1926 National League All-Star Team

P-Hal Carlson, PHI

P-Ray Kremer, PIT

P-Jesse Petty, BRO

P-Charlie Root, CHC

P-Carl Mays, CIN

P-Doug McWeeny, BRO

P-Pete Alexander, CHC

P-Guy Bush, CHC

P-Freddie Fitzsimmons, NYG

P-Virgil Barnes, NYG

C-Bob O’Farrell, STL

C-Bubbles Hargrave, CIN

1B-Jim Bottomley, STL

2B-Frankie Frisch, NYG

2B-Rogers Hornsby, STL

2B-Sparky Adams, CHC

2B-Hughie Critz, CIN

3B-Les Bell, STL

SS-Travis Jackson, NYG

SS-Dave Bancroft, BSN

CF-Hack Wilson, CHC

CF-Kiki Cuyler, PIT

CF-Billy Southworth, NYG/STL

RF-Paul Waner, PIT

RF-Curt Walker, CIN

 

carlson2

P-Hal Carlson, Philadelphia Phillies, 34 Years Old, 1st MVP

1925

17-12, 3.23 ERA, 55 K, .240, 0 HR, 13 RBI

MVP Rank: 11

WAR Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-8.7

WAR for Pitchers-8.3

2nd Time All-Star-Some seasons, there is no stand out player to name as Most Valuable player and that was the case with the National League this season. Yet Carlson pitched far and above the competition this year, so I’m giving him the honor. You can see he only finished 11th in the real voting, but he had a great season while pitching in a huge hitters’ park. This season, Carlson finished first in WAR (8.7); first in WAR for Pitchers (8.3); fifth in innings pitched; and fifth in Adjusted ERA+ (132).

Carlson’s team, the Phillies, didn’t do so well. They finished last under manager Art Fletcher, finishing 58-93. They couldn’t hit, finishing second in the National League in strikeouts and, besides Carlson, couldn’t pitch, finishing last in ERA.

Wikipedia says, “Carlson used his curveball exclusively, owing to his lack of speed. He played seven years for the Pirates, going 42-55, went 42-48 in four years with the Phillies, and had a mark of 30-17 with the Cubs in four years. He had his most wins in 1926, with 17 (along with 12 losses). He had a career best 2.23 ERA in 1919.

“At 3:00 p.m. on May 28, 1930, Carlson was complaining of stomach pains and called a doctor. Approximately 35 minutes after the team physician was called, Carlson died, just as he was being moved to hospital. He was 38 at the time of his death. According to the physician, Carlson died of a stomach hemorrhage. He left behind a wife and a child. Carlson is buried at Arlington Memorial Park Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois.”

kremer2

P-Ray Kremer, Pittsburgh Pirates, 33 Years Old

1924

20-6, 2.61 ERA, 74 K, .253, 1 HR, 14 RBI

MVP Rank: 3

WAR Rank: 2

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

1926 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.61

Wins-20

Win-Loss %-.769

Adjusted ERA+-150

Adj. Pitching Runs-33

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.5

Base-Out Runs Saved-40.44

Win Probability Added-5.5

Base-Out Wins Saved-4.2

2nd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team in 1924, Wiz Kremer had a decent 1925 campaign, but not good enough to make my list. This season was his best ever as you can see all of the categories in which he led above. The reason Hal Carlson gets the MVP nod from me is because the Philadelphia hurler pitched in a band box, while Kremer pitched in a pitchers’ dream park (though Forbes Field was a hitters’ park during this time). That doesn’t take away from the great season he had.

Carlson also didn’t get to pitch on such a good team with great run support. Pittsburgh dropped from first to third this year under manager Bill McKechnie, finishing 84-69. Thanks to Kremer and others, Pittsburgh’s pitching shined, finishing third in ERA+.

Since he didn’t make the All-Star team last season, here’s SABR’s write-up on his World Series: “Aldridge pitched a complete-game victory in Game Five, then Kremer took the mound in Game Six in Pittsburgh and hurled a pressure-packed, complete-game six-hitter, winning, 3-2. In Game Seven, described by the Associated Press as ‘perhaps the most thrilling seen in World Series history,’ a steady downpour of rain made conditions terrible. After the Senators battered two Pirates pitchers for six runs in four innings, Kremer took the mound in the top of the fifth inning with the Pirates trailing 6-2 against the Big Train. Kremer retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced (he surrendered a home run to Roger Peckinpaugh) while the Pirates stormed back, scoring six runs to win the game, 9-7, and give the Pirates their first championship since 1909. With his second consecutive victory, Kremer was hailed as the ‘Hero of the World Series.’”

petty

P-Jesse Petty, Brooklyn Robins, 31 Years Old

17-17, 2.84 ERA, 101 K, .175, 0 HR, 8 RBI

WAR Rank: 5

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Hits per 9 IP-8.031

Losses-17

Errors Committed as P-7

1st Time All-Star-Jesse Lee “The Silver Fox” Petty was born on November 23, 1894 in Orr, OK. The six-foot, 195 pound righty hitting, lefty throwing pitcher started with Cleveland in 1921 and then didn’t play again in the Majors until 1925. This season was Petty’s best ever as he finished fifth in WAR (5.0); third in WAR for Pitchers (5.4), behind Philadelphia’s Hal Carlson (8.3) and Pittsburgh’s Ray Kremer (6.2); third in ERA (2.84), trailing Kremer (2.61) and Chicago’s Charlie Root (2.82); third in innings pitched (275 2/3), behind two Cincy pitchers, Pete Donohue (285 2/3) and Carl Mays (281); and fourth in Adjusted ERA+ (133).

Brooklyn, managed by Wilbert Robinson, finished in sixth place with a 71-82 record. The Robins couldn’t hit, finishing last in the National League in runs scored.

Petty has another All-Star team left and if he hadn’t gotten the chance so late in his life, who knows what he might have done. Of course, maybe if he would have pitched better in 1925, when he went 9-9 with a 4.88 ERA, he could have gotten his shot earlier. Like so many pitchers of this era, except for the freaks like Pete Alexander and Walter Johnson, his decline happened after piling up innings in just a couple seasons. He pitched 275 2/3 innings this year and then will pitch over 270 next year and then will start to falter. The days of multiple pitchers pitching over 300 innings were for the most part in the past, though usually one or two pitchers passed that benchmark during the year.

root

P-Charlie Root, Chicago Cubs, 27 Years Old

18-17, 2.82 ERA, 127 K, .143, 1 HR, 7 RBI

MVP Rank: 16

WAR Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Losses-17

Sit. Wins Saved-3.3

1st Time All-Star-Charles Henry “Charlie” or “Chinski” Root was born on St. Patrick’s Day, 1899 in Middletown, OH. The five-foot-10, 190 pound righty pitcher started with the Browns in 1923 and then didn’t pitch again in the Majors until this season. This was his best season ever as he finished sixth in WAR (4.8); fourth in WAR for Pitchers (5.2); second in ERA (2.82), behind Pittsburgh’s Ray Kremer (2.61); fourth in innings pitched (271 1/3); and second in Adjusted ERA+ (137), trailing Kremer (150). He’s most famous for a homer he gave up, but we can talk about that in years to come.

Chicago, managed by Joe McCarthy, who at the age of 39 was leading a team for the first time, finished in fourth place with a 82-72 record. The Cubbies could hit, leading the National League in doubles and had the best ERA in the league.

SABR says, “’Cool’ and ‘graceful,’ Root was one of the great fastball pitches of his era. Though he never led the league in strikeouts, he ranked in the top five for six consecutive seasons (1926-1931) in both strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings. The Sporting News said he had a ‘mysterious delivery’ and could baffle hitters with his overhand, three-quarters, and side-arm delivery depending on the batter or pitch count. With a commanding mound presence, the tobacco-juice spitting Root intimidated batters and freely threw inside, thus earning his nickname Chinski (a ball near the batter’s chin). His curveball, a self-described ‘wrinkle ball’ (‘It slews a little like the wrinkle in a piece of suit,’ he said), was known to freeze hitters.”

mays7P-Carl Mays, Cincinnati Reds, 34 Years Old

1916 1917 1919 1920 1921 1924

19-12, 3.14 ERA, 58 K, .224, 0 HR, 8 RBI

MVP Rank: 22

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1924)

 

Led in:

 

Complete Games-24 (2nd Time)

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.096

Assists as P-117 (5th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as P-4.26 (6th Time)

Range Factor/Game as P-3.41

7th Time All-Star-In 1925, Mays threw only 51 2/3 innings, but he was back this year, finishing sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.0); second in innings pitched (281), behind teammate Pet Donohue (285 2/3); and first in complete games (24).

Jack Hendricks managed the Reds to a second place 87-67 finish, two games behind St. Louis. They could certainly hit, finishing first in the National League in batting average and on-base percentage and also could pitch, leading the NL in shutouts.

Wikipedia says, “After his playing career, Mays was the owner and operator of a baseball school in Oregon; among his most notable attendees was Johnny Pesky. Mays also worked as a scout for the Cleveland IndiansMilwaukee and Atlanta Braves, and Kansas City Royals. In addition, his stepson, Jerry Bartow, coached baseball at Hoover High School in San Diego, and each spring Mays made the trip from Oregon to volunteer as a mentor and assistant coach. In an interview, Mays said he especially enjoyed working with young pitchers, but that he regarded his most important task as teaching members of the team how to play the game safely.

“He died in El Cajon, California and is buried in River View CemeteryPortland, Oregon (Sec. 13, Lot 49, Sp. 7). His distant cousin, Joe Mays, was a Major League pitcher from 1999 to 2006.

“In August 2008, Mays was one of the ten former players who began their careers before 1943 to be considered by the Veterans Committee for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009. He was named on only about 25 percent of the ballots, so he was not selected for induction.” Well, he made my Hall of Fame so who needs Cooperstown?

mcweeny

P-Doug McWeeny, Brooklyn Robins, 29 Years Old

11-13, 3.04 ERA, 96 K, .109, 0 HR, 0 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 47 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

1st Time All-Star-Douglas Lawrence “Doug” or “Buzz” McWeeny was born on August 17, 1896 in Chicago, IL. The six-foot-two, 190 pound righty pitcher started with the White Sox in 1921-22 and also 1924. He didn’t pitch in 1923 or 1925 in the Majors and then started with Brooklyn this season. It was his best season ever as he finished fifth in WAR for Pitchers (4.1), eighth in ERA (3.04), and first in most popular name to be used as a high school locker room insult.

From The Annotated This Day in Baseball History: “Although perhaps not the most fantastic example one can find, Doug McWeeny (Buzz to fans and friends) was a member in good standing of the ‘Hey, what did I ever do to you guys?’ club, pitchers whose record bore greater resemblance to the quality of their team than to the quality of the pitching. In 1926 Doug put up a 3.04 ERA, good for 8th in the league and second best on his squad. Buzz’s teammates (already the worst offensive team in the league) rewarded him for his efforts with a grand total of 28 runs scored in the 14 games Doug started that the Robins would go onto to lose. Despite his superior ERA, McWeeny finished just 11-13 (although at least he had some company in that regard, the Robins’ #1 starter Jesse Petty finished 3rd in the league in ERA and was just 17-17).

“[B]eing a ‘weenie’ as a pejorative was a 1960s creation, meaning hecklers had to look elsewhere during Doug’s playing days”

alexander14P-Pete Alexander, Chicago Cubs/St. Louis Cardinals, 39 Years Old

1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1925

12-10, 3.05 ERA, 47 K, .200, 0 HR, 6 RBI

MVP Rank: 19

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 (4th Time)

14th Time All-Star-For all of his previous fame, it was this 1926 campaign that would give Grover Cleveland Alexander his first championship. At the age of 39, Ol’ Pete stymied the mighty Bronx Bombers, going 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA. He was also the relief pitcher in Game 7 when this famous play happened as described by SABR: “As he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, Alexander knew that Babe Ruth was the third scheduled Yankee hitter. Two quick outs later, Ruth came to the plate. Alexander started the Bambino with the first strike Ruth had seen since his third-inning home run. A ball and a foul second strike left the Cardinals one pitch away from their first world championship but the next three pitches all missed the plate and Ruth, for the fourth time in the game, walked to first.

“With Ruth on first, Meusel came to the plate with a chance to redeem himself for his crucial 4th inning error. The Yankees left fielder was the only hitter who had consistently given Alexander problems. In the seven times the two had faced each other during the Series Meusel had three hits including a double and a triple the previous day. As Alex released his first pitch to Meusel, a strike, Ruth inexplicably took off for second. O’Farrell gunned a perfect strike to second. Hornsby tagged out the sliding Ruth and the Cardinals had won their first world championship.”

I also have Alexander rated as the eighth greatest player of all time (through 1926). Here is the complete list:

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

bushg

P-Guy Bush, Chicago Cubs, 24 Years Old

13-9, 2.86 ERA, 32 K, .154, 0 HR, 4 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-Guy Terrell “The Mississippi Mudcat” Bush was born on August 23, 1901 in Aberdeen, MS. The six-foot, 175 pound righty pitcher started with the Cubs in 1923 and had his best season ever this year. He finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.1); fourth in ERA (2.86); and third in Adjusted ERA+ (135), behind Pittsburgh’s Ray Kremer (150) and teammate Charlie Root (137).

Wikipedia says, “Bush did not show much improvement in 1935 with the Pirates. He did, however, place his name into the record books. On May 25, the Pirates played the Braves in one of Babe Ruth‘s final games. Ruth put on a performance, collecting four hits including three home runs and knocking in six runners. The first home run shot came off pitcher Red Lucas, while the last two came off Bush. The last home run was Ruth’s career home run #714, and was a mammoth of a shot. It was the first home run to clear the right field grandstands at Forbes Field and was reportedly measured as a 600-foot (180 m) bomb. It was the last home run — in fact, the last hit of any kind — in Ruth’s major league career, which ended less than a week later. Bush later described the Babe’s final blast: ‘He [Ruth] got ahead of the ball and hit it over the triple deck, clear out of the ballpark. I’m telling you, it was the longest cockeyed ball I ever saw in my life.’

“Guy Bush died at age 83 on July 2, 1985 of cardiac arrest after working in his garden in Shannon, Mississippi.”

fitzsimmons

P-Freddie Fitzsimmons, New York Giants, 24 Years Old

14-10, 2.88 ERA, 48 K, .128, 0 HR, 3 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as P-20

Fielding % as P-1.000

1st Time All-Star-Fred Landis “Fat Freddie” Fitzsimmons was born on July 28, 1901 in Mishawaka, IN. The five-foot-11, 185 pound righty started with the Giants in 1925. He would have a long career, but he probably won’t make another All-Star team for quite a few years. This season, Fitzsimmons finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (3.3), sixth in ERA (2.88), and seventh in Adjusted ERA+ (129).

The Giants, managed by John McGraw, dropped from second to fifth and had a 74-77 record. Their hitting and pitching were both weak.

SABR says, “Fitzsimmons’ transformation into one of the best young pitchers in the American Association came at a prescient moment. The New York Giants, winners of the previous four NL pennants, got off to another hot start under manager John McGraw in 1925, but their pitching wilted in June and July. On team scout Dick Kinsella’s recommendation, McGraw went to Indianapolis to personally scout Fitzsimmons, who had bewildered the Giants in an exhibition game in Plant City, Florida, during spring training. On August 8 the Giants acquired Fitzsimmons for a reported $50,000.

“Fitzsimmons saw his first major-league game the day he reported to the Giants. Thrown into a  pressurepacked pennant race, he made his major-league debut on August 12, relieving Virgil Barnes and hurling fourscoreless frames in a 5-3 loss to the eventual World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field

“Fitzsimmons won 14 and logged 219 innings for the fifth-place Giants in his first full season in the big leagues to commence an impressive streak of nine consecutive seasons of at least 200 innings.”

barnesv2

P-Virgil Barnes, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1924

8-13, 2.87 ERA, 54 K, .054, 0 HR, 1 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 51 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

2nd Time All-Star-Without doing the research, I would guess very few people with career WARs of 5.7 make two All-Star teams in their life, but Barnes did. He probably wouldn’t have made this list in just about any other year, but there weren’t a lot of great pitchers in the National League this year. He finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.1), fifth in ERA (2.87), and sixth in Adjusted ERA+ (130).

SABR wraps up his life, saying, “Throughout these years, Zeke continued to battle alcoholism. Not only was the illness a likely contributor to his employment difficulties, it severely strained his marriage and took a toll on the family. Finally, in 1948 or 1949, he and Della separated. The breach was serious enough to last three or four years, but it was not irrevocable. The couple reconciled in the early 1950s and remained together until his death.

“In the early summer of 1958, the four Barnes brothers met at Zeke’s Wichita home for what proved to be their final reunion. Already the summer had brought sorrow. Jess had recently suffered a heart attack and just days after his release from the hospital, he and his wife Rebecca lost their El Dorado, Kansas, home to a massive tornado. But the summer’s worst blow for the Barnes family came on July 24, when Zeke himself was struck by a heart attack and died shortly after his admission to the Veterans Hospital in Wichita. He was 61 years old at the time of his death.”

ofarrell3

C-Bob O’Farrell, St. Louis Cardinals, 29 Years Old

1922 1923

.293, 7 HR, 68 RBI

MVP Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

1926 NL MVP

Def. Games as C-146

Putouts as C-466

3rd Time All-Star-I wrote in O’Farrell’s blurb of 1923 that I wasn’t even sure he’d make the All-Star team this year in which he won the National League’s Most Valuable Player. I’m not sure why I wrote that because he had a pretty good season. Did he deserve the MVP? Probably not, but there wasn’t really a standout player this season, so a catcher who caught 146 games and helped lead his team to the NL pennant certainly would rank high.

O’Farrell finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.0) and 10th in Defensive WAR (1.3). In the World Series, the catcher hit .304 (seven-for-23) with a double and threw out Babe Ruth trying to steal to end the Fall Classic.

SABR tells of his later years, stating, “O’Farrell finished his career in St. Louis, appearing in only 14 games for the Cards in 1935. He was released on December 9, and at 39 years old, O’Farrell retired. In 1,492 games over 21 years, O’Farrell had a lifetime batting average of .273. He clubbed 51 home runs and drove in 549 runs. His lifetime fielding percentage at catcher was .976. He threw out 48% of would-be base stealers.

“In retirement, O’Farrell operated O’Farrell Recreation in Waukegan. The recreation hall was a bowling alley and a billiards room. O’Farrell, who enjoyed a round of golf whenever he got the opportunity, was a good bowler in his own right. He carried a 200+ average for many years while a member of the American Bowling Congress.

“Robert O’Farrell passed away on February 20, 1988, at St. Theresa Medical Center in Waukegan.”

hargrave3

C-Bubbles Hargrave, Cincinnati Reds, 33 Years Old

1923 1924

.353, 6 HR, 62 RBI

MVP Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

1926 NL Batting Title

Batting Average-.353

3rd Time All-Star-Despite hitting .300 in 1925, Hargrave didn’t make the All-Star team that year, but this season did something no catcher did since the National Association days in 1875, led the league in hitting. Along with that, Hargrave finished sixth in Offensive WAR (3.8), sixth in on-base percentage (.406), fourth in slugging (.525), and second in Adjusted OPS+ (152), behind Philadelphia rightfielder Cy Williams (155).

Though he led the league in hitting, it should be noted, according to SABR, “Failure to set a standard would prove to be a statistical thorn in the side of baseball for the next 30-plus years until the present standard of basing qualifications on plate appearances came into being in the 1950s. During the interim, at least four batting titles were questioned for lack of a qualifying standard. Under today’s qualification standards, the 1926 title would have been awarded to Pittsburgh rookie Paul Waner, whose 618 plate appearances more than met the minimum standard. Waner hit .336 in 1926 and, had he won, would have been the first rookie to win a batting title.”

Here’s more on Hargrave from SABR: “Asked about his career, Hargrave was proud of his hitting, ‘Well if we didn’t hit .300 we didn’t feel right.’ The interview ended with Hargrave telling the reporter, ‘Just remember I could hit.’

“Eugene ‘Bubbles’ Hargrave died in Cincinnati on February 23, 1969, at age 76 from the effects of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was the vanguard for a series of standout Reds’ hitting catchers like Lombardi, Smoky Burgess and Johnny Bench. Not bad for a young man whose father wanted him to get into the upholstery business.”

bottomley31B-Jim Bottomley, St. Louis Cardinals, 26 Years Old

1923 1925

.299, 19 HR, 120 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1974)

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

 

Led in:

 

Total Bases-305

Doubles-40 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-120

Extra Base Hits-73

Errors Committed as 1B-19 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-At this time in the National League, there wasn’t a better first baseman than Sunny Jim. I don’t think he deserves to be in Cooperstown, but the man could hit. This season, Bottomley finished seventh in Offensive WAR (3.6) and sixth in slugging (.506). He also made his first World Series and did well, hitting .345 (10-for-29) with three doubles. The Cardinals beat the Yankees, four games to three. SABR mentions this, stating, “Both Bottomley and the Cardinals tasted World Series play for the first time in 1926. He hit .345 in the Series to help the Cardinals defeat the Yankees in a seven-game classic that featured the Grover Cleveland Alexander’s legendary relief work in Game Seven, and ended with Babe Ruth being thrown out attempting to steal second. Bottomley earned a $5,584 winner’s share that would, later become the seed money for his retirement. “

From Cards Conclave, which named Sunny Jim the 10th greatest Cardinal of all-time: “Bottomley never posted a batting average below .296, an on-base percentage below .350, or an OPS below .823 while a member of the Cardinals. He twice led the league in doubles, RBI, extra base hits and total bases. In addition he led the league in games played, hits, triples, and home runs once during his career. Per Fangraphs, Bottomley posted a career WAR of 37.7.

“Whether or not he deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame is a discussion for another day. What is assured is that Jim Bottomley was one of the greatest Cardinal hitters to wear the birds on the bat and deserves his place in our top 10. Watch for the next entry in our countdown as Rusty brings you #9 tomorrow.”

frisch6

2B-Frankie Frisch, New York Giants, 28 Years Old

1921 1922 1923 1924 1925

.314, 5 HR, 44 RBI

WAR Rank: 7

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1947)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1925)

 

6th Time All-Star-Frisch made his sixth consecutive All-Star team and actually had a better year, based on WAR, than Rogers Hornsby. He finished seventh in WAR (4.6); third in WAR Position Players (4.6), behind Pittsburgh rightfielder Paul Waner (5.3) and Chicago centerfielder Hack Wilson (5.2); fourth in Defensive WAR (2.2); and stole 23 bases. For some reason, for the next few years, caught stealings would not be counted.

The Belleville News-Democrat says, “Frisch, meanwhile, had his own feud with Giants manager John McGraw, a fellow New Yorker who held the team captain to his own exacting set of standards. During that same summer of ‘26, Frisch missed a sign from his manager and was issued such a berating in front of his teammates that he stormed out of the dugout and went home. He returned before the end of the season, but the one-time chemistry major at Fordham University knew he and McGraw made a combustible mix.

“The switch-hitting Frisch was a proven star in his own right, having batted .321 through eight seasons and been a key player in the Giants’ two world championships. Still, he understood what awaited him in St. Louis as Hornsby’s replacement, so he retreated to snowy upstate New York for the remainder of the offseason determined to get himself in the best physical condition of his life.”

Yes, incredibly two great second basemen, Frisch and Hornsby, would be traded for each other after this season. We’ll have more in next year’s write-ups. It’s one of the biggest trades of all-time.

hornsby11

2B-Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals, 30 Years Old

1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925

.317, 11 HR, 93 RBI

MVP Rank: 18

WAR Rank: 10

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (inducted in 1924)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1918)

 

11th Time All-Star-The Cardinals started as the Brown Stockings of the American Association in 1882 and then became the Browns in 1883. St. Louis won four consecutive AA crowns from 1885-88, winning one World Series, losing two, and tying another. That would be the last pennant for 38 years for this organization, which became the Perfectos in 1899 and then the Cardinals in 1900. From 1892 to 1925, St. Louis would never finish higher than third.

That all changed this year under Hornsby as St. Louis won the National League crown with an 89-65 record. It scored more runs than any NL team and also had decent pitching.

In the World Series, the Cardinals beat the Yankees, four games to three. It wasn’t a great first series for Rajah, who hit .250 (seven-for-28) with one double and four RBI. Regardless, the incredible Hornsby had his first title.

For the season, Hornsby finished 10th in WAR (4.4); sixth in WAR Position Players (4.4); fifth in Offensive WAR (4.2); and 10th in on-base percentage (.388). This was certainly a very un-Rajah type season, but he’ll be back to form.

What he won’t back to is St. Louis as he would be part of an incredible trade after this year. It reminds me of the Wayne Gretzky trade on August 9, 1988 that threw the National Hockey League for a loop. Since I live in the Los Angeles area, I started watching hockey at that point just to watch The Great One play.

adamss

2B-Sparky Adams, Chicago Cubs, 31 Years Old

.309, 0 HR, 39 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

At Bats-624 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-701

Errors Committed as 2B-29

1st Time All-Star-Earl John “Sparky” Adams was born on August 26, 1894 in Zerbe, PA. The five-foot-five, 151 pound righty infielder started with the Cubs in 1922 playing mostly shortstop until 1925 when he moved to second. This year, he had his best season ever, finishing eighth in WAR Position Players (4.4), fifth in Defensive WAR (2.1), and second in steals (27), trailing Pittsburgh centerfielder Kiki Cuyler (35). Not bad for the smallest player in baseball.

Wikipedia says, “Adams made his Major League debut with the Cubs on September 18, 1922. He played 11 games during the 1922 Chicago Cubs season. He spent the following two seasons as the team’s shortstop, splitting time at the position with Charlie Hollocher. In the 1923 Chicago Cubs season, he hit four home runs in 311 at-bats for the season, then went on to hit only five the following 5,246 at-bats of his career. The 1925 Chicago Cubs season became his breakthrough, as he became a second baseman as a result of a trade that sent George Grantham to Pittsburgh, leaving the second base position open. As a hitter, he finished the season with 26 stolen bases, eight triples, and 627 at-bats, which led the National League. As a fielder, he led all second basemen in putoutsassists, and fielding average for the season.

“In 1926, Adams increased his batting average to .309, and stole a career-high 27 bases, second-best in the National League. He also played all 154 games of the season, finished first in at-bats for the second year in a row with 624, and finished first in plate appearances with 700.”

critz

2B-Hughie Critz, Cincinnati Reds, 25 Years Old

.270, 3 HR, 79 RBI

MVP Rank: 2

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Outs Made-467

Def. Games as 2B-155 (2nd Time)

Assists as 2B-588

Double Plays Turned as 2B-107 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.981

1st Time All-Star-Hugh Melville “Hughie” Critz (pronounced KRYTZE) was born on September 17, 1900 in Starkville, MS. The five-foot-eight, 147 pound second baseman started with the Reds in 1924. Because of the lack of a dominant player in the National League this season, Critz was surprisingly second in the Most Valuable Player voting. I wouldn’t have had him in the top 10, but this was hard year in which to vote. He did finish third in Defensive WAR (2.8), behind two shortstops, St. Louis’ Tommy Thevenow (3.9) and Chicago’s Jimmy Cooney (3.2).

Wikipedia says, “In his first major league game, he had two hits off Hall-of-Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, and went on to hit .322 in 102 games, with 19 stolen bases, as a rookie.”

“In the Reds’ best year with Critz on the team, 1926, they finished second in the league two games behind the champion St. Louis Cardinals. Alongside the Reds’ success that year, he also had what could easily be considered his best season, batting .270, with 3 homers and 79 RBIs. He tied his career high for triples with 14 and had his next-best career high in RBIs with 79. He finished second in MVP voting, behind only Bob O’Farrell.”

We sometimes think we have only figured out fielding recently, that past generations never really had a grasp on it because they didn’t have the fancy stats we have nowadays. But if you look at some of the more confounding MVP votes, they’re not as strange as we thought because most of them rank high in Defensive WAR, years before these writers even had this stat.

belll

3B-Les Bell, St. Louis Cardinals, 24 Years Old

.325, 17 HR, 100 RBI

MVP Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 28 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Offensive WAR-5.4

Def. Games as 3B-155 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Lester Rowland “Les” Bell was born on December 14, 1901 in Harrisburg, PA. The five-foot-11, 165 pound third baseman/shortstop started with the Cardinals in 1923. He had a fluke great season this year as possibly the best hitter in the league. Bell finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.4); first in Offensive WAR (5.4); ninth in batting (.325); fifth in slugging (.518); and fifth in Adjusted OPS+ (137). In the World Series, Bell went seven-for-27 (.259) with a double and a homer. Only his weak glove kept him from being a better player.

Retro Simba says, “Rogers Hornsby brought out the best in the baseball talents of Les Bell, and soon after Hornsby departed the Cardinals, Bell did, too.

“In 1926, when Hornsby led the Cardinals to their first National League pennant and a World Series title, Bell batted .325 with 33 doubles, 14 triples, 17 home runs and 100 RBI in 155 games.

“After Hornsby was traded by the Cardinals to the Giants in December 1926, Bell fell into a funk. Without his mentor, Bell slumped in 1927, batting .259 with nine home runs and 65 RBI in 115 games for the Cardinals. He also committed 24 errors in 100 games at third base.

“Determined to impress McKechnie, Bell reported a week early to the Cardinals’ 1928 spring training camp in Florida. Bell hit well but fielded poorly. ‘Ground balls were getting by him and going through his legs,’ the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.”

Bell would retire after the 1931 season and then live to the age of 84, dying the day after Christmas in 1985.

jacksont

SS-Travis Jackson, New York Giants, 22 Years Old

.327, 8 HR, 51 RBI

WAR Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1982)

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 92 percent chance)

 

1st Time All-Star-Travis Calvin “Stonewall” Jackson was born on November 2, 1903 in Waldo, AR. The five-foot-10, 160 pound shortstop/third baseman started with the Giants in 1922 at the age of 18 and will not start a run of very good seasons. This year, Jackson finished ninth in WAR (4.5); fifth in WAR Position Players (4.5); ninth in Offensive WAR (3.5); sixth in Defensive WAR (1.7); eighth in batting (.327); ninth in slugging (.494); and ninth in Adjusted OPS+ (130). It would be his best offensive year ever as it would be his glove which would lead him to Cooperstown.

Wikipedia says, “Jackson was discovered by Kid Elberfeld at a minor league baseball game at the age of 14. Elberfeld signed Jackson to his first professional contract, and recommended him to John McGrawmanager of the Giants. His exceptional range at shortstop led to the nickname ‘Stonewall.’ Jackson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.”

The people that edit Wikipedia tend to amuse me. For instance, if I was researching how Jackson got the nickname “Stonewall,” I would read it’s due to his great range at shortstop. What does that mean? Does that mean nothing got by him like a stone wall? Isn’t it more likely it’s that he was named after the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson?

Anyway, Jackson is going to be yet another Giant from this era that is a questionable Hall of Famer. That being said, he’s not a terrible pick as he was one of the best shortstops of his era.

bancroft7

SS-Dave Bancroft, Boston Braves, 35 Years Old

1915 1920 1921 1922 1923 1925

.311, 1 HR, 44 RBI

MVP Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1971)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1926)

 

7th Time All-Star-Bancroft first made this All-Star team as a shortstop for Philadelphia Phillies in 1915, helping lead them to the World Series. He then was part of the Giants’ juggernaut of the early 1920s, before coming to the Braves in 1924 as a player/manager. Through all of that, he was consistently one of the best National League shortstops and thus enters my Hall of Fame this season. Congratulations, Beauty!

Bancroft finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1); fourth in Offensive WAR (4.2); and ninth in on-base percentage (.399). As a manager, Beauty guided the Braves to a 7th place finish with a 66-86 record. Their pitching was miserable as the completed less games than any other NL team.

According to Wikipedia, Hughie Jennings said of my newest Hall of Fame inductee, “’Bancroft is one of the greatest shortstops in the history of the game. He can go equally well to his right or left, has a great arm, and is a good hitter. In addition, he is pretty fast on his feet. The best thing about Bancroft is, he can think. He uses his brain. He is more than a great mechanical player. A player like Banny at short means everything to a ball club.’”

However, Wikipedia also mentions, “Bancroft, along with some of the other selections made by Terry and Frisch, has been considered among the weakest of all inductees According to the BBWAA, the Veterans Committee was not selective enough in choosing members. Charges of cronyism were levied against the Veterans Committee. This led to the Veterans Committee having its powers reduced in subsequent years.” Eh, there are worse choices than Bancroft.

wilsonh

CF-Hack Wilson, Chicago Cubs, 26 Years Old

.321, 21 HR, 109 RBI

MVP Rank: 5

WAR Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1979)

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 64 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-21

Bases on Balls-69

Adj. Batting Runs-40

Adj. Batting Wins-3.9

Win Probability Added-4.9

Situ. Wins Added-3.6

Double Plays Turned as CF-5

Fielding % as CF-.972

1st Time All-Star-Lewis Robert “Hack” Wilson was born on April 26, 1900 in Ellwood City, PA. The five-foot-six, 190 pound centerfielder started with the Giants in 1923 and then after the 1925 season, he was traded by the New York Giants with a player to be named later to Toledo (American Association) for Earl Webb. The New York Giants sent Pip Koehler (February 15, 1926) to Toledo (American Association) to complete the trade. Then he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs from Toledo (American Association) in the 1925 rule 5 draft. It ended up being a great pickup for the Cubs as he became the Babe Ruth of the National League.

This season, Wilson finished fourth in WAR (5.2); second in WAR Position Players (5.2), behind Pittsburgh rightfielder Paul Waner (5.3); second in Offensive WAR (5.2), trailing St. Louis third baseman Les Bell; seventh in on-base percentage (.406); second in slugging (.539), behind Philadelphia centerfielder Cy Williams (.568); and third in Adjusted OPS+ (151), behind Williams (155) and Cincinnati catcher Bubbles Hargrave (152). He also led the National League in homers for the first of four times.

Wikipedia states, “Wilson regained his form as the Cubs’ center fielder in 1926, and he quickly became a favorite of Chicago fans. On May 24 he hit the center field scoreboard with one of the longest home runs in Wrigley Field history as the Cubs came from behind to defeat the Boston Braves. Later that evening he made news again when he was arrested during a police raid of a Prohibition-era speakeasy while trying to escape through the rear window, and was fined one dollar.”

cuyler3

CF-Kiki Cuyler, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1924 1925

.321, 8 HR, 92 RBI

WAR Rank: 8

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1968)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more  All-Star seasons. 88 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-157 (2nd Time)

Runs Scored-113 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases-35

Times On Base-256 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as OF-157 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-After being the World Series hero of 1925, Cuyler came back with another impressive year. He finished eighth in WAR (4.4); fourth in WAR Position Players (4.6); seventh in Offensive WAR (3.6); and first in steals (35). It would be the first of four times Cuyler would lead the National League in thefts.

SABR says, “On July 26 the Pirates took sole possession of first place and seemed destined to claim another pennant. The turning point in the season came to be known as the ABC Affair. The controversy started when Pirates vice president Fred Clarke, who was sitting on the bench and acting in the role of assistant coach, made disparaging remarks about Max Carey, who was struggling uncharacteristically with a .214 batting average, and demanded that Bill McKechnie replace him during a doubleheader shutout loss on August 7 to the seventh-place Braves at Boston. Veterans Babe Adams, Carson Bigbee, and Carey held a team meeting to decide whether Clarke should be allowed to remain on the bench. On August 13 Pirates brass quashed the insurrection by releasing all three players; however, the damage had been done. Pittsburgh limped to a 23-24 record and a third-place finish after the players were released. The tensions in the team clubhouse seemed to affect Cuyler, too. In his final 51 games after the initial brouhaha, he seemed at times indifferent, batted just .288, and drove in only 21 runs. Cuyler led the league in games played (157), runs (113), and stolen bases (35); however, critics pointed to his lower batting average (.321) and drop in home runs (18 to 8) and RBIs (102 to 92) as evidence of a poor season.”

southworth2

CF-Billy Southworth, New York Giants/St. Louis Cardinals, 33 Years Old

1918

.320, 16 HR, 99 RBI

MVP Rank: 19

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No (As a manager only)

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

 

Led in:

 

Power-Speed #-14.9

2nd Time All-Star-I already wrapped up Southworth’s career in his 1918 blurb, assuming he’d never make another All-Star team, but I was wrong. Since last making this list as a rightfielder for Pittsburgh in 1918, he played two more years with Pittsburgh in 1919-20. He led the National League in triples with 14 in 1919 and in caught stealings with 25 in 1920. He went to Boston from 1921-23, then went to the Giants in 1924. This year, he was having a good year with New York, but on June 14, he was traded by the New York Giants to the St. Louis Cardinals for Heinie Mueller.

He then helped lead the Cardinals to their first modern World Series by finishing eighth in slugging (.497) and ninth in steals (14). In the Series, Southworth was outstanding, hitting .345 (10-for-29), with a double, triple, and homer. St. Louis beat the Yankees, four games to three.

The reason for the trade is the reason for most trades from the Giants, as described by Wikipedia, which states, “In 1926, Southworth’s offensive production increased and he finished the season with a .320 batting average, 16 home runs and 99 RBI. He ran into difficulty with New York manager John McGraw that year, as Southworth’s independent style became incompatible with McGraw’s strict leadership. He was traded from the New York Giants to the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of the season.” It wasn’t easy to stay on McGraw’s good side for too long as many of his players discovered.

waner

RF-Paul Waner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 23 Years Old

.336, 8 HR, 79 RBI

MVP Rank: 12

WAR Rank: 3

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1952)

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

 

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-5.3

Triples-22

Runs Created-116

Base-Out Runs Added-48.08

Base-Out Wins Added-4.6

1st Time All-Star-Paul Glee “Big Poison” Waner was born on April 16, 1903 in Harrah, OK. The five-foot-eight, 153 pound lefty rightfielder had an impressive rookie year and, when compared to the rest of the league, possibly his best season ever. He finished third in WAR (5.3), behind two pitchers, Philadelphia’s Hal Carlson (8.7) and teammate Ray Kremer (6.5); first in WAR Position Players (5.3); third in Offensive WAR (4.9), trailing St. Louis third baseman Les Bell (5.4) and Chicago centerfielder Hack Wilson (5.2); fifth in batting (.336); third in on-base percentage (.413), behind Cincinnati leftfielder Cuckoo Christensen (.426) and Philadelphia rightfielder Cy Williams (.418); third in slugging (.528), trailing Williams (.568) and Wilson (.539); and fourth in Adjusted OPS+ (148).

SABR says, “Waner was not a very imposing individual, standing 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall. He never weighed more than 155 pounds. A scout for the New York Giants told Giants manager John McGraw, ‘That little punk don’t even know how to put on a uniform.’ After the Giants and Pirates squared off for the first time in the 1926 season, McGraw is said to have told the scout, ‘That little punk don’t even know how to put on a uniform but he’s removed three of my pitchers with line drives this week. I’m glad you did not scout Christy Mathewson.’”

I’m going to be writing a lot about Big Poison over the years. He’s definitely making my Hall of Fame and most likely also going to make the One-A-Year Hall of Fame (ONEHOF).

walker3

RF-Curt Walker, Cincinnati Reds, 29 Years Old

1922 1925

.306, 6 HR, 78 RBI

MVP Rank: 24

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as RF-151 (2nd Time)

Putouts as RF-327 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as RF-14

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

Double Plays Turned as OF-8 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Walker has now made two All-Star teams since I wrote up the end of his career in 1922. He was very steady this year played in every game for the first and only time. Walker slashed .306/.372/.450 for and OPS+ of 123. He didn’t hit a lot of homers, but he did have a lot of three-baggers, hitting 20 triples this season, including two in one inning, still a record.

According to the Pecan Park Eagle, there is a controversy of whether Ross Youngs or Curt Walker is the better player. Youngs made the Hall of Fame while Walker didn’t. I don’t think either should have made it and none other than Bill James agrees with me. From the PPE: “My Conclusion: Ross Youngs had more friends in high places than Curt Walker. Youngs also played his career in New York and was struck down by a terrible disease at the height of his career. Lot’s of sympathy votes hatch from going out that way. Curt Walker was more of an everyday, quiet kind of guy who played out his career in a small market city, lived into his retirement years to the boondocks of little Beeville, a place that hardly a Veterans Committee member ever visited.

Sabermetric guru Bill James takes this position on the Youngs/Walker controversy: He basically concludes that it isn’t so much that Walker deserves the HOF as much as Youngs, but that Ross Youngs never should have been inducted in the first place. He believes that both men were good ballplayers, just not statistically good enough in either case for the Hall of Fame.”

2 thoughts on “1926 National League All-Star Team

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