P-Silver King, STL
P-Ed Seward, PHA
P-Bob Caruthers, BRO
P-Mike Smith, CIN
P-Nat Hudson, STL
P-Mickey Hughes, BRO
P-Ice Box Chamberlain, LOU/STL
P-Adonis Terry, BRO
P-Jersey Bakley, CLE
P-Lee Viau, CIN
C-Jim Keenan, CIN
C-Jocko Milligan, STL
1B-John Reilly, CIN
1B-Tommy Tucker, BAL
2B-Yank Robinson, STL
3B-George Pinkney, BRO
3B-Denny Lyons, PHA
3B-Arlie Latham, STL
3B-Jumbo Davis, KCC
SS-Ed McKean, CLE
SS-Oyster Burns, BAL/BRO
LF-Harry Stovey, PHA
LF-Hub Collins, LOU/BRO
LF-Tip O’Neill, STL
CF-Curt Welch, PHA
45-20, 1.63 ERA, 258 K, .208, 1 HR, 14 RBI
1888 AA Pitching Title
Wins Above Replacement-15.8
WAR for Pitchers-14.5
Earned Run Average-1.63
Walks & Hits per IP-0.874
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.170
Innings Pitched-584 2/3
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-3.395
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.38
Adj. Pitching Runs-91
Adj. Pitching Wins-9.1
Def. Games as P-66
2nd Time All-Star-Even though innings pitched were dropping for the most part during this era of baseball history, there was still the occasional rubber-armed pitcher. That was King. Charlie Comiskey found his ace and worked him to the bone. It would have its effect as King would be done pitching before he was 30. Let’s not dwell on that, let’s look at this great season in which he finished first in WAR (15.8) and first in WAR for Pitchers (14.5). He pitched 584 2/3 innings with a 1.63 ERA and a 195 ERA+. All of those numbers led the league.
So King led St. Louis to its fourth consecutive American Association pennant as it compiled a 92-43 record. The Browns then lost their second straight World Series, 6-4, to the National League New York Giants. In the Series, King pitched five games, going 1-3 with a 2.31 ERA. His fielding really let him down, as he allowed 23 runs, of which 14 were unearned.
Here’s a blurb from Baseball Reference on King’s pitching style: “’Speaking of the changes in the pitching distance’, said Captain Tebeau, ‘I can remember a 16 to 15 game under the old rules. Silver King was one of the pitchers. You could hide the ball then, and he used to come, whirling around like a serpent up to the 45 foot mark, and let go.’ ” – Patsy Tebeau, recalling Silver King’s pitching style, in Sporting Life, March 2, 1895.”
And on his nickname: “The nickname ‘Silver’ King owed its origin to the famous ‘Silver King Mine,’ located in Arizona and one of the richest silver mines in American history. Its peak production coincided with the height of ‘Silver’ King’s own peak pitching performance.”
35-19, 2.01 ERA, 272 K, .142, 2 HR, 14 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Seward made the All-Star team in 1887, but it was this season which was his best, as he finished second in WAR (9.9) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.9). He pitched 518 2/3 innings with a 2.01 ERA and a 146 ERA+. It was a great season, but it’s also most likely his last All-Star team. Seward would pitch two more seasons with the Athletics and finish his career with the 1891 National League Cleveland Spiders.
As for the Athletics, Manager Bill Sharsig, coaching for his second season – he had coached the Athletics for the last part of the 1886 season – led them to a third place finish with a 81-52 record, 10 games behind the Browns. Even as late as Sept. 10, Philadelphia was just three games out of first. However, it played only .500 ball after that and fell away.
Seward had a great game against the Cincinnati Red Stockings, pitching a no-hitter on July 26, as the Athletics won 12-2. Or as the St. Paul Daily Globe reported: “There was a gala time at the Athletic Park this afternoon at the slaughter of the Cincinnatis by the Athletics. Seward pitched ‘the game of his life,’ Cincinnati not making the semblance of a base hit in the entire nine innings.”
29-15, 2.39 ERA, 140 K, .230, 5 HR, 53 RBI
4th Time All-Star-Caruthers was purchased by the Bridegrooms from the Browns for $8,250 and continued having success with his new team. Parisian Bob finished third in WAR (6.8) and third in WAR for Pitchers (5.6). From the mound, Caruthers tossed 391 2/3 innings with a 2.39 ERA and a 126 ERA+. His Adjusted ERA+ fell from 160 in 1885 to 147 in 1886 to 137 in 1887 to 126 this season, his pitching becoming less effective. It would continue to drop in 1889 and Caruthers would never have an ERA under three again.
Did adding the great Caruthers help the newly-named Bridegrooms? Absolutely! They improved from a sixth-place finish in 1887 to a second-place finish this season. Bill “Gunner” McGunnigle managed a Major League team for the first time ever and led Brooklyn to an 88-52 record, six-and-a-half games behind St. Louis.
Wikipedia tells us why Brooklyn had the name change: “With the 1888 season, the Brooklyn Grays underwent a name change to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, a nickname that resulted from several team members getting married around the same time. Also, owner Charles Byrne decided to withdraw from managing the team’s on field activities and turned the reins over to more experienced baseball manager Bill McGunnigle. That, along with the Bridegrooms’ purchase of several top players from the defunct New York Metropolitans, led to a dramatic on field improvement as the team finished in second place in the American Association.”
22-17, 2.74 ERA, 154 K, .225, 0 HR, 9 RBI
Home Runs Allowed per 9 IP-0.026
2nd Time All-Star-Here’s the interesting thing about Smith, he’s probably made his last All-Star team as a pitcher this season. It’s well deserved, as he finished sixth in WAR (5.1) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.4). He threw 348 1/3 innings with a 2.74 ERA and a 113 ERA+. Meanwhile, at the plate, Smith slashed .225/.329/.271 for an OPS+ of 90. Oh, back to the interesting thing. When his arm gave out and his pitching fell off, he left the Major Leagues in 1889. However, he would be back with the National League Pirates in 1892 and all of a sudden, this man, who had a total slash line of .251/.330/.350 in the American Association, was put in leftfield and could hit. He’s going to make a couple of All-Star teams as a position player. How does a player who couldn’t hit in a weak league learn to hit in a better league?
With Gus Schmelz managing the team for his second straight season, the Red Stockings dropped from second place to fourth place, despite having a nearly identical record to 1887. That season, their record was 81-54, this season it was 80-54. Schmelz would continue managing next season and that record would continue dropping.
In my time as a Reds’ fan, this team never seems to have a dominant pitcher. In franchise history, Noodles Hahn, who pitched from 1899-1905 for Cincinnati has the highest WAR at 44. But he is 10th on this team in WAR all-time, behind nine position players. Even during the Big Red Machine era, it’s tough to name a great pitcher.
25-10, 2.54 ERA, 130 K, .255, 2 HR, 28 RBI
Putouts as P-42
1st Time All-Star-Nathaniel P. “Nat” Hudson was born on January 12, 1869 in Chicago, IL. He started as a 17-year-old pitcher for the Browns in 1886 and would have a short four-year career. This season, he finished seventh in WAR (5.1) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.0). Hudson pitched 333 innings with a 2.54 ERA and a 125 ERA+. It was easily his best season ever, but he didn’t pitch in the World Series.
Due to a fluke in 1886, Hudson didn’t make that All-Star team despite having the numbers to do so. Sorry about that, Nat.
Here are some interesting tidbits from Wikipedia about the short career of Hudson:
“Hudson started his professional baseball career at the age of 15, with Quincy of the Northwestern League. In 1886, he signed with the Browns and went 16–10 for them. He also started and won one game in that year’s ‘World Series’ against the National League‘s Chicago White Stockings.
“On July 17, 1889, Hudson was traded to the Louisville Colonels in exchange for Toad Ramsey; however, he refused to report to Louisville and never played another major league game. On August 18, he was sold for $1,000 to the Minneapolis Millers of the Western Association. He played two seasons for them before retiring.
25-13, 2.13 ERA, 159 K, .137, 0 HR, 10 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Michael F. “Mickey” Hughes was born on October 25, 1866 in New York, NY. He had a great rookie year this season, finishing eighth in WAR (4.7) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (5.3). It’s rare a pitcher’s anemic hitting drops his so far from his rating in WAR for Pitchers to WAR, but Hughes was just terrible at the plate.
It looked good for the Bridegrooms to have a 21-year-old pitcher who just pitched a dazzling season, but this was as good as it gets for Hughes. He pitched two more years for Brooklyn, before being traded in 1890 to the Athletics, where he finished his three-year career. However, he was part of the Bridegrooms’ league-winning season of 1889.
This franchise started as the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1884, changed to the Grays in 1885, then to the Bridegrooms in 1888, moved to the National League in 1890, shortened their name to the Grooms in 1891, went back to being the Bridegrooms in 1896, became the Superbas in 1899, the Dodgers in 1911, went back to the Superbas in 1913, changed to the Robins in 1914, and finally permanently became the Dodgers in 1932. Then 18 years after that, the great Vin Scully started announcing for the team and would be with the team through the 2016 season, even after the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. I don’t like much about the Dodgers, but I do like Vin.
Scully is so good that when you hear other announcers, they pale in comparison. I start to wonder why they can’t put in the effort Vin does. Some people are just gifted by the Lord and use those gifts in the right place.
25-11, 2.19 ERA, 176 K, .160, 1 HR, 5 RBI
Fielding % as P-.963
1st Time All-Star-Elton P. “Ice Box” or “Icebox” Chamberlain was born in November 5, 1867 in Buffalo, NY. The reason for his nickname isn’t clear, according to Wikipedia, which says, “In 1887, Chamberlain won 18 games for Louisville. The right-hander, who stood 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) and weighed 168 lbs., earned the nickname ‘Ice Box’. Some sources attribute the nickname to his ability to remain cool when facing tough opposition, but at least one source links the nickname to chronic laziness.”
The lazy Chamberlain split his time between two teams in 1888 and did great. He finished 10th in WAR (4.4) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (4.4). Ice Box tossed 308 innings with a 2.19 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He then got to show his stuff in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, but unfortunately his stuff left him. He was 2-3 with a 5.32 ERA, allowing 36 runs in 44 innings, 26 of which were earned.
As for Chamberlain’s first team, the Louisville Colonels, they finished seventh in the league with a 48-87 record. Three people coached the team during the season, none with any success. Kick Kelly started the year, after leading the team to a fourth place finish in 1887, and went 10-29 before being let go. He’d never coach again. Kelly was followed by Mordecai Davidson who coached two different times during the season with a total record of 35-54. He’d never coach again. John Kerins also managed, garnering a 3-4 record. He actually would coach 17 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1890.
13-8, 2.03 ERA, 138 K, .252, 0 HR, 8 RBI
Hits per 9 IP-6.692
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.369
4th Time All-Star-How do I put this delicately? Terry might be the worst player to make four All-Star teams. In 1888, he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.8) and never finished higher than that. As a pitcher, Terry pitched 195 innings with a 2.03 ERA and a 148 ERA+. At the plate, he slashed .252/.283/.304 for and OPS+ of 88. He actually will be a better hitter for a couple of seasons. Looking ahead to 1890, Terry is going to finish in the top 10 in WAR, but I’m not completely sure he’s going to make the All-Star team because his time was split between pitching and the outfield. We’ll see how accurate a prophet I am. Of course, if he’s the best player on the team, then all bets are off.
I mocked Terry earlier, but Wikipedia praises him this season, saying, “But it was not until 1888 that he turned into a star pitcher. In that season, he had a 13-8 record, a 2.03 ERA, and tossed his second no-hitter, this time against the Louisville Colonels on May 27, 1888.”
Believe it or not, there is actually an entire website devoted to Adonis Terry. The writer believes he should be in the Hall of Fame. Here is his argument: “Terry began his professional career in 1883 for the then minor league Brooklyn Grays and led them to the Interstate Championship. In 1884, Brooklyn was admitted to the major leagues and Adonis Terry became the first pitcher in Dodger history. From there Terry would go on to win about the same amount of games (197) as Hall of Famers of his era Rube Waddell and Jack Chesbro, pitch two no-hitters (Waddell and Chesbro never pitched a single no-hitter between them), surpassed each by a wide margin in complete games and innings pitched and was a far better hitter than either of them, but is not included in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.”
25-33, 2.97 ERA, 212 K, .134, 1 HR, 9 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Edward Enoch “Jersey” Bakley was born on April 17, 1865 in Blackwood, NJ. He started his career with the 1883 Philadelphia Athletics, and then moved to the Philadelphia Keystones, Wilmington Quicksteps, and Kansas City Cowboys of the Union Association. It was there he led that lower Major League in many negative categories – losses, earned runs allowed, walks allowed, and wild pitches. Probably for that reason, he didn’t get back to the Major Leagues until 1888. For the Blues, Bakley finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.9), pitching 532 2/3 innings with a 2.97 ERA and a 102 ERA+.
Jersey’s Cleveland team struggled, finishing in sixth place with a 50-82 record while being coached by Jimmy Williams (20-44) and Tom Loftus (30-38). Williams never coached again, but Loftus still has seven years of managing left.
SABR writes of Bakley (which it spells Bakely): “By late July of 1888 Bakely was among the top pitchers in the Association. After blanking the pennant-bound St. Louis Browns 1-0 on July 30, he fashioned three more shutouts the following month, including two on consecutive days in Cincinnati. In early September, Bakely owned a 25-24 record. Even though he ended the season with nine straight losses to finish 25-33, he collected exactly half of Cleveland’s wins and logged nearly half the team’s innings.”
Like many in his time, Bakley had trouble with the bottle. SABR says, “The next two seasons Bakely pitched for the Rochester Maroons of the International Association. Despite being arrested along with teammate Fred Lewis after an infamous drunken spree in September 1887 and fined $50 (a hefty sum in those days) in police court.”
27-14, 2.65 ERA, 164 K, .087, 0 HR, 8 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Leon A. “Lee” Viau, pronounced Vee-oh, was born on July 5, 1866 in Corinth, VT. This season was his rookie year and he was off to a fast start, finishing seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.2) and having his best season ever. He pitched 387 2/3 innings with a 2.65 ERA and a 117 ERA+. He would never have an Adjusted ERA+ that high again in his remaining four seasons. He would have rated higher if his hitting wasn’t so dreadful, as he slashed .087/.150/.121 for an OPS+ of -14. If Cincinnati never thought they’d have a pitcher hit as bad as Will White, it was wrong.
SABR loves to write about these little-known American Association players. It writes of Viau, “After pitching well at St. Paul in 1887 (one newspaper regarded him as ‘the best pitcher in the league’), Viau signed a $2,500 contract with Cincinnati. The Reds gave him an early chance to prove himself, handing him the ball in their first exhibition game at New Orleans in the spring of 1888. The 21-year-old responded with a 6-0 shutout, then proved it was no fluke by opening the regular season with eight straight wins before suffering his first setback on June 1. For the season, Viau went 27-14 (fifth in the Association in wins and fourth in winning percentage), and compiled an ERA of 2.65 (tenth), 387.2 innings pitched (eighth), 42 complete games (seventh) and 164 strikeouts (tenth). On a pitching staff that included Tony Mullane and Elmer Smith, both 30-game winners in 1887, Viau emerged as the ace as the veterans slumped to 26 and 22 wins respectively.”
.233, 1 HR, 40 RBI
Fielding % as C-.946
2nd Time All-Star-It’s been four years since Keenan last made an All-Star team, but playing over 68 games (85 games) for the first time in his career helped boost his stats. He was good defensively, finishing fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4), but his bat lacked as he slashed .233/.294/.323 for an OPS+ of 94. He has a good season coming up in 1889, though I’m not sure it’s of All-Star caliber. My prediction is it will be because of the dearth of good catchers in the American Association.
Here’s a wrap-up of Keenan’s career from Wikipedia: “Keenan made his debut at age 17 with the New Haven Elm Citys of the National Association, but did not establish himself in the majors until 1884, when he became the regular catcher for the Indianapolis Hoosiers. He stayed in Indianapolis to start the 1885 season, with the city’s entry in the Western League, but the league quickly folded, and he was acquired by the Detroit Wolverines.
“Before he played a game for Detroit, however, Keenan jumped to the Red Stockings, where he split time at catcher with Pop Snyder. Over the next four seasons, he would split the catching duties for the Red Stockings with Kid Baldwin. In 1890 and 1891, he backed up Jerry Harrington.”
Catching is difficult nowadays, but it was truly a bruising position in the 1800s. In 1888, Jack Boyle of the Browns led the league in games caught with only 70, followed by Keenan and Doc Bushong with 69.
.251, 5 HR, 37 RBI
Double Plays Turned as C-11 (3rd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Milligan is one of those catchers who didn’t even play half of his team’s games, but still was productive. That is the norm in the American Association during this time, because catchers were beat up. This is the amazing thing about Charlie Bennett. While most catchers either played about half of their teams games, or if they played more, toiled at other positions, Bennett played almost regularly, most of the time at catcher.
Milligan made the most of his 63 games. He finished eighth in Defensive WAR (1.0), while at the bat, he slashed .251/.311/.365 for an OPS+ of 108. He has some great hitting years ahead. His Adjusted OPS+ in 1888 was actually his second lowest up to this point in his then 5-year career. Where he really cut loose was in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, where he went 10-for-25 (.400) with two doubles and a triple, all in a losing cause.
Honest Jack Boyle caught more games for the Browns than Milligan, 70-63, but I’m not sure with SABR’s assessment that, “After leaving Philadelphia at the close of the 1887 season, Milligan again played second fiddle to Jack Boyle for the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. When the Browns played in the 1888 World Series against the New York Giants of the National League, Boyle could not catch more than a couple of games because of sore hands. This was Milligan’s only appearance in post-season play. He played in eight games, batting .400.” He caught 90 percent of the games that Boyle did, that hardly makes him second string, that makes him a second regular catcher.
.321, 13 HR, 103 RBI
Offensive WAR (5.0)
Slugging %-.501 (2nd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.864 (2nd Time)
Total Bases-264 (2nd Time)
Home Runs-13 (2nd Time)
Runs Batted In-103
Adj. Batting Runs-40
Adj. Batting Wins-4.6
Extra Base Hits-55
AB per HR-40.5 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 1B-73 (6th Time)
4th Time All-Star-Reilly had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR (5.2), second in WAR Position Players (5.2), and first in Offensive WAR (5.0). He reminds me of Vladimir Guerrero, a free swinger who still hits for a high average. This season, he slashed .321/.363/.501 for an OPS+ of 171. His hitting would surprisingly fall off after this season and he would be gone from the Major Leagues in three years. This leads me to believe he’s made his last All-Star team.
There is a tremendous, but long, article on Reilly in SABR and it’s so hard to figure out what to put here, in what is likely Reilly’s last write-up. All I can say is read the whole thing. I guess I’ll put this on about 1888: “In 1888 with his best season since 1884. After beginning the year by homering in five consecutive games, he went on to lead the league again in homers and slugging, as well as runs batted in, and he finished near the top in doubles, triples, hits and batting average. In a day when statistics calculated to a players’ last at bat were not available to everyone with a computer, hopes persisted into November that Reilly had won the Association batting crown. After a long delay, the official statistics finally showed Reilly finishing fourth in the race. Today, statistical readjustments have moved him up two places, but Tip O’Neill of St. Louis is still given credit for his second consecutive batting title.”
.287, 6 HR, 61 RBI, 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 2 K
Assists as 1B-59
2nd Time All-Star-In his second year, Tucker made his second All-Star team. In his third year, he’ll make his third. Then, he’s going to play 10 more years and my guess is he’ll never make another. Hey, let’s dwell on the positive. Tucker had a heck of year, finishing seventh in WAR Position Players 93.7) and ninth in Offensive WAR (3.3). Foghorn slashed .287/.330/.400 for an OPS+ of 139 and for the only time in the stretch from 1887-1892, he didn’t lead his league in being hit by pitches.
Why Foghorn? According to SABR, “If his hitting decline were not burden enough, he also grew increasingly unpopular among fellow players with each passing year. His nicknames – ‘Foghorn’, ‘Noisy Tom’ and ‘Tommy Talker’ – provide an initial clue. By the time he took his last throw at first base in a major league game in 1899, few indeed were sorry to see him go.
“Whether it was a change to the National League brand of ball or playing for a better caliber of team, he evolved almost immediately into a very different sort of player than he had been with Baltimore. Always an aggressive, in-your-face type – he led his league five times in being hit by pitches – he became downright fractious, perfecting a trick on wild pickoff throws to first base of falling heavily on top of the runner to prevent him from advancing. His language, particularly when he was acting as a base coach, grew increasingly vulgar and his off-field antics began putting him into frequent skirmishes with Boston manager Frank Selee.”
.231, 3 HR, 53 RBI
Bases on Balls-116
3rd Time All-Star-Robinson continued to be the best second baseman in the American Association, making his third consecutive All-Star team. He also continued to add value by taking pitches, setting the all-time record for walks taken with 116. Yank finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.6). Yet this is probably Robinson’s last All-Star team. Because while he was great at taking pitches, his problem came when the bat actually came off of his shoulder. This season, he slashed .231/.400/.314 for an OPS+ of 121. It would be the last time his Adjusted OPS+ was in triple digits. Robinson walked six times in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, but he also struck out a third of his 36 at-bats, ending up slashing .250/.357/.361. His hitting would continue to get worse.
According to Wikipedia, rule changes helped Robinson’s cause: “Prior to 1880, nine balls (pitches outside the strike zone) were required for a batsman to draw a walk, and the major league record was 29 walks in a season. The number of balls required to draw a walk was progressively reduced to eight balls in 1880, six in 1884, five in 1887, and, finally, four in 1889.
“Robinson was one of the first players to exploit fully the new rules governing bases on balls. In 1887, his 92 walks and 17 times hit by pitch elevated his on-base percentage to .445. Then, in 1888 and 1889, Robinson became the master of the free pass. He set a new major league record in 1888 with 116 walks.”
.271, 4 HR, 52 RBI
Games Played-143 (2nd Time)
Plate Appearances-653 (2nd Time)
Times on Base-234
Def. Games as 3B-143 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-George Burton Pinkney was born on January 11, 1859 in Orange Prairie, IL. He was short at five-foot-seven and 160 pounds and started his career in 1884 with the National League Cleveland Blues as a part-time second baseman. When the Blues folded, he then was purchased by Brooklyn, along six other players and has been here since. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.6) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.7). Pinkney slashed .271/.358/.351 for an OPS+ of 127. He would be an inconsistent hitter over his 10-year career, with some years better than others. This was one of his good ones. In 1889, he would slump again, but he’ll be back.
Pinkney was the original Iron Man. According to Wikipedia, “When he retired, he held Major League Baseball’s all-time record for most consecutive games played (577) and innings played (5,152).” Like Cal Ripken, Pinkney played at a tough position to be able to play day-after-day, the only tougher position in his day being catcher. However, one wonders if his career was shortened by not taking a rest once in a while. “One” is always wondering about things like that. One’s a pain in the neck.
Orange Prairie, Illinois, sounds like a lowly populated, lazy town like Stars Hollow, but it turns out it’s a bustling suburb of Peoria with a population in 2015 of over 186 thousand. In my minutes of research, I couldn’t find anything for which Orange Prairie is famous, but that makes sense. It’s easy to be outshined by Peoria.
.296, 6 HR, 83 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Lyons made the All-Star team for his second consecutive year at the young age of 22. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (3.6) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.7), slashing .296/.363/.406 for an OPS+ of 148. His stats were down from the year before but, in a tough hitting season, they were still decent. Lyons’ fielding is starting to improve also, according to bWARdWAR.
According to John Reilly’s SABR page, Lyons was the target of a joke by Reilly in 1886. I put this so we can examine 1800s humor. “Late in the 1886 season, some Reds players were discussing how to pitch to the Athletics team that was coming to Cincinnati for a series. Rookie pitcher Elmer Smith was concerned about Denny Lyons, the notoriously bibulous but hard-hitting Athletics third baseman. ‘Pitch him a drop, Elmer,’ advised Reilly, meaning a drop ball. ‘Pitch him a drop and he’ll not hit it, for he told me he hadn’t touched a drop all summer.’” Sign this man up for America’s Got Talent!
At this point, Lyons is 22-years-old and is going to have a very good career. On the day of this writing, news came out a couple days ago about the death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, at the age of 24. I’m not a Marlins fan and I don’t know a lot about the young man, but I know he was a great pitcher who enthused the Cuban fans in the Miami area. It reminds me of Charlie Ferguson, a pitcher here in Philadelphia, who died at 25 and missed out on an outstanding, possible Hall of Fame career.
.265, 2 HR, 31 RBI
Outs Made-419 (2nd Time)
4th Time All-Star-Latham’s fielding still dazzled for the Browns, but his hitting is starting to drop off. He slashed .265/.325/.326 for an OPS+ of 101. Only one time in his final 10 years would his OPS+ be over 100 again. As a fielder, however, the Freshest Man on Earth finished fourth in Defensive WAR (1.5). In the World Series against the National League Giants, Latham didn’t hit too well, batting .250 with no extra base hits. He did steal 11 bases, though.
It would have been fun to be around the mischievous Latham and St. Louis Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe. According to SABR, “Chris Von der Ahe was a colorful character himself. A large man who wore loud, checkered clothing, Chris sat in a special box behind third base with a whistle and binoculars. He used the whistle to get the attention of players, for someone to get him a beer, or for special cops he employed for personal use and to keep tabs on his players. He bought the Browns in order to put himself in the limelight and to advertise his saloon business.
“Arlie sometimes used his boss as a straight man. In one instance Der Boss (as Chris was known) called all the players into his office on the sixth floor of the building. Von der Ahe did not want anyone else to hear what he was about to tell his players. As Von der Ahe proceeded to talk, Arlie interrupted him and said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but the windows are open and somebody might hear you,’ whereupon der Boss thanked Arlie and promptly shut the windows.”
.267, 3 HR, 61 RBI
Errors Committed as 3B-91
Double Plays Turned as 3B-27
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.39
Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.33
2nd Time All-Star-Davis made his 2nd All-Star team on a fluke, as every team needs a representative and Jumbo is Kansas City’s. It’s not like he was terrible. He slashed .267/.304/.363 for an OPS+ of 109, but if it weren’t for my every team must have a player rule, the American Association wouldn’t have had four third basemen on the All-Star team.
The Cowboys would be around for only two seasons. In this, their premier year, they finished last with a 43-89 record. Dave Rowe (14-36), Sam Barkley (21-36), and Bill Watkins (8-17) did the coaching. The team’s only problems were hitting, pitching, and fielding.
Wikipedia does mention a couple of good things about this bad franchise. “Although they had a win–loss record of 43–89 in their initial season, finishing last out of the league’s eight teams, and went through two managerial changes, there were a couple of bright moments; on June 6, Henry Porter threw a no-hitter, and on June 13, Sam Barkley hit for the cycle. The franchise’s only future Hall of Fame player, ‘Slidin’’ Billy Hamilton, began his career as a part-time outfielder in 1888, and was their starting right fielder in 1889.” They would actually improve a little in 1889, but I’m getting ahead of myself. You’ll have to wait like everyone else.
Nowadays, of course, we are too sophisticated to draw attention to anyone’s weight problems, because we don’t have Jumbo Sabathia or Jumbo Colon names in our box scores. There would be many Jumbo nicknames for umpires, for that matter.
.299, 6 HR, 68 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Edwin John “Ed” or “Mack” McKean was born on June 6, 1864 in Grafton, OH. He started with Cleveland in 1887 and would have this city as his home team for 12 straight years. Only in his last season, would he move to St. Louis. For Cleveland, Mack finished fifth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.2). He slashed .299/.340/.425 for an OPS+ of 149. It would be his best Adjusted OPS+ ever, but he still has a couple of All-Star teams left.
In a book called “Ed McKean: Slugging Shortstop of the Cleveland Spiders,” author Rich Blevins wrote, “Arguably, Ed McKean invented the slugging shortstop. Before McKean’s emergence in the big leagues, a club generally filled the shortstop position with a good defensive player who hit a little. Beginning in the late 1880s, a handful of other shortstops, most notably Jack Glasscock and Herman Long, also brought a new dimension to their team’s offense. But no early shortstop was able to fashion the dozen power-hitting seasons that McKean did. You might say, in terms of offensive production and physical build, Ed McKean was the original Honus Wagner. Upon his death, the Pittsburgh Press remembered that McKean, along with Jack Glasscock, Hugh Jennings, and Wagner, had been ‘classified in their day as the greatest shortstops in the game. Wonderful infielders and great-batsmen they were.’ Honus Wagner’s hometown newspaper went even further in its final judgment of Ed McKean’s slugging: ‘Perhaps McKean was the harder hitter of the four when it came to driving it out.’”
.293, 6 HR, 67 RBI, 0-1, 4.26 ERA, 2 K
2nd Time All-Star-If you’ve read Burns’ 1887 write-up (and if you haven’t, c’mon!), you’ll remember it was mentioned Oyster was no pearl to be around (stop groaning). He had a surly disposition and a bad temper. So you would think there would be many seasons like this one in which he jumps teams, but he’ll actually be with Brooklyn for quite a while. For this season, Burns had played 79 games with Baltimore before being sold to Brooklyn on August 10, where he played another 52 games. Altogether, he finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.5) and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.0). Oyster slashed .293/.345/.435 for an OPS+ of 153. He did about the same on both teams.
Did adding an All-Star shortstop help Brooklyn? Well, as of August 10, the Bridegrooms were 54-33, a .621 winning percentage, while for the rest of the year, they were 34-19, a .642 winning percentage. Maybe it helped a little. He would definitely help the next couple years.
More on Burns’ charming disposition from Wikipedia: “After playing in 79 games for Baltimore, Burns was transferred to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms by Harry Von der Horst, the owner of both clubs. While he was playing for the Bridegrooms, the New York Clipper described Burns as ‘the noisiest man that ever played on the Brooklyn team. His voice reminds one of a buzz-saw.’”
And just a little more from The Good Phight: “A real chatty Cathy, Oyster [was a]…rabble-rouser, a troublemaker, and a disrupter, bringing Oyster onto a team was usually a hit on clubhouse chemistry, as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms found out in 1888.” Well, if it affected their chemistry, it doesn’t show in their record.
.287, 9 HR, 65 RBI
WAR Position Players-5.4
Triples-20 (3rd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Stovey continued to bash the ball, having his best season ever. He finished fourth in WAR (5.4), first in WAR Position Players (5.4), and second in Offensive WAR (4.5). One of the reasons it was his best season is because he actually added some defensive value. At the plate, Stovey slashed .287/.365/.460 for an OPS+ of 166, his highest Adjusted OPS+ since 1884. As for homers, Stovey, with 70 long balls, was four behind the all-time leader, Dan Brouthers, who had 74 at this point.
The National Pastime Museum says, “One other thing: Could he throw? In 1888, he participated in a distance-throwing contest and finished second to Ned Williamson with a throw of 123 yards, 2 inches, or 369-plus feet. Yes, he could throw. He could do it all.” Definitely a five-tool player.
I think Stovey has a good shot at making the ONEHOF, the One-player-a-year Hall of Fame of my own creation, but there are so many good players around right now that haven’t made it. If you read Mickey Welch’s blurb, you can see he is in the running next season.
Continuing the above article on Stovey’s arguments for being in the REAL Hall of Fame: “When Stovey died in 1937 at 80, his obituary described him as “what Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were in their day.” How long can the Hall of Fame deny him his place in that pantheon? In 2011, SABR’s Nineteenth Century Research Committee voted Stovey its “Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend” for 2011. The winner of the 2010 vote, Deacon White, was elected this year by the Veterans Committee. Stovey’s day will come.”
.307, 2 HR, 53 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Hubert B. “Hub” Collins was born on April 15, 1864 in Louisville, KY. Not wanting to leave his hometown, he started for Louisville in 1886 as a part-time outfielder, and became fulltime in 1887. This season, it all came together as he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and third in Offensive WAR (4.4). Hub had an Adjusted OPS+ of 93 in 1887, but would never have one below 100 again in his short career and, spoiler alert!, he’s going to have a tragic end.
At the plate, Collins slashed .307/.373/.423 for an OPS+ of 159, including a league-leading 31 doubles. On September 30, the Bridegrooms acquired him from the Colonels for $4,500. You can see why the Bridegrooms are going to be successful the next few years, with all of the good players they’re acquiring. (See Oyster Burns).
The book, The Dodgers Encyclopedia, writes of Collins, “Traded to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms midway through the ’88 season, the .308 hitter was quickly converted to a second baseman by manager Bill McGunnigle, desperately in need of infield help. He immediately tightened up the Groom inner defense, helping the team jump from seventh place all the way to second.”
I’ll talk about this more in a later season, but Collins would die at the age of 28 in 1892 of typhoid fever. It just brings back to mind Jose Fernandez, who died at 24 just a few days before this was written. I don’t think Collins would have made the Hall of Fame, but he might have been one of the all-time great Dodgers, instead of just a footnote.
.335, 5 HR, 98 RBI
1888 AA Batting Title (2nd Time)
Batting Average-.335 (2nd Time)
Hits-177 (2nd Time)
Singles-138 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-91 (2nd time)
Offensive Win %-.798
3rd Time All-Star-After such a dazzling 1887 season, this season seems like kind of a letdown, but any batter would have been happy to hit like Tip did this year. He finished third in WAR Position Players (4.1) and 10th in Offensive WAR (3.1). O’Neill slashed .335/.390/.446 for an OPS+ of 158. Only compared to his monster previous season did these stats look humdrum. In the World Series against the Giants, Tip had his second bad Series in a row, hitting .243 with a double and two homers. Good for mortals, but nothing compared to his regular season stats.
Here’s something I didn’t know from Baseball Reference: “He got his nickname ‘Tip’ because he would hit foul tips on pitches in order to wait out a pitcher till he got the pitch he wanted, or till he drew a walk.
“He is the only player in baseball history to lead his league in hits, doubles, triples, and home runs in the same season (Stan Musial came close in 1948). He was the first major leaguer to hit 50 doubles in a season.” That’s info I didn’t have room for last season.
After these two outstanding seasons and now four consecutive seasons with an Adjusted OPS+ of over 150, O’Neill is going to start to lose a little of his hitting skill. He’s probably got another All-Star team left, but he’s going to start to fade and be gone by the time he’s 34. Tip’s not the first to start losing his stuff once he turns 30.
.282, 1 HR, 61 RBI
Hit By Pitch-29
2nd Time All-Star-Welch didn’t make the All-Star team in 1887 and after the season, he was traded along with Bill Gleason to Philadelphia for Fred Mann, Chippy McGarr, Jocko Milligan, and $3,000. In his first season with the Athletics, he had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR Position Players (3.9). At the plate, Welch slashed .282/.355/.357 for an OPS+ of 130. That Adjusted OPS+ would be his highest ever. He was also good at getting plunked, leading the league by getting hit 29 times, the third of seven consecutive seasons he would get nailed 10 or more times.
Since he didn’t make the All-Star team in 1887, let’s backtrack to this story from Baseball Reference: “On June 16, 1887, he was at the center of a huge brawl in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, when he bowled over second baseman Bill Greenwood in the 9th inning with the score tied at 8. Thousands of fans ran on to the field calling for Welch’s arrest – or worse, and police had to intervene to break up the riot. The game was called, and Welch was whisked away from the ballpark while Baltimore, MD native Dave Foutz, his teammate, talked to the crowd to calm them down. However, when Welch got to the train station to escape town, another mob had gathered, and he had to stay with his teammates at the team hotel, with more fans gathered around with hostile intentions. A court hearing was held the next day, where some Orioles fans asked for charges to be laid, but Greenwood pleaded in his favor, saying the play was nothing out of the ordinary for a baseball game. Welch was released but kept out of that day’s game in order to appease tensions.” Thug!