P-Bill Hutchinson, CHC
P-John Clarkson, BSN
P-Kid Nichols, BSN
P-Amos Rusie, NYG
P-Harry Staley, PIT/BSN
P-Cy Young, CLV
P-Kid Gleason, PHI
P-John Ewing, NYG
P-Bob Caruthers, BRO
P-Tony Mullane, CIN
C-Jack Clements, PHI
C-Doggie Miller, PIT
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Jake Beckley, PIT
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
2B-Bid McPhee, CIN
2B-Danny Richardson, NYG
2B-Cupid Childs, CLV
3B-Arlie Latham, CIN
SS-Herman Long, BSN
LF-Billy Hamilton, PHI
CF-Mike Griffin, BRO
RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG
RF-Harry Stovey, BSN
RF-Sam Thompson, PHI
44-19, 2.81 ERA, 261 K, .185, 2 HR, 25 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-9.9
WAR for Pitchers-10.5
Wins-44 (2nd Time)
Games Pitched-66 (2nd Time)
Innings Pitched-561.0 (2nd Time)
Games Started-58 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-56 (2nd Time)
Home Runs Allowed-26 (2nd Time)
Earned Runs Allowed-175
Batters Faced-2,371 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-66 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-With the demise of the Players League after one season, it was back to two leagues, the National League and the American Association. By next year, it will be down to one, as the American Association will fold after 10 years of existence as a Major League. Then from 1892-through-1900, the National League will be the only Major League game in town and it will look like they finally slew all comers. But starting in 1901, a new league, the American League will begin its long and still-running history.
Hutchinson played in the oldest league for an old school manager, Cap Anson, who used his pitcher in an old school manner, that is to say until his arm fell off. Wild Bill pitched 561 innings, which was 60 more than second place Amos Rusie and 100 more than third place John Clarkson. You would think a person couldn’t last too long pitching this way and you’d be right. You probably cheated and looked at Baseball Reference like I did and saw that after 1892, his innings would drop and his ERA would rise. However, from 1890-92, he was almost unstoppable, averaging 40 wins and 595 innings. This season, he finished first in WAR (9.9) and first in WAR for Pitchers (10.5). In this 561 innings, he finished with a 2.81 ERA and a 123 ERA+. I would have patented the name “Wild Bill the Workhorse” if I lived back then and made a mint! The pride of Yale University had his best season ever.
33-19, 2.79 ERA, 141 K, .225, 0 HR, 26 RBI
Assists as P-114 (5th Time)
Range Factor/Game as P-2.56 (3rd Time)
8th Time All-Star-If you read some of the earlier write-ups on Clarkson, you’ll realize he bears a lot of responsibility for the creation of the Players League in 1890, but ended up staying in the National League. So he must have felt like giving a raspberry to the returning players when it proved to be the best thing to do to stay put. As for his actual pitching, Clarkson pitched 460 2/3 innings with a 2.79 ERA and a 129 ERA+. This is for a pitcher who averaged 509 innings pitched over the last seven seasons and still was one of the best in the league. He finished second in WAR (9.8) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.6), behind only Bill Hutchinson in both categories.
Clarkson’s golden arm helped lead the Beaneaters to their fourth league title. It was also the pitcher’s fourth ever pennant. Frank Selee, the Hall of Fame manager, was in his second year for Boston and coached them to a 87-51 record, three-and-a-half games ahead of Chicago. As late as Sept. 4, Boston was seven games out after losing to the Colts, 5-3. Then they caught on fire, finishing the season with a 25-4 run, which included a 17-game winning streak.
SABR has more on the dispute between Clarkson and some of the other players: “Many of the men had issues with Clarkson and he was treated rudely and shunned by some for the rest of his career. Some observers claimed that a few of his teammates slacked off while Clarkson was on the mound, the very thing Conant, the Beaneaters director, feared previously. King Kelly for one refused to return to Boston, instead jumping to the American Association, in part because he didn’t want to play with Clarkson and Charlie Bennett.”
30-17, 2.39 ERA, 240 K, .197, 0 HR, 27 RBI
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.180
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.330 (2nd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.71 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-46 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-4.3 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-If you look at John Clarkson and Nichols’ stats, you would say to yourself, “Of course these two are Hall of Fame pitchers,” and you would be correct. However, the surprising thing to me is how long it took the two of them to go into the Hall. Clarkson was selected in 1963 by the Veteran’s Committee and Nichols didn’t get in until 1949 when he was voted in by the Old Timers Committee. How are these two not first ballot Hall of Famers and, even if the writers had to sort through 65 years of baseball history in 1936, how did they not go in sooner? Almost every single thing about the Hall of Fame perplexes me, though I will say the reason you have Veterans Committees and Old Timers Committees is to fix errors like this. The problem, of course, is those same committees vote in people like Tommy McCarthy.
As for Nichols’ 1891 season, he finished third in WAR (9.2) and third in WAR for Pitchers (9.6), behind Bill Hutchinson and Clarkson in both categories. He pitched 425 1/3 innings with a 2.39 ERA and a league-leading 151 ERA+. All of this at 21 years old.
After the 1890 season, there was a new edition to the Nichols’ household, according to SABR, which says, “Kid and Jennie Nichols wintered in Boston, and on December 8 they celebrated the birth of their only child, Alice. Nichols won 30 games for the first time in 1891, and would reach that total in six of the next seven seasons. His seven 30-win seasons remains a major-league record.”
33-20, 2.55 ERA, 337 K, .245, 0 HR, 15 RBI
Hits per 9 IP-7.033 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.062 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts-337 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-262 (2nd Time)
Errors Committed as P-14 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-You might not realize this because you haven’t had hours to study these players like I have, but the first four players listed here all pitched in the National League in 1890. The reason many of these players even got a chance to pitch is because of the creation of the Players League, but three of the four of these players are now in the Hall of Fame. That includes Rusie, the Hoosier Thunderbolt, who, in 1891, finished fourth in WAR (8.9) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.6). Rusie pitched 500 1/3 innings with a 2.55 ERA and a 123 ERA+.
As for Rusie’s Giants, they recovered from their sixth place finish in 1890 and moved up to third with a 71-61 record. Coached by Jim Mutrie, now in his ninth and last year of managing, New York finished 13 games out of first. Despite a career 658-419 record, including three pennants and two World Series titles, Truthful Jim would never manage in the Major Leagues again. He was only 40 years old.
Rusie threw a no-hitter in 1891, as detailed in Wikipedia, which says, “After having been on the losing end of no-hitter by Tom Lovett of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms on June 22, Rusie returned the favor by throwing one of his own against them just over a month later on July 31. After winning both games of a doubleheader against the Bridegrooms in September, Rusie and several other star players were rested for the remainder of the season, a five-game series against the Boston Beaneaters. Rusie’s 337 strikeouts and 262 bases on balls led the league for the second consecutive year, and his six shutouts marked the first time he led the league in that category.”
24-13, 2.58 ERA, 139 K, .180, 1 HR, 19 RBI
Walks & Hits per IP-1.213 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Staley made the lateral move from the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League to the Pirates of the National League, but didn’t remain in the Steel City long. He was released by the Pirates on May 27 and picked up by the Beaneaters the same day. Altogether, Staley had his best season ever and, most likely, his last All-Star appearance. He finished fifth in WAR (7.7) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.9), pitching 324 innings with a 2.58 ERA and a 137 ERA+. Through his first four seasons, Staley had a 3.08 ERA and a 115 ERA+. However, over the rest of his career, he would end up with a 4.85 ERA and a 96 ERA+.
Ned Hanlon (31-47) and Bill McGunnigle (24-33) coached the Pirates to a last place finish with a 55-80 record, 30-and-a-half games out of first. After this season, Hanlon would head to the Baltimore Orioles, where his Hall of Fame managerial career would kick into high gear. McGunnigle, on the other hand, would have just one season as a manager left, with the 1896 Louisville Colonels.
Staley was a career .182 hitter, but in 1893, he did something unusual, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On June 1, 1893, Staley had nine runs batted in off his bat, a record for most RBIs in a game by a pitcher that stood for over 70 years until equalled by Atlanta Braves pitcher Tony Cloninger in 1966.” Staley would remain with Boston for three more seasons after this one, and finish his career with the 1895 St. Louis Browns. He would die young, at the age of 43, in Battle Creek, Michigan.
27-22, 2.85 ERA, 147 K, .167, 1 HR, 18 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Denton True “Cy” or “Cyclone” Young was born on March 29, 1867 in Gilmore, OH. You might have heard of this pitcher. He was big for his time, at six-foot-two, 210 pounds, which certainly helped his durability, as 19 of his 22 seasons were pitched from the now normal 60-foot, six-inch distance. Young started with the Spiders in 1890 and was made a regular pitcher this season. He would never pitch under 300 innings until he was 39-years-old in 1906 and never pitch under 200 innings until he was 43-years-old in 1910. Just my guess, Young is going to make the ONEHOF.
I’m going to write a line I could just copy and paste for the next 20 or so years. Young finished sixth in WAR (6.6) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). Cyclone tossed 423 2/3 innings with a 2.85 ERA and a 120 ERA+. This will be his lowest Adjusted ERA+ until 1906. I know we have a pitching award named after him, but it’s just incredible to look at his stats and not be dazzled by them.
Here’s Cy Young’s motion, as described in a SABR article, quoting sportswriters of Young’s day: “He ‘winds up his arm, then his body, then his legs, bows profoundly to his great outfield, straightens up again, and then lets her go.’”
24-22, 3.51 ERA, 100 K, .248, 0 HR, 17 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Gleason made his second, and most likely, last All-Star team this season, finishing seventh in WAR (6.6) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (5.8). Kid tossed 418 innings with a 3.51 ERA and a 95 ERA+. He was actually helped by his bat this season, slashing .248/.318/.290 for an OPS+ of 77. Not great, but certainly not bad for a pitcher. Gleason’s problem is he wouldn’t be a pitcher after 1894 and still have that that same weak bat as a second baseman for the rest of his career.
Hall of Fame manager Harry Wright continued to coach the Phillies, leading them to a fourth-place 68-69 record. He’s been managing since 1871, the year of which I started writing this webpage and he’s got a couple of seasons left.
After this season, Gleason would move to St. Louis from 1892-94, to Baltimore in 1894 and 1895, to New York from 1896-1900, to the American League Detroit Tigers in 1901 and 1902, back to the National League Phillies from 1903-07, and finish with one game for AL White Sox in 1912. It was with his second season with Baltimore he became a regular second baseman. As mentioned in last year’s blurb, Gleason managed the 1919 Black Sox and continued coaching them for the following four seasons.
Wikipedia says, “Gleason died of a heart ailment in 1933, at the age of 66, in Philadelphia; his funeral was well attended, a testament to his popularity. He is buried in Philadelphia’s Northwood Cemetery.”
21-8, 2.27 ERA, 138 K, .204, 0 HR, 8 RBI
1891 NL Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.27
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.067
1st Time All-Star-“Long John” Ewing was born on June 1, 1863 in Cincinnati, OH and certainly was long at six-foot-one and skinny at 168 pounds. The brother of Hall of Fame catcher Buck Ewing, he had an unusual career, starting by playing one game for the American Association St. Louis Browns in 1883 and then one game each for the 1884 Union Association Cincinnati Outlaw Reds and Washington Nationals. Ewing didn’t make the Major Leagues again until 1888, when he started pitching with the AA Louisville Colonels, then moved to the 1890 Players League New York Giants, before finally moving to the National League this season with New York. You read that right, he played six seasons in four different leagues.
This season, he finally made his mark, finishing 10th in WAR (5.7) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.9). Ewing pitched 269 1/3 innings with a league-leading 2.27 ERA and a 139 ERA+. Long John was off and running.
Except he wasn’t. He was done after this season and would be dead within another four years. According to Baseball Reference, “The Sporting Life of October 31, 1891 reported that Ewing was refusing to sign for another season unless he was paid more money. However, that winter he was apparently struck with a serious illness: the Lewiston Evening Journal of February 27, 1892 intimated that John nearly died but that he was recovering, and the hope was he would be able to pitch by June. The Toronto Daily Mail of January 9, 1893 reported that John had hoped to come back to the Giants the previous spring, but that his brother Buck feared John’s health would not allow him to do so.”
18-14, 3.12 ERA, 69 K, .281, 2 HR, 23 RBI
6th Time All-Star-Parisian Bob didn’t make the All-Star team in 1890, which is a little shocking considering he was in the National League in a diluted year because of the three Major Leagues. In 1890, for the Grooms, Caruthers went 23-11 with a 3.09 ERA. Maybe he should have been there. Oh well, too late to change it now. Back to 1891, where Caruthers pitched 297 innings with a 3.12 ERA and a 104 ERA+. He also did his usual damage with the bat, slashing .281/.372/.380 for an OPS+ of 122. This is most certainly his last All-Star team, but he’s the predecessor of one George Herman Ruth.
Caruthers’ team, the Grooms, had a shaky year, finishing in sixth place with a 61-76 record, 25-and-a-half games out. They were coached by the great John “Monte” Ward, who was the manager of the Players League Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders in 1890. Hey, if you don’t have a professional team named after you, don’t mock! Only Monte Ward and Paul Brown are part of this club. Well, there may be others, but that would take research and who has time for that.
As with many of these players, Caruthers’ life did not end well. SABR says, “Less than a year after the Waterloo incident another newspaper reported: ‘Pale and emaciated, Robert Caruthers, once an idol of the baseball world—a star pitcher—was sentenced to twenty days in the workhouse, the result of drink.’ Caruthers never served his 20-day sentence, for he did not have that many days left in his life. On August 5, 1911, only two weeks after his arrest, he died at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, the city where he and Mamie were living with her parents.”
23-26, 3.23 ERA, 124 K, .148, 0 HR, 10 RBI
6th Time All-Star-Where has Count Mullane been the last few seasons? Doing what he always does, pitching great for the Reds. However, due to many great pitchers and lack of innings, Mullane didn’t make the All-Star team from 1888-90. He’s back this season and also most likely next season, which will give him a total of seven All-Star teams. I think he’s a Hall of Fame candidate, but if I’m a small Hall person, he doesn’t make it. For years, I thought he’d make the ONEHOF, my Hall of Fame which allows just one player to enter per year, but that’s not going to happen now either. It’s hard to believe his chances at both Halls were hurt by a non-All Star stretch in which he went 49-35 with a 2.72 ERA and a 127 ERA+. But for his day, much more was expected of pitchers.
In 1891, the Apollo of the Box finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), tossing 426 1/3 innings, his most since 1886, with a 3.23 ERA and a 103 ERA+, his lowest Adjusted ERA+ since 1886. Despite his pitching, the Reds finished in seventh place with a 56-81 record. Tom Loftus coached the team for the second straight year, but couldn’t keep the success from 1890 when the Reds went 77-55. Loftus wouldn’t coach again until 1900.
Here’s Mullane’s Hall of Fame candidacy from Baseball Reference: “Mullane is 2nd all-time in wins among pitchers not enshrined in the Hall of Fame who are eligible. Only Bobby Mathews is ahead of him. He might have won 300 if not for a suspension he served that kept him out all of 1885. Mullane is the all-time leader in wins by an Irish pitcher; only Blyleven won more among non-Americans. Canadian Ferguson Jenkins won as many.”
.310, 4 HR, 75 RBI
Double Plays Turned as C-10
2nd Time All-Star-Don Malcolm of Big Bad Baseball sponsored Clements’ Baseball Reference page and commented: “The most successful left-handed catcher in baseball history who begs the question: where are the other ones??” That is a good question, but I doubt there will ever be another one, because once a coach sees a left-handed player, he’s not going to train him up to be a backstop. Wouldn’t baseball be more exciting with a lefty catcher? It certainly was with Clements who finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.0). He slashed .310/.380/.426 for an OPS+ of 134. His hitting was starting to decline, but would improve again in 1895 and 1896. He’s still one of the best hitters at his position.
The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers writes of Clements that, “Only long term, career LEFT-HANDED throwing catcher ever in the majors. Clements was a squat, powerful man who hit home runs when they were a rarity. He caught 105 games in 1892, and was the last lefthanded catcher to play regularly. Righthanded batters learned to duck when a runner broke for second; Clements simply fired away. “
You might be wondering who played catcher regularly in the most seasons for the Phillies in their long history. The answer is this man. They’ve had others play more games, because catcher was such a brutal position to play in the 1800s, but no one was the team’s regular backstop more seasons than Clements, who did it 10 years.
.285, 4 HR, 57 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team as a third baseman in 1890, Doggie made it as a catcher this season. He finished ninth in Offensive WAR (3.7), slashing .285/.357/.363 for an OPS+ of 114. He’d never hit this well again, but he helped wherever he played and he played everywhere on the field. In his career, he played mostly catcher, but would end up playing at least 22 games at every position, including all three outfield spots. He was the ultimate utility player.
Following this season, Miller would continue with the Pirates through 1893 and then play in St. Louis for two seasons, before finishing his career in Louisville in 1896. He’s going to have another good season in 1894, but I don’t know if he’ll make the All-Star team. Apparently you can go to this page and debate the Hall of Fame merits of players and it throws Doggie into the debate. Um, no way. Anyway, they say the following about 1894, which I may be repeating that season: “1894 was Doggie at his best. Usually good for about a .260 batting average, he upped his mark to .339 that season. Never much of a slugger or on-base guru, Doggie was in ’94 when he posted a stellar .414 on-base percentage and had a .453 slugging average–it was the only time his on-base percentage and slugging average reached the .400 mark” This page only has one comment in which the commenter says, “Doggie was a fine catcher during the 1800s but since his numbers are plenty weaker than HOF catchers from that period, King Kelly and Buck Ewing, and other passed over receivers like Deacon White and Deacon McGuire, I don’t see Miller ever making the HOF.” Good argument. Mine is more succinct. No way.
.290, 7 HR, 94 RBI
10th Year All-Star-Well, it’s about time! Yes, Roger Connor, the original Giant, finally made the One-a-Year Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame I created in which only one player a year enters the hall. It’s much harder to make than the Cooperstown Hall of Fame and thus much more prestigious. Next season, the nominees are 1B Harry Stovey and C Charlie Bennett.
This season, Connor finished ninth in WAR (5.7), the last of eight times he would finish in the top 10 in that category. He also finished second in WAR Position Players (5.7), behind only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton and third in Offensive WAR (5.0), behind only Hamilton and Connor’s teammate MikeTiernan. He slashed .290/.399/.449 for an OPS+ of 153. It seems like an off season, but his Adjusted OPS+ wasn’t really off that much from his regular numbers. At this point in his career, Connor is behind Harry Stovey in home runs, 117-87.
SABR on Connor’s 1891 season: “Like most of his Players League Giant teammates, Connor returned to the National League Giants for the 1891 season. But the situation was much changed from the recent championship years. Tension abounded on the field between the Players League returnees and the National League loyalists; in the dugout, where a disabled Buck Ewing effectively supplanted Jim Mutrie as Giants manager, and in the front office, where a near-bankrupt John B. Day was forced to cede operational control of the franchise to E.B. Talcott and his Players League partners. Before the 1891 season was out, longtime Connor teammate Tim Keefe had been released while Mickey Welch and Jim O’Rourke, a fellow Connecticut Irishman and close friend, were near the end of the line. At age 34, moreover, Roger himself was now past his prime. He batted only .290 for the 1891 season with power numbers that, while still decent, were not up to the Connor norm.”>
.292, 4 HR, 73 RBI
Assists as 1B-87
3rd Time All-Star-Eagle Eye Beckley made his third All-Star team in a row as he returned to the National League after his year excursion in the Players League. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1), slashing .292/.353/.419 for an OPS+ of 129. This would be Beckley’s highest Adjusted OPS+ until 1899 with the Reds. Since he’s already made three All-Star teams at the age of 23, I’m interested to see how many he’ll make.
Wikipedia says Beckley had a hard year in his personal life, as “Beckley married Molly Murphy of Hannibal in 1891. She died of tuberculosis a few months after their wedding. He later remarried.” Thus SABR continues, “He slumped badly after her death, with his batting average plummeting to a career-low .236 in 1892. Jake didn’t marry again until his baseball career was over.” More on Beckley from SABR: “Beckley was a handsome man, though one of his eyes was slightly crossed, and kept his impressive mustache long after all but a handful of players had relinquished theirs; at the time of his retirement he was one of only three men in the majors who still sported facial hair. He also displayed several other idiosyncrasies. Beckley yelled ‘Chickazoola!’ to rattle opposing pitchers when he was on a batting tear, and he perfected the unusual (and now-illegal) practice of bunting with the handle of his bat. As the pitch approached the plate, Jake flipped the bat around in his hands and tapped the ball with the handle.”
.291, 8 HR, 120 RBI
Runs Batted In-120 (8th Time)
Double Plays Turned as 1B-86 (4th Time)
17th Time All-Star-It is possible Anson has finally made his last All-Star team. This is his 17th and eighth in a row. No player dominated this era like the boisterous Anson and no person is more controversial than him as we judge from our modern times. I try to make this page about on-the-field exploits and, based on those, Anson is one of the greatest players of all time. And no, I’m not talking for his time. I’m saying in the whole of baseball history, there haven’t been too many better players than Anson. We can only judge people in the era in which they played and Anson has been a great player for over 20 years and he’s still got seven years left to play.
In 1891, Anson finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.9) and 10th in Offensive WAR (3.7). He slashed .291/.378/.409 for an OPS+ of 125. He’d continue hitting for average and getting on base over the next few years, but I’m doubting he makes another All-Star team. He did manage the team to an 82-53 second place finish, three-and-a-half games out of first. Anson had the team in first as late as Sept. 28, but Chicago lost four of its last five games to lose the title.
As for his later life, SABR says, “Anson’s later life was filled with disappointment. The National League offered to provide a pension for the ex-ballplayer, but Anson stoutly refused all offers of assistance. He declared bankruptcy in 1910, and by 1913 he had lost his home and moved in with a daughter and son-in-law. Virginia Anson died in 1915 after a long illness, and the widowed ex-ballplayer resumed his stage career in a skit written by his friend Ring Lardner titled ‘First Aid for Father.’ The skit starred Anson and his daughters Adele and Dorothy, and the Anson clan crisscrossed the nation, sharing bills with jugglers and animal acts in small town and big city alike. Vaudeville allowed Anson to support himself, but barely, and he retired, penniless, from the stage in 1921. He died on April 14, 1922, three days shy of his 70th birthday, and was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. The National League paid his funeral expenses. Seventeen years later, on May 2, 1939, Anson and his former friend and mentor Al Spalding were named to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a special committee.”
.256, 6 HR, 38 RBI
Assists as 2B-492 (6th Time)
Fielding % as 2B-.954 (7th Time)
5th Time All-Star-Every year McPhee looks at a baseball glove, laughs at those who wear them, and then bare-handedly has spectacular All-Star seasons. The Reds second baseman finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.8), his highest dWAR of his career. Bid slashed .256/.345/.370 for an OPS+ of 109, which is not great, but certainly serviceable for someone who could field like he did.
Did you know for all of the great players the Reds have had for their history, McPhee ranks sixth of all-time in WAR (52)? He is behind only Pete Rose (77), Johnny Bench (74), Barry Larkin (70), Frank Robinson (63), and Joe Morgan (57). Of course, if Robinson and Morgan had played more years with the Reds, they’d be even higher on the list. It helped McPhee to play so good for so long. If Joey Votto has a good 2017 season, he could pass McPhee.
I like what SABR has to say about McPhee’s personality. It says, “On the field and off McPhee was a gentleman. He was never fined or ejected from a game, and he was always sober and in playing condition. An 1897 ankle injury, the only serious one of his career, kept McPhee out of action for three months. Cincinnati fans and sportswriters staged a special benefit that raised $3,500 for him.” In an era filled with ruffians – Cap Anson was famous for his arguments with umpires- it’s good to read about a man who just went out and played ball.
.269, 4 HR, 51 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.67
Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.60
2nd Time All-Star-There weren’t great hitting second basemen in the league this season, but there were some slick fielders, Richardson being one of them. He finished third in Defensive WAR (2.0), behind Chicago shortstop Jimmy Cooney (2.5) and Cincinnati shortstop Germany Smith (2.3). Neither of them made the All-Star team because neither Cooney (.245/.318/.290) or Smith (.201/.258/.260) added anything with the bat. Richardson did, slashing .269/.313/.347 for an OPS+ of 97. It was just enough to get him onto the All-Star team for the second time.
The year 1891 was interesting in the United States. Do you know who the president was during this time? It was Benjamin Harrison, a Republican from New York. Also during this year, the Wrigley Company was founded in Chicago. That would certainly have repercussions in baseball down the line. In Richardson’s home city of New York, the Music Hall had its grand opening. It would later be Carnegie Hall. What’s fascinating to me is that Tchaikovsky was the guest conductor at the first performance. It reminds me how long this sport of baseball has been around.
Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, died on Sept. 28 of that year. I read Moby Dick for the first time a couple of years ago (as of this writing) and well, I just thought I’d like it more. I thought it would be more like Jaws, but it ended up being more a treatise on the whale industry. Hey, Melville, why don’t you get to the action already!
.281, 2 HR, 83 RBI
Def. Games as 2B-141
Errors Committed as 2B-82
2nd Time All-Star-With the American Association Syracuse Stars folding, Childs came over to the National League and continued his fine play. He finished sixth in Offensive WAR (4.3) and slashed .281/.395/.374 for an OPS+ of 122. He had his worst ever defensive season, according to dWAR, but he’s going to be around these teams for a little while. And Cupid is going to be around Cleveland for a while, playing with them through the 1898 season. Childs would be one of the first players who garnered much value from bases on balls, as he had 97 walks this year and would have over 100 the next three seasons.
Childs was part of a huge controversy in 1891. According to SABR, he had been signed by the AA Baltimore Orioles, but the league withdrew from Baseball’s National Agreement and would operate as an independent major league. It then began a fight over whether Childs’ contract was voided or not. Jimmy Keenan of SABR writes, “The trial gained national attention and on April 22, 1891, the judge finally reached his decision. Phelps ruled in favor of Childs and the injunction filed by the Orioles was dissolved. Childs’ Oriole contract had stated that he was due all of the rights accorded to professional baseball players designated by the National Agreement. Because the National Agreement no longer bound the Orioles, the team could not offer Childs the conditions that they had originally agreed upon, thus voiding the contract. This was the main point of Judge Phelps’ summation in explaining his verdict.”
.265, 2 HR, 31 RBI
Assists as 3B-370 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as 3B-75 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 3B-24 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.19 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.05 (2nd Time)
5th Time All-Star-Latham, the Clown Prince of Baseball, made the All-Star team again this season after missing out the last two seasons. In 1890, he moved to the Players League Chicago Pirates and then moved midseason to the National League Reds. He did well his first full season with Cincinnati, but has probably made his last All-Star team. The Freshest Man on Earth had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR Position Players (5.6), behind Philadelphia outfielder Billy Hamilton (6.6) and New York first baseman Roger Connor (5.7); fifth in Offensive WAR (4.7); and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4). At the plate, Latham slashed .272/.372/.386 (it was his highest OBP thus far) for an OPS+ of 122. After this season, he’d never be above a 92 Adjusted OPS+ as his hitting fell off.
Here’s a wrap up of Latham’s baseball career from SABR: “Arlie got into many brawls. At the end of one season he had 20 fights scheduled, five with teammates. The brawling seemed somewhat out of character, for Arlie had a tremendous sense of humor and seemed more of jokester than a fighter.
“Pranks and brawls aside, Latham was a legitimate ballplayer. He played 1629 games in the majors, banged out 1836 hits with 27 homers, and scored 1481 runs. His lifetime batting average was only .269, but he was a great base stealer with at lease 742 (stolen base data is still missing for four seasons). Arlie also holds an unenviable record for the most errors lifetime for a third baseman, 822-more than 200 more than any other player.”
.282, 9 HR, 75 RBI
Putouts as SS-345 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as SS-60
1st Time All-Star-Herman C. “Germany” or “Flying Dutchman” Long was born on April 13, 1866 in Chicago, IL. He’s going to have a long, decent career, whose play would be known for his defense more than his bat. From the beginning, Long played fulltime, starting with the American Association Kansas City Cowboys in 1889. He was then purchased by the Beaneaters before the 1890 season and Long would be with them through 1902. In 1891, Germany had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (4.7), and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.7). Long slashed .282/.377/.407 for an OPS+ of 120 (it would be his highest Adjusted OPS+ ever). He also had his first ever league title.
According to Baseball Reference, “’His fielding at all times is remarkable. He covers an immense amount of ground, is wonderfully quick in handling all kinds of balls, and is a fast and accurate thrower. He also hits freely, and is quite a base runner.’ – Sporting Life, October 7, 1893.” Long would make more errors at shortstop than anyone in baseball history, but all of those career error records are held in this era, where the gloves were smaller, if the fielders ever bothered wearing them at all.
The Atlanta Braves have had a team, whether it be in Boston, Milwaukee, or the ATL for all of Major League baseball history. It’s the only team who had a representative in the short-lived National Association from 1871-75. On this team with its lengthy history, Long ranks 18th in career WAR at 35.
LF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old
.340, 2 HR, 60 RBI
1891 NL Batting Title
WAR Position Players-6.6
Bases on Balls-102
Stolen Bases-111 (3rd Time)
Singles-147 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Run-46
Adj. Batting Wins-4.7
Times on Base-288
Offensive Win %-.766
2nd Time All-Star-Hamilton made his second straight All-Star team by doing Sliding Billy things, getting on base and stealing bases. He finished eighth in WAR (6.6), first in WAR Position Players (6.6), and first in Offensive WAR (6.2). He slashed .340/.453/.421 for an OPS+ of 155, leading in batting average and on-base percentage and finishing second in Adjusted OPS+. He has an amazing amount of good baseball left in him, especially in regards to getting on base. He is fourth all time in OBP.
Bill James is quoted in SABR as saying of Hamilton, “’Hamilton was completely invisible in the literature of the sport up to 1960,’ wrote James, ‘and was not elected to the Hall of Fame until 1961. He left no legend behind him, no stories, no anecdotes … Hamilton was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame purely on the overwhelming quality of his numbers. Even now, in books about nineteenth-century baseball, he is often not mentioned at all, and is never presented as a fully-formed character.’” It is incredible to look at Hamilton’s numbers and wonder why we don’t hear much about him. Of course, how much do we really hear about any of these 1800s players. I watched a video on YouTube that picked the greatest players of all-time on every modern team and Ernie Banks was picked on the Cubs. It’s not a bad choice, but there’s no way he was better than the great Cap Anson. The worst choice was Nolan Ryan for the Texas Rangers. He’s not even in the top 20 in WAR for the Rangers.
.267, 3 HR, 65 RBI
Putouts as OF-353
Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-2.88
Range Factor/Game as OF-2.87
Fielding % as OF-.960
1st Time All-Star-Michael Joseph “Mike” Griffin was born on March 20, 1865 in Utica, NY. He started as a fulltime player from the very beginning, first playing for Baltimore in the American Association from 1887-89 and then moving to the Players League in 1890 and playing for Philadelphia. This season was his first for Brooklyn and he made the best of it, slashing .267/.340/.388 for an OPS+ of 114. Though he led in a lot of fielding categories, dWAR didn’t rate Griffin to high, giving him a 0.1 mark.
Griffin wasn’t big, at five-foot-seven inches and 160 pounds. He always had speed, stealing 94 bases in his rookie season of 1887 and over 30 for eight consecutive seasons. He could score runs, too, scoring 142 in his first season and over 100 for 10 of his first 11 years. He’s going to make a couple more All-Star teams.
He could always get on base, but Griffin was never a great slugger. Even with his league-leading 36 doubles this season, he still only had a slugging average of .388. It would never be over the .485 he had in 1894. There wasn’t a lot of hitting this season in the National League. The slash line for the NL was .252/.325/.342. If you read throughout this list, you’re not going to be dazzled by the stats you read. It’s still better than the 1888 NL which had a slash line of .239/.285/.325. All of this hitting is going to get better in a couple years when the pitching mound is finally moved back to 60 feet, six inches.
.306, 16 HR, 73 RBI
On-Base Plus Slugging-.882 (2nd Time)
Home Runs-16 (2nd Time)
Adjusted OPS+-163 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-103 (2nd Time)
AB per HR-33.9
4th Time All-Star-Silent Mike, the power-hitting rightfielder for the Giants made his fourth consecutive All-Star team and continued to be on of ancient baseball’s great stars. He had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (5.1) and second in Offensive WAR (5.6), behind only Philadelphia outfielder Billy Hamilton (6.2). At the plate, Tiernan slashed .306/.388/.494 for a league leading Adjusted OPS+ of 163, his second consecutive time leading the NL in this category. His .494 slugging was second in the league Boston outfielder Harry Stovey (.498).
SABR on his great season: “The merger of the New York teams did not bode well for Mike Tiernan. Ewing, Keefe, Connor, O’Rourke, and other Brotherhood prodigals would be returning to the fold, mindful of Tiernan’s desertion of their cause. The situation at the Polo Grounds III (nee Brotherhood Park) would be an uneasy one, at best, with tension between teammates on the re-combined squad always just below the surface. Fortunately for Mike, most of the returnees were now on the downside of their careers and would not remain in New York long. And in 1891, he would have his third consecutive outstanding season, again leading the league in home runs (16) and OPS (.882), while placing in the NL top five in hits (166), batting average (.306), slugging (.494), total bases (268), and on-base percentage (.388). Mike also scored 111 runs and stole 53 bases. Good things in 1891 were not confined to the playing field, either. That year, Tiernan married Mary (maiden name unknown), the 18-year-old daughter of Irish immigrants. They settled into an apartment in lower Harlem where, in time, the arrivals of William (born 1892), Joseph (1893), and Mabel (1898) completed the Tiernan family.”
.299, 12 HR, 84 RBI
Slugging %-.498 (3rd Time)
Total Bases-271 (3rd Time)
Triples-20 (4th Time)
Home Runs-16 (5th Time)
Extra Base Hits-67 (5th Time)
Power-Speed #-25.0 (3rd Time)
10th Time All-Star-Stovey came back to the National League after a nine-year absence. It’s not like he wasn’t doing anything during those years as he’s now made his 10th consecutive (and last?) All-Star team. Stovey finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.0) while slashing .279/.373/.498 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 144. His slugging led the league. Stovey, at this point in his career, has 117 home runs and is the all-time leader at end of 1891. He was also part of his third pennant-winning team.
After this season, Stovey would split time with Boston and Baltimore in 1892 and then play part time for Baltimore and Brooklyn in 1893, before retiring. He’s got as good of shot as anybody to make the ONEHOF in 1892.
SABR wraps up the life of the great Stovey, saying, “After his time in the majors, Stovey played briefly in the Pennsylvania State League for Allentown under manager Mike ‘King’ Kelly before becoming player-manager for New Bedford of the New England League. In 1895, he joined the New Bedford police force, becoming captain in 1915. He retired in 1923.
“Stovey died at his daughter’s house on September 20, 1937, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, at the age of 80 and is buried in the town’s Oak Grove Cemetery. The man who could do it all has been overlooked by the National Baseball Hall of Fame despite calls for his election from many who are familiar with the history of our national pastime. Perhaps one day, he will get his due and be honored by the game’s ultimate shrine.”
.313, 4 HR, 102 RBI
Assists as OF-32
3rd Time All-Star-Baseball players tend to generally peak between the ages of 27 and 31. Thompson surprisingly didn’t make any All-Star teams during those middle years. Since playing in 1887 for Detroit, he played an injury-plagued season for the Wolverines in 1888, and then came to Philadelphia in 1889. It must have been tough to make the National All-Star teams in 1889 and 1890, because he led league in homers with 20 in 1889 and in doubles with 41 in 1890. As a matter of fact, Thompson was the first 20/20 player in home runs and steals in 1889. He didn’t lead in any offensive categories this season, but still slashed .294/.363/.410 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 125. Thompson started too late in his career to make the ONEHOF, but I guess he’ll take Cooperstown as a worthy consolation prize.
SABR tells of Big Sam’s time in the City of Brotherly Love: “Beginning in 1889, Thompson began his tenure with the Philadelphia Quakers, who now were also known as the Phillies. Philadelphia’s stadium suited Sam and in his first year hit 20 home runs. Thompson was the first left-handed player to hit that many home runs in a season. By this time Sam’s contract had reached $1,850 and with the Brotherhood of Professional Ball Players forming their own league, Thompson was planning on playing in the new Players League. However, after checking the contracts, he decided to remain with the Phillies. Sam continued playing for the Phillies until the 1898 season and his contract never exceeded $2,400, the league’s maximum in those days.”