Home » Uncategorized » 1891 American Association All-Star Team

1891 American Association All-Star Team

P-Jack Stivetts, STL

P-Sadie McMahon, BAL

P-Charlie Buffinton, BOS

P-George Haddock, BOS

P-Gus Weyhing, PHA

P-Phil Knell, COL

P-Frank Foreman, WAS

P-Ed Crane, CKK

P-Warren Fitzgerald, LOU

P-Frank Killen, MIL

C-Jocko Milligan, PHA

C-Deacon McGuire, WAS

1B-Dan Brouthers, BOS

1B-Perry Werden, BAL

2B-Jack Crooks, COL

3B-Denny Lyons, STL

3B-Duke Farrell, BOS

3B-Bill Joyce, BOS

SS-Paul Radford, BOS

LF-Charlie Duffee, COL

LF-George Van Haltren, BAL

CF-Curt Welch, BAL

CF-Tom Brown, BOS

CF-Dummy Hoy, STL

RF-Hugh Duffy, BOS

 

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

1889 1890

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-9.4

Games Pitched-64

Strikeouts-259

Bases On Balls-232

Def. Games as P-64

Errors Committed as P-15

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

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

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

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P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 23 Years Old

1890

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins-35 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-503.0 (2nd Time)

Games Started-58 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-53 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-5

Batters Faced-2,155 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-141 (2nd Time)

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

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

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P-Charlie Buffinton, Boston Reds, 30 Years Old

1883 1884 1885 1888 1889

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

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.763

Walks & Hits per IP-1.163

Adj. Pitching Runs-49

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.4

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

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

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

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P-George Haddock, Boston Reds, 24 Years Old

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

 

Led in:

 

Shutouts-5

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

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

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

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P-Gus Weyhing, Philadelphia Athletics, 24 Years Old

1890

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

 

Led in:

 

WAR for Pitchers-9.5

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

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

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

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P-Phil Knell, Columbus Solons, 26 Years Old

1890

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

Led in:

Hits per 9 IP-7.071

Shutouts-5

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.078

Hit by Pitch-54 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-40

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

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

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

foreman2

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

1889

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

crane

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

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

 

Led in:

 

1891 AA Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.45

Adjusted ERA+-164

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

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

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

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

fitzgerald

P-Warren Fitzgerald, Louisville Colonels, 23 Years Old

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

 

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

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

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

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

killen

P-Frank Killen, Milwaukee Brewers, 20 Years Old

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

 

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

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

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

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C-Jocko Milligan, Philadelphia Athletics, 29 Years Old

1885 1888 1889

.303, 11 HR, 106 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-35

Extra Base Hits-58

Passed Balls-40

Range Factor/Game as C-6.56

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

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

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

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

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

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C-Deacon McGuire, Washington Statesmen, 27 Years Old

1890

.303, 3 HR, 66 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as C-130

Errors Committed as C-56

Stolen Bases Allowed-204

Caught Stealing as C-120

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

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

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

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

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.350, 5 HR, 109 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 AA Batting Title (5th Time)

WAR Position Players-5.6 (4th Time)

Offensive WAR-6.3 (7th Time)

Batting Average-.350 (4th Time)

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

Slugging %-.512 (7th Time)

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

Adjusted OPS+-179 (7th Time)

Runs Created-112 (4th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-57 (7th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-5.8 (7th Time)

Offensive Win %-.820 (5th Time)

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

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

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

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

1890

.290, 6 HR, 104 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Putouts-1,422

Def. Games as 1B-139

Putouts as 1B-1,422

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

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

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

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

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

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

.245, 0 HR, 46 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as 2B-.957

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

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

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

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

1887 1888 1889 1890

.315, 11 HR, 84 RBI

 

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

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

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

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

.302, 12 HR, 110 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-12

Runs Batted In-110

AB per HR-39.4

Caught Stealing %-58.8

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

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

joyce

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

.309, 3 HR, 51 RBI

 

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

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

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

radford

SS-Paul Radford, Boston Reds, 29 Years Old

.259, 0 HR, 65 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-2.3

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

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

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

duffee

LF-Charlie Duffee, Columbus Solons, 25 Years Old

.301, 10 HR, 90 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as OF-33 (2nd Time)

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

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

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

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

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

vanhaltren2

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

1889

.318, 9 HR, 83 RBI

 

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

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

welchc4

CF-Curt Welch, Baltimore Orioles, 29 Years Old

1886 1888 1889

.268, 3 HR, 55 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Hit by Pitch-36 (3rd Time)

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

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

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

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

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

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

brown2

CF-Tom Brown, Boston Reds, 30 Years Old

1885

.321, 5 HR, 72 RBI

 

Led in:

 

At Bats-589

Runs Scored-177

Hits-189

Total Bases-276

Triples-21

Strikeouts-96 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases-106

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

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

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

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

1888 1890

.292, 5 HR, 64 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Plate Appearances-688

Bases on Balls-117

Times on Base-292

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

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

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

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

duffy2

RF-Hugh Duffy, Boston Reds, 24 Years Old

1890

.336, 9 HR, 110 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-110

Singles-143

Power-Speed #-16.3

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

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

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10 thoughts on “1891 American Association All-Star Team

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