P-Jim McCormick, CLV
P-Stump Weidman, DTN
P-Jim Whitney, BSN
P-Old Hoss Radbourn, PRO
P-Larry Corcoran, CHC
P-Tim Keefe, TRO
P-Fred Goldsmith, CHC
P-Pud Galvin, BUF
P-Bobby Mathews, BSN
C-Charlie Bennett, DTN
C-Jack Rowe, BUF
1B-Dan Brouthers, BUF
1B-Roger Connor, TRO
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
1B-Joe Start, PRO
1B-John Morrill, BSN
1B-Harry Stovey, WOR
2B-Fred Dunlap, CLV
3B-Ned Williamson, CHC
3B-Buck Ewing, TRO
SS-Jack Glasscock, CLV
SS-King Kelly, CHC
CF-George Gore, CHC
CF-Paul Hines, PRO
RF-Monte Ward, PRO
36-30, 2.37 ERA, 200 K, .218, 2 HR, 15 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-10.9 (2nd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-11.2 (2nd Time)
Wins-36 (2nd Time)
Games Pitched-68 (2nd Time)
Innings Pitched-595 2/3 (2nd Time)
Games Started-67 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-65 (3rd Time)
Home Runs Allowed-14
Bases on Balls Allowed-103 (2nd Time)
Hits Allowed-550 (2nd Time)
Batters Faced-2,412 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-35 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-3.3 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-68 (2nd Time)
Putouts as P-43 (2nd Time)
Assists as P-100
5th Time All-Star-McCormick continued to be the workhorse of the National League, pitching over 500 innings for the fourth consecutive season. He’s still got one more of those left though it won’t be next year. This season was McCormick’s best season ever. He finished first in WAR (10.9) and first in WAR for Pitchers (11.2). In 595 2/3 innings pitched, he had a 2.37 ERA and a 118 ERA+. His strength was in his durability and, even with the mound back to 50 feet instead of 45, McCormick kept plugging along.
The National League had competition as a Major League this season as the American Association formed. It would be around for 10 seasons and, in 1884 and 1890, there would be third leagues. Make sure and read about the American Association All-Stars (after I write it, of course).
We’re going to review Cleveland’s season in Fred Dunlap’s write-up, but it should be noted McCormick did manage the first four games of this season and lost them all before Dunlap took over the team.
Here’s a short look at McCormick’s dominance in the National League. He led in games pitched 68 to 54 over Old Hoss Radbourn; innings pitched 595 2/3 to 466 over Radbourn; complete games 65 to 50 over Radbourn; and also faced almost 500 more batters than Radbourn. Old Hoss had a better ERA (2.11 to 2.37), but pitched a lot less than McCormick. It should also be noted National League Park I, Cleveland’s home park, definitively favored the pitcher in 1882.
25-20, 2.63 ERA, 161 K, .218, 0 HR, 20 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Weidman took over as the main pitcher for the Wolverines in 1882 and ended up having his best season ever. He finished second in WAR (9.8) and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.2). In 411 innings pitched, he had a 2.63 ERA and a 111 ERA+. He had better marks in 1881, but that was in 300 less innings. He probably has one more All-Star team left in him.
With Weidman on the mound and the “Big Four” in the lineup, Detroit slightly improved to a fifth place finish with a 42-41 record. Frank Bancroft still managed the team, but in 1883, he would be off to Cleveland.
From Wikipedia: “Wiedman had another strong year in 1882, winning 25 games, pitching 411 innings and 43 complete games with a WHIP rating of 1.046 (4th best in the National League). On August 17, 1882, he was the losing pitcher in one of the great pitching duels in baseball history. Monte Ward was the pitcher for the Providence Grays, and he and Wiedman held the game scoreless through 17 innings. Wiedman allowed only seven hits but lost the game in the 18th inning on a home run by Old Hoss Radbourn, who was playing in right field.
“While he won 25 games in 1882, Wiedman also ranked among the league leaders with 20 losses. Wiedman lost at least 20 games for five consecutive seasons from 1882 to 1886, ranking among the league leaders in losses for each of those seasons.”
24-21, 2.64 ERA, 180 K, .323, 5 HR, 48 RBI
Home Runs Per 9 IP-0.064
Wild Pitches-29 (2nd Time)
AB Per HR-50.2
2nd Time All-Star-As if being a strong-armed pitcher who would toss over 400 innings for the second straight year wasn’t enough, Whitney added an amazing year at the plate. Altogether this season, he finished third in WAR (8.1), fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.5), and eighth in Offensive WAR (2.9). Years before the American League’s Boston Red Sox had Babe Ruth, the National League Boston Red Stockings also had a pitcher who could rake. On the mound, Whitney pitched 420 innings with a 2.64 ERA and a 109 ERA+. That’s OK. However, at the plate, Whitney slashed .323/.382/.510 for an OPS+ of 183. He would never hit this well again, but the fact he’s a pitcher really makes those stats jump out.
You would think if there was a player who would have a spot to play everyday, it would be Whitney, but he played in only 61 of the 84 Red Stockings games and only 12 of the games in which he didn’t pitch. Whitney’s second most-played position was rightfield, which was usually played by Ed Rowen. Rowen slashed .248/.289/.303 for an OPS+ of 90. That guy couldn’t sit more often? The best hitting outfielder for Boston was Joe Hornung, who slashed .302/.305/.402 for an OPS+ of 125. Whitney outhit him, too. Isn’t it fun to question manager’s decisions from 130 years ago?
Maybe it was because Grasshopper Jim’s fielding was terrible and there you would have an argument. His Defensive WAR was -0.3, which was normal for him. He had a negative Defensive WAR every full season he played, but was that fielding bad enough to keep that bat out of the lineup? Who knows.
33-19, 2.11 ERA, 201 K, .239, 1 HR, 32 RBI
Adj. Pitching Wins-3.3
2nd Time All-Star-Old Hoss was in an incredible stretch of his career and you won’t believe his next two seasons. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In 1882, Radbourn finished fourth in WAR (8.1) and third in WAR for Pitchers (7.8).He pitched 466 innings with a 2.11 ERA and a 133 ERA+. I don’t know if his 12 seasons will give him the longevity to make the ONEHOF, but as a consolation prize, he did make the real Hall of Fame in 1939.
Providence had a new manager this year, the great Harry Wright, who led them to a second place finish with a 52-32 record. It still couldn’t catch the White Stockings, but fell only three games short. The Grays led by three games as of September 9th, but then went on a four-game losing streak, three of them to Chicago, and never got back in the race.
According to SABR, the most famous game of 1882 featured Radbourn, not on the mound, but in rightfield: “Radbourn appeared in 83 games for Providence in 1882, 54 of them on the mound totaling 474 innings. Either Monte Ward or Rad started every game, 32 and 52 respectively. Rad posted a 33-20 record with a league-leading 201 strikeouts and a second place mark in victories. The Grays fell only three games short of the championship. On August 17, he played right field versus Detroit. There was no score for the first seventeen and a half innings. In the bottom of the 18th, Rad hit a home run over the left field wall against Stump Wiedman to claim the victory. It was the first walk-off homer in major league history in a 1-0 game. Surprisingly by today’s standards, the contest only took 2 hours 40 minutes.”
27-12, 1.95 ERA, 170 K, .207, 1 HR, 24 RBI
1882 NL Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-1.95
Walks & Hits per IP-0.967
Hits per 9 IP-7.111
2nd Year All-Star-Sometimes fate lends a hand to people’s lives. Dan Marino never won a championship though he certainly was a great quarterback. He might have won one on a different team with different coaches, different offensive philosophies, or just better defenses. Corcoran, on the other hand, was a great pitcher, but not the best one in the league. However, he pitched at the right time for the right team and now had his third championship. He finished sixth in WAR (5.8) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (6.0). Corcoran pitched 355 2/3 innings with a 1.95 ERA and a 147 ERA+. Cap Anson didn’t kill his pitchers and Corcoran pitched 240 innings less that Jim McCormick and 110 innings less than Old Hoss Radbourn. It can be argued that he pitched better than either of those two innings hogs this season.
According to Wikipedia, “In 1882, Corcoran became the first pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a career.” The website nonohitters.com says that the date of September 20 , on which Corcoran threw his no-no, is tied for the most popular date for no-hitters. Corcoran tossed it against the Ruby Legs at Lake Front Park in Chicago, as the White Stockings won the game, 5-0.
Baseball Almanac says, “For the first time, teams in the National League were permitted to wear colored uniforms. Although the league would not mandate what colors were used, they later determined all stocking colors for the following season.” And that would lead to the Astros uniforms of the 70s and 80s. Be careful with your decisions, leagues!
17-26, 2.49 ERA, 111 K, .228, 1 HR, 19 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Keefe and Mickey Welch, two future Hall of Famers, continued to be the one-two punch for the Trojans, but Smiling Tim was the only one to make the All-Star team as Welch had an off year. Keefe finished seventh in WAR (5.2) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.5). He tossed 376 innings with a 2.49 ERA and a 114 ERA+. It wasn’t a bad year, but oh, does he have a monster year ahead in 1883! Sorry, spoiler alert!
Coached by Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson, Troy dropped from fifth to seventh place in the National League with a 35-48 record. It was also the last year of the Trojans’ existence. According to Wikipedia, “They were disbanded after the 1882 season due to low attendance. On September 28, 1882, only six fans showed up to watch the Worcester Worcesters host the Trojans in the second-to-last game of the season. That attendance figure is the second lowest attendance at a Major League baseball game. In 1883 the New York Gothams, later becoming the New York and San Francisco Giants, took the Trojans’ former slot in the National League. Four of the original Gotham players were former members of the disbanded Trojans, including three Hall of Famers, Buck Ewing, Roger Connor and Mickey Welch.” Did I read that right? Only six people showed up to watch a game? We almost get that many to watch me play slo-pitch softball! I’ve twice been to movies in my life where the person I went with and I were the only two in the theatre. That must have been what those fans felt like.
28-17, 2.42 ERA, 109 K, .230, 0 HR, 19 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Goldsmith pitched his best season ever, but most likely it’s his last All-Star season. He finished ninth in WAR (4.6) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), tossing 405 innings, his most ever, with a 2.42 ERA and a 118 ERA+. Combining with Larry Corcoran on the mound, Goldsmith was able to win his third straight championship.
Wikipedia has an article entitled Bill Stern on the Curveball which says, “In 1949, Stern waded into ‘The Great Curveball Debate’ about who invented the curveball in the 19th century, Candy Cummings or Fred Goldsmith. In his book of that year, Bill Stern’s Favorite Baseball Stories, he came down solidly in Goldsmith’s corner: ‘Some 80 years ago, an obscure kid pitcher on the Connecticut sandlots made a discovery that revolutionized baseball. He discovered that he could perform an amazing trick. He could actually pitch a baseball in such a way as to make it curve! In 1870, before a large but skeptical crowd, Freddy Goldsmith gave a demonstration of his new invention. The test was made by drawing a chalk line along the ground for 45 feet. Poles were set upright at each end of the line, and another was placed midway between these two. Freddy Goldsmith stood at the first pole and his catcher at the other end. To the amazement of the crowd, Freddy demonstrated that he could throw a baseball so that it went on the outside of the center pole and the inside of the others, in a curve. Thus the baseball world came to know of Freddy Goldsmith and his invention – “the curve ball.” Freddy Goldsmith became nationally famous. Big league clubs fought for his pitching services. He became a star with the Chicago White Stockings. With his ‘curve ball’, pitcher Goldsmith was soon the most talked-about ballplayer in America! But there is a curious ending to this story. For years, long after his days of baseball glory were over, Freddy Goldsmith lived happily in the knowledge that posterity would always know him as the inventor of the curve ball. However, another pitcher named Arthur Cummings popped up, claiming to be the inventor, and quite a few baseball men believed him. When Freddy Goldsmith heard about this, it broke him up completely. Ill and bed-ridden at the time, he died a broken-hearted man, pathetically maintaining to the end that he, and only he, was the original inventor of ‘the curve ball.”’” Stern was one of the first baseball announcers, in case you’re wondering. There is a lot more on this huge curveball controversy on Fred Goldsmith’s SABR page. You should check it out.
28-23, 3.17 ERA, 162 K, .214, 0 HR, 17 RBI
4th Time All-Star-Gentle Jeems is one of my favorite players from this era. During a time when Chicago was dominating the league, Galvin just kept plugging along year-after-year, pitching over 340 innings for 11 consecutive seasons. His ERA+ wasn’t always great – he would end up with a lifetime Adjusted ERA+ of 107 – but he consistently pitched effectively over a lot of innings. This season he finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers with a 4.7 mark, throwing 445 1/3 innings with a 3.17 ERA and a 92 ERA+. It’s important to remember even though his Adjusted ERA+ was below league average (100), it doesn’t mean he was a bad pitcher compared to what a replacement player would do.
With Galvin and Hugh Daily doing the pitching, Jack Rowe catching, and Dan Brouthers at first base, the Bisons finished tied for third with Boston, with a 45-39 record. Oh, and they also had a pretty good player-coach, centerfielder Jim O’Rourke, a real Hall of Fame and ONEHOF inductee. Buffalo was second in runs scored and fifth in runs allowed, indicating that Galvin had an off year.
According to Wikipedia, “In 2000, former Oakland Athletics pitcher Brian Kingman said that he was going to award himself a ‘Pud Galvin Memorial Trophy.’ In 1980, Kingman finished the season with an 8-20 win-loss record. He had learned that Galvin lost 20 or more games in each of his first ten years and was still elected to the Hall of Fame. (Galvin averaged 30 wins in those seasons, and twice he won 46 games.)”
19-15, 2.87 ERA, 153 K, .225, 0 HR, 13 RBI
Base on Balls Per 9 IP-0.695
Strikeouts Per 9 IP-4.832 (3rd Time)
Strikeouts/Base On Balls-6.955
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.15 (2nd Time)
8th Time All-Star-I’ve been writing about 1873 ONEHOF Inductee Mathews for so long that I’m stunned that here in 1882 he’s only 30 years old. From 1871-through-1876, he made the All-Star team all six years and then didn’t make it again until 1879. Since that time, he didn’t play major league baseball in 1880, pitched just 19 games and 125 1/3 innings in 1881 (while still leading the league with two shutouts, by the way), before making the team again this season. Mathews finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers with a 4.2 mark. He pitched 285 innings with a 2.87 ERA and a 100 ERA+, his highest Adjusted ERA+ since 1879. He is going to start in the American Association in 1883 and have a career revival.
Here’s SABR’s write-up on his 1880 and 1881 seasons: “In May 1880, Mathews joined the San Francisco Stars of the independent Pacific League. It was a poorly designed league with only three area clubs, the Eagles, Renos, and Stars, and folded in July. Mathews roomed with The Only Nolan and Honest John Kelly. In December Mathews re-signed with Providence. He started 14 games between May 3 and July 13, 1881, alternating in the box with Monte Ward and Hoss Radbourn. In mid-July, Providence management became fed up with the excessive drinkers on the club. Mathews, Radbourn, and substitute catcher Emil Gross were particularly singled out. Mathews and Gross were released. The former then joined the Boston Red Stockings, but not as a pitcher, at least initially. He played 18 games in the outfield. Mathews made only one start for Boston, a 10-3 victory over Cleveland on September 28; he did relieve in four other contests.”
.301, 5 HR, 51 RBI
Putouts as C-446 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as C-7.94 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-There wasn’t a lot of hitting on the Wolverines, but the one exception is Bennett, who is the only position player All-Star on the team. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.1), fifth in Offensive WAR (3. 5), and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.1). It was another good all-around season. At the bat, he slashed .301/.340/.450 for an OPS+ of 151, the second of three consecutive years he’d have an Adjusted OPS+ of 150 or over.
In doing this history of baseball, I’ve run across some familiar names, people like Cap Anson and King Kelly, and then there are others that never rang a bell when they made the All-Star team, people like Charlie Bennett. Part of it has to do with the short stretch of time in which Bennett was great and part of it is because the most frequent stat to evaluate hitters at this time was batting average. Bennett hit over .300 three times, but for his career, his average was .256. He provided value in other ways, but those weren’t seen as important in the era he played.
I mentioned that the teams started having multi-colored uniforms this season, but as mentioned on the Hall of Fame webpage, they used them in an unusual way: “The rules of 1882 called for the use of multi-colored uniforms denoting each player’s position. For example, scarlet-and-white-striped shirts and caps were worn by first basemen, while shortstops wore solid maroon. Only the color of the stockings was used to differentiate one club from another. Derisively called ‘clown costumes,’ the experimental outfits were dropped in mid-season, though a few clubs briefly revived the position-oriented design in 1888.” I put a picture of those uniforms above.
.266, 1 HR, 42 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Rowe kept plugging along as one of the best catchers in the National League. He finished sixth in Defensive WAR with a 1.1 mark and also contributed somewhat with the bat, slashing .266/.294/.354 with an OPS+ of 105. He was no Charlie Bennett, but on a team that had hitters like Dan Brouthers, Hardy Richardson, and Jim O’Rourke, he held his own and is one of only two position player All-Stars from the Bisons. He is the least famous member of the “Big Four.”
The most incredible stat in Rowe’s 1882 season is how many times he struck out. Zero. You read that right. In 308 at-bats, Rowe never struck out. Another catcher, Silver Flint, led the league in strikeouts with 50, so it’s not like batters struck out all that often anyway, but it was still incredible to go through a whole season with no whiffs. In his 12 major league seasons, Rowe never struck out more than 28 times. He also didn’t walk much, getting base on balls just 12 times, so he’s the epitome of a contact hitter.
I hate to keep bringing up uniforms, but from Threads of Our Game, this is how the different positions dressed: “December 1881: ‘The new system uniforms by position. All the catchers in the league will be dressed precisely alike with the exception of their hose, which will be of their club color. The shirts, belts and caps…are to be as follows: catcher, scarlet; pitcher, light blue; first base, scarlet and white; second base, orange and black; third base, blue and white; shortstop, maroon; right field, gray; center field, red and black; left field, white; first substitute, green; second substitute, brown. The trousers and neckties of all the players are to be white, and the shoes leather. The stockings to be worn by the members of the different nines are as follows: Boston, red; Chicago, white; Detroit, old gold; Troy, green; Buffalo, gray; Cleveland, navy blue; Providence, light blue; Worcester, brown.’ From the Detroit Free Press, December 11, 1881. Research from Peter Morris, A Game Of Inches (2006, 2010).”
.368, 6 HR, 63 RBI
1882 NL Batting Title
WAR Position Players-5.9
Slugging %-.547 (2nd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.950
Adj. Batting Runs-39
Adj. Batting Wins-4.2
Times on Base-150
Offensive Win %-.847
Def. Games as 1B-84
Fielding % as 1B-.974
2nd Time All-Star-Over the next few years, I’m going to be writing tons about Brouthers and the write-ups will be very similar to this one. His season was just dominant, but then so was 1883 and 1884 and 1885 and you get the point. He wasn’t only the best power hitter of his time, but the greatest hitter in the league for a long time. He led the league in Adjusted OPS+ six consecutive times, something only done by Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Rogers Hornsby. He’s obviously one of the all-time greats.
So here’s his recap for 1882 and I’ll just cut-and-paste it for the next few seasons. (Just kidding, I put the work into this page, baby!) He finished fifth in WAR (5.9), first in WAR Position Players (5.9), first in Offensive WAR (5.0), and for the only time in his career, he finished in the top 10 in Defensive WAR, finishing ninth (1.0). He slashed .368/.403/.547 for an OPS+ of 199.
Here’s some comments about Brouthers from Baseball Reference, from people from his era:
“’Brouthers really was a great hitter, one of the most powerful batters of all time. . . I don’t think I ever saw a stronger hitter.’ — John McGraw.”
“’Frank Bancroft . . . thinks that Brouthers is the greatest hitter the world ever saw . . .’ – Sporting Life, October 28, 1893.” None of his early hitting led to championships, mainly because the White Stockings were so dominant, but he’d get his share of titles in his later years.
.330, 4 HR, 42 RBI
Extra Base Hits-44
2nd Year All-Star-You might have noticed at the top that there are six All-Star first basemen in the National League. That means only two teams in the league (Detroit and Cleveland) didn’t have All-Stars at this position. Connor held his own with Dan Brouthers. Playing for Troy in its last season of existence, he finished 10th in WAR (4.5), third in WAR Position Players (4.5), and third in Offensive WAR (4.2). He slashed .330/.354/.530 for an OPS+ of 185. Between Brouthers, Connor, and Cap Anson, there were some incredible bats at first base during this time.
Connor didn’t make the All-Star team in 1881, having an off season. His .292 average was his lowest until 1887, his .319 OPB was his lowest ever, his .387 slugging average was his lowest until his last season, and his 116 OPS+ was his lowest until 1896. Maybe he was having difficulty learning to play first base. Whatever it was, he figured it out and was off and running.
Despite his less-than-stellar 1881 season, he did have a baseball first that year, according to Wikipedia: “Connor hit baseball’s first grand slam on September 10, 1881. His grand slam came with two outs and his team down three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, a situation known today as a walk-off home run.”
.362, 1 HR, 83 RBI
Runs Batted In-83 (3rd Time)
Assists as 1B-27 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as 1B-45
8th Time All-Star-With all that Anson has achieved in his career, it’s incredible he only turned 30 in 1882. He finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.4) and second in Offensive WAR (4.3). There were so many dominant first basemen in the league this season. He slashed .362/.397/.500 for an OPS+ of 180. And though RBIs aren’t important, it should be noted he broke his own National League record in the category for the third consecutive year, knocking in 83. The all-time record is held by Cal McVey with 87 in 1875, if you count the National Association. Dan Brouthers is going to put an end to this double record holder nonsense next season.
Anson managed the White Stockings to their third straight title and Cap as a player won his fourth ever championship. Chicago finished 55-29, winning by three games over Providence and easily leading the league in runs scored. The White Stockings scored 104 more runs than the Buffalo Bisons, 604-500.
Here’s Cap Chronicled on Anson’s temper: “Historians describe Anson’s personality as ‘colorful’ or ‘aggressive’ if they are being kind, ‘abrasive’ and ‘temperamental’ if they are not. He is by no means the first star of sports to cause controversy on the field. There have been countless similar attitudes, and there will be countless more. However, Anson was renown for his colourful temperament. Standing six foot and weighing in at 227 pounds (big for the day), Anson was an imposing physical presence. On the field, Anson was quick to argue any call that did not favor his team. His arguments with umpires became legendary, but by this time in his career his stature as the league’s biggest star gave him the credentials to bend the umpire’s ear without getting tossed. Chicago’s home town fans delighted in his theatrical antics, and often encouraged him to engage with the umpires as often as possible. Anson did not disappoint. His tirades mixed pure anger with high comedy. When Chicago traveled, Anson was the target of the home team’s fan’s scorn. He was often taunted with the nickname ‘Crybaby.’ Anson believed his antics had a positive effect for his team by wearing down the umpire and influencing his calls. Sometimes he argued calls just to give his pitcher a rest.”
.328, 0 HR, 29 RBI
Singles-99 (2nd Time)
AB per SO-50.9 (2nd Time)
Putouts-905 (4th Time)
Putouts as 1B-905 (4th Time)
Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.29 (4th Time)
Oldest Player in League-39 (5th Time)
8th Time All-Star-I’m so glad Start made the ONEHOF and, if baseball really wanted to honor its history, he should also be in the real Hall of Fame. He truly lived up to the nickname “Old Reliable,” playing on very few teams and at very few positions. He played 1069 of his 1074 games at first base. For 1882, he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.1), sixth in Offensive WAR (3.0), and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.2). Despite his reputation of being a slick fielder, this was the only season he was in the top 10 in dWAR. Starting at the age of 34, Start incredibly made six consecutive All-Star teams. My guess is that run is over.
Baseball Reference mentions some items about Start’s later life. “In 1886, in his last year in the majors, he played for the Washington Nationals. It was that same year when Connie Mack came up with the team as a 23-year-old rookie catcher.
“’JOE START’S KINDNESS. For the past two years (former star pitcher Bobby Mathews) has been employed at the veteran Joe Start’s road house near Providence, and it was there his mental derangement and physical breakdown first manifested itself.’ – Sporting Life, July 24, 1897, about Joe Start taking in a former colleague.” Start would end up with a total WAR of 32.2 for his career, but was consistently (that’s the perfect word to describe him) among the league’s top players. Welcome to the ONEHOF, Rocks!
.289, 2 HR, 54 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 K
2nd Year All-Star-For the first time in his seven seasons, Honest John didn’t have Harry Wright as a manager. As a matter of fact, Morrill had John Morrill as a manager and he didn’t do bad in that role. We’ll look at that in a second. As a batter, Morrill slashed .289/.324/.424 for his highest OPS+ to that time of 138. He also played at six of the nine positions, willing to go wherever he, as manager, told him to go.
The team itself actually improved from its Harry Wright-led 1881 season. Morrill guided the team to a 45-39 third place finish, 10 games behind Chicago. Though Honest John was the team’s only position player All-Star, the team had decent hitting and steady pitching. The Red Stockings also committed the least errors in the National League.
Only pitcher Jim Whitney outhit Morrill for Boston. It’s hard to believe for a franchise which used to have All-Stars at every position what had happened to the team. They long ago lost Al Spalding and Ross Barnes and no longer could turn to George Wright and Jim O’Rourke. I mean their shortstop’s name is Sam Wise. Get it? Sam Wise! Oh, how his name would be mocked by Lord of the Rings geeks!
Yet, thanks to the guiding hand of Morrill, this team wasn’t bad at all. Bobby Mathews had a resurgence, Whitney pitched and hit wonderfully, and the team consistently played good ball. On June 27, it was only two-and-a-half games back of Chicago, before going into a four-game losing streak which put it out of the hunt.
.289, 5 HR, 26 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.48
1st Time All-Star-Harry Duffield Stovey was born on December 20, 1856 in Philadelphia, PA. He’s going to have a great career and if the bulk of that career had come in the National League instead of the American Association, he’d almost certainly be in the Hall of Fame. Stovey started with the Ruby Legs in 1880 at the age of 23, leading the league in triples and homers. He slipped a little in 1881, before coming back this season, slashing at .289/.330/.422 for an OPS+ of 137. However, the only reason he is the sixth first baseman to make the All-Star team is because every team needs a representative and Stovey was the best Worcester had.
Three managers combined to lead the Ruby Legs to a last-place finish in their final season. Freeman Brown (9-32), Tommy Bond (2-4), and Jack Chapman (7-30) led Worcester to an 18-66 record, 37 games out of first and 17-and-a-half out of seventh. It scored less runs than any team and allowed way more than the rest of the league, allowing 130 more runs than the next highest team, Troy, mainly due to a league-leading 469 errors, accounting for 344 unearned runs.
Wikipedia says, “The 1882 Worcester Worcesters finished with an 18–66 record, last place in the National League. The team folded after the season. In a game on September 6, the team had only six fans in attendance a number that held the record for the smallest crowd in Major League history until 2015 when the Baltimore riots caused a game to be held ‘closed to the public.’”
.280, 0 HR, 28 RBI
Def. Games as 2B-84
Assists as 2B-297 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-62 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.73
3rd Time All-Star-For the second consecutive season, Dunlap is the lone All-Star representative at second base. Apparently all the good players are at first. Well, that’s not true, because Sure Shot held his own. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.2) and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.0). Dunlap slashed .280/.323/.354 for an OPS+ of 120, his lowest in his career up to this point. His defense continued to sparkle.
Along with roaming the right side of the infield, Dunlap took over for Jim McCormick, who went 0-4 as a manager, guiding the Blues to a 42-36 record for an overall finish of 42-40, fifth in the National League, 12 games out. He has a great season managing ahead in 1884, but the rest of the time he couldn’t get his team above .500. Another unusual fact about Dunlap as a manager was that in the five seasons he managed, he never completed any of them, either being relieved of his duties or taking over for others.
On a website called This Game of Games, there are a couple articles about Dunlap that don’t paint a nice picture of his personality. Here’s an example: “Now, I don’t want you to think that Dunlap was some kind of evil monster because he wasn’t. Dunlap was, simply, a rather selfish human being. He was self-centered and cared only about himself. He was both greedy and miserly. But, again, he wasn’t evil. Dunlap’s main concern was Fred Dunlap and the protection and preservation of Fred Dunlap. And given his background as an orphan who stated that he never had a home or a family, it’s understandable.”
.282, 3 HR, 60 RBI, 0-0, 6.00 ERA, 0 K
Defensive WAR -1.8 (2nd Time)
Assists as 3B-210 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 3B-16 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as 3B-.881 (4th Time)
4th Time All-Star-Williamson made his fourth straight All-Star team and won his third straight championship. He continued to be a genuine star, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (4.3), 10th in Offensive WAR (2.8), and first in Defensive WAR (1.8). He slashed .282/.333/.408 for an OPS+ of 132. Surprisingly, his .282 average was his second highest ever, only behind his .294 mark in 1879.
Home runs increased by quite a bit in 1882 and SABR tried to find an explanation: “Starting about 1882, however, the number of home runs began a decade-long, exponential increase. First, it more than doubled from just 76 in 1881 to 178 in 1882.
“In 1881, the pitcher’s box was moved back from 45 to 50 feet. This might have allowed batters to get a better look at the ball and, thereby, hit more home runs. Again we should look to a more general measure of batter success, batting average, in order to test this hypothesis. Indeed, major league batting averages increased from 1880 (.245) to 1881 (.260), but then fell back the following year (.248). Thus, the 1881 increase in batting average seems to have been a random ‘blip’ rather than being directly attributable to the increased distance of the pitcher. Or, it was due to the increased pitcher distance, but after the 1881 season, pitchers devised ways to compensate for the challenges it posed. In any case, unlike batting average, home run rate continued its climb in 1882.
“The year 1882 also marked the arrival of the American Association. One might argue that the home run rate increase that year was caused by a dilution of pitching talent (though no top pitchers moved from the NL to the AA). But even if one endorsed this claim, then one would have to explain the marked decrease in batting average that same year. If one argues that the dilution of hitting talent led to the decrease in batting average, then this would seem to foreclose the argument that dilution of pitching talent led to the increase in home runs. One cannot have it both ways.” I urge you to read the whole thing.
.271, 2 HR, 29 RBI, 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 0 K
1st Time All-Star-William “Buck” Ewing was born on October 17, 1859 in Hoagland, OH. He’s off and running on what will eventually be a Hall of Fame career. He started with Troy in 1880 as a part-time catcher, became the regular catcher in 1881 and then played at third base this season. However, over the course of his career, backstop would be his normal position.
Ewing slashed .271/.293/.405 for an OPS+ of 126. It would be his lowest OPS+ until 1894. He’d be done with the Trojans after this season, because Troy would fold after this year. He would move to New York and play there for 10 seasons on two different teams.
One of the good things about doing these All-Star teams is they often highlight good players before they become great players. With New York, Ewing would be great, probably the best catcher of his era, but as a 22-year-old with Troy, he was already one of the best players in the National League.
Here’s SABR on the origin of his nickname, Buck: “From the outset of his baseball career Ewing was known as Buck. The nickname was so firmly implanted in the minds of early-day historians that all of them bought the fiction that it was a derivation of his middle name. He was thus listed as ‘William Buckingham Ewing’ in reference works until late in the twentieth century even though in his final tribute to Ewing in the November 3, 1906, Sporting Life after Ewing’s death Cincinnati sportswriter Ren Mulford confessed: ‘”Buck” was only a nick-name bestowed on Will Ewing in his youth. I think I am the one who planted “Buckingham” in the middle and other writers took it up and it became as general as his baptism name.’” That the nickname did not originate with Mulford was supported by Ewing himself in the October 19, 1889, issue of The Sporting News. There, he related that he came by the nickname in Pendleton, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb, where his family moved when he was two years old, because he played marbles with a bigger boy named Buck, and older laggards, who bet on their games, took to calling the pair ‘Big Buck’ and ‘Little Buck.’ Ewing further acknowledged that within his family circle he had been called Billy as a child and now preferred Will.”
.291, 4 HR, 46 RBI
Def. Games as SS-83
Assists as SS-311 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as SS-40
2nd Time All-Star-For the second straight season, Glass was the best shortstop in the National League. He finished eighth in WAR (4.9), second in WAR Position Players (4.9), fourth in Offensive WAR (3.6), and second in Defensive WAR (1.8). He slashed .291/.315/.450 for an OPS+ of 145, his highest mark until 1886. Dunlap and he formed a great middle infield for the rising Blues. As Wikipedia says, “Over five seasons with the team he gradually improved his hitting, and in 1882 he was among the league’s top ten players in home runs (4), doubles (27), slugging average (.450) and total bases (161) while also leading the league in assists (311) and tying Sadie Houck‘s major league record of 40 double plays, set the previous year.”
Hall of Stats makes a Hall of Fame case for Glasscock: “One shortstop who didn’t appear in these rankings was Monte Ward. Ward split time as a pitcher and shortstop, so he has something of an odd career. In 1890, W.I. Harris of the Wheeling Register compared Glasscock to his peers and the name that appeared most often was Ward’s:
“There are only two short stops who can approach Glasscock in fielding. These are Ward and Williamson; only one who can equal him in brilliant plays-Ward; none that can excel him in batting, and only one-Ward again-who can equal him in base running.
“Ward was a great fielder, though he doesn’t rate as highly as Glasscock (by advanced or traditional metrics). Ward also was a below average hitter. Ward certainly could pitch (before ruining his arm) and was a great baserunner, though. Ned Williamson rates as an excellent fielder, but he only played four seasons at short (the rest at third). Those happen to be his worst defensive years (by Total Zone). He could hit about as well as Glasscock, but not nearly as long (he managed just 1,159 hits).”
.305, 1 HR, 55 RBI
Doubles-37 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Kelly has made his third All-Star team at his third different position all while winning his third championship. It wasn’t his greatest year, and he’d slump even more in 1883, but it wasn’t bad. He also had a rare positive Defensive WAR of 0.2 while playing at a tough position. For the most part, he will move to the outfield for the next few years. Kelly slashed .305/.323/.432 for an OPS+ of 135.
SABR has a wonderful article about a game between the White Stockings and Grays while they were battling it out for the pennant. I urge you to read the whole thing, but here’s a snippet on Kelly’s role in the game: “So the score stood 4–3 in favor of Providence at the start of the eighth inning. An error, a force out, and a single by Kelly put runners on first and second when Burns grounded sharply to Wright at shortstop. The veteran fielded it cleanly and stepped on second base to force Kelly, but as he continued his motion to throw to first for a double play, Kelly ran almost straight at him. Kelly veered off at the last instant but did make enough contact to cause the throw to soar into the stands. Before it could be retrieved, two men had scored, including the batter Burns, who circled the bases on the error. George Wright looked indignant, but the umpire, William Hawes, was looking at first base and saw no interference.
“Kelly’s collision with George Wright was not mentioned in the next day’s newspapers, but a few days later Harry Wright wrote a letter to the Providence Journal complaining about Kelly’s tactics in general and this instance in particular, which Harry viewed as intentional interference. The letter was given wide circulation on the nation’s sports pages, setting off a minor brouhaha. Kelly justified his actions by saying that while he would never intentionally injure another player, ‘I play to win and if I have to employ a few subterfuges to win I cannot help it.’”
.319, 3 HR, 51 RBI
Runs Scored-99 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-29
Def. Games as OF-84
3rd Time All-Star-There were many great first basemen in the National League in 1882, but very few good outfielders. There is no All-Star leftfielder this year, though the team does have two centerfielders and a rightfielder. The top centerfielder was the speedy Piano Legs Gore. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and eighth in Offensive WAR (2.9). He slashed .319/.369/.422 for an OPS+ of 148. Gore also won his third consecutive pennant with Chicago.
According to Wikipedia, Gore didn’t always put in the full effort: “Although he had statistics that put him consistently among the seasonal league leaders, he reportedly had a poor work ethic resulting from an active social life outside of baseball. This behavior did not endear him to his team captain, Cap Anson, which caused them to feud during Gore’s time in Chicago.” That may be true, but Cap liked his play enough to keep him around for eight seasons.
I’ve mentioned before that dWAR doesn’t rate Gore highly as a fielder. However, he did seem to pass the eyeball test, according to SABR, which writes, “Nor were Gore’s achievements limited to the bat. In the days of gloveless heroics, he was right up there with the best. William McMahon, in the book ‘Nineteenth Century Stars’ credited him with being a ‘fine thrower and fielder.’ The White Stockings’ outfield of Abner Dalrymple, the legendary King Kelly, and George Gore was the equal of any in the 19th century.”
.309, 4 HR, 34 RBI
7th Time All-Star-Hines continued good play has put him in position to be the ONEHOF Inductee next season. He will be in the chase along with Davy Force. For this season, Hines finished ninth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (2.9). He slashed .309/.326/.467 for an OPS+ of 151. He didn’t make the All-Star team in 1881, because his OPS+ was “only” 124. The Providence great has not made his last All-Star squad.
According to 19cbaseball.com, “In 1882, Hines became the first player to wear sunglasses during a major league game, and on September 25 played in the first true doubleheader in National League history. The Grays split the two games with the Worcester Ruby Legs in the first instance of two games for the price of one.”
There was a great game in 1882 between the Grays and the Wolverines that ended up being a 1-0 victory for Providence after 18 well-played innings. Here was Hines’ part in it, according to SABR, “Almost from the start, both clubs knocked on the door. In the fourth inning two Providence throwing errors landed Detroit’s speedy Ned Hanlon on second base, and when Martin Powell drove a single to center, Hanlon tore around third for home. But Paul Hines, a graceful fielder who was so deaf he needed an ear trumpet to hear anything, snatched up the ball and fired it to ‘the Spaniard,’ the Grays’ Latino catcher Sandy Nava, who fell on the sliding Hanlon to retire the runner inches from the plate.”
.245, 1 HR, 39 RBI, 19-13, 2.55 ERA, 72 K
Saves-1 (2nd Time)
5th Time All-Star-Though he’s on the team as a rightfielder, Ward made it because of his pitching. He finished 10th in Pitching WAR with a 3.5 mark. He pitched 286 innings with a 2.55 ERA and a 110 ERA+. He’s still got a good year left as a pitcher before giving up the mound after 1884. As a hitter, Ward slashed .245/.272/.299 for an OPS+ of 83. He’s still pretty young and his hitting is going to slightly improve over the next few seasons.
This was going to be his last season with the Grays, as mentioned in Wikipedia: “[O]n August 17, 1882, he pitched the longest complete game shutout in history, blanking the Detroit Wolverines 1–0 in 18 innings. By this time, however, the Grays felt his best days were behind him and sold their former ace hurler to the New York Giants.”
It’s incredible the amount of innings the pitchers pitched in the 1800s. At this time in history, they’re still pitching underhanded from 50 feet. Does pitching underhanded from a shorter distance really allow that many more innings pitched? You look nowadays, with all of the modern medicine and knowledge, and the pitchers arms continue to go out constantly. Ward had to give up pitching due to an injury incurred from a slide not from the mound.
Have you watched a pitcher on these new Hi-Def Super-Slo-Mo cameras? It’s incredible the amount of torque used to throw a pitch, even those pitches which aren’t 100 miles per hour.