P-John Clarkson, BSN
P-Charlie Buffinton, PHI
P-Ben Sanders, PHI
P-Henry Boyle, IND
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Jersey Bakley, CLV
P-Ed Beatin, CLV
P-Old Hoss Radbourn, BSN
P-Cinders O’Brien, CLV
P-Tim Keefe, NYG
C-Fred Carroll, PIT
C-Buck Ewing, NYG
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
1B-Dan Brouthers, BSN
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Jake Beckley, PIT
2B-Hardy Richardson, BSN
2B-Danny Richardson, NYG
3B-Billy Nash, BSN
SS-Jack Glasscock, IND
SS-Ed McKean, CLV
LF-Walt Wilmot, WHS
LF-George Van Haltren, CHC
CF-Jimmy Ryan, CHC
RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG
49-19, 2.73 ERA, 284 K, .206, 2 HR, 23 RBI
1889 NL Pitching Title
1889 NL Pitching Triple Crown
Wins Above Replacement-16.2 (3rd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-16.7 (3rd Time)
Earned Run Average-2.73
Wins-49 (3rd Time)
Walks & Hits per IP-1.277
Games Pitched-73 (3rd Time)
Innings Pitched-620.0 (4th Time)
Strikeouts-284 (3rd Time)
Games Started-72 (3rd Time)
Complete Games-68 (3rd Time)
Shutouts-8 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-203 (2nd Time)
Hits Allowed-589 (2nd Time)
Earned Runs Allowed-188
Batters Faced-2,641 (4th Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-93 (3rd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-8.5 (3rd Time)
Def. Games as P-73 (3rd Time)
Putouts as P-36 (2nd Time)
Assists as P-172 (4th Time)
Errors Committed as P-27 (4th Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.02 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as P-2.85 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-While most pitchers were cutting down on games and innings pitched, Clarkson kept plugging along, leading the National League in innings tossed for the fourth time in the last five years. He would never lead the league in that category again after this season. The other strange thing is how dominant Clarkson was in odd-numbered years. This is the third consecutive odd-numbered year in which he led the league in WAR (16.2). He also led the league in WAR for Pitchers (16.7). In his 620 innings pitched (led the league), he had a 2.73 ERA (led the league) and a 150 Adjusted ERA+ (led the league). You can also see the long list above that details all of the categories he led in.
Coached by Jim Hart, who had been an under-.500 manager with Louisville Colonels for two years in the American Association, Boston finished second with an 83-45 record, just one game behind the New York Giants. It was tied for first place entering its last game of the season, but lost to the lowly Alleghenys that day to lose the title. Hart would surprisingly never manage again.
Wikipedia says of Clarkson’s outstanding season, “While Clarkson’s 1889 numbers are comparable to those he posted in 1885, the game and distance to the plate had changed, and no other pitcher pitched nearly as many games or innings as Clarkson in 1889. As a measure of his dominance, Clarkson’s 49 wins were 11 more than any other pitcher; his 620 innings were 200 more than any other pitcher; and his 68 complete games were 22 more than any other pitcher. He also had twice as many shutouts as the next best pitcher. He was only the fourth pitcher to win the pitching Triple Crown, by leading the National League in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
28-16, 3.24 ERA, 153 K, .208, 0 HR, 21 RBI
5th Time All-Star-I mentioned this in Buffinton’s 1888 blurb, but how good of career would Buffinton achieved if it wasn’t for a couple off seasons in 1886 and 1887. Still, he continues to pitch well, finishing second in WAR (11.1) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.3). Buffinton would never pitch this well again, though he’s not done making All-Star teams yet. He pitched 380 innings with a 3.24 ERA and a 132 ERA+. The league ERA was 4.02 this season, so ERAs are higher in general this season.
Despite the good pitching by Buffinton, Philadelphia had a tough season. Longtime manager Harry Wright led the team to a 63-64 fourth place finish. Both its hitting and pitching was just middle of the road, certainly not enough to beat the tough teams in the league. In 19 seasons of coaching, up to this point, Wright had only his fourth under-.500 season. He has four seasons left, but only three full ones and two of those would be winnings seasons. He would finish with a 1225-885 record, a .581 winning percentage. He never won a pennant after 1878, but he consistently led less-talented teams to decent seasons.
What a savior for Philadelphia Buffinton was after the tragic death of Charlie Ferguson before the 1888 season. During Ferguson’s short career, the Quakers finished sixth, third, fourth, and second. In the two seasons after his death, they finished third and fourth. Most teams would have been devastated losing their best player, but Philadelphia hung in there.
19-18, 3.55 ERA, 123 K, .278, 0 HR, 21 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-When you realize Philadelphia had two of the top three pitchers in the league, you would think they would finish higher than fourth place, but while the Quakers went 47-34 in games decided by Charlie Buffinton and Sanders, they only went 16-30 in games decided by their other hurlers. As for Sanders, he finished third in WAR (7.5) and third in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). He tossed 349 2/3 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 120 ERA+. He still has another All-Star team left in him, but his career is almost over.
Sanders is going to be one of many players which goes over to the Players League in 1890. It’s going to be an interesting season as for one year there will once again be three years, but it will actually end up destroying two of them and strengthening the grip of the National League. We look at baseball now and how benchwarmers still get millions of dollars and grumble when the players complain about money, but in the 1800s, and actually for many years after that, the owners had all the power. We’ll look at that next year (in real time, in webpage time, approximately two weeks).
Due to their good pitching, the Quakers actually were tied for first place as of May 22, following a five game win-streak. They had a 14-6 record at that time, but ended up going 49-58 the rest of the season. This was all part of an 11-year streak in which the Quakers/Phillies finished fourth place or higher.
21-23, 3.92 ERA, 97 K, .245, 1 HR, 17 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Boyle pitched his last season this year and, in his six seasons, made the All-Star team three times, all in odd-numbered years. It’s also the last season for the Indianapolis Hoosiers, who lasted three years. They didn’t have great teams, but between Boyle and Jack Glasscock, they had some pretty good players. Boyle had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR (6.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.9). He pitched 378 2/3 innings pitched (his highest ever) with a 3.92 ERA (his highest ever) and a 105 ERA+. In a league that had an ERA of 4.02, it was a good season.
Baseball Fever has this to say about the pitching staff of the Hoosiers: “The pitching staff was led by Henry Boyle, who led the team in victories in each season (13, 15, and 21, respectively), to compile a record of 49-69 as a Hoosier. John ‘Egyptian’ Healy, born in Cairo, Illinois, was a member of the staff for two seasons; his record was 24-53 during 1887-88. After the 1888 season he was a member of Al Spalding’s World Tour and played baseball with the other Tourists in Egypt.
“The 1889 staff included rookie pitcher Amos Rusie, who led NL pitchers in games finished as a reliever (11). His won-lost record with Indianapolis was 12-10. With the New York Giants in the 1890’s, he led the NL in strikeouts and walks five times each, in shutouts four times, and fielding his position he led NL pitchers in assists three times and in errors four times. Near the end of the 1898 season he seriously injured his arm on a pickoff throw, missed two full seasons and then retired after an aborted comeback with Cincinnati in 1901. He finished with 246 wins in just over nine seasons, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.”
27-12, 3.02 ERA, 125 K, .192, 0 HR, 12 RBI
9th Time All-Star-Though Welch is the 1888 ONEHOF Inductee, the Hall of Fame I created which allows only one player to enter per year, he never was the best pitcher of his league. Don’t get me wrong, he was always great, but he never had one of those dominant seasons like his longtime teammate, Tim Keefe. Still, as of this season, Welch’s career record was 285-187 and his ERA was 2.62 and most likely, he’s going to make one more All-Star team. This season, he pitched 375 innings with a 3.02 ERA and a 132 ERA+. Smiling Mickey also helped New York to another National League pennant.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for the second consecutive year, the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant! Managed by Jim Mutrie, they finished 83-43, one game ahead of Boston. As of June 24, New York was eight-and-a-half games out of first with a 24-19 record. It then went on a five-game winning streak and finished the season with a 59-24 stretch to edge out the Beaneaters. In the World Series, the Giants played their neighbors, the American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms, and beat them six games to three. Welch only started one game, losing it, while allowing eight runs, with five of them earned, in five innings pitched.
Did you know, according to Welch’s Hall of Fame page, he had a surprising baseball first? “Welch was also the first ever major league pinch hitter. On Aug. 10, 1889, he batted for teammate Hank O’Day in the bottom of the fifth inning.”
12-22, 2.96 ERA, 105 K, .135, 1 HR, 8 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-On a team that moved from the American Association to the National League and changed its name from the Blues to the Spiders, Bakley moved with it. He made the All-Star team for his second consecutive season and most likely for the last time. He had his best season ever, finishing 10th in WAR (5.2) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.7). Jersey pitched 304 1/3 innings with a 2.96 ERA and a 140 ERA+.
The American Association Cleveland Blues finished sixth in 1888 and the Spiders of the National League did the same. Tom Loftus led them to a 61-72 record, 25-and-a-half games out of first place. Their pitching was sensational, as they allowed the least runs in the league, but their hitting was horrendous, scoring the least runs in the league. All of this a National League Park, truly a hitters’ park. As you can see in the list above, they will have three All-Star pitchers and only one as a position player.
Bakley would be part of baseball history, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On September 3, 1890, Bakley gave up Harry Stovey‘s 100th homer, which was the first time that milestone had ever been reached.” After this season, Bakley would stay with Cleveland, this time in the Players League in 1890, and then play his last season for Washington and Baltimore of the American Association in 1891. Later, according to SABR, “Bakely died at his Philadelphia home on Brandywine Street of a heart attack on February 17, 1915, and was buried in Philadelphia’s Greenmount Cemetery on the 20th.”
20-15, 3.57 ERA, 126 K, .116, 1 HR, 8 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Ebenezer Ambrose “Ed” Beatin was born on August 10, 1866 in Baltimore, MD. He started by pitching two games for Detroit in 1887 and then had his first official season pitching in 1888. When Detroit folded and Cleveland moved to the league, Beatin had his best season ever and, most likely, his only All-Star season this year. He finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.7), pitching 317 2/3 innings with a 3.57 ERA and a 116 ERA+. After this season, he would pitch two more seasons for Cleveland and be done after 1891. However, this good season, along with Jersey Bakley’s and Cinders O’Brien’s helped the Spiders allow the least runs in the National League.
Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he throws a ball with such little velocity the batter swings three times at one pitch and strikes out? Well, guess what Beatin’s best pitch was according to Wikipedia, “Beatin’s best pitch was his ‘slow ball.’ A report published in The Sporting Life stated: ‘His slow ball has never been equaled by any pitcher living, it would set such batters as Delehanty, Beckley and Anson perfectly wild, and the little cuss would use it with the bases chock full and a heavy hitter at bat. I should expect my release if I lobbed a slow one at such times, but Beatin’s teaser was the best thing in his repertoire.’ Another account, published in 1910, stated that Beatin threw his slow pitch with ‘the nerve of a wrestling promoter’ and added: ‘Beatin had the most deliberate slow ball that ever wearied its way toward a plate. Cy Young, Mathewson, Ed Walsh, Mordecai Brown, Addie Joss or any of the artists would gladly separate from $5000 for a loaf ball like Beatin’s.’”
20-11, 3.67 ERA, 99 K, .189, 1 HR, 13 RBI
7th Time All-Star-From 1881 to 1886, there weren’t many pitchers more dominant than Old Hoss. He won over 25 games all six of those seasons, 30 games or more three seasons, 40 games or more two seasons, and a record 59 games in 1884. I would have thought writing this article about 1889 that I’d be saying, Radbourn, a ONEHOF Inductee….but that’s not the case and it’s going to be close as to whether he makes it or not. He’s most likely going to make the All-Star team in 1890, giving him eight All-Star teams, so he’ll be in the running, but is that enough to make the ONEHOF, along with all of his dominant seasons? It’s tough to say.
In 1887, Radbourn tanked, there’s no other way to put it. His ERA+ dropped below 100 for the first time ever in his career and he had a 4.55 ERA. In 1888, he didn’t do bad, but pitched “only” 207 innings. He finally came back this season, finishing eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), throwing 277 innings with a 3.67 ERA and a 112 ERA+. He’s going to be one of many players going to the Players League in 1890.
From SABR, “Radbourn rebounded in 1889 to post a solid 20-11 record in 33 games. The year was contentious though. He had always had an issue with management and their dominance in player relations during the era. In truth, he had a problem with authority figures, managers, owners and umpires. He saw himself as a victim of the reserve clause, knowing full well that he would have made substantially more money if allowed to play in New York during his Providence days.”
22-17, 4.15 ERA, 122 K, .250, 0 HR, 18 RBI
Hit By Pitch-24
1st Time All-Star-John F. “Cinders” O’Brien was born on April 15, 1867 in Troy, NY. If the three good Cleveland pitchers, Jersey Bakley, Ed Beatin, and O’Brien could have duplicated their 1889 seasons, the Spiders would have been much more successful. Unfortunately, it seems Beatin and O’Brien’s seasons were flukes, as neither will likely make another All-Star team. As for this season, Cinders finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.3), with 346 2/3 innings pitched, a 4.15 ERA, and a 100 ERA+. All of this in a hitters’ park.
Here’s some information for The Sports Daily on O’Brien: “In 1889 the Blues changed to the Spiders and jumped from the American Association to the National League, but kept the majority of the players around, including O’Brien. That year, Bakley took a reduced role of ‘just’ 34 starts and 304.1 innings with O’Brien taking over the ace spot after his tremendous rookie campaign. He increased his workload to the greatest it would ever be, 346.2 in 41 starts, 39 of which he completed. In addition to both those numbers, he also lead the team with 22 wins.
“Instead, in March of 1892, just before the next season was to begin, Cinders O’Brien caught pneumonia and died at the age of 24. His was a promising career and life cut short by a disease that is now fairly easily treated with simple antibiotics. It is almost fitting as his whole career was inconceivable by modern standards.” There sure a lot of players who died young in this era.
28-13, 3.36 ERA, 225 K, .154, 0 HR, 8 RBI
Hits per 9 IP-7.887 (6th Time)
Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.563 (3rd Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.490
10th Time All-Star-Sir Timothy made the All-Star team every year in the 1880s and he’s also going to be good in the early ‘90s. This season, he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.2), pitching 364 innings with a 3.36 ERA and a 119 ERA+. In the World Series against the American Assocation Brooklyn Bridegrooms, Keefe pitched in two games, starting one, finishing 0-1 with an 8.18 ERA. Surprisingly, despite the great careers of Keefe and Mickey Welch, it was Ed Crane who started five games for the Giants and went 4-1 with a 3.79 ERA. Jim Mutrie, the Giants manager, was a genius!
Keefe was one of the highest paid players in baseball at the time, but it didn’t come without a fight, according to SABR, which says, “Two weeks into the 1889 season, Keefe and Day were still at loggerheads in their salary negotiation. On May 9 newspapers reported that Keefe said he’d accept $4,500, but not Day’s offer of $4,000. That day, with all four Giants pitchers either injured or sick, Buck Ewing pitched in the game against Boston. New York won, but clearly Keefe’s services were needed. Day caved in and offered Keefe the proposed $4,500 compromise. Keefe accepted and pitched his first game on May 10.”
I forgot to mention this in 1888’s write up, but according to SABR, “He was known for his change-of-pace pitch, which he used to establish a still-standing major-league record of 19 consecutive victories in 1888. ‘No more graceful, skillful and strategic pitcher ever tossed a ball over the plate to the bewilderment and dismay of opposing batsmen,’ one writer wrote of Keefe in 1890.”
.330, 2 HR, 51 RBI
On-Base Plus Slugging-.970
3rd Time All-Star-Carroll continued to be one of the best hitting catchers of his time. His career wasn’t long, he would be gone after the 1891 season, but it was impressive, at least at the plate. When Pittsburgh moved from the American Association to the National League in 1887, Carroll moved with it. This season, he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.7) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.3). Carroll slashed .330/.486/.484 for an OPS+ of 183. All of those numbers, except for slugging, are career highs. He played in 91 of Pittsburgh’s 134 games.
As for the Alleghenys, they improved from sixth to fifth place this season, though their record was worse. Horace Phillips (28-43), Fred Dunlap (7-10), and Ned Hanlon (26-18) led them to a 61-71 record, 25 games out of first place. It looks like they should have brought Hanlon on sooner. It would be the beginning of a Hall of Fame managerial career for him.
How impressive was Carroll’s 1889 season? Wikipedia says, “Carroll holds a major league catchers record for age 24 in OPS with a .970 mark, set in 1889. The same season, he posted a career-high .330 BA and a .930 fielding percentage as catching. An above-average runner with good instincts, he compiled 137 stolen bases in his career.”
Oh, and case you’re wondering what happened to Carroll’s monkey, Wikipedia has that also: “At the beginning of the 1887 season Carroll buried his pet monkey, which earlier served as an unofficial team mascot for the team, beneath the home plate at Pittsburgh’s Recreation Park in a pre-game ceremony. The stadium stood at the corner of North, Grant, and Pennsylvania Avenues on Pittsburgh’s Northside.”
.327, 4 HR, 87 RBI, 2-0, 4.05 ERA, 12 K
Def. Games as C-97
Putouts as C-524
Assists as C-149 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as C-10 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.26
Range Factor/Game as C- 6.94
7th Time All-Star-Ewing made his seventh All-Star team in eight years and has at least one left. He’d be one of many players off to the Players League in 1890. As for this season, Buck finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.2), 10th in Offensive WAR (3.8), and sixth in Defensive WAR (1.1). He continued to be a great all-around player at a brutal physical position in his day. Ewing slashed .327/.383/.477 for an OPS+ of 135. In the World Series, he was merely human, hitting .250 with four doubles.
SABR says of his 1889 season, “The Giants repeated in 1889 when he had his best overall season to date, hitting .327 and catching in a career high 97 games. But after that, although he was still just 29 years old, Ewing would go behind the plate in only 118 more contests in his eight remaining big league seasons and finish with just 636 catching appearances, tied for 11th among nineteenth century receivers. More importantly, he would never again be a member of a pennant winner.
“Ewing’s lustrous image first began to tarnish in 1890, if only among fellow players. After joining most of the game’s VIPs in jumping to the Players League and being named the New York entry’s captain, he stirred up a hornet’s nest in early July when he publicly admitted that owner Aaron Stern of the now National League Cincinnati Reds had offered him $8,000 to desert the Brotherhood. The following month, on August 11, the New York papers reported that his Players League cohorts feared he was about to abandon them after he had been seen conversing intensely with Giants owner John Day and pitcher Mickey Welch, one of the few Giants who had refused to join the Brotherhood”
.342, 7 HR, 117 RBI
Times on Base-268 (2nd Time)
Putouts-1,409 (4th Time)
Def. Games as 1B-134 (4th Time)
Putouts as 1B-1,409 (4th Time)
Assists as 1B-79 (7th Time)
Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.10 (5th Time)
Fielding % as 1B-.982 (4th Time)
15th Time All-Star-Incredibly, at the age of 37, Anson had his best season ever. He finished fifth in WAR (6.4), second in WAR Position Players (6.4), third in Offensive WAR (5.5), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.0). He slashed .342/.440/.471 for an OPS+ of 150. He didn’t lead in any offensive categories, save times on base, but it was an outstanding overall year.
He continued to manage the White Stockings, though he’d never lead them to another title. This year, Chicago finished third with a 67-65 record. It started out 31-37 and never got back into the race. Led by Anson, it had good offensive, but some of the worst pitching in the league.
Early in his career, in 1874, Anson went with Al Spalding on a trip to England to play American baseball and spread it throughout the world. According to SABR, he did the same thing in 1888: “After the 1888 season Spalding, owner of the sporting goods company that still bears his name, took the Chicago club and a team of National League all-stars on a ballplaying excursion around the world. Virginia Anson accompanied the party as Anson directed the White Stockings in New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, and the European continent. The trip lost money for its backers, including Anson, but it introduced baseball (and advertised Spalding’s business) to countries that had never seen the sport before. The six-month adventure was the high point of Cap Anson’s life, and takes up nearly half of Anson’s autobiography, published in 1900. At the conclusion of the trip, in April of 1889, Spalding signed Anson to an unprecedented 10-year contract as player and manager of the White Stockings.”
.373, 7 HR, 118 RBI
1889 NL Batting Title
Offensive WAR-6.1 (6th Time)
Batting Average-.373 (3rd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-48 (6th Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-4.7 (6th Time)
Offensive Win %-.808 (4th Time)
Hit By Pitch-14
AB Per SO-80.8 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 1B-78
9th Time All-Star-Finally, the great Brouthers makes the ONEHOF at the age of 31. It’s going to be tough to be the one player chosen by me every year to enter the Hall of Fame and it’s going to get tougher. However, this is one player who absolutely deserves any accolade thrown his way. Nowadays, we don’t care about history, so we don’t talk about Brouthers, but if you look at his stats and check out his career, you can’t help being impressed.
Brouthers entered the ONEHOF with style, finishing seventh in WAR (6.2), third in WAR Position Players (6.2), and first in Offensive WAR (6.1). He slashed .373/.462/.507 for his new team, the Beaneaters. His old team, Detroit, was now defunct. Brouthers was no longer the all-time home run leader, being overtaken by Harry Stovey, 89-81.
Unbelievably, Brouthers whiffed only six times during the season. He also was robbed of a home run, according to the book Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball’s First Great Slugger by Roy Kerr. It says, “On May 1 at Philadelphia, Brouthers had already collected a single, a double and a walk when he came to bat in the ninth inning with Boston down two runs and a man on base with two outs. The he met the ball ‘with a whunk that rang out like the crack of a whip, and the crowd saw the ball go straight toward the centrefield fence, and fully 15 feet higher than the top [of the fence]…But a high wire screen some 20 feet high…prevented the sphere from going over.’”
.291, 13 HR, 130 RBI
Runs Batted In-130
Extra Base Hits-62 (2nd Time)
8th Time All-Star-If Dan Brouthers and Connor played nowadays, there would be constant articles on espn.com about these two sluggers, with Cap Anson thrown in, of course. There were many great first basemen in the National League and Jake Beckley, next on the list, is no slouch himself. As a matter of fact, all four first basemen on this All-Star team will eventually make the Hall of Fame.
Connor helped lead the Giants to another league title by finishing ninth in WAR (5.6), fourth in WAR Position Players (5.6), and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.5). His slash line read .317/.426/.528 for an OPS+ of 161. He also had a great World Series against the American Association Brooklyn squad, going 12-for-35 for a .343 average with two doubles, two triples, and eight stolen bases in nine games. By the way, he’s my guess for ONEHOF inductee in 1890.
With Connor’s 13 home runs, he was now at 66, 23 behind Harry Stovey, who passed Brouthers for the all-time home run lead this season. For all of Connor’s power, he would only lead the Major Leagues in home runs in a season once and that will be next season.
Of 1889, SABR says, “At the season’s outset, the Giants had to contend with the loss of their ballpark, the original Polo Grounds having been razed to complete the uptown Manhattan traffic grid, the Tammany Hall connections of John B. Day notwithstanding. After unhappy stays in Jersey City and Staten Island, the team found a site for new grounds in far north Manhattan. Once their New Polo Grounds was erected, the Giants caught fire, nipping the Boston Beaneaters at the wire for a second consecutive pennant. New York then successfully defended its ‘World Series’ crown, defeating the American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms in a championship match in which Connor batted .343 with 12 RBIs, a fitting coda to a season in which he had led the National League in that statistic with 130.”
.301, 9 HR, 97 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Jacob Peter “Jake or Eagle Eye” Beckley was born on August 4, 1867 in Hannibal, MO, hometown of fictitious Army veteran Colonel Sherman T. Potter, commander of the 4077th MASH unit. He’s going to have an interesting career. It will be long and it will be productive, but is it really Hall of Fame worthy? He would only lead a league in one major stat over his 20 years, triples in the Players League next season. Eagle Eye would lead in a lot of defensive categories, yet only once finish in the top 10 in Defensive WAR. He’s really good, but is he great? Is he possibly overrated because of his career .308 average? Batting average is yet another category in which Buckley never led the league.
Beckley started with Pittsburgh in 1888 as a part-time first baseman playing 71 games with an Adjusted OPS+ of 157, which, by the way, would be his highest in his career. I’m just saying. This season, he slashed .301/.345/.437 for an OPS+ of 127.
As for his nickname, SABR says, “The next year he again led the club’s regulars in batting and soon earned the nickname ‘Eagle Eye’–not for his ability to draw bases on balls (his walk totals were consistently below the league average) but for his batting skill. The hard-hitting Beckley brought a dash of excitement to the Alleghenies, and before long he became the most popular player on the Pittsburgh team.” He would be the most famous player in Pittsburgh until a man named Honus Wagner came along.
.304, 6 HR, 79 RBI
7th Time All-Star-There’s an unusual pattern to Richardson’s All-Star career. He’s made seven All-Star teams and only one has been in an even-numbered year. Spoiler alert! He’ll be ruining this pattern next season. For this year, Old True Blue slashed .304/.367/.437 for an OPS+ of 119. He wasn’t the hitter he was in his youth, but he was still the best second baseman in the league.
Richardson was purchased from Detroit, along with Charlie Bennett, Dan Brouthers, Charlie Ganzel, and Deacon White and helped turn Boston into an instant contender. Because he’s going to play in the Players League in 1890, he’ll make another All-Star team, but he is starting to fade and will be out of baseball by 1892.
Here’s a recap of his 1889 season from Wikipedia: “During the 1889 season, Richardson played for the Boston Beaneaters, appearing in 86 games as a second baseman and 46 as an outfielder. He compiled a .304 batting average and 3.9 WAR rating and ranked among the National League leaders with 122 runs scored (8th), 163 hits (9th), 47 stolen bases (8th), and 10 triples (10th). He also had the second highest range factor (6.47) among the league’s second basemen. In his only season with the Beaneaters, he helped the team to a second place finish with an 83-45 record.”
As I compile this team, it’s been interesting to see the amount of these men who are going to leap to the Players League in 1890. It’s amazing that league wasn’t able to continue with all of that talent, but it only lasted one season.
.280, 7 HR, 100 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Daniel “Danny” Richardson was born on January 25, 1863 in Elmira, NY. He was in his sixth straight year with the Giants. In the first three, he was a part-time outfielder and for the last three, he moved to second base, where according to dWAR, he was one of the best fielders in the league. In 1888, he led the league in Defensive WAR (2.3) and was second this season to Jack Glasscock (1.7-1.4). At the plate, Richardson slashed .280/.342/.398 for an OPS+ of 103. The three slash numbers were career highs. In the World Series in 1888, he hit only .167 with two doubles, while in 1889, Richardson hit .314 with a double, a triple, and three home runs.
In the World Series, the Giants faced the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, starting off an age-old rivalry which is nowadays the Giants vs. the Dodgers. SABR has a great article on this. Here’s part of it: “The Giants came back with two runs in the top of the second as right fielder ‘Oyster’ Tommy Burns let a hit go by him for three bases. They could have had more, but Johnny Ward was thrown out stealing third for the first out. Brooklyn got one back in the bottom of the inning on Hub Collins’s home run, for a 6–2 lead. It was Collins’s second of four runs scored in the game, part of his still-standing record of 13 for the series. But the Giants fought back. After both Ewing and Ward were thrown out trying to steal third in the fourth, Danny Richardson hit a long line drive to center that Pop Corkhill got his hands on but then dropped as he tumbled head over heels. Richardson circled the bases for a two-run homer before Brooklyn could retrieve the ball. Corkhill had to come out of the game with an injured neck; Joe Visner, usually a catcher, replaced him.”
.274, 3 HR, 76 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K
3rd Time All-Star-Nash made the All-Star team for the third consecutive year as the only representative for the hot corner. He finished ninth in Defensive WAR (1.0) and slashed .274/.379/.343 for an OPS+ of 98 at the dish. It wasn’t a great season, but good enough for a league lacking good third basemen. It was Nash’s only season with an Adjusted OPS+ under 100 in a stretch from 1886-to-1893. He never was a great hitter, but he was always a little above average and combined with his good fielding, Nash was a valuable third baseman to have.
It has always seemed there have been a lack of good third basemen in baseball. If I gave you any position and said, “Name the greats at this position,” you would do well at all of them, but if I gave you third basemen, you’d struggle. Well, maybe you wouldn’t, but I would. There’s Mike Schmidt and then a bunch of really good ones, but not great. None have made the ONEHOF so far and I’m not sure how many will, except for the aforementioned Schmidt. Of course, if I’m still writing this blog by the time I get to Mike Schmidt’s era, I will be dictating it into a floating smart phone in my WALL-E style floating chair.
Jean-Pierre Caillault, who must need more of a life than I do, wrote a book called A Tale of Four Cities: Nineteenth Century Baseball’s Most Exciting Season, 1889, in Contemporary Accounts. Just the title just about wipes out my 250-word limit. Maybe someday I’ll check it out.
.352, 7 HR, 85 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K
WAR Position Players-6.7
Defensive WAR-1.7 (3rd Time)
Assists-485 (4th Time)
Def. Games as SS-132 (2nd Time)
Putouts as SS-246 (2nd Time)
Assists as SS-478 (6th Time)
Double Plays Turned as SS-60 (4th Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.76 (5th Time)
Range Factor/Game as SS-5.48 (3rd Time)
Fielding % as SS-.915 (6th Time)
9th Time All-Star-Glasscock, the hard-lucked shortstop, found himself stuck on Indianapolis for the third consecutive year and for the third straight year, it was a terrible team. Of course, some of it had to do with Glasscock himself, who coached the last half of the season, but actually led this pathetic team to a winning record under his reign. The Hoosiers finished seventh with a 59-75 record, with Frank Bancroft guiding them to a 25-43 record and Glasscock managing them to 34-32 mark.
Pebbly Jack’s best player was his shortstop, one Jack Glasscock. He had his best season ever at the age of 31, finishing fourth in WAR (6.6), first in WAR Position Players (6.7), second in Offensive WAR (5.9), and first in Defensive WAR (1.7). At the plate, he slashed .352/.390/.467 for an OPS+ of 138. He truly was one of the great 1880s players, but hasn’t made the Hall of Fame and isn’t highly regarded historically. It is baffling to me.
I personally believe it’s because he didn’t have huge overall numbers and he didn’t win any league titles. He didn’t hit above .300, he ended up with 2,041 hits, and he wasn’t a power hitter, ending up with a career slugging average under .400. But he was a good hitter and a great fielder and was the best shortstop in the National League year-after-year. He will probably make the ONEHOF, but he should definitely be in the easier-to-make Cooperstown Hall of Fame. There are many lesser players in the Hall of Fame from that era.
.318, 5 HR, 75 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-McKean moved with his team from the American Association to the National League this season, but still continued to be productive. That didn’t always happen. Sometimes going from the weaker league to the NL brought people down to a lower level, but not at this point for McKean. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.5), ninth in Offensive WAR (3.9), and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.4). McKean slashed .318/.375/.424 for an OPS+ of 120 as he continued to be one of the eras great hitting shortstops.
The book, Ed McKean: Slugging Shortstop of the Cleveland Spiders says this about the Spiders nickname: ”It was in May that the team had acquired its distinctive nickname. Sportswriters had initially relied on the default sobriquets for a first-year team, calling them the Babes or, sometimes mockingly, Babies. F.H. Brunell bestowed the moniker that would stick, as he watched some Cleveland players practicing. ‘They look skinny and spindly, just like spiders,’ he was overheard to remark. ‘Might as well call them Spiders and be done with it.’
“Out of spring training, McKean was Tom Loftus’ third batter in the order, his pick for a dependable run producer to hit behind his fleet men on the bases, Cub Stricker and McAleer. McKean, however, was the one Spider whom Loftus would occasionally bench for what he thought to be selfish play. The clash between manager and shortstop was a fundamental disagreement, one that would necessarily limit McKean’s offensive production in his early years in Cleveland.”
.289, 9 HR, 57 RBI
1st Year All-Star-Walter Robert “Walt” Wilmot was born on October 18, 1863 in Plover, WI. He started with the Nationals in 1888, would be purchased by the White Stockings in 1890, and would finish his career as a part-time player for the Giants in 1897 and 1898. This would be his best season ever, as Wilmot was the only representative of the Nationals on this team. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.0), slashing .289/.367/.484 for an OPS+ of 144. It would be highest Adjusted OPS+ ever.
As for Washington, this was its last year in the league and, so appropriately, finished last in the league. John Morrill (13-38) and Arthur Irwin (28-45) led the team to 41-83 record. It would be the last season Morrill, who led the 1883 Beaneaters to the NL Pennant, would ever manage. He would finish with a 348-334 record, a .510 winning percentage. For Irwin, this was his first year ever managing and he has some good years ahead.
Since he most likely won’t make another All-Star team, here’s some career highlights of Wilmot’s career from Wikipedia: “While playing for the Nationals in 1889, Wilmot led the league with 19 triples and 139 games played. The following season, he tied with Oyster Burns and Mike Tiernan for the National League lead in home runs with 13, also a career-high. He also set a career best with 76 stolen bases while driving in 99 runs in 1890. On the August 22, 1891, he became the first player in major league history to be walked 6 times in 1 game.
“Wilmot died in Chicago, at the age of 65.”
.322, 9 HR, 81 RBI
1st Time All-Star-George Edward Martin “Rip” Van Haltren was born on March 30, 1866 in St. Louis, MO. He played part-time for the White Stockings in 1887 and 1888, before becoming the team’s fulltime leftfielder this season. He finished eighth in Offensive WAR (3.9), slashing .322/.416/.446 for an OPS+ of 137. He would always have a high batting average and on-base percentage over his 17-year career.
Here’s some snippets of Van Haltren’s life from Wikipedia: “Van Haltren was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1866. In 1868, his family moved to Oakland, California. Van Haltren played baseball as a kid and became a pitcher. His play attracted the attention of the major leagues, and in 1887, he signed with the Chicago White Stockings.
“Van Haltren made his major league debut in June 1887. He was a pitcher and outfielder that season and had a win–loss record of 11–7 and a batting average of .203. The following year, he went 13–13 and batted .283. As a full-time left fielder in 1889, Van Haltren batted .322 with 126 runs scored and 81 runs batted in.
“In 1889, Van Haltren married Blanche O’Brien. They had two daughters, Mary Elizabeth (born in 1890) and Dorothy (born in 1895).”
SABR adds, “Until a devastating ankle injury effectively ended his major-league career, George Van Haltren was late 19th-century baseball’s premier leadoff man. A lefty hitter with keen strike-zone awareness and a quick bat, Van Haltren topped the .300 mark in 13 of his 14 seasons as a lineup regular.”
.325, 17 HR, 72 RBI
Total Bases-297 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-118 (2nd Time)
Extra Base Hits-62
Power-Speed #-24.7 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as OF-9
Range Factor/Game as OF-2.72
2nd Time All-Star-Pony Ryan continued his stellar play of 1888 with a great 1889 season. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.1). Ryan slashed .325/.403/.516 for an OPS+ of 151. It was his highest slugging ever. He would have a good long career, but these two years of 1888 and 1889 were his best.
SABR has a good article, as always, on Jimmy Ryan, from writer Arthur Ahrens. It says, “The SABR 19th Century Committee recently polled its members to determine the top ten players of the pre-1900 era not in the Hall of Fame. Heading the list in a three-way tie were Jimmy Ryan, Harry Stovey, and George Van Haltren. My favorite is Ryan, the great Chicago outfielder. A brief review of his life and career should tell you why.
“In mid-1885 Ryan went professional, joining Bridgeport of the Eastern League, and had but 29 games of minor league experience when Cap Anson signed him with the Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) at the close of the season. Stationed at shortstop in place of Tommy Burns, Jimmy made his debut October 8, 1885, at Chicago. Although he went only one-for-four in a 5-3 loss to the Phillies, the Chicago Tribune noted that ‘Ryan, the young Bridgeport player, . . . . proved himself a strong batter, a quick fielder and very clever between the bases.’ The following day he went four-for-six but the Phillies again won, 12-11.
“In 1889 Jimmy reached a career high with 17 homers but did not lead the league because Sam Thompson of the Phillies belted 20. On September 30 Ryan hit George Haddock’s first pitch for his sixth leadoff homer of the year as Chicago took care of Washington, 9-5. This remained a major league record until broken by Bobby Bonds in 1973.”
.335, 10 HR, 73 RBI
Bases on Balls-96
Times on Base-268
2nd Time All-Star-Tiernan turned 22 before this season and still showed all the signs of being a great player. He finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.2) and seventh in Offensive WAR (5.1), slashing .335/.447/.497 for an OPS+ of 159 in helping the Giants once again win the National League pennant. In the World Series, Silent Mike didn’t fare as well as 1888, but still hit .289 with a double, a triple, a home run, and three stolen bases as New York beat Brooklyn, six games to three.
His 1888 and 1889 seasons are detailed by SABR: “In 1888, the Giants (84-47) captured their first National League pennant, with now everyday right fielder Mike Tiernan filling a solid supporting role. Usually hitting in the second spot, Mike posted a .293 batting average and stole 52 bases. He continued his fine work in the post-season, batting .342, with eight runs scored, six RBIs, and five steals in ten games, as the Giants defeated the American Association St. Louis Browns to claim the title of world champions. Tiernan backed up this performance with an even better one in 1889. He led the NL in walks (96) and runs scored (147), and was among the league top five in batting (.335), slugging (.497), on-base percentage (.447), OPS (.944), total bases (248), and triples (14). Every bit of this output was needed, as the Giants had to rally down the stretch to nip the Boston Beaneaters for the 1889 NL pennant. The club then successfully defended its world champions crown, besting the AA Brooklyn Bridegrooms in a post-season match that featured second tier Giants hurlers Cannonball Crane and Hank O’Day in improbable starring roles. For his part, Tiernan hit .289 and tallied a team-high 12 runs.”