1923 National League All-Star Team

P-Dolf Luque, CIN

P-Jimmy Ring, PHI

P-Eppa Rixey, CIN

P-Pete Alexander, CHC

P-Dazzy Vance, BRO

P-Wilbur Cooper, PIT

P-Joe Genewich, BOS

P-Burleigh Grimes, BRO

P-Johnny Morrison, PIT

P-Jesse Haines, STL

C-Bubbles Hargrave, CIN

C-Bob O’Farrell, CHC

1B-Jack Fournier, BRO

1B-Jim Bottomley, STL

2B-Frankie Frisch, NYG

2B-Rogers Hornsby, STL

2B-Jimmy Johnston, BRO

3B-Pie Traynor, PIT

3B-Bernie Friberg, CHC

SS-Dave Bancroft, NYG

CF-Max Carey, PIT

CF-Edd Roush, CIN

CF-Jigger Statz, CHC

RF-Ross Youngs, NYG

RF-Clyde Barnhart, PIT

 

luque3P-Dolf Luque, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old, 1st MVP

1920 1921

27-8, 1.93 ERA, 151 K, .202, 1 HR, 9 RBI

WAR Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

1923 NL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-10.8

WAR for Pitchers-10.6

Earned Run Average-1.93

Wins-27

Win-Loss %-.771

Hits per 9 IP-7.798 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-6 (2nd Time)

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.056

Adjusted ERA+-201

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.94

Adj. Pitching Runs-69

Adj. Pitching Wins-7.4

Putouts as P-17

3rd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team in 1920 and 1921, Luque had an off season in 1922, going 13-23 with a 3.31 ERA, which was still a decent 120 ERA+. However, nothing he did in his past made it seem like he had a season like 1923 in him. It was incredible. Luque had the lowest ERA+ (201) in the National League since Pete Alexander in 1915 (225). His 1.93 ERA was 0.87 lower than his teammate Eppa Rixey, who’s earned run average was 2.80. That’s why he’s my choice for MVP, the first Red I’ve chosen since pitcher Noodles Hahn in 1902.

                Cincinnati, managed by Pat Moran, finished in second place for the second consecutive year with a 91-63 record. It finished four-and-a-half games behind the Giants. It was his last season, because SABR tells us, “Moran had always been a heavy drinker, and over the winter of 1923-24 his drinking worsened, and he began skipping some meals as well. By the time he arrived in Orlando for spring training he was already quite ill. His condition quickly deteriorated, and on March 7 at the age of 48 he passed away, the cause of death given as Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment.”

Back to Luque, SABR rates this incredible season, saying, “In the terms of John Thorn and Pete Palmer’s Total Pitcher Index (which rates a pitcher’s effective performance against that of the entire league), Luque’s 1923 campaign ranks fourth best in the two decades separating the century’s two great wars (1920-1940). Only Bucky Walters in 1939, Lefty Grove in 1931, and Carl Hubbell in 1933 outstripped Luque by the yardstick of the Thorn-Palmer statistical measure.”

ring

P-Jimmy Ring, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

18-16, 3.87 ERA, 112 K, .106, 1 HR, 8 RBI

WAR Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls-115 (2nd Time)

Earned Runs Allowed-131

Wild Pitches-14 (3rd Time)

1st Time All-Star-James Joseph “Jimmy” Ring was born on February 15, 1895 in Brooklyn, NY. The six-foot-one, 170 pound righty pitcher started with Cincinnati in 1917 and even pitched in the infamous 1919 Series. He finished 1-1 with a 0.64 ERA, shutting out the White Sox in Game 4. It probably helps when most of your opposition isn’t trying. After the 1920 season, Ring was traded by the Cincinnati Reds with Greasy Neale to the Philadelphia Phillies for Eppa Rixey. This was Ring’s best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR (6.4); second in WAR for Pitchers (7.7), behind Cincinnati’s Dolf Luque (10.6); fifth in innings pitched (304 1/3); and ninth in Adjusted ERA+ (119).

Ring did all of this on a terrible team. His Phillies, managed by newcomer Art Fletcher, dropped from seventh in 1922 to last place this season, finishing with a 50-104 record, 45-and-a-half games out of first.

Phillies Nation says, “Ring would be Steve Carlton in 1972 before Steve Carlton in 1972 happened: in 1923, despite his team posting a .325 winning percentage, Ring won 18 games, earning 6.0 fWAR for the season, fifth in baseball, with the eighth most innings pitched. Despite a 3.87 ERA, he was borderline dominant with the 19th highest K/9 IP in baseball. In his first stint with the Phillies, Ring was frequently above-average in terms of ERA, with the NL league average fluctuating between 3.78 and 4.26 and well above-average in K/9 IP.”

What’s funny to me is he finished second in Pitching WAR, but the three categories in which he led the league (see above) were all negative.

rixey6

P-Eppa Rixey, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1912 1916 1917 1921 1922

20-15, 2.80 ERA, 97 K, .159, 0 HR, 7 RBI

WAR Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1963)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1923)

 

6th Time All-Star-There couldn’t have been two more different pitchers on the Redlegs of 1923. Their superstar was Dolf Luque, the first famous Cuban pitcher, and their other great pitcher was Rixey, from an aristocratic family. Yet together they formed a potent duo this season, finished 47-23 between them. While Luque won my prestigious MVP, Rixey’s sixth All-Star team puts him in my Hall of Fame, which takes the number of All-Star teams made, multiplies those by Career WAR, and if the number is over 300, that player is in. Welcome to this august group, Eppa.

My fellow blogger, V, just had an article in which he said the text of the plaque told you what was important to the Hall of Fame voters of that time. Rixey’s plaque says, “Set record for most victories by left-handed pitcher. Led league in victories with 25 in 1922. Gave only 1082 base on balls in 4494 innings.” Of course, this plaque wasn’t written in his era, because he wasn’t inducted until almost 30 years after he hung up his spikes. Still, even in the 1960s, wins were important. Nowadays, not so much.

Also, do not count Rixey out for making the ONEHOF, my other Hall of Fame which inducts just one player a year. Rixey’s got a good chance at making nine All-Star teams and at this point, everyone making nine or more of these lists has made it into the One-A-Year Hall of Fame. This season was the beginning of a phenomenal three year stretch of pitching, especially considering Rixey’s age.

alexander12

P-Pete Alexander, Chicago Cubs, 36 Years Old

1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1919 1920 1921 1922

22-12, 3.19 ERA, 72 K, .216, 1 HR, 10 RBI

WAR Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1920)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1938)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1913)

 

Led in:

 

Walks & Hits per IP-1.108 (3rd Time)

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.885 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-17 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.400 (3rd Time)

12th Time All-Star-The human will is an incredible thing. Working at a church, I’ve talked with many people struggling with various demons (figurative not literal) and watching them battle day after day. I’ve known drug addicts who constantly find themselves in one program or another who do well for a time, but fall again. None of these people are even capable of pitching in the Major Leagues and certainly not of being one of the best pitchers of his era. Yet that was Ol’ Pete, 36-years-old and drunk a good percentage of the time, yet still one of baseball’s greatest hurlers.

Chicago, managed by Bill Killefer, rose from fifth to fourth with an 83-71 record, 12-and-a-half games out of first.

Since the start of baseball history in 1871 to this present year of 1923, there have been a lot of great baseball players and many of the all-time greats were playing during this time. Here’s my list of the top 10 players through 1923:

  1. Cy Young, P
  2. Walter Johnson, P
  3. Ty Cobb, CF
  4. Tris Speaker, CF
  5. Honus Wagner, SS
  6. Eddie Collins, 2B
  7. Cap Anson, 1B
  8. Babe Ruth, RF
  9. Alexander, P
  10. Nap Lajoie, 2B

SABR says, “No longer a great pitcher, he was still a very good one, capable of picking up 22 wins in 1923 and setting a major-league record by starting the season pitching 52 consecutive innings before issuing a walk.” Like I said, the human will is incredible and Alexander continued to will himself to greatness.

vance

P-Dazzy Vance, Brooklyn Robins, 32 Years Old

18-15, 3.50 ERA, 197 K, .084, 1 HR, 1 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

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

 

Led in:

 

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.325 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-197 (2nd Time)

Hit By Pitch-11

1st Time All-Star-Charles Arthur “Dazzy” Vance was born on March 4, 1891 in Orient, IA. The six-foot-two, 200 pound righty started with Pittsburgh and the Yankees in 1915. He didn’t pitch again until he was with the Bronx Bombers again in 1918. He then started with Brooklyn in 1922 and, at the age of 31, started to hone his game, leading the National League in Ks. He’s going to be one of those rare birds who achieves greatness after the age of 30. This season, Vance finished fifth in WAR for Pitchers (4.6); eighth in innings pitched; and was now in the second of seven straight seasons he’d lead the NL in strikeouts.

Brooklyn, managed by Wilbert Robinson, stayed in sixth with a 76-78 record, 19-and-a-half games out of first. Its hitting was weak as the team had the second lowest slugging percentage in the league, but its pitching was pretty good, as it finished second in the NL in ERA.

SABR says, “Who was Dazzy Vance? His true name was Charles Arthur, but he earned the nom de guerre ‘Dazzy’ because of the ‘dazzling’ blazing fastball he was demonstrating early in his minor league career. Until breaking in with Brooklyn as a 31-year old rookie in 1922, however, Vance’s career had been stalled almost entirely in the minor leagues because of chronic arm problems that contributed to an unacceptable lack of control, causing both the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees to give up on him in the middle-1910s. Bill James relates the story that Vance was cured of his sore arm when he was pitching in New Orleans in 1920 by a doctor who operated on his arm following an injury sustained in a hand of poker, after which he became the impressive pitcher who is today in the Hall of Fame.”

cooper8

P-Wilbur Cooper, Pittsburgh Pirates, 31 Years Old

1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922

17-19, 3.57 ERA, 77 K, .262, 0 HR, 10 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1921)

 

Led in:

 

Games Started-38 (2nd Time)

Losses-19

Hit By Pitch-11 (2nd Time)

8th Time All-Star-There have been some great Pirates teams over the years, but it’s hard to name great Pittsburgh pitchers. Well, we can start with this man and his longtime teammate Babe Adams. Adams has the highest WAR for a Pirates pitcher with 52.6 followed by Cooper with 52.4. Neither is in the actual Hall of Fame, though both made mine.

Pittsburgh, managed by Bill McKechnie, stayed in third with an 87-67 record, eight-and-a-half games behind the Giants. It was never in the hunt for the pennant, but was consistent throughout the season.

SABR wraps up his life, saying, “Married with three daughters, Wilbur Cooper spent his later years supporting youth baseball and working in real estate in the Pittsburgh area before moving to Southern California in 1947. In his lifetime he was named as the left-handed pitcher on the Pittsburgh Press All-Time Pirates Team in 1934, elected to the City of Pittsburgh Sports Hall of Fame in 1959, and recognized as a Sports Great in 1963 by the West Virginia Centennial Commission. In 1969 Cooper was voted the greatest pitcher in Pirates history in a Pittsburgh poll conducted to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of professional baseball.

“Despite a lifetime record of 216-178 and a 2.89 ERA, Cooper drew little support for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving no more than 11 votes from the baseball writers during his period of eligibility. He remains one of only two pitchers with more than 3,000 innings and an ERA under 3.00 who are not enshrined at Cooperstown. In one of his last letters he wrote: ‘I would die a happy man if they voted me into the Hall of Fame. But, if they don’t, I will understand.’ Cooper died in Encino, California, on August 7, 1973, after suffering a heart attack.”

genewich

P-Joe Genewich, Boston Braves, 26 Years Old

13-14, 3.72 ERA, 54 K, .247, 0 HR, 6 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 35 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as P-17

1st Time All-Star-Joseph Edward “Joe” Genewich was born on January 15, 1897 in Elmira, NY. The six-foot, 174 pound righty pitcher started with Boston in 1922 and would remain with it until 1928. Then he went to the Giants to finish his career from 1928-30. This season, Genewich finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (3.8) and is Boston’s best player by WAR. He’s the only Braves player to make this list.

Still, despite having just one representative on this All-Star team, Boston moved up from eighth to seventh with a 54-100 record. It would be Fred Mitchell’s last year of managing as, over seven seasons, he would end up with a 494-543 career record and one NL pennant with the Cubs in 1918.

Genewich was part of Elmira history, according to the Star-Gazette, which says, “[O]n Thursday, Oct. 18, 1928, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig made a stop in Elmira as part of their post World Series barnstorming tour. The Yanks had swept the Cardinals. Ruth batted 625 with three homers and Gehrig drove in as many runs as the Cardinals did in the whole series. The Elmira Advertiser headline read, ‘Bambino Thrills Great Crowd….’

“Schools were closed early so the students could see the Babe and Lou in action. The Yankee teammates would be managing and playing on opposing teams. The game would pit the Patch I.A.C. (Bustin‘ Babes) against the Eclipse Machine Co. (Larrupin‘ Lous). Local players Mel Kerr, Al Todd and Leo Casey among others would fill out the teams. Smokey Joe Genewich, Elmira’s ‘contribution to the major leagues’ returned for the visit.”

Genewich died on December 21, 1985 in Lockport, NY at the age of 88.

grimes4

P-Burleigh Grimes, Brooklyn Robins, 29 Years Old

1918 1920 1921

21-18, 3.58 ERA, 119 K, .238, 0 HR, 15 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1964)

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

 

Led in:

 

Innings Pitched-327

Games Started-38

Complete Games-33 (2nd Time)

Hits Allowed-356

Hit By Pitch-11

Batters Faced-1,418

Assists as P-101 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-10

Range Factor/Game as P-3.00 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team three out of four years, Grimes had an off season in 1922, going 17-14, but with a horrid 4.76 ERA. This season, Grimes was back, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.7); and first in innings pitched and many other of the workhorse categories.

There are conflicting opinions of his temperament. Wikipedia says, “At the time of his retirement, he was the last player that was legally allowed to throw a spitball, as he was one of 17 spitballers permitted to throw the pitch after it was otherwise outlawed in 1920. He had acquired a lasting field reputation for his temperament. He is listed in the Baseball Hall of Shame series for having thrown a ball at the batter in the on-deck circle. His friends and supporters note that he was consistently a kind man when off the diamond. Others claim he showed a greedy attitude to many people who ‘got on his bad side.’ He would speak mainly only to his best friend Ivy Olson in the dugout, and would pitch only to a man named Mathias Schroeder before games. Schroeder’s identity was not well known among many Dodger players, as many say he was just ‘a nice guy from the neighborhood.’”

Nowadays, we have starting pitcher who feel they’ve done their job if they pitched five innings. The game has changed dramatically over the last few years, but even more so when compared to time in which Grimes toiled. Yet the game even changed for Grimes, who led the league with 327 innings pitched. Just eight years before this, Dave Davenport pitched 392 2/3 innings.

morrison3

P-Johnny Morrison, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1921 1922

25-13, 3.49 ERA, 114 K, .183, 0 HR, 12 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

3rd Time All-Star-Jughandle Johnny made his third straight All-Star team, but it’s also most likely his last. Pittsburgh sure had some pitching in these days. Morrison finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.5); sixth in innings pitched (301 2/3); and won a career-high 25 games.

SABR says, “Johnny Morrison had one of the deadliest, most knee-locking curveballs baseball had ever experienced. ‘You simply couldn’t see it,’ raved contemporary Pat Duncan. ‘The ball came in like a fast ball and it dropped so fast that it fell completely out of your vision unless you were looking for such a hook.’ That pitch became known as the Jughandle and catapulted ‘Jughandle Johnny’ to a successful five-year run with the Pittsburgh Pirates, including a 25-win season in 1923 and a World Series championship two years later. But Jughandle also had another meaning for Morrison, whose 10-year major-league career was fraught with as much tension and conflict as triumph and personal glory.

                “By 1924, it had taken on another meaning, too: Morrison’s love of the jug’s handle. It was the time of Prohibition, but alcohol consumption was an open secret. Morrison’s behavior over the rest of his career became more erratic as he clashed with managers and teammates over his alcohol abuse, which sportswriters at the time covered up as another case of the flu or grippe.

“Morrison suffered from a number of illnesses later in life, including diabetes, and also lost both of his legs, presumably to the disease. On March 20, 1966, he died at the VA Hospital in Louisville at the age of 70. His death certificate listed uremia (kidney failure) as the cause. He was buried at Rosehill cemetery in Owensboro.”

haines

P-Jesse Haines, St. Louis Cardinals, 29 Years Old

20-13, 3.11 ERA, 73 K, .202, 0 HR, 8 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1970)

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. 22 percent chance)

 

1st Time All-Star-Jesse Joseph “Pop” Haines was born on July 22, 1893 in Clayton, OH. The six-foot, 190 pound righty pitcher started with Cincinnati, pitching one game in 1918. In 1920, he started pitching for the Cardinals, leading the National League with 47 games pitched. He pitched decently in 1921 and 1922, but it’s only this year, Haines made his first All-Star team on the way to a Hall of Fame career. I don’t think he’s going to make my Hall of Fame and I’m not exactly sure why he’s in Cooperstown.

St. Louis, managed by Branch Rickey, dropped from third to fifth with a 79-74 record. The Cards had decent hitting and middle of the road pitching.

SABR says, “Though Haines is remembered as a knuckleball pitcher, he began his career as a fastball-curveball pitcher.

“’I soon found out I would have to have something [besides a fastball and curve], if I wanted to stick around long,’ said Haines, who followed up his promising rookie year by going 18-12 in 1921 and 11-9 in 1922 with an ERA slightly above league average each season. With his fastball losing effectiveness and his hits per nine innings steadily rising, Haines began working on a knuckle ball. He credited Philadelphia A’s pitcher, Eddie Rommel, the first big leaguer to use the knuckleball extensively, for teaching him the pitch. Unlike Rommel, who gripped the pitch with tips of his index and middle fingers, Haines gripped the ball with the first knuckles on his index and middle fingers with the ball resting against the inside of his ring finger. The result was a hard knuckler that came straight down and did not flutter like Rommel’s. ‘[My knuckler] acted like a spitball,’ said Haines. ‘I had very good control of it and threw it from different positions.’ Even though Haines developed calluses on his knuckles because of the friction the ball caused, his knuckles had a tendency to bleed.”

hargrave

C-Bubbles Hargrave, Cincinnati Reds, 30 Years Old

.333, 10 HR, 78 RBI

WAR Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Hit By Pitch-12

Double Plays Turned as C-12

1st Time All-Star-Eugene Franklin “Bubbles” Hargrave was born on July 15, 1892 in New Haven, IN. The five-foot-10, 174 pound catcher started with Chicago from 1913-15 and then didn’t play Major League ball again until he joined the Reds in 1921. This season, he finished ninth in WAR (4.7); fifth in WAR Position Players (4.7); seventh in Offensive WAR (4.5); ninth in batting (.333); third in on-base percentage (.419), behind two St. Louis players, second baseman Rogers Hornsby (.459) and first baseman Jim Bottomley (.425); seventh in slugging (.521); fifth in Adjusted OPS+ (149); and first in hit by pitches (12).

SABR says, “All references to the newly-acquired Hargrave referred to him as ‘Bubbles.’ How he actually acquired that nickname has been lost over time. One version shared by Hargrave was that a teammate bestowed it on him because he was effervescently offering suggestions and guidance. Still another version concerned his tendency to stutter, especially when pronouncing the letter ‘b’ which somehow caused him to be referred to as Bubbles. His stuttering manifested itself in another form at least once on the ball field.

“Apparently when he became excited his jaw tightened. Arguing with umpire Ted McGrew late in his career, he couldn’t get any words out. McGrew told Hargrave, ‘Never mind, Bubbles. I’ll help you out. I’ll say what you want to say. McGrew, you’re the lousiest umpire in the world. You never was any good. You’re blind and dumb. You ought to be in some other business.’ Hargrave, jaw now relaxed could only say, ‘You win.’”

ofarrell2

C-Bob O’Farrell, Chicago Cubs, 26 Years Old

1922

.319, 12 HR, 84 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-124 (2nd Time)

Assists as C-118 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-O’Farrell made the All-Star team for the second consecutive time as he continued to hit well for a backstop. He finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.5); eighth in Offensive WAR (4.4); seventh in on-base percentage (.409); eighth in Adjusted OPS+ (131); and first in catcher assists (118).

SABR says, “O’Farrell’s parents encouraged their son to participate in sports at an early age. The elder O’Farrell also brought up his youngest son to be a White Sox fan. He was a member of the baseball team at Waukegan High School, and joined a Waukegan semipro team. Nobody wanted to be the catcher, so O’Farrell took the job because it was the sure way to stay on the field. He caught a break when the Waukegan team was hosting an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs in 1915. O’Farrell caught the eye of Roger Bresnahan, the Cubs player-manager. Bresnahan was in the last year of a Hall of Fame career, and he knew talent behind the plate when he saw it. O’Farrell joined the Cubs that year, making his major league debut on September 5.

“In 1922, O’Farrell led the league in games started (119), putouts (446), assists (143), and double plays (22). He threw out 83 of 126 (66%) would-be base stealers. He also batted a career-high .324. In 1923, O’Farrell set career highs in home runs (12) and RBIs (84) while batting .319.”

O’Farrell is going to win an MVP award in 1926, but I’m not even sure he’ll make the All-Star team that year. We’ll see.

fournier4

1B-Jack Fournier, Brooklyn Robins, 33 Years Old

1915 1920 1921

.351, 22 HR, 102 RBI

WAR Rank: 5

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Runs Created-122

Errors Committed as 1B-21 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team two consecutive years in 1920 and 1921, Fournier had an off-season in 1922 as his power numbers declined. He was then traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Brooklyn Robins for Hi Myers and Ray Schmandt. It was a good trade for Brooklyn because Fournier was back this year, hitting over 20 homers for the first of three straight seasons. He finished fifth in WAR (5.6); third in WAR Position Players (5.6), behind two second basemen, New York’s Frankie Frisch (7.1) and St. Louis’ Rogers Hornsby (6.7); second in Offensive WAR (6.8), trailing Hornsby (6.6); third in batting (.351), behind Rajah (.384) and St. Louis first baseman Jim Bottomley (.371); fifth in on-base percentage (.411); second in slugging (.588), trailing only the incredible Hornsby (.627); second in Adjusted OPS+ (163), again trailing Hornsby (187); and tied for first in runs created (122), with Frisch.

Wikipedia says, “After three productive years in St. Louis, Fournier was dealt to Brooklyn on February 15, 1923. Fournier said he would quit the game rather than leave St. Louis, but he eventually ended his holdout and reported to the Dodgers. Fournier had found his spot, among an offensive unit that included Zack WheatMilt Stock, and Zack Taylor. He turned in a six-for-six performance on June 29 of that year, hit .351, though committing a league-high 21 errors.”

St. Louis lost a good first baseman, but they were making room for one that would eventually make the Hall of Fame, Bottomley.

bottomley

1B-Jim Bottomley, St. Louis Cardinals, 23 Years Old

.371, 8 HR, 94 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1974)

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 44 percent chance)

 

1st Time All-Star-James Leroy “Sunny Jim” Bottomley was born on April 23, 1900 in Oglesby, IL. The six-foot, 180 pound lefty first baseman started with St. Louis in 1922 and was their starting first baseman by this year after the team traded Jack Fournier. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.1); fourth in Offensive WAR (5.2); second in batting (.371), behind teammate and second sacker Rogers Hornsby (.384); second in on-base percentage (.425), trailing Hornsby (.459); fifth in slugging (.535); and third in Adjusted OPS+ (155), trailing Rajah (187) and the man who was traded away, Fournier (163).

SABR says, “At some point during his minor league time, the press had dubbed Bottomley ‘Sunny Jim,’ in part because of his irrepressible good nature and cheerful disposition. He was widely considered a nice man. He was perhaps a bit quirky, given his fascination with astrology, but he also had a sense of fun, wearing a constant smile that earned him his sobriquet.

“His arrival in St. Louis was memorable in more ways than one. In 1928, Murray Tynan of the New York Times related a story told by Branch Rickey about Jim’s arrival in the majors:

“He came out to the park, said Rickey, in a taxi because he didn’t dare attempt to find his way around St. Louis. He was astonished…when the driver charged him more than $4.00 fare. He had on the biggest pair of shoes I ever saw. They must have been size twenty…I did notice one thing, though. The boy could scoop up grounders with remarkable grace….”

According to dWAR, he is one of the worst fielders of all time. This season, his Defensive WAR was minus-1.7.

frisch3

2B-Frankie Frisch, New York Giants, 25 Years Old

1921 1922

.348, 12 HR, 111 RBI

WAR Rank: 2

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1947)

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

 

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-7.1

Hits-223

Total Bases-311

Singles-169

Runs Created-122

AB per SO-53.4

Fielding % as 2B-.973

3rd Time All-Star-It’s not easy to beat Rogers Hornsby as the best player at second base, but Frisch did that this year. He did it because he had an awesome season and because Hornsby missed a few games. Frisch finished second in WAR (7.1), behind Reds pitcher Dolf Luque (10.8); first in WAR Position Players (7.1); third in Offensive WAR (5.7), trailing Hornsby  (6.6) and Brooklyn first baseman Jack Fournier (5.8); second in Defensive WAR (1.9), behind Pittsburgh shortstop Rabbit Maranville (2.3); fifth in batting (.348); 10th in slugging (.485); ninth in Adjusted OPS+ (131); and went a decent 29-for-41 stealing.

New York, managed by John McGraw, won the National League pennant for the third consecutive season, finishing 95-58, four-and-a-half games ahead of Cincinnati. However, unlike the first two of those, they lost the World Series to the Yankees, four games to two.

It wasn’t Frisch’s fault. He had a great Series, finishing 10-for-25 (.400) with a triple.

SABR says, “The extremely competitive Frisch became a favorite of McGraw, who saw in him a kindred soul, and Frisch was appointed team captain early in his playing career. There were no problems between the two while the Giants won pennants in the early ’20s, despite the very rough McGraw, who traditionally was especially hard on the Giants’ captains. But as the Giants’ performance deteriorated and McGraw became more irritable and frustrated, he singled out his captain and verbally abused him in the clubhouse after difficult losses with words meant not so much for him as for other members of the team. Frisch bridled at the abuse but took it for the sake of the team.”

hornsby8

2B-Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals, 27 Years Old

1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922

.384, 17 HR, 83 RBI

WAR Rank: 3

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1918)

 

Led in:

 

1923 NL Batting Title (4th Time)

Offensive WAR-6.6 (7th Time)

Batting Average-.384 (4th Time)

On-Base %-.459 (4th Time)

Slugging %-.627 (5th Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.086 (5th Time)

Adjusted OPS+-187 (6th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-55 (6th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-5.2 (6th Time)

Offensive Win %-.837 (6th Time)

8th Time All-Star-When I wrote this, Mike Trout had just signed a 12-year, $428 million extension, which makes you ask what the great Hornsby would have earned in this day and age. People talk about Trout playing seven seasons and playing in just three playoff games. Well, as of this year, Hornsby has yet to make the postseason. Of course, it was more difficult in his day, because only one of eight teams made the World Series.

Wikipedia explains why he missed so many games, stating, “On May 8, 1923, Hornsby suffered an injury to his left knee in a game against the Phillies when he turned to make a throw. He returned 10 days later, but the injury lingered, and he was removed from a game against the Pirates on May 26 to be examined by Robert Hyland, the Cardinals’ physician. Hyland had Hornsby’s knee placed in a cast for two weeks, after which he returned to the Cardinals. During a game in August, Hornsby was on third base late in the game and threw up his hands in disgust in response to a sign flashed by Rickey; he had given the current batter the take sign, and Hornsby felt the batter should have hit the ball. After the game, he and Rickey fought in the clubhouse, but teammates quickly broke it up. Hornsby missed several games late in the year with injuries that the Cardinals (and Hyland) did not believe to be serious; as a result he was fined $500 ($7,353 today) and suspended for the last five games of the year. However, Hornsby still won his fourth consecutive NL batting title with a batting average of .384. He also repeated as the leader in on-base percentage (.459) and slugging percentage (.627).”

johnstonj2

2B-Jimmy Johnston, Brooklyn Robins, 33 Years Old

1921

.325, 4 HR, 60 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Assists-532

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.26

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.10

2nd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team as a third baseman in 1921, Johnston started playing more at second in 1922. This year, his best ever, he finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.2); 10th in Offensive WAR (4.0); 10th in Defensive WAR (0.9); and went a meh 16-for-29 stealing.

After this season, Johnston moved to shortstop in 1924 and received some MVP votes despite playing in only 86 games. He was back at third in 1925 and then split 1926 between Brooklyn and the Giants.

He was the definition of a utility player. He played 1379 games altogether, playing 448 at third, 244 at second, 179 at short, 165 in rightfield, 130 in centerfield, 77 in leftfield, 49 at first base, and 103 as a pinch-hitter. However, this year was his only good year fielding, according to dWAR, as Johnston had a 0.9 mark. For his career, his fielding WAR was -1.9.

I’m trying to figure out why he received MVP votes in 1924. He only played 86 games, 63 of them at short. His hitting wasn’t good as Johnston slashed .298/.356/.365 for an OPS+ of 96. His Defensive WAR was 0.1. Maybe the voters were fascinated by the fact he played four positions.

This is as good of time as any to mention how old the people are who are making the All-Star team. Johnston is 33, for instance. I believe the offensive explosion allowed players to stay in the league longer.

Johnston died at the age of 77 on February 14, 1977 in Chattanooga, TN.

traynor

3B-Pie Traynor, Pittsburgh Pirates, 24 Years Old

.338, 12 HR, 101 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1948)

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

 

Led in:

 

Triples-19

Def. Games as 3B-152

Putouts as 3B-189

Assists as 3B-306

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.29

1st Time All-Star-Harold Joseph “Pie” Traynor was born on November11, 1898 in Framingham, MA. The six-foot, 170 pound third baseman started with Pittsburgh in 1920 and had his best season ever this year. He finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.5); fifth in Offensive WAR (4.8); seventh in batting (.338); ninth in slugging (.489); and went a decent 28-for-41 stealing.

Wikipedia says, “After spending time as a scout for the Pirates, Traynor eventually took a job as a sports director for a Pittsburgh radio station in 1944. His radio broadcasts became popular with Pittsburgh sports fans and he remained at the job for 21 years. Traynor retired from broadcasting in 1965. In 1948, Traynor was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, being the first third baseman to be chosen by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. In 1969, as part of the observance of the centennial of professional baseball, Traynor was named the third baseman on MLB’s all-time team. In 1971, he threw out the first pitch of Game 3 of the 1971 World Series at Three Rivers Stadium. He died in 1972 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not long after the Pirates moved into Three Rivers Stadium and retired his uniform number 20. Traynor was buried in Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh.”

There is a possibility Traynor is not going to make another All-Star team. He was a good player, but he’s a product of the time he played and even though he hit .320 for his career, his Career OPS+ is 107 and his defense isn’t great as rated by modern standards.

friberg

3B-Bernie Friberg, Chicago Cubs, 23 Years Old

.318, 12 HR, 88 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 71 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Double Plays Turned as 3B-33

1st Time All-Star-Bernard Albert “Bernie” Friberg was born on August 18, 1899 in Manchester, NH. The five-foot-11, 178 pound righty third baseman started with the Cubs in 1919 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1921. He slashed .318/.372/.473 for an OPS+ of 122, easily his best hitting season. He was terrible on the basepaths, however, getting gunned down 19 times in 32 attempts.

After this season, he continued to play for the Cubs in 1924 and 1925 and then was selected off waivers by the Phillies in 1925. He played for the Phillies through 1932 and then finished his career with the Red Sox in 1933.

SABR says, “The year with Kansas City seemed to jump-start Friberg’s career. On his return to the Cubs in 1922 (he was formally recalled in early September 1921), he hit .311 (with a .391 on-base percentage) and drove in 23 runs, while scoring 51 times. In 1923, he became primarily a third baseman, not an outfielder, and had his best year of all, batting .318 and homering 12 times – his first home runs in the major leagues. He drove in a career-best 88 runs and scored 91 times, also a personal best. Friberg finished his career with a .281 average and 38 homers, with 471 runs batted in. He scored 544 runs. In early August 1924, manager Bill Killefer appointed him field captain of the Cubs. He hadn’t quite turned 25 years of age.

“On December 8, 1958, Friberg was found dead in his car, which had crashed into a stone wall in Swampscott, Massachusetts, not far from his home. Both his wife, Ruth, and daughter, Virginia, were on duty at Lynn Hospital at the time the ambulance arrived. The certificate of death indicated that he had heart disease and gave cause of death as ‘presumably coronary thrombosis.’”

bancroft5

SS-Dave Bancroft, New York Giants, 32 Years Old

1915 1920 1921 1922

.304, 1 HR, 31 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.45 (6th Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-6.53 (7th Time)

5th Time All-Star-In order to make my All-Star team, you have to be the best player on your team, one of the 10 best pitchers; two best catchers; best first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, or shortstop; best three outfielders; or one of the remaining best position players to fill out the team. If you’re one of the top 10 pitchers or position players, you’re usually in, but outside of that, you’ll have to make the team as a fluke. Bancroft made the team this year as a fluke, because, despite playing only playing 107 games, he was the best shortstop in a year where the position was weak. Because he made it the All-Star team this season, he’s now going to make my Hall of Fame down the road.

Bancroft’s fielding put him on the team as he finished fifth in Defensive WAR (1.5) and led the league in range factor.

In his last World Series, he faltered badly, hitting just .083 (two-for-24) as the Giants lost to the Yankees, four games to two. Or as Wikipedia says, “Serving as team captain, Bancroft began to suffer through leg injuries in 1923. He was also hospitalized with a case of pneumonia during the season. Bancroft returned by the postseason, but batted .091 in the 1923 World Series, which the Yankees won in six games.”

Starting this season, Bancroft is going to have a hard time staying in the lineup. He would continue to battle injuries, playing over 130 games just one more season, with the Robins in 1928.

carey7

CF-Max Carey, Pittsburgh Pirates, 33 Years Old

1912 1916 1917 1918 1921 1922

.308, 6 HR, 63 RBI

WAR Rank: 8

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1961)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1922)

 

Led in:

 

Triples-23 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases-51 (8th Time)

Putouts as CF-450 (6th Time)

Assists as CF-28 (5th Time)

Errors Committed as CF-19 (4th Time)

Putouts as OF-450 (8th Time)

Assists as OF-28 (4th Time)

Range Factor/Game as CF-3.12 (6th Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-3.12 (6th Time)

7th Time All-Star-The Senior Circuit lived up to its name this season as 11 of the 25 players on the All-Star team, including Carey, were at least 30-years-old. For a man with Carey’s skill set of stealing and roaming centerfield, age usually affects him sooner. However, even in his 30s, Carey continued to put up valuable seasons for the Pirates. This year, he finished eighth in WAR (5.0); fourth in WAR Position Players (5.0); ninth in Offensive WAR (4.4); and stole an amazing 51 bases in 59 attempts. It wasn’t as good as 1922, when he went 51-for-53, but it still added value on the basepaths.

If you go to Baseball Think Factory, you can read a whole debate on whether or not Carey belongs in the Hall of Fame. The page I linked debates the merits of Carey and Harry Heilmann. Here’s one person’s notes: “I don’t see Heilmann and Carey as remotely comparable unless you don’t believe in peak at all. Similar career value–slight edge to Harry once you factor in war time–and Heilmann had a monster peak (4 30+ WS seasons topping at 35), while Carey never broke 30. WARP grossly overstates the value of guys like Carey because of the absurdly low defensive replacement level. Heilmann is, I believe, a ‘no-brainer’ HoM’er; he’s just not an inner-circle one. Sheffield is a very good comp. Heilmann could easily be a consensus no. 1 in a middling year. Carey is on the bubble.”

It should be noted Carey and Heilmann are both in Cooperstown and both will make my Hall of Fame.

roush6

CF-Edd Roush, Cincinnati Reds, 30 Years Old

1917 1918 1919 1920 1921

.351, 6 HR, 88 RBI

WAR Rank: 10

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1962)

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

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-41

6th Time All-Star-I’m fascinated by the Hall of Fame. Every year, when the new inductees are announced, I gauge for myself whether that player deserved it or not. I think Roush being in Cooperstown is borderline, because his stats were helped by the era in which he played. Oh, well, if he makes one more All-Star team, and that’s a coin flip, he’ll be in my Hall also. Roush also has a miniscule shot at making the ONEHOF, the One-Inductee-A-Year Hall of Fame.

Part of the problem for Roush was he only played 49 games in 1922 because he held out due to a salary dispute. This season, Roush finished 10th in WAR (4.5); sixth in WAR Position Players (4.5); sixth in Offensive WAR (4.7); fourth in batting (.351); ninth in on-base percentage (.406); sixth in slugging (.531); sixth in Adjusted OPS+ (148); and went a terrible 10-for-25 stealing.

SABR says, “Known as one of the feistiest players in baseball history, Edd Roush channeled that energy into a Hall of Fame career. An old-timer was quoted in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1919 saying that Roush was more like the fiery old Baltimore Orioles of the 1890’s than any other player in the National League. The observer stressed Roush’s versatility and his knack at doing the unexpected when it would help the most. John McGraw, in a similar vein, once said, ‘that Hoosier moves with the indifference of an alley cat.’ Pat Moran claimed that ‘all that fellow has to do is wash his hands, adjust his cap and he’s in shape to hit. He’s the great individualist in the game.’”

statz

CF-Jigger Statz, Chicago Cubs, 25 Years Old

.319, 10 HR, 70 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 68 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-154

At Bats-655

Outs Made-477

Def. Games as CF-154

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

Def. Games as OF-154

Double Plays Turned as OF-7

1st Time All-Star-Arnold John “Jigger” Statz was born on October 20, 1897 in Waukegan, IL. The five-foot-seven, 150 pound righty centerfielder started with the Giants in 1919 and then went to the Red Sox in 1920. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1921 and then had his best season ever this year, mainly due to his durability and fielding. He stole 29 bases, but was also nabbed 23 times.

Just because he didn’t have a stellar Major League career doesn’t mean he wasn’t productive. He is one of eight players to have 4,000 career combined major and minor league hits. Wikipedia says, “Statz played 18 minor league seasons, all of them for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. In an era when many players had lengthy minor league careers, Jigger Statz’s statistics surpassed those of his contemporaries, e.g. a grand total of 4,093 major and minor league hits, and a total number of games played which was exceeded only by Pete Rose.

“Statz managed for five years in the minor leagues. He was the Angels’ player-manager during 1940–1942, and managed the Visalia Cubs of the California League in 1948–1949.

“Jigger Statz played himself in the 1929 Paramount film, Fast Company, and in 1952 served as a technical advisor for The Winning Team, a fictionalized Warner Bros. biography of Grover Cleveland Alexander which starred Ronald Reagan.”

Jigger lived until he was 90, dying at the age of 90 on March 16, 1988, in Corona del Mar, CA.

youngs5

RF-Ross Youngs, New York Giants, 26 Years Old

1919 1920 1921 1922

.336, 3 HR, 87 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1972)

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

 

Led in:

 

Runs Scored-121

Times on Base-278 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as RF-152 (4th Time)

Assists as RF-22 (4th Time)

Double Plays Turned as RF-7 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as OF-7 (3rd Time)

5th Time All-Star-With some players you have to play a game of “What if?” What kind of stats would have Youngs put up if he hadn’t died young. The Veteran’s Committee of Cooperstown was amazed enough at what he did in his short 10-year career, they voted him into the Hall of Fame in 1972. He’s not going to make my Hall of Fame, but he most likely would have if he lived longer. Youngs would probably also be in the ONEHOF, the Hall of Fame in which just one elite player is elected every year. He was that good.

This season, Youngs finished eighth in batting (.336); fourth in on-base percentage (.412); 10th in Adjusted OPS+ (126); and went a dismal 13-for-32 stealing. In the Giants’ World Series loss to the Yankees, Youngs wasn’t to blame, hitting .348 (eight-for-23) with a home run and three RBI. His home run was of the inside-the-park variety.

SABR says, “Youngs had another outstanding year in 1923, hitting .336 in 152 games as the Giants swept to their third consecutive National League pennant. He totaled 200 hits and scored 121 runs to lead the league. By now he was universally regarded as the best right fielder in the senior circuit and drew comparisons of his overall value to a right fielder in the American League named Babe Ruth. Sportswriter Robert Boyd thought that Youngs was just as great a player as Ruth, Tris Speaker, Edd Roush, or Eddie Collins, although perhaps lacking their ‘color.’”

barnhart

RF-Clyde Barnhart, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

.324, 9 HR, 72 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 34 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

1st Time All-Star-Clyde Lee “Pooch” Barnhart was born on December 29, 1895 in Buck Valley, PA. The five-foot-10 , 155 pound righty outfielder started with Pittsburgh in 1920 as a third baseman before moving to the outfield this season. He finished sixth in on-base percentage (.409), fourth in slugging (.563); and fourth in Adjusted OPS+ (152).

Wikipedia says, “Barnhart made his major league debut on September 22, 1920, with the Pirates at age 24. That year, Barnhart had a batting average of .326 in 46 at bats in 12 games. In 1921, Barnhart was promoted to a starter. That year he hit .258 in 449 at bats in 124 games. The Pirates, however, were not satisfied with his statistics, so they demoted him to the bench.

“In 1922, Barnhart hit .330 in 209 at bats in 75 games, giving him the third highest batting average on the team. With those statistics, Barnhart was again promoted. In 1923, he hit .324 in 327 at bats in 114 games. Barnhart’s success continued, especially in 1925, when he had 114 runs batted in, second on a team that went on to win the World Series that year. In 1928, Barnhart was plagued with injuries; he recorded a .296 batting average in 196 at bats in 61 games. Barnhart’s last game was on August 23 of that year.

“Barnhart is the only major league player to get hits in three games in one day. He collected hits in each game of a rare triple-header played on October 2, 1920. He did this just 10 days after making his major league debut.”

Barnhart died on January 21, 1980 in Hagerstown, MD at the age of 84.

3 thoughts on “1923 National League All-Star Team

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