1909 National League All-Star Team

P-Christy Mathewson, NYG

P-Mordecai Brown, CHC

P-Orval Overall, CHC

P-Nap Rucker, BRO

P-Art Fromme, CIN

P-Howie Camnitz, PIT

P-Ed Reulbach, CHC

P-Earl Moore, PHI

P-Vic Willis, PIT

P-Cliff Curtis, BSN

C-George Gibson, PIT

C-Ed Phelps, STL

1B-Ed Konetchy, STL

1B-Dick Hoblitzell, CIN

2B-Dots Miller, PIT

2B-Johnny Evers, CHC

2B-Larry Doyle, NYG

3B-Art Devlin, NYG

3B-Harry Steinfeldt, CHC

SS-Honus Wagner, PIT

SS-Al Bridwell, NYG

SS-Joe Tinker, CHC

LF-Fred Clarke, PIT

CF-Solly Hofman, CHC

RF-Mike Mitchell, CIN

 

mathewson8P-Christy Mathewson, New York Giants, 27 Years Old

1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1907 1908

25-6, 1.14 ERA, 149 K, .263, 1 HR, 12 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1909 NL Pitching Title (3rd Time)

Wins Above Replacement-10.2 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-9.2 (4th Time)

Earned Run Average-1.14 (3rd Time)

Win-Loss %-.806

Walks & Hits per IP-0.828 (3rd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-6.276

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.177 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-4.139 (4th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-224 (3rd Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-1.62 (5th Time)

9th Time All-Star-In a career filled with dazzling seasons, 1909 might have been his best ever. Mathewson was first in WAR (10.2); first in WAR for Pitchers (9.2); first in ERA (1.14!); 10th in innings pitched (275 1/3); and first in Adjusted ERA+ (224). It’s that ERA which stands out. Of course, this was the Deadball Era and it was difficult to score runs, but it doesn’t take away from Matty’s accomplishments.

John McGraw saw his team dip from second to third with a 92-61 record. It was a team which could hit, led by second baseman Larry Doyle, and could pitch, led by Big Six, but still fell 18-and-a-half games behind Pittsburgh.

SABR says of his season, “[I]n January 1909 Christy found the body of his youngest brother, Nicholas, dead in his parents’ barn of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Two years earlier, Detroit Tigers manager Hughie Jennings had wanted to sign the 17-year-old Nicholas and bring him directly to the majors, but Christy had advised against it.

“Mathewson was the toast of New York. Endorsement offers poured in, with Matty ‘pitching’ Arrow shirt collars, leg garters (for socks), undergarments, sweaters, athletic equipment, and numerous other products. He received an offer to put his name on a pool hall/saloon but turned it down when his mother asked, ‘Do you really want your name associated with a place like that?’” In the age of baseball in which he played, there weren’t too many gentlemen like Mathewson around. It’s rare to find men like this at any time.

brown5

P-Mordecai Brown, Chicago Cubs, 32 Years Old, MVP

1903 1906 1907 1908

27-9, 1.31 ERA, 172 K, .176, 0 HR, 9 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

 

Led in:

 

Wins-27

Games Pitched-50

Saves-7 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-342 2/3

Complete Games-32

Adj. Pitching Runs-45 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.3 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-50

5th Time All-Star-It’s an interesting thing about Baseball Reference and nicknames. Sometimes players are known by their nicknames and their player pages will be title by those monikers. For instance, Baseball Reference has pages for Old Hoss Radbourn and Home Run Baker. Others like Mordecai Brown, who is more commonly known as Three Finger Brown, don’t go by that common nickname on their pages. I just wonder how Baseball Reference determines this. During the time I was writing about John Ward, better known as Monte Ward, BR kept going back and forth on what his page was titled. I have a feeling I still have both names floating around out there.

Whatever he was called, Brown had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR (8.8), behind New York pitcher Christy Mathewson (10.2) and Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner (9.2); second in WAR for Pitchers (8.7), trailing Big Six (9.2); second in ERA (1.31), lagging behind Mathewson (1.14); first in innings pitched (342 2/3); and second in Adjusted ERA+ (193), again being bested only by New York’s finest (224).

As for the Frank Chance-led Cubs, they finished out of the lead for the first time in three years, despite a 104-49 record. Pittsburgh beat them by six-and-a-half games. Chicago, led by Three Finger Brown, still had the best pitching in the league, but its hitting lacked.

It’s always dangerous to overload a pitcher with innings and the same will be true for Brown.  Especially since he’s already 32 years old. He’ll have another All-Star season next year, but after that will start to slump.

overall3

P-Orval Overall, Chicago Cubs, 28 Years Old

1905 1907

20-11, 1.42 ERA, 205 K, .229, 2 HR, 11 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.474 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-205

Shutouts-9 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Overall had a short but impressive career and this season was his best ever. He finished fourth in WAR (8.1); fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.2); third in ERA (1.42), behind New York’s Christy Mathewson (1.14) and teammate Mordecai Brown (1.31); seventh in innings pitched (285); and third in Adjusted ERA+ (179), trailing only Mathewson (224) and Brown (193). After this season, Overall would start to fade, pitching only 144 innings for the Cubs in 1910 and then taking two seasons off of Major League ball and then pitching 68 innings for the Cubs in 1913. He was done by the age of 32.

SABR says, “Prior to the 1908 season, Orval made a prediction: ‘I believe the new rule prohibiting a pitcher from soiling a glossy ball will greatly increase the hitting department of the game. You can’t curve a glossy ball, and in my judgment there will be more pitchers knocked out of the box the coming season than ever before. Unless I am mistaken the hitting averages will go soaring.’ Apparently he was the only pitcher negatively impacted by the rule; while the league’s ERA fell to its lowest level in history, his rose to 1.92. Overall lost his first game on May 12, snapping a personal 14-game winning streak that he had begun on August 11, 1907. His record fell to 15-11, as he was hampered by arm trouble for much of the regular season, but he did lead the NL in strikeouts per game (6.68) and finished fifth in fewest hits per game (6.60). In the 1908 World Series Overall once again matched up against the Tigers and Donovan, going the distance in Games Two and Five and winning by scores of 6-1 and 2-0. One of the keys to his success in the 1907-08 Series was holding Ty Cobb to a .125 average.”

rucker3

P-Nap Rucker, Brooklyn Superbas, 24 Years Old

1907 1908

13-19, 2.24 ERA, 201 K, .119, 0 HR, 0 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 99 percent chance)

3rd Time All-Star-On a team historically known for its pitching, Rucker is the first great Dodger/Superba hurler. This season, he finished fifth in WAR (7.3); third in WAR for Pitchers (7.8), behind New York’s Christy Mathewson (9.2) and Chicago’s Mordecai Brown (8.7); and third in innings pitched (309 1/3), trailing Brown (342 2/3) and Boston’s Al Mattern (316 1/3). He’d pitch 260 or more innings for seven straight seasons and that more than anything gives him a shot at my Hall of Fame.

His team, coached by Harry Lumley, moved up from seventh to sixth and finished with a 55-98 record. Neither its hitting or pitching was very good, but besides those two minor things, they weren’t bad.

SABR reports, “In 1909 Rucker set a career-high with 201 strikeouts, and on July 24 of that season he struck out 16 St. Louis Cardinals, tying the modern record that stood until Dizzy Dean broke it in 1933. (Nap always claimed that he fanned 17 that day, but a lackadaisical official scorer whose name he still remembered–Abe Yager–forgot to record one of them.) Once again he was the best pitcher on a terrible team, going 13-19 despite a 2.24 ERA.

“Nap Rucker was one of the Deadball Era’s top left-handed pitchers. Brooklyn’s winning percentage was an even .500 when the hard-throwing Southerner got the decision, but without him the Superbas played .430 ball, losing 175 more games than they won. ‘The Rucker appendage is the only thing that has kept Brooklyn in the league,’ wrote the New York Herald, while the Brooklyn Eagle lamented that ‘the fates have tied him up with an aggregation that has steadfastly refused to make a bid for championship honors.’”

fromme

P-Art Fromme, Cincinnati Reds, 25 Years Old

19-13, 1.90 ERA, 126 K, .191, 0 HR, 3 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

1st Time All-Star-Arthur Henry “Art” Fromme was born on September 3, 1883 in Quincy, IL. He started with St. Louis from 1906-08 and then was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Ed Karger to the Cincinnati Reds for Admiral Schlei. He had his best season ever this year, finishing sixth in WAR (5.9); fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.6); sixth in ERA (1.90); ninth in innings pitched (279 1/3); and sixth in Adjusted ERA+ (136).

My Reds moved up from fifth to fourth with a 77-76 record. Clark Griffith managed the team which featured middle of the road hitting and middle of the road pitching and finished with a middle of the road record.

SABR mentions, “Cincinnati Reds manager Clark Griffith wanted to start pitcher Art Fromme on Wednesday, May 12, 1909, against the Boston Doves, but Fromme complained of a sore arm during warm-ups, which forced Griffith to choose another hurler. He selected Texan Ed Karger, a 26-year-old side-wheeling southpaw. Obtained from the St. Louis Cardinals in the previous offseason, Karger had pitched unimpressively for the Reds. Griffith hoped he would return to the form he showed in 1907, when he threw six shutouts for the Cardinals and compiled a 2.04 ERA in 314 innings.

“Though the Doves were aided by 12 walks and six Cincinnati errors (including two by Karger), they managed to score only two runs. They left 15 men on base. The Boston pitchers were also wild, walking eight Reds. There were 20 walks in the game altogether.” Nowadays, we see walks all day long every game.

camnitz

P-Howie Camnitz, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

25-6, 1.62 ERA, 133 K, .138, 0 HR, 6 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.806

1st Time All-Star-Samuel Howard “Howie” or “Red” Camnitz was born on August 22, 1881 in Covington, KY. The five-foot-nine, 169 pound mini mite started with Pittsburgh in 1904, didn’t pitch in the Majors in 1905, then was back with the Pirates in 1906. This season was his best season ever as he finished eighth in WAR (5.4); seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.5); fourth in ERA (1.62); eighth in innings pitched (283); and fourth in Adjusted ERA+ (158). In the World Series, he didn’t do so well, losing one game of the two he pitched and allowing six runs (five earned) in three-and-a-third innings pitched. Pittsburgh still won the Series.

SABR says, “Though his reign as one of the National League’s top pitchers was short-lived, Howie Camnitz was the undisputed ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff during their World Championship season of 1909. That season Camnitz, a right-handed curveball specialist, tied for the NL lead in winning percentage (25-6, .806) and ranked fourth in ERA (1.62). ‘I always inspect very closely the box score of the club we are about to meet next,’ he explained to a reporter who asked him for the secret of his success. ‘My object is to ascertain what players are doing the hitting. Every student of baseball knows that players hit in streaks. If a pitcher has men on bases, and a batsman facing him who has been having a slump in his hitting, he can take a chance on letting him line it out. On the contrary, if a player comes up who has been clouting the ball, it may be the safest plan to let him walk.’”

reulbach5

P-Ed Reulbach, Chicago Cubs, 26 Years Old

1905 1906 1907 1908

19-10, 1.78 ERA, 105 K, .140, 0 HR, 7 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 25 percent chance)

 

5th Time All-Star-At 26 years old, Big Ed Reulbach made his fifth All-Star team and certainly looks to be one of the all-time greats. Yet to the observant eye, there were already chinks in the armor. For instance, Reulbach walked quite a few more batters than the average elite pitcher. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 1.39-1 through this season. He also received much of his fame through his impressive win-loss record, which was .713 through 1909. But he also pitched on the greatest team at this time, the Cubs, who won a high percentage of games. I’m not saying Reulbach wasn’t good, he absolutely was, but maybe not as good as one would think.

All this to say after this season, Reulbach is most likely not going to make a lot of All-Star teams, probably just one more after this season and that in the Federal League. His innings are going to drop and his ERA is going to balloon. You still have to give him credit for one of the greatest first five years in baseball history.

This season, Reulbach finished 10th in WAR (5.2), eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), fifth in ERA (1.78), and fifth in Adjusted ERA+ (143). Also, according to SABR, “On May 30, 1909, Reulbach went on a 14-game winning streak, becoming the only 20th-century NL pitcher with two winning streaks as long as 14 games. He defeated every NL team, including five wins over the Brooklyn Superbas, before he lost again on August 14. A November 1913 article in Baseball Magazine judged Reulbach’s 1909 streak the most impressive in history; in 14 games he surrendered only 14 runs, giving up three on one occasion, while pitching five shutouts and five one-run games. One of the wins came on June 30, 1909, in the first game ever played at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field.”

moore2

P-Earl Moore, Philadelphia Phillies, 31 Years Old

1901

18-12, 2.10 ERA, 173 K, .094, 0 HR, 0 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls-108 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-It’s been eight years since Moore last made an All-Star team, but he’s about to on a mini-streak of them. After making it with Cleveland in 1901, he stayed with it until 1907, when he was traded by the Cleveland Naps to the New York Highlanders for Walter Clarkson and Frank Delahanty. After the 1907 season, he was purchased by Jersey City and then towards the end of 1908, purchased by the Phillies. This season, Moore got some of his old mojo back, finishing fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.9), ninth in ERA (2.10), and fourth in innings pitched (299 2/3).

His team, the Phillies, managed by Billy Murray, dropped from fourth to fifth with a 74-79 record. Murray’s managing days were done, despite three seasons in which he compiled a 240-214 mark.

SABR says, “Moore astounded major league baseball in 1909 with an amazing comeback. Still using his rapid crossfire delivery, he became the ace of the Phillies staff and quickly ascended to the top echelon of National League hurlers. Despite persistent control problems–his 108 walks led the N.L.–Earl went 18–12 with a 2.10 ERA for a 74–79 team that finished in the second division. Known variously in the Philadelphia press as Big Earl, Big Moose, and Big Ebbie, Moore made it all the way back to the big time on August 19 by defeating Christy Mathewson, 1–0, at the Baker Bowl.” All of this after coming back from a debilitating foot injury in 1905.

willis8P-Vic Willis, Pittsburgh Pirates, 33 Years Old

1899 1901 1902 1903 1906 1907 1908

22-11, 2.24 ERA, 95 K, .136, 0 HR, 2 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Games Started-35

8th Time All-Star-Before 1969, only one team per league made the playoffs and that team went straight to the World Series. What this means is that a lot of great players missed out on the postseason over baseball’s history. It certainly looked like Willis, one of the best National League pitchers during this era, would be one of them, but now in his fourth year with the Pirates, his team won the title. Willis finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.6) and fifth in innings pitched (289 2/3). In his only World Series, he pitched two games, starting one, and allowed six runs, all earned, in 11 2/3 innings. Though he went 0-1, Pittsburgh beat Detroit, 4-3.

Willis Hall of Fame page says, “In 1909 Willis went 22-11 winning 11 straight games at one point during the season. He played a key role in the team’s 110 total victories that season, helping the Pirates get to the Fall Classic and become World Series champions.

“He had long fingers, which allowed him to throw a very unique and sharp curveball. Local media outlets penned Willis as almost impossible to hit.

“’Willis has speed and the most elusive curves,’ the Boston Sunday Journal said. ‘His “drop” is so wonderful that, if anyone hits it, it is generally considered a fluke.’

“The ‘Delaware Peach’ won more than 20 games a total of eight times in his career. When Willis retired, he followed his love for the game and continued to participate in baseball, managing a semi-pro team and coaching at the youth and college level.”

curtis

P-Cliff Curtis, Boston Doves, 27 Years Old

4-5, 1.41 ERA, 22 K, .034, 0 HR, 0 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 107 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

1st Time All-Star-Clifton Garfield “Cliff” Curtis was born on July 3, 1881 in Delaware, OH. The six-foot-two, 180 pound pitcher had a decent rookie year and is the only All-Star on the Doves. Which doesn’t so much tell us how good Curtis is, but how bad Boston was. Still, Curtis did manage to have a dazzling 1.41 ERA in his 83 innings pitched. He’ll probably never make another All-Star team, but at least he has this one his family can brag about with their friends.

You might think a team whose best player is someone who only pitched 10 games would be bad and you would be absolutely correct. The Doves, managed by Frank Bowerman (22-54) and Harry Smith (23-54) finished last with a 45-108 record, dropping from sixth in 1908. They were the worst hitting team in the league and also stank at pitching, so you do the math.

                Some Wikipedia info on Curtis: “While pitching for the last-place Boston Doves (later known as the Rustlers, and later still as the Braves) in 1910 and 1911, Curtis set a record of 23 consecutive losses. The record was eventually broken in 1993, when New York Mets pitcher Anthony Young lost 27 consecutive games in which he had a decision.

“During his lengthy losing streak, Curtis also failed to pick up a win in 28 consecutive starts, which also established a Major League record. This record was tied by Matt Keough (1978–79) and Jo-Jo Reyes (2008–2011), but to date it has not been broken.”

gibson

C-George Gibson, Pittsburgh Pirates, 28 Years Old

.265, 2 HR, 52 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-150 (3rd Time)

Caught Stealing as C-138

Caught Stealing %-52.9

Fielding % as C-.983

1st Time All-Star-George C. “Moon” Gibson was born on July 22, 1880 in London, Canada. The five-foot-11, 190 pound catcher started with Pittsburgh in 1905 and slowly continued to build up the number of games played until he became its fulltime catcher in 1907. This season, Gibson finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.1); ninth in Offensive WAR (3.6); and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.6). Judging by his league-leading 52.9 percentage of throwing out base stealers, he had a rocket arm. In his only World Series, Gibson hit .240 (six-for-26) with two doubles as Pittsburgh beat Detroit, 4-3.

Wikipedia says, “Gibson was regarded as one of the National League‘s premier catchers because of his impressive defensive skills and his strong, accurate throwing arm. He was also known for his smart pitch-calling and his ability to hold runners on base. His reputation as a defensive stand out is enhanced because of the era in which he played. In the deadball era, catchers played a huge defensive role, given the large number of bunts and stolen baseattempts, as well as the difficulty of handling the spitball pitchers who dominated pitching staffs. He had to catch every type of pitch imaginable, such as shine balls, spitballs, knuckleballs, and emory balls. Gibson was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1958 and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.

                “Born a stone’s throw away from Tecumseh Park (today’s Labatt Memorial Park) in London, Ontario, Gibson gained the nickname “Mooney” as a youngster. Some sources suggest that the nickname was inspired by his round, moon-shaped face, while other sources claim he picked up the nickname because he had played on a sandlot team known as the Mooneys.”

phelps

C-Ed Phelps, St. Louis Cardinals, 30 Years Old

.248, 0 HR, 22 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 37 more All-Star teams. Impossible)

 

1st Time All-Star-Edward Jaykill “Ed” or “Yaller” Phelps was born on March 3, 1879 in Albany, NY. The five-foot-11, 185 pound catcher started with Pittsburgh from 1902-04, making the first modern day World Series in 1903. Phelps went six-for-26 (.231) with two doubles as the Pirates lost to Boston, 5-3. Then in 1905, he was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Cincinnati Reds for Heinie Peitz. The next season, after catching 12 games for Cincinnati, he was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Cincinnati Reds. He then came to St. Louis before this season and, ta-da!, he made his first All-Star team.

Was it a coincidence he was being managed this season by one of the all-time greats, Roger Bresnahan? Probably not. St. Louis improved from eighth to seventh under its player-manager with a 54-98 record. The Cardinals’ hitting was third best in the league, but their pitching was the worst. I’ll bet Bresnahan wishes he had Christy Mathewson back, but then who doesn’t want Big Six on their team.

From the Times-Union: “Phelps was a friend of [Cy] Young, just as he was friends with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. Ruth later gave autographed baseballs to two of Phelps’ four children; the family still has one of them. Among Phelps’ Pittsburgh teammates was a shortstop named Honus Wagner.

“His nickname was ‘Yaller,’ perhaps because a chronic stomach condition gave him a yellowish complexion. He was a big man for his time: 6 feet, 185 pounds.”

konetchy

1B-Ed Konetchy, St. Louis Cardinals, 23 Years Old

.286, 4 HR, 80 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 67 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Putouts-1,584

Def. Games as 1B-152

Putouts as 1B-1,584

Assists as 1B-97 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Edward Joseph “Big Ed” Konetchy was born on September 3, 1885 in La Crosse, WI. The six-foot-two, 195 pound first baseman started with St. Louis in 1907 and this will not be his last All-Star team. He was a good hitter for the Deadball Era. This season, he finished fifth in WAR Position Players (4.8); fourth in Offensive WAR (4.7); 10th in batting (.286); ninth in on-base percentage (.366); eighth in slugging (.396); and third in Adjusted OPS+ (144), behind only Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner (177) and Cincinnati rightfielder Mike Mitchell (152).

SABR says, “Koney was a right-handed hitter who stood straight up at the plate, choked up on his bat, and sent liners to the outfield fences. He was the kind of player that ‘even the umpire liked,’ with a ‘handshake that is sincere and a friendship more than surface.’ ‘I not only play baseball for the salary connected with it, but I really and truly love the game,’ Ed once told a reporter, ‘and like to be a fan just as much now as I did in the old days back in LaCrosse, when we used to get the pictures of the athletes out of cigarette boxes.’

“When asked how he improved his batting, Ed replied, ‘Hard work. I made it my business to study closely the pitchers who bothered me most, particularly Nap Rucker’s high fastball.’ He asked teammates to throw him only high fastballs during batting practice, until he was able to ‘whale the stuffing out of it.’ On the advice of new manager Roger Bresnahan, Konetchy also started hitting to the opposite field. ‘[Bresnahan] said I was hitting the ball to left field too often, as the fielders knew where to play me,’ he said. ‘I changed my stance and started poking the ball in other directions.’”

hoblitzell

1B-Dick Hoblitzell, Cincinnati Reds, 20 Years Old

.308, 4 HR, 67 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as 1B-28

Double Plays Turned as 1B-80

1st Time All-Star-Richard Carleton “Dick” or “Doc” Hoblitzell was born on October 26, 1888 in Waverly, WV. The small six-foot, 172 pound first baseman started with Cincinnati in 1908 and had his best season ever in 1909, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1); sixth in Offensive WAR (4.2); third in batting (.308), behind Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner (.339) and teammate and rightfielder Mike Mitchell (.310); 10th in on-base percentage (.364); fourth in slugging (.418); and fourth in Adjusted OPS+ (143).

SABR says, “Making his debut with the Reds on September 5, 1908, Dick took over at first base for player-manager John Ganzel and batted .254 over the last 32 games of the season. In 1909 he appeared in 142 games and batted a career-best .308, third highest in the National League behind only Honus Wagner and teammate Mike Mitchell. When the 1909 season was complete, having shaved a year off his true age, Hoblitzell was considered a 19-year-old phenom whose ‘rise in baseball has been of the meteoric variety.’ Commentators mentioned him in the same breath as Ed Konetchy and Kitty Bransfield as one of the NL’s greatest first basemen. Over the five-year period 1909-13, the left-handed-hitting slugger batted in the heart of the Cincinnati order and was the top run producer in the Reds’ strong offensive attack. During the offseason, Dick continued his education at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery and shared an office with his older brother, Bill, who had established a dental practice in Cincinnati.”

millerd

2B-Dots Miller, Pittsburgh Pirates, 22 Years Old

.279, 3 HR, 87 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as 2B-150

Assists as 2B-426

Fielding % as 2B-.953

1st Time All-Star-John Barney “Dots” Miller was born on September 9, 1886 in Kearny, NJ. The five-foot-11, 170 pound first and second baseman had an impressive rookie year and you would think he’d be a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. However, this was his best season ever and he’d have a nondescript career. This season, Miller finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.6) and seventh in slugging (.396). In his only World Series appearance, Dots hit .250 (seven-for-28) with a double, four RBI, and three stolen bases. Pittsburgh beat Detroit, 4-3.

 SABR says, “Playing shortstop as a property of the Pirates could be seen as a dead-end proposition in the Deadball Era, but Miller performed well enough to be brought up for a workout with the big club late in the 1908 season. When Honus Wagner was late reporting to spring training in 1909, Miller received his first extended opportunity to display his talents to Fred Clarke and the rest of the Pirates. The 22-year-old shortstop made all the plays, and soon the other Pirates began calling him ‘Hans,’ or ‘Hans No. 2.’ After Hans No. 1 finally arrived in camp, a reporter asked him, ‘Who’s the new kid?’ Wagner replied, ‘That’s Miller.’ The reporter, misunderstanding, listed the young infielder as Dots Miller. Henceforth John Bernard Miller, sometimes known as Jack, sometimes Barney, was now and forever known as ‘Dots.’ In an era of colorful nicknames, Miller had one of the best, acquired quite by accident.” Wagner must have had a heavy accent.

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2B-Johnny Evers, Chicago Cubs, 27 Years Old

1904 1906 1907 1908

.263, 1 HR, 24 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 99 percent chance)

 

5th Time All-Star-When I was in 11th Grade, I stood at five-feet tall, 120 pounds. From Kindergarten through my junior year, I was always the smallest kid in my class. People kept saying I was going to grow, but I didn’t believe it. However, after that year, I had a growth spurt and ended up six-feet tall (now I’m five-foot-11, stupid aging!) So I can empathize with the tiny 125-pound Evers (pronounced EE-verz). I had the same bad attitude as him because when you’re small and playing sports, you’re constantly trying to prove yourself.

This season, the crabby one didn’t make the World Series for the first time in three years, but he still finished seventh in on-base percentage (.369). Making the All-Star team this year despite it not being one of his best seasons definitely improves his chances of making my Hall of Fame.

From the Troy Record, it seems Evers was supposed to sit out the 1909 season. It states, “Friday, April 23, 1909. Johnny Evers’s sabbatical from Major League Baseball turns out to be short-lived. The Record reports that Troy’s hometown baseball hero will rejoin the Chicago Cubs at the end of this month.

“Evers, a product of the New York State League, was the second baseman for Chicago’s World Series winning team last season. Ever since the Cubs claimed the title, Evers has expressed his intent to sit out the 1909 season, or at least a large part of it, in order to get married and establish himself in business. In interviews with Troy and Chicago newspapers, Evers claimed that it was always his plan to take a year off at some point in his career.”

doyle

2B-Larry Doyle, New York Giants, 22 Years Old

.302, 6 HR, 49 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 83 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Hits-172

Putouts as 2B-292

1st Time All-Star-Lawrence Joseph “Laughing Larry” Doyle was born on July 31, 1886 in Caseyville, IL. The five-foot-10, 165 pound second baseman started with the Giants in 1907 and would be one of the best hitting second basemen around in a tough-to-hit-in era. This season, Doyle finished second in Offensive WAR (5.0), behind Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner (8.2); fourth in batting (.302); third in slugging (.419), trailing Wagner (.489) and Cincinnati rightfielder Mike Mitchell (.430); and sixth in Adjusted OPS+ (140).

Wikipedia says, “Born in Caseyville, Illinois, Doyle was a third baseman in the minor leagues before his contract was purchased by the Giants for a then-record $4,500. He debuted with the Giants on July 22, 1907, arriving late after taking the wrong boat across the Hudson River; he cost his team the game with a ninth-inning error, though he also had a pair of hits. Doyle moved to Breese, Illinois, where his family owned a motel next to the current city hall. He expected to be returned to the minor leagues; instead, he was retained by manager John McGraw, who named him the team’s field captain in 1908 – a year in which he finished third in the batting race with a .308 average. Doyle, who also became the roommate of Christy Mathewson for several years, followed up with a 1909 season in which he led the NL in hits (172) and was among the league’s top four players in batting (.302), slugging (.419), home runs (6) and total bases (239).”

devlin6

3B-Art Devlin, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1904 1905 1906 1907 1908

.265, 0 HR, 56 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Slim chance)

 

Led in:

 

Double Plays Turned as 3B-21

6th Time All-Star-There weren’t many good third sackers in Devlin’s day. He made the All-Star team six consecutive seasons, while Harry Steinfeldt made his fourth this year. It is no mean feat to make six consecutive lists. If I had time or a research assistant or any energy whatsoever, I’d tell you how many times that’s been done, but take my word for it, it’s not a lot. However, after six straight seasons of making this team, Devlin’s All-Star career is going to start to fade and this is most likely his last time here.

Devlin finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.5); seventh in Offensive WAR (3.8); and 10th in Defensive WAR (1.3). For a long time, he always provided with the bat and with the glove.

SABR reports on an incident in 1910, saying, “An incident during the game against Brooklyn on June 23, 1910, suggests that Devlin didn’t study diplomacy at Georgetown. The Giants were winning at Washington Park when a fan, according to Sporting Life of June 30, hollered, ‘”Devlin, you dog, will you never stop?”’ A nearby youngster translated the epithet as ‘Yellow Dog,’ bringing Devlin into the stands. Larry Doyle and Josh Devore followed to help. Everybody got into it, including McGraw, before Bill Klem ‘butted in as a peacemaker.’ All three players were thrown out of the game. Devlin was arrested and released, but arraigned the next day as one Bernard J. Rossier Jr. charged him with assault and planned to sue him for $5,000 in damages. League president Thomas Lynch suspended Devlin and fined Doyle and Devore $50 each for being accessories. It all blew over. A gentleman signing himself ‘C. Steinmann’ wrote to National Commission Chairman Garry Herrmann on stationery from The Waldorf in Hamilton, Ontario, noting that ‘fining & suspending injured [i.e., insulted] players is not the fair method of punishment …’ Further, he said, ‘I have seen Arthur Devlin play many games & I know he is a player who is a credit to his profession being gentlemanly & has no bad habits.’”

steinfeldt4

3B-Harry Steinfeldt, Chicago Cubs, 31 Years Old

1903 1906 1907

.252, 2 HR, 59 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

4th Time All-Star-Steinfeldt garnered some Hall of Fame interest after he retired and maybe he would have made Cooperstown if he had been mentioned in the Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance doggerel. He didn’t make the All-Star team in 1908, but did make the World Series. Steinfeldt didn’t do great, hitting .250, but the Cubs won, giving the third baseman his second championship. This season, he finished sixth in Defensive WAR (1.5) and it was his defense that put him on this list.

SABR states, “The Cubs rewarded Steinfeldt’s efforts with a three-year contract, but from that point on his performance started to slip. In 1908 he batted a career-low .241, and though he rebounded somewhat to hit .252 in both 1909 and 1910, he tailed off significantly toward the end of the latter season. Steinfeldt’s slump continued during the 1910 World Series, when he managed only two hits in 20 at-bats. At this point in his career, few if any of his hits were of the infield variety, as is evident from this anecdote from 1909 that Spink related to illustrate the fielding prowess of Honus Wagner: ‘Steinfeldt hit the ball along the third-base line past Jap Barbeau, so fast that that player didn’t get a look at it. But Wagner made a couple of jack-rabbit jumps, speared the ball with his right hand way back of third, and, without straightening up, whizzed it to first, turning back the runner by a step.’” His hitting has declined, but his fielding is good enough to possibly have one more shot at this team.

wagner11

SS-Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 35 Years Old

1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908

.339, 5 HR, 100 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1909 NL Batting Title (7th Time)

WAR Position Players-9.2 (9th Time)

Offensive WAR-8.2 (9th Time)

Batting Average-.339 (7th Time)

On-Base %-.420 (4th Time)

Slugging %-.489 (6th Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.909 (7th Time)

Total Bases-242 (6th Time)

Doubles-39 (7th Time)

Runs Batted In-100 (4th Time)

Adjusted OPS+-177 (6th Time)

Runs Created-101 (7th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-48 (6th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-5.5 (6th Time)

Extra Base Hits-54 (7th Time)

Offensive Win %-.830 (6th Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-58 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.69 (3rd Time)

11th Time All-Star-For the last eight seasons, Wagner has been in the top four in WAR. In nine of the last 10 seasons, he’s been tops in WAR Position Players and Offensive WAR. Wagner has easily dominated the National League. Look at the stats above in which he led, he did so again. And for the next few years, he’ll continue to be great. But there will be a subtle drop in his stats. He’s the Flying Dutchman, so his stats are still incredible, they’re just not Wagner-esque.

Wagner made his second World Series and this time looked like himself. He went eight-for-24 (.333) with two doubles, a triple, six RBI, and six steals as the Pirates went on to beat Detroit, 4-3. Ty Cobb, battling for the only time against Wagner, faltered, hitting .231 with three doubles. Wikipedia says of the Series, “The speed demon Cobb only managed two steals, one of which Cobb himself admitted was a botched call. Wagner recounted: ‘We had him out at second. We put up a squawk, but Silk O’Loughlin, the umpire, overruled it. We kept the squawk going for a minute or so, making no headway of course, and then Cobb spoke up. He turned to O’Loughlin, an American League umpire, by the way, and said, “Of course I was out. They had me by a foot. You just booted the play, so come on, let’s play ball.”’” This was also the first year the famous Wagner baseball card came out and you can read about its history here.

bridwell2

SS-Al Bridwell, New York Giants, 25 Years Old

1908

.294, 0 HR, 55 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

AB per SO-31.7

2nd Time All-Star-Bridwell made his second consecutive All-Star team, having his best season ever. He finished eighth in WAR (5.5); second in WAR Position Players (5.5), behind Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner (9.2); third in Offensive WAR (4.8), trailing Wagner (8.2) and teammate and double play combination partner, second baseman Larry Doyle (5.0); fourth in Defensive WAR (1.8); fifth in batting (.294); third in on-base percentage (.386), with only Wagner (.420) and Brooklyn first baseman Tim Jordan (.386) ahead of him; and 10th in stolen bases (32).

SABR says, “In 1909 Bridwell batted a career-high .294, fifth best in the league, and stole a career-high 32 bases. He struck out only 15 times in 476 at-bats, the best ratio in the league. And he continued to shine at shortstop:

“’His spectacular fielding has pulled many a game out of the fire, when a hit would have resulted in either a tie-up or the winning tally. … His throwing is snappy and he shoots the ball to the bases on a line as true as a rifle bullet. … He is over the entire left section of the field during a game. The stands have no terrors for him, for he will rush up to the box seats and lean over to make a catch of a foul fly.’”

Bridwell’s hitting pretty much deteriorated after this season, but he’d continue to be a good fielder. It’s possible he’s still going to make another All-Star team. Gauging him at this time, you would have thought he had an incredible career ahead of him, but he was done by the time he was 31.

tinker4

SS-Joe Tinker, Chicago Cubs, 28 Years Old

1902 1906 1908

.256, 4 HR, 57 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. No doubt)

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-3.0 (4th Time)

Fielding % as SS-.940 (3rd Time)

4th Time All-Star-For the first time ever, the great Cubs shortstop made his second consecutive All-Star team. Tinker’s fielding continued to be his strength. This season, he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.7) and first in Defensive WAR (3.0). It was always his glove that carried him, but that’s okay if you’re the best fielding shortstop in the league.

Wikipedia states, “Tinker was the starting shortstop for the Chicago Cubs from 1902 to 1912. He was a speedy runner, stealing an average of 28 bases a season and even stealing home twice in one game on July 28, 1910. He also excelled at fielding, often leading the National League in a number of statistical categories (including four times in fielding percentage). During his decade with the Cubs, they went to the World Series four times, winning in 1907 and 1908.

“Despite being just an average hitter, batting .268 for his career in an era of high batting averages, Tinker had a good amount of success against fellow Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, batting .350 against the Hall of Fame pitcher over his career. In Mathewson’s 1912 book, Pitching in a Pinch, he referred to Tinker as ‘the worst man I have to face in the National League.’”

If you were a National League fan of anyone but the Cubs, Pirates, or Giants during this time, you must have been bored. I’m a Reds fan and they wouldn’t win a pennant until 1919. Those three teams dominated the National League through 1913.

clarke9

LF-Fred Clarke, Pittsburgh Pirates, 36 Years Old, 1909 ONEHOF Inductee

1895 1897 1901 1902 1903 1906 1907 1908

.287, 3 HR, 68 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls-80

Times on Base-244

Def. Games as LF-152 (2nd Time)

Putouts as LF-361 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-362

Range Factor/Game as LF-2.49 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as LF-.987

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-2.51

Fielding % as OF-.987 (2nd Time)

9th Time All-Star-What an amazing season 1909 was for Cap Clarke! First, he is this year’s ONEHOF Inductee, the Hall of Fame I created to honor one player a year. This year, it’s the Pittsburgh player-manager. Next year’s nominees are Hardy Richardson, Jimmy Collins, Elmer Flick, Christy Mathewson, Eddie Plank, Vic Willis, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson, Bid McPhee, Sam Thompson, Jack Clements, Amos Rusie, Cupid Childs, Clark Griffith, Jesse Burkett, Joe McGinnity, and Sam Crawford.

Secondly, he is now tied for most All-Star teams made at leftfield. The full list is:

P-Cy Young, 17

C-Charlie Bennett, 9

1B-Cap Anson, 13

2B-Nap Lajoie, 8

3B-Jimmy Collins, 8

SS-Jack Glasscock, 11

LF-Ed Delahanty, Clarke, 9

CF-Paul Hines, 8

RF-Sam Thompson, Elmer Flick, 7

And if that wasn’t enough, he also won his first World Series as a manager and player. Pittsburgh finished 110-42 and beat the Cubs by six-and-a-half games. In the World Series, Pittsburgh and Detroit traded wins, but the Pirates defeated the Tigers, 4-3.

Clarke probably has one more All-Star team left in him. He made it this season by finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (5.3); eighth in Offensive WAR (3.7); ninth in batting (.287); fourth in on-base percentage (.384); and eighth in Adjusted OPS+ (131). Also, Wikipedia says, “In the 1909 World Series, Clarke batted only .211 but hit both of Pittsburgh’s home runs and had more home runs and RBI than any player on either team. Clarke also set a record for most walks for one player in a World Series game with four in Game 7.”

hofman

CF-Solly Hofman, Chicago Cubs, 26 Years Old

.285, 2 HR, 58 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as CF-143

Errors Committed as CF-13

Double Plays Turned as CF-4

1st Time All-Star-Arthur Frederick “Circus Solly” Hofman was born on October 29, 1882 in St. Louis, MO. The six-foot, 160 pound centerfielder started with Pittsburgh in 1903 and then came to Chicago in 1904. He never could hit during the regular season, but had two good World Series, hitting .304 in 1906 and .316 in 1908. This season, Hofman slashed .285/.351/.351 for an OPS+ of 115, but it helped his cause there was a lack of good outfielders in the National League this year.

SABR says, “An above-average centerfielder and one of the Deadball Era’s finest utility men, Artie Hofman was a timely hitter and one of the fleetest men in the game. Known as ‘Circus Solly,’ a nickname some attributed to a comic strip character from the early 1900s, while others swore it came from his spectacular circus catches, Hofman garnered attention with his playing style and also his lively antics. He is ‘serious only when asleep,’ jibed Baseball Magazine. Along with fellow free spirits Frank ‘Wildfire’ Schulte and Jimmy Sheckard, Hofman completed what Ring Lardner once called ‘the best outfield I ever looked at.’

                “During his tenure with the Cubs, Hofman played every position outside of the battery and was universally regarded as the game’s best utility man before he became a regular in center field in 1909. Perhaps he is most famous as the outfielder who fielded Al Bridwell’s single and called Evers’ attention to the fact that Fred Merkle had not touched second base. Merkle’s baserunning blunder and the disputed game forced a one-game playoff with John McGraw’s Giants, allowing the Cubs to capture the 1908 flag. Hugh Keough, a newspaper writer who was friendly with Hofman, claims that the irrepressible Circus Solly fielded the ball and fired a curve to Evers, who missed it, allowing the ball to be picked up by Joe McGinnity, who lobbed it into the grandstand.”

mitchellm

RF-Mike Mitchell, Cincinnati Reds, 29 Years Old

.310, 4 HR, 86 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Triples-17

1st Time All-Star-Michael Francis “Mike” Mitchell was born on December 9, 1879 in Springfield, OH. The six-foot-one, 185 pound rightfielder started with Cincinnati in 1907 and was a starter right from the get-go. This season was his best ever as he finished ninth in WAR (5.5); third in WAR Position Players, behind Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner (9.2) and New York shortstop Al Bridwell (5.5); fifth in Offensive WAR (4.7); second in batting (.310), trailing only Wagner (.339); fifth in on-base percentage (.378); second in slugging (.430), behind Wagner (.489); sixth in steals (37); and second in Adjusted OPS+ (152), trailing the Flying Dutchman (177). Like many before him, Mitchell discovered being in the same league as Wagner meant you’re only going to be second best.

Wikipedia says, “Mitchell went to the major leagues the following season with the Cincinnati Reds. He made an immediate impact as a rookie, finishing seventh in the batting race and leading the National League in outfield assists, with 39. The assists mark set a record that was not broken until 1930. According to Bill James, Mitchell had the best outfield arm of his era.

“Mitchell slumped in 1908, but he rebounded in 1909 with a career-high .310 batting average and a career-high 152 OPS+. He led the league in triples, with 17, and finished second in batting average and slugging percentage.” Those 39 assists he had in 1907 were incredible to be sure but sometimes an outfielder gets high assists numbers because of a lack of a good arm when runners are willing to take chances on him. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Mitchell.

4 thoughts on “1909 National League All-Star Team

  1. As impressive as Mathewson is overall, the stat that always gets me is how few walks he gives up in a season. in 1913 in 306 innings he has 21 walks. Crazy number.
    v

    • What amazes me about Mathewson is how pitchers like he and Cy Young just continually dominate while the other pitchers of this time have a couple good seasons and they’re done. Thanks for reading!

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