1920 National League All-Star Team

P-Pete Alexander, CHC

P-Burleigh Grimes, BRO

P-Wilbur Cooper, PIT

P-Hippo Vaughn, CHC

P-Babe Adams, PIT

P-Dolf Luque, CIN

P-Dutch Ruether, CIN

P-Leon Cadore, BRO

P-Bill Doak, STL

P-Joe Oeschger, BOS

C-Verne Clemons, STL

C-Mickey O’Neil, BOS

1B-Jack Fournier, STL

2B-Rogers Hornsby, STL

3B-Heinie Groh, CIN

SS-Dave Bancroft, PHI/NYG

SS-Art Fletcher, NYG/PHI

SS-Zeb Terry, CHC

SS-Charlie Hollocher, CHC

LF-Zack Wheat, BRO

LF-George J. Burns, NYG

CF-Edd Roush, CIN

CF-Cy Williams, PHI

CF-Hi Myers, BRO

RF-Ross Youngs, NYG

 

alexander9P-Pete Alexander, Chicago Cubs, 33 Years Old, 5th MVP, 1920 ONEHOF Inductee

1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1919

27-14, 1.91 ERA, 173 K, .229, 1 HR, 14 RBI

WAR Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1920)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1938)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1913)

 

Led in:

 

1920 NL Pitching Triple Crown (3rd Time)

Wins Above Replacement-12.7 (6th Time)

WAR for Pitchers-12.0 (5th Time)

Earned Run Average-1.91 (4th Time)

Wins-27 (6th Time)

Innings Pitched-363 1/3 (7th Time)

Strikeouts-173 (6th Time)

Games Started-40 (3rd Time)

Complete Games-33 (6th Time)

Hits Allowed-335 (4th Time)

Batters Faced-1,447 (6th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-166 (4th Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-51 (4th Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.8 (4th Time)

Assists as P-105 (3rd Time)

9th Time All-Star-It’s hard to believe the above season was pitched by a drunkard. I don’t know how much Alexander was imbibing in those days, but it certainly wasn’t affecting his pitching. He’d never pitch this great again, but he’d still be one of the leagues greats for most of the twenties.

That greatness leads to Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander being inducted into the One-a-Year Hall of Fame (ONEHOF), the first pitcher inducted since Walter Johnson in 1916. Next year’s nominees for the ONEHOF are Roger Bresnahan, Hardy Richardson, Jimmy Collins, Elmer Flick, Johnny Evers, Sherry Magee, Larry Doyle, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Art Fletcher. The full list is here.

Let’s see, what else happened this season? Oh yeah, I named Alexander National League Most Valuable Player for the fifth time. Pete previously won the award in 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1919, meaning he’s now been the league’s best player in his last five full seasons. I’m sure if would have pitched a complete year in 1918, he would have won it then too. This is probably his last MVP year.

All that great pitching didn’t help the Cubs much as Fred Mitchell’s squad finished in fifth with a 75-79 record. This was Mitchell’s last year with Chicago after winning a pennant in 1918.

Wikipedia says, “Following his return from the war, Alexander suffered from shell shock and was plagued with epileptic seizures, which only exacerbated his drinking problem. Although people often misinterpreted his seizure-related problems as drunkenness, Alexander hit the bottle particularly hard as a result of the physical and emotional injuries inflicted by the war, which plagued him to his grave.

“In spite of all this, Alexander gave Chicago several successful years and won another pitching triple crown in 1920.”

grimes2

P-Burleigh Grimes, Brooklyn Robins, 26 Years Old

1918

23-11, 2.22 ERA, 131 K, .306, 0 HR, 16 RBI

WAR Rank: 3

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1964)

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

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.676

2nd Time All-Star-After having an off season in 1919, Grimes is back as Brooklyn’s best player and helping to guide them to a World Series appearance. During the season, he finished third in WAR (8.1), behind Chicago pitcher Pete Alexander (12.7) and St. Louis second baseman Rogers Hornsby (9.6); second in WAR for Pitchers (6.7), trailing Alexander (12.0); third in ERA (2.22), behind Ol’ Pete (1.91) and Babe Adams (2.16); third in innings pitched (303 2/3), with only Grover Cleveland Alexander (363 1/3) and Pittsburgh pitcher Wilbur Cooper (327) with more; and third in Adjusted ERA+ (144), only behind Alexander (166) and Adams (150).

Down 1-0 to Cleveland in the World Series, Grimes started Game 2 and shutout the Indians on seven hits. Then with the Series tied at two, he had a terrible game, giving up seven run in three-and-a-third innings and obtaining the loss. Then pitching on one-day rest and with Brooklyn down four games to two in the best-of-nine Series, Grimes pitched well, giving up three runs (two earned) in seven innings, but the Robins were shut out by Stan Covelski and lost the Series, 5-2. Ol’ Stubblebeard finished 1-2 with 4.19 ERA.

Brooklyn, managed by Wilbert Robinson, made it to the Series by going 93-61, finishing seven games ahead of its city mates, the Giants. Robinson would manage this team 11 more seasons and never again guide it to a pennant.

One note, this was easily Grimes best hitting year as he slashed .306/.358/.432 for an OPS+ of 123.

cooper5

P-Wilbur Cooper, Pittsburgh Pirates, 28 Years Old

1916 1917 1918 1919

24-15, 2.39 ERA, 114 K, .221, 0 HR, 2 RBI

WAR Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as P-.989 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-Not too many pitchers had a stretch like Cooper had from 1916 to 1922, a stretch of time in which he finished in the Top 10 in WAR seven straight seasons. His problem was he pitched for a lot of bad teams. During the above time frame, Pittsburgh finished 506-527 for a .490 winning percentage, while Cooper’s record during that stretch was 136-92, a .596 win-loss percentage. He would have helped better teams win some titles.

Pittsburgh was getting better. George Gibson managed the Pirates to a fourth place 79-75 record, 14 games out of first. It was his first year ever at the helm.

This season, Cooper finished sixth in WAR (6.1); third in WAR for Pitchers (6.0), behind Chicago’s Pete Alexander (12.0) and Brooklyn’s Burleigh Grimes (6.7); fourth in ERA (2.39); second in innings pitched (327), trailing Alexander (363 1/3);  and fourth in Adjusted ERA+ (135).

On the baseball discussion board Baseball Fever, there is a lot of back and forth about whether Cooper belongs in the Hall. I’ll give you a little bit of the arguments, but you should go check it out for yourself.

Mike Hoban says, “Wilbur Cooper belongs in the Hall of Fame because he was one of the top 25 starting pitchers of the 20th century.”

Bothrops Atrox states, “I have Cooper ranked #81 all-time. I also have 73 pitchers right now in HOF territory, so Cooper joins Walters, L.Smith, John, Shocker, Stieb, Saberhagen, Warneke and Cicotte among others as one of the best who doesn’t deserve it.” He’s going to make it into mine, most likely next year.

vaughn6

P-Hippo Vaughn, Chicago Cubs, 32 Years Old

1910 1916 1917 1918 1919

19-16, 2.54 ERA, 131 K, .216, 1 HR, 12 RBI

WAR Rank: 8

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as P-10 (5th Time)

6th Time All-Star-Of all the people who fall short of the Hall of Fame, Hippo may be the one who hurts the most. He couldn’t have done much more from 1914-1920, but if you take away those years, he doesn’t have much to show for his career. But so what? You could say that about almost any great player. Based on WAR, Chicago has only had four better pitchers. Still, I agree with him not making the Hall, I just wish he would have had one more All-Star season.

This year, Vaughn finished eighth in WAR (5.9); fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.3); eighth in ERA (2.54); fifth in innings pitched (301); and fifth in Adjusted ERA+ (125).

Wikipedia says, “The 1921 season proved to be his downfall. He went 3-11 with a 6.01 ERA before flaming out on July 9. In his final appearance against the New York Giants, he went 3.1 innings while allowing six hits and six runs. His final two batters, Frank Snyder and pitcher Phil Douglas, each hit home runs off him.  After the game, Vaughn could not be found by the team for days. In August, Cubs manager Bill Killefer and Cubs president William Veeck attempted to reinstate him back to the team. However, commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspended him for the remanider of the season, noting that he had signed a contract to pitch for the Fairbanks-Morse semi-pro team in Beloit, Wisconsin, finding it to be a violation of his contract with the Cubs. For the next fifteen years, Vaughn pitched in minor and semi-pro leagues, such as the Beloit Fairies of the Midwest League, with his minor league/semi-pro record being 223-145.

“After his career ended, he was an assembler for a refrigeration products company. Vaughn died at age 78 in Chicago, Illinois on May 29, 1966.”

adams5

P-Babe Adams, Pittsburgh Pirates, 38 Years Old

1911 1913 1914 1919

17-13. 2.16 ERA, 84 K, 146, 1 HR, 3 RBI

WAR Rank: 10

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Walks & Hits per IP-0.981 (4th Time)

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.616 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-8

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-4.667 (2nd Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.62 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-“Babe” Adams didn’t start pitching regularly in the Majors until he was 27 years old. When he made his second All-Star team in 1913, he was already 31. Now at the age of 38, Adams was still humming the ball, leading the National League in shutouts. He just needs to make one more All-Star team to make my Hall of Fame and he’ll do that in the next two years.

This season, Adams finished 10th in WAR (5.4); fourth in WAR for Pitchers (5.9); second in ERA (2.16), behind Chicago’s Pete Alexander (1.91); and second in Adjusted ERA+ (150), trailing Alexander (166).

SABR says, “The Babe Adams of old had returned, his control even better than before his shoulder injury. Despite being the NL’s oldest pitcher in 1920, he led the league in shutouts and allowed just 18 walks in 263 innings, the fewest ever for a pitcher with more than 250 innings. During Babe Adams Day at Forbes Field in June 1923, Babe sounded a little like Satchel Paige: ‘I cannot explain my lasting much longer than many other pitchers on any other theory than this: I always take things easy, and I never worry.’” Wikipedia adds, “Noted for his outstanding location control, his career average of 1.29 walks per 9 innings pitched was the second lowest of the 20th century; his 1920 mark of 1 walk per 14.6 innings was a modern record until 2005. He shares the Pirates’ franchise record for career victories by a right-hander (194), and holds the team mark for career shutouts (47); from 1926 to 1962 he held the team record for career games pitched (481).”

luque

P-Dolf Luque, Cincinnati Reds, 29 Years Old

13-9, 2.51 ERA, 72 K, .266, 0 HR, 3 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Hits per 9 IP-7.281

1st Time All-Star-Adolfo Domingo de Guzman “The Pride of Havana” Luque (prounounced LOO-kay) was born on August 4, 1890 in La Habana, Cuba. The five-foot-seven, 160 pound righty started with the Braves in 1914 and 1915. He came to the Reds in 1918 and pitched five scoreless, one-hit innings in the 1919 Cincinnati World Series victory over the White Sox. This season, Luque finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.0); sixth in ERA (2.51); and 10th in Adjusted ERA+ (121).

As for the Reds, they dropped from first to third with a 82-71 record. Pat Moran managed the team for his second straight year.

SABR says, “Adolfo Luque today, of course, holds a rare place in Cuban baseball lore – the only Caribbean islander to earn even a modicum of big-league fame during the first half-century of modern major-league history. Between Nap Lajoie and Jackie Robinson, the few dozen Cubans who worked their way north were either brief curiosities in Organized Baseball (journeyman ‘coffee-tasters’ like receiver Miguel Angel “Mike” González with the National League Boston and St. Louis outfits, and erratic outfielder Armando Marsans with Cincinnati) or else passing shadows who barely tasted the proverbial cup of big-league coffee (altogether forgettable names like Rafael AlmeidaAngel AragónJosé Acosta, and Oscar Tuero). Numerous others – including some of the most famous and talented back home in Havana (Martin DihigoCristóbal Torriente, and José Méndez head the list) – toured with black barnstorming outfits that rarely, if ever, passed before the eyes of the white baseball press.”

ruether2

P-Dutch Ruether, Cincinnati Reds, 26 Years Old

1919

16-12, 2.47 ERA, 99 K, .192, 0 HR, 10 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Ruether made the All-Star team for his second consecutive year in what would be his last year in Cincinnati. He finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.6); fifth in ERA (2.47); and seventh in Adjusted ERA+ (123).

SABR says, “His prep school coach almost kicked the youngster off the team, saying he was too hardheaded to ever make it as a ballplayer. The coach was wrong. Dutch Ruether had a long and successful career in professional baseball. He had a number of things in common with his future roommate, Babe Ruth, and outperformed the Bambino in some ways.

“In 1920 Ruether was the Opening Day pitcher for Cincinnati for the second consecutive year, and for the second year in a row he got the Reds off to winning start. He defeated the great Grover Cleveland Alexander and the Chicago Cubs, 7-3. The Reds led off and on all summer, but fell behind after Labor Day and finished third behind Brooklyn and New York. After the season, the Reds made some changes in personnel. Ruether was traded to Brooklyn for the veteran Rube Marquard, even up, on December 15, 1920.”

As for the Reds, Shadow and Light says, “And the magic Cincinnati captured [in 1919] didn’t last. They fell to third in 1920 and wouldn’t get back to the World Series for another 19 years. Most of the players from the 1919 roster fared little better, individually. Though Roush, Groh, and Ruether would play superbly for several more seasons (particularly Roush, an eventual Hall of Famer), many of their teammates were out of the game shortly after the championship year.”

cadore3

P-Leon Cadore, Brooklyn Robins, 28 Years Old

1917 1919

15-14, 2.62 ERA, 79 K, .220, 2 HR, 11 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

3rd Time All-Star-Cadore finally got to pitch in World Series this season, pitching in two games against Cleveland. He started one and relieved in one, but didn’t have a great Series, allowing two runs in two innings. Brooklyn lost the Series, five games to two.

Still, without Cadore, Brooklyn wouldn’t have even made the postseason. Cadore finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.2); 10th in ERA (2.62); and eighth in Adjusted ERA+ (122). He also completed a 26-inning game. SABR has the details: “When the Dodgers played in Boston on May 1, it was a rematch between starting pitchers Cadore and Joe Oeschger, another 28-year-old right-hander.

“Cadore walked the first man he faced, setting the tone for his afternoon. He allowed at least one base runner in each of the first nine innings on 11 hits and two walks.

“The Dodgers staked Cadore to a 1-0 lead in the fifth, but he gave the run back in the next inning. Then the teams settled into a stalemate as afternoon turned to gray, chilly evening.

“In the 25th the teams broke the major league record for the longest game, surpassing a 1906 contest between the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Americans. Philadelphia’s Jack Coombs and Boston’s Joe Harris went all the way in that one.

“’I think the game definitely did something to my arm,’ Cadore said decades later. ‘I don’t think I ever had the same stuff again.’ He was not the same pitcher after May 1.

“With his health failing, Cadore moved back to Idaho and lived with a friend. He spent his final months in the veterans hospital in Spokane suffering from stomach cancer. When a nurse told him she didn’t care much about baseball, he replied, ‘I don’t care much for hospitals, either.’ He died at 66 on March 16, 1958.”

doak3

P-Bill Doak, St. Louis Cardinals, 29 Years Old

1914 1915

20-12, 2.53 ERA, 90 K, .114, 0 HR, 5 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

3rd Time All-Star-Since last making the All-Star team in 1915, Doak continued to have a decent, if not All-Star career. He consistently gave the Cardinals over 200 innings a year with his famous spitter. The spitball was outlawed this season, but certain players were allowed to continue using it, including Doak. This season, Doak finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.8); seventh in ERA (2.53); and ninth in Adjusted ERA+ (121).

St. Louis rose from seventh to fifth this year under Branch Rickey, finishing with a 75-79 season.

SABR says, “Bill Doak took two actions off the field in 1919 that changed his life considerably. First he approached the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company of St. Louis, where he played, about improving the design of the baseball glove, which to that point was meant mainly for hand protection, not functional fielding. Working with Rawlings production chief William P. Whitely, Doak came up with a revolutionary new design that became a prototype of gloves for years to come. Bill explained what made it special: ‘By enlarging the thumb, bringing it up even with the first finger, a larger pocket is formed and many balls are caught on the very tips of the thumb and first finger.’ Rawlings first sold the model for $10 as the ‘Premier Players’ Glove’ in 1920.

“After the 1919 season Doak also played an active role in the successful campaign to grandfather pitchers like himself who already used the spitball from the new ban against ‘freak’ pitches. Initially spitballers were to receive only one transition year, 1920, to use their wet delivery, but the owners reversed their stance and allowed Doak and 16 others to use the pitch for the remainder of their careers.”

oeschger

P-Joe Oeschger, Boston Braves, 28 Years Old

15-13, 3.46 ERA, 80 K, .178, 0 HR, 7 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 54 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

Home Runs Allowed-10

Earned Runs-115

1st Time All-Star-Joseph Carl Oeschger (prounounced ESH-gur) was born on May 24, 1892 in Chicago, IL. The six-190 pound righty started with Philadelphia  from 1914-1919. Then on May 27, 1919, he was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Giants for Ed Sicking and George Smith. A couple months later, he was traded by the New York Giants with Red CauseyJohnny JonesMickey O’Neil and $55,000 to the Boston Braves for Art Nehf. This season, he made the All-Star team as Boston’s best player, but wouldn’t have made it otherwise. He did finish sixth in innings pitched (299).

If Oeschger is your best player, your team probably didn’t fare well and that was the case with Boston. Managed by George Stallings, the Braves finished in seventh place with a 62-90 record.  It was Stallings’ last season as a manager. He finished 579-597 with the Braves with a World Championship in 1914 and 879-898 overall.

You might remember seeing Oeschger’s name before. He faced Leon Cadore of the Dodgers in the famous 26-inning game this season. Read Cadore’s blurb for more details.

Here’s a quick recap of the beginning of his career from Wikipedia, which states, “Oeschger began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1914 season. He won four games, while losing eight and posting a 3.77 earned run average for the Phillies. He pitched in a handful of games for the 1915 and 1916 seasons, before becoming a full-time starter in 1917. That season he had 15 wins against 14 losses and a 2.75 earned run average. Oeschger then led the league in losses during the 1918 season with 18, but still had a good earned run average of 3.03. One of the few highlights of his season was his shutout against the Brooklyn Robins on April 22. He also was tied for the league lead in saves, with three.”

clemons2

C-Verne Clemons, St. Louis Cardinals, 28 Years Old

1919

.281, 1 HR, 36 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 40 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-83

2nd Time All-Star-Last year, I wrapped up Clemons’ career in a nice bow, but lo and behold, he was the National League’s best catcher for the second straight year. I had a feeling that would happen, because the NL wasn’t loaded with good backstops at this time. Clemons slashed .281/.340/.355 for an OPS+ of 101.

Paul Votano wrote a book called Stand and Deliver: A History of Pinch-Hitting in which he stated, “Outfielder Joe Schultz, Sr. of the Cardinals, also known as ‘Germany,’ went 8-for-31 in 1919 to lead the NL in both categories [hits and at-bats as a pinch-hitter]. Schultz was destined for more excellent seasons as a substitute batter in the 1920s. The league’s best pinch-hitting average was turned in by teammate Verne Clemons, whose 5-for-10 pinch-hitting gave him a gaudy .500 BA.

“Clemons, widely respected for his handling of pitchers, went on to become a semi-regular for St. Louis. Clemons, who hailed from – of  all places – Clemons, Iowa, played in the big leagues for seven seasons, compiling a .286 BA overall. As a  pinch-swinger, he came to bat 54 times and produced 15 hits for an equally steady .280 mark.”

Until I started to do this webpage, I didn’t realize there were so many baseball books out there about so many different subjects. As much I like the sport, I haven’t read that many books on it. Now I realize I’ll never catch up because there’s just too many! So why start? That’s why we have the internet!

oneil

C-Mickey O’Neil, Boston Braves, 22 Years Old

.283, 0 HR, 28 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Has a negative Career WAR. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Assists as C-153

Caught Stealing as C-84

1st Time All-Star-George Michael “Wake Me Up Before I Go-Go” O’Neil was born on April 12, 1898 in St. Louis, MO. The five-foot-10, 185 pound righty started with Boston in 1919, but this was considered his rookie season and he made the All-Star team. Good job, George Michael! Wham, he could hit that ball! He slashed .283/.339/.326 for an OPS+ of 96. He would never get close to that again. I know what you’re saying, I just gotta have faith-uh-faith-uh-faith. But I can read a stat sheet.

I’m sure at the beginning of this large project in the 1870s, some players made the All-Star team who ended up with negative career WARs, but it hasn’t happened in a long time. Now O’Neil joins that club as his career WAR was -2.0. Considering his WAR was 1.6 this season, that means for the rest of his time in the Majors, he was -3.6 wins under a replacement players. However, before you berate George Michael, you careless whisperer, remember there was a lack of good catchers in the NL in these days.

Wikipedia says, “O’Neil was coaching third base for the Brooklyn Robins when Babe Herman ‘doubled into a double play’ against the Boston Braves August 15, 1926. Otto Miller was the Dodgers’ regular third base coach, but before the seventh inning, complained about getting tired walking there and back from the dugout because nothing happened at third base. O’Neil jumped up and offered to coach in Miller’s place.” You can read the rest at the link.

O’Neil died on April 8, 1964 in St. Louis, MO.

fournier2

1B-Jack Fournier, St. Louis Cardinals, 30 Years Old

1915

.306, 3 HR, 61 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Hit By Pitch-12 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as 1B-25

2nd Time All-Star-Since last making the All-Star team in 1915, Fournier got only limited playing time with the White Sox in 1916 and 1917. Then he played for the Yankees in 1918, before going to the minors. Before this season, Fournier was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from Los Angeles (PCL). He had a good year, finishing ninth in Offensive WAR (3.9); ninth in batting (.306); seventh in on-base percentage (.370); ninth in slugging (.438); and sixth in Adjusted OPS+ (133). Fournier also went a mediocre 26-for-46 stealing. At the age of 30, the live ball of the 1920s is going to revive Fournier’s career.

SABR says, “By the close of the 1919 season, Jack had resuscitated his baseball career, and the press noted his hard work. During his three years with the Angels, wrote the Los Angeles Times, Fournier ‘jumped into his work with more ambition than he ever displayed before, determined to prove he was an athlete of major league skills.’ Ironically, it was his fielding, which had ‘progressed with leaps and bounds,’ that had shown the most improvement.

“’Jack Fournier, formerly of the White Sox, is here playing first base for the St. Louis Cardinals,’ reported the press from Chicago on April 29, 1920. Following Jack’s success in Los Angeles, Branch Rickey had taken ‘a chance’ and purchased the slugger’s contract, installing Fournier as the Cardinals’ starting first baseman for the 1920 season. It proved a prescient move. Over the next eight years, with the advent of the livelier ball, Jack reached his zenith as a power hitter and ‘really had a field day at the plate.’”

hornsby5

2B-Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals, 24 Years Old

1916 1917 1918 1919

.370, 9 HR, 94 RBI

WAR Rank: 2

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1918)

 

Led in:

 

1920 NL Batting Title

WAR Position Players-9.6 (4th Time)

Offensive WAR-9.0 (4th Time)

Batting Average-.370

On-Base %-.431

Slugging %-.559 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.990 (2nd Time)

Hits-218

Total Bases-329 (2nd Time)

Doubles-44

Runs Batted In-94

Adjusted OPS+-185 (3rd Time)

Runs Created-136 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-65 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-6.9 (3rd Time)

Extra Base Hits-73

Times On Base-281

Offensive Win %-.836 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 2B-149

Putouts as 2B-343

Assists as 2B-524

Errors Committed as 2B-34

Double Plays Turned as 2B-76

5th Time All-Star-Arguably Rajah is the greatest second baseman of all time, so it might surprise you this fifth All-Star team for Hornsby is his first at second. (That’s a lot of numbers.) Judging by the numbers above, I’d say moving him to second was the right move. I still think Pete Alexander’s dominance gives him the nod for MVP, but it’s hard to argue with picking the great Hornsby. Even Alexander respected him. He said, “Hornsby is the greatest hitter I’ve ever had to face. I’ve tried to fool him every way possible, but it just cannot be done. Personally, I don’t think a more skillful man ever stepped up to the plate.” He’s made five of these lists at three different positions and he’s only 24. (Geez, more numbers.)

Wikipedia says, “In 1920, Rickey moved Hornsby to second base, where he remained for the rest of his career. He started the year with a 14-game hitting streak. On June 4, he had two triples and two RBIs as the Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 5–1, a game that ended future Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander‘s 11-game winning streak. Hornsby finished the season with the first of seven batting titles by hitting .370, and he also led the league in on-base percentage (.431), slugging percentage (.559), hits (218), total bases (329), doubles (44), and RBIs (94).”

This season is the beginning of an incredible run by Hornsby. Unfortunately, he didn’t play on too many good teams, though he would eventually make it to the World Series.

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3B-Heinie Groh, Cincinnati Reds, 30 Years Old

1915 1916 1917 1918 1919

.298, 0 HR, 49 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Double Plays Turned as 3B-30 (6th Time)

6th Time All-Star-With a championship under his belt and the live ball era ahead, things could only look up for the best third baseman in the National League. However, Groh did turn 30 this year and his hitting would start to wane. I have Groh down as having a 99 percent chance at making my Hall of Fame, but he’s going to have to fluke onto a team in the next few years. My high percentage for him is my guess he’s going to do just that, mainly due to his defense. But it’s very possible this is his last list.

This season, Groh finished out of the top 10 in overall WAR after making that list five consecutive years. He did finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.9); sixth in Offensive WAR (4.3); and fifth in on-base percentage (.375). I will say on a franchise full of great players, Groh is the greatest Reds third baseman of all time.

According to SABR, before the 1921 season, “Groh became embroiled in a bitter salary dispute with Reds owner Garry Herrmann. Several players held out, including Roush and pitcher Ray Fisher, to protest what they thought were outrageously low salaries. Roush returned on May 1. Fisher elected to take over as baseball coach at the University of Michigan. Groh, however, vowed never to rejoin the Cincinnati club. To resolve the impasse, Groh and the Reds worked out an agreement under which he would sign a contract and be immediately traded back to the New York Giants. Fearing an ‘unhealthy situation if a dissatisfied player could dictate his transfer to a strong contender before he agreed to sign a contract,’ Commissioner Landis voided the deal and ruled that Groh could play only with the Reds for the remainder of the season. While Landis insisted that this ruling should not be regarded as establishing a precedent, in fact it did.”

bancroft2

SS-Dave Bancroft, Philadelphia Phillies/New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1915

.299, 0 HR, 36 RBI

WAR Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1971)

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

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-4.0

Assists-598

Def. Games as SS-150 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-362 (2nd Time)

Assists as SS-598

Double Plays Turned as SS-95

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.41 (4th Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-6.40 (4th Time)

Fielding % as SS-.955

2nd Time All-Star-Since last making the All-Star team in 1915, Bancroft’s hitting faltered but it would come alive, somewhat, in the ‘20s, and that, combined with his excellent fielding is going to give him some All-Star teams. This year, Bancroft finished fourth in WAR (6.8); second in WAR Position Players (6.8), behind St. Louis second baseman Rogers Hornsby (9.6); eighth in Offensive WAR (3.9); and first in Defensive WAR (4.0).

Beauty played on two teams this year. Philadelphia, managed by Gavvy Cravath, finished last with a 62-91 record. Cravath would never manage again. New York, led again by John McGraw, finished seven games out of first with an 86-68 record. The addition of Bancroft would help them dominate the National League over the next few seasons.

Wikipedia mentions the trade from the Phillies to the Giants, saying, “Bancroft feuded with Cravath, who became the Phillies’ manager in 1919. Before the 1919 season, Bancroft requested a trade to the Cincinnati Reds, but the trade request was not granted. John McGraw, manager of the New York Giants, coveted Bancroft due to his intelligent and hard-nosed style of playing. Upon McGraw’s urging, the Giants traded Art FletcherBill Hubbell and $100,000 ($1,223,588 in current dollar terms) to the Phillies for Bancroft on June 7, 1920.

“With the Giants, Bancroft was an able performer. His 102 runs scored during the 1920 season were second only to new Giants teammate George Burns.”

Bancroft is going to have a three-season stretch of playing 150 or more games. If he could’ve done that more often, he’d be in my Hall of Fame for sure. As it is, it’s going to be close.

fletcher8

SS-Art Fletcher, New York Giants/Philadelphia Phillies, 35 Years Old

1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919

.284, 4 HR, 62 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1919)

 

8th Time All-Star-Depending on his 1922 season, there is the possibility Fletcher could make the ONEHOF, the One-A-Year Hall of Fame in which I induct the best player whose not already part of the ONEHOF. You can see the full list here. His 1922 season is going to be interesting, because he fielded well, but his hitting, despite a career-high seven homers, wasn’t too good. If he doesn’t make the All-Star team in 1922, he might still be in the ONEHOF someday. Hey, I’m doing these lists by the seat of my pants, I have no idea which player is going to make which Hall of Fame in which year. Give me a break!

The Fletcher for Dave Bancroft trade was definitely a trade that favored one team. Fletcher would give Philly just one more season, while Bancroft would help lead the Giants to three straight National League pennants.

SABR says, “On June 8, 1920, [Giants manager] McGraw sent the 35-year-old Fletcher (along with pitcher Bill Hubbell and $100,000) to the Philadelphia Phillies for 29-year-old Dave ‘Beauty’ Bancroft, the NL’s best shortstop. Fletch hit .296 in 102 games for the Phillies but the team was hopeless. When his brother and his father both passed away in the spring of 1921, Art went back to Collinsville and sat out the entire 1921 season.”

One thing Fletcher never learned to do was take pitches. He ended up with 16 walks this year and with the Giants, walked just once in 183 plate appearances.

terryz

SS-Zeb Terry, Chicago Cubs, 29 Years Old

.280, 0 HR, 52 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 39 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

1st Time All-Star-Zebulon Alexander “Zeb” Terry was born on June 17, 1891 in Denison, TX. The five-foot-eight, 129 pound (!), righty shortstop started with the White Sox in 1916-17, then played for the Braves in 1918. In 1919, the Pirates picked him up from the minors and the Cubs, before this season, purchased him from Pittsburgh. He finished fifth in Defensive WAR (1.3), while slashing .280/.341/.369 for an OPS+ of 103. Of all of his full seasons, it was easily the best he ever hit which is why he made the list.

SABR says, “In 1919, Terry got his chance to play everyday, after three years of back-and-forth and non-combat duty in World War I. Drafted by Pittsburgh in 1919, he led National League shortstops with a .960 fielding percentage. The Chicago Cubs purchased him from Pittsburgh in January 1920, and he played his last three seasons with them. He split time between shortstop and second base in 1920, and second became his primary position after that.

“Terry’s batting also benefited from consistent playing time. He hit .280 in 1920, .275 in 1921 – including his only two major-league home runs – and .286 in 1922. He played in 120 games or more each season for the Cubs. He twice hit over 20 doubles and had nine triples in 1920.

“Histories of Stanford University have referred to Zebulon ‘Zeb’ Terry as ‘one of the greatest baseball players in Stanford history.’ More than a century has passed since Terry graduated, but his name continues to come up when the early days of Stanford athletics are retold and the foundation of the university’s stellar athletics teams is mentioned.”

hollocher3

SS-Charlie Hollocher, Chicago Cubs, 24 Years Old

1918 1919

.319, 0 HR, 22 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

3rd Time All-Star-Yes, you’re reading that right, the Chicago Cubs put two shortstops on this list. Their number one shortstop, Hollocher, had a puzzling 1920 season. SABR says, “BY THE SPRING of 1920 Charlie’s hitting was back in stride. It was then that the first storm warnings appeared. On June 8 he took ill on a train en route from St. Louis to Philadelphia with what was reported as ptomaine poisoning. He appeared somewhat better two days later when he had three hits in a 9-8 loss to the Phillies, ‘but was weak from his sickness before the game was over.’ By June 16 he was back in the hero’s role when his eighth-inning triple drove in Max Flack with the game’s only run as Jim Vaughn won, 1-0, at Boston.

“The attack had been all but forgotten by July 15, when the Chicago Tribune disclosed that ‘Hollocher was laid up with another attack similar to that which incapacitated him on the last eastern trip. . . .’ Charlie returned to the lineup on July 24 but played only two more games before another departure. Following a long silence, it was announced on August 15 that he was hospitalized.

“Strangely, the papers did not mention what hospital he was in or what he was suffering from.

“On August 17 it was announced that Charlie had been released from the hospital but would play no more that season.”

After that, they switched Zeb Terry to shortstop and that’s how both of them made the All-Star team. Hollocher stole 20 bases  in this short season, but was caught 14 times.

wheat3

LF-Zack Wheat, Brooklyn Robins, 32 Years Old

1914 1916

.328, 9 HR, 73 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1959)

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

 

Led in:

 

Double Plays Turned as LF-5 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-It’s very rare a player made his third All-Star team in his 30s and still will make my Hall of Fame, but Wheat was one of those rare players whose latter years were his best years. He played great for Brooklyn from 1916-19, even leading the league in hitting in 1918 with a .335 average, but didn’t make my All-Star team. Part of the reason is because 119 of his 137 hits were singles, he didn’t have much pop. His hitting continued to decline in 1919 and it looked like the third decade of his life would do Wheat in. But he’s back this year and for the rest of his career, the live ball era is going to really help him out.

This season, Wheat finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.8); fifth in Offensive WAR (4.6); fourth in batting (.328); fourth in on-base percentage (.385); and fifth in Adjusted OPS+ (140). That year helped Brooklyn win the pennant and in the World Series, Wheat did fantastic, hitting .333 (nine-for-27) with two doubles. In Game 3 at Ebbets Field, Wheat was the catalyst to the Robins’ 2-1 victory, going three-for-four with an RBI. It wasn’t enough as Cleveland beat Brooklyn, five games to two.

His Hall of Fame page says, “’One of the grandest guys ever to wear a baseball uniform, one of the greatest batting teachers I have ever seen, one of the truest pals a man ever had and one of the kindliest men God ever created,’ Casey Stengel said of Wheat.”

burns5LF-George J. Burns, New York Giants, 30 Years Old

1914 1917 1918 1919

.287, 6 HR, 46 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Plate Appearances-714 (3rd Time)

Runs Scored-115 (5th Time)

Bases on Balls-76 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as LF-154 (4th Time)

Putouts as LF-336 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as LF-5

Def. Games as OF-154 (4th Time)

Fielding % as LF-.983 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-If Burns had one quality that continually puts him on these All-Star teams, it’s that he was in the lineup day-after-day. From 1913-through-1923, he missed very few games. This season, Burns finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.6); 10th in on-base percentage (.365); and was terrible stealing, only stealing 50 percent of the time (22 for 44). Unfortunately for Burns, his skills, hitting for average with very little power, didn’t translate well into the high scoring 1920s.

Burns played one more year with the Giants, before being traded to the Reds. After three years with the Reds and one with the Phillies, SABR says, “Burns continued as an active player in the minor leagues through 1930. In 1926 he played in 163 games for Newark and led the International League in doubles (49) and stolen bases (38). The following two years he was player-manager for Williamsport of the New York-Pennsylvania league, finishing out the 1928 season with 18 games as player-manager for Hanover of the Blue Ridge League. In 1931, his last year in baseball, George returned to the Polo Grounds as a coach for McGraw’s Giants. In retirement he returned to Gloversville, New York, just outside of Utica, and ran his father’s pool hall for a time, then became the payroll clerk at a tannery. Occasionally Burns played first base for local semipro teams. On October 18, 1952, George was married a second time, to Pauline Rezek. After retiring in 1957, he lived quietly in Gloversville until his death at age 76 on August 15, 1966.”

roush4

CF-Edd Roush, Cincinnati Reds, 27 Years Old

1917 1918 1919

.339, 4 HR, 90 RBI

WAR Rank: 7

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1962)

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as CF-410

Double Plays Turned as CF-6 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-410

Range Factor/Game as CF-3.08

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-3.10

Range Factor/Game as OF-3.08

4th Time All-Star-Roush continued to be the Reds’ best player and now made his fourth straight All-Star team. He had his best season ever, finishing seventh in WAR (5.9); fourth in WAR Position Players (5.9); fourth in Offensive WAR (5.1); third in batting (.339), behind St. Louis second baseman Rogers Hornsby (.370) and New York rightfielder Ross Youngs (.351); third in on-base percentage (.386), trailing Hornsby (.431) and Youngs (.427); eighth in slugging (.453); fourth in Adjusted OPS+ (141); and went a poor 36 for 60 stealing.

SABR says, “Edd actually reported for spring training in 1920, such an unusual occurrence that The Sporting News commented on it. ‘It will be interesting to see how the training works on Edd Roush. That marvelous performer has always dodged the training trip and conditioned himself on his farm. This time he is going to the camp; if he hits way over his usual mark, he’ll swear that he made a huge mistake before, and if he falls down he’ll never go south again.’ He was also ejected from a game that June when he sat down during an argument, put his head down, and fell asleep. When infielder Heinie Groh had trouble waking him the umpires ejected him for delay of game.

“During the 1920-1921 off-seaons Edd was injured when his brother Fred accidentally plunked Edd with birdshot, one hit each to the lip, cheek and thumb.”

Roush is going to put up some good numbers over the next few years, but he’s borderline for making my Hall of Fame.

williamsc2

CF-Cy Williams, Philadelphia Phillies, 32 Years Old

1916

.325, 15 HR, 72 RBI

WAR Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 7 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-15 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-16.4

2nd Time All-Star-Williams’ future looked bright after he made the All-Star team in 1916. He had led the National League in homers with 12 and was still only 28. However, his hitting from 1917-19 declined dramatically, so much so the Cubs unloaded him after 1917, trading him to the Phillies for Dode Paskert. Being in Philadelphia and the hitter-friendly Baker Bowl will change his career, especially during the run-crazy ‘20s. While Babe Ruth was leading the American League with 54 homers this season, Williams hit 15 to pace the NL. Altogether, the lefty finished ninth in WAR (5.8); fifth in WAR Position Players (5.8); third in Offensive WAR (5.2), trailing St. Louis second baseman Rogers Hornsby (9.0) and New York rightfielder Ross Youngs (6.1); fifth in batting (.325); second in slugging (.497), behind Hornsby (.559); and third in Adjusted OPS+ (142), with only Rajah (185) and Youngs (159) ahead of him.

Of the Williams-Poskert trade, SABR says, “The trade proved to be one of the worst in Cubs history. A left-handed, dead-pull hitter (Cy himself was quoted as saying “I couldn’t hit a ball to left if my life depended on it.”), Williams was a natural for the Baker Bowl, though it took him a couple of years before he really found his groove. Starting in 1920, he batted over .300 in six of the next seven seasons and reached double figures in home runs nine years in a row.” One wonders how many homers he would have had in Wrigley Field, which was much harder to hit in than the Baker Bowl.

myers2

CF-Hi Myers, Brooklyn Robins, 31 Years Old

1919

.304, 4 HR, 80 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Triples-22 (2nd Time)

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

Fielding % as CF-.978

2nd Time All-Star-If you want to sum up Myers’ career, he had a great 1919 and 1920 and a mediocre-to-poor rest of his career. He did help lead Brooklyn to the National League crown this year, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1); 10th in Offensive WAR (3.7); 10th in batting (.304); sixth in slugging (.462); and ninth in Adjusted OPS+ (127). In the World Series, Myers hit six-for-26 (.231), with no extra base hits, no walks, and only 1 RBI as Brooklyn lost to Cleveland, five games to two.

SABR says, “Effective as a leadoff man or in the middle of the lineup, Hy (or ‘Hi’) Myers was a speedy center fielder whose unique running style made him popular with fans wherever he played. ‘Myers galloped with his long arms held straight down by his sides, like a man running for a train with a heavy suitcase in each hand, or an authentic Irish dancer doing his stuff,’ wrote New York World-Telegram columnist Murray Robinson in 1954. ‘If you see any middle-aged Brooklynites gallumping for a bus with arms held straight down, you can bet they were Hi Myers fans in their youth.’”

After his Major League career ended, “Myers went back to his farm in Kensington. He ran an automobile agency, then worked as a guard in a steel mill, later as a cashier at the Kensington State Bank. In 1958 he moved to the nearby town of Minerva where he suffered a fatal heart attack on May 1, 1965. He was survived by his wife of 53 years, Elsie Kibler Myers, one son, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.”

youngs2

RF-Ross Youngs, New York Giants, 23 Years Old

1919

.351, 6 HR, 78 RBI

WAR Rank: 5

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1972)

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

 

Led in:

 

Times On Base-281

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

Assists as RF-26 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as RF-22 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as RF-7 (2nd Time)

Assists as OF-26 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as OF-22

Double Plays Turned as OF-7 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Some of these write-ups are particularly painful to do, especially because I can see the future and know that Youngs will die at the age of 30. It seems the Hall of Fame voters in the ‘70s could see the future, too, and voted him in on what he could have done instead of what he did do. While he played, what he did do was impressive. This season, Youngs had his best year ever, finishing fifth in WAR (6.4); third in WAR Position Players (6.4), behind St. Louis second baseman Rogers Hornsby (9.6) and Philadelphia and New York shortstop Dave Bancroft (6.8); second in Offensive WAR (6.1), trailing Hornsby (9.0); second in batting (.351), behind Rajah (.370); second in on-base percentage (.427), trailing you-know-who (.431); third in slugging (.477), with only Hornsby (.559) and Philadelphia centerfielder Cy Williams (.497) ahead of him; and second in Adjusted OPS+ (159), behind, yep, Hornsby again (185). He was also a mediocre 18-for-36 stealing.

His Hall of Fame page agrees with me, saying, “Youngs had his best season in 1920 when he finished second in the NL batting race to Rogers Hornsby, with a .351 average. At just 23 years old, he collected 204 hits, scored 92 runs, had 27 doubles, 14 triples and six home runs. He also notched 78 RBI and walked 75 times. He had a .427 on-base percentage and was third-best in the league with a .477 slugging mark. On May 11 of his season of highlights, Youngs had three triples in one game against the Redlegs, tying a major league record.”

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