matches to the runner-up New York Giants.

“As the shoulder was slow to heal, Sadie decided to sit out the next season. Meanwhile, the Orioles and the Cleveland Spiders were fighting for the 1895 pennant. During the summer the two teams alternated in first place. Led by first baseman-manager Patsy Tebeau, who was reputed to be a brawler and a bully, the Spiders were giving the Orioles a run for their money, not only in the pennant chase but also in the rowdiness department. At one point Baltimore had fallen to third place and the team’s championship hopes looked dim.

“About this time Baltimore manager Ned Hanlon ran into Sadie on a downtown street corner. Burt Solomon reconstructed the ensuing conversation as going something like this:

“’What’s the matter, Ed. You look downhearted.’

“’I am, Mac. I’m afraid they’ve got us licked.’

“’Don’t worry. I’m ready to go now and I’ll win you that championship.’

“The pitcher was true to his word.”

griffith

P-Clark Griffith, Chicago Colts, 24 Years Old

21-14, 4.92 ERA, 71 K, .232, 0 HR, 15 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No (as player, made it as pioneer/executive)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-Clark Calvin “The Old Fox” Griffith was born on November 20, 1869 in Clear Creek, MO. He was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Old Timers Committee as a Pioneer/Executive in 1946, but the truth is he’s going to have a great playing career and has a good chance of making my Hall of Fame. He started pitching for the American Association St. Louis Browns and Boston Reds in 1891, then took a year off from the Majors, before going to the Colts in 1893. Cap Anson, the Chicago skipper, always had a way of finding talent and he picked up another good one here in Griffith.

Griffith finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (5.9), pitching 261 1/3 innings with a 4.92 ERA and a 114 ERA+. It didn’t help Anson’s Colts, who finished eighth with a 57-75 record, 34 games out of first. It was the third straight season Chicago finished under .500.

The Old Fox had a tough childhood, according to Wikipedia, which says, “When Griffith was a small child, his father was killed in a hunting accident when fellow hunters mistook him for a deer. Sarah Griffith struggled to raise her children as a widow, but Clark Griffith later said that his neighbors in Missouri had been very helpful to his mother, planting crops for her and the children. Fearing a malaria epidemic that was sweeping through the area, the Griffith family moved to Bloomington, Illinois.” By the age of 17, Griffith was making money for pitching.

dwyer2

P-Frank Dwyer, Cincinnati Reds, 26 Years Old

1892

19-21, 5.07 ERA, 49 K, .267, 2 HR, 28 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons)

 

2nd Time All-Star-Dwyer’s season wasn’t great, but he was the best player on the Reds, so he’s back on the All-Star team. It would have been grueling to be a pitcher in 1894, with it being an extreme hitters’ year. I’ve played slo-pitch softball for years and have pitched much during that time and one of the most helpless feelings is when the opposition starts unloading on you and the inning drags on forever. If you’re trying to understand the scoring phenomenon that went on this season, Dwyer made the All-Star team with a 5.07 ERA. He pitched 348 innings and that ERA ended up being a 108 Adjusted ERA+. He still has some All-Star teams left, but my guess is he doesn’t have six of them, which he’ll need to have to make my Hall of Fame.

I would have been one depressed baseball fan in 1894 as my Reds finished 10th with a 55-75 record, despite being managed by the great Charlie Comiskey.

In Major League baseball at this time, there were 12 teams with one team winning the league and an exhibition playoff between the two top teams, the Temple Cup. Nowadays, as of 2017, we have 30 Major League baseball teams and 10 teams make the playoffs. I sometimes think too many teams make the playoffs, considering the teams have already played 162 games and, after that many games, we should know who’s worthy and who’s not, but it would be boring watching the 1890s National League if your team wasn’t one of the ones competing for the title. The good thing about more playoff teams is that it keeps eyeballs on the teams for a longer time.

robinsonw2

C-Wilbert Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 30 Years Old

1893

.353, 1 HR, 98 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No as player, Yes as manager

Ron: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-109 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-I said in last year’s blurb Robinson wouldn’t make another All-Star team, but I also gave myself the caveat that it’s tough to predict catchers. Anyhow, here he is and he had what looks like a great season, but it’s going to turn out to be average in 1894. As I start writing up the hitters, you’re going to start noticing big numbers, but realize that because everyone had great offensive production that great years lose their value. As a league, batters slashed .309/.379/.435. That’s everyone combined! So when you see Robinson hit .353, you can definitely cheer, but understand all three regular outfielders on Baltimore topped that. Uncle Robbie slashed .353/.421/.430 with 12 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 102. His batting average and on-base percentage would be career highs.

                Here are some career highlights from Wikipedia: “The star catcher of the Orioles dynasty which won three straight titles from 1894 to 1896, he compiled a career batting average of .273, with a peak of .353 in the heavy-hitting season of 1894. Durable behind the plate, he caught a triple-header in 1896, followed by a double-header the following day. He also was the first catcher to play directly behind the batter at all times, as the previous practice had been to play farther back when there were fewer than two strikes. A highlight of his career was a seven-hit game June 10, 1892. He also batted in 11 runs in that game; on September 16, 1924, as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, he saw that record eclipsed as Jim Bottomley of the St. Louis Cardinals batted in 12 runs.”

clements5

C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 29 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

.351, 3 HR, 36 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons)

 

5th Time All-Star-It’s worth noting these All-Star teams are not the top 25 players in the league. Every team has to be represented and every position has to be filled. Clements did have a good season, but he played only 48 games. But in a league with a lack of good backstops, that’s good enough to make his fifth straight All-Star team. He had an all-time high up to this point in batting average (.351), his career high in on-base percentage (.459), and his highest slugging average to this point of .497. Clements stole six bases and had a 135 OPS+. If catcher wasn’t such a brutal position and Clements could have played more games, there’s definitely a possibility he’d be in the Hall of Fame. He still has some great seasons left and most likely an All-Star team or two still to go.

Arthur Irwin, who had managed the American Association Boston Reds to the pennant in 1891, took over from Hall of Famer Harry Wright. He led the team to a 71-57 fourth place finish, 18 games out of first. The Phillies could really hit, averaging 8.9 runs per game, just 0.3 behind the leader, Boston.

SABR writes of this season, “In 1894 Clements was off to his best start ever until a broken ankle shelved him after just 46 games.”

From the same article, here’s a bit on Clements’ inventiveness: “Clements likewise developed a unique chest protector, one that required him to blow it up before every game, and was also known for his trademark ‘indispensable sweater’ that he wore everywhere, even on the bench during hot summer games, ostensibly to protect his throwing arm, although by the late 1890s fellow players thought it was really donned to help him sweat off poundage after he developed a serious weight problem. By the end of his career it is almost certain that he tipped the scales at a significantly higher figure than his listed avoirdupois of 204.”

beckley5

1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26 Years Old

1889 1890 1891 1893

.345, 7 HR, 122 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Putouts-1,230 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-132

Putouts as 1B-1,230 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-85 (4th Time)

5th Time All-Star-When I first started writing about Beckley in 1889, I questioned his Hall of Fame creds, but I don’t anymore. In this year of inflated hitting stats, he was the only one to make the All-Star team at the position which usually provides the best bats, first base. Admittedly, it was a down year for first sackers, as Dan Brouthers and Roger Connor had off years. (Here’s what off years look like in an inflated offensive year. Brouthers slashed .347/.425/.560 and Connor .316/.402/.552. By the way, Cap Anson played only 84 games, but he slashed .388/.457/.539. It would be fun to have APBA cards from 1894.) As for Beckley, Eagle Eye slashed .345/.412/.521 with 21 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 126. It was his highest batting average and on-base percentages ever.

The Pirates were a middle of a road team, finishing 65-65 under the guidance of Al Buckenberger (53-55) and one Cornelius Alexander Mack (12-10). It was the first of 53 seasons in which Mack would manage in the Major Leagues.

Here’s what SABR says of Beckley’s Hall of Fame induction: “When Jake Beckley gained election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, 53 years after his death, most baseball fans had no idea who he was or why he should be honored with a plaque in Cooperstown. Beckley’s reputation suffered because he never played on a pennant winner, and only one team he played for (the 1893 Pirates) finished as high as second place. Still, the colorful ‘Eagle Eye’ compiled a .308 lifetime average, hit .300 or better in 13 of his 20 seasons (including the first four seasons of the Deadball Era), and retired in 1907 as baseball’s all-time leader in triples.”

childs5

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 26 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

.353, 2 HR, 52 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons)

 

5th Time All-Star-At this point in his career, Childs has played five full seasons and has now made the All-Star team every time. His chance’s for making my Hall of Fame continue to increase. This season, Childs hit .353, his highest average so far; had his highest ever on-base percentage of .475; slugged .459; and stole 17 bases for an OPS+ of 123. He was the dominant second sacker in the land and I’m pretty sure he’s got one All-Star season left. If he can sneak in another one, he’ll be in my Hall of Fame and there will be celebrations throughout his home state of Maryland.

SABR writes of his 1894 season, “Childs had another good year in 1894, hitting .353. He had 169 hits, 107 walks, 21 doubles and 12 triples for the year. He also scored 143 runs and stole 17 bases. Throughout his career Childs missed his share of games due to injuries and sickness but he also was capable of playing hurt. On August 8, 1894, Childs fell and broke his collarbone after he was tripped by Pittsburgh first baseman Jake Beckley while he was running down the first base line. Cupid must have had great recuperative powers because he was back in the Cleveland lineup at second base just 13 days later. In September of that year, Childs handled 16 chances without an error in the first game of a double header against Brooklyn. Remarkably, Childs finished the 1894 National League season with just 11 strikeouts.”

davisg2

3B-George Davis, New York Giants, 23 Years Old

1893

.352, 9 HR, 93 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons)

 

2nd Time All-Star-Davis is back for his second consecutive season and he had very similar stats to his All-Star 1893 year. Of course, that means he did worse, relatively speaking, because it was a lot easier to hit in 1894. Here’s what I mean. In 1893, he slashed .355/.410/.554 and in 1894, he slashed .352/.434/.541. Pretty close. However, in the former year, his Adjusted OPS+ was 155, while this season it was 135. He’s still a great player, but it shows the difficulties that come with just making judgments on straight stats. Still, Davis finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.4), ninth in Offensive WAR (4.6); and sixth in Defensive WAR (1.1). By the way, in case you’re wondering how bloated offensive stats were in 1894, Davis’ .434 on-base percentage didn’t even rank in the top 10.

I didn’t mention this last year, but SABR has a good write-up on Davis’ 1893 season, saying, “Prior to the 1893 season, New York Giants manager John Montgomery Ward traded heralded veteran Buck Ewing for the young 22-year old Davis, just off a subpar year in which he had batted .241. Ward installed Davis at third base and the switch-hitter, aided by the new 60’6″ pitching distance, hit an impressive .355 with 119 RBI and a career-high 27 triples. He also set a major league record with a 33-game hitting streak, though the mark would be broken by Bill Dahlen the next year. The New York fans embraced their new player and Ward became a mentor to Davis, who grew a handlebar mustache that mirrored Ward’s, making it difficult to tell the two apart.”

cross

3B-Lave Cross, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

.387, 7 HR, 132 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Double Plays Turned as 3B-24

Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.12

1st Time All-Star-Lafayette Napoleon “Lave” Cross was born on May 12, 1866 in Milwaukee, WI. The five-foot-eight, 155 pound third baseman has garnered some Hall of Fame consideration and because of his dazzling fielding, it’s not impossible he makes my Hall of Fame. He started his career as a catcher, first for the American Association Louisville Colonels (1887-88), then for the AA Philadelphia Athletics (1889). Then like so many, Cross jumped to the Players League in 1890, catching for the Athletics and then went back to the AA in 1891, playing again for Philadelphia. Since then, he’s been with the Phillies, where he was switched to third base in 1892 and then went back to catcher in 1893. This season, Cross made third base his primary position for the rest of his long career. He’d play 21 seasons in four different leagues.

Third base seemed to fit Cross, who finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.3), 10th in Offensive WAR (4.6), and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.1). This was his best season ever. He slashed .387/.424/.528 and stole 23 bases for an OPS+ of 133. All of those numbers, sans stolen bases, are all-time highs for him.

A page called Hall of Fame Debate seems to think Cross belongs in the Hall. It also says of his 1894 season, “Lave was a solid offensive performer but in 1894, he had his breakout season.  Cross elevated his game by hitting a robust .386 in ’94 while driving in an astonishing 125 runs.  That year, Lave played in 119 games, scored 123 runs and drove in 125 runs, making him one of but a few players who have averaged both a run scored and a run driven in per game.  He eclipsed the 100 RBI mark the following year as well while only fanning eight times all season.”

joyce2

3B-Bill Joyce, Washington Senators, 26 Years Old

1891

.355, 17 HR, 89 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

AB per HR-20.9

2nd Time All-Star-Joyce is not a Hall of Fame player because he played only eight seasons, but he ran into some incredible bad luck. Well, maybe that’s not the word for it, because much of it was brought on by Joyce himself. For instance, after an All-Star season in the American Association in 1891, he moved to the National League in 1892, playing for Brooklyn. Then, in 1893, according to SABR, “The Brooklyn Grooms traded Joyce to the Washington Senators in the offseason, but he refused to play for the Senators at the salary offered and held out for the entire 1893 season. Reportedly, he spent much of that summer betting on horse races in St. Louis and hanging out with Alderman Jim Cronin, a lieutenant of Edward Butler, the city’s Irish political boss.” In the prime of his career, he sat out a whole Major League season.

He came back strong, finishing eighth in WAR Position Players (5.2) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.5). This could have been one of the all-time great seasons, but he played only 99 of the team’s 132 games. Still he slashed .355/.496/.648 with 21 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 178. He ranked behind only Philadelphia’s Sam Thompson (.696) and Boston’s Hugh Duffy (.694) in slugging and behind only Thompson (182) in Adjusted OPS+.

As for Washington, Gus Schmelz coached them to an 11th place 45-87 record. He’d be its manager for three more seasons, but the team would never do well under his guidance.

jennings

SS-Hughie Jennings, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

.335, 4 HR, 109 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-2.0

Hit By Pitch-27

Putouts as SS-307 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.928

1st Time All-Star-Hugh Ambrose “Hughie” or “Ee-Yah” Jennings was born on April 2, 1869 in Pittstown, PA, having the same birthday as my sister-in-law, Terri. He started his career with the American Association Louisville Colonels in 1891, then moved to the National League for them in 1892 and 1893. He was traded with Harry Taylor to the Orioles on June 7, 1893 for Tim O’Rourke and would then become a legend for one of the all-time great teams. As for this season, Ee-Yah finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.8) and first in Defensive WAR (2.0). He’s one of the great defensive shortstops of all time. He slashed .335/.411/.479 with 37 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 110. He has some great seasons ahead.

Wikipedia says of this great team, “Jennings played with the Orioles for parts of seven seasons and became a star during his years in Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles teams of 1894, 1895, and 1896 are regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time. The teams featured Hall of Fame manager Ned Hanlon and a lineup with six future Hall of Famers: first baseman Dan Brouthers, second baseman John McGraw, shortstop Jennings, catcher Wilbert Robinson, right fielder “Wee Willie” Keeler, and left fielder Joe Kelley. Amidst all those great players, Jennings was appointed captain in 1894, his first full season with the team.

“During the Orioles’ championship years, Jennings had some of the best seasons ever by a major league shortstop.” That’s true, to a point, but it’s also important to remember everyone was a great hitter during this era.

kelley

LF-Joe Kelley, Baltimore Orioles, 22 Years Old

.393, 6 HR, 111 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-Joseph James “Joe” Kelley was born on December 9, 1871 in Cambridge, MA and, like so many Baltimore players, was off to a Hall of Fame career. And like so many of those, it’s a toss-up in my mind. If he played in the 1960s, he’d be an unbelievable hitter, but in the time in which he played, there were many hitters like him. I’m not saying he wasn’t a good hitter or a good player, but does he deserve Cooperstown? That’s a tough call.

Kelley started with Boston in 1891, then played for Pittsburgh and Baltimore in 1892. He’d be on the Orioles through 1898. He finished 10th in WAR (6.5); third in WAR Position Players (6.5), behind only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton and Boston’s Hugh Duffy; and third in Offensive WAR (6.1), behind those same two (7.8 and 6.7 respectively). He slashed .393/.502/.602 with 46 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 161. All of those slash numbers would be the highest in his career. He was second in OBP to Hamilton (.521). According to SABR, “On September 3, 1894, Kelley, batting leadoff, stroked nine straight hits in a doubleheader sweep of the Cleveland Spiders in front of a Labor Day crowd of over 20,000 fans at Baltimore’s Union Park. The hard-hitting Irishman put the finishing touches on his great day by slamming four consecutive doubles off Cy Young in the nightcap.” This season was his second year of 11 consecutive seasons in which he’d above .300.

delahanty2

LF-Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia Phillies, 26 Years Old

1893

.404, 4 HR, 133 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

2nd Time All-Star-As of this writing in 2017, it has been 76 years since anybody hit .400. It is an incredibly difficult feat to hit .400 in a whole Major League season. I play slo-pitch softball and I doubt I hit that high and the ball is being lobbed to me! Yet five people in 1894 hit .400 and four of them were on the same team. I’m going to be writing about three of those four as all of the regular Philadelphia outfielders hit .400. But the Phillies backup outfielder also hit over .400 as Tuck Turner hit .418. He didn’t have enough at-bats to make the All-Star team. The only non-Philadelphia .400 hitter was Hugh Duffy, who hit .440. More on him later.

This season, Delahanty finished fourth in WAR Position Players (6.0) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.4). He hit .404, with a .475 on-base percentage and .584 slugging average. He stole 21 bases and ended up with a 159 OPS+. But he has much better seasons ahead.

Wikipedia wraps up everything I just said, saying, “In 1894, despite his high average of .407, the batting title went to Hugh Duffy with a major league record-setting .440. The 1894 Phillies outfield had a big season, with all four players averaging over .400. That season, Delahanty hit .407, Sam Thompson batted .407, Billy Hamilton .404 and spare outfielder Tuck Turner finished second to Hugh Duffy in hitting at .416… Delahanty was surrounded by talent in the Philadelphia outfield. Author Bill James wrote, ‘Any way you cut it, the Phillies had the greatest outfield of the 19th century.’”

hamilton5CF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

.403, 4 HR, 90 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-8.2 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-7.8 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.521 (3rd Time)

Plate Appearances-702

Runs Scored-198 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-128 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases-100 (4th Time)

Singles-181 (4th Time)

Times on Base-362 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-370

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.92

5th Time All-Star-In a career loaded with great seasons, this was Hamilton’s best season ever. He finished sixth in WAR (8.2), first in WAR Position Players (8.2), and first in Offensive WAR (7.8). He led the league with a .521 on-base percentage and 100 stolen bases. Sliding Billy also hit .403 with a .523 slugging average and a 157 OPS+. It was his highest batting average and on-base percentage ever and, oh, yeah, Hamilton also set an all-time record for runs scored with 198. In 132 games.

Most importantly, his fifth straight All-Star season puts the great Hamilton into my Hall of Fame. He’ll most likely be in the ONEHOF someday.

So I’m writing about all of these incredible Philadelphia seasons and you must be thinking that Philadelphia Baseball Grounds must have been a bandbox, a real hitter’s paradise. (It’s amazing how you and I so often are thinking about the same thing.) Well, you’d be wrong, it was actually a pitcher’s park. Which makes these mind-blowing stats that much more amazing.

Wikipedia shines a lens on his incredible season, saying, “That year Hamilton set the all-time standard for most runs scored in a season (198); since then, Babe Ruth has come closest to Hamilton in runs scored, with 177 in 1921, setting the American League and modern MLB record. Hamilton also set the record for most stolen bases in one game, with seven on August 31, 1894. He set the record for most consecutive games scoring one or more runs, with 35 runs in 24 games in July–August 1894.”

duffy3

CF-Hugh Duffy, Boston Beaneaters, 27 Years Old

1890 1891

.440, 18 HR, 145 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

1894 NL Batting Average (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.440

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.196

Hits-237 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-374

Doubles-51

Home Runs-18

Runs Created-187

Adj. Batting Runs-68

Adj. Batting Wins-5.6

Extra Base Hits-85

Offensive Win %-.852

Power-Speed #-26.2 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Batting average is baseball’s most famous stat. Yes, it’s true, we’re smarter nowadays and understand BA doesn’t do a good job of telling a player’s value, but it’s an easy way to make a judgment of a player and how good they are at hitting. On scoreboards around the league, when the lineup is shown, the batting average of the player is also displayed. Here, in these three numbers, we’re letting you know how good the player is, the scoreboards seem to be telling us.

Yet, I know you know the career home run leader is Barry Bonds and he broke the record of Mark McGwire, who beat Roger Maris, who beat the Babe. But do you know the person with the highest batting average of all time? Well, since I’m writing about him, you’ve probably guessed it’s Hugh Duffy in this 1894 season. Unless you include the National Association, because Levi Meyerle hit .492 in 1871. But he only played 26 games that season, so we’ll throw that out.

Of course, some people don’t give Duffy credit either, because for some, baseball didn’t really start until 1901 when the American League formed. Then the record belongs to Nap Lajoie, who hit .426 in 1901. I’ve also heard the highest batting average of all-time belongs to Rogers Hornsby, who hit .424 in 1924, because, um, reasons!

I don’t have to go through all of Duffy’s stats because he led in so many and you can see those above. I will say this is his best season ever, but it’s possibly his last All-Star season.

stenzel

CF-Jake Stenzel, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

.352, 13 HR, 121 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-Jacob Charles “Jake” Stenzel born Jacob Charles Stelzle was born on June 24, 1867 in Cincinnati, OH. He started as a part-time catcher for Chicago in 1890, then went oh-for-nine with the Pirates in 1892. From that beginning, we seem him in 1894 finishing seventh in Offensive WAR (5.0) while slashing .352/.440/.577 with 61 stolen bases and a 145 OPS+. Because of some of the gaudy numbers we’ve seen in the last few write-ups, you might overlook Stenzel, but this was a good season.

Here’s some info on Stenzel from SABR: “The son of German immigrants, he was born Jacob Charles Stelzle in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 24, 1867. He changed his name to Stenzel when he left Cincinnati to play professional baseball in Wheeling, West Virginia, while still a teenager. A right-handed hitter and thrower, he began as a catcher despite possessing excellent speed and being on the light size for a catcher, weighing 165 pounds on a 5′-10″ frame.

“In 1894 he posted his career- best numbers, leading Pittsburgh in average, hits, doubles, home runs, stolen bases, walks, and runs. He achieved career bests in triples (20), home runs (13), runs (149), RBI (121), and walks (75). On June 6, 1894, against Boston he slammed two home runs in the third inning to tie the major league record. The Pirates, however, slipped to the second division.

“Charles Faber has rated the mid-nineties Pirate outfield of Patsy Donovan, Stenzel, and Elmer Smith as one of the top three outfields of the nineteenth century.”

griffin2

CF-Mike Griffin, Brooklyn Grooms, 29 Years Old

1891

.357, 5 HR, 76 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons)

 

2nd Time All-Star-There was no lack of good centerfielders in the National League this season. Griffin is the fourth one to make the All-Star team. He also had the highest WAR on Brooklyn and is the only one of the Grooms to be an All-Star. He slashed .357/.466/.485 with 39 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 137. He’s not going to make any of the Hall of Fames, but Griffin had a decent career. Because of the proliferation of runs this year and the era in which he played, his on-base percentage of .467 is the highest of all-time in what would eventually become the Dodgers’ franchise. For a team with its long history and tremendous success, that’s quite a feat.

Despite having only one All-Star, Brooklyn didn’t do badly. Dave Foutz managed the team to a fifth-place 70-61 finish. Judging by their runs scored and runs allowed, the Grooms should have finished .500, but played over their heads. When you see a team playing above its Pythagorean record, how much of that credit should go to the manager and how much is just luck?

Here’s some random details on his career from Wikipedia, which states, “Scouted and signed by Billy Barnie of the Baltimore Orioles, while playing for the local Utica professional team, he was one of the premiere ball players at the time, leading his league in runs scored in 1889 and doubles in 1891. On April 16, 1887, he became the first major league player to hit a home run in his first plate appearance.”

thompson6

RF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 34 Years Old

1886 1887 1891 1892 1893

.415, 13 HR, 147 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season)

 

Led in:

 

Slugging %-.696 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-147 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-182

Fielding %-.972

6th Time All-Star-Since I started this webpage, I keep running into things I want to count. I’ve developed two Halls of Fame and then I started counting who makes the most All-Star teams at every position. Here’s where they stand so far:

P-Tim Keefe, 11

C-Charlie Bennett, 9

1B-Cap Anson, 13

2B-Fred Dunlap, 7

3B-Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton, Denny Lyons, 6

SS-Jack Glasscock, 11

LF-Charley Jones, 5

CF-Paul Hines, 8

RF-Sam Thompson, 6

So at least by that measure, Big Sam Thompson is the game’s best rightfielder so far. This season, he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (5.2) and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.5). He missed 30 games or he would have rated higher. Thompson hit .415, third in the league behind Hugh Duffy (.440) and Tuck Turner (.418); had an on-base percentage of .465; led the league in slugging; stole 27 bases; and had a league-leading Adjusted OPS+ of 182. All of his slash numbers along with his OPS+ were all career highs.

According to Wikipedia, “Thompson missed a month from the 1894 season with an injury to the little finger on his left hand. Doctors determined that the smaller bones in the finger were dead, and portions of the finger were surgically removed in mid-May 1894. Despite the injury and partial amputation, and being limited to only 102 games, Thompson compiled a .407 batting average with a career-high 28 triples and a league-leading 147 RBIs. His 1894 ratio of 1.44 RBIs per game remains the all-time major league record. Also, his 28 triples was the second highest total in major league history up to that time and remains the fifth highest of all time. Thompson also led the National League with a career-high .696 slugging percentage, and he hit for the cycle on August 17, 1894.”

1893 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Charlie Bennett

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Ted Breitenstein, STL

P-Frank Killen, WHS

P-Brickyard Kennedy, BRO

P-Sadie McMahon, BLN

P-Willie McGill, CHC

P-Ice Box Chamberlain, CIN

P-Duke Esper, WHS

P-George Hemming, LOU

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Wilbert Robinson, BLN

1B-Jake Beckley, PIT

1B-Roger Connor, PHI

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

3B-George Davis, NYG

3B-Denny Lyons, PIT

SS-John McGraw, BLN

SS-Jack Glasscock, STL/PIT

LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI

LF-Mike Smith, PIT

LF-Jesse Burkett, CLV

CF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

 

1893 ONEHOF Inductee-Charlie Bennett

 

For the fourth time, a player was inducted into the ONEHOF without making the All-Star team that season. The ONEHOF is the one player a year Hall of Fame, in which every year since 1871, I’ve chosen the best player who isn’t already in the ONEHOF to enter the Hall. Here’s a recap of the ONEHOF inductees thus far. The yes or no following their name will be whether or not they are part of the real Hall of Fame. The position given to them will be their most played position in their whole career:

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)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1894: King Kelly, Monte Ward, Old Hoss Radbourn, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, John Clarkson, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson

It is surprising to me Charlie Bennett is not part of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. He defined the role of catching in the early days of the game. His hands were gnarled and must have looked just awful, but he made an All-Star team in 1890 at the age of 35. This would be his last season and he finished it behind the plate. So many catchers of this era, because of the brutality of the position, tended to play less than half of their games at catcher and either sit the rest of the time or play an easier position. Not Bennett. In his 15 seasons, he played 954 games at catcher, only 130 at other positions. I can see him not being in the Hall if all of that catching affected his play, but he was a great hitter and good fielder for a good stretch of time.

Baseball blogger, verdun2, adds, “In 1896 the Detroit team built a new ballpark. They named it after Bennett. The team played there until a new park was built after the 1911 season. With the forming of the American League it became a Major League park and Ty Cobb played his first several seasons there. So at least, Detroit remembered Bennett.”

Rusie Amos 141-46_FL_PDP-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 22 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

33-21, 3.23 ERA, 208 K, .269, 3 HR, 27 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season)

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-11.8

Hits per 9 IP-8.421 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-3.884 (3rd Time)

Games Pitched-56

Innings Pitched-482.0

Strikeouts-208 (3rd Time)

Games Started-52

Complete Games-50

Shutouts-4 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-218 (4th Time)

Hits Allowed-451

Batters Faced-2,111

Adj. Pitching Runs-71

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.1

Def. Games as P-56

Assists as P-114 (2nd Time)

 

4th Time All-Star-It’s probably this 1893 season in which baseball becomes most recognizable to the modern fan as the mound is moved back to 60 feet, six inches. Usually most people regard modern day baseball from this season on. There were still some differences, however. Rusie led the league with 482 innings pitched and no one is coming close to that in 2016. If you go back and read my 1892 blurb on Rusie, you’ll see he’s the one primarily responsible for the mound being moved back 10 feet due to his wildness. Whether the mound as 50 feet away from the plate or 60, Rusie still had a great season, finishing first in WAR (11.8) and third in WAR for Pitchers (11.6), behind Boston’s Kid Nichols (11.8) and Cleveland’s Cy Young (11.7). The Hoosier Thunderbolt had a 3.23 ERA, 2nd behind St. Louis’ Ted Breitenstein, and a 143 Adjusted ERA+, third behind Breitenstein (148) and Young (144).

All of those innings and all of that great pitching didn’t help the Giants in the standings. John “Monte” Ward took the reins and guided New York to a fifth place 68-64 record. It’d do much better next season.

How much did moving the mound back affect runs scored in the league? Tremendously. In 1892, the teams in the National League scored an average of 5.1 runs per game. This season, that total rocketed up to 6.6. The league ERA in 1892 was 3.28, while in 1893, it was 4.66. You’re going to notice higher ERAs and batting averages starting this year.

nicholsk4

P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 23 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

34-14, 3.52 ERA, 94 K, .220, 2 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

War for Pitchers-11.8 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.280

4th Time All-Star-I wonder how many of these All-Star teams Nichols is going to make. I have no doubt along with making Cooperstown and Ron’s HOFs, he’s going to make the ONEHOF. His season was outstanding as he was second in WAR (11.5), behind New York’s Amos Rusie (11.8) and first in WAR for Pitchers (11.8). Rusie had a bit of an advantage in hitting. On the mound, Nichols pitched 425 innings, second behind Rusie’s 482; with a 3.52 ERA and a 139 ERA+. Because of the mound moving back 10 feet, all ERAs are higher this season.

All of this helped lead the Beaneaters to their third consecutive National League crown. Coached by Frank Selee to an 86-43 record, Boston beat Pittsburgh by five games. It was in second place as late as July 26, but won nine consecutive games at that point and 18 of 19 and never looked back.

There is an argument on Baseball Fever on how good Nichols is. One of the commenters writes, “Nichols beats everybody but Cy Young on the career level, and gives serious ground to [Old Hoss] Radbourn and [John] Clarkson on the peak measures (he does get edged by Rusie, but his career advantage is so huge it overcomes that) that you can at least argue for those two over him. That still puts him ahead of HOFers like [Vic] Willis, [Christy] Mathewson (!), [Joe] McGinnity, [Clark} Griffith (though he has other credits), [Eddie] Plank, [Rube] Waddell and [Jack] Chesbro.”

young3

P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 26 Years Old

1891 1892

34-16, 3.36 ERA, 102 K, .235, 1 HR, 27 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.193 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-0.990

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.87

3rd Time All-Star-In my whole baseball-loving life, my favorite players have always been hitters, from Johnny Bench to Mike Trout. I have nothing against great pitchers, I just happen to like offense. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I had a time machine to go back and watch the all-time greats. Cy Young is one of those. He seemed to have a quirky motion and for years-and-years was brilliant. This season, he finished third in WAR (11.1), behind only New York’s Amos Rusie (11.8) and Boston’s Kid Nichols (11.5); and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.7), behind only Nichols (11.8). He pitched 422 2/3 innings, third behind Rusie (482) and Nichols (425), with a 3.36 ERA, behind only St. Louis’ Ted Breitenstein (3.18) and Rusie (3.23), and a 144 Adjusted ERA+, behind only Breitenstein’s 148. If I put 10 of Young’s seasons up on this page without the years, you’d have a hard time picking one out from the other. Like I said, he was consistently brilliant.

As for Young’s Spiders, Patsy Tebeau led them to a 73-55 third place finish, 12-and-a-half games out of first. The problem is when Young wasn’t pitching, they were only a .500 team.

Young is in the third year of a four-year stretch in which he walked 100 or more batters. Those would be the only four seasons he would have that many. He was known for his control, having 21 straight seasons in the top eight in Bases On Balls Per 9 IP.

breitenstein

P-Ted Breitenstein, St. Louis Browns, 24 Years Old

19-24, 3.18 ERA, 102 K, .181, 1 HR, 14 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

1893 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-3.18

Adjusted ERA+-148

Putouts as P-42

1st Time All-Star-Theodore J. “Ted” or “Theo” Breitenstein was born on June 1, 1869 in St. Louis, MO. It was in the Gateway City he started his Major League career with the American Association Browns in 1891. The team and Breitenstein then moved to the National League in 1892. He started a good stretch this season, finishing fourth in WAR (10.8) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (11.3). Breitenstein pitched 382 2/3 innings with league-leading marks at ERA (3.18) and Adjusted ERA+ (148).

Breitenstein would have had a better record on a better team, but the Bill Watkins-led Browns finished 10th in the NL with a 57-75 record. Pitching definitely wasn’t the Browns’ issue, as they finished second in Runs Allowed, but they couldn’t score, finishing last in runs scored per game. This despite having ONEHOFer Jack Glasscock for part of the season.

According to Wikipedia, Theo shined from the beginning. It says, “During his first season in the Majors, he was able to pitch occasionally in relief, but on the final day of the 1891 season, October 4, Breitenstein was allowed to start and he pitched a no-hitter against the Louisville Colonels, an 8–0 victory. He faced the minimum number of batters of 27, allowed just one base on balls, which was erased by a double play or by a pickoff play. It was also the last no-hitter thrown in the American Association, as the league folded following the season.” His 51.5 lifetime WAR makes him an outside candidate for the Hall of Fame despite his 160-170 lifetime record.

killen3

P-Frank Killen, Pittsburgh Pirates, 22 Years Old

1891 1892

36-14, 3.64 ERA, 99 K, .275, 4 HR, 30 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Wins-36

3rd Time All-Star-Lefty moved to his third team in three seasons, but one thing didn’t change – he made the All-Star team. Killen finished fifth in WAR (8.5) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.4), tossing 415 innings with a 3.64 ERA and a 124 ERA+. If there would have been a Cy Young Award instead of a Cy Young pitching, he would have been considered for it many seasons because of his outstanding win-loss record.

Pittsburgh, coached by Al Buckenberger, battled for the National League pennant, falling just five games short of Boston. The Pirates were in first as late as June 9, but didn’t win two consecutive games again until July 4. By that time, they’d fallen to eight-and-a-half games out. A majority of their good season came long after they were out of contention.

According to SABR, Killen’s delivery may have been illegal. It writes, “Killen’s pitching evoked strong protests from opponents. ‘Players generally denounce Frank Killen’s delivery as illegal because he will inch up on the batsman,’ reported Sporting Life. ‘He did the same thing in the pitcher’s box under the old rule.’ Games at this time were refereed by a sole umpire who had a paramount task of determining if a pitcher’s foot was on the slab as required. Killen, perhaps more than any other pitcher of his generation, was regularly charged with ‘stealing a foot of ground,’ an accusation he never escaped.” Yes, the grand old game of baseball has always been filled with cheaters. It didn’t start in the steroid era.

kennedy

P-Brickyard Kennedy, Brooklyn Grooms, 25 Years Old

25-20, 3.72 ERA, 107 K, .248, 0 HR, 16 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-William Park “Brickyard” Kennedy was born on October 7, 1867 in Bellaire, OH. He started in 1892 with Brooklyn, leading the league in strikeouts per 9 innings. He never showed that kind of prowess at K-ing batters once the mound moved back in 1893. He would have a decent career, but this was his best season. He finished seventh in WAR (5.9) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.7). Brickyard pitched 382 2/3 innings with a 3.72 ERA and a 118 ERA+. On a team with a long history of good pitching, Kennedy held his own.

That team, the Grooms, led by Dave Foutz, finished in seventh place with a 65-63 record, 20-and-a-half games out of first.

As for his nickname, Baseball Reference says, “Brickyard Kennedy was mostly known as ‘Roaring Bill’, after his booming voice, not Brickyard. That nickname came from his off-season line of employment.”

You know how Jon Lester has that mental block that hinders him throwing the ball to first? Kennedy had his own tic, according to SABR, which says, “What is known for certain is that his 174 wins during the decade of the 1890s put him fourth, behind only Kid Nichols, Cy Young, and Amos Rusie, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame. That Kennedy never quite achieved enough to join them may be largely attributable to his greatest failing as a pitcher: an utter inability to cover first base. He simply could never master the task and kept vainly trying to persuade his managers that it wasn’t part of a pitcher’s job description.”

mcmahon4

P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

23-18, 4.37 ERA, 79 K, .243, 0 HR, 22 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as P-18

4th Time All-Star-McMahon was only 25 years old and has made four All-Star teams and most likely has another one left. All pitching stats look a little shaky this season, now that the mound was moved back to 60 feet, six inches. It shows the importance of gauging players by the time in which they play. So many mistakes the Hall of Fame has made have been because they didn’t take a player’s era into account. So hitters in the 1930s always look good and pitchers in the 1960s always look good. By the stats anyway.

Anyway, McMahon had a good season, finishing ninth in WAR (5.6) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.8). He pitched 346 1/3 innings with a 4.37 ERA and a 108 ERA+. It wasn’t great, but he was Baltimore’s best player.

Ned Hanlon continued to lead the Orioles, guiding them to a 60-70 record and an eighth place finish. Next year, they’re going to have quite a turnaround. (Spoiler alert!)

Baltimore had a reputation as a vicious club. SABR writes, “The Orioles gained their fame not only because their three straight pennants made them one of the best teams of the era (some say one of the best of all time), but because of their reputation as the dirtiest team ever. Tripping, shoving, and blocking baserunners occurred frequently, and infielder John McGraw introduced the art of impeding a runner’s progress around the bases by grabbing his belt and holding on.” If you read my 1892 blurb on McMahon, you’ll see he wasn’t immune from this.

mcgill

P-Willie McGill, Chicago Colts, 19 Years Old

17-18, 4.61 ERA, 91 K, .234, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-William Vaness “Willie” or “Kid” McGill was born on November 10, 1873, two years after the first Major League season of 1871. The young man stood five-foot-six, 170 pounds and had his best season ever. He finished 10th in WAR (5.5) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (5.3), pitching 302 2/3 innings with a 4.61 ERA and a 105 ERA+. Incredibly, Kid McGill was 16 when he started in the Majors for the Players League Cleveland Infants in 1890. In 1891, he pitched for the American Association Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers and St. Louis Browns. The next season, the 18-year-old pitched for the Reds. His journey continued to Chicago this season and the next. He’d finish his career at the age of 22, pitching for the Phillies in 1895 and 1896.

Oh, how the mighty hath fallen, as the Cap Anson-led Colts dropped to ninth place with a 56-71 record. Anson would continue coaching another four seasons.

Did you know six of the top 35 pitcher walk totals of all-time came from 1893? It was going to take the pitchers a little bit of adjustment to pitch from the longer distance of 60 feet, six inches. Those six were Amos Rusie (218), with the all-time high, Tony Mullane (189), Kid Gleason (187), Willie McGill (181), George Hemming (175), and Brickyard Kennedy (168). It’s this adjustment period which has led to so many pitchers with a 4.00 ERA or higher making the All-Star team. But don’t worry, pitching fans, they’d eventually figure it out.

chamberlain3

P-Ice Box Chamberlain, Cincinnati Reds, 25 Years Old

1888 1889

16-12, 3.73 ERA, 59 K, .250, 0 HR, 10 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

3rd Time All-Star-After Chamberlain won 32 games in 1889, it looked like he was off to a fantastic career. He was only 21 at the time. But he never did have that success again. In 1890, he pitched for both the American Association St. Louis Browns and Columbus Solons. In 1891, he moved to the Athletics, before coming to the Reds in 1892. Despite pitching “only” 241 innings this season, Ice Box was Cincinnati’s best pitcher, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.4) while having a 3.73 ERA and a 127 ERA+.

My Reds finished in sixth in 1893, with a 65-63 record. They were led by the great coach Charlie Comiskey, who couldn’t duplicate the success he had with the Browns in the 1880s.

Surprisingly, a man named Ice Box complained about the weather, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Before the 1893 season, Chamberlain indicated his displeasure with the climate in Cincinnati and said that he hoped to pitch for New York or Philadelphia in the coming year. He also said that he would be happy to pitch in Buffalo if the city received a major league expansion team. Chamberlain stayed in Cincinnati for that season and the next one, earning 16–12 and 10–9 records. On May 30, 1894, Chamberlain was the pitcher when Bobby Lowe became the first major league player to hit four home runs in one game. Two of Lowe’s home runs came in the same inning. Lowe hit only 70 career home runs in an 18-year career.”

esper

P-Duke Esper, Washington Senators, 25 Years Old

12-28, 4.71 ERA, 78 K, .287, 0 HR, 24 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Losses-28

1st Time All-Star-Charles H. “Duke” Esper born Charles Esbacher was born on July 28, 1867 in Salem, NJ. He started his career in 1890 with three different teams, the American Association Philadelphia Athletics, the National League Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and the NL Philadelphia Phillies. He went back to Pittsburgh in 1892, before coming to the Senators this season. While it’s true Esper led the league in losses, he still had a decent season and was the best player on Washington. He pitched 334 1/3 innings with a 4.71 ERA and a 98 ERA+. After this season, Esper played with the Baltimore Orioles from 1894-96 and with the St. Louis Browns in 1897 and 1898.

It wasn’t a great year for Washington. Coached by Hall of Famer, Ron’s Hall of Famer, and ONEHOFer Jim O’Rourke, the Senators finished in last place with a 40-89 record. Except for a fluke game played at the age of 53 in 1904, it was the end of Orator’s career, both as a player and a manager.

Frank Killen’s SABR article mentions that southpaws like Esper were a rarity, saying, “The Pirates had ‘dreamed of Killen for two seasons,’ reported the paper, which also cautioned that all left-handers are inherently erratic, hinting at the possibility that Killen might not be as good as advertised. Southpaws were a rarity in the majors at the time. Of the 26 pitchers who won at least 16 games in 1892, Killen was the only left-hander; a year earlier lefties accounted for only 24 wins all season in the NL, 20 of them by Duke Esper.”

hemming

P-George Hemming, Louisville Colonels, 24 Years Old

18-17, 5.10 ERA, 79 K, .203, 0 HR, 19 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-George Earl (wait for it) “Old Wax Figger” (yes!) Hemming was born on December 15, 1868 (the same birthday as my beautiful bride) in Carrollton, OH. There’s very little information on Hemming to be found, including why he’s called Old Wax Figger. He started his Major League career in the Players League in 1890 with Cleveland and Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders. Hemming stayed in Brooklyn with the Grooms in 1891, then went to Cincinnati and Louisville in 1892. This season, he was the Colonels best player, though admittedly that’s not saying much. Old Wax Figger pitched 332 innings with a 5.10 ERA and an 86 ERA+. He’ll be better next season and there’s a good chance he’s back on this list.

Billy Barnie took over the team, but he probably wished he hadn’t. The Colonels finished in 11th place with a 50-75 record. It was their third consecutive season at .414 percentage or worse, and it’s not going to get much better. Surprisingly, Louisville would continue to be in the National League all the way through 1899.

I mentioned in Willie McGill’s write-up Hemming was one of six pitchers whose 1893 walk total still places them in the top 35 of all time. He walked 175 batters, while striking out only 79. As a matter of fact, there was almost double the amount of walks in the whole National League than there were strikeouts, 6,143-to-3,341. I’ve mentioned many times it was quite an adjustment for the pitchers once the mound was moved back to its modern-day iteration of 60 feet, six inches.

clements4

C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

.285, 17 HR, 80 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

AB per HR-22.1

4th Time All-Star-Well, I recapped the rest of Clements’ career in his 1892 blurb and then what does he do? He makes another All-Star team. Now what am I going to do? I could mention his power, as he hit double-digit homers for the first time. Altogether, he slashed .285/.360/.489 (his highest slugging percentage thus far) for an OPS+ of 123. He’s got some great seasons ahead, but will he play enough games to make the All-Star team? Already, the wear-and-tear of catching has him down to 94 games played and it won’t be that high again until 1898.

As for the Phillies, the ageless Harry Wright, who has been a manager ever since the dawn of the Major Leagues in 1871, coached them to a 72-57 fourth place finish. It was a great finish for the Hall of Famer, who finished his 23-year managerial career with six league titles and a 1,225-885 record, which works out to a .581 winning percentage.

Wright never matched his early success, when he won four of the five National Association pennants from 1872-75 or two of the first three National League pennants in 1877 and 1878. After that, his teams finished second three times and third four times, but he couldn’t get back over the hump. But if you’re a true baseball fan, his is a name which should never be forgotten as he was the first superstar manager. He managed in an era with no gloves all the way to when there were gloves. He managed in a time when pitchers pitched underhanded from 45 feet to a time where pitchers threw overhanded from 60 feet, six inches.

As it turned out, Wright didn’t last much longer, dying of a lung ailment on October 3, 1895.

robinsonw

C-Wilbert Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 29 Years Old

.334, 3 HR, 57 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (as a manager)

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-93

Putouts as C-349

1st Time All-Star-Wilbert “Uncle Robbie” Robinson was born on June 29, 1865 in Bolton, MA. He garnered most of his fame as a manager for Brooklyn, but he was a decent enough player. Catcher was always his main position and he started with the American Association Philadelphia Athletics from 1886-90, before moving to Baltimore mid-season of 1890. His hitting, even adjusted for the league-wide offensive burst this season, improved and paired with his usual good defense, welcome to the All-Star team, Uncle Robbie! He slashed .334/.382/.435 (all three highs in his career to this point) for an Adjusted OPS+ of 116. It’s always hard to gauge whether catchers will make All-Star teams because of their limited playing time, but if I had to predict, I’d say no.

SABR says the following of Robinson, “Though he was an outstanding catcher for the Baltimore Orioles during the 1890s, Wilbert Robinson is remembered today primarily as the jovial, rotund ‘Uncle Robbie’ who managed the Brooklyn Robins to two National League pennants and a 1,399-1,398 record from 1914 to 1931. His congenial nature and happy-go-lucky attitude made him one of the most beloved characters in baseball, but on the diamond he was a never-say-die competitor who specialized in getting the most out of his pitchers. ‘It is doubtful that baseball ever produced a more colorful figure than the esteemed Wilbert Robinson,’ wrote John Kieran in the New York Times. ‘Like Falstaff, he was not only witty himself but the cause of wit in others.’”

beckley4

1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old

1889 1890 1891

.303, 5 HR, 106 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season)

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 1B-95 (3rd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Well, Beckley keeps making All-Star teams, so he’s won me over to his side. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Good job, baseball writers and historians! He was the best first baseman in the league, finishing seventh in WAR Position Players (4.6) and 10th in Defensive WAR (0.9). That would be the only time he was in the top 10 in dWAR. If you’ll read Beckley’s 1891 blurb, you’ll see that the death of his wife caused him to have a bad season in 1892, but he’s back. Eagle Eye slashed .303/.386/.459 (it was his highest OBP to this time), along with 15 stolen bases, for an OPS+ of 127. That, along with stellar defense, put him on the All-Star team this season and he’s got many more ahead.

Of course, Beckley’s good play came with some shenanigans, according to SABR, which says, “
Jake Beckley wasn’t afraid to bend the rules. Despite his stocky build (he stood 5’10” and weighed 200 lbs.), he ran well enough to reach double figures in stolen bases and triples almost every year, but he also didn’t mind cutting across the infield if the umpire’s back was turned.

“Jake also loved pulling the hidden-ball trick and tried it on every new player who came into the league. Sometimes he hid the ball in his clothing or under his arm, and other times he hid it under the base sack and waited for the unsuspecting player to wander off first. One day, with Louisville’s Honus Wagner on first, Jake smuggled an extra ball onto the field and put it under his armpit, partially exposed so Wagner could see it. When the umpire’s back was turned, Wagner grabbed the ball and heaved it into the outfield. Wagner lit out for second, but the pitcher still held the game ball and threw Wagner out.”

connor121B-Roger Connor, New York Giants, 35 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892

.305, 11 HR, 105 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1891)

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-135 (4th Time)

Putouts-1,423 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-135 (4th Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,423 (3rd Time)

12th Time All-Star-After a one-year excursion in Philadelphia, the giant who gave New York its nickname was back and, for the ninth consecutive year, made the All-Star team. It’s probably his last one, but you can’t take away from Connor’s great career. This season, he finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.4), his lowest finish in this category since 1884, and 10th in in Offensive WAR (3.9), also his lowest since nine years previous. In a year in which batting numbers increased, Connor’s remained about the same as always. He slashed .305/.413/.450 and stole 24 bases for an OPS+ of 129. Most people would be happy with those numbers, but they’re mediocre when compared to the rest of the big man’s career.

At this point, Connor trailed Harry Stovey, 122-110 in home runs. He would pass him in 1895 and finish his career with 138 dingers, which would be the all-time high until Babe Ruth broke it in 1921. If Connor would have played in a different era, he would be one of the all-time home run hitters. Homers just weren’t a big part of the game when he played.

I mentioned in a previous write-up Connor tried switching to hitting right-handed for some at-bats. You would think a lifetime lefty would not be successful in this, but, according to SABR, “Despite reaching the age of 36 by midseason, the durable Connor played the entire 135-game Giants schedule. And like most National League batsmen, he was a beneficiary of 1893 rule changes that moved the pitching distance back to 60 feet 6 inches and eliminated the pitcher’s box. But numbers that once might have placed Connor in the top echelon – 105 RBIs, 11 home runs, and .863 OPS – were not particularly noteworthy given the offensive explosion of that season. Connor did, however, manage one extraordinary feat. As uncovered by biographer Roy Kerr, he hit four of his 11 1893 home runs batting right-handed.”

childs4

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

.326, 3 HR, 65 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

4th Time All-Star-In a year in which walks are doled out so commonly, due to the mound moving back 10 feet, you would have thought it would be a great opportunity for the patient Childs, and you would be right! He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.7) and sixth in Offensive WAR (4.7). At the plate, the cherubic Childs slashed .326/.463/.425 with 23 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 132. His on-base percentage was his highest so far in his career, but next year, it will be even higher. In 1893, only Billy Hamilton (.490) got on base at a higher rate.

At this time in baseball’s history, there wasn’t a better second sacker. He was one of the first players to bring value to a team due to his patience at the plate and rarely struck out, fanning only 12 times in 1893. Wikipedia sums up this era of his career as thus: “Childs was among the top ten players in the league in walks every season between 1890 and 1900; he finished second in walks every season between 1891 and 1894. He led the league in doubles and extra base hits in 1890. In May 1900, Childs was attempting a double play against the Pittsburgh Pirates when the Pirates player-manager Fred Clarke slid into him. There was a brief confrontation on the field, and then Childs spotted Clarke at a train station after the game. Childs charged Clarke and badly beat the manager in the ensuing fistfight. The next day, fans in Pittsburgh showed up in large numbers (triple the average Monday attendance) hoping to see a continuation of the scuffle, but the game was played without incident.”

davisg

3B-George Davis, New York Giants, 22 Years Old

.355, 11 HR, 119 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Offensive WAR-5.6

Def. Games as 3B-133

Errors Committed as 3B-64

Double Plays Turned as 3B-27

1st Time All-Star-George Stacey Davis was born on August 23, 1870 in Cohoes, NY. He might have had a shot as the greatest third baseman of all time, if he stayed there, but he’s going to move to shortstop starting in 1897. He started in the outfield as a 19 year old for Cleveland, before being traded to New York for Buck Ewing by Cleveland. That the Spiders were willing to trade Davis for the 33-year-old Ewing shows what they thought of his prospects, but the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple must have ignited Davis, because his career took off this season.

Davis finished eighth in WAR (5.7), second in WAR Position Players (5.7), behind only Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty, and first in Offensive WAR (5.6). He slashed .355/.410/.554 with 37 stolen bases and an Adjusted OPS+ of 155. His batting average, slugging average, and OPS+ were both career highs and his on-base percentage was his highest so far. It’s not his best season ever because his defense didn’t match his offense yet, but it soon would.

While it’s not shocking Davis made the Hall of Fame, it is bewildering it took all the way to 1998. It also doesn’t look like he got any votes before the Veteran’s Committee inducted him that year. My guess is he’ll be in my Hall of Fame before the 1890s end. Did you know if WAR is the measuring tool then only 52 players in all of baseball history are better than Davis?

lyons6

3B-Denny Lyons, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1887 1888 1889 1890 1891

.306, 3 HR, 105 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as 3B-214 (2nd Time)

6th Time All-Star-At this point in his career, Lyons has made six All-Star teams, all at third base. That’s ties him for most All-Star teams on the hot corner with Ned Williamson and Ezra Sutton. He had made five straight teams until missing out in 1892, when he played for the Giants. This season, Lyons moved on to Pittsburgh and was back on the list. It’s probably his last, as alcohol and injuries caught up with him, but Lyons has nothing to be ashamed of. Well, except the drinking.

This season, he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.6). He slashed .306/.430/.429 with 19 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 131. He didn’t make Cooperstown and he won’t make ONEHOF or Ron’s HOF, but in his time, there wasn’t a better third sacker.

Baseball Reference doesn’t have a lot of information on Lyons’ personal life. It does say, “Sporting Life of September 30, 1911 indicated that Lyons had fallen on hard times and that a benefit had been held for him.” However, it doesn’t give a reason why. He died in West Covington, KY at 62 years old.

Lyons never got a sniff at the Hall of Fame and I can live with that. I don’t think he deserves it, but because he played most of his good years in the American Association, he wasn’t going to get the votes.

But for a stretch of time from 1887-93, he slashed .320/.416/.459 averaging 26 stolen bases and there wasn’t a better third baseman in any of the leagues.

mcgraw

SS-John McGraw, Baltimore Orioles, 20 Years Old

.321, 5 HR, 64 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (As a manager)

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-John Joseph “Mugsy” or “Little Napoleon” McGraw was born on April 7, 1873 in Truxton, NY and now one of the most colorful characters in the history of the game has made the list. He will eventually make the Hall of Fame as a manager, but he wasn’t a bad player. He was, however, a bad man. McGraw would be the motor behind the dirty play of the Orioles, but his play was also a reason for their success. He started with Baltimore when it was in the American Association in 1891, before he and it moved to the National League in 1892. This season, Mugsy finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.2) and third in Offensive WAR (5.1), behind New York’s George Davis (5.6) and Phillies outfielder Ed Delahanty (5.6). This means his defense was terrible, but it would improve.

At the plate, McGraw slashed .321/.454/.413 with 38 stolen bases for a 130 OPS+. All of those totals were career highs up to this point in his play. He wouldn’t hit below .300 until the 20th Century. He’d never have an OBP below .400 in a full season ever again. He was a singles hitter but he could definitely get on base.

Of the beginning of his career, Baseball Reference says, “John McGraw was a Hall of Fame manager who also had a tremendous playing career.

“He broke in with the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association (which was a major league at the time) in 1891. As an 18-year-old rookie, he hit .270, in a league where the league average was .255. During his career, he appeared in 782 games as a third baseman, 183 as a shortstop, and smaller numbers as an outfielder and second baseman. Players of the time were often small and wiry, and McGraw was no exception – he was only 5 ft. 7 in.”

glasscock11

SS-Jack Glasscock, St. Louis Cardinals/Pittsburgh Pirates, 35 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.320, 2 HR, 100 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1890)

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes

 

11th Time All-Star-Welcome back to the All-Star team, Pebbly Jack! He didn’t make in 1891 when he played for the Giants or in 1892 when he played for the Cardinals, but he’s back this season. It’s been three seasons since I could complain about him not being in the Hall of Fame (C’mon, man!). He got 2.6 percent of the vote from the Veteran’s in 1936 and never came back on the ballot. If Glasscock was alive today, he’d be 159 years old and very happy to be part of the ONEHOF and my Hall of Fame. This season, he started with the Cardinals, playing 48 games and slashing .287/.382/.354 with 20 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 96 and then was traded to the Pirates for Frank Shugart and slashed .341/.385/.451 with 16 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 124. Glasscock almost guided the Pirates to the pennant. If you crunch all of these numbers together, he finished sixth in Defensive WAR and ended up slashing .320/.384/.412 with 36 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 113.

After this season, he would remain with Pittsburgh for one year and then finish his career in 1895 with Louisville and Washington. Others may disagree, but he was the greatest shortstop of his era and it wasn’t even close.

Wikipedia says after his Major League career ended, “Glasscock returned to Wheeling and played on a minor league team run by Ed Barrow, winning the first pennant of his career; he remained in the minor leagues as a first baseman until 1901, winning an 1896 batting title with a .431 average. After his baseball career ended, he returned to carpentry. He died in Wheeling from a stroke at age 89.”

delahanty

LF-Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old

.368, 19 HR, 146 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

War Position Players-6.9

Slugging %-.583 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-347

Home Runs-19

Runs Batted In-146

Runs Created-144

Adj. Batting Runs-51

Adj. Batting Wins-4.8

Extra Base Hits-72

Power-Speed #-25.1

1st Time All-Star-Edward James “Big Ed” Delahanty was born on October 30, 1867 in Cleveland, OH. Because of his power, I always imagined him bigger and he was tall for his day at six-foot-one, but he weighed in at only 170 pounds. The lanky one would go on to have a great career and a tragic end, but there’s plenty of time for that story. Delahanty started as a 20-year-old for Philadelphia in 1888 and 1889, and then went to the Players League, playing for the Infants. After that one-year experiment failed, he was back on the Phillies for most of the rest of his career.

Big Ed was a decent hitter up to this point, but really started lighting it up in 1892 and finally made the All-Star team this year, finishing sixth in WAR (6.9), first in WAR Position Players (6.9), and second in Offensive WAR (5.6), behind only New York’s George Davis (5.6). At the plate, he hit .368, his highest batting average so far; had his highest OBP so far at .423; and slugged .583, yes, his highest so far. No one benefited from the mounds moving back 10 feet more than Delahanty. By the way, that .368 average was third behind two teammates, Billy Hamilton (.380) and Sam Thompson (.370).

According to Wikipedia, Delahanty’s biographer, Jerrold Casway, wrote of him, “Baseball for Irish kids was a shortcut to the American dream and to self-indulgent glory and fortune. By the mid-1880s these young Irish men dominated the sport and popularized a style of play that was termed heady, daring, and spontaneous…. [Delahanty] personified the flamboyant, exciting spectator-favorite, the Casey-at-the-bat, Irish slugger. The handsome masculine athlete who is expected to live as large as he played.”

smithm3

LF-Mike Smith, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old

1887 1888

.346, 7 HR, 103 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

3rd Time All-Star-After taking a five-year sabbatical from this list, Smith is back on the All-Star team, this time as a leftfielder instead of a pitcher as before. This was actually the first season Smith did no pitching whatsoever. Smith was a decent hitter back in his American Association days with Cincinnati, but he became a pretty good batsman in the National League. He finished third in WAR Position Players (5.3), behind Big Ed Delahanty of the Phillies (6.9) and George Davis of the Giants (5.7). Smith also finished fourth in Offensive WAR (4.9), slashing .346/.435/.525 with 26 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 158. All of those numbers were career highs thus far and his Adjusted OPS+ would be his highest ever. Speaking of that OPS+, it ranked behind only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton (167) and Delahanty (164).

Smith didn’t play in Majors in 1890 and 1891, instead playing with the Kansas City Blues of the Western Association. He most likely was in the outfield for them in 1891 and it was there Major League teams understood how good of a hitter he could be. Smith was the poor man’s Babe Ruth, pitching well enough to make two All-Star teams and then being a good enough outfielder to make a few teams also.     You might be saying, “Well, everybody was hitting in those days” and you’re  right, but the fact he was fourth in Offensive WAR and third in OPS+ shows that he was still among the elite batters of his day.

burkett

LF-Jesse Burkett, Cleveland Spiders, 24 Years Old

.348, 6 HR, 82 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Times on Base-283

Errors Committed as OF-46

1st Time All-Star-Jesse Cail “Crab” Burkett was born on December 4, 1868 in Wheeling, WV and will have an outstanding well-deserved Hall of Fame career. The five-foot-eight, 155 pounder started with the Giants in 1890, hitting .309, but since he failed as a pitcher, he was allowed to be purchased by the Spiders in 1891, where he will remain for a while. In this, his first All-Star season, he finished seventh in Offensive WAR (4.6), while slashing .348/.459/.491 with 39 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 147. As I’ve written so many times this season, all of those numbers were career highs so far. That .459 OBP was third being only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton (.490) and Crab’s teammate Cupid Childs (.463).

As for his nickname, I would have guessed it was because of Burkett’s small stature and the way he scooted around the field. I would have been wrong. Baseball Reference says, “His surly disposition also made him unpopular with his teammates, earning him the nickname ‘The Crab’, but he was not that way off the field, earning a reputation for working well with young players and with children in the off-season and leading to his continuous involvement in the game after his retirement as a player.”

I mentioned he failed as a pitcher, but before entering the Majors, Burkett did well, again according to BR, which states, “Growing up in Wheeling, WV, a baseball hotbed at the time, he had begun his professional career with Scranton of the Central League in 1888, winning 14 games. He then had a tremendous season for Worcester of the Atlantic Association in 1889, going 30-6. He married a local woman that year, and settled down in Worcester, MA for the remainder of his life.”

Hamilton Billy 141-46_FL_PDCF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 27 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

.380, 5 HR, 44 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season)

 

Led in:

 

Batting Average-.380 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.490 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.014

Adjusted OPS+-167

Offensive Win %-.804 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Has there ever been a better outfield than Ed Delahanty, Hamilton, and Sam Thompson? Even now you’re thinking about that question and making lists, aren’t you? Well, I suppose it’s possible, but this trio places somewhere near the top. And leading the way was the great Sliding Billy. You’re going to be overwhelmed by the stats to follow, so relax, take a deep breath, and now…..read! He finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and ninth in Offensive WAR (4.5). He slashed .380/.490/.524 with 43 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 167. All of those numbers were career highs thus far and he’d never slug higher or have an Adjusted OPS+ that was higher for the rest of his playing days. As you can see above, his batting average, on-base percentage and OPS+ all led the league.

You might have noticed Hamilton is now playing in centerfield. According to SABR, “In 1893, after the pitching distance increased ten feet to the current 60’ 6” standard, their batting averages soared. Billy’s outfield defense improved as well, and in 1893 Harry Wright, in his final season as manager, moved Billy to center field, and sent Ed Delahanty to left. Billy remained in center for the remainder of his major league career.”

Oh, I forgot to mention Hamilton played only 82 of the team’s 132 games this season. This is why he wasn’t in the top 10 in steals for the only time in a 10-year stretch. SABR again has the details: “If anyone still needed confirmation of Billy’s value to the team, they received it in 1893. Billy was on his way to another outstanding season in early August, and the Phillies stood in second place after three double-digit drubbings of the Senators. Hamilton had complained of not feeling well, and his health grew worse as he tried to play despite fever and fatigue. On August 10, a doctor diagnosed Hamilton with a case of typhoid fever and ordered him out of the lineup. Billy played no more that season, and the Phillies fell out of the race, going 19-26 the rest of the way, and settling into fourth place.”

thompson5

RF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 33 Years Old

1886 1887 1891 1892

.370, 11 HR, 126 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

At-Bats-600 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-656

Hits-222

Doubles-37

5th Time All-Star-Big Sam Thompson’s consistency over the last few years bring in him into the conversation as the greatest rightfielder of the game so far or GOATSF. (I’m the king of incomprehensible acronyms or INCACRs.) Thompson was the veteran in the outfield, alongside two others, who along with Big Sam, would make the Hall of Fame. If Philadelphia had any pitching in these days, who knows how far it could have gone. As for 1893, Thompson finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.2) and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.8). He slashed .370/.424/.530 with 18 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 151. The on-base percentage was his highest up to this point in his career, but all of these numbers are going to be shattered in 1894. As it is, his batting average (.370) was second behind teammate Billy Hamilton (.380) and his slugging (.530) was third behind only teammate Ed Delahanty (.583) and New York’s George Davis (.554).

Baseball Reference writes of Thompson, “’On a frequency (per at-bat) basis, Sam Thompson led all nineteenth-century hitters in home runs. . . After 1893, when the pitching distance was increased . . . (Thompson} capitalized on the new pitching distance more than any other batter . . .” – from the book The King of Swat

“He also holds the obscure single-season record for the most RBI driving in a teammate (i.e. excluding self). Playing for Detroit in 1887, he drove in 156 teammates. (He hit just 10 home runs, for a total of 166 RBI.) Further, he holds second place in this category, as he drove in 147 teammates for Philadelphia in 1895. (Third place belongs to Hank Greenberg: 143 for the modern Detroit team in 1937.)”

1892 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Harry Stovey

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Bill Hutchinson, CHC

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Gus Weyhing, PHI

P-Kid Gleason, STL

P-Frank Dwyer, STL/CIN

P-Scott Stratton, LOU

P-Adonis Terry, BLN/PIT

P-Frank Killen, WHS

P-Sadie McMahon, BLN

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Chief Zimmer, CLV

1B-Dan Brouthers, BRO

1B-Roger Connor, PHI

1B-Jake Virtue, CLV

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

2B-Bid McPhee, CIN

3B-Billy Nash, BSN

SS-Bill Dahlen, CHC

SS-Herman Long, BSN

LF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Bug Holliday, CIN

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

RF-Oyster Burns, BRO

 

stovey11

1892 ONEHOF Inductee-Harry Stovey

 

For the third time, and the first time since 1883, a player was inducted into the ONEHOF without making the All-Star team that season. The ONEHOF is the one player a year Hall of Fame, in which every year since 1871, I’ve chosen the best player who isn’t already in the ONEHOF to enter the Hall. Here’s a recap of the ONEHOF inductees thus far. The yes or no following their name will be whether or not they are part of the real Hall of Fame. The position given to them will be their most played position in their whole career:

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)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1893: Charlie Bennett, King Kelly, Monte Ward, Old Hoss Radbourn, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, John Clarkson

So far, out of the 22 players that are part of the ONEHOF, 10 of them also made the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. However, spending so much time in the 1800s convinces me that if the Hall of Fame is a building to tell the history of the sport of baseball, many of these ONEHOF inductees should also be real Hall of Famers. So I’ve come up with a simplistic formula to see who I would put in the Hall of Fame or not. It involves making my All-Star team and WAR. If times making the All-Star team times WAR is 300 or greater, you’re in. If it’s under that, you’re out. This will keep out compilers who are not among their league’s best players and keep out fringe All-Stars who make it on a fluke. Out of all of those above, these are the ones who wouldn’t make the my cheap and easy Hall of Fame: George Zettlein, Dick McBride, Ross Barnes, George Wright, Cal McVey, Joe Start, and Will White.

To wrap up, here are the ONEHOF players on which Cooperstown and Ron’s Hall of Fame agree: Al Spalding, Deacon White, Cap Anson, Jim O’Rourke, Tim Keefe, Pud Galvin, Mickey Welch, Dan Brouthers, Roger Connor.

Here are ONEHOF players in Cooperstown and not in Ron’s: George Wright.

Here are ONEHOF players in Ron’s HOF and not Cooperstown: Bobby Mathews, Tommy Bond, Paul Hines, Jim McCormick, Jack Glasscock, and this year’s ONEHOF inductee, Harry Stovey.

young2

P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old

1891

36-12, 1.93 ERA, 168 K, .158, 1 HR, 15 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Not Yet

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1892 NL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-13.1

WAR for Pitchers-14.1

Earned Run Average-1.93

Wins-36

Win-Loss %-.750

Walks & Hits per IP-1.062

Shutouts-9

Adjusted ERA+-176

Adj. Pitching Runs-70

Adj. Pitching Wins-7.0

 

2nd Time All-Star-What did Willy Wonka say? “So much time and so little to do. Strike that. Reverse it.” A lot has happened since the 1891 season in baseball. For one thing, there is only one league left. The king took the challenges and finished on top. The National League has existed since 1876. During the next few years, it faced the Union Association in 1884, the Players League in 1890, and the American Association from 1882-1891. Yet through all of this, the National League remained the strongest league and the last Major League standing. The NL picked four of the AA teams and then decided to have a split-season, with the winner of the first half playing the winner of the second half.

Cleveland, coached by Patsy Tebeau and led by the arm of Young, prevailed in the latter half of the season, finishing 93-56 overall and 53-23 in the second half. It then lost the Championship Series (5-0-1) to the Boston Beaneaters. Young pitched three games in the series, finishing 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA. He wouldn’t be in another postseason until 1903.

For the season, well, look above, you can see what Young did. I would say it’s his best season ever and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s the last season the mound was a 50 feet. In 1893, it will be moved to 60 feet, six inches, as it is to this day. Read the Harry Stovey entry above for information on the new Ron’s Hall of Fame. I will say this, Cy Young had such dominating stats over his career, he was only required to make two All-Star teams to make my Hall of Fame. Of course, he’s going to make many more.

nicholsk3

P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 22 Years Old

1890 1891

35-16, 2.84 ERA, 192 K, .203, 2 HR, 21 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Not Yet

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

3rd Time All-Star-In 1892, it wouldn’t have been surprising to think Nichols would have a better career than Cy Young. At the age of 22, Nichols has had three dominant seasons because he started so young. Young didn’t start in the Major Leagues until he was 23 years old. However, the longevity of Young is going to be amazing over the years, though Nichols’ 15 years of pitching isn’t to be discounted. For the season, Kid finished second in WAR (9.2) to only Young (13.1) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.3) to guess who (14.1). He pitched 453 innings with a 2.84 ERA and a 124 ERA+. Nichols’ 35 wins this season was his career high. His innings, as for all pitchers, will start declining when the mound is moved back to the modern-era distance in 1893.

Nichols’ team, the Beaneaters, won it all this season, giving Kid his second championship. Boston won the first half of the season, going 53-23 and 102-48 overall. Frank Selee, the manager, won his second National Pennant and isn’t done. He’s going to be around a while.

On a site called Our Game, Major League historian John Thorn has an article titled Kid Nichols, In His Own Words, in which Nichols himself recaps his career. Though it can be a little dry, I urge you read the whole thing. I’ll just print his bit about his 1892 season here: “In 1892, Boston Nationals won 102 lost 48.

“The same year Nichols pitched 51 games or 1/3rd of the games played. Winning 35 and lost 16.

“By the way. Remember these were 9 inning games as a rule. Not 1 innings as so often is quoted today.”

hutchinson3

P-Bill Hutchinson, Chicago Colts, 32 Years Old

1890 1891

36-36, 2.76 ERA, 314 K, .217, 1 HR, 22 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Not Yet

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Wins-36 (3rd Time)

Games Pitched-75 (3rd Time)

Innings Pitched-622.0 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts-314

Games Started-70 (3rd Time)

Complete Games-67 (3rd Time)

Hits Allowed-571 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.653

Batters Faced-2,639 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as P-75 (3rd Time)

Assists as P-156

 

3rd Time All-Star-Wild Bill the Workhorse [TM] again pitched and pitched and pitched some more for the third straight year. This resulted in great results for his 1892 season, but having to move his tired arm back to 60 feet, six inches starting in 1893 was too much for him and he’s most likely made his last All-Star team. For the season, he finished third in WAR (9.0) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.6), pitching 622 innings, 81 more than second place Amos Rusie, with a 2.76 ERA and a 113 ERA+.

People talk about Dusty Baker ruining Chicago arms, but he was nothing compared to Colts’ manager Cap Anson. It was starting to affect the team, too, as Chicago dropped to 70-76, seventh in the National League.

According to Wikipedia, Hutch is still one of the great all-time Chicago pitchers. It says, “During his seven seasons with the Chicago franchise (now the Chicago Cubs) he ranks 4th all-time in franchise history in wins (181), 6th in games pitched (367), 2nd in innings pitched (3021), 6th in strikeouts (1224), 3rd in games started (339), 1st in complete games (317), 10th in shutouts (21), 1st in base on balls allowed (1109), 1st in losses (158), and 1st in wild pitches (120).

“He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, attended Yale University, and later died in Kansas City, Missouri at the age of 66.” Who knows the career Hutchinson could have had if Anson would have let off the reins a bit.

rusie3

P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 21 Years Old

1890 1891

32-31, 2.84 ERA, 304 K, .215, 1 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Will require two more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls-270 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as P-22 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Rusie, the Nolan Ryan of his day, had another fantastic season, but his best seasons are yet to come. His overuse would shorten his career, but his results in those 10 years (one of which was only 22 innings pitched) were incredible. No doubt he’ll make Ron’s Hall of Fame. For the season, the Hoosier Thunderbolt finished fifth in WAR (7.8) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.8). Rusie pitched 541 innings with a 2.84 ERA and a 113 ERA+. It’s his worst season in the five-year stretch from 1890-1894, yet any pitcher would have loved to have his 1892 year.

As for Rusie’s Giants, Pat Powers took over for longtime manager Jim Mutrie and didn’t do well. The team finished in eighth place with a 71-80 record. Powers would never manage again.

You might wonder why the mound would be moved back the next season. Wikipedia says, “Rusie’s wildness had been a catalyst for officials to change the distance from the pitching rubber to home plate from 50 feet (15 m) to the current 60 feet (18 m), 6 inches. This ruling was made effective for the 1893 season, at the peak of Amos Rusie’s pitching prowess. The distance change did not reduce Rusie’s effectiveness.”

Bleacher Report tells of trouble in the Giants-Rusie relationship: “An 1892 season brought mediocrity for Rusie. He won 31 and lost the same amount. He posted a 2.88 ERA, very decent for the time, and struck out just 19 more then he walked.

“After the season, the Giants actually released him – only to pick him back up later in the off season. But just because they got him back, it didn’t mean that the Giants had a stable relationship with Rusie.

“It was just the start of problems between Rusie and management.”

weyhing3

P-Gus Weyhing, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old

1890 1891

32-21, 2.66 ERA, 202 K, .136, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Will require six more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Saves-3

Games Finished-10

3rd Time All-Star-Weyhing made his third All-Star team, all in different leagues. He won 25 games or more for the sixth consecutive time and 30 wins or more for the fourth straight time. Rubber-Winged Gus finished fifth in WAR (7.5) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.7), behind only Cy Young (14.1) and Kid Nichols (9.3). Weyhing tossed 469 2/3 innings, third behind Bill Hutchinson (622) and Amos Rusie (541), for a 2.66 ERA and a 122 ERA+. What really affects Cannonball’s WAR every year is his putrid hitting, which would be a -9.8 for his career.

The mound moving back 10 feet will take its toll on Weyhing and he’s most likely made his last All-Star team. He’d stay with Philadelphia through 1895, a year in which he also played for Pittsburgh and Louisville. Weyhing pitched for Louisville in 1896 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1897. He then finished his career pitching for Washington (1898-99), St. Louis (1900), Brooklyn (1900), the American League Cleveland Blues (1901), and Cincinnati (1901). If you looked just at his 264 career wins, you might think he should have some Hall of Fame consideration, but he never did and probably doesn’t deserve it. That doesn’t take away from how good a pitcher he was for a nice stretch from 1887-92, in which Weyhing was top 10 in WAR for Pitchers five times in those six years.

As for Weyhing’s team, the Phillies, Hall of Fame manager Harry Wright coached them to a fourth-place 87-66 record.

gleason3P-Kid Gleason, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

1890 1891

20-24, 3.33 ERA, 133 K, .215, 3 HR, 25 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s-No (Would require five more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as P-42

3rd Time All-Star-Whenever I picture Kid Gleason, I think of John Mahoney, who played him in the movie “Eight Men Out.” It’s now I want to apologize to Ed Stein, Nig Cuppy, John Clarkson, and Tim Keefe, four pitchers who would have made this All-Star team in just about any other season. However, because the top player from every team has to make this team and the leading player on 11 of the 12 teams was a pitcher, it knocked out those four, despite extending this prestigious All-Star honor to 11 pitchers instead of 10. Sorry, guys! Oh, they’re all dead, I’m not too worried about revenge.

It’s not like Gleason’s year was terrible, as he pitched 400 innings with a 3.33 ERA and 104 ERA+. His pitching would decline sharply as the mound moved back in 1893 and he’ll start spending more time at second base.

The Browns finished in 11th place with a 56-94 record and were coached by Jack Glasscock (1-3), Cub Stricker (6-17), Jack Crooks (27-33), George Gore (6-9), and Bob Caruthers (16-32). At some point, they should have realized the manager wasn’t the problem.

After this season, Gleason would stay with Browns in 1893-94, then go on to Baltimore (1894-95), New York (1896-1900), the American League Detroit Tigers (1901-02), Philadelphia (1903-08), and the AL Chicago White Sox (1912). He’d then manage the White Sox from 1919-23.

Wikipedia says of the Kid: “Gleason has been referenced in pop culture in several books, and is a prominent supporting character in Ring Lardner‘s 1916 novel You Know Me Al. He is portrayed by actor John Mahoney in the 1988 film Eight Men Out, based on Eliot Asinof‘s book of the same name.”

dwyer

P-Frank Dwyer, St. Louis Browns/Cincinnati Reds, 24 Years Old

22-18, 2.95 ERA, 63 K, .146, 0 HR, 6 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-John Francis “Frank” Dwyer was born on March 25, 1868 in Lee, MA. He started as a pitcher for Chicago (1888-89), then moved to the Players League Chicago Pirates (1890), the American Association Cincinnati’s Kelly’s Killers (1891), and the AA Milwaukee Brewers (1891). As if that wasn’t enough bouncing around, he also pitched for the two clubs this season. For some reason, the move from St. Louis to Cincinnati woke Dwyer up and he pitched phenomenally for the Reds. Altogether, he finished eighth in WAR (6.2), pitching 332 1/3 innings with a 2.95 ERA and a 113 ERA+. As for his splits, for the Browns, he pitched 64 innings with a 5.63 ERA and a 62 ERA+, while for the Reds, Dwyer pitched 268 1/3 innings with a 2.31 ERA and a 142 ERA+.

Coached by Charlie Comiskey and led by Dwyer, the Reds finished in fifth place with an 82-68 record. They did better in the first half (45-32) than in the second (37-36).  Yes, if you don’t see the irony, Comiskey managed a team which would beat the team he owned in the 1919 World Series, a Series I read somewhere was tainted.

On the page, Baseball Fever, there is an argument for Dwyer as a Hall of Famer. I think he falls considerably short, but he one of the few pitchers who was able to take the mound moving back 10 feet in 1893 and still have some success. Beady, on that page, writes, “In the context of his times, Dwyer is not a brilliant shooting star, but a capable, reliable and durable pitcher with a fairly long career. He started early and pitched regularly for about ten years. You could name some of his contemporaries who lasted to a greater age, and not only those of the caliber of Cy Young, but there aren’t that many of them. While Killen, Breitenstein, Hawley, Meekin and probably Stivetts all had bigger reputations when they were on top of their game, Killen and Hawley didn’t last as long as Dwyer, Meekin never followed up his brilliant season in 1894 and Stivetts was a part-time pitcher by the time he reached 29.”

stratton2

P-Scott Stratton, Louisville Colonels, 22 Years Old

1890

21-19, 2.92 ERA, 93 K, .256, 0 HR, 23 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.792 (3rd Time)

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.026

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.62 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Back in his 1890 blurb, I wrote of Stratton, “That’s why 18 of the 25 players on the AA All-Star team are first-timers, including the hard throwing Kentuckian, who had his best season ever, but also most likely his only All-Star appearance. Hey, if you’re going to only make one All-Star team, do it with gusto as Stratton did.” (How lazy have I become that I’m now quoting myself.) Anyway, the point is I was wrong. Stratton did make another All-Star team, pitching 351 2/3 innings with a 2.92 ERA and a 105 ERA+. THIS will be his last time making the All-Star team, I guarantee it.

Stratton’s Colonels finished in ninth place with a 63-89 record. Jack Chapman (21-33) and Fred Pfeffer (42-56) were at the helm. It was Chapman’s last season managing after 11 seasons of doing so. He finished with a career 351-502 record and one pennant for the 1890 American Association Louisville Colonels. It was also Pfeffer’s last season managing.

How big of effect did moving the mound back from 50 feet to 60 feet, six inches have on pitchers? In 1892, pitcher’s ERA was 3.28, in 1893, it rose to 4.66. Teams averaged 5.1 runs per game in 1892 and 6.6 in 1893. If you stick around, you’ll see batter’s stats really start to jump next season.

Stratton was a typical case, as he went from going 21-19 with a 2.92 ERA and a 2.62 FIP to going 12-23, with a 5.43 ERA and a 4.33 FIP.

terry6

P-Adonis Terry, Baltimore Orioles/Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1884 1886 1887 1888 1890

18-8, 2.57 ERA, 98 K, .154, 2 HR, 11 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

6th Time All-Star-When I thinking of my Hall of Fame qualifications mentioned above, I was thinking of players like Terry, who has to be the flukiest six-time All-Star there is. He’s been in the top 10 in WAR for pitchers just two times and in the top 10 in WAR once, but has made six All-Star teams. He’s probably going to make it one more time. Of course, it’s my own weird rules for this team that have allowed that, but it’s almost like Adonis knew I would start writing this page in the 21st century and catered his career around that. One more thing about finishing in the top 10 in WAR for Pitchers is that Terry finished in the top 10 three times and all three times ranked 10th. He was never a top echelon pitcher.

This season, he pitched 249 innings with a 2.57 ERA and a 129 ERA+. Those aren’t bad stats, but the reason he’s on the team this season is because he was the best player on the Pirates.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, it didn’t do too bad, finishing in sixth place with an 80-73 record. Al Buckenberger (53-41) and Tom Burns (27-32) managed the Pirates.

Here’s Wikipedia on his time in Pittsburgh: “On June 10, 1892, Brooklyn released Terry, and was quickly signed by the Baltimore Orioles on June 14. He played just one game for Baltimore, a complete games loss, and was then traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 17 in exchange for Cub Stricker. He pitched well in his 2-plus seasons for Pittsburgh, winning 18 games in 1892 and 12 more in 1893.”

killen2

P-Frank Killen, Washington Senators, 21 Years Old

1891

29-26, 3.31 ERA, 147 K, .199, 4 HR, 23 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as P-22

2nd Time All-Star-Lefty Killen is starting out his career very Adonis-esque as he made two All-Star teams by being the best player on his squad. It’s not like he’s a bad pitcher. Killen pitched 459 2/3 innings with a 3.31 ERA and a 98 ERA+. He’s got some awesome seasons ahead, but he’s no Hall of Famer. Next year, he’s off to his third team in three years, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While he wasn’t a bad pitcher, Killen pitched on a bad team, as the Senators, coached by Billie Barnie (0-2), Arthur Irwin (46-60), and Danny Richardson (12-31), finished in 10th place with a 58-93 record.

SABR writes of Lefty, “Killen and 11 other AA players were assigned to Washington, which changed its name from the Statesmen to Senators to inaugurate a new chapter in its history. Almost immediately Killen began trading jabs in the press with manager Billy Barnie, claiming that Washington’s contract offer was lower than the one he had signed with Milwaukee and which was supposedly valid under the rules of the peace settlement. Killen, like all major-league players, quickly learned that the merger depressed salaries. Praised as ‘one of the most promising pitchers in the country’ and the ‘only reliable twirler on the team,’ Killen (29-26) was the lone bright spot on the 10th-place Senators (58-93), winning half of their games.

“The hard-throwing Killen was hailed as ‘a great general while officiating in the box [whose] deceptive curves have time and again proved very puzzling.’” Read the whole thing.

mcmahon3

P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 24 Years Old

1890 1891

19-25, 3.24 ERA, 118 K, .141, 0 HR, 18 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons)

 

3rd Time All-Star-McMahon moved with the Orioles from the American Association to the National League and still pitched well, though certainly not at the level of his last two seasons. He pitched 397 innings with a 3.24 ERA and 107 ERA+. He’s probably got a couple of All-Star teams left and will be on the Orioles for a while.

Baltimore finished last in the league with a 46-101 record. George Van Haltren (1-10), John Waltz (2-6), and Ned Hanlon (43-85) managed the team. Hanlon at this point had a 160-218 record as a manager, yet he was kept around, which ended up being a good thing, because he would have a great career and lead Baltimore and eventually Brooklyn to many league titles.

McMahon didn’t finish the season, according to SABR. Talking about the unsportsmanlike play of the Orioles, SABR says, “McMahon fit right in with this crew, perhaps not in viciousness but certainly in rowdiness. He was reputed to be a heavy drinker and a carouser. Robert L. Tiemann wrote that Sadie was something of a hell-raiser, especially on the road. In 1892 he was suspended for the final month of the season for missing a game and then cussing out his manager and owner in an argument over his fine for being AWOL. He continued to pitch well, winning over 20 games each year from 1892 through 1894.” For quite a stretch, McMahon and his temper formed a lethal combo and he was one of the best pitchers in the league.

clements3

C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 27 Years Old

1890 1891

.264, 8 HR, 76 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as C-557 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-With all of the leagues now merged into the National League and the wheat separated from the chaff, Clements, a lefty, ended up as the top catcher in baseball. His hitting, as always, was good, but he also played defense this season, finishing 10th in Defensive WAR (1.3). From the plate, Clements slashed .264/.339/.415 for an OPS+ of 128. Those weren’t his usual numbers, but in the time he played, they were very good for a catcher.

I’m not sure he’s got another All-Star season left in him, but I wouldn’t bet my house on that. He could always hit for average. Wikipedia says, “During the 1890s, he established himself as one of the National League’s top hitters, finishing among the top 4 in batting average on 3 occasions. Clements also hit for power, finishing second in the NL with 17 home runs in 1893 and finishing third in the NL with 13 in 1895. Also in 1895, he finished with a .394 batting average, the highest single-season average by a catcher in major league history.

“After the 1897 season, Clements was traded to the St. Louis Browns. He played one season for the Browns, during which he became the first player (of either handedness) to catch 1,000 games in his career.

“At the time of his retirement, he held the single-season and career records for home runs by a catcher. Both of his records were broken by Gabby Hartnett in the 1920s; the single-season record fell in 1925, while the career record fell in 1928. Clements is also the only 19th-century baseball player of prominence to retire with more home runs than triples.”a name=”Zimmer”>

zimmer

C-Chief Zimmer, Cleveland Spiders, 31 Years Old

.264, 1 HR, 64 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star Season-Charles Louis “Chief” Zimmer was born on November 23, 1860 in Marietta, OH and made his first All-Star team at the age of 31. He started with Detroit in 1884 and moved to the American Association New York Metropolitans (1886), the AA Cleveland Blues (1887-1888), which became the Spiders in 1889. Zimmer was never much of an offensive threat, but according to dWAR, was good defensively. He finished ninth in Defensive WAR (1.3) and also had his best year at the plate, slashing .264/.327/.404 for an OPS+ of 117. His batting average, slugging average, and Adjusted OPS+ were all career highs up to this point.

Wikipedia has the details on his nickname: “Zimmer acquired the nickname ‘Chief’ during the 1886 season while playing as the captain of the Poughkeepsie team. Zimmer was not of American Indian descent and explained the genesis for the nickname as follows: ‘Since we were fleet of foot, we were called the Indians. As I was the head man of the Indians, somebody began to call me “Chief.” It stuck.’”

Even though he’s never made the All-Star team, Zimmer already had a reputation in the league. Again from Wikipedia, which says, “In 1892, when asked how he kept his hands healthy so as to be able to catch in so many games, Zimmer also claimed he received regular hand massages: ‘He replied that he made it a practice to visit a massage establishment whenever his hands gave him the slightest cause for trouble. He argues that by the systematic rubbing of the joints all swellings and soreness can be remedied instantly.’”

Brouthers Dan 185-57_Bat_PD1B-Dan Brouthers, Brooklyn Grooms, 34 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891

.335, 5 HR, 124 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted 1889)

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1892 NL Batting Title (5th Time)

WAR Position Players-8.8 (5th Time)

Offensive WAR-7.8 (8th Time)

Batting Average-.335 (5th Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.911 (8th Time)

Hits-197 (3rd Time)

Total Bases-282 (4th Time)

Runs Batted In-124 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-179 (8th Time)

Runs Created-118 (5th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-60 (8th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-6.4 (8th Time)

Offensive Win %-.805 (6th Time)

 

12th Time All-Star-Big Dan is on his fifth team in the last five years and, at the age of 34, had his best season ever. It’s possible it’s also his last All-Star team. For one thing, he only has one more fulltime season left in his career, with Baltimore in 1894. I don’t have to give you his stats, because you just spent an hour above reading all of the categories in which he led.

As for the Grooms, due to Brouthers incredible season, they were the only team in which a pitcher didn’t lead in WAR. Still with Ed Stein on the mound and Big Dan at the plate, Brooklyn did well, finishing third in the National League with a 95-59 record. John “Monte” Ward managed the squad. Surprisingly, Ward didn’t manage more, because though he didn’t win any titles, his career winning percentage as the team leader was .563. Yet he managed only seven years and was gone after 1894.

All of us are results of our circumstances and Brouthers is no different. He was a great slugger while baseball was still in its relative infancy. He played the majority of his career before 1893, when the pitcher’s mound would be moved back and the batting statistics are going to go through the roof. He played before Babe Ruth and others made the home run popular. None of this takes away from his career, but it can’t help but stir the emotions of what could have been. Brouthers would get to see Ruth as he lived until August 2, 1932, dying at the age of 74.

connor11

1B-Roger Connor, Philadelphia Phillies, 34 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891

.294, 12 HR, 73 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted 1891)

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-155 (3rd Time)

Doubles-37

Extra Base Hits-60 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-155 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.985 (3rd Time)

11th Time All-Star-Connor jumped teams, going to the Phillies, but it didn’t hurt his production one bit. Age might have affected it a little, but not his team. Wikipedia explains, “In the offseason before 1892, Connor signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. The team broke up shortly after Connor signed, and his contract was awarded to the Philadelphia Phillies for that year.” For the first time in eight years, he wasn’t in the top 10 in WAR, but he still finished third in WAR Position Players (6.3), behind only Dan Brouthers (8.8) and Cupid Childs (7.1) and second in Offensive WAR (6.9), behind only Brouthers (7.8). Connor slashed .294/.420/.463 for an OPS+ of 166, the latter figure ranking second behind only, you guessed it, Brouthers (179). I wonder if Connor had a Brouthers voodoo doll at home. As for the home run chase, he still trailed 1892 ONEHOF Inductee Harry Stovey, 121-99.

The big man wouldn’t be part of the Phillies in 1893 as, according to SABR, “He led National League first basemen in fielding percentage (.985) and stole 22 bases. With a Hall of Fame outfield in Ed Delahanty, Billy Hamilton, and Sam Thompson, the future looked promising in Philadelphia. But Connor refused to sign the $1,800 contract tendered for the 1893 season by the club’s cash-strapped management. Consequently, the Phillies traded him back to New York in exchange for journeymen Jack Boyle and Jack Sharrot, plus cash.” It’s amazing how much great players like Brouthers and Connor jumped around at the tail end of their careers.

virtue

1B-Jake Virtue, Cleveland Spiders, 27 Years Old

.282, 2 HR, 89 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 31 more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-Jacob Kitchline “Jake” or “Guesses” Virtue was born on March 2, 1865 in Philadelphia, PA. His middle name might be the closest any name of any player in baseball history comes to matching my last name of Kitchell. Guesses started with Cleveland in 1890 and had his best season ever, slashing .282/.380/.391 for an OPS+ of 129, all of those numbers being career highs for a full season for Virtue. In the championship series against Boston, he slumped, going three-for-24 with no extra base hits.

For a man with just a five-year mediocre career, Wikipedia has a pretty extensive article on Virtue. It says, “Born in Philadelphia on March 2, 1865, Virtue debuted in the major leagues with Cleveland in 1890. In The Great Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Major League Baseball, Virtue is described as a 5’9″ player with excellent defensive skills. However, he also ‘had a huge failing. He was so short of self-confidence (some in Cleveland were unkind enough to say courage) that an error in the first inning or a strikeout in his first at bat would ruin him for the rest of the game.’

“In early 1893, The New York Times reported that Virtue might play in Philadelphia that year to replace first baseman Roger Connor; Connor was to be traded to the New York Giants. Connor was sent to New York, but Virtue remained in Cleveland. Though the pitching distance was increased from 55 feet and 6 inches to 60 feet and 6 inches for 1893, Virtue struggled offensively and defensively. A late-season on-field collision in 1892 seemed to have rendered Virtue ‘gunshy’.”

childs3

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 24 Years Old

1890 1891

.317, 3 HR, 53 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

On-Base %-.443

Runs Scored-136

Times on Base-303

3rd Time All-Star-I don’t think Childs is going to make four more All-Star teams, but…it’s going to be close. Childs is one of those amazing players from baseball’s early days of which many of you have never heard. I know I hadn’t before doing this page. Yet, during this time in which he’s playing, Childs is the game’s best second baseman. This season, he finished ninth in WAR (7.1); second in WAR Position Players (7.1), behind only Dan Brouthers (8.8); and third in Offensive WAR (6.4), behind only Brouthers (7.8) and Roger Connor (6.9), both of whom played a much easier defensive position. His .317 batting average was third in the league behind Brouthers (.335) and Billy Hamilton (.330), while his on-base percentage of .443 led the league. If that wasn’t enough, Childs also had a fantastic championship series against Boston, hitting .409 with two triples, along with walking five times.

                SABR summarizes his career as follows, “Cupid Childs was one of the best hitting major league second basemen during the late nineteenth century, not to mention a better-than-average fielder who possessed great range on the diamond. Only four other second basemen in the history of major league baseball have averaged more total chances per game than Childs. His all-around outstanding play made him an integral part of the great Cleveland Spiders teams of the 1890s.

“[F]or some reason the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee continually overlooks this talented multi-tooled player when it comes time to vote in new inductees. It seems that for now, Cupid’s arrow has missed its mark in Cooperstown.” He probably doesn’t deserve the Hall of Fame, but he certainly deserves a look.

mcphee6

2B-Bid McPhee, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1886 1887 1889 1890 1891

.274, 4 HR, 60 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as 2B-451 (6th Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-86 (10th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.49 (6th Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.40 (6th Time)

6th Time All-Star-I will finally concede McPhee should be in the Hall of Fame, but I think it was a bold choice. He was selected by the 2000 Veteran’s Committee and it must have been his fielding which caught its attention. He slashed .279/.379/.384 for an OPS+ of 107 for his career which isn’t spectacular, but did end his career with a 16.3 Defensive WAR which is 84th of all-time. He also played most of his good seasons in the American Association, which will usually disqualify a man from making Cooperstown. Still, due to longevity and being the best at his position at the time he played, I believe they got it right with McPhee.

This was McPhee’s best season ever as he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.2) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.5). It’s the first and only time he finished in the top 10 in Offensive WAR and the first time he’s made the All-Star team without finishing in the top 10 in Defensive WAR. McPhee slashed .274/.373/.370 for an OPS+ of 126. It was his highest OBP up to this point.

McPhee making the Hall of Fame makes me want to look at the candidacy for Cupid Childs again. McPhee played almost 700 more games and had about 1700 more at bats. He was also a much better fielder, beating Childs in dWAR 16.2 to 4.0. However, I already posted McPhee’s career slash line above. Here’s Childs’: .306/.416/.389 for an OPS+ of 119. I believe the Hall got them both right, but if Childs would have had a little longer career, he would be in Cooperstown also.

nash5

3B-Billy Nash, Boston Beaneaters, 27 Years Old

1887 1888 1889 1890

.260, 4 HR, 95 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as 3B-.898 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-I asked in Nash’s 1890 blurb whether his bat could carry him to another All-Star team in 1891 and it didn’t. However, lack of good players at third base did put him back on the team this season. He did well defensively, finishing third in Defensive WAR (2.1), to only shortstop Germany Smith and second baseman Lou Bierbauer. At the plate, Nash slashed .260/.338/.350 for an OPS+ of 100. Despite the dearth of good third basemen in the league, I’m predicting this is Nash’s last All-Star team.

But at least he went out on top as Boston won the league and won the championship series against Cleveland. In the series, Nash struggled, going four-for-24 with no extra base hits. It was Nash’s third title and he would be part of another one in 1893. After this season, he would remain with Boston until 1895 and then move to Philadelphia from 1896-98. In his long career, he only played on four teams and two of those were only for one season.

Here’s a quote from fellow baseball blogger verdun2 about the 1892 split-season with a mention of Nash: “The team in Boston, the Beaneaters–which gets my vote for the absolutely worst team nickname ever–went 52-22 and won the first half by 2.5 games over Brooklyn. The team consisted of Hall of Famers Hugh Duffy and Tommy McCarthy in the outfield, King Kelly behind the plate, with Billy Nash, Tommy Tucker, Joe Quinn, Bobby Lowe, and Herman Long holding down the rest of the positions. Hall of Fame pitcher John Clarkson started the season at Boston, but was traded to Cleveland during the season. That left Kid Nichols as the undisputed ace. Nichols had a great year going 35-26 with 187 strikouts, a 2.84 ERA, and five shutouts.” He has much more to say on the split-season, I suggest reading it all.

dahlen

SS-Bill Dahlen, Chicago Colts, 22 Years Old

.293, 5 HR, 58 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-William Frederick “Bad Bill” Dahlen was born on January 5, 1870 in Nelliston, NY and was one of the early game’s best shortstops. I can see myself complaining about his lack of induction to Cooperstown many times in the future and asking questions like, “How can Bid McPhee be in the Hall of Fame and not Dahlen?” Well, I have plenty of time for that, so let’s get on with this season.

Dahlen started in 1891 as a third baseman for the Colts, before moving to shortstop permanently this season. While later in his career it would be his defense that carried him, he did well offensively this year, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (6.1) and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.6). He slashed .293/.349/.423 for an OPS+ of 139, along with stealing 60 bases. He still has some great seasons ahead.

One difference between McPhee and Dahlen was temperament. From Jock Bio Legends, it says, “Baseball in the 1890s could be an ugly, violent affair. The game had become a win-at-all-costs profession that sometimes seemed to put aggression, intimidation and trickery on an equal footing with fundamental batting and fielding skills. It took a special kind of player to survive in this environment. A player like Bill Dahlen. A hard-hitting shortstop with a great glove, he was among the top players in the game for almost 20 seasons. ‘Bad Bill’ didn’t stick around because he was a nice guy. He went to war—and took no prisoners—every time he stepped onto the field.”

long2

SS-Herman Long, Boston Beaneaters, 26 Years Old

1891

.280, 6 HR, 78 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed-102 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as SS-99 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Long’s off to a good start, making his second All-Star team and winning his second league title in four years of ball. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.7) and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.7). At the dish, he slashed .280/.334/.378 for an OPS+ of 106 with 57 stolen bases. In the championship series against Cleveland, Long batted .222, going six-for 27 with no extra base hits. Still, Boston won and Long was a big part of that.

We talked about Long holding the career record for errors made in last year’s blurb, but we can’t help but beat this to death, so here’s more from Wikipedia, which says, “The seeming contradiction between a high error rate and exceptional fielding skill is attributable to the fact that Long had a greater fielding range than most shortstops. He could get to balls batted to his left and right that other fielders would not have reached; a certain percentage of these difficult plays were mishandled, resulting in Long being charged with errors on grounders and flies that lesser shortstops would not have touched (and on which they would not be charged with errors).

“Of the three other players charged with over 1,000 lifetime errors, Deacon White is in Baseball’s Hall of Fame, and Bill Dahlen is perennially considered for enshrinement by MLB’s Veteran’s Committee.” There are certainly some good shortstops in this era, with Jack Glasscock, Dahlen, and Long among them. Hughie Jennings career is just starting and no doubt he’ll be making some All-Star teams in the future.

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LF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 26 Years Old

1890 1891

.330, 3 HR, 53 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Singles-152 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Sliding Bill made his third straight All-Star team and will no doubt make my Hall of Fame. I also think he has a good shot at the ONEHOF. Hamilton finished fourth in WAR Position Players (6.1) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.4). At the plate, he hit .330 (second behind Dan Brouthers’ .335); had an on-base percentage of .423 (third behind Cupid Childs’ .443 and Brouthers’ .432); slugged .410 and stole 57 bases. His Adjusted OPS+ was 152. All of the numbers look dazzling, but if you look at his career, the season looked very similar to what he always did.

Hamilton wasn’t known for his power, never hitting more than seven homers in a season. However, Wikipedia tells us, “In 1892, Hamilton hit both a leadoff and game-ending home run in the same game. Only Vic Power (1957), Darin Erstad (2000), Reed Johnson (2003) and Ian Kinsler (2009) have accomplished the same feat.”

                Meanwhile, SABR says, “Billy was a disruptive force, particularly with his ability to frustrate opposing pitchers by fouling off their deliveries until he found one to hit or drew a walk. He was the ideal leadoff man, getting on base in more than 45 percent of his plate appearances that season, and putting himself in position to be knocked in by sluggers [Ed] Delahanty and [Sam] Thompson.

“Though the Philadelphia pitching was too weak for the team to mount a serious challenge for the pennant, the offensive fireworks drew fans. The flashy Billy Hamilton was one of the most popular players on the team. In 1892, all three outfielders batted over .300, with Billy leading the way at .330.”

holliday

CF-Bug Holliday, Cincinnati Reds, 25 Years Old

.294, 13 HR, 91 RBI, 0-0, 11.25 ERA, 0 K

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-13 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-20.0

AB per HR-46.3

1st Time All-Star-James Wear “Bug” Holliday was born on February 8, 1867 in St. Louis, MO. Just because he made his first All-Star team, don’t think he hasn’t been around awhile. He started with the American Association Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1889, leading the league with 19 home runs and then followed the team to the National League the next season, where he finished his career, playing on the Reds through 1898. This season was Bug’s best ever, as he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.9) and ninth in Offensive WAR (4.5). He slashed .294/.356/.450 and stole 43 bases for an OPS+ of 144. This is most likely his first and last All-Star team.

Holliday’s first ever at-bat came in the World Series, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Holliday was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and became the first player in major league history to make his debut in the post-season when he was called up, at the age of 18, by the Chicago White Stockings when they needed another outfielder after Game 4 of the 1885 World Series. He played in one game, and had no hits in four at bats. The distinction has since been matched by Mark Kiger, who played in the 2006 American League Championship Series for the Oakland Athletics as a defensive replacement, and Raúl Mondesí, pinch-hitting for Luke Hochevar in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series for the Kansas City Royals.”

By leading the National League in homers this season, Holliday is one of the rare players to lead two leagues in long balls.

thompson4RF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 32 Years Old

1886 1887 1891

.305, 9 HR, 104 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as OF-153 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-What an outfield Philadelphia had in 1890s. Ed Delahanty hasn’t made an All-Star team yet, but that day is no doubt coming. He teamed with Thompson and Billy Hamilton to make an all-Hall of Fame outfield. The stats are going to really stand out starting next season when the mound is moved back 10 feet to 60 feet, six inches. As it is, Thompson was still impressive, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (4.7) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.6). Big Sam slashed .305/.377/.432 and stole 28 bases for an OPS+ of 144.

A book entitled Big Sam Thompson: Baseball’s Greatest Clutch Hitter by Roy Kerr talks much about the 1892 Phillies’ season. It says, “On the days that Tim Keefe pitched for the Phillies in 1892, one of baseball’s rarest events took place. With Keefe in the pitcher’s box, and Roger Connor at first base, Billy Hamilton, Ed Delehanty (sic) and Sam Thompson in the outfield, and with Harry Wright directing the team on bench, six future Hall of Famers represented the Phillies at the ballpark.

“The 1892 Phillies should have been serious pennant contenders. They led the league in hitting and tied for the lead in fielding…

“Late in the season, Sporting Life blamed the team’s poor finish on the unsettling effect of multiple injuries that plagued the club down the stretch. ‘Clements was knocked out for an entire month, and after that, Cross, Reilly, Hallman, Delehanty and Hamilton were successively injured, so there has been more or less shifting for nearly two months.’”

burns4

RF-Oyster Burns, Brooklyn Grooms, 27 Years Old

1887 1888 1889

.315, 4 HR, 96 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons)

 

4th Time All-Star-After not making the All-Star team for two seasons, Burns is back. He had made the World Series in 1890, where he hit .222 with two doubles and a homer. The only change since then is that his Brooklyn team is now part of the National League rather than the American Association. It’s most likely his last All-Star team, as his hitting would decline over the next few years. This season, Burns finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.7) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.1). His fielding, at least according to dWAR, was always terrible. At the plate, though, Burns shined, slashing .315/.395/.454 and stole 33 bases for an OPS+ of 159. That Adjusted OPS+ was third behind only teammate Dan Brouthers (179) and Philadelphia’s Roger Connor (166).

Following this season, Burns would remain with Brooklyn until 1895, a year in which he’d move to the Giants to finish the year and finish his career. He was done with his Major League career by the age of 30.

Starting in 1893, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, the mound is going to be moved back from 50 feet to 60 feet, six inches, the distance at which it remains to this day. Most people seem to regard modern baseball as starting in 1900 or even 1901, the year in which the American League formed, but it would seem in 1893, when gloves were now the norm and not an aberration and the mound was at its regular distance, that we would recognize the game as the same one we see today.

1891 American Association All-Star Team

P-Jack Stivetts, STL

P-Sadie McMahon, BAL

P-Charlie Buffinton, BOS

P-George Haddock, BOS

P-Gus Weyhing, PHA

P-Phil Knell, COL

P-Frank Foreman, WAS

P-Ed Crane, CKK

P-Warren Fitzgerald, LOU

P-Frank Killen, MIL

C-Jocko Milligan, PHA

C-Deacon McGuire, WAS

1B-Dan Brouthers, BOS

1B-Perry Werden, BAL

2B-Jack Crooks, COL

3B-Denny Lyons, STL

3B-Duke Farrell, BOS

3B-Bill Joyce, BOS

SS-Paul Radford, BOS

LF-Charlie Duffee, COL

LF-George Van Haltren, BAL

CF-Curt Welch, BAL

CF-Tom Brown, BOS

CF-Dummy Hoy, STL

RF-Hugh Duffy, BOS

 

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P-Jack Stivetts, St. Louis Browns, 23 Years Old

1889 1890

33-22, 2.86 ERA, 259 K, .305, 7 HR, 54 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-9.4

Games Pitched-64

Strikeouts-259

Bases On Balls-232

Def. Games as P-64

Errors Committed as P-15

3rd Time All-Star-In 1882, the American Association took on the big kids on the block and started a Major League. They had to contend with the Union Association starting up in 1884 and with the Players League in 1890, but they held on. They even played an exhibition World Series against the National League from 1884-90. However this season, due to many reasons, but mainly the raiding of Players League players by the National League, they would finally fold. There is a well-researched article on the last year of the AA here. One thing the 10-year run of the AA would prove, however, is that another league could succeed as a Major League and it would lead to the eventual American League in 1901. I hear that league’s doing okay.

Back to the ballplayers, where the hard-throwing Stivetts had his best season ever, leading the league in WAR (9.4) and finishing fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.6). He continued to be a great two-way player, pitching 440 innings with a 2.86 ERA and a 137 ERA+ and slashing .305/.331/.421 for an OPS+ of 108. For the second season in a row, he crushed seven home runs.

As for the Browns, they finished second in their last year, eight-and-a-half games behind Boston. Charlie Comiskey came back for St. Louis’ last season and coached them to an 86-52 record. He’d be off to the National League in 1892, but not coaching the Browns, who also went to the NL, but the Reds. Yes, ironically Comiskey spent some time coaching the team which would eventually be the beneficiaries of his cheapness in 1919.

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P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 23 Years Old

1890

35-24, 2.81 ERA, 219 K, .205, 1 HR, 15 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Wins-35 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-503.0 (2nd Time)

Games Started-58 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-53 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-5

Batters Faced-2,155 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-141 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-McMahon again won the award for ironman pitcher as he pitched 503 innings. Next year, 1892, will be the last year any pitcher pitches 500 or more innings. In 1893, the mound would move back to its current iteration of 60 feet, six inches and slowly over the years, the innings pitched will drop. As for this season, McMahon finished second in WAR (9.1) to Jack Stivetts (9.4) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.4) to Philadelphia’s Gus Weyhing (9.5). He pitched a league-leading 503 innings with a 2.81 ERA and a 137 ERA+.

The Orioles, like the Browns, would move on to the National League in 1892. In their last American Association season, Billy Barnie coached them to a 71-64 fourth place finish, 22 games out of first. Barnie had a few years of coaching left in the NL. They switched parks in the middle of the season, according to Wikipedia, which says, “The Orioles played briefly at the old Oriole Park, in Harwood, south of the Waverly neighborhood at 29th and Barclay Streets, (just a block west from Greenmount Avenue) from 1890 to 1891. (The 1901 AL Orioles-turned-Highlanders would play at the site a decade later.) During the 1891 season, the Orioles moved a few blocks away to Union Park on Huntington Avenue (later renamed 25th Street) and Greenmount Avenue, where they would play and win their famous three straight championships for the old ‘Temple Cup’ in 1894–1895-1896.” As you can see, Baltimore has some successful years ahead.

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P-Charlie Buffinton, Boston Reds, 30 Years Old

1883 1884 1885 1888 1889

29-9, 2.55 ERA, 158 K, .188, 1 HR, 16 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.763

Walks & Hits per IP-1.163

Adj. Pitching Runs-49

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.4

6th Time All-Star-Buffinton had an off-season in the Players League while pitching for Philadelphia, but he’s back this season, having a great season. It will be his last All-Star team, but he went out in style, finishing third in WAR (7.9), behind Jack Stivetts (9.4) and Sadie McMahon (9.1), and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.1), behind Gus Weyhing (9.5) and McMahon (9.4). He pitched “only” 363 2/3 innings, but had a great 2.55 ERA (third behind Cincinnati’s Ed Crane (2.45) and teammate George Haddock (2.49)) which worked out to a 141 Adjusted ERA+, third behind Crane (164) and Haddock (145). Led by Buffinton’s arm, Boston won the last American Association crown. It was Buffinton’s second championship.

It was manager Arthur Irwin at the helm as the Reds finished 93-42, eight-and-a-half games over the Browns. The league didn’t play in the World Series this season, because there was already talk about the two leagues merging. Boston did not move over to the National League.

Buffinton concluded his career with the 1892 NL Baltimore Orioles, but his 31-year-old arm, that ended up pitching a total of 3404 innings, finally wore out and he only managed 97 innings before calling it quits for his Major League career. I think anyone that’s made six All-Star teams gets a consideration for the Hall of Fame, but I think there’s already a glut of borderline candidates, not to mention terrible candidates, in the Hall already, so I can live with Buffinton not making it, but he was a great pitcher.

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P-George Haddock, Boston Reds, 24 Years Old

34-11, 2.49 ERA, 169 K, .243, 3 HR, 23 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Shutouts-5

1st Time All-Star-“Gentleman George” Silas Haddock was born on Christmas Day, 1866 in Portsmouth, NH. He didn’t start out being a savior, as he was a mediocre pitcher for the 1888-89 National League Washington Nationals and then led the Players League in losses (26) while pitching for the Buffalo Bisons. At this point of his career, Haddock was 20-47 with a 4.92 ERA and an 80 ERA+, so you wouldn’t think he has a great season ahead, but you’d be wrong. In 1891, he helped Boston to a championship by finishing fourth in WAR (7.8) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.2). He pitched 379 2/3 innings with a 2.49 ERA, second behind Cincinnati’s Ed Crane, and a 145 Adjusted ERA+, second to Crane’s 164. It would be Haddock’s only All-Star season, but, hey, do you have an All-Star season? I didn’t think so!

After this season, he pitched for the 1892-93 NL Brooklyn Grooms and then finished off his Major League career with the 1894 NL Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Senators. Haddock finished with a 95-87 record and a 4.07 ERA, but if you take away his 1891-92 seasons, he would end up 32-63. No worries, he’s not the only player in ML history to have aberrant good seasons.

We have the advantage of being able to look back at history and gauge overall numbers, but in his day, Haddock was well-regarded, according to Baseball Reference, which says, “’Pitcher George Haddock . . . ranks among the great pitching stars of (the) country. He is not only a great pitcher but at times a handy man with the bat. . . He received his first points in pitching from the late Jim Whitney, who was his brother-in-law, and in his young days George played with the Madison Parks, an amateur club of Boston.’ – part of a professional biography of George Haddock in Sporting Life, October 17, 1891.”

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P-Gus Weyhing, Philadelphia Athletics, 24 Years Old

1890

31-20, 3.18 ERA, 219 K, .111, 0 HR, 11 RBI

 

Led in:

 

WAR for Pitchers-9.5

2nd Time All-Star-If we judge pitchers by WAR for Pitchers, Weyhing was the best pitcher in the league. He finished fifth in WAR (7.5) and first in WAR for Pitchers (9.5). Do you see that difference there? That’s because Cannonball Weyhing couldn’t hit worth beans. He slashed .111/.146/.146 for an OPS+ of -17. You read that right. He was fifth in the league in strikeouts with 65, in only 198 at bats. That’s enough negativity. Let’s focus on his pitching in which Rubber Arm Gun pitched 450 innings, third in the league behind Baltimore’s Sadie McMahon (503) and Columbus’ Phil Knell (462), with a 3.18 ERA and a  118 ERA+.

This all helped lead the Athletics to a 73-66 fifth place finish. Bill Sharsig (6-11) and George Wood (67-55) managed the team, which finished 22 games out of first. Neither would ever manage again and Philadelphia would not go on to the National League.

Between the 1891 and 1892 seasons, Weyhing was involved in a strange incident, according to Wikipedia, which reports, “Louisville, Jan. 26 — Gus Weyhing, pitcher of the Philadelphia Base Ball Club, was before the police court this morning upon an alleged charge of grand larceny. During the past two days a number of pigeons have been stolen from the coops at the National Pigeon Show, and last night, when Weyhing started out of the building with his basket, a pair of blondinettes, valued at $100, were found in his possession. He could not explain how he got the birds, and was therefore arrested.” He was apparently cleared of all charges.

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P-Phil Knell, Columbus Solons, 26 Years Old

1890

28-27, 2.92 ERA, 228 K, .158, 0 HR, 19 RBI

Led in:

Hits per 9 IP-7.071

Shutouts-5

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.078

Hit by Pitch-54 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-40

2nd Time All-Star-It must have been scary to sit in the batter’s box against Knell. He set the all-time record for hitting batters with pitches with 54. Before this season, the record was 42 by Gus Weyhing in 1888 and after this season, no one would have more than Joe McGinnity’s 40 in 1900. It’s incredible how wild Knell was, but he was still successful. After playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in the Players League in 1890, he came to Columbus this season where he finished seventh in WAR (5.6) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.6). He was second in innings pitched with 462, behind only  Baltimore’s Sadie McMahon (503); with a 2.92 ERA and a 117 ERA+. Columbus’ Recreation Park tended to heavily favor the pitcher.

As for Columbus, Gus Schmelz led the team to a sixth place 61-76 record, 33 games out of first. Schmelz would coach for four years in the National League after this, but never have a season with a winning percentage above .443.

After this season, Knell would never have another great year. He pitched for the Washington Senators and Philadelphia Phillies in the National League in 1892, Pittsburgh and Louisville in 1894, and Louisville and Cleveland in 1895. He would finish his career with a 79-90 record and a 4.05 ERA. But at least he has that HBP record and no one’s going to take that away from him. Knell lived a long life, dying at the age of 79 in Santa Monica, California.

foreman2

P-Frank Foreman, Cincinnati Reds (NL)/Washington Statesmen (AA), 28 Years Old

1889

(AA Stats Only) 18-20, 3.73 ERA, 170 K, .222, 4 HR, 19 RBI

 

2nd Time All-Star-Monkey Foreman pitched for the National League Cincinnati Reds in 1890 and that’s the team he started with this year. However, after playing one game in the outfield for the Redlegs, he came to Washington and had a pretty successful year on the mound. Foreman finished 10th in WAR (4.5) and 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.5). He pitched 345 1/3 innings with a 3.73 ERA and a 99 ERA+. In a year of weak pitching in the American Association, that was good enough.

As for Monkey’s team, it was dreadful. Washington had four managers – Sam Trott (4-7), Pop Snyder (23-46), Dan Shannon (15-34), and Sandy Griffin (2-4). Altogether, they combined to coach the Statesmen to a last place 44-91 record. None of the four would ever manage in the Major Leagues again. However, Washington would be one of the teams to move over to the National League.

Wikipedia wraps up his well-travelled career: “He played later for the Cincinnati Reds of the National League (1890), Washington Statesmen (AA, 1891), Washington Senators (NL, 1892), Baltimore Orioles (NL, 1892), New York Giants (NL, 1893), Cincinnati Reds (NL, 1895–1896), Boston Americans (American League, 1901) and Baltimore Orioles (AL, 1901–1902).

“In an eleven-season career, he posted a 96–93 record with 586 strikeouts and a 3.97 ERA in 169 appearances, including 205 starts, 169 complete games, seven shutouts, 169 games finished, four saves, and 1721⅔ innings of work.

“Following his playing career, Foreman scouted for various teams. According baseball sources, he discovered future Hall of Famer Eddie Plank while pitching at Gettysburg College.”

crane

P-Ed Crane, Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers (AA)/Cincinnati Reds (NL), 29 Years Old

(AA Stats Only) 14-14, 2.45 ERA, 122 K, .155, 1 HR, 7 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 AA Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.45

Adjusted ERA+-164

1st Time All-Star-Edward Nicholas “Cannonball” or “Ed” Crane was born on May 27, 1862 in Boston, MA. Yes, he had the same nickname as Ed Morris and Gus Weyhing. He started his career as an outfielder for the Union Association Boston Reds. Crane then played very limited time for the National League Providence Grays and Buffalo Bisons in 1885. In 1886, he move to the NL Washington Nationals. He didn’t play in the Major Leagues in 1887 and when he came back for the NL New York Giants in 1888 and 1889, he was mainly a pitcher. Crane moved to the Players League in 1890, still with a team called the New York Giants and started out this season in his fourth league with the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers.

This was Crane’s best season ever as he finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.5), pitching 330 1/3 innings with a league-leading 2.45 ERA and 164 ERA+. He’s the answer to the trivia question “Who was the last ERA leader for the Major League American Association?” He then went to the National League Reds later in the season, after Kelly’s Killers folded.

In the time Cincinnati lasted, they finished 43-57, 32-and-a-half games out of first. King Kelly proved to be a lot better player than he was a coach.

After this season, Crane played for the NL Giants again in 1892 and 1893 and then finished his career with the NL Brooklyn Grooms at the end of 1893. He died young, at the age of 34 on September 20, 1896 in Rochester, NY.

fitzgerald

P-Warren Fitzgerald, Louisville Colonels, 23 Years Old

14-17, 3.34 ERA, 110 K, .176, 1 HR, 10 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-Warren Bartholomew Fitzgerald as born in April, 1868 in Pennsylvania. That sentence right there should tell you how little information there is on the little five-foot-nine, 162 pound pitcher. He finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (3.7), pitching 267 innings with a 3.34 ERA and a 106 ERA+. He only had season after this one, pitching four games for Louisville in the National League in 1892.

Yes, Louisville was yet another team which made the jump to the NL. Jack Chapman managed it in 1891 to a 55-84 record, eighth in the league. The Colonels finished 40 games out of first place.

Did you know the Haymarket was formed in Louisville in 1891? What is the Haymarket, you ask? Wikipedia says, “The Haymarket referred to an outdoor farmer’s market in Louisville, Kentucky. The market occupied the block between Jefferson, Liberty, Floyd and Brook streets. A small section extended south down Floyd Street. It was established in 1891 on the site of the city’s earliest rail station, belonging to the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad. The site had been cleared after the station relocated to First Street in 1881.

“Local truck farmers used the spot informally in the 1880s to sell goods directly to consumers. A municipal market house on Market Street closed in 1888, the last of such houses on the street. In 1891 some of the farmers formed a stock company to purchase the former rail station space permanently. Despite the name, the Haymarket did not actually sell hay in any meaningful quantities.”

killen

P-Frank Killen, Milwaukee Brewers, 20 Years Old

7-4, 1.68 ERA, 38 K, .229, 0 HR, 5 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-Frank Bissell “Lefty” Killen was born on November 30, 1870 in Pittsburgh, PA. He had a good rookie year with the Brewers, pitching 96 2/3 innings with a 1.68 ERA and a 258 ERA+. If he pitched more innings and could continue that pace, he would have rated a lot higher. He has some good seasons left in his career.

Milwaukee played on 36 games, going 21-15, which by percentage would have been third place in the American Association. Charlie Cushman held the reins, but would never coach again. Wikipedia has the information on the partial season: “The 1891 Milwaukee Brewers (sometimes called the Creams or the Cream Citys) were an American professional baseball team and a member of the minor league Western Association and Western League and the major league American Association. They were managed by Charlie Cushman and finished their major league stint with a record of 21-15. They played home games at Borchert Field, which was known as Athletic Field or Athletic Park in 1891.

“Seven of the eight AA clubs completed the 1891 season, but on August 17 the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers dropped out and the Brewers were recruited to finish the season. Afterward, four clubs joined the National League, and the others were left out as the AA folded. The Brewers moved on to the newly re-formed Western League, but lasted just one more season before folding itself.” How awesome would it be if the modern day Brewers were called the Creams? I’m sure no one would mock that name!

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C-Jocko Milligan, Philadelphia Athletics, 29 Years Old

1885 1888 1889

.303, 11 HR, 106 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-35

Extra Base Hits-58

Passed Balls-40

Range Factor/Game as C-6.56

4th Time All-Star-I’ve written about Milligan three other times, but I always forget how good of player he is until he makes another All-Star team. This season, Jocko had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (4.4) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.4). He continued to be great with the bat, especially for a catcher, slashing .303/.397/.505 for an OPS+ of 155. That slugging and Adjusted OPS+ were both second in the league to Boston’s Dan Brouthers (.512 and 179 respectively).

However, wearing the tools of ignorance eventually catches up with a man and it did for Milligan. After this season, his hitting would start fading and he’d be out of Major League baseball in two years. He finished by playing for the National League Washington Senators in 1892 and then for Baltimore and New York in 1893.

SABR wraps up Milligan’s career and life: “After his retirement from baseball, Milligan invested in real estate, buying land in South Philadelphia and was a Tipstaff (a sheriff’s deputy) in the city of Philadelphia.

“Jocko Milligan died in Philadelphia of a heart attack at his home at 2741 Sears Street on August 29, 1923, and was survived by his wife Isabella, whom he had married on May 12, 1884.

“Though a big man for those days (6’1″ and 190 pounds) and made strong by his days as a blacksmith’s apprentice, he was a gentle and loving husband and father to his wife and children and a doting grandfather.” If he would have played in a different era when catchers would last longer, who knows how great Milligan could have been.

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C-Deacon McGuire, Washington Statesmen, 27 Years Old

1890

.303, 3 HR, 66 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as C-130

Errors Committed as C-56

Stolen Bases Allowed-204

Caught Stealing as C-120

2nd Time All-Star-In 1890, baseball started keeping stats for stolen bases against catchers and that became McGuire’s specialty over the years. He leads all time in stolen bases allowed and would set the all-time record in 1894 by allowing 293 stolen bases. People loved to run on him, though he threw out 37 percent of those attempting to steal in his career and that’s not a bad mark. As for this season, McGuire finished ninth in Offensive WAR (3.3), slashing .303/.382/.426 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 137. That OPS+ would be his highest ever in his career.

Though McGuire has many years left, I doubt he’ll make another All-Star team, so here’s a wrap-up of his career from Wikipedia, which says, “McGuire was the most durable catcher of his era, setting major league catching records for most career games caught (1,612), putouts (6,856), assists (1,860), double plays turned (143), runners caught stealing (1,459), and stolen bases allowed (2,529). His assist, caught stealing, and stolen bases allowed totals remain current major league records. During his major league career, he also compiled a .278 batting average, .341 on-base percentage, 770 runs scored, 1,750 hits, 300 doubles, 79 triples, 45 home runs, 840 RBIs and 118 stolen bases. His best season was 1895 when he caught a major league record 133 games and compiled a .336 batting average with 10 home runs, 97 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

“McGuire was also the manager of the Washington Senators (1898), Boston Red Sox (1907–08) and Cleveland Indians (1909–11). He compiled a 210–287 (.423) as a major league manager.”

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1B-Dan Brouthers, Boston Reds, 33 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.350, 5 HR, 109 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 AA Batting Title (5th Time)

WAR Position Players-5.6 (4th Time)

Offensive WAR-6.3 (7th Time)

Batting Average-.350 (4th Time)

On-Base %-.471 (5th Time)

Slugging %-.512 (7th Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.983 (7th Time)

Adjusted OPS+-179 (7th Time)

Runs Created-112 (4th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-57 (7th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-5.8 (7th Time)

Offensive Win %-.820 (5th Time)

11th Time All-Star-As much as I’ve written about Brouthers, I’m surprised Baseball Reference doesn’t automatically take me to his page when I open it. He surprisingly didn’t go back to the National League, maybe he wanted another league to dominate. Led by Brouthers’ hitting, Boston won the last American Association crown. Oh yeah, his hitting. He finished sixth in WAR (5.6), first in WAR Position Players (5.6), and first in Offensive WAR (6.3). Big Dan batted .350 to lead the league, had an OBP of .471 to lead the league, slugged .512 to lead the league, all leading to an Adjusted OPS+ of 179 which, yes, led the league. He also won his third league title.

Here’s a recap of his season from Wikipedia: “The Players’ League lasted just the one season, and the Reds merged into the American Association, carrying many of the championship team’s previous players. Again, the team won the league’s championship, finishing  8 12 games ahead of the St. Louis Browns. Brouthers led the league in batting average (.350), on-base percentage and slugging, while finishing second in triples with 19, sixth in doubles with 26, and third in RBIs with 109.

“After the American Association folded following the 1891 season, Brouthers was sent to the Brooklyn Grooms of the NL, where he played two seasons.” It’s rare a player as good as Brouthers bounces around this much, but most of the time it’s because the team he was on or the league he was in went defunct.

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1B-Perry Werden, Baltimore Orioles, 29 Years Old

1890

.290, 6 HR, 104 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Putouts-1,422

Def. Games as 1B-139

Putouts as 1B-1,422

2nd Time All-Star-It’s the second consecutive All-Star team for Moose Werden, who came to Baltimore after Toledo went belly-up. Werden slashed .290/.363/.424 for an OPS+ of 124. It wasn’t as good as his previous year, but he was still one of the best first basemen in the American Association’s last season. Too bad homers weren’t as numerous in Major Leagues as they were in the minors, because Werden set the home run mark in the lesser leagues. (See last year’s blurb for details.)

You have to read this story from SABR about the hard-hitting Moose: “Perry Werden: One time I hit the ball so hard that it broke in two. Half of the ball struck a ‘Hit Me for a Free Pair of Shoes’ sign on the left-field fence; the other half was retrieved by the left fielder and thrown in to the catcher. As I steamed home, the catcher tagged me with half a ball. The umpire called me out, but I successfully argued that our team deserved half a run. It was a close game and we won by the score of 2½ to 2.

“Reporter: That’s an amazing story, Perry. Did you get a free pair of shoes?       

“Werden: No, the store owner said I was entitled to only one shoe.”

More on 1891 from SABR: “In St. Louis on June 2, 1891, with his wife and father attending, Werden demonstrated the ‘rowdy’ style of play common during this era. He tried to steal second base, but the ball reached second baseman Bill Eagan before he got there, so he ‘pushed’ Eagan ‘violently and attempted to knock the ball from his hands.’ The crowd hissed this behavior, but Werden, said the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ‘deserved worse than a hissing’ for his ‘disgraceful exhibition of temper.’ Two months later, after several more instances of dirty play, Werden received a stern warning from league president Louis C. Kramer.”

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2B-Jack Crooks, Columbus Solons, 25 Years Old

.245, 0 HR, 46 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as 2B-.957

1st Time All-Star-Charles John “Jack” Crooks was born on November 9, 1865 in St. Paul, MN. In a year bereft of good second sackers, Crooks made the All-Star team as its only keystone representative. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.1), 10th in Offensive WAR (3.2), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.1). He had a good all-around season, slashing                 .245/.379/.331 for an OPS+ of 109. His main talent on offense was taking pitches as he walked 103 times, the second of four straight times Crooks would wind up with 90 or more stolen bases.

Crooks started his career with the Solons and was now playing his third consecutive season with them. He’d move to the National League in 1892, playing for St. Louis for two years, then taking a year off from the Major Leagues, before moving to Washington. He played with it for two seasons, then went to Louisville in the middle of 1896. After another year off from the majors, he finished his career with St Louis in 1898. He couldn’t slug and he couldn’t hit, but he had a high on-base percentage because of his many walks.

Wikipedia says of his walking, “Crooks was well known in his era as an extremely patient hitter, often fouling off many pitches until he got one that he could hit. This approach led him to draw many walks…, in fact, he held the record for walks by rookie second basemen as well, when he walked 96 times for the Columbus Solons of the American Association in 1890. He held this record until Jim Gilliam of the Brooklyn Dodgers walked 100 times in 1953. Despite hitting just .213 in 1892, he walked a league-leading 136 times put his on-base percentage (OBP) at .400, good for fifth in National League. He also became the Major League single-season record holder in that category, a title he held until Jimmy Sheckard walked 147 times in 1911.”

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3B-Denny Lyons, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

1887 1888 1889 1890

.315, 11 HR, 84 RBI

 

5th Time All-Star-When a player has made five straight All-Star teams, it’s time to start looking seriously at his career. At this point in baseball history, only Ned Williamson and Ezra Sutton, with six, have made more All-Star teams than the great Lyons. It’s also worth noting that he has done this while having problems with the bottle, according to many reports. This season, he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.5); and third in Offensive WAR (4.4), behind only Boston’s Dan Brouthers (6.3) and Baltimore’s George Van Haltren (4.5). He slashed .315/.445 (2nd to only Brouthers’ .471)/.455 for an OPS+ of 150. Lyons is going to start declining after this season, but he’s not done making All-Star teams.

Baseball Reference has some interesting notes on Lyons, saying, “Denny Lyons was a top player in the 19th Century, playing almost exclusively at third base until the last year of his 13-year career. While he usually didn’t lead the league in batting categories, he was often among the leaders while he played in the American Association and sometimes when he was in the National League.

“The most similar player is his contemporary (through June 2007, using the similarity scores method), Oyster Burns, who also played early in his career in the American Association and then moved to the National League. Lyons has a slightly higher Adjusted OPS+, though, and is ranked at # 82 on the all-time list, tied with King Kelly and Darryl Strawberry.” It’s no little thing to be compared to Kelly and Strawberry.

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3B-Duke Farrell, Boston Reds, 24 Years Old

.302, 12 HR, 110 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-12

Runs Batted In-110

AB per HR-39.4

Caught Stealing %-58.8

1st Time All-Star-Charles Andrew “Duke” Farrell was born on August 31, 1866 in Oakdale, MA. He started his Major League career playing part time with the 1888 National League White Stockings, then moved to the Players League Chicago Pirates in 1890. Here in 1891, he ended up with the American Association champion Reds, where he had his best season ever. Farrell finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.0) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.5). At the plate, he slashed .302/.384/.474 for an OPS+ of 144. Farrell’s slugging of .474 was third behind teammate Dan Brouthers (.512) and Philadelphia’s Jocko Milligan (.505).

After this season, Farrell would have a long career, but it’s possible he’s made his first and last All-Star team. He would move to the NL in 1892, playing for Pittsburgh and then move on again in 1893, to Washington. Farrell wasn’t done moving yet, going to the Giants from 1894-96. Then he was on the road again, moving in mid-season of 1896 back to Washington, where he would remain until 1899. Did he finish that 1899 season with the Senators. No, no he didn’t. He moved to Brooklyn, where he would play through 1902. From 1903-05, Farrell finished his career with the American League Boston Americans. It should be noted only in 1891 and 1892 did Farrell ever play more games at third base than he did at catcher. He was mainly a catcher, which limited the amount of games he played. If he remained at third base, he might have had a monster Hall of Fame career.

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3B-Bill Joyce, Boston Reds, 23 Years Old

.309, 3 HR, 51 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-William Michael “Scrappy Bill” Joyce was born on September 22, 1867 in St. Louis, MO. He played only 65 games for the Reds, but he still made the All-Star team as one of those rare times two players who were part of a platoon both made the team. Joyce made the most of his playing time, finishing 10th in WAR Position Players (3.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.4). He slashed .309/.460/.506 for an OPS+ of 175. Had he played more, he would have ranked in the top 10 in On-Base Percentage, Slugging, OPS, and Adjusted OPS+. And according to Wikipedia, “In 1891 he reached base in 64 consecutive games, a major league record not bettered until 1941.” He has a few good years left.

Joyce had started as a third baseman in the Players League for the Boston Ward’s Wonders in 1890. SABR says of him, “A son of Irish immigrants,William Michael Joyce was born September 22, 1867, in St. Louis and grew up in Carondelet, the southernmost neighborhood of the city, along the Mississippi River. The Carondelet riverfront was ‘crowded with mammoth iron and zinc furnaces.’ As a young man, Joyce worked in a rolling mill there and was dubbed ‘Scrappy.’ The nickname fit and stuck with him throughout his life.

“On May 18, 1891, he homered and tripled in a win over Louisville; his four-bagger was only the second ball ever hit over the right-field fence at the Boston ballpark. On July 2, he fractured his ankle while attempting to steal second base and was sidelined for three months.”

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SS-Paul Radford, Boston Reds, 29 Years Old

.259, 0 HR, 65 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-2.3

1st Time All-Star-Paul Revere “Shorty” Radford was born on October 14, 1861 in Roxbury, MA. He was mainly an outfielder for his career, though there were a few seasons he played mainly at short, including this one. He started his career with the 1883 National League Boston Beaneaters, then moved to Providence in 1884-85. In 1886, he was under league control and was purchased by the Kansas City Cowboys. The next year, he was under league control again and picked up by the New York Metropolitans of the American Association. He stayed in that league with Brooklyn in 1888, before coming back to the National League with Cleveland in 1889. Radford wasn’t done moving, travelling to the Players League Cleveland Infants in 1890, before finally ending up with Boston this season. He’d finish off his career playing for the NL Washington Senators from 1892-94.

In this season, Radford’s best ever, he was an important part of a pennant winning team, finishing ninth in WAR (4.7); third in WAR Position Players (4.6), behind only teammates Dan Brouthers and Hugh Duffy; and first in Defensive WAR (2.3). His hitting wasn’t great as he slashed .259/.393/.305 for an OPS+ of 99, but combined with his dazzling glove, Radford had a good season. This was his third time being on a league champion after playing on the NL 1883 Beaneaters and 1884 Grays.

Shorty, who stood only five-foot-six and 148 pounds, lived a long life, dying in Boston on February 21, 1945 at the age of 83.

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LF-Charlie Duffee, Columbus Solons, 25 Years Old

.301, 10 HR, 90 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as OF-33 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Charles Edward “Charlie” or “Home Run” Duffee was born on January 27, 1866 in Mobile, AL. There weren’t too many players from the south at this time, perhaps there was still bitterness over the Civil War. Duffee made his way to the Major Leagues in 1889-90 with the St. Louis Browns and hit 16 home runs in 1889 to earn the nickname “Home Run.” This season, his best ever, he slashed .301/.353/.420 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 128 for the Solons.  He’d finish his career in the National League, with the 1892 Washington Senators and the 1893 Cincinnati Reds.

AL.com has an article on Duffee, which says, “Charlie Duffee had a relatively short Major League career, but he’s had an awfully long legacy in baseball. A Mobile native, Duffee became the first Alabamian to play in the big leagues in the St. Louis Browns’ opening game of the American Association season on April 17, 1889 – 125 years ago today.

“Since then, more than 300 Alabama natives have followed Duffee to the top level of the National Pastime.

“ In his first season with St. Louis, Duffee struck out 81 times, more than any other batter in the American Association in 1889. But he also hit 16 home runs, the third-highest total in the league. Duffee carried the decidedly Deadball Era nickname of ‘Home Run’ on a team loaded with nicknames…

“Perhaps it’s fitting that Alabama’s first big leaguer was a power hitter, considering who came after him from the state – noted home run hitters such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Mule Suttles.”

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LF-George Van Haltren, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

1889

.318, 9 HR, 83 RBI

 

2nd Time All-Star-Rip Van Haltren joined the Orioles after playing for Brooklyn in the 1890 Players League and continued his good hitting, finishing second in Offensive WAR (4.5), behind only Boston’s Dan Brouthers (6.3). He slashed .318/.398/.443 for an OPS+ of 140. It would be his highest Adjusted OPS+ for his career, though he still has 12 seasons left to play. One thing that hurt Van Haltren over the years was his glove. This season his dWAR was -1.1. Over his career, it was -11.3. Fortunately for Rip, his hitting more than made up for his putrid fielding.

After this season, Van Haltren would play the rest of his career in the National League. He played 1892 in Brooklyn, 1892-93 in Pittsburgh, and finished off in New York from 1894-03. It’s easy to be seduced by his stats, but the truth is, after the pitcher’s mound was moved back to 60 feet, six inches in 1893, hitting numbers increased across the board, which is why Van Haltren won’t be finishing in the top 10 in WAR in any categories, despite a lifetime .316 average. According to Wikipedia, “As of the end of the 2014 MLB season, Van Haltren was the only player with a minimum of 5000 career MLB at bats and a career batting average of at least .314 who was retired at least the required six years of Hall of Fame entry to not be in enshrined in the Hall of Fame.” Just like in the 1930s, where offensive numbers were abnormally high, the 1890s National League numbers need to be taken in their context.

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CF-Curt Welch, Baltimore Orioles, 29 Years Old

1886 1888 1889

.268, 3 HR, 55 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Hit by Pitch-36 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-2.58 (5th Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.48 (4th Time)

4th Time All-Star-After not making the All-Star team in 1890, while splitting his time between Philadelphia and Baltimore, Welch was back this season, probably his last All-Star team. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.9), slashing .268/.400/.368 for an OPS+ of 119. It was his highest on-base percentage of his career. Welch would finish his Major League days in the National League for the 1892 Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds and the 1893 Louisville Colonels.

Wikipedia wraps us Welch’s career as follows, “Welch led the AA in hit by pitches in 1888, 1890, and 1891, and he ranked third in stolen bases in 1886 and 1888. He was regarded as one of the best defensive center fielders of the 19th century. In the 2010 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James ranked Welch as the 83rd greatest center fielder of all-time.

“Welch’s career was damaged by his drinking, and he died in 1896.”

A book, A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball, says of Welch, “[I]n 1891, a sportswriter observed, ‘No player in the country gets to first base by being hit with a pitched ball as often as “Curt” Welch…His position at the plate is such that it is difficult for the pitcher to work an inshoot without hitting him. He never jumps out of the way, no matter how swift the ball, and always trots to first as though he did not feel the blow. I have seen his side and arm black and blue from where he has been hit, but his bulldog pride and ignorant courage never permit him to give any sign of pain’ (Sporting Times, May 16, 1891).”

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CF-Tom Brown, Boston Reds, 30 Years Old

1885

.321, 5 HR, 72 RBI

 

Led in:

 

At Bats-589

Runs Scored-177

Hits-189

Total Bases-276

Triples-21

Strikeouts-96 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases-106

2nd Time All-Star-Brown was one of the first free swingers, striking out often for someone in his day. From 1895-to-1911, he would be the all-time leader in batter whiffs. If you look at his stats, he just seemed to do everything at full effort, due to his good speed. He’d steal a lot, get a lot of triples, and this season, set the record for runs scored with 177. Billy Hamilton would break that mark in three years. Altogether, he had a great season, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (3.8) and sixth in Offensive WAR (4.1). Brown slashed .321/.397/.469 for an OPS+ of 146. All three of his slash numbers were career highs. It was his best season ever and most likely, his last All-Star team. He was also part of his second league champion.

You might wonder where Brown has been since 1885, the last time he made an All-Star team. He remained with the Alleghenys in 1886, then followed them to the National League in 1887. He was released by Pittsburgh and then picked up by Indianapolis that season. At the beginning of 1888, Brown was in Boston, where, over the next four seasons, he would play for that city in three different leagues. He’ll conclude his career with Louisville (1892-94), St. Louis (1895), and Washington (1895-98), all in the National League.

Brown was a good player, but could have been even better if not for his terrible fielding. Wikipedia says, “Brown established the major league record with 490 errors committed as an outfielder. He racked up 222 errors in the American Association, 238 in the National League, and 30 in the Player’s League. By contrast, the National League record is held by nineteenth-century player George Gore with 346 errors and the American League record by Ty Cobb with 271.”

hoy3CF-Dummy Hoy, St. Louis Browns, 29 Years Old

1888 1890

.292, 5 HR, 64 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Plate Appearances-688

Bases on Balls-117

Times on Base-292

Def. Games as OF-139 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Hoy has made his third All-Star team with his third different league. Wherever he played, he was a great asset to the team. This season, Hoy slashed .292/.424/.360 for an OPS+ of 118. This was the fourth of six consecutive seasons in which his on-base percentage was higher than his slugging average. This happened with singles hitters like Hoy. His OBP was third in the league, behind only Boston’s Dan Brouthers and teammate Denny Lyons.

SABR talks about Hoy communicated with his teammates despite being deaf, saying, “When Hoy joined the Washington ballclub, he posted a statement on the clubhouse wall: ‘Being totally deaf as you know and some of my teammates being unacquainted with my play, I think it is timely to bring about an understanding between myself, the left fielder, the shortstop and the second baseman and the right fielder. The main point is to avoid possible collisions with any of these four who surround me when in the field going for a fly ball. Whenever I take a fly ball I always yell I’ll take it–the same as I have been doing for many seasons, and of course the other fielders let me take it. Whenever you don’t hear me yell, it is understood I am not after the ball, and they govern themselves accordingly.’ Hoy’s yell was actually a squeak.”

There is a push to put Hoy in the Hall of Fame, mainly due to his play as a deaf player, but it shouldn’t be forgotten, handicap or not, Hoy was one of the great players of his day and, by all accounts, a wonderful human being.

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RF-Hugh Duffy, Boston Reds, 24 Years Old

1890

.336, 9 HR, 110 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-110

Singles-143

Power-Speed #-16.3

2nd Time All-Star-Duffy is the eighth Reds player to make the All-Star team, which shows why they took the American Association’s last pennant. Sir Hugh is the last of the players to be written about by me in the AA and it was his only year in this league. He’d be onto the National League to finish up his career after this, except for a part-time gig for the American League Milwaukee Brewers in 1901. This season starts a run of 10 years Duffy would play in Boston. He started out sensationally, finishing eighth in WAR (4.8); second in WAR Position Players (4.8), behind only teammate Dan Brouthers (5.6); and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.2). Sir Hugh slashed .336/.408/.453 for and OPS+ of 145. That batting average, on-base percentage, and Adjusted OPS+ were all highs for him at the time, but he’d be shattering them all. As it was, he was second in batting average behind, you guessed it, Brouthers (.350).

Baseball Reference tells about the demise of the AA: “By 1890, the AA was not even the second-best major league, ranking behind the Players League and NL. When numerous AA stars began making promises to sign with NL clubs in 1892, the AA stopped its challenge and merged with its rival, officially closing its doors on December 18, 1891. Several AA rules were put into place in the new merged league, including cheaper tickets, permitting Sunday ball where allowed by local law (and if the clubs agreed to it) and the right to sell alcohol at games. The AA pioneered the practice of awarding first base to hit batters in 1884 – the NL would not follow suit till 1888. The AA also was the first league to have paid umpires.”

1891 National League All-Star Team

P-Bill Hutchinson, CHC

P-John Clarkson, BSN

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Harry Staley, PIT/BSN

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Kid Gleason, PHI

P-John Ewing, NYG

P-Bob Caruthers, BRO

P-Tony Mullane, CIN

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Doggie Miller, PIT

1B-Roger Connor, NYG

1B-Jake Beckley, PIT

1B-Cap Anson, CHC

2B-Bid McPhee, CIN

2B-Danny Richardson, NYG

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

3B-Arlie Latham, CIN

SS-Herman Long, BSN

LF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Mike Griffin, BRO

RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG

RF-Harry Stovey, BSN

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

 

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P-Bill Hutchinson, Chicago Colts, 31 Years Old

1890

44-19, 2.81 ERA, 261 K, .185, 2 HR, 25 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-9.9

WAR for Pitchers-10.5

Wins-44 (2nd Time)

Games Pitched-66 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-561.0 (2nd Time)

Games Started-58 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-56 (2nd Time)

Home Runs Allowed-26 (2nd Time)

Hits Allowed-508

Earned Runs Allowed-175

Wild Pitches-25

Batters Faced-2,371 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-66 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-With the demise of the Players League after one season, it was back to two leagues, the National League and the American Association. By next year, it will be down to one, as the American Association will fold after 10 years of existence as a Major League. Then from 1892-through-1900, the National League will be the only Major League game in town and it will look like they finally slew all comers. But starting in 1901, a new league, the American League will begin its long and still-running history.

Hutchinson played in the oldest league for an old school manager, Cap Anson, who used his pitcher in an old school manner, that is to say until his arm fell off. Wild Bill pitched 561 innings, which was 60 more than second place Amos Rusie and 100 more than third place John Clarkson. You would think a person couldn’t last too long pitching this way and you’d be right. You probably cheated and looked at Baseball Reference like I did and saw that after 1892, his innings would drop and his ERA would rise. However, from 1890-92, he was almost unstoppable, averaging 40 wins and 595 innings. This season, he finished first in WAR (9.9) and first in WAR for Pitchers (10.5). In this 561 innings, he finished with a 2.81 ERA and a 123 ERA+. I would have patented the name “Wild Bill the Workhorse” if I lived back then and made a mint! The pride of Yale University had his best season ever.

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P-John Clarkson, Boston Beaneaters, 29 Years Old

1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

33-19, 2.79 ERA, 141 K, .225, 0 HR, 26 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Saves-3

Assists as P-114 (5th Time)

Range Factor/Game as P-2.56 (3rd Time)

8th Time All-Star-If you read some of the earlier write-ups on Clarkson, you’ll realize he bears a lot of responsibility for the creation of the Players League in 1890, but ended up staying in the National League. So he must have felt like giving a raspberry to the returning players when it proved to be the best thing to do to stay put. As for his actual pitching, Clarkson pitched 460 2/3 innings with a 2.79 ERA and a 129 ERA+. This is for a pitcher who averaged 509 innings pitched over the last seven seasons and still was one of the best in the league. He finished second in WAR (9.8) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.6), behind only Bill Hutchinson in both categories.

Clarkson’s golden arm helped lead the Beaneaters to their fourth league title. It was also the pitcher’s fourth ever pennant. Frank Selee, the Hall of Fame manager, was in his second year for Boston and coached them to a 87-51 record, three-and-a-half games ahead of Chicago. As late as Sept. 4, Boston was seven games out after losing to the Colts, 5-3. Then they caught on fire, finishing the season with a 25-4 run, which included a 17-game winning streak.

SABR has more on the dispute between Clarkson and some of the other players: “Many of the men had issues with Clarkson and he was treated rudely and shunned by some for the rest of his career. Some observers claimed that a few of his teammates slacked off while Clarkson was on the mound, the very thing Conant, the Beaneaters director, feared previously. King Kelly for one refused to return to Boston, instead jumping to the American Association, in part because he didn’t want to play with Clarkson and Charlie Bennett.”

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P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 21 Years Old

1890

30-17, 2.39 ERA, 240 K, .197, 0 HR, 27 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.180

Saves-3

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.330 (2nd Time)

Adjusted ERA+-151

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.71 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-46 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.3 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-If you look at John Clarkson and Nichols’ stats, you would say to yourself, “Of course these two are Hall of Fame pitchers,” and you would be correct. However, the surprising thing to me is how long it took the two of them to go into the Hall. Clarkson was selected in 1963 by the Veteran’s Committee and Nichols didn’t get in until 1949 when he was voted in by the Old Timers Committee. How are these two not first ballot Hall of Famers and, even if the writers had to sort through 65 years of baseball history in 1936, how did they not go in sooner? Almost every single thing about the Hall of Fame perplexes me, though I will say the reason you have Veterans Committees and Old Timers Committees is to fix errors like this. The problem, of course, is those same committees vote in people like Tommy McCarthy.

As for Nichols’ 1891 season, he finished third in WAR (9.2) and third in WAR for Pitchers (9.6), behind Bill Hutchinson and Clarkson in both categories. He pitched 425 1/3 innings with a 2.39 ERA and a league-leading 151 ERA+. All of this at 21 years old.

After the 1890 season, there was a new edition to the Nichols’ household, according to SABR, which says, “Kid and Jennie Nichols wintered in Boston, and on December 8 they celebrated the birth of their only child, Alice. Nichols won 30 games for the first time in 1891, and would reach that total in six of the next seven seasons. His seven 30-win seasons remains a major-league record.”

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P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 20 Years Old

1890

33-20, 2.55 ERA, 337 K, .245, 0 HR, 15 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Hits per 9 IP-7.033 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.062 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-337 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-6

Bases on Balls-262 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-14 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-You might not realize this because you haven’t had hours to study these players like I have, but the first four players listed here all pitched in the National League in 1890. The reason many of these players even got a chance to pitch is because of the creation of the Players League, but three of the four of these players are now in the Hall of Fame. That includes Rusie, the Hoosier Thunderbolt, who, in 1891, finished fourth in WAR (8.9) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.6). Rusie pitched 500 1/3 innings with a 2.55 ERA and a 123 ERA+.

As for Rusie’s Giants, they recovered from their sixth place finish in 1890 and moved up to third with a 71-61 record. Coached by Jim Mutrie, now in his ninth and last year of managing, New York finished 13 games out of first. Despite a career 658-419 record, including three pennants and two World Series titles, Truthful Jim would never manage in the Major Leagues again. He was only 40 years old.

Rusie threw a no-hitter in 1891, as detailed in Wikipedia, which says, “After having been on the losing end of no-hitter by Tom Lovett of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms on June 22, Rusie returned the favor by throwing one of his own against them just over a month later on July 31. After winning both games of a doubleheader against the Bridegrooms in September, Rusie and several other star players were rested for the remainder of the season, a five-game series against the Boston Beaneaters. Rusie’s 337 strikeouts and 262 bases on balls led the league for the second consecutive year, and his six shutouts marked the first time he led the league in that category.”

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P-Harry Staley, Pittsburgh Pirates/Boston Beaneaters, 24 Years Old

1890

24-13, 2.58 ERA, 139 K, .180, 1 HR, 19 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Walks & Hits per IP-1.213 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Staley made the lateral move from the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League to the Pirates of the National League, but didn’t remain in the Steel City long. He was released by the Pirates on May 27 and picked up by the Beaneaters the same day. Altogether, Staley had his best season ever and, most likely, his last All-Star appearance. He finished fifth in WAR (7.7) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.9), pitching 324 innings with a 2.58 ERA and a 137 ERA+. Through his first four seasons, Staley had a 3.08 ERA and a 115 ERA+. However, over the rest of his career, he would end up with a 4.85 ERA and a 96 ERA+.

Ned Hanlon (31-47) and Bill McGunnigle (24-33) coached the Pirates to a last place finish with a 55-80 record, 30-and-a-half games out of first. After this season, Hanlon would head to the Baltimore Orioles, where his Hall of Fame managerial career would kick into high gear. McGunnigle, on the other hand, would have just one season as a manager left, with the 1896 Louisville Colonels.

Staley was a career .182 hitter, but in 1893, he did something unusual, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On June 1, 1893, Staley had nine runs batted in off his bat, a record for most RBIs in a game by a pitcher that stood for over 70 years until equalled by Atlanta Braves pitcher Tony Cloninger in 1966.” Staley would remain with Boston for three more seasons after this one, and finish his career with the 1895 St. Louis Browns. He would die young, at the age of 43, in Battle Creek, Michigan.

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P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 24 Years Old

27-22, 2.85 ERA, 147 K, .167, 1 HR, 18 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-Denton True “Cy” or “Cyclone” Young was born on March 29, 1867 in Gilmore, OH. You might have heard of this pitcher. He was big for his time, at six-foot-two, 210 pounds, which certainly helped his durability, as 19 of his 22 seasons were pitched from the now normal 60-foot, six-inch distance. Young started with the Spiders in 1890 and was made a regular pitcher this season. He would never pitch under 300 innings until he was 39-years-old in 1906 and never pitch under 200 innings until he was 43-years-old in 1910. Just my guess, Young is going to make the ONEHOF.

I’m going to write a line I could just copy and paste for the next 20 or so years. Young finished sixth in WAR (6.6) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). Cyclone tossed 423 2/3 innings with a 2.85 ERA and a 120 ERA+. This will be his lowest Adjusted ERA+ until 1906. I know we have a pitching award named after him, but it’s just incredible to look at his stats and not be dazzled by them.

As for the Spiders, Bob Leadley (34-34) and Patsy Tebeau (31-40) managed the team to a fifth-place 65-74 record. In games not decided by Young, Cleveland was 38-52.

Here’s Cy Young’s motion, as described in a SABR article, quoting sportswriters of Young’s day: “He ‘winds up his arm, then his body, then his legs, bows profoundly to his great outfield, straightens up again, and then lets her go.’”

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P-Kid Gleason, Philadelphia Phillies, 24 Years Old

1890

24-22, 3.51 ERA, 100 K, .248, 0 HR, 17 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Games Finished-9

2nd Time All-Star-Gleason made his second, and most likely, last All-Star team this season, finishing seventh in WAR (6.6) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (5.8). Kid tossed  418 innings with a 3.51 ERA and a 95 ERA+. He was actually helped by his bat this season, slashing .248/.318/.290 for an OPS+ of 77. Not great, but certainly not bad for a pitcher. Gleason’s problem is he wouldn’t be a pitcher after 1894 and still have that that same weak bat as a second baseman for the rest of his career.

Hall of Fame manager Harry Wright continued to coach the Phillies, leading them to a fourth-place 68-69 record. He’s been managing since 1871, the year of which I started writing this webpage and he’s got a couple of seasons left.

After this season, Gleason would move to St. Louis from 1892-94, to Baltimore in 1894 and 1895, to New York from 1896-1900, to the American League Detroit Tigers in 1901 and 1902, back to the National League Phillies from 1903-07, and finish with one game for AL White Sox in 1912. It was with his second season with Baltimore he became a regular second baseman. As mentioned in last year’s blurb, Gleason managed the 1919 Black Sox and continued coaching them for the following four seasons.

Wikipedia says, “Gleason died of a heart ailment in 1933, at the age of 66, in Philadelphia; his funeral was well attended, a testament to his popularity. He is buried in Philadelphia’s Northwood Cemetery.”

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P-John Ewing, New York Giants, 28 Years Old

21-8, 2.27 ERA, 138 K, .204, 0 HR, 8 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.27

Win-Loss %-.724

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.067

1st Time All-Star-“Long John” Ewing was born on June 1, 1863 in Cincinnati, OH and certainly was long at six-foot-one and skinny at 168 pounds. The brother of Hall of Fame catcher Buck Ewing, he had an unusual career, starting by playing one game for the American Association St. Louis Browns in 1883 and then one game each for the 1884 Union Association Cincinnati Outlaw Reds and Washington Nationals. Ewing didn’t make the Major Leagues again until 1888, when he started pitching with the AA Louisville Colonels, then moved to the 1890 Players League New York Giants, before finally moving to the National League this season with New York. You read that right, he played six seasons in four different leagues.

This season, he finally made his mark, finishing 10th in WAR (5.7) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.9). Ewing pitched 269 1/3 innings with a league-leading 2.27 ERA and a 139 ERA+. Long John was off and running.

Except he wasn’t. He was done after this season and would be dead within another four years. According to Baseball Reference, “The Sporting Life of October 31, 1891 reported that Ewing was refusing to sign for another season unless he was paid more money. However, that winter he was apparently struck with a serious illness: the Lewiston Evening Journal of February 27, 1892 intimated that John nearly died but that he was recovering, and the hope was he would be able to pitch by June. The Toronto Daily Mail of January 9, 1893 reported that John had hoped to come back to the Giants the previous spring, but that his brother Buck feared John’s health would not allow him to do so.”

caruthers6

P-Bob Caruthers, Brooklyn Grooms, 27 Years Old

1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

18-14, 3.12 ERA, 69 K, .281, 2 HR, 23 RBI

 

6th Time All-Star-Parisian Bob didn’t make the All-Star team in 1890, which is a little shocking considering he was in the National League in a diluted year because of the three Major Leagues. In 1890, for the Grooms, Caruthers went 23-11 with a 3.09 ERA. Maybe he should have been there. Oh well, too late to change it now. Back to 1891, where Caruthers pitched 297 innings with a 3.12 ERA and a 104 ERA+. He also did his usual damage with the bat, slashing .281/.372/.380 for an OPS+ of 122. This is most certainly his last All-Star team, but he’s the predecessor of one George Herman Ruth.

Caruthers’ team, the Grooms, had a shaky year, finishing in sixth place with a 61-76 record, 25-and-a-half games out. They were coached by the great John “Monte” Ward, who was the manager of the Players League Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders in 1890. Hey, if you don’t have a professional team named after you, don’t mock! Only Monte Ward and Paul Brown are part of this club. Well, there may be others, but that would take research and who has time for that.

As with many of these players, Caruthers’ life did not end well. SABR says, “Less than a year after the Waterloo incident another newspaper reported: ‘Pale and emaciated, Robert Caruthers, once an idol of the baseball world—a star pitcher—was sentenced to twenty days in the workhouse, the result of drink.’ Caruthers never served his 20-day sentence, for he did not have that many days left in his life. On August 5, 1911, only two weeks after his arrest, he died at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, the city where he and Mamie were living with her parents.”

mullane6

P-Tony Mullane, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1886 1887

23-26, 3.23 ERA, 124 K, .148, 0 HR, 10 RBI

 

6th Time All-Star-Where has Count Mullane been the last few seasons? Doing what he always does, pitching great for the Reds. However, due to many great pitchers and lack of innings, Mullane didn’t make the All-Star team from 1888-90. He’s back this season and also most likely next season, which will give him a total of seven All-Star teams. I think he’s a Hall of Fame candidate, but if I’m a small Hall person, he doesn’t make it. For years, I thought he’d make the ONEHOF, my Hall of Fame which allows just one player to enter per year, but that’s not going to happen now either. It’s hard to believe his chances at both Halls were hurt by a non-All Star stretch in which he went 49-35 with a 2.72 ERA and a 127 ERA+. But for his day, much more was expected of pitchers.

In 1891, the Apollo of the Box finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), tossing 426 1/3 innings, his most since 1886, with a 3.23 ERA and a 103 ERA+, his lowest Adjusted ERA+ since 1886. Despite his pitching, the Reds finished in seventh place with a 56-81 record. Tom Loftus coached the team for the second straight year, but couldn’t keep the success from 1890 when the Reds went 77-55. Loftus wouldn’t coach again until 1900.

Here’s Mullane’s Hall of Fame candidacy from Baseball Reference: “Mullane is 2nd all-time in wins among pitchers not enshrined in the Hall of Fame who are eligible. Only Bobby Mathews is ahead of him. He might have won 300 if not for a suspension he served that kept him out all of 1885. Mullane is the all-time leader in wins by an Irish pitcher; only Blyleven won more among non-Americans. Canadian Ferguson Jenkins won as many.”

clements2

C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 26 Years Old

1890

.310, 4 HR, 75 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Double Plays Turned as C-10

2nd Time All-Star-Don Malcolm of Big Bad Baseball sponsored Clements’ Baseball Reference page and commented: “The most successful left-handed catcher in baseball history who begs the question: where are the other ones??” That is a good question, but I doubt there will ever be another one, because once a coach sees a left-handed player, he’s not going to train him up to be a backstop. Wouldn’t baseball be more exciting with a lefty catcher? It certainly was with Clements who finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.0). He slashed .310/.380/.426 for an OPS+ of 134. His hitting was starting to decline, but would improve again in 1895 and 1896. He’s still one of the best hitters at his position.

The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers writes of Clements that, “Only long term, career LEFT-HANDED throwing catcher ever in the majors. Clements was a squat, powerful man who hit home runs when they were a rarity. He caught 105 games in 1892, and was the last lefthanded catcher to play regularly. Righthanded batters learned to duck when a runner broke for second; Clements simply fired away. “

You might be wondering who played catcher regularly in the most seasons for the Phillies in their long history. The answer is this man. They’ve had others play more games, because catcher was such a brutal position to play in the 1800s, but no one was the team’s regular backstop more seasons than Clements, who did it 10 years.

miller2

C-Doggie Miller, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26 Years Old

1890

.285, 4 HR, 57 RBI

 

2nd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team as a third baseman in 1890, Doggie made it as a catcher this season. He finished ninth in Offensive WAR (3.7), slashing .285/.357/.363 for an OPS+ of 114. He’d never hit this well again, but he helped wherever he played and he played everywhere on the field. In his career, he played mostly catcher, but would end up playing at least 22 games at every position, including all three outfield spots. He was the ultimate utility player.

Following this season, Miller would continue with the Pirates through 1893 and then play in St. Louis for two seasons, before finishing his career in Louisville in 1896. He’s going to have another good season in 1894, but I don’t know if he’ll make the All-Star team. Apparently you can go to this page and debate the Hall of Fame merits of players and it throws Doggie into the debate. Um, no way.  Anyway, they say the following about 1894, which I may be repeating that season: “1894 was Doggie at his best.  Usually good for about a .260 batting average, he upped his mark to .339 that season.  Never much of a slugger or on-base guru, Doggie was in ’94 when he posted a stellar .414 on-base percentage and had a .453 slugging average–it was the only time his on-base percentage and slugging average reached the .400 mark” This page only has one comment in which the commenter says, “Doggie was a fine catcher during the 1800s but since his numbers are plenty weaker than HOF catchers from that period, King Kelly and Buck Ewing, and other passed over receivers like Deacon White and Deacon McGuire, I don’t see Miller ever making the HOF.” Good argument. Mine is more succinct. No way.

connor101B-Roger Connor, New York Giants, 33 Years Old, 1891 ONEHOF Inductee

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.290, 7 HR, 94 RBI

 

10th Year All-Star-Well, it’s about time! Yes, Roger Connor, the original Giant, finally made the One-a-Year Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame I created in which only one player a year enters the hall. It’s much harder to make than the Cooperstown Hall of Fame and thus much more prestigious. Next season, the nominees are 1B Harry Stovey and C Charlie Bennett.

This season, Connor finished ninth in WAR (5.7), the last of eight times he would finish in the top 10 in that category. He also finished second in WAR Position Players (5.7), behind only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton and third in Offensive WAR (5.0), behind only Hamilton and Connor’s teammate MikeTiernan. He slashed .290/.399/.449 for an OPS+ of 153. It seems like an off season, but his Adjusted OPS+ wasn’t really off that much from his regular numbers. At this point in his career, Connor is behind Harry Stovey in home runs, 117-87.

SABR on Connor’s 1891 season:  “Like most of his Players League Giant teammates, Connor returned to the National League Giants for the 1891 season. But the situation was much changed from the recent championship years. Tension abounded on the field between the Players League returnees and the National League loyalists; in the dugout, where a disabled Buck Ewing effectively supplanted Jim Mutrie as Giants manager, and in the front office, where a near-bankrupt John B. Day was forced to cede operational control of the franchise to E.B. Talcott and his Players League partners. Before the 1891 season was out, longtime Connor teammate Tim Keefe had been released while Mickey Welch and Jim O’Rourke, a fellow Connecticut Irishman and close friend, were near the end of the line. At age 34, moreover, Roger himself was now past his prime. He batted only .290 for the 1891 season with power numbers that, while still decent, were not up to the Connor norm.”>

beckley3

1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 23 Years Old

1889 1890

.292, 4 HR, 73 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 1B-87

3rd Time All-Star-Eagle Eye Beckley made his third All-Star team in a row as he returned to the National League after his year excursion in the Players League. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1), slashing .292/.353/.419 for an OPS+ of 129. This would be Beckley’s highest Adjusted OPS+ until 1899 with the Reds. Since he’s already made three All-Star teams at the age of 23, I’m interested to see how many he’ll make.

Wikipedia says Beckley had a hard year in his personal life, as “Beckley married Molly Murphy of Hannibal in 1891. She died of tuberculosis a few months after their wedding. He later remarried.” Thus SABR continues, “He slumped badly after her death, with his batting average plummeting to a career-low .236 in 1892. Jake didn’t marry again until his baseball career was over.” More on Beckley from SABR: “Beckley was a handsome man, though one of his eyes was slightly crossed, and kept his impressive mustache long after all but a handful of players had relinquished theirs; at the time of his retirement he was one of only three men in the majors who still sported facial hair. He also displayed several other idiosyncrasies. Beckley yelled ‘Chickazoola!’ to rattle opposing pitchers when he was on a batting tear, and he perfected the unusual (and now-illegal) practice of bunting with the handle of his bat. As the pitch approached the plate, Jake flipped the bat around in his hands and tapped the ball with the handle.”

anson171B-Cap Anson, Chicago Colts, 39 Years Old

1872 1873 1874 1876 1877 1878 1880 1881 1882 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.291, 8 HR, 120 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-120 (8th Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-86 (4th Time)

17th Time All-Star-It is possible Anson has finally made his last All-Star team. This is his 17th and eighth in a row. No player dominated this era like the boisterous Anson and no person is more controversial than him as we judge from our modern times. I try to make this page about on-the-field exploits and, based on those, Anson is one of the greatest players of all time. And no, I’m not talking for his time.  I’m saying in the whole of baseball history, there haven’t been too many better players than Anson. We can only judge people in the era in which they played and Anson has been a great player for over 20 years and he’s still got seven years left to play.

In 1891, Anson finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.9) and 10th in Offensive WAR (3.7). He slashed .291/.378/.409 for an OPS+ of 125. He’d continue hitting for average and getting on base over the next few years, but I’m doubting he makes another All-Star team. He did manage the team to an 82-53 second place finish, three-and-a-half games out of first. Anson had the team in first as late as Sept. 28, but Chicago lost four of its last five games to lose the title.

As for his later life, SABR says, “Anson’s later life was filled with disappointment. The National League offered to provide a pension for the ex-ballplayer, but Anson stoutly refused all offers of assistance. He declared bankruptcy in 1910, and by 1913 he had lost his home and moved in with a daughter and son-in-law. Virginia Anson died in 1915 after a long illness, and the widowed ex-ballplayer resumed his stage career in a skit written by his friend Ring Lardner titled ‘First Aid for Father.’ The skit starred Anson and his daughters Adele and Dorothy, and the Anson clan crisscrossed the nation, sharing bills with jugglers and animal acts in small town and big city alike. Vaudeville allowed Anson to support himself, but barely, and he retired, penniless, from the stage in 1921. He died on April 14, 1922, three days shy of his 70th birthday, and was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. The National League paid his funeral expenses. Seventeen years later, on May 2, 1939, Anson and his former friend and mentor Al Spalding were named to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a special committee.”

mcphee5

2B-Bid McPhee, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

1886 1887 1889 1890

.256, 6 HR, 38 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 2B-492 (6th Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.954 (7th Time)

5th Time All-Star-Every year McPhee looks at a baseball glove, laughs at those who wear them, and then bare-handedly has spectacular All-Star seasons. The Reds second baseman finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.8), his highest dWAR of his career. Bid slashed .256/.345/.370 for an OPS+ of 109, which is not great, but certainly serviceable for someone who could field like he did.

Did you know for all of the great players the Reds have had for their history, McPhee ranks sixth of all-time in WAR (52)? He is behind only Pete Rose (77), Johnny Bench (74), Barry Larkin (70), Frank Robinson (63), and Joe Morgan (57). Of course, if Robinson and Morgan had played more years with the Reds, they’d be even higher on the list. It helped McPhee to play so good for so long. If Joey Votto has a good 2017 season, he could pass McPhee.

I like what SABR has to say about McPhee’s personality. It says, “On the field and off McPhee was a gentleman. He was never fined or ejected from a game, and he was always sober and in playing condition. An 1897 ankle injury, the only serious one of his career, kept McPhee out of action for three months. Cincinnati fans and sportswriters staged a special benefit that raised $3,500 for him.” In an era filled with ruffians – Cap Anson was famous for his arguments with umpires- it’s good to read about a man who just went out and played ball.

richardsond2

2B-Danny Richardson, New York Giants, 28 Years Old

1889

.269, 4 HR, 51 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.67

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.60

2nd Time All-Star-There weren’t great hitting second basemen in the league this season, but there were some slick fielders, Richardson being one of them. He finished third in Defensive WAR (2.0), behind Chicago shortstop Jimmy Cooney (2.5) and Cincinnati shortstop Germany Smith (2.3). Neither of them made the All-Star team because neither Cooney (.245/.318/.290) or Smith (.201/.258/.260) added anything with the bat. Richardson did, slashing .269/.313/.347 for an OPS+ of 97. It was just enough to get him onto the All-Star team for the second time.

The year 1891 was interesting in the United States. Do you know who the president was during this time? It was Benjamin Harrison, a Republican from New York. Also during this year, the Wrigley Company was founded in Chicago. That would certainly have repercussions in baseball down the line. In Richardson’s home city of New York, the Music Hall had its grand opening. It would later be Carnegie Hall. What’s fascinating to me is that Tchaikovsky was the guest conductor at the first performance. It reminds me how long this sport of baseball has been around.

Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, died on Sept. 28 of that year. I read Moby Dick for the first time a couple of years ago (as of this writing) and well, I just thought I’d like it more. I thought it would be more like Jaws, but it ended up being more a treatise on the whale industry. Hey, Melville, why don’t you get to the action already!

childs2

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 23 Years Old

1890

.281, 2 HR, 83 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-141

Def. Games as 2B-141

Errors Committed as 2B-82

2nd Time All-Star-With the American Association Syracuse Stars folding, Childs came over to the National League and continued his fine play. He finished sixth in Offensive WAR (4.3) and slashed .281/.395/.374 for an OPS+ of 122. He had his worst ever defensive season, according to dWAR, but he’s going to be around these teams for a little while. And Cupid is going to be around Cleveland for a while, playing with them through the 1898 season. Childs would be one of the first players who garnered much value from bases on balls, as he had 97 walks this year and would have over 100 the next three seasons.

Childs was part of a huge controversy in 1891. According to SABR, he had been signed by the AA Baltimore Orioles, but the league withdrew from Baseball’s National Agreement and would operate as an independent major league. It then began a fight over whether Childs’ contract was voided or not. Jimmy Keenan of SABR writes, “The trial gained national attention and on April 22, 1891, the judge finally reached his decision. Phelps ruled in favor of Childs and the injunction filed by the Orioles was dissolved. Childs’ Oriole contract had stated that he was due all of the rights accorded to professional baseball players designated by the National Agreement. Because the National Agreement no longer bound the Orioles, the team could not offer Childs the conditions that they had originally agreed upon, thus voiding the contract. This was the main point of Judge Phelps’ summation in explaining his verdict.”

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3B-Arlie Latham, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

1884 1886 1887 1888

.265, 2 HR, 31 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 3B-370 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as 3B-75 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 3B-24 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.19 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.05 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-Latham, the Clown Prince of Baseball, made the All-Star team again this season after missing out the last two seasons. In 1890, he moved to the Players League Chicago Pirates and then moved midseason to the National League Reds. He did well his first full season with Cincinnati, but has probably made his last All-Star team. The Freshest Man on Earth had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR Position Players (5.6), behind Philadelphia outfielder Billy Hamilton (6.6) and New York first baseman Roger Connor (5.7); fifth in Offensive WAR (4.7); and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4). At the plate, Latham slashed .272/.372/.386 (it was his highest OBP thus far) for an OPS+ of 122. After this season, he’d never be above a 92 Adjusted OPS+ as his hitting fell off.

Here’s a wrap up of Latham’s baseball career from SABR: “Arlie got into many brawls. At the end of one season he had 20 fights scheduled, five with teammates. The brawling seemed somewhat out of character, for Arlie had a tremendous sense of humor and seemed more of jokester than a fighter.

“Pranks and brawls aside, Latham was a legitimate ballplayer. He played 1629 games in the majors, banged out 1836 hits with 27 homers, and scored 1481 runs. His lifetime batting average was only .269, but he was a great base stealer with at lease 742 (stolen base data is still missing for four seasons). Arlie also holds an unenviable record for the most errors lifetime for a third baseman, 822-more than 200 more than any other player.”

long

SS-Herman Long, Boston Beaneaters, 25 Years Old

.282, 9 HR, 75 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as SS-345 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-60

1st Time All-Star-Herman C. “Germany” or “Flying Dutchman” Long was born on April 13, 1866 in Chicago, IL. He’s going to have a long, decent career, whose play would be known for his defense more than his bat. From the beginning, Long played fulltime, starting with the American Association Kansas City Cowboys in 1889. He was then purchased by the Beaneaters before the 1890 season and Long would be with them through 1902. In 1891, Germany had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (4.7), and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.7). Long slashed .282/.377/.407 for an OPS+ of 120 (it would be his highest Adjusted OPS+ ever). He also had his first ever league title.

According to Baseball Reference, “’His fielding at all times is remarkable. He covers an immense amount of ground, is wonderfully quick in handling all kinds of balls, and is a fast and accurate thrower. He also hits freely, and is quite a base runner.’ – Sporting Life, October 7, 1893.” Long would make more errors at shortstop than anyone in baseball history, but all of those career error records are held in this era, where the gloves were smaller, if the fielders ever bothered wearing them at all.

The Atlanta Braves have had a team, whether it be in Boston, Milwaukee, or the ATL for all of Major League baseball history. It’s the only team who had a representative in the short-lived National Association from 1871-75. On this team with its lengthy history, Long ranks 18th in career WAR at 35.

hamilton2

LF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old

1890

.340, 2 HR, 60 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 NL Batting Title

WAR Position Players-6.6

Offensive WAR-6.2

Batting Average-.340

On-Base %-.453

Runs Scored-141

Hits-179

Bases on Balls-102

Stolen Bases-111 (3rd Time)

Singles-147 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Run-46

Adj. Batting Wins-4.7

Times on Base-288

Offensive Win %-.766

2nd Time All-Star-Hamilton made his second straight All-Star team by doing Sliding Billy things, getting on base and stealing bases. He finished eighth in WAR (6.6), first in WAR Position Players (6.6), and first in Offensive WAR (6.2). He slashed .340/.453/.421 for an OPS+ of 155, leading in batting average and on-base percentage and finishing second in Adjusted OPS+. He has an amazing amount of good baseball left in him, especially in regards to getting on base. He is fourth all time in OBP.

Bill James is quoted in SABR as saying of Hamilton, “’Hamilton was completely invisible in the literature of the sport up to 1960,’ wrote James, ‘and was not elected to the Hall of Fame until 1961. He left no legend behind him, no stories, no anecdotes … Hamilton was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame purely on the overwhelming quality of his numbers. Even now, in books about nineteenth-century baseball, he is often not mentioned at all, and is never presented as a fully-formed character.’” It is incredible to look at Hamilton’s numbers and wonder why we don’t hear much about him. Of course, how much do we really hear about any of these 1800s players. I watched a video on YouTube that picked the greatest players of all-time on every modern team and Ernie Banks was picked on the Cubs. It’s not a bad choice, but there’s no way he was better than the great Cap Anson. The worst choice was Nolan Ryan for the Texas Rangers. He’s not even in the top 20 in WAR for the Rangers.

griffin

CF-Mike Griffin, Brooklyn Grooms, 26 Years Old

.267, 3 HR, 65 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-36

Putouts as OF-353

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-2.88

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.87

Fielding % as OF-.960

1st Time All-Star-Michael Joseph “Mike” Griffin was born on March 20, 1865 in Utica, NY. He started as a fulltime player from the very beginning, first playing for Baltimore in the American Association from 1887-89 and then moving to the Players League in 1890 and playing for Philadelphia. This season was his first for Brooklyn and he made the best of it, slashing .267/.340/.388 for an OPS+ of 114. Though he led in a lot of fielding categories, dWAR didn’t rate Griffin to high, giving him a 0.1 mark.

Griffin wasn’t big, at five-foot-seven inches and 160 pounds. He always had speed, stealing 94 bases in his rookie season of 1887 and over 30 for eight consecutive seasons. He could score runs, too, scoring 142 in his first season and over 100 for 10 of his first 11 years. He’s going to make a couple more All-Star teams.

He could always get on base, but Griffin was never a great slugger. Even with his league-leading 36 doubles this season, he still only had a slugging average of .388. It would never be over the .485 he had in 1894. There wasn’t a lot of hitting this season in the National League. The slash line for the NL was .252/.325/.342. If you read throughout this list, you’re not going to be dazzled by the stats you read.  It’s still better than the 1888 NL which had a slash line of .239/.285/.325. All of this hitting is going to get better in a couple years when the pitching mound is finally moved back to 60 feet, six inches.

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RF-Mike Tiernan, New York Giants, 24 Years Old

1888 1889 1890

.306, 16 HR, 73 RBI

 

Led in:

 

On-Base Plus Slugging-.882 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-16 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-163 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-103 (2nd Time)

AB per HR-33.9

4th Time All-Star-Silent Mike, the power-hitting rightfielder for the Giants made his fourth consecutive All-Star team and continued to be on of ancient baseball’s great stars. He had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (5.1) and second in Offensive WAR (5.6), behind only Philadelphia outfielder Billy Hamilton (6.2). At the plate, Tiernan slashed .306/.388/.494 for a league leading Adjusted OPS+ of 163, his second consecutive time leading the NL in this category. His .494 slugging was second in the league Boston outfielder Harry Stovey (.498).

SABR on his great season: “The merger of the New York teams did not bode well for Mike Tiernan. Ewing, Keefe, Connor, O’Rourke, and other Brotherhood prodigals would be returning to the fold, mindful of Tiernan’s desertion of their cause. The situation at the Polo Grounds III (nee Brotherhood Park) would be an uneasy one, at best, with tension between teammates on the re-combined squad always just below the surface. Fortunately for Mike, most of the returnees were now on the downside of their careers and would not remain in New York long. And in 1891, he would have his third consecutive outstanding season, again leading the league in home runs (16) and OPS (.882), while placing in the NL top five in hits (166), batting average (.306), slugging (.494), total bases (268), and on-base percentage (.388). Mike also scored 111 runs and stole 53 bases. Good things in 1891 were not confined to the playing field, either. That year, Tiernan married Mary (maiden name unknown), the 18-year-old daughter of Irish immigrants. They settled into an apartment in lower Harlem where, in time, the arrivals of William (born 1892), Joseph (1893), and Mabel (1898) completed the Tiernan family.”

stovey10RF-Harry Stovey, Boston Beaneaters, 34 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.299, 12 HR, 84 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Slugging %-.498 (3rd Time)

Total Bases-271 (3rd Time)

Triples-20 (4th Time)

Home Runs-16 (5th Time)

Strikeouts-69

Extra Base Hits-67 (5th Time)

Power-Speed #-25.0 (3rd Time)

10th Time All-Star-Stovey came back to the National League after a nine-year absence. It’s not like he wasn’t doing anything during those years as he’s now made his 10th consecutive (and last?) All-Star team. Stovey finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.0) while slashing .279/.373/.498 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 144. His slugging led the league. Stovey, at this point in his career, has 117 home runs and is the all-time leader at end of 1891. He was also part of his third pennant-winning team.

After this season, Stovey would split time with Boston and Baltimore in 1892 and then play part time for Baltimore and Brooklyn in 1893, before retiring. He’s got as good of shot as anybody to make the ONEHOF in 1892.

SABR wraps up the life of the great Stovey, saying, “After his time in the majors, Stovey played briefly in the Pennsylvania State League for Allentown under manager Mike ‘King’ Kelly before becoming player-manager for New Bedford of the New England League. In 1895, he joined the New Bedford police force, becoming captain in 1915. He retired in 1923.

“Stovey died at his daughter’s house on September 20, 1937, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, at the age of 80 and is buried in the town’s Oak Grove Cemetery. The man who could do it all has been overlooked by the National Baseball Hall of Fame despite calls for his election from many who are familiar with the history of our national pastime. Perhaps one day, he will get his due and be honored by the game’s ultimate shrine.”

Thompson Sam 141-46_FL_PDRF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 31 Years Old

1886 1887

.313, 4 HR, 102 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as OF-32

3rd Time All-Star-Baseball players tend to generally peak between the ages of 27 and 31. Thompson surprisingly didn’t make any All-Star teams during those middle years. Since playing in 1887 for Detroit, he played an injury-plagued season for the Wolverines in 1888, and then came to Philadelphia in 1889. It must have been tough to make the National All-Star teams in 1889 and 1890, because he led league in homers with 20 in 1889 and in doubles with 41 in 1890. As a matter of fact, Thompson was the first 20/20 player in home runs and steals in 1889. He didn’t lead in any offensive categories this season, but still slashed .294/.363/.410 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 125. Thompson started too late in his career to make the ONEHOF, but I guess he’ll take Cooperstown as a worthy consolation prize.

SABR tells of Big Sam’s time in the City of Brotherly Love: “Beginning in 1889, Thompson began his tenure with the Philadelphia Quakers, who now were also known as the Phillies. Philadelphia’s stadium suited Sam and in his first year hit 20 home runs. Thompson was the first left-handed player to hit that many home runs in a season. By this time Sam’s contract had reached $1,850 and with the Brotherhood of Professional Ball Players forming their own league, Thompson was planning on playing in the new Players League. However, after checking the contracts, he decided to remain with the Phillies. Sam continued playing for the Phillies until the 1898 season and his contract never exceeded $2,400, the league’s maximum in those days.”

1890 Players League All-Star Team

P-Silver King, CHI

P-Mark Baldwin, CHI

P-Old Hoss Radbourn, BOS

P-Gus Weyhing, BWW

P-Ben Sanders, PHQ

P-Harry Staley, PBB

P-Tim Keefe, NYI

P-Ad Gumbert, BOS

P-Phil Knell, PHQ

P-John Sowders, BWW

C-Buck Ewing, NYI

C-Fred Carroll, PBB

1B-Roger Connor, NYI

1B-Jake Beckley, PBB

1B-Henry Larkin, CLE

1B-Dan Brouthers, BOS

2B-Lou Bierbauer, BWW

3B-Billy Nash, BOS

SS-Monte Ward, BWW

LF-Pete Browning, CLE

LF-Hardy Richardson, BOS

CF-Dummy Hoy, BUF

RF-Hugh Duffy, CHI

RF-Harry Stovey, BOS

RF-Jim O’Rourke, NYI

 

king4

P-Silver King, Chicago Pirates, 22 Years Old

1887 1888 1889

30-22, 2.69 ERA, 185 K, .168, 1 HR, 16 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1890 PL Pitching Title (2nd Time)

Wins Above Replacement-13.0 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-13.8 (2nd Time)

Earned Run Average-2.69 (2nd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-8.200

Games Started-56 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-4 (2nd Time)

Adjusted ERA+-162 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-82 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.9 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-139

 

4th Time All-Star-Because we live in a time where utility players and relief pitchers earn millions of dollars, we forget how long the fight for money for the players went on in baseball. From almost the very beginning of baseball history, players had to play under the reserve clause, which limited player mobility and also player earnings. So to battle that, they formed the Players League in 1890, of which Wikipedia says, “The Players’ National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, popularly known as the Players’ League (sometimes rendered as Players League), was a short-lived but star-studded professional American baseball league of the 19th century. It emerged from the Brotherhood of Professional Base-Ball Players, the sport’s first players’ union.

“The PL was well-attended, at least in some cities, but was underfunded, and its owners lacked the confidence to continue beyond the one season.

“Although the league was started by the players themselves, essentially as an elaborate job-action to improve their lot, the venture proved to be a setback for them in the longer term. The infamous reserve clause remained intact, and would remain thus for the next 85 years or so. The already-shaky AA had been further weakened by the presence of the PL. The Lou Bierbauer incident caused a schism between the NL and the AA, and the AA failed a year later, reducing the total number of major league teams (and players) significantly, giving the remaining owners much greater leverage against the players.”

King finished 1st in WAR (13.0) and 1st in WAR for Pitchers (13.8), pitching 461 innings with a 2.69 ERA and a 162 ERA+. Chicago, coached by Charlie Comiskey, finished in fourth place with a 75-62 record, 10 games out of first.

baldwinm2

P-Mark Baldwin, Chicago Pirates, 26 Years Old

1887

33-24, 3.35 ERA, 206 K, .212, 1 HR, 25 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Wins-33

Games Played-58 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-492.0 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-206 (2nd Time)

Games Started-56 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-53

Bases on Balls-249

Hits Allowed-494

Batters Faced-2,242 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-58 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-26 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-139

2nd Time All-Star-Fido was always one of the most out-of-control pitchers in the league, having set the all-time mark for wild pitches with 83 in 1889. He also would have allowed the most walks in a season ever with 274 in 1889, but Amos Rusie of the National League New York Giants walked 289 and set the all-time record which still holds to this day. Don’t let that lack of control make you think Baldwin couldn’t pitch. He could. This season, he finished second in WAR (8.0) and second in WAR for Pitchers (8.5), finishing behind only Silver King in both categories. He pitched a league-leading 492 innings and finished with a 3.35 ERA and a 130 ERA+.

Did having the two best pitchers allow Chicago to have the best pitching in the Players League? As a matter of fact, yes. The team allowed the least runs and had the best ERA in the PL. However, the Pirates scored the second least runs and that’s what kept them from doing better.

Baldwin did not seem to like Cap Anson, who released him before the 1889 season. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia, “’A year ago when Spalding released him, [Baldwin] declared that the ambition of his life was to play in opposition to Anson’s team. He then thought only of a rival national league team and did not dream of a local rival for public patronage. Now that he is with the Chicago Players’ team he says his ambition is gratified beyond his most fanciful hope, and he proposes to do all in his power to make his services to the new team valuable.’

A writer for The Chicago Tribune on Baldwin’s career after the White Stockings.”

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P-Old Hoss Radbourn, Boston Reds, 35 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1889

27-12, 3.31 ERA, 80 K, .253, 0 HR, 16 RBI

 

8th Time All-Star-It’s amazing how many great players the Players League snatched up. The great Old Hoss came to the league and did Old Hossy stuff. He finished third in WAR (8.0), behind Silver King and Mark Baldwin, and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.2), behind the same two men. Radbourn pitched 343 innings with a 3.31 ERA and 127 ERA+. It certainly didn’t look like he’d lost his stuff, but next season would be less productive and also be his last.

As for the Reds, they were the PL’s only champions. Coached by King Kelly, Boston finished 81-48, six-and-a-half games ahead of Brooklyn. It scored the second most runs in the league and allowed the second least. It helps to have six All-Stars on the team.

Radbourn is yet another 1800s player to die young, at the age of 42. Here’s the end of his life, according to Wikipedia, and as with everything in his life, it’s colorful: “After retiring, Radbourn opened up a successful billiard parlor and saloon in Bloomington, Illinois. Dating back to his playing days, he had always had a reputation for being a bit vain.

“Radbourn was seriously injured in a hunting accident soon after retirement, in which he lost an eye, spending most of his remaining years shut up in a back room of the saloon he owned, apparently too ashamed to be seen after the injury.

“Radbourn died in Bloomington in 1897 and was interred in Evergreen Cemetery. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. In 1941 a plaque was placed on the back of his elaborate headstone, detailing his distinguished career in baseball.”

weyhing

P-Gus Weyhing, Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, 23 Years Old

30-16, 3.60 ERA, 177 K, .164, 1 HR, 15 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-August “Gus” or “Cannonball” or “Rubber Arm Gun” or “Rubber-Winged Gus” Weyhing was born on September 29, 1866 in Louisville, KY or just a little bit before I started this sentence. How many nicknames does a person need? Weyhing is actually a victim of my fluky rules for the All-Star team, mainly the one which says “Every team must have a representative.” He could have already made the American Association All-Star team in 1887 and 1889, but was blocked by lesser representatives from teams which needed a player on the squad. Sorry, Gus or sorry, Cannonball or sorry, Rubber Arm Gun or sorry Rubber-Winged Gus.

Weyhing finished fourth in WAR (7.0) and fourth in WAR for pitchers (8.0) pitching 390 innings with a 3.60 ERA and a 123 ERA+. It was his third consecutive year of having an Adjusted ERA+ of 120 or more and his fourth consecutive season of 20 wins. I don’t know how to categorize it, but he might have the best previous career of a first-time All-Star representative ever.

Rubber Arm Gun’s previous years were spent with the American Association Philadelphia Athletics, from 1887-89. Ed Seward was the dominant pitcher in those years and he made the All-Star team in 1887 and 1888.

Here’s Wikipedia’s sum up of his pre-All-Star career: “Weyhing was a solid pitcher, though he never led the league in any specific categories. He did have a few career highlights, however. In one memorable week in the 1888 season, Weyhing pitched three consecutive complete game victories against Brooklyn to eliminate that team from the pennant race. In addition, Weyhing came close to throwing a perfect game when he hurled a no-hitter on July 31, 1888, against the Kansas City Cowboys. He walked one batter and another reached base via an error. He set the record for most hit baseman [with] 278.”

sanders3

P-Ben Sanders, Philadelphia Athletics, 25 Years Old

1888 1889

19-18, 3.76 ERA, 107 K, .312, 0 HR, 30 RBI

 

3rd Time All-Star-“Big Ben [TM]” made his third consecutive All-Star team, and most likely his last, finishing sixth in WAR (5.7) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.7). His hitting, as always, added a lot of value to his season. On the mound, he pitched 346 2/3 innings with a 3.76 ERA and a 115 ERA+ while at the dish, he slashed .312/.347/.407 for an OPS+ of 98. Not great, but certainly fantastic for a pitcher.

As for the Athletics…Before I go there, how many Philadelphia baseball teams were called the Athletics? There was the 1871-75 National Association team, 1876 National League team, the 1882-90 American Association team, the 1890-91 Players League/AA team, and later, the 1901-50 American League team. These Athletics named themselves the Athletics despite the AA already having a team called the Athletics. I’m glad the city had more creativity when coming up with the Declaration of Independence.

Ok, as for these Athletics, Jim Fogarty (7-9) and Charlie Buffinton (61-54) led the team to fifth place 68-63 record, 14 games out of first. They never were in the running, but they had a solid year.

Sanders would finish his career with the Athletics when they moved to the AA in 1891 and then pitched his final year at the age of 27 with the NL Louisville Colonels. Wikipedia says, “He finished his career with the Louisville Colonels of the National League, playing his final game on October 14, 1892. He had a record of 12-19, but on August 22, 1892, he pitched a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles, a 6–2 victory, the first no-hitter in the National League which the losing team in a no-hitter scored at least one run.”

staley

P-Harry Staley, Pittsburgh Burghers, 23 Years Old

21-25, 3.23 ERA, 145 K, .207, 1 HR, 25 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Walks & Hits per IP-1.202

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.718

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.960

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.99 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Henry Eli “Harry” Staley was born on November 3, 1866 in Jacksonville, IL. He started his career with the National League Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1888 and 1889, before moving over to the Players League this season. He finished eighth in WAR (5.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.2), pitching 387 2/3 innings with a 3.23 ERA (second in the league to Silver King) and a 122 ERA+. He most likely has one more All-Star team left in his arm.

Hall of Fame Manager Ned Hanlon guided the Burghers (awesome!) to a 60-68 sixth place finish, 20-and-a-half games out of first, in their only season of existence.

There were 32 shutouts in the Players League in 1890, with three coming from Staley. In the book “The Shutout in Major League Baseball: A History” by Warren N. Wilbert, he writes, “Two of the three blankings occurred on October 3, one at Pittsburgh, where the Burghers, behind Harry Staley, beat the Old Hoss, Charley Radbourn, 4-0. Staley that day had to be at his best to beat Radbourn, who, in his last great season, led his Boston team to the Players’ League pennant with a 27-12 mark. The win was Staley’s 21st for the seventh-place Pittsburghs.”

It’s interesting people are writing whole books on shutouts in Major League history. Next thing you know, people will have websites with their own All-Star teams and Hall of Fames for all of baseball history. Can you imagine how time-consuming something like that would be?

Keefe Tim 302_64_FL_PDP-Tim Keefe, New York Giants, 33 Years Old

1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

17-11, 3.38 ERA, 89 K, .109, 2 HR, 11 RBI

 

11th Time All-Star-Keefe was now pitching for his third New York team in three different leagues, but still kept being effective. He’s made his 11th straight All-Star team with his fourth different squad, finishing ninth in WAR (4.4) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.0). Smiling Tim pitched “only” 229 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 134 ERA+ (second to Silver King). Keefe’s done all a pitcher can do, made double-digit All-Star teams, been inducted into the ONEHOF and the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, but he’s not done yet, even at the age of 33.

Yet his most noble, if not fruitless, deed was co-organizing the Players League. Wikipedia says, “Keefe was very well-paid for his career, yet he was a leading member of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, an early players’ union that fought for the welfare of players. He assisted his brother-in-law Monte Ward to form the Players’ League for the 1890 season. As a co-organizer of the Players’ League, he recognized that he might be financially vulnerable if the league failed to make money. Keefe transferred ownership of his real estate assets to his mother so that they would remain safe from any legal rulings.

“Shortly before the Players’ League was founded, Keefe had started a sporting goods business in New York with former W. H. Becannon, a former employee of baseball owner and sporting goods entrepreneur Albert Spalding. Keefe and Becannon manufactured the Keefe ball, the official baseball of the league. Spalding and the other NL owners fought against the new league, employing legal and financial maneuvers (such as slashing NL ticket prices) that made competition difficult. The Players’ League folded after one season.”

gumbert

P-Ad Gumbert, Boston Reds, 22 Years Old

23-12, 3.96 ERA, 81 K, .241, 3 HR, 20 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs Allowed-18

1st Time All-Star-Addison Courtney “Ad” Gumbert was born on October 10, 1867 in Pittsburgh, PA. He started his Major League career with the National League Chicago White Stockings in 1888 and 1889. He was always an effective pitcher, but a lack of talent in the Players League helped him make the All-Star team this season. Gumbert finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.2), pitching 277 1/3 innings with a 3.96 ERA and a 106 ERA+. He also slashed .241/.333/.366 for an OPS+ of 84, which wasn’t good, but was great for a pitcher and once of his worst seasons hitting during this stretch of his career. All of this helped lead the Reds to the only Players League title.

Wikipedia gives the beginning of his life: “Addison Gumbert was born on October 10, 1867, or 1868, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Robert and Henrietta Gumbert. At the 1880 United States Census, Robert worked as a dispatcher, while Henrietta was unemployed, with her occupation listed as a “keephouse”. The family lived on Frankstown Avenue in the 21st Ward of Pittsburgh.”

After this season, Gumbert would go back to the NL Chicago Colts in 1891 and 1892, move on to the NL Pittsburgh Pirates in 1893 and 1894, then go to the NL Brooklyn Grooms in 1895 and 1896, and then finish with the NL Philadelphia Phillies, going there in the middle of 1896. He finished his career with a winning record, going 123-102, though Gumbert’s career ERA+ finished under 100 (95). He died in Pittsburgh on April 23, 1925 at the age of 57.

knell

P-Phil Knell, Philadelphia Athletics, 25 Years Old

22-11, 3.83 ERA, 113 ERA+, .220, 1 HR, 18 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Hit By Pitch-28

1st Time All-Star-Philip Louis “Phil” Knell was born on March 12, 1865 in Mill Valley, CA. He pitched three games for the National League Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1888, before pitching for Philadelphia this year. He finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (3.7), tossing 286 2/3 innings with a 3.83 ERA and 113 ERA+. Next year would be even better for him.

It’s always interesting to me that people born in California played in the Major Leagues in the 1800s. I live in California and I know the state didn’t have any Major League teams until 1958, so it just seems strange that in this time of low tech and brutal travel, people would make it from one coast to the other. Or be scouted by teams way out west. But it happened and Knell was one of the best. He still has another All-Star team coming most likely.

If you’re wondering about Mill Valley, Knell’s birthplace, and who wouldn’t be, here’s Wikipedia on the modern-day city: “In July 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Mill Valley tenth on its list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States. In 2007, MSN and Forbes magazine ranked Mill Valley seventy-third on its ‘Most expensive zip codes in America’ list.”

                John Lennon and Yoko Ono summered in a Mill Valley home on Lovell Ave. near the library in the early 1970s, having left some of his own graffiti on the wall of the residence ‘The Maya the Merrier’.” Imagine that.

sowders

P-John Sowders, Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, 23 Years Old

19-16, 3.82 ERA, 91 K, .189, 1 HR, 20 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.087

1st Time All-Star-John Sowders was born on December 10, 1866 in Louisville, KY. He pitched three innings for the National League Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1887, was a hurler for the American Association 1889 Kansas City Cowboys, then pitched his last ever Major League season here in the Players League in 1890. Sowders finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.5), pitching 309 innings with a 3.82 ERA and a117 ERA+. Sowders was tall and lean at six-foot, 150 pounds. His brothers, Bill and Len, also pitched in the Major Leagues.

Little Bill Sowders pitched three seasons in the Major Leagues from 1888-90 for the NL Boston and Pittburgh squads. Like his brother, John, he, too, was tall and skinny at six-foot, 155 pounds. And like John, he, too, led a league, the NL, in Home Runs per 9 IP, allowing only 0.085 per nine innings in 1888. Len only played one season, for the AA Baltimore team, but didn’t pitch like his brothers. He was a centerfielder who slashed .263/.364/.329 for an OPS+ of 121 and if you’re wondering why he only played one season, he was dead by the age of 27 in 1888, dying of typhoid malaria. According to the Baseball Bloggess, “Typhoid was rampant in the 19th century and there was a spike in cases in 1888 due, it was thought, to an especially rainy summer and fall in the northern states.  According to one New York report at the time, one in four cases was fatal. Typhoid’s progression can be slow and painful, with a fever often dragging out for weeks, slowly getting higher and higher, before intestinal bleeding or sepsis causes death.”

ewing8C-Buck Ewing, New York Giants, 30 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1888 1889

.338, 8 HR, 72 RBI, 0-1, 4.00, 2 K

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as C-.949

8th Time All-Star-Ewing is yet another one of the greats who abandoned the National League ship to jump abound the Players League train. He had another great season, but it’s possibly his last All-Star team. Ewing finished seventh in WAR Position Players (3.5), 10th in Offensive WAR (3.1), and fifth in Defensive WAR (0.8), all very good for someone who played in the brutal catcher position for so many years and who only played 83 of the team’s 132 games. He slashed .338/.406/.545 for an OPS+ of 144, the on-base percentage and slugging average were his highest ever. This would be the last season Ewing would be primarily behind the plate as he’d play mainly rightfield and first base for the rest of his career.

Buck managed a team for the first time ever and did well, leading the Giants to a third place finish with a 74-57 mark, eight games behind first place Boston. He would manage the Reds from 1895-99 and do very well, though he never won a league title.

After this season, Ewing would head back to the NL, playing two more seasons with New York, then play two with Cleveland, and finish off his career playing three with Cincinnati.

As for Ewing’s return to the National League in 1891, SABR says, “Buck was reappointed to his old captain’s role but no longer commanded his former respect when he refused to play, limiting himself to just 14 games after admitting that even though his shoulder no longer hurt, it lacked the strength to make throws, a fault he attributed to a spring training mishap.” Read the whole SABR article, it has a lot to say about this injury.

carroll4

C-Fred Carroll, Pittsburgh Burghers, 25 Years Old

1884 1886 1889

.298, 2 HR, 71 RBI

 

4th Time All-Star-Carroll now made the All-Star team for the fourth time in his third league, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (3.2) and ninth in Offensive WAR (3.2). He slashed .298/.418/.394 for an OPS+ of 125 before moving to the outfield as a 26-year-old in 1891 for the National League Pittsburgh squad. It was his last major league season. With his hitting, Carroll definitely had a shot at the Hall of Fame if he could’ve prolonged his career. It was tough to have lengthy careers as catchers in the 1800s.

A few days before I’m writing this, another young man with great potential died. Yordano Ventura died in an accident in the Dominican Republic at the age of 25. This follows the death of Miami’s Jose Fernandez at the age of 24 a few months ago, as of this writing. The point is there have many good players in baseball whose careers were cut short for one reason or the other. Sometimes it’s a sudden death like the two mentioned above or Charlie Ferguson, the Philadelphia phenom who died at the age of 25 after winning 99 games over his four-year career.

I wonder how well Carroll could have done for his lifetime if he had been moved to first base or the outfield, instead of playing catcher. His lifetime slash numbers are .284/.370/.408 for an OPS+ of 136, which are great numbers. This is what makes baseball so interesting, it’s got a lot of numbers and has been going for so long, there’s never any lack of discussions to have about the sport.

connor9

1B-Roger Connor, New York Giants, 33 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

.349, 14 HR, 103 RBI

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-6.0 (3rd Time)

Defensive WAR-1.6

Slugging %-.548 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.998

Home Runs-14

Runs Created-119 (2nd Time)

Offensive Win %-.788

AB per HR-34.6

Putouts-1,335 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,335 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-80 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-79 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.67

Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.50

Fielding % as 1B-.985 (2nd Time)

9th Time All-Star-Connor led the Players League in home runs and it was the first and last time he ever led any league in long balls. Why do I sound surprised? Because until Babe Ruth came along, Connor was the all-time home run king. At this point in his career, he was behind Harry Stovey 101-80 in career homers. As for the season, the 33-year-old continued in his greatness, finishing fifth in WAR (6.0), first in WAR Position Players (6.0), fourth in Offensive WAR (4.4), and first in Defensive WAR (1.6). Can a first baseman really be the best fielder in the league? I don’t believe so, but that doesn’t take away from Connor being a dazzling glove man for his day. At the plate, he slashed .349/.450/.548 (his highest OBP ever) for an OPS+ of 156. Because of his big numbers, no one would have thought Connor was starting to falter, but it was his lowest Adjusted OPS+ since 1884 and it would continue to generally fall over the next few seasons.

By the way, a confession. I picked Connor to be 1890’s ONEHOF Inductee in my 1889 write-up, but it ended up being Jack Glasscock. I have to stop predicting things, I’m a bad prophet.

Here’s a tidbit on Connor’s 1890 season from Wikipedia: “Connor experimented with some changes to his batting style that year. He hit more balls to the opposite field and he sometimes batted right-handed, though he did not have much success from the right side.”

beckley2

1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Burghers, 22 Years Old

1889

.324, 9 HR, 120 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Triples-22

Extra Base Hits-69

2nd Time All-Star-I brought up this theme last season for Buckley and I don’t want to beat it to death, but here’s the thing. Those triples and extra base hits you see above are two of three times Beckley ever led in any offensive categories and he played for 20 seasons. My question is does Buckley really belong in the Hall of Fame? Don’t get me wrong, he’s not as bad of choice as Tommy McCarthy and he had some good seasons, but it’s close. His lifetime WAR is 61.1 and I will not argue with anyone with a Wins Above Replacement over 60 being a definite Hall of Fame-worthy player, but it’s a close call. I don’t know why the Hall of Fame gets me so riled up!

For the Burghers, Beckley had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (3.9) and fifth in Offensive WAR (3.9). He slashed .324/.381/.535 (his highest SLG ever) for an OPS+ of 152 (his highest full season Adjusted OPS+ ever). All of this in a new diluted league. Oh, I’m just getting myself upset again, let’s continue.

I can’t be too upset at Beckley, because I like this quote from his Hall of Fame page, “’He was a big, happy, healthy, good-natured, small-town boy who had his full share of good luck in the game and left behind him a big army of pals among players, fans, and writers and who was never guilty of doing a dirty act, never tried to cut down a player or used obscene language against an umpire.’-Daguerreotypes, 1941”

larkinh4

1B-Henry Larkin, Cleveland Infants, 30 Years Old

1885 1886 1889

.330, 5 HR, 112 RBI

 

4th Time All-Star-This is the write-up I’ve been waiting for because Cleveland’s nickname in the Players League was Infants. There has to be a great story behind this, but I’ll get to it in a minute. First, let’s look at Larkin, who finished fifth in WAR Position Player (3.8) and second in Offensive WAR (4.6), behind only teammate Pete Browning. He slashed .330/.419/.482 (his highest batting average ever) for an OPS+ of 148. He’s going to fall off after this season and has probably made his last All-Star team. I’ve been wrong before, many times.

As for the Infants (tee-hee), Larkin (34-45) and Patsy Tebeau (21-30) coached them to a seventh place 55-75 season, 26-and-a-half games out of first place. Larkin would never manage again, but Tebeau would actually be very successful for the National League Cleveland Spiders. Oh, and about the  name, I couldn’t find anything about it. (So much for a great story). So if either of my two readers knows how Cleveland came to be called the Infants, send me a note.

After this season, Larkin went back to the American Association Philadelphia Athletics in 1891 and had his only double-digit home run season (10). Then he finished off his career with the National League Washington Senators in 1892 and 1893. His hitting never faltered as in his 10 seasons, Larkin never had an OPS+ under 123. While he’s not Hall of Fame worthy and definitely not ONEHOF worthy, he proved to be one of the best hitters in early baseball history in all three leagues in which he played.

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1B-Dan Brouthers, Boston Reds, 32 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

.330, 1 HR, 97 RBI

 

Led in:

 

On-Base %-.466 (4th Time)

Times on Base-269 (5th Time)

Errors Committed as 1B-49 (2nd Time)

10th Time All-Star-In a new league with watered-down competition, the great Brouthers had his worst hitting year since he became a full-time player. As it is, according to WAR, he’s only the fourth best first baseman in the league, but don’t worry, he’ll be back and I don’t believe he’s even had his best season yet. I sometimes wonder how long Mike Trout can keep up his dominance and looking at Big Dan’s career gives me a lot of hope.

This season, Brouthers finished sixth in WAR Position Players (3.7) and third in Offensive WAR (4.4), behind Infants Pete Browning and Henry Larkin. He slashed .330/.466/.454 for an OPS+ of 143. He did lose some power this season, hitting only one home run, which is probably why his Adjusted OPS+ dipped. He also was part of his second league-winning team.

Here’s a clip from “Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball’s First Great Slugger” written by Roy Kerr: “One of the most intriguing discoveries about ‘Big Dan’ is the more than four dozen nicknames invented by the press to express wonder at his size, strength and hitting prowess – a quantity and variety exceeded by no other player in baseball history…Viewed collectively, these condensed verbal portraits provide a unique glimpse of ‘the Champion Batsman of the World,’ ‘the Mighty Irish King,’ ‘the Fence-Smasher of the 80s’ and the ‘the Grand Old Man of the Game,’ who was one of the most talented and respected players of his era.” I really have to pick up this book. Good job, Roy Kerr!

bierbauer

2B-Lou Bierbauer, Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, 24 Years Old

.306, 7 HR, 99 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists-468

Def. Games as 2B-133

Assists as 2B-468 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-77

1st Time All-Star-Louis W. “Lou” Bierbauer as born on September 28, 1865 in Erie, PA. His value was primarily defensive as he flashed a good glove throughout his career. For the four seasons previous to this one, he played for the American Association Philadelphia Athletics, but couldn’t make the All-Star team despite finishing eighth in Defensive WAR (1.0) in 1888. He finally made it this year, having a great fielding year with a fourth place 1.1 dWAR, while doing decently at the plate. It helped there was a dearth of good second basemen in the Players League. Bierbauer slashed .306/.350/.431 for an OPS+ of 103. He’d never have an Adjusted OPS+ above 100 in his final eight seasons.

Bierbauer is responsible for the Pirates nickname in Pittsburgh, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Alfred Spink, the founder of the Sporting News, wrote about the incident in his 1910 book ‘The National Game’. According to Spink, the Alleghenys’ manager, Ned Hanlon, traveled to Presque Isle in the dead of winter to sign him, crossing the ice on the harbor during a snow storm. He finally reached Bierbauer’s home and got him to sign a contract with Allegheny.

“The Athletics, upon learning of this deal, objected to Bierbauer’s signing and stated that he should return to the A’s, since that was the team that employed him before his defection to the failed Players’ League. An official for the American Association also objected to Bierbauer signing with the Alleghenys and called the act ‘piratical.’ However the Alleghenys contended that since ‘the [American Association] did not reserve Bierbauer, he was a free agent’. An arbitrator agreed, and soon players and fans alike were calling the team the ‘Pittsburg Pirates.’”

nash4

3B-Billy Nash, Boston Reds, 25 Years Old

1887 1888 1889

.266, 5 HR, 90 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 3B-307

Double Plays Turned as 3B-37

4th Time All-Star-Nash made his fourth consecutive All-Star team and was easily the best third baseman of his time. Only Ned Williamson and Ezra Sutton have made more All-Star teams at his position. Nash slashed .266/.383/.379 (his highest OBP thus far) for an OPS+ of 101. If there was an outstanding third sacker at this time, Nash wouldn’t have made the team, but there wasn’t and he did.

Speaking of Williamson and Sutton, I’ve been working on keeping an updated all-time All-Star team and through 1990, these are the players on it:

P-Tim Keefe

C-Charlie Bennett

1B-Cap Anson

2B-Fred Dunlap

3B-Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton

SS-Jack Glasscock

LF-Charley Jones

CF-Paul Hines

RF-King Kelly

As of now, only Keefe, Anson, Glasscock, and Hines have made the ONEHOF, which shows how tough it is to make the Hall of Fame if you can only pick one player a year. I’ll keep updating it as new players are added.

Nash was known for his defense and did make the Defensive WAR top 10 three times, but those three seasons were the only ones of his 15 seasons in which he did so. He wound up having a Baseball Reference dWAR of 7.4 over those years, which is good, but a little lower than I would have anticipated for someone who is one of the best third basemen of his era. In 1891, he’s going have a 0.0 Defensive WAR and will have to make his fifth All-Star team with his bat. Fortunately for him, he had a good 1891 at the plate, but we’ll have to see whether he makes the cut or not.

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SS-Monte Ward, Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, 30 Years Old

1878 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 1887

.335, 4 HR, 60 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Singles-157

Putouts as SS-303 (4th Time)

Assists as SS-450

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.93

8th Time All-Star-When Ward first started out in baseball and was a dominating pitcher, he made the All-Star teams six consecutive years and looked to be one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. However, after becoming a shortstop, Ward only made the All-Star team once, in 1887, before this season. Since then, he continued being at short for the Giants, before moving to the Players League this year. He finished eighth in Offensive WAR (3.3), one of two seasons he did so. That’s quite a feat considering he never was much of hitter. In 1890, Ward slashed .335/.393/.426 (his highest OBP and SLG ever) for an OPS+ of 113.

Along with that, Ward managed Brooklyn to a second-place 76-56 record. He’d coach in the New York area for five more seasons. The Ward’s Wonders, named after their manager, had the fifth highest run differential in the league, yet still managed to finish second, so some of that credit has to go to Monte.

There would be no Players League without Ward, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Ward realized that negotiations with the owners were going nowhere and threatened to create a Players’ League. The owners thought of it as nothing more than an idle threat but had failed to realize Ward’s connections in the business community, and he began to launch the new league. This new Players’ League included a profit sharing system for the players and had no reserve clause or classification plan.

“The season began in 1890 with over half of the National League’s players from the previous year in its ranks.”

browning6LF-Pete Browning, Cleveland Infants, 29 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1887

.373, 5 HR, 93 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1890 PL Batting Title (3rd Time)

Offensive WAR-4.9 (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.373 (3rd Time)

Doubles-40

Adjusted OPS+-169 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-53 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-4.9 (3rd Time)

6th Time All-Star-I don’t know why the Hall of Fame is so fascinating to me, but I can fret for hours over the people who did and didn’t make it. Now it’s borderline over whether or not I would put Browning in the Hall of Fame, but if he’s kept out because he played a majority of his games in the American Association, that’s bunk. This season, surrounded by stars from the National League, he still dominated the Players League with his bat. Like I said, it’s a tough choice, his career WAR is only 40.4, but he was dominating for his day.

Browning left Louisville, where he spent his whole career for the Players League and the Infants. He finished seventh in WAR (5.3); second in WAR Position Players (5.3), to the Giants’ Roger Connor; and first in Offensive WAR (4.9). He’d never be this great again, playing for the National League the rest of his career. He played for Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in 1891, Louisville and Cincinnati in 1892, Louisville in 1893, and St. Louis and Brooklyn in 1894. He finished his career with a .341 average and a 163 OPS+.

As for his death, Wikipedia says, “He died in Louisville on September 10 of that year at age 44. The specific cause of death was listed as asthenia (a weakening of the body), a cover-all medical term used by doctors of that time. However, he no doubt suffered from a wide variety of serious physical complaints. In addition to the mastoiditis, he was afflicted with cancer, advanced cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol-related brain damage, and according to some sources, paresis. Some sources erroneously report that he died in an insane asylum; he was in Lakeland Asylum a short time before he died. He is buried in historic Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.” It was a sad life for the great hitter.

richardson8

LF-Hardy Richardson, Boston Reds, 35 Years Old

1879 1881 1883 1885 1886 1887 1889

.326, 13 HR, 146 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-146

8th Time All-Star-Boston sure was able to pile up the All-Stars, which is why it won the league title. Richardson finished 10th in WAR Position Player (3.1), slashing .326/.384/.494 for an OPS+ of 130. Old  True Blue was back in the outfield after playing most of the last few seasons at second base. In 1891, Richardson would stay with the American Association Boston Reds, but his hitting would decline and 1892 would be his last year in the Majors, playing part time for the National League Washington Senators and the 1892 New York Giants.

Wikipedia says of Richardson’s loyalty to the PL: “Richardson was a strong supporter of the Brotherhood of Professional Base-Ball Players, the union that represented the players and organized the Players’ League in response to unfair treatment by team owners. In January 1890, he spoke out against players like teammate John Clarkson who had joined the Brotherhood but remained with their old clubs. Richardson said he would remain loyal to the Players’ League even if it could only pay him $10 a week and added: ‘I held up my hand and swore that I would stick to the brotherhood… I respect my word and regard my oath as sacred. You have no idea how hot it makes me to think of the way some of these players have acted.’”

And on his later years: “By 1930, Richardson was retired and living with his wife in Utica as boarders at the home of cement salesman, Robert C. Weaver. Richardson died in January 1931 at age 75 in Utica, New York. He was buried at the Forest Hill Cemetery in that city.”

hoy2

CF-Dummy Hoy, Buffalo Bisons, 28 Years Old

1888

.298, 1 HR, 53 RBI

 

2nd Time All-Star-Hoy is the only Bisons’ player to make the All-Star team which is why he made the team. He played one game at second base this season, the only time in his 1,797 games he ever played anywhere but the outfield. He didn’t do bad, taking three chances in four innings without an error, rare for that era. (I’m picturing Vin Scully saying that last sentence with “error” and “era” sounding almost exactly alike.) Hoy slashed .298/.418/.371  for an OPS+ of 119. Hoy was always great at taking pitches.

Your guess would be with one All-Star, Buffalo would be terrible and your guess would be right on the nose! The Bisons were the league’s worst team as Jack Rowe (27-72) and Jay Faatz (9-24) led them to a 36-96 record, 46-and-a-half games out of first. On a team with two managers who were one-and-done in their coaching career, there was a catcher who would end up managing more years than anyone in baseball history, one Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack. I’m going to be writing about him quite a bit.

Here’s a little about the last two seasons from Wikipedia: “Hoy’s speed was a great advantage in the outfield, and he was able to play shallow as a result. On June 19, 1889, he set a Major League record (which has since been tied twice) by throwing out three runners at home plate in one game, with catcher Connie Mack recording the outs.” Hoy still has a long career left, with sporadic appearances on this list.
duffy

RF-Hugh Duffy, Chicago Pirates, 23 Years Old

.320, 7 HR, 82 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-137 (2nd Time)

At Bats-596 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-657

Runs Scored-161

Hits-191

Def. Games as OF-137

1st Time All-Star-“Sir Hugh” Duffy was born on November 26, 1866 in Cranston, RI. His Hall of Fame career started with the 1888 and 1889 National League Chicago White Stockings, where his .312 batting average in 1889 showed he had better years to come. This was one of them, as he finished 10th in WAR (4.2); third in WAR Position Players (4.2), behind only Roger Connor and Pete Browning; and sixth in Defensive WAR (0.8), the only year he’d make the top 10 in that category.

Duffy’s Hall of Fame page says of him, “Hugh Duffy was one of the top batsmen of the 1890s recording more hits, home runs and runs batted in during the decade than any other player in the game. He teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Tommy McCarthy to form the ‘Heavenly Twins’ outfield tandem for the Boston Beaneaters that captured two league pennants and a pre-modern World Series Championship in 1892 and 1893.” This brings up the question, did Hugh Duffy deserve to make it to the Hall of Fame? Well, I would say if we had modern stats in his day, probably not, as his batting average provided almost all of his value and he was a terrible fielder according to dWAR. But since we didn’t have those stats and he had a lifetime .326 average, with a .440 average in 1894, over 17 years of ball, I can live with him being in there. Much more so than the other half of the Heavenly Twins.

stovey9

RF-Harry Stovey, Boston Reds, 33 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

.299, 12 HR, 84 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Stolen Bases-97 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-21.4 (2nd Time)

9th Time All-Star-Stovey made his ninth consecutive All-Star team in helping lead the Reds to the Players League pennant. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.3), slashing .299/.406/.472 for an OPS+ of 131. It’s strange a player moves from first base to the outfield, but Stovey would be roaming the field for the majority of the rest of his career. He still wasn’t a very good outfielder, according to dWAR.

Stovey will possibly make the ONEHOF, but will he ever make the real Hall of Fame? It will depend on whether they accept the American Association as a legitimate Major League.  According to SABR, “The man who could do it all has been overlooked by the National Baseball Hall of Fame despite calls for his election from many who are familiar with the history of our national pastime. Perhaps one day, he will get his due and be honored by the game’s ultimate shrine.” One day.

Wikipedia tells of a feat of Stovey this season: “In 1890, the Players’ League, a rival league to the National League and the American Association, began, and it attracted many of the game’s star players, including Stovey who ‘jumped’ to the Boston Reds. He had a good season, batting .299, hit 11 triples, and 12 home runs. On September 3, 1890, Stovey became the first player to hit 100 homers for a career, off of Jersey Bakely in a game against Cleveland, a significant milestone in a day when home runs were relatively rare.”

orourke12

RF-Jim O’Rourke, New York Giants, 39 Years Old

1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1879 1880 1881ONEHOF 1884 1885 1886 1887

.360, 9 HR, 115 RBI

 

12th Time All-Star-Arguably the second greatest player in the early days of baseball, behind only the stellar Cap Anson, O’Rourke continues to make All-Star teams, now at the age of two score minus one. He slashed .360/.410/.515 (his highest OBP and SLG ever) for an OPS+ of 137. Will he make teams even into his 40s? I would have said no, but Orator Jim continues to surprise me.

                Since the last time O’Rourke made the All-Star team in 1887, he continued to play in New York and would do so until his last full season of 1893 in Washington. There are arguments for who should and shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame, but Orator Jim’s case is crystal clear which is why he’s made the Hall of Fame and the ONEHOF. He was selected to Cooperstown by the Old Timers Committee in 1945. I’m shocked he didn’t make it sooner.

SABR says of O’Rourke: “Playing for the Ewing-led Big Giants, Jim O’Rourke registered exceptional numbers during the 1890 season. In addition to a .360 batting average, the 40-year-old posted career-best figures in hits (172), doubles (37), home runs (9), RBIs (115), slugging (.515), and on-base percentage (.410), all achieved while playing in only 111 games. O’Rourke’s performance, however, was not duplicated by his team (third place). Nor did the Players League prosper as a whole. In fact, the season had been a catastrophe for the new circuit’s financial backers. That fall they were outmaneuvered in peace settlement negotiations by A.G.Spalding, the hard-nosed de-facto leader of the National League, and bluffed into dissolving the Players League.”