1917 National League All-Star Team

P-Pete Alexander, PHI

P-Wilbur Cooper, PIT

P-Hippo Vaughn, CHC

P-Leon Cadore, BRO

P-Jeff Pfeffer, BRO

P-Ferdie Schupp, NYG

P-Chief Bender, PHI

P-Fred Toney, CIN

P-Eppa Rixey, PHI

P-Elmer Jacobs, PIT

C-Ivey Wingo, CIN

C-Bill Rariden, NYG

1B-Ed Konetchy, BSN

2B-Dots Miller, STL

3B-Heinie Groh, CIN

3B-Heinie Zimmerman, NYG

3B-Red Smith, BSN

SS-Rogers Hornsby, STL

SS-Art Fletcher, NYG

SS-Rabbit Maranville, BSN

LF-George J. Burns, NYG

CF-Max Carey, PIT

CF-Edd Roush, CIN

CF-Benny Kauff, NYG

RF-Gavvy Cravath, PHI

 

alexander7

P-Pete Alexander, Philadelphia Phillies, 30 Years Old, 3rd MVP

1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916

30-13, 1.83 ERA, 200 K, .216, 1 HR, 13 RBI

WAR Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (inducted in 1938)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1913)

 

Led in:

 

1917 NL Pitching Title (3rd Time)

Wins Above Replacement-9.9 (4th Time)

WAR for Pitchers-9.4 (4th Time)

Wins-30 (5th Time)

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.299

Innings Pitched-388.0 (6th Time)

Strikeouts-200 (5th Time)

Games Started-44 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-34 (5th Time)

Shutouts-8 (5th Time)

Hits Allowed-336 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-3.571 (2nd Time)

Batters Faced-1,529 (5th Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-4.7 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-39 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.7 (3rd Time)

Putouts as P-24 (4th Time)

Assists as P-108 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as P-2.93

7th Time All-Star-With the absence of Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson, the National League was short on superstars. If you look at the American League All-Star team, it’s full of people like Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, not to mention the up-and-coming Babe Ruth. If there’s one man who can be dubbed one of the all-time greats in the NL, it’s Pete Alexander, who continued to dominate from the mound and thus earned his third MVP (as determined by yours truly, not anything official).

The problem for the Phillies is that, try as he might, Pete couldn’t pitch every day. The team was 30-13 in games in which Alexander got the decision and 57-52 in all of the other games. That’s why the 87-65 Phillies, managed by Pat Moran, finished 10 games back of the Giants. They led the league in ERA+ but had mediocre hitting at best.

SABR says of this season, “Philadelphia remained in second in 1917 albeit ten games behind the Giants, but it wasn’t Alexander’s fault. He went 30-13 and with 200 strikeouts to lead the league along with a 1.83 ERA and a league-best 8 shutouts, 44 starts, 34 complete games, and 388 innings pitched. Under the rules of 1917, Alexander was awarded the ERA title because he pitched 10 or more complete games. However, under today’s rules, the award goes to the Giants’ Fred Anderson, who compiled his 1.44 ERA in 162 innings with a nondescript 8-8 record and fewer than 10 complete games.”

cooper2

P-Wilbur Cooper, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old

1916

17-11, 2.36 ERA, 99 K, .204, 0 HR, 5 RBI

WAR Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Cooper made the list for the second consecutive year as arguably the National League’s second best pitcher. At this time in NL history, the great pitchers were Pete Alexander and that was about it. But Cooper was definitely near the top of the second echelon. This season, he finished fourth in WAR (7.3); second in WAR for Pitchers (7.0), behind Alexander (9.4); fourth in innings pitched (297 2/3); and ninth in Adjusted ERA+ (121).

Managed by three people over the season – Jimmy Callahan (20-40), Honus Wagner (1-4), and Hugo Bezdek (30-59) – Pittsburgh hit rock bottom, finishing in last with a 51-103 record. It scored the least runs in the league and also had the second highest team ERA. Callahan would never coach again in the Majors, finishing with a career 394-458 record for the White Sox and Pirates. Wagner’s five games at the helm were his first and last. Bezdek would continue in 1918 and see the team improve under his leadership.

SABR says, “Even though his 13 years in the Steel City fell between the World Championship seasons of 1909 and 1925, Wilbur Cooper was arguably the greatest pitcher in Pittsburgh Pirates history. Cooper holds the franchise single-season record for ERA (1.87 in 1916) and the all-time records for victories (202) and complete games (263). An exceptional control pitcher who allowed only 2.2 walks per nine innings over the course of his 15-year career, Cooper was slim in stature and threw his repertoire of a fastball, curve, and change-up with a fluid delivery, causing many to mistake his stylish manner for an indifferent attitude. ‘Nothing could be farther from the truth,’ wrote one reporter. ‘The Pirate southpaw works as hard as any other hurler, but his grace and ease of motion misleads some of the rooters.’”

vaughn3P-Hippo Vaughn, Chicago Cubs, 29 Years Old

1910 1916

23-13, 2.01 ERA, 195 K, .160, 0 HR, 6 RBI

WAR Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 75 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.936

Errors Committed as P-7 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-After going from 1911-15 without making an All-Star team, Vaughn has now made two in a row. Unfortunately for him, he only has four full seasons left after this season and will probably not make this list in 1921, when he went 3-11 with a 6.01 ERA. So his chance at making my Hall of Fame is basically non-existent. That 75 percent chance showing up there is just to make Hippo’s family feel good.

This season, Vaughn finished sixth in WAR (6.5); third in WAR for Pitchers (6.7), behind Philadelphia superstar Pete Alexander (9.4) and the underrated Bucs hurler Wilbur Cooper (7.0); fifth in ERA (2.01); fifth in innings pitched (295 2/3); and third in Adjusted ERA+ (143), trailing New York Giants relief pitcher Fred Anderson (177) and Alexander (154).

Fred Mitchell took over the mantle for the Cubs and while they stayed in fifth, their record improved to 74-80. It was Mitchell’s first year managing and while his team couldn’t hit worth beans, they did have a good staff that led the National League in strikeouts.

SABR says, “Some ballplayers are defined by one moment. Jim “Hippo” Vaughn was such a player. Mentioning his name evokes a knee-jerk reaction from a knowledgeable fan: ‘Oh, yes, he threw the double no-hitter with Fred Toney in 1917.’ This is unfortunate because that game is but one in the career of a pitcher whose overall performance was excellent. From 1914 to 1920, Vaughn was the best lefty in the National League if not in the game, but his short career leaves him just this side of the Hall of Fame.”

cadore

P-Leon Cadore, Brooklyn Robins, 25 Years Old

13-13, 2.45 ERA, 115 K, .261, 0 HR, 8 RBI

WAR Rank: 8

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-Leon Joseph “Caddy” Cadore was born on November 20, 1891 in the Windy City. The six-foot-one, 190 pound righty started with Brooklyn in 1915, but this is considered his rookie year and he made the most of it. Caddy finished eighth in WAR (5.4) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (4.8).

As for Brooklyn, 12 years before the Stock Market crash, the Robins had a tumble of their own, dropping from first to seventh. Wilbert Robinson coached the Ebbets Field residents to a 70-81 record. The team had poor hitting and mediocre pitching.

Wikipedia says, “Born in ChicagoIllinois, Cadore was orphaned at 13 and went to live with his uncle, Joe Jeannot, in northern Idaho in Hope, a village east of Sandpoint on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille. Cadore graduated from Sandpoint High School, then attended Gonzaga University in Spokane from 1906 to 1908. Cadore served as an officer in the U.S. Army during the First World War. Other sources cite Cadore’s birthplace as Muskegon, Michigan.”

SABR says of this year, “The Dodgers, defending National League champions, collapsed to seventh place. The 25-year-old rookie Cadore was one of the few bright spots. At 6-feet-1 and nearly 200 pounds, he fit the mold of the big, strong pitchers that manager Wilbert Robinson liked. ‘[H]e really has all the earmarks of a great pitcher,’ Robinson said. Cadore finished 13-13 for the losing club, but his 2.45 ERA was 14 percent better than average.” He’s got a few of these teams left.

pfeffer4P-Jeff Pfeffer, Brooklyn Robins, 29 Years Old

1914 1915 1916

11-15, 2.23 ERA, 115 K, .130, 0 HR, 6 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Hit by Pitch-16 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-There aren’t a lot of pitchers who have a stretch of years like Pfeffer did from 1914-17. Don’t let his win-loss record fool you, the man was still one of the best pitchers in the Nationals League. Pfeffer finished fourth in WAR for Pitchers (5.3); 10th in ERA (2.23); and sixth in Adjusted ERA+ (125). My guess is he has two All-Star teams left, but we’ll see.

SABR says, “The 1916 season would prove to be the high tide of Pfeffer’s Brooklyn career. Although still posting a fine 2.23 ERA, he slumped (along with the rest of the team) to a lowly 11-15 record in 1917. After the season ended, Pfeffer announced plans to join the Navy. Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets took money from a fund he had sent up for dependents of ballplayers in the military and bought Pfeffer an engraved wristwatch, as a token of gratitude for his baseball and Navy service. However, Ebbets was chagrined to see Pfeffer in the Hot Springs camp in 1918, in uniform (Brooklyn’s, that is) and proudly displaying the watch. As it turned out, Pfeffer had opted for a more convenient post in the Naval Auxiliary Reserves. In the end, the pitcher’s unit was activated, and he only pitched in one game in 1918, a 2-0 shutout over the eventual pennant-winning Cubs.”

I’ll remark on this more next season, but World War I is going to have a big effect on baseball, though its effect on the, well, world is much more important.

schupp2

P-Ferdie Schupp, New York Giants, 26 Years Old

1916

21-7, 1.95 ERA, 147 K, .161, 0 HR, 4 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 58 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.750

Hits per 9 IP-6.684

2nd Time All-Star-Schupp proved 1916 was no fluke and had his best season ever this year. He finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.6); fourth in ERA (1.95); 10th in innings pitched (272); and fifth in Adjusted ERA+ (130). In the World Series, Schupp started game two and lasted only one-and-a-third innings, giving up four hits and two runs. He did much better in his start in Game 4, shutting out the White Sox on a seven-hitter. The Giants would go on to lose the series, four games to two.

When John McGraw was coaching New York, you couldn’t keep it down for too long. It easily won the National League pennant with a 98-56 record. Thanks to Art Fletcher, the Giants had great hitting, leading the league in runs scored, and thanks to Schupp, the team also had outstanding pitching, leading the league in ERA.

After this season, Schupp would pitch two more seasons with the Giants, then pitch for the Cardinals for three years. He’d finished his career toiling for Brooklyn and the White Sox.

SABR says, “After his Organized Baseball career ended, Schupp moved to permanently to Southern California, working for the Shell Oil Company in Long Beach. He also spent time with the Lincoln Supply Company, headquartered in Victorville. Schupp died in 1971 at the age of 80; he is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles.” If going by the criteria in which it was set, Schupp still holds the record for ERA in a season, with a 0.90 in 1916.

bender5P-Chief Bender, Philadelphia Phillies, 33 Years Old

1907 1909 1910 1911

8-2, 1.67 ERA, 43 K, .205, 1 HR, 4 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (inducted in 1953)

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

 

5th Time All-Star-Since Bender’s last All-Star season in 1911, he still pitched well, just not All-Star well. He still helped lead the Athletics to the 1913 and 1914 World Series, not pitching too effectively in either series, despite his 2-0 record in the 1913 Fall Classic. After than he tried his hand in the Federal League with the Baltimore Terrapins in 1915 and faltered. He joined the Phillies in 1916 and had a revival season this year, despite pitching only 113 innings. Chief finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (3.7).

Wikipedia wraps up his career, stating, “Bender was well liked by his fellow players. Longtime roommate and fellow pitcher Rube Bressler called him ‘one of the kindest and finest men who ever lived.’ Ty Cobb called him the most intelligent pitcher he ever faced. Bender was also known as one of the best sign-stealers of his time; Mack often put this skill to use by occasionally using him as the third-base coach on days he wasn’t scheduled to pitch.

“In his last days, Bender remained close friends with Athletics coach Bing Miller, who used to bring Bender a container of ice cream almost every day. Bender was hospitalized in Philadelphia in mid-April 1954. He died there on May 22, 1954 of prostate cancer. He had also been suffering from cardiac problems. While he had been hospitalized, Bender sent Marie to Shibe Park for each home game so that she could report back to him on his team’s pitching. Bender was buried in the Philadelphia suburb of Roslyn, Pennsylvania.”

toney3

P-Fred Toney, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

1915 1916

24-16, 2.20 ERA, 123 K, .112, 0 HR, 7 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as P-7

3rd Time All-Star-Many times in this era of baseball, a pitcher would be so effective, like Toney, and have his innings increased every year, like Toney, who went up from 222 2/3 in 1915 to 300 in 1916 to 339 2/3 this season. However, possibly due to that workload, Toney would never be as effective again. This year, those innings pitched ranked second in the league to Philadelphia workhorse Pete Alexander (388). You’re saying, well, Pete pitched beaucoup innings every year and it didn’t seem to hurt him. Yes, but Alexander, like Cy Young and Walter Johnson, is blessed with a rubber arm. I’m just saying it doesn’t happen often. One highlight this season, according to Wikipedia, was “On July 1, 1917, Toney pitched two complete-game, three-hitters for victories in a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates, to set a record for fewest hits allowed in a double header by a Major League pitcher.”

Toney had a manager who certainly knew about pitching, Christy Mathewson, who led the Reds to a fourth place 78-76 record. Cincinnati, led by Heinie Groh, could certainly hit, leading the National League in batting average and slugging average. Its pitching was just meh.

Read the whole SABR article for many examples of Toney’s volatile temper. Here’s a bit from the article: “Toney made headlines in December 1925 when he was arrested for violating Tennessee game laws after being found with two red fox pelts in his possession. In 1926 his wife, Goldie, gave birth to a son named Rogie. In his post-playing life, Toney worked as a spinner in a textile mill, coached for Nashville, ran a roadhouse 14 miles west of his hometown, operated a soft-drink and sandwich stand, worked as a security guard, and finally as a court officer for the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

“He died of a heart attack in Nashville on March 11, 1953. He was 64.”

rixey3

P-Eppa Rixey, Philadelphia Phillies, 26 Years Old

1912 1916

16-21, 2.27 ERA, 121 K, .191, 0 HR, 6 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1963)

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

 

Led in:

 

Losses-21

Fielding % as P-1.000 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Despite leading the league in losses, Rixey pitched his way to his third All-Star team. He finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.5), eighth in innings pitched (281 1/3), and eighth in Adjusted ERA+ (124). The best is yet to come for Rixey, but it might be a few years until he’s back on this list.

SABR says, “Eppa Rixey’s career is a tale of two pitchers. As a Phillie, Rixie was inconsistent. His first two seasons were respectable (10-10 and 9-5), even promising given his youth, but his third (2-11, 4.37) was a disaster. His fourth season, with the Phillies winning their first pennant, was better in terms of ERA, but he was just 11-12 in wins and losses. A key to Rixey’s improvement was new manager Pat Moran‘s confidence in him. Moran brought him into the third inning of the deciding fifth game of the World Series with Boston in relief of Erskine Mayer. Rixey was stung by home runs by Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper, the latter bouncing into the center-field bleachers constituting what would be a ground-rule double under today’s rules. He wound up taking the loss. In 1916 the Phillies improved their won-lost record but came in second to Brooklyn. Rixey, though, had perhaps his best season ever, going 22-10 with a microscopic 1.85 ERA and a career-high 134 strikeouts. He fell off in 1917, leading the league in losses with 21, but he had a good ERA (2.27) and threw four shutouts.”

jacobs

P-Elmer Jacobs, Pittsburgh Pirates, 23 Years Old

6-19, 2.81 ERA, 58 K, .179, 0 HR, 0 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 56 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

1st Time All-Star-William Elmer Jacobs was born on August 10, 1892 in Salem, MO. The six-foot, 165 pound righty pitcher started his career with the Phillies in 1914. He then came to Pittsburgh in 1916 and this season had his best year ever. That’s mainly because it was a weak year for pitching in the National League. Jacobs finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.4), pitching decently for a bad team.

Baseball Historian has a story about Jacobs, Frank Woodward, and Doug Baird being traded to the Cardinals for Lee Meadows and Gene Paulette on July 14, 1919. It says, “This 5-player trade in mid-season by 2 teams with mirror-image season records left local fans wondering what was up. The year before, 1918, the St Louis Cardinals finished in the cellar with a lousy 51-78 record. The Philadelphia Phillies managed to escape the basement, but not by much, finishing with a poor 55-68 mark. So next season, on July 14, 1919, when the two squads were battling to stay out of last place again, the two teams worked out a 5-player deal.

“…Elmer Jacobs – his 47-81 career record doesn’t reflect the fact he pitched for some of the worst teams of this time-frame. Three straight years, 1916-1918, Elmer Jacobs had earned run averages under 3.00, and all he showed-for-it was poor season records. In 1917, Elmer Jacobs posted a career-best 2.81 ERA and still finished with a 6-19 record. Used mainly as a starter, he completed 65-of-133 starts an also relieved in 117 games.”

Jacobs pitched in the Majors through 1927 and died on February 10, 1958 in Salem, MO.

wingo

C-Ivey Wingo, Cincinnati Reds, 26 Years Old

.266, 2 HR, 39 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

AB per SO-30.7

Def. Games as C-120

Assists as C-151 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as C-21 (4th Time)

Passed Balls-16

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-97 (3rd Time)

Caught Stealing as C-86 (3rd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Ivey Brown Wingo was born on July 8, 1890 in Gainesville, GA. The left-handed batting Wingo was small for a catcher at five-foot-10, 160 pounds. He started with St. Louis in 1911. After the 1914 season, he was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Cincinnati Reds for Mike Gonzalez. Many times catchers make the All-Star team because they catch a lot of games and that was certainly the case with Wingo this season.

Here’s some highlights of Wingo’s life from SABR, “In 1916, while still a player, Wingo served as the interim manager of the Reds for two games, earning one win and one loss. In 1919 Wingo helped lead the Reds to their first world championship. He had begun the season with a severe cold. He recovered to platoon with Bill Rariden throughout the season; Rariden generally played against lefthanded starters, and lefty-swinging Wingo played against the righthanders. Wingo hit .571 in the World Series as the Reds defeated the notorious ‘Black Sox’ of Chicago.

“Wingo returned to his hometown of Norcross and his wife, Mattie May (Jones), after his baseball career. He was retired for only a short time, passing away on March 1, 1941. At his death, Wingo was eulogized by former teammate Eppa Rixey: ‘Ivey was one of the best hustlers on the team. He was a fine, intelligent catcher and played every minute of the game. He was my good friend and I am deeply sorry to learn of his death.’ After funeral services at the Norcross Baptist Church, Ivey was buried in the Norcross Town Cemetery. His wife and a son, Billy Jones Wingo, survived him.”

rariden2

C-Bill Rariden, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1915

.271, 0 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 33 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

2nd Time All-Star-Rariden is one of the rare players who made the All-Star team in the Federal League who would also make it in one of the two established leagues. This season, Rariden caught for the pennant-winning Giants after coming to them the year before. In 1916, his hitting wasn’t very good, but he came around this year, slashing .271/.372/.316 for an OPS+ of 115. It helped the Giants make it to the World Series, where Rariden played five games, hitting .385 (five-for-13) with two RBI. It didn’t help as New York lost the Series to Chicago, four games to two.

Speaking of the Series, he’s most remembered for one play, according to SABR, which says, “In the fourth frame [of the deciding sixth game] Eddie Collins hit a grounder to third. Heinie Zimmerman fielded the ball, but threw it past first baseman Walter Holke for a two-base error. Shoeless Joe Jackson then hit a fly ball to right field, which was dropped by Dave Robertson. Jackson was safe at first while Collins advanced to third. Happy Felsch hit one back to the box, and Collins strayed off third. Benton threw to Zimmerman, and Collins was trapped between third and home. He danced back and forth, trying to keep the rundown alive, so Jackson and Felsch could advance as far as possible before he was tagged out. Zimmerman threw the ball to Rariden, but when the catcher tossed the ball back to third base, Collins slipped past Rariden and sprinted for home. Both Benton and Holke had neglected to back up home plate, so the dish was uncovered. Zimmerman had no one to throw to. His only choice was to try to catch the speedy Collins, so he chased him home. Big, lumbering Zim had no chance of catching the much faster Collins, who slid across home plate for the first run in what turned out to be the deciding game of the Series, as Faber protected the lead.”

konetchy6

1B-Ed Konetchy, Boston Braves, 31 Years Old

1909 1910 1911 1912 1915

.272, 2 HR, 54 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. 1 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as 1B-.994 (6th Time)

6th Time All-Star-Konetchy is right on the cusp of being a Hall of Fame player. He was one of the best first basemen for his time, but there weren’t a lot of good players at that position during the 1910s. He made this All-Star team as a fluke, because my team needed a first baseman, so all he has to do is make one more of these lists as a fluke and he’s in my Hall of Fame. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I didn’t think he’d make it this year either.

It’s been only three seasons since the Braves won the World Series and in 1916, Boston finished third in the league. However, George Stallings’ squad is starting to falter, this year dropping to sixth place with a 72-81 record. The team actually had decent hitting, finishing third in the league in OPS+, but its pitching, which finished second to last in ERA+, was miserable, as indicated by the fact Boston had no All-Star hurlers.

As I compile this list, I only do it year-by-year, meaning I haven’t made the All-Star teams for any future years. This means, when it comes to judging who will make the All-Star teams, I don’t know who’s going to do so until I right up that season. That’s why my Hall of Fames have numbers like one percent or 33 percent, because I don’t know whether players are going to make this list or not. Konetchy is one example of that. I had him at a one percent chance in 1915 and he’s still at a one percent chance this year.

miller3

2B-Dots Miller, St. Louis Cardinals, 30 Years Old

1909 1914

.248, 2 HR, 45 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.73

3rd Time All-Star-Miller didn’t consistently make the All-Star team like fellow second baseman Larry Doyle, but every few years he’d have a good enough season to sneak onto the list. This season, he finished sixth in Defensive WAR (1.5) as his glove put him on the All-Star team.

As for the Cardinals, they were starting to make some noise, improving from seventh to third under manager Miller Huggins. They achieved an 82-70 record despite the worst pitching in the league. Their Pythagorean W-L indicated they should have finished 71-81, so you have to give Huggins some credit. However, Huggins was mad at not getting a chance to buy the team and would start managing the Yankees in 1918, where he’d have his most success.

SABR says, “[Dots Miller’s] managerial career was tragically cut short partway through the 1923 season, however, when he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. Dots returned immediately to Kearny. After one week at home, he was sent to the tuberculosis retreat at Saranac Lake, New York, in the Adirondack Mountains. The mountain air, theorized the doctors of the day, could aid in what was termed the ‘cold weather cure.’ In reality there was no cure for tuberculosis in 1923. With his family at his bedside, Dots Miller passed away on September 6, 1923, three days shy of his 37th birthday. His body was returned to Kearny where he was buried in North Arlington Cemetery.” It was a tragic end for Miller, but once he stepped down from second base, it would open up the position for maybe the greatest ever at that position. You can read about him later.

groh3

3B-Heinie Groh, Cincinnati Reds, 27 Years Old

1915 1916

.304, 1 HR, 53 RBI

WAR Rank: 5

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

On-Base %-.385

Games Played-156 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-685

Hits-182

Doubles-39

Times On Base-261

Def. Games as 3B-154

Putouts as 3B-178

Double Plays Turned as 3B-28 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 3B-.966

3rd Time All-Star-In 1912, the National League teams averaged 4.62 runs per game, their highest since 1903. By 1916, that total was down to 3.45, the lowest since 1908. The runs per game in the NL this season weren’t much higher, at 3.53, so the hitting stats in the league don’t jump out at you. That’s why Groh’s combination of offense and defense, as seen in the stats above in which he led make this his best season ever, though there might be seasons his statistics are better.

I like this story from SABR, about the five-foot-six, 160 pound Groh’s Major League debut in 1912: “Heinie Groh’s major league debut as a pinch-hitter against the Chicago Cubs on April 12, 1912, was a memorable one. The umpire was Bill Klem, who had a long-running feud with Giants manager John McGraw. As the small and boyish-looking Groh made his way to the plate, a voice from the Cubs dugout yelled, ‘McGraw’s sending in the batboy to show you up, Bill.’ The entire grandstand heard the voice and most of them believed it. Klem glared at the kid and asked, ‘Are you under contract with the New York club?’ ‘I am,’ replied Groh. The umpire let him bat, and Groh laced the first pitch for a single. Many fans left the Polo Grounds that day thinking they’d seen the batboy make a base hit.” I go to quite a few baseball games and have sometimes sat pretty close to the action, but I never hear the players talk on the field.

zimmerman33B-Heinie Zimmerman, New York Giants, 30 Years Old

1912 1913

.297, 5 HR, 100 RBI

WAR Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-100 (3rd Time)

Assists as 3B-349

3rd Time All-Star-When Zim last made the All-Star team, he was a third baseman for the Cubs in 1913. Then on August 28, 1916, he was traded by the Chicago Cubs to the New York Giants for Larry DoyleHerb Hunter and Merwin Jacobson. This year, he’s back on the list. Zimmerman finished ninth in WAR (5.3); fifth in WAR Position Players (5.3); ninth in Offensive WAR (3.9); fourth in Defensive WAR (2.0); and seventh in batting (.297). However, he struggled in the World Series, hitting just .120 (three-for-25) with a triple as the Giants lost to the White Sox, four games to two.

Wikipedia says, “However, he is best known for an infamous rundown in the decisive game. In the fourth inning, the game was scoreless when Chicago’s Eddie Collins was caught between third base and home plateCatcherBill Rariden ran up the line to start a rundown, expecting pitcher Rube Benton or first baseman Walter Holke to cover the plate. However, neither of them budged, and Collins blew past Rariden to score what turned out to be the Series-winning run (the White Sox won 4-2). With no one covering the plate, third baseman Zimmerman was forced to chase Collins, pawing helplessly in the air with the ball in a futile attempt to tag him. As pointed out by researcher Richard A. Smiley in SABR‘s 2006 edition of The National Pastime, Zimmerman was long blamed for losing the game, although McGraw blamed Benton and Holke for failing to cover the plate—a serious fundamental error in baseball. The play was actually quite close, as action photos show Zimmerman leaping over the sliding Collins. A quote often attributed to Zim, but actually invented by writer Ring Lardner some years later, was that when asked about the incident Zim replied, ‘Who…was I supposed to throw to, Klem (umpire Bill Klem, who was working the plate)?’” You can see the picture above. Zimmerman is number four.

smithr4

3B-Red Smith, Boston Braves, 27 Years Old

1913 1914 1915

.295, 2 HR, 62 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as 3B-33 (3rd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Smith didn’t make the All-Star team in 1916, but he’s back this year, having his best hitting year ever, if judged by Adjusted OPS+. He finished fourth in Offensive WAR (5.2); 10th in batting (.295); ninth in on-base percentage (.369); and sixth in Adjusted OPS+ (139).

When Smith helped Boston to the World Series in 1914, I mentioned in his blurb he was unable to play in the World Series. Here’s the details of that from SABR: “Unfortunately, a serious mishap befell Smith on the last day of the season. It happened in the ninth inning of the first game of a doubleheader against his former team at Ebbets Field. On that occasion Smith was wearing a new pair of shoes with spikes longer than those he was accustomed to. He hit a long drive that bounced off the right-center-field wall. Red rounded first and headed for second, trying to stretch the hit into a double. As he neared second base he began a hook slide. Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s George Cutshaw received the throw from the outfield and lunged toward the runner. Smith’s right shin struck Cutshaw’s left leg and the long spikes dug into the dirt and threw the whole weight of his body on the ankle joint. His body was thrown several feet past the bag. He was taken by automobile to St. Mary’s Hospital in Brooklyn. The attending physicians reported that Smith had suffered an anterior dislocation of the ankle joint of his right leg, a fracture of the fibula three inches above the joint, a fracture of the tibia, and ruptures of the ligaments of the ankle joint. The doctors were uncertain whether Smith would ever regain full use of the badly damaged ankle. Unable to compete in the World Series, he was temporarily replaced at the hot corner by Charlie Deal. As the Braves never again won a pennant while Smith was with them, the accident deprived him of the only chance he had to play in a World Series.”

hornsby2

SS-Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals, 21 Years Old

1916

.327, 8 HR, 66 RBI

WAR Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-9.9

WAR Position Players-9.9

Offensive WAR-7.7 (2nd Time)

Slugging %-.484

On-Base Plus Slugging-.868

Total Bases-253

Triples-17

Adjusted OPS+-169

Runs Created-96

Adj. Batting Runs-41

Adj. Batting Wins-4.7

Offensive Win %-.796

Double Plays Turned as SS-82

2nd Time All-Star-Seasons like this one are going to be common for Rajah Hornsby. It would take a while for him to settle in at second, but once he does, there’s no stopping him. Last year, he made the All-Star team as a third baseman. He could have easily received my vote for MVP, but it’s hard to take away from the season Pete Alexander had. At 21-years-old, Hornsby is already arguably the best player in the National League. There will be no “arguably” needed in future years.

SABR says, “Hornsby, however, was almost as well known for his bluntness and complete lack of diplomacy as his prowess with a bat. He rarely argued with umpires but said whatever crossed his mind to anyone else, including the owners he worked for. Longtime Cardinals owner Sam Breadon remarked that listening to Hornsby was like have the contents of a rock crusher emptied over his head.

“By the time Hornsby reported to the Cardinals’ 1917 spring training in Hot Wells after a winter working for Swift & Company as a checker on the loading docks in Fort Worth, the club had new ownership and had installed Branch Rickey as president. For the next 20 years the careers of the two would be intertwined, although not always happily so. Under Rickey’s leadership the Cardinals won 22 more games than in 1916 and moved up to third place. Hornsby played shortstop exclusively for manager Huggins and raised his batting average to .327, second in the league behind Cincinnati’s Edd Roush’s .341. Rogers hit a powerful .327 as he led the league with 253 total bases and a .484 slugging percentage.”

fletcher5SS-Art Fletcher, New York Giants, 32 Years Old

1913 1914 1915 1916

.260, 4 HR, 62 RBI

WAR Rank: 3

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-5.1 (2nd Time)

Hit By Pitch-19 (4th Time)

Assists-565 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as SS-151

Assists as SS-565 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.956

5th Time All-Star-When Giants’ manager John McGraw was playing, he toiled on possibly the rowdiest team of all time, the Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s. McGraw never lost that attitude, even as a manager, and he looked for players with that same rambunctiousness. He found his spirit animal in the feisty Fletcher. Yet the shortstop wasn’t just pugnacious, he also played a mean game of baseball. This year was probably his best ever as he finished third in WAR (7.4), behind St. Louis shortstop Rogers Hornsby (9.9) and Philadelphia pitcher Pete Alexander (9.9); second in WAR Position Players (7.4), trailing Hornsby (9.9); and first in Defensive WAR (5.1). In New York’s World Series loss to the White Sox, Fletch hit only .200 (five-for-25) with a double.

How seriously can we take Defensive WAR? In 1906, Cleveland shortstop Terry Turner set the all-time Defensive WAR record with 5.4 that wouldn’t be broken until 2013 by Andrelton Simmons and this year, Fletcher didn’t end up too far behind that with a 5.1 mark. Can defense be that valuable? Can a player’s glove really add five wins above a replacement player over the course of a season? SABR says of his glove, “He also fielded brilliantly, drawing comparisons to Wagner, Tinker, and Doolan. With Art as their shortstop, the Giants won three pennants in a row–1911, 1912, 1913–and an additional one in 1917, the year that McGraw named him team captain.” I guess I could do some research and see how others of his era appraised his fielding, but that’s too much work!

maranville3

SS-Rabbit Maranville, Boston Braves, 25 Years Old

1914 1916

.260, 3 HR, 43 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1954)

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as SS-341 (4th Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Rabbit, the five-foot-five Braves shortstop continued to shine in the National League. I’d say he was underrated, but he did make Cooperstown, so he might actually be just a tad overrated. No biggie, he’s still one of the best shortstops in the game. This season, Maranville finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.5); ninth in Offensive WAR (3.9); fifth in Defensive WAR (1.8); and fourth in steals (27). While it’s true, Maranville didn’t have a great bat, it should be noted he played in one of the most difficult venues for batsmen, Braves Field in Boston.

SABR says, “Standing only 5’5″ and weighing a good deal less during the Deadball Era than his listed playing weight of 155 lbs., Rabbit Maranville compiled a lifetime batting average of just .258 and is known as much for his zany escapades and funny stories as for anything he accomplished on the diamond, but his outstanding glove work kept him in the big leagues for 23 seasons and eventually earned him a plaque in Cooperstown. ‘Maranville is the greatest player to enter baseball since Ty Cobb arrived,’ said Boston Braves manager George Stallings. ‘I’ve seen ’em all since 1891 in every league around the south, north, east, and west. He came into the league under a handicap–his build. He was too small to be a big leaguer in the opinion of critics. I told him he was just what I wanted: a small fellow for short. All he had to do was to run to his left or right, or come in, and size never handicapped speed in going after the ball.’”

burnsgeorgej2

LF-George J. Burns, New York Giants, 27 Years Old

1914

.302, 5 HR, 43 RBI

WAR Rank: 7

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Runs Scored-103 (3rd Time)

Bases on Balls-75

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

Putouts as LF-325

2nd Time All-Star-When you play in leftfield, you have to hit to make this All-Star team, and while Burns’ bat in 1915 and 1916 wasn’t bad, it wasn’t enough to put him on this list. That might have kept him from making Cooperstown or my Hall of Fame. This season, Burns’ bat was back, as he finished seventh in WAR (6.1); fourth in WAR Position Players (6.1); fifth in Offensive WAR (5.0); sixth in batting (.302); third in on-base percentage (.380), behind Cincinnati third baseman Heinie Groh (.385) and St. Louis shortstop Rogers Hornsby (.385); fifth in slugging (.412); second in steals (40), trailing Pittsburgh centerfielder Max Carey (46); and fifth in Adjusted OPS+ (146). He didn’t keep up the hitting in the World Series, however, as he hit .227 (five-for-22) with no extra base hits and three walks.

SABR says, “Burns bounced back to lead the NL in runs scored in 1916 and 1917, and during the latter season he also led the NL with 75 bases on balls. He went on to lead the league in walks five times in seven years, peaking with 101 in 1923. Apparently it took George several years to acquire his plate discipline; in his rookie season of 1913, sportswriter Hugh Fullerton wrote, ‘Burns looks odd on the New York team because of the quick, business-like manner he uses in batting. He walks right up and hits, as if in a hurry to get it over.’” Once he learned to take pitches, he became quite a force.

carey3

CF-Max Carey, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1912 1916

.296, 1 HR, 51 RBI

WAR Rank: 10

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1961)

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

 

Led in:

 

Stolen Bases-46 (4th Time)

Def. Games as CF-153

Putouts as CF-439 (2nd Time)

Assists as CF-28 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as CF-9 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as OF-153 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-440 (4th Time)

Range Factor/Game as CF-3.05 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-3.07 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-3.06 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-I remember when I first read about range factor in Bill James’ Baseball Abstract. Before that, defensive players were mostly judged on fielding percentage or by reputation. Range factor told us how much ground a player covered and it certainly tells us Carey was all over that Pittsburgh outfield. It really increased his value once he moved permanently to centerfield in 1916.

SABR says, “Certain types of ballplayers have always populated baseball history. Slow footed sluggers, crafty lefthanders, flame throwing relievers and flashy infielders all make up important baseball clichés. Hall of Famer Max Carey demonstrates all of the qualities of one such type — a hard working, fundamentally sound outfielder with great speed, sure hands, and good contact with a touch of power. These traits, commonly found in the early days of baseball, seemed less important in the Ruthian era in which Carey starred. His career thus represents a bridge from the bunting and speed game to the lug and slug home run era.

“Early in his career Max was nicknamed ‘Scoops,’ in homage to a Pittsburgh-born first baseman (his real name was George) who played sporadically from 1895 to 1903. However, contemporary pundits suggested that ‘Hawk’ would be more appropriate, in light of his defensive prowess. Carey covered both left and center field for the Pirates and excelled in both positions. He retired holding a major league record of six seasons with over 400 putouts, including a remarkable 450 in 1923. He led all other NL outfielders in range factor seven times, in assists four times, and in double plays five times. His 339 outfield assists remain as the highest total of any National League outfielder since 1900. He also led the league in outfield errors four times, running into errors trying to catch drives other players would not have attempted.”

roush

CF-Edd Roush, Cincinnati Reds, 24 Years Old

.341, 4 HR, 67 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1962)

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

 

Led in:

 

1917 NL Batting Title

Batting Average-.341

Singles-141

1st Time All-Star-Edd. J. Roush was born on May 8, 1893 in Oakland City, IN. The five-foot-11, 170 pound left-handed centerfielder started with the White Sox in 1913. He then played in the Federal League in 1914 and 1915, for Indianapolis and Newark respectively. Then Roush came to the Giants at the beginning of 1916 before being traded by the New York Giants with Christy Mathewson and Bill McKechnie to the Cincinnati Reds for Buck Herzog and Red Killefer.

This season, Roush finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.9); third in Offensive WAR (5.3), behind St. Louis shortstop Rogers Hornsby (7.7) and teammate, third baseman Heinie Groh (6.7); first in batting (.341); fourth in on-base percentage (.379); third in slugging (.454), trailing Hornsby (.484) and Philadelphia rightfielder Gavvy Cravath (.473); 10th in steals (21); and second in Adjusted OPS+ (159), behind only Rajah (169).

SABR says, “Roush hit .287 with 14 triples in 69 games for the Reds in 1916. Edd’s twin brother Fred spent that season playing third base for Dawson Springs of the Kitty League. A Sporting Life article stated that Fred had been looked over by major league scouts. He never did reach the major leagues although he played a few seasons in the minors. The trade really began to pay off for Cincinnati the next year when Edd won the first of his two batting titles, beating out Rogers Hornsby, .341 to .327. Roush’s only child, Mary Evelyn, was born to Essie on August 18, 1917.”

kauff4

CF-Benny Kauff, New York Giants, 27 Years Old

1914 1915 1916

.308, 5 HR, 69 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Singles-141 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as OF-153

4th Time All-Star-Kauff was like a lightning strike in baseball, dominating the Federal League for two seasons and then playing well enough to be an All-Star for the Giants for two more. After this, he’d start fading out. This season, Kauff finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.7); seventh in Offensive WAR (4.6); fourth in batting (.308); fifth in on-base percentage (.379); third in steals (30), behind Pittsburgh centerfielder Max Carey (46) and teammate George J. Burns (40); and seventh in Adjusted OPS+ (138). In his only World Series appearance, he struggled at average but hit for power, hitting .160 (four-for-25) with a double and two home runs.

There’s a lot of information on SABR about the end of Kauff’s career due to accusations of auto theft. Here’s just a bit: “After his victory in court, Kauff had every expectation that he would be quickly reinstated into the good graces of organized baseball. He was in for a surprise. A former federal judge famous for handing down cavalier judgments, Landis sat on Kauff’s application for much of the summer, then refused to lift the ban. Despite the verdict, Landis insisted that the trial ‘disclosed a state of affairs that more than seriously compromises your character and reputation. The reasonable and necessary result of this is that your mere presence in the lineup would inevitably burden patrons of the game with grave apprehension as to its integrity.’ Landis later told Fred Lieb that the jury’s verdict ‘smelled to high heaven’ and was ‘one of the worst miscarriages of justice that ever came under my observation.’

“His playing career over, Kauff lived out much of the rest of his life in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, Hazel, and the couple’s only child, Robert. According to his obituary, the banned player worked for 22 years as a scout, and later, appropriately enough, as a clothing salesman. Kauff died on November 17, 1961, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He is buried in Columbus’ Union Cemetery.”

cravath4

RF-Gavvy Cravath, Philadelphia Phillies, 36 Years Old

1913 1914 1915

.280, 12 HR, 83 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-12 (4th Time)

Extra Base Hits-57 (3rd Time)

AB per HR-41.9 (5th Time)

4th Time All-Star-Cravath, the best home run hitter of his day, didn’t make the 1916 National League All-Star team despite leading the league in on-base percentage and still hitting double digit homers (11). He missed a lot of games and he also played in the best hitters’ park in the league. This season, Cravath is back, finishing 10th in WAR Position Players (4.4); sixth in Offensive WAR (4.7); seventh in on-base percentage (.369); second in slugging (.473), behind only St. Louis shortstop Rogers Hornsby (.484); and third in Adjusted OPS+ (153), trailing Hornsby (169) and Cincinnati centerfielder Edd Roush (159).

SABR says, “Gavvy Cravath was an anomaly in the Deadball Era. Employing a powerful swing and taking advantage of Baker Bowl‘s forgiving dimensions, the Philadelphia clean-up hitter led the National League in home runs six times, establishing new (albeit short-lived) twentieth-century records for most home runs in a season and career. In an era when ‘inside baseball’ ruled supreme, Cravath bucked the trend and preached what he practiced. ‘Short singles are like left-hand jabs in the boxing ring, but a home run is a knock-out punch,’ he asserted. ‘It is the clean-up man of the club that does the heavy scoring work even if he is wide in the shoulders and slow on his feet. There is no advice I can give in batting, except to hammer the ball. Some players steal bases with hook slides and speed. I steal bases with my bat.’” This is definitely a player who played in the wrong era. If he had his prime in the 1920s, he’d probably be in the Hall of Fame.

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