1897 National League All-Star Team

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Ted Breitenstein, CIN

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Jack Powell, CLV

P-Win Mercer, WHS

P-Billy Rhines, CIN

P-Frank Dwyer, CIN

P-Clark Griffith, CHC

P-Brickyard Kennedy, BRO

C-Klondike Douglass, STL

C-Deacon McGuire, WHS

1B-Nap Lajoie, PHI

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

3B-Jimmy Collins, BSN

SS-Hughie Jennings, BLN

SS-George Davis, NYG

SS-Monte Cross, STL

LF-Fred Clarke, LOU

LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI

LF-Joe Kelley, BLN

LF-Kip Selbach, WHS

LF-Mike Smith, PIT

CF-Billy Hamilton, BSN

RF-Willie Keeler, BLN

 

nichols8

P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 27 Years Old, 1897 ONEHOF Inductee

31-11, 2.64 ERA, 127 K, .265, 3 HR, 28 RBI

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted 1897)

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-11.3 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-10.9 (3rd Time)

Wins-31 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.168 (2nd Time)

Saves-3 (3rd Time)

Innings Pitched-368

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.868 (4th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-168 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-72 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.6 (3rd Time)

8th Time All-Star-After eight dominating seasons in a row — seven of which Nichols pitched his way to the top 10 in WAR; all of which he made the top six in WAR for Pitchers – of course, Kid made the ONEHOF, the One-a-Year Hall of Fame of my invention that inducts one player per calendar year. It’s more difficult to make than the Cooperstown Hall of Fame or my Hall of Fame, which will induct players at the drop of a hat. Here are the ONEHOF Nominees for 1898: King Kelly, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson, Bid McPhee, Sam Thompson, Jack Clements, Billy Hamilton, Amos Rusie, Cupid Childs, and Cy Young.

As for this season, Nichols dominated, leading the league in WAR (11.3) and WAR for Pitchers (10.9). He also pitched a National League-leading 368 innings with a 2.64 ERA, second only to New York’s Rusie (2.54), and a league-leading Adjusted ERA+ of 168.

This helped the Beaneaters knock the Baltimore Orioles out of first place and take the NL crown. It wasn’t easy, as Boston won the league by just two games. Baltimore couldn’t battle for the championship either, because the days of the Temple Cup were gone.  It certainly wasn’t a good start for Boston, as they were 10-10 after May 18 and seven-and-a-half games out of first. It then won 35 of its next 39 games and the Beaneaters were up by five-and-a-half games after July 6. The rest of the season was a battle between Boston and Baltimore, which the Beaneaters wrapped up by beating the Orioles two out of three towards the end of the season.

rusie7P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 26 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895

28-10, 2.54 ERA, 135 K, .278, 0 HR, 22 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1897 NL Pitching Title (2nd Time)

Earned Run Average-2.54 (2nd Time)

7th Time All-Star-Rusie, the troublemaker, is back. Read his 1895 blurb for why he missed the 1896 season and why he’s back this year. Taking a year off from pitching didn’t seem to affect the Hoosier Thunderbolt, as he finished second to Boston’s Kid Nichols in WAR (11.3-8.8) and second to Nichols in WAR for Pitchers (10.9-8.4). He pitched 322 1/3 innings with a National League-leading 2.54 ERA and a second-to-Nichols Adjusted ERA (168-163).

As for the Giants, having their ace back helped them move from seventh place in 1896 to third place this season with an 83-48 record. Bill Joyce managed his first full season for the Giants at the age of 29 and has only one season left. New York finished nine-and-a-half games behind first-place Boston, but it was never really in the hunt.

There is a good possibility this is Rusie’s last All-Star game. He would win 20 for the Giants in 1898, but his innings “fell” to 300 and his ERA “rose” to 3.03. He had good numbers and would make a billion dollars for those stats nowadays, but he was declining.

And injured. Wikipedia wraps up his career, saying, “Following the 1898 season, a combination of hearing damage from a line drive to the head, arm trouble, and personal problems kept him out of baseball for two years. In 1900, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Christy Mathewson. In 1901, Rusie pitched poorly in three games before retiring. He finished his career with 245 wins, 174 losses, 1,934 strikeouts and a 3.07 ERA.”

breitenstein5

P-Ted Breitenstein, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

1893 1894 1895 1896

23-12, 3.62 ERA, 98 K, .266, 0 HR, 23 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. About 15 percent chance)

 

5th Time All-Star-Next season, Breitenstein wins 20 games and it’s really his last chance at making an All-Star team. However, if he does so, he’s going to make Ron’s Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame of my own creation and players like him are exactly the reason I created it. See, people like Cap Anson made Cooperstown, Ron’s, and ONEHOF with no difficulties. It’s the same with people like Cy Young and Dan Brouthers. However, Breitenstein was a left-handed workhorse who, every season, was put on the mound multiple games by whatever team for which he pitched. He would compile a 51.5 lifetime WAR and be one of the top players in the game year-after-year. He’s made this All-Star team five straight times. He’s a borderline candidate for Cooperstown, but if he makes my Hall of Fame next season, I’ll feel no guilt despite his lifetime 160-170 record.

With the Reds purchasing Breitenstein from the Cardinals, it looked like they had the one piece they needed to lead them to a league title. Unfortunately, the Reds declined from third to fourth as Buck Ewing’s squad finished 76-56. They definitely had pitching, finishing fifth in runs allowed, but they couldn’t hit, finishing eighth in the league in runs scored.

For the season, Breitenstein finished third in WAR (8.2), behind Boston pitcher Kid Nichols (11.3) and New York hurler Amos Rusie (8.8), and third in WAR for Pitchers (7.8), behind the same two, Nichols (10.9) and Rusie (8.4). He pitched 320 1/3 innings with a 3.62 ERA and a 125 ERA+.

young7P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 30 Years Old

1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896

21-19, 3.78 ERA, 88 K, .222, 0 HR, 19 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.314 (6th Time)

7th Time All-Star-Once players turn 30 in this great sport of baseball, they tend to decline. In the 1800s, it was no different, especially for pitchers. There’s a whole boatload of hurlers of which I wrote who had two or three fantastic seasons and then fell apart. Cyclone turned 30 this season and had his worst season in a while. It wouldn’t have been surprising if this was the beginning of the end. However, because we can cheat and see the future, we know he’s nowhere near done and Young still has incredible career ahead. He’s up to 216 wins through 1897 and will win 295 more.

The sad part is his good pitching isn’t helping his team. Patsy Tebeau led the Spiders to a 69-62 record, 23-and-a-half games out of first. They have a couple good pitchers, but besides their All-Star second baseman, Cupid Childs, not much in the way of offense.

Young finished sixth in WAR (6.9) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.5). He pitched 335 2/3 innings with a 3.78 ERA and a 123 ERA+. It was the only time from 1891-1905 that Cyclone didn’t finish in the top 10 in ERA in his league. He also threw a gem, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On September 18, 1897, Young pitched the first no-hitter of his career in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Although Young did not walk a batter, the Spiders committed four errors while on defense. One of the errors had originally been ruled a hit, but the Cleveland third baseman sent a note to the press box after the eighth inning, saying he had made an error, and the ruling was changed. Young later said, that, despite his teammate’s gesture, he considered the game to be a one-hitter.”

powell

P-Jack Powell, Cleveland Spiders, 22 Years Old

15-10, 3.16 ERA, 61 K, .206, 0 HR, 12 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. About 80 percent chance)

 

1st Time All-Star-John Joseph “Red” or “Jack” Powell was born on July 9, 1874 in Bloomington, IL. He started off his long career on fire and though he’s not in the category of Kid Nichols, Amos Rusie, or teammate Cy Young, his durability is going to get him a real look at making my Hall of Fame. He’s never received even a sniff from Cooperstown, which probably looked at his lifetime 245-254 record and ignored him. But Powell pitched well for some bad teams and shouldn’t be penalized for that.

This season, he finished 10th in WAR (5.5) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.0). He only started 26 games, pitching 225 innings, and had a 3.16 ERA and a 147 ERA+. Both of those latter figures are better than Young, but Cyclone pitched over 100 more innings than Powell.

Just a tidbit for your amusement. Of all the players of which I’ve written, Powell is the first one to have a color picture of himself posted on his Baseball Reference page.

Look at this story from SABR: “Perhaps no player in history experienced a more difficult major league debut than Jack Powell. He joined the Spiders in May of 1897, and saw action at first base in a game at Cleveland on Sunday, May 16. Sunday baseball was illegal in the city of Cleveland at that time, but team owner Frank Robison defied the local ordinance and scheduled the game on the Christian Sabbath. The local authorities called Robison’s bluff, and after one inning was completed, police invaded the field and arrested all the players on both teams, plus umpire Tim Hurst. They were soon released on $100 bail each, but the authorities decided to prosecute one participant in the contest to test the validity of the law. Powell, an easily expendable rookie, was the only Spider charged with violating the ban on Sunday ball, and remained in Cleveland to await trial while his teammates embarked on a road trip. In June, Powell was tried and convicted of playing ball on Sunday. He was fined five dollars, with an additional $153 tacked on for court costs.”

mercer

P-Win Mercer, Washington Senators, 23 Years Old

21-10, 3.18 ERA, 91 K, .317, 0 HR, 19 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Games Pitched-47

Saves-3

Games Started-43

Shutouts-3

Hit By Pitch-28

Def. Games as P-47

1st Time All-Star-George Barclay “Win” Mercer was born on June 20, 1874 in Chester, WV. He’s been a regular pitcher with the Senators since 1894, but this is his first All-Star team. This season, Mercer finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.5), pitching 342 innings with a 3.18 ERA and a 135 ERA+. For someone with a nickname of Win, it’s ironic this is only one of two seasons in which he had a winning season.

Of course it’s hard for a pitcher to win if his team doesn’t and Mercer’s team didn’t do so too often. Gus Schmelz (9-25) and Tom Brown (52-46) led the team to a sixth place 61-17 record. After 11 seasons with five different teams, it would be the last year as a manager for Schmelz, who finished with a lifetime 624-703 record. As for Brown, it looks his managerial career is off to a heck of a start, but next season will be his last.

                You might not be able to tell from the picture above, but apparently Mercer was quite a looker. Wikipedia says, “According to a biography of Mercer published by SABR, Mercer was a fan favorite, especially with women. He reportedly was ‘young and handsome with piercing dark eyes, and an outgoing personality.’ According to one account (Nash and Zullo, ‘Turnstile Turnoffs’ in “The Baseball Hall of Shame” (1985)), the ladies loved Mercer, and he ‘loved the ladies.’ Playing on Mercer’s popularity with the ladies, Washington liked to pitch Mercer on Tuesdays and Fridays, which were designated ‘Ladies’ Days.’ One Ladies’ Day game in 1897 ended in shambles when women rioted after Umpire Bill Carpenter ejected Mercer. According to Nash and Zullo, ‘an army of angry females poured out of the stands. They surrounded Carpenter, shoved him to the ground and ripped his clothing. Finally, police brought the situation under control.’”

rhines2

P-Billy Rhines, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

1890

21-15, 4.08 ERA, 65 K, .159, 0 HR, 8 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-It’s a big gap between Rhines’ first All-Star team and his second. After pitching 401 1/3 innings in his rookie year of 1890, it took a while before he was a fulltime pitcher again. Well, okay, he was a fulltime pitcher in 1891, but in 1892, he pitched only 74 2/3 innings for the Reds, then was off to Louisville in 1893. He didn’t pitch in the Major Leagues in 1894 and then found himself back with the Reds in 1895. In 1896, Rhimes pitched only 143 innings, but led the National League in ERA, and then doubled that amount this season, pitching 288 2/3 frames, with a 4.08 ERA and a 111 ERA+. Bunker finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.2).

SABR says of Rhines’ 1897 season, “The next season Rhines compiled a 21-15 record with a 4.08 ERA. On August 7, 1897, he ‘had not only speed, but grand command and the best use of his famous underhand ball,’ in a three-hit shutout of the Louisville Colonels. Louisville’s Honus Wagner, a 23-year-old rookie, went hitless in the game.” (I get the feeling we’ll be seeing that name quite a bit in this list).

More from SABR: “Rhines pitched for an All-American team on a barnstorming tour with the Baltimore Orioles from October to December, 1897. In the midst of the tour, the Reds traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“A longtime bachelor, Rhines got married in 1912 at age 43, to 23-year-old Kozie Lorraine Milliron. By 1920 they had four children and Billy operated a taxi service. After a long illness, he died of heart disease on January 30, 1922, in Ridgway, at the age of 52.”

dwyer5

P-Frank Dwyer, Cincinnati Reds, 29 Years Old

1892 1894 1895 1896

18-13, 3.78 ERA, 41 K, .266, 0 HR, 10 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

5th Time All-Star-My guess is you’ve never heard of Dwyer, I know I hadn’t, but in the 1890s, he consistently pitched his way to being one of the National League’s best players. He was certainly the best the Reds had to offer during that time, though this season they have three pitchers on the All-Star team. Despite the pitching of Dwyer, Ted Breitenstein, and Billy Rhines, Cincinnati finished middle of the road with a 4.09 ERA. The problem was when one of the Big Three wasn’t pitching, the team’s ERA was about one whole run higher (3.83-to-4.82). Also, the Reds’ record was 63-40 in games in which they garnered the decision and 13-16 in games they didn’t.

As for his career, Wikipedia says, “In 12 seasons he had a 176–152 win-loss record, 365 games (318 started), 270 complete games, 12 shutouts, 6 saves, 2,810 innings pitched, 3,301 hits allowed, 1,782 runs allowed, 1,202 earned runs allowed, 109 home runs allowed, 764 walks allowed, 563 strikeouts, and a 3.85 ERA. On June 23, 1896, Dwyer gave up Roger Connor‘s 123rd homer, breaking Harry Stovey‘s previous record of 122. Connor’s record of 138 would eventually be broken by Babe Ruth.

“He later served as the second manager of the Detroit Tigers, managing for one season in 1902. Dwyer briefly umpired in the NL in 1899 and 1901, and in American League in 1904; during which he umpired Cy Young‘s perfect game.

“He died on February 4, 1943 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at the age of 74.”

griffith3

P-Clark Griffith, Chicago Colts, 27 Years Old

1894 1895

21-18, 3.72 ERA, 102 K, .235, 0 HR, 21 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes as Pioneer/Executive. No as Player

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

 

Led in:

 

Complete Games-38

3rd Time All-Star-Now Griffith did make Cooperstown as a Pioneer/Executive, though he didn’t make it as a player. And I’m sure it doesn’t matter to the Griffith family, just as Pete Rose would be happy to make the Hall of Fame in any capacity. He could go in as Best Gambler and he’d still go diving head first into the Hall, proclaiming his greatness. However, Griffith was a great pitcher and definitely should be in as a player. Don’t worry, Clark, Ron’s Hall of Fame is here to right wrongs and you’ll be inducted in within the next few years.

Cap Anson started playing Major League ball in 1871 for the National Association Rockford Forest Cities, then moved to the NA Philadelphia Athletics the next season. Then the National League formed in 1876 and Anson moved to Chicago, where he played through this season. He played 27 Major League seasons, which would be a record if the NA counted. I have no doubt Anson’s the greatest player up to this time. If I had my Hall of Fame up and running then, he would have made it in 1876, the first year of the NL.

I base my All-Star teams and Halls of Fame purely on numbers, I don’t look into the dark soul of a man. Anson receives vitriol for his part in keeping blacks out of baseball from 1884-to-1947 and that’s understandable. I’m sure if we redid the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, the writers would keep him out. But purely for what he did on the field, Cap Anson (Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds….) deserves to be in and I’m glad he is.

kennedy2

P-Brickyard Kennedy, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 29 Years Old

1893

18-20, 3.91 ERA, 81 K, .272, 1 HR, 18 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-It’s been a few years since Kennedy made the All-Star team. He’s been pitching consistently for Brooklyn, but not good enough to be one of the league’s elite. This season, Kennedy tossed 343 1/3 innings, with a 3.91 ERA and a 105 ERA+. He was Brooklyn’s best player.

Well, if Kennedy’s a team’s best player, that team didn’t do too well, and it’s true of the Bridegrooms, who finished in seventh place with a 61-71 record. Billy Barnie, who last coached for the Louisville Colonels in 1894, came back to manage Brooklyn.

                We know Kennedy was known as Roaring Bill and Brickyard. SABR speaks more of his many names, “According to the July 8, 1893, Sporting Life, he was also known sometimes by what some sources still today believe was his middle name: ‘They call Kennedy “Park.” He is a Bellaire, O., boy, and was once called “Wheeling’s brickyard phenomenon.” He has an arm of iron.’ However, early encyclopedias list Kennedy by the middle initial of V., full middle name unknown, and both William O’Neill in The Dodgers Encyclopedia and Kennedy’s great grandnephew Scott Thomas Kennedy bear this out. Kennedy’s obituary in his local paper, the Daily Independent of Bellaire, Ohio, on September 25, 1915, furthermore illuminates that he was known to friends not as Park, the putative middle name assigned him by Sporting Life years earlier, but as ‘Perk,’ simply a nickname.” He’s still got a shot at another All-Star team and will also pitch in the first official World Series in 1903.

douglass

C-Klondike Douglass, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

.328, 6 HR, 50 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 61 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

1st Time All-Star-William Bingham “Klondike” Douglass was born on May 10, 1872 in Boston, PA. He started his career with the Browns in 1896, playing mainly in the outfield. He would be primarily a catcher this season, but for the rest of his career he’d mainly play at first base. If Douglass played any other position this season, he’s not making the All-Star team. Klondike had career highs in batting average (.328) and on-base percentage (.402), along with slugging .403 and stealing 12 bases. He had a career high Adjusted OPS+ of 115.

Wikipedia has a wrap-up of his career from baseball historian Jesus Francisco Cabrera, who writes, “Douglass came to the majors in 1896 as the Cardinals’ left fielder, but fielded only .894, low even for those days, and had poor range. He was primarily a catcher in 1897, and hit .329. He was the everyday first baseman for the Phillies in 1898, and hit .258 with 105 runs scored in his best season. Moved back and forth between catcher and 1B in subsequent seasons, he was never again an everyday player.”

Can you name famous catchers from the early days of baseball? The first that leaps to mind for me is Ernie Lombardi, but he played in the 1930s. Then I think of Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella, but that’s the 1950s. It’s difficult to name catchers from this early era, because they didn’t play enough games to build up stats and also because they were so beat up, they weren’t normally good hitters.

mcguire5

C-Deacon McGuire, Washington Senators, 33 Years Old

1890 1891 1895 1896

.343, 4 HR, 53 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star teams. Slim)

 

5th Time All-Star-Back in 1891, I said McGuire had made his last All-Star team and now he’s made three more since. It is extremely difficult to just look at stats and gauge All-Star worthiness for catchers, because most of the time players played about half the games behind the plate, because of the brutality of the position. McGuire would wind up his career catching 1,612 games over 25 seasons, which was incredible for his time. He had his highest batting average ever this season at .343, along with having an on-base percentage of .386, slugging average of .474, stealing nine bases, and having an OPS+ of 127. Those are good stats for anybody, very good for those who wore the tools of ignorance.

                If you go to Wikipedia, there’s an x-ray of McGuire’s hand. The article says, “In 1907, newspapers across the country published an x-ray of McGuire’s left hand, showing ‘36 breaks, twists or bumps all due to baseball accidents.’ The text accompanying the widely published photograph noted: ‘When the picture was developed the photographer was amazed to see the knots, like gnarled places on an old oak tree, around the joints, and numerous spots showing old breaks. In several joints the bones are flattened and pushed to the side.’” Teammate Sam Crane said, “His big, brawny, strong hands, now grotesquely disfigured by the continuous battering they have received from the viciously wicked inshoots, curves, slants and benders of the speediest pitchers known in the long history of the game, have acted as an unflinchable barrier to the accumulation of momentum that if concentrated would have an irresistible force capable of crushing a battleship or of pulverizing a backstop construction of Harveyized steel armor plate.”

lajoie

1B-Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Phillies, 22 Years Old

.361, 9 HR, 127 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Will require two more All-Star seasons. Definitely)

 

Led in:

 

Slugging %-.569

Total Bases-310

Extra Base Hits-72

1st Time All-Star-Napoleon “Nap” or “Larry” or “Poli” Lajoie (pronounced Lah-ZWHA or LAJ-way) was born on September 5, 1874 in Woonsocket, RI. Hey, I’ve heard of him! Whenever I’ve seen his name, I pronounced it Luh-JOY. Well, I get the feeling I’m going to get plenty of chances to practice his name, because Lajoie is going to make these All-Star teams frequently. He will make the ONEHOF at some time and my Hall of Fame as one of the all-time great second basemen. He’s exactly what the Phillies needed, another great hitter. He played 39 games at first for them in 1896, before becoming the team’s regular first baseman this season. Next season, he’ll move to his regular position of second base. Larry finished seventh in WAR Position Players (5.2) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.0). He slashed .361/.392/.569 with 20 stolen bases and a 155 Adjusted OPS+. He led the National League in slugging.

So did having two future Hall of Famers Lajoie and Ed Delahanty help the Phillies? No. They finished in 10th place, 38 games out of first. George Stallings coached for the first time ever, but he’d be around sporadically until 1920.

Baseball players didn’t have a good reputation during the 1800s. Wikipedia quotes Lajoie, as he said, “’When I told my father I had decided to take the job he was very angry. He shouted that ball players were bums and that nobody respected them, but I was determined to give it a try at least one season’, Lajoie later said. He also received the nickname ‘Larry’ from a teammate who had trouble pronouncing Lajoie. Lajoie admired baseball players such as King Kelly and Charles Radbourn.”

childs7

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 29 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1896

.338, 1 HR, 61 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.41 (2nd Time)

7th Time All-Star-And there it is! Childs, of whom I’d never heard before starting these lists, is a Ron’s Hall of Famer. He’s also part of a small group who’ve been on the most All-Star teams at their position. They are:

P-Tim Keefe (11 All-Star teams made)

C-Charlie Bennett (9)

1B-Cap Anson (13)

2B-Fred Dunlap, Bid McPhee, Childs (7)

3B-Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton, Denny Lyons (6)

SS-Jack Glasscock (11)

LF-Charley Jones, Ed Delahanty (5)

CF-Paul Hines (8)

RF-Sam Thompson (7)

Childs produced another great season, slashing .338/.435/.419 with 25 stolen bases and a 117 Adjusted OPS+. These weren’t necessarily dazzling numbers for this year, but no other second baseman performed like he did. Of course, next year Nap Lajoie is going to second base and people are going to say, “Cupid who?”

SABR says he deserves a look at the Hall of Fame, stating, “Cupid averaged 6.3 chances a game at second base during his thirteen-year major league career. That places him fifth on the all-time list for chances per game by a second baseman. Childs finished his major league career with a .930 fielding percentage. However, taking into consideration his outstanding offensive production and given a little luck, Childs might already be in Cooperstown. He compares favorably with many of the second baseman in the Hall of Fame. Maybe it is time to take another look at him.” The website Not in the Hall of Fame says, “Had he been the type of batter who delivered more extra base hits, it is very possible that he would have been a Cooperstown candidate.  As it stands now, we expect him to remain buried among other candidates on the Veteran’s Committee desktop.”

collinsj

3B-Jimmy Collins, Boston Beaneaters, 27 Years Old

.346, 6 HR, 132 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as 3B-134

Putouts as 3B-214

Assists as 3B-303

Double Plays Turned as 3B-20

1st Time All-Star-James Joseph “Jimmy” Collins was born on January 16, 1870 in Buffalo, NY. This is a good year for the ol’ All-Star team as two greats like Nap Lajoie and Collins were introduced. Collins started his career for Boston and Louisville in 1895 and stayed with Boston after that. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.3) and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.6). He’d always be a good glove man. At the plate, Collins slashed .346/.400/.482 with 14 stolen bases and a 128 OPS+. His batting average and on-base percent would be career highs. During this crazy hitting era, a lot of players, Hall of Famers or not, had career highs. He also had his first title.

Wikipedia says, “Jimmy Collins was born in Niagara Falls, New York. After graduating St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute he went to work for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and played baseball in the Buffalo City League.

“Collins was especially regarded for his defense. He was best known for his ability to field a bunt—prior to his debut, it was the shortstop who fielded bunts down the third base line—and is regarded as a pioneer of the modern defensive play of a third baseman. As of 2012, he is second all-time in putouts by a third baseman behind Brooks Robinson.

“Collins asserted himself as a skilled player in 1897 when he held a .346 batting average and knocked in 132 runs. He led the league in both putouts and assists as well, a feat he would duplicate in 1900.”

jennings4

SS-Hughie Jennings, Baltimore Orioles, 28 Years Old

1894 1895 1896

.355, 2 HR, 79 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-7.3 (3rd Time)

Hit by Pitch-46 (4th Time)

Fielding % as SS-.933 (4th Time)

4th Time All-Star-Because his run of excellence was relatively short, Jennings probably won’t make my Hall of Fame. But that shouldn’t take away from how good this shortstop was. Ee-yah is in the third year of a four-year stretch in which, according to bWAR, he’s the best position player in baseball every season. This season, he finished fourth in WAR (7.3); first in WAR Position Players (7.3); third in Offensive WAR (6.2), behind only teammate Willie Keeler (6.5) and Louisville’s Fred Clarke (6.3); and third in Defensive WAR (1.7), behind teammate Heinie Reitz (1.9) and Louisville’s Billy Clingman (1.7). At the plate, he slashed .355/.463/.469 with 60 stolen bases and an Adjusted OPS+ of 146. And for the fourth straight year, he took the most baseballs to his body, getting plunked 46 times.

However, Baltimore couldn’t overcome Boston this season, finishing two games out of first. Ned Hanlon’s squad finished second in runs scored and second in least runs allowed, but since the Beaneaters finished first in those two categories, Boston won. The Orioles were in first as late as September 21, but finished the season 3-5, including losing two out of three to the Beaneaters.

You might think because of the rough-and-tough reputation of the Orioles there was a lack of intelligence, but that’s not true for Jennings anyway. Baseball Reference says, “He was a close friend of John McGraw on the Orioles, and the two of them sought to remedy their lack of formal education by taking classes in the off-season. Jennings eventually attended Cornell Law School, and while he fell a few credits short of a degree, he was able to pass the bar exam and become a practicing lawyer. He practiced law in the off-seasons and built up an extensive clientele, becoming quite well off.”

davis3

SS-George Davis, New York Giants, 26 Years Old

1893 1894

.353, 10 HR, 135 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-135

Putouts as SS-339

Double Plays Turned as SS-67

3rd Time All-Star-Davis didn’t make the All-Star team in 1895 or 1896, but this year he was moved to shortstop and it would reenergize him. He finished seventh in WAR (6.9); third in WAR Position Players (6.9), behind Baltimore’s Hughie Jennings (7.3) and Willie Keeler (7.1); fourth in Offensive WAR (6.0); and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.6). That high ranking in Defensive WAR is impressive considering he went from an easier defensive position to a more difficult one. Davis slashed .353/.410/.509 with 65 stolen bases and a 144 OPS+. He’d never match any of those stats again and his stolen base total was his career high.

Wikipedia says, “Davis continued to perform at an elite level throughout the 1890s, regularly ranking among the league leaders in doubles, triples, RBI, and stolen bases. He had a batting average of more than .300 for nine consecutive seasons beginning in 1893. He began playing more shortstop in 1896 and moved to the position full-time the next season. In 1897, Davis hit .353 and registered a league-best 135 RBI. He led the league in double plays and fielding percentage four times each.

“During his playing career, Davis enjoyed a reputation as an intelligent and hard-working player who did not participate in dirty play. On their way to practice at the Polo Grounds on April 26, 1900, Davis and teammates Kid Gleason and Mike Grady stumbled upon a raging tenement fire. The players rushed into the building and rescued two women and a three-year-old child.”

crossm

SS-Monte Cross, St. Louis Browns, 27 Years Old

.286, 4 HR, 55 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Assists-516

Assists as SS-516

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.84

1st Time All-Star-Montford Montgomery “Monte” Cross was born on August 31, 1869 in Philadelphia, PA. He always played shortstop, starting his career in 1892 playing part-time for Baltimore. He didn’t play in the Major Leagues in 1893 and then played a few games for Pittsburgh in 1894. His hitting in those 13 games (.442/.520/.837) gave him the chance to become a full time shortstop for Pittsburgh in 1895. Before the 1896 season, the Pirates traded him to the Browns, where he would remain through this season.

Cross wasn’t known for his bat, but for his glove. This season, he finished eighth in Defensive WAR (1.1) and would be in the top 10 in that category six times in his career. This was probably his best hitting season ever as all three slash numbers (.286/.378/.396) were career highs. Cross stole 38 bases and had his career high OPS+ of 107.

                This is a story from Baseball History Daily about Monte Cross, who seemed to be a strange man. It says, “Even in a game dominated by superstitions some stood out.  The St. Louis Star reported on what Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Montford Montgomery “Monte” Cross thought was necessary for a rally—to the annoyance of some teammates– during a game with the St. Louis Cardinals in May of 1900:

“’One of Monte Cross’ queer hobbies is that the bats must not be crossed when they lie in front of the bench…just as (Harry) Wolverton, the first man up in the fifth inning, stepped to the plate,  Cross looked at the pile of bats, and at one jumped into the air, shouting: “Four runs this time.  It’s a cinch.  Never failed yet.”’” Why did he think four runs would be scored? You’ll have to read the rest for yourself.

clarke2

LF-Fred Clarke, Louisville Colonels, 24 Years Old

1895

.390, 6 HR, 69 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Adjusted OPS+-166

Adj. Batting Runs-53

Adj. Batting Wins-4.9

2nd Time All-Star-Cap didn’t make the All-Star team in 1896, but he had his best season ever for Louisville this season. He finished eighth in WAR (6.6), fourth in WAR Position Players (6.6), and second in Offensive WAR (6.3), behind only Willie Keeler (6.5). Clarke finished second in batting average to Keeler (.425-.390), had an on-base percentage of .461, and a slugging percentage of .530. He also stole 59 bases and had a league-leading Adjusted OPS+ of 166.

Clarke also managed the latter part of the season for the hapless Colonels, who finished 11th with a 52-78 record. Jim Rogers (17-24) and Clarke (35-54) coached the struggling team. Cap would coach for the next 18 years and never have a worse season. Of course, it helped to have a shortstop named Honus Wagner in those years.

According to Wikipedia, “In 1897, Clarke took over managerial duties while only 24 years old. As a player, he hit a career high .390. Only the best average of Willie Keeler‘s career stopped Clarke from winning his only batting title. (For many years, Clarke’s 1897 average was listed as .406 but further research led most official sources, including MLB.com, to list it at .390.) Despite Clarke’s excellent hitting and the presence of fellow Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Rube Waddell, the team struggled for several years. While in Louisville, Clarke was teamed up with pitcher Chick Fraser. Clarke and Fraser became brothers-in-law when they married sisters. When the Colonels folded, Barney Dreyfuss became the owner of the Pittsburgh franchise and tapped Clarke, Wagner, Waddell, Deacon Phillippe and others to accompany him.”

1896 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-John Ward

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Nig Cuppy, CLV

P-Frank Killen, PIT

P-Pink Hawley, PIT

P-Bill Hoffer, BLN

P-Frank Dwyer, CIN

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Jouett Meekin, NYG

P-Harley Payne, BRO

P-Ted Breitenstein, STL

C-Deacon McGuire, WHS

C-Jack Clements, PHI

1B-Roger Connor, STL

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

3B-Bill Joyce, WHS/NYG

SS-Hughie Jennings, BLN

SS-Bill Dahlen, CHC

SS-Gene DeMontreville, WHS

LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI

LF-Joe Kelley, BLN

LF-Mike Smith, PIT

LF-Jesse Burkett, CLV

CF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG

RF-Tom McCreery, LOU

 

ward91896 ONEHOF Inductee-John Ward

1878 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 1887 1890

164-103, 2.10 ERA, 920 K, .275, 26 HR, 869 RBI, 64.0 WAR

 

For any new readers, every year I pick a player who I believe to be the best player not currently in the ONEHOF, the One-a-Year Hall of Fame. I also have a second Hall of Fame, which is creatively called Ron’s Hall of Fame, in which any player whose career WAR multiplied by the number of All-Star teams made is 300 or greater is in. You’ll see those in the individual player write-ups.

The following list is the prestigious ONEHOF and the Yes or No indicates whether that player is in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. The picks thus far are:

1871-George Zettlein, P (No)

1872-Al Spalding, P (Yes)

1873-Bobby Mathews, P (No)

1874-Dick McBride, P (No)

1875-Ross Barnes, 2B (No)

1876-George Wright, SS (Yes)

1877-Cal McVey, 1B (No)

1878-Deacon White, 3B (Yes)

1879-Tommy Bond, P (No)

1880-Cap Anson, 1B (Yes)

1881-Jim O’Rourke, LF (Yes)

1882-Joe Start, 1B (No)

1883-Paul Hines, CF (No)

1884-Jim McCormick, P (No)

1885-Will White, P (No)

1886-Tim Keefe, P (Yes)

1887-Pud Galvin, P (Yes)

1888-Mickey Welch, P (Yes)

1889-Dan Brouthers, 1B (Yes)

1890-Jack Glasscock, SS (No)

1891-Roger Connor, 1B (Yes)

1892-Harry Stovey, 1B (No)

1893-Charlie Bennett, C (No)

1894-John Clarkson, P (Yes)

1895-Old Hoss Radbourn, P (Yes)

1896-John Ward, SS (Yes)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1897: King Kelly, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson, Bid McPhee, Sam Thompson, Kid Nichols, Jack Clements, Billy Hamilton

Ward was probably the most famous two-way player before George Herman Ruth came along. His pitching WAR was 28.4 and his WAR from the other positions was 35.6. He made All-Star teams at pitcher, shortstop, centerfield, and rightfield.

young6

P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 29 Years Old

1891 1892 1893 1894 1895

28-15, 3.24 ERA, 140 K, .289, 3 HR, 28 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-10.7 (3rd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-10.1 (3rd Time)

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.347 (5th Time)

Saves-3

Strikeouts-140

Shutouts-5 (3rd Time)

Hits Allowed-477

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.258 (3rd Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.36 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Run-57 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.1 (3rd Time)

Assists as P-145 (2nd Time)

6th Time All-Star-Cleveland fans might not have seen a whole lot of pennants in their day, but at least every couple days, they got to watch the great Cy Young on the mound. Every year, I do this All-Star team and the pitchers come and go. As a matter of fact, the fireballer Amos Rusie didn’t even make the list this season. Yet season after season, Young and Kid Nichols are on the list. As for his pitching, Young finished first in WAR (10.7) and first in WAR for Pitchers (10.1). He pitched 414 1/3 innings, second to Pittsburgh’s Frank Killen, with a 3.24 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He also led the league in Ks for the first time, while continuing to keep his walks at a minimum. Wikipedia says, “In 1896, Young lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning when Ed Delahanty of the Philadelphia Phillies hit a single.” SABR has more details: “That game came within one out of being a no-hitter when Ed Delahanty, playing first base and batting third in the order, managed a clean hit to short right field in the ninth after Cooley and Hallman had flied out. The Philadelphia Public Ledger said that ‘Cooley had been robbed of the first hit of the game by Burkett.’ It is purely speculative, although plausible, that, due to the Delahanty reputation, the outfield may have been playing back, which allowed the ball to land in short right field.”

That pitching, combined with the hurling of teammate Nig Cuppy, led Cleveland to an 80-48 record. Though the Spiders were in first place after July 7, Patsy Tebeau’s team never really had much of a chance against Baltimore after that, finishing nine-and-a-half out of first.

cuppy2

P-Nig Cuppy, Cleveland Spiders, 26 Years Old

1895

25-14, 3.12 ERA, 86 K, .270, 1 HR, 20 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Cuppy paired with Cy Young to dominate on the mound for the Spiders. If they could hit as well as they could pitch, they could have broken the string of Baltimore pennants. You can’t blame Cuppy, who finished second in WAR (10.5) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.8), both to teammate Young (10.7 and 10.1, respectively). He pitched 358 innings with a 3.12 ERA, which was third to Cincinnati’s Billy Rhines (2.45) and Boston’s Kid Nichols (2.83), and a 146 Adjusted ERA+. It was Cuppy’s best season ever.

It’s also most likely his last All-Star season. He continued pitching with the Spiders through 1898, before moving to St. Louis in 1899, Boston in 1900, and then the American League Boston Americans in 1901. He’d never pitch over 171 2/3 innings again and would be done by the time he was 31. It makes what Young is doing that much more impressive, as he was able to put together a decades-long string of great pitching years.

SABR tells about an innovation Cuppy brought to the game: “According to the Cleveland Press, one day in 1894 Cuppy announced that he was going to spring a surprise on fans and players alike at that afternoon’s game. When the game began Cuppy walked out into the pitcher’s box wearing a glove on his left hand. Other fielders had worn gloves before, but this was believed to be the first time in history that a pitcher had used a glove. By the end of the season use of the glove had been adopted by other pitchers.”

killen4P-Frank Killen, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old

1891 1892 1893

30-18, 3.41 ERA, 134 K, .231, 2 HR, 25 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins-30 (2nd Time)

Games Pitched-52

Innings Pitched-432 1/3

Games Started-50

Complete Games-44

Shutouts-5

Batters Faced-1,850

Def. Games as P-52

4th Time All-Star-Since last making the All-Star team in 1893, Lefty Killen pitched in limited duty for the Pirates. This season, the team said, “What the heck! Throw Killen’s arm out!” He had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR (8.3) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.5). He led the National League in innings pitched with 432 1/3, with him and Cy Young being the only pitchers over 400 innings. Killen also had a 3.41 ERA and a 123 ERA+. It was the second time Killen won 30 or more games.

Killen’s team, the Pirates, with Connie Mack at the helm, finished in sixth place with a 66-63 record. The problem was in games in which Lefty didn’t get the decision, Pittsburgh finished 36-45.

He did have some trouble, according to SABR, which says, “Killen might have paid less attention to hecklers [in] 1896, but he didn’t lose any of his on-the-field aggression. In a game against Cincinnati at League Park on July 31, Killen charged home plate to argue with umpire Bud Lilly, who had changed his call on Eddie Burke’s fly down the left-field line from foul to hit. According to the Pittsburgh Daily Post, Lilly ‘let go at’ Killen, apparently under the impression that the pitcher would strike him. Killen retaliated by landing ‘a couple of blows on (Lally’s) face’ before a riot erupted with players, spectators, and police rushing onto the field. When order was finally restored, Killen was under arrest and escorted to the local police station. Killen was ultimately fined $25 while team owner William Kerr publicly condemned the umpire for provoking the incident.”

hawley3

P-Pink Hawley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 23 Years Old

1894 1895

22-21, 3.57 ERA, 137 K, .239, 1 HR, 21 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Not gonna happen)

 

3rd Time All-Star-Now that Frank Killen was back from his injury, Hawley could relax and pitch only 378 innings, after pitching 444 1/3 in 1895. I mentioned in Killen’s blurb that the Pirates were 36-45 in games in which he didn’t garner the decision. Well, they were 14-24 in games not decided by either of their aces. Pink finished fifth in WAR (8.1) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.0), behind Cleveland’s duo of Cy Young (10.1) and Nig Cuppy (9.8). He had a 3.57 ERA and a 117 ERA+. He most likely has one All-Star season left.

Here’s more on Hawley from SABR: “While pitching for the Pirates, Hawley earned the nickname ‘Duke of Pittsburgh’ because of his stylish dress and good looks. He was known to wear diamonds and other items of high fashion and developed a reputation similar to that of a matinee idol in Pittsburgh. Later a cigar was named Duke of Pittsburgh after Hawley. Boxes of these cigars featured his picture.

                “At one point during his tenure with the Pirates, Hawley refused to accept a bribe from a gambler who offered him $20,000 dollars to throw a game. The gambler told Hawley if he didn’t take the bribe he would go back to his room a $2,400 a year pitcher. Hawley replied that he would but he’d be able to sleep at night.” Part of the benefit about the huge salaries for modern day players is less temptation to throw games to gamblers. I admire Hawley’s integrity.

hoffer2

P-Bill Hoffer, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

1895

25-7, 3.38 ERA, 93 K, .304, 0 HR, 15 RBI

Hall of Fames:
ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.781 (2nd Time)

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.029

2nd Time All-Star-I know nowadays we are sophisticated and no longer judge pitchers by won-loss records, but still, you have to admire Hoffer’s 78-24 record he compiled from 1895-97. It helps to be on a team that scores at the rate Baltimore plated runs. Still, even if the Orioles are scoring in droves, Hoffer has to do his part and he did, finishing sixth in WAR (8.0) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). He pitched a relatively low 309 innings with a 3.38 ERA and a 127 ERA+. To show you why win-loss records can be so undependable, Hoffer is actually going to have an Adjusted ERA+ of 97 in 1897, but still end up with a 22-11 record.

Baltimore won its third straight pennant this season, finishing 90-39 under the guidance of Ned Hanlon. It dominated the league almost from the beginning to the end, being led by an offense averaging 7.5 runs per game. The second highest team in runs scored was Philadelphia, which averaged 6.8 runs per game. However, the Orioles combined this lethal hitting with great pitching, something no other team was able to do this season, so they beat second-place Cleveland by nine-and-a-half games.

Baseball Reference has this quote from Hoffer, “I couldn’t pitch my best when I wasn’t mad. McGraw would yell at me ‘You fat-headed Dutchman’ and maybe some other insults. Then I’d get mad and throw that ball so damned hard.”

Wikipedia mentions, “In 1901 he archived the dubious honor of being the losing pitcher in the American League’s first game.”

dwyer4

P-Frank Dwyer, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

1892 1894 1895

24-11, 3.15 ERA, 57 K, .264, 0 HR, 15 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

4th Time All-Star-Dwyer made the All-Star team yet again, despite not being a pitcher who would ever rate among the National League’s best. Yet year-after-year, he was the best the Reds had to offer from the mound. This season was his best ever as he finished seventh in WAR (7.6) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.2). Dwyer pitched 288 2/3 innings and his ERA (3.15) was fourth in the league. His Adjusted ERA+ of 147, however, was third, behind teammate Billy Rhines (189) and Boston’s Kid Nichols (160). Rhines would have made the All-Star team if he pitched more than 143 innings.

The Reds fought valiantly for the title, but ended up short, finishing in third place. Managed by Hall of Famer Buck Ewing, Cincinnati ended with a 77-50 record, 12 games out of first. It was actually in first place as late as August 19, but finished 8-20 the rest of the season. An injury to Rhimes kept them from getting closer to the pennant.

Wikipedia has a wrap-up of his career, though I do think he has another All-Star team left in him. It says, “John Francis Dwyer (March 25, 1868 – February 4, 1943) was an American right-handed pitcher and manager in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Stockings (1888–1889), Chicago Pirates (1890), Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers (1891), Milwaukee Brewers (1891), St. Louis Browns (1892) and Cincinnati Reds (1892–1899). He currently ranks 61st on the MLB career complete games List (270) and 85th on the MLB career hits allowed list (3,301).”

nichols7P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 26 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895

30-14, 2.83 ERA, 102 K, .190, 1 HR, 24 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Wins-30

7th Time All-Star-One of the good things about doing this year-by-year All-Star team is that players aren’t getting compared to people in other eras, but to their peers. Kid Nichols versus Cy Young is a valid comparison because they’re pitching at the same time, the 1890s, when hitters ruled the earth. Young will eventually finish with a longer career and, of course, have an award named after him, but if judged at this point, the award could have easily been the Kid Nichols Award.

Nichols finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (7.2), pitching 372 1/3 innings with a 2.83 ERA, behind only Cincinnati’s Billy Rhines (2.45), who pitched only 143 innings. He was second in Adjusted ERA+ (160) to Rhines (189), also.

After finishing sixth in 1895, Boston improved to a 74-57 record and a fourth place finish. Frank Selee managed the team for the seventh straight season and has some better years ahead.

If you’re wondering how Nichols made the Hall, SABR says, “Sportswriters such as Grantland Rice would periodically advocate for Nichols’ election to the Hall of Fame, and Nichols’ contemporaries such as Cy Young were reportedly in his corner, but the biggest single boost to his consideration may have come in April of 1948 when a legend who was in many ways his exact opposite, Ty Cobb, loudly and repeatedly clamored for Nichols to join him at Cooperstown.” The real question, of course, is how did it take so long! He had a ton of wins, many pennants, and was the second greatest pitcher of his era. Nichols should have gone in long before 1949.

meekin2

P-Jouett Meekin, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1894

26-14, 3.82 ERA, 110 K, .299, 2 HR, 16 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-I have to stop making predictions. In Meekin’s 1894 blurb, I said it was probably his first and only All-Star team and then he proves me wrong. The only reason he made it, however, is that he was the Giants’ best pitcher. Amos Rusie sat out the year and Meekin had to take over as the staff ace. (Read Rusie’s 1895 write-up for more details). It’s not like Meekin’s year was terrible. He pitched 334 1/3 innings with a 3.82 ERA and a 110 ERA+. But it wouldn’t have made the cut in many seasons.

It’s interesting to note losing their ace didn’t hurt the Giants too much. In 1895, they were coached by three men to a 66-65 ninth place finish. This season, Arthur Irwin (36-53) and Bill Joyce (28-14) guided the team to a higher finish (seventh) though they had a worse record (64-67). They had a 38-53 record in games not decided by Meekin.

Meekin is to blame for a plague which infected the game, the intentional walk. Wikipedia says, “Meekin fell off somewhat in 1895. Battling a sore arm, he gave up 30 hits in one game that year, losing 23-2 to St. Louis. For some reason, he was not removed from the game, even though several times, he ‘staggered when about to pitch.’ Meekin won just 16 games, and his earned run average rose 1.60 from the previous season. However, he rebounded for two more 20-win seasons in 1896 and 1897. In one game in 1896, Meekin threw the first intentional walk in baseball history, to slugger Jimmy Ryan. The strategy worked when the next hitter struck out to end the game.”

payne

P-Harley Payne, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 28 Years Old

14-16, 3.39 ERA, 52 K, .214, 0 HR, 10 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-Harley Fenwick “Lady” Payne was born on January 9, 1868 in Windsor, OH. This was his first Major League season and he did decently for the Bridegrooms, pitching 241 2/3 innings with a 3.39 ERA and a 121 ERA+. However, in the long history of great Dodgers pitchers, it’s not like the name of Lady Payne is going to stand out.

Brooklyn dropped from fifth to 10th this season, finishing 58-73 under the guiding hand of Dave Foutz. Its pitching was actually decent, but this team couldn’t hit, averaging 5.2 runs a game in a league that averaged 6.0 runs. It was the Bridegrooms’ first losing season under Foutz and he would never manage again.

After this season, Payne pitched in 1897-98 for Brooklyn, before moving over to the Pirates in 1899. His career record was 30-36, with a 4.04 ERA and a total of 148 strikeouts. According to WAR, he had such a bad year pitching in 1897 that he added more value to the team as a hitter than as a pitcher. And as a hitter, he slashed .236/.288/.255. His pitching must have been dreadful. Oh, wait, I can look these things up! From the mound in 1897, Lady pitched 280 innings with a high 4.63 ERA and a low Adjusted ERA+ of 88. He’d only pitch six more games in his career after that.

Payne’s 1896 season is one of multiple seasons in baseball history which was a fluke. I always think of Brady Anderson’s 50 home run season, something out of the ordinary. Anderson’s highest home run total outside of 1996 (ironically 100 years after the season I’m writing of) was 24 in 1999.

breitenstein4

P-Ted Breitenstein, St. Louis Browns, 27 Years Old

1893 1894 1895

18-26, 4.48 ERA, 114 K, .259, 0 HR, 12 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

4th Time All-Star-Breitenstein snuck in on this All-Star team, which increases the chance he makes Ron’s Hall of Fame. He wasn’t the greatest pitcher of his era, but he was usually the best hurler on his team and did most of his good pitching in a huge hitter’s era. So even though his ERA has been over four during the last three seasons, his Adjusted ERA+ was over 110 in two of those years. Breitenstein was a throwback to the men who would take the ball every other day, though he finally pitched below 350 innings this season. He finished with 339 2/3 innings, a 4.48 ERA and a 96 ERA+.

I’m not the only one who thought Breitenstein at least deserved a look at the Hall of Fame. In 1937, he received 0.5 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers of America. Here’s another interesting tidbit. Breitenstein’s career WAR was two higher than Sandy Koufax and both were in the top 10 in league WAR four times. So it might seem ridiculous, but if Theo makes Ron’s Hall of Fame with a 160-170 record and a 4.03 ERA, he would deserve it. I suspect he’ll make only one more All-Star team, but he does win 20 games in 1897 and 1898, so, well, we’ll see.

I know it’s blasphemy, but since it’s going to be many years before I’m writing about the great Sandy Koufax, it doesn’t look like he would make Ron’s Hall of Fame. He has great stats, but he also played in a pitcher’s era in a huge pitcher’s park for a very good team. But most importantly, he didn’t do it long enough. Man, if any Dodgers fans read this page, they’d hate me!

mcguire4

C-Deacon McGuire, Washington Senators, 32 Years Old

1890 1891 1895

.321, 2 HR, 70 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Not much of a chance)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-98 (2nd Time)

Putouts as C-349 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as C-30 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as C-14 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-205 (5th Time)

4th Time All-Star-It is hard to predict the All-Star worthiness of catchers since they play fewer games than the other positions (especially during this time) and so very rarely build up big stats. So that being said, my prediction in McGuire’s 1891 blurb that he wouldn’t make another All-Star team continues to look worse. If he wasn’t dead for the last 81 years, I’d say he’s deliberately mocking me! Unlike 1895, when McGuire caught every game for the Senators, this season he only caught 98. That total still led the league, though. He slashed .321/.379/.416 for an OPS+ of 109, which are good numbers, not great, but for the position he plays, they’re fantastic.

There’s an old saying that the Washington Senators were first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League. Well, they weren’t much better in the National League. They did improve from 10th to ninth this season, but Gus Schmelz’ squad still finished with a 58-73 record.

Here’s Robert W. Bigelow’s write-up of McGuire on SABR, “James Thomas McGuire, who would be known as ‘Deacon Jim’ based on his gentlemanly, fair-play approach to the game, was the most durable catcher of his era. It was widely reported that he was never put out of a game or fined. He was steady in performance and temperament with some of his greatest baseball years taking place for terrible teams. He was not flamboyant but hardworking, and though he was appreciated as a baseball great in his home of Albion, Michigan, his place in baseball history is all too often overlooked. He endured aches, pains, and injury — including breaking every finger of both hands — to create a legacy of resilience and fortitude that encompassed a then-unheard-of 26 big-league seasons at arguably the sport’s most demanding position.”

clements7

C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 31 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895

.359, 5 HR, 45 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

7th Time All-Star-Since Major League baseball has a long and storied history, it gives many opportunities to play the game of “What if?” What if Clements had, at an early age, been moved from behind the plate to a position like first base? He had an Adjusted OPS+ over 120 for seven straight seasons from 1890-96, but never played over 109 games in any season during that stretch. Except for his 1900 season in which he played only 16 games, this will be the last time he hits that mark. He had great power for his day and a great batting eye, but in the age in which he played, it was impossible to have much durability as a catcher. There are numerous stories about gnarled hands for those who played backstop regularly.

Philadelphia lost Billy Hamilton this season and thus lost any chance it had of winning the pennant. It could still score, finishing second in the league in runs scored, but allowed opponents to score in droves. The Phillies finished in eighth place, 28-and-a-half games out of first, with a 62-68 record. Billy Nash managed for his first and only season.

In 184 at-bats, Clements slashed .359/.427/.543 for an OPS+ of 156. He will still play four another four years, but no longer hit at this kind of pace. I would say he’s no longer going to make any All-Star teams, but I did that before with this lefty and he proved me wrong four times. If only…

Connor R 751.86 PD1B-Roger Connor, St. Louis Browns, 38 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893

.284, 11 HR, 72 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted 1891)

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 1B-94 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.988 (4th Time)

13th Time All-Star-I said in Connor’s 1893 write-up he wouldn’t make any more All-Star teams, but here he is again. From 1880 to 1893, either Connor, Dan Brouthers, Cap Anson, or a combination of the three made the All-Star team. It seemed strange in 1894 when that all stopped. It was the greatest hitting era in baseball history and, all of a sudden, the game’s greatest hitters no longer appeared on the lists. Connor wouldn’t have made it this season, but there was a dearth of good hitting at the baseball’s top hitting position this season.

Along with playing, Connor jumped in the manager’s seat for the first and only time in his career. Since he went 8-37, that’s understandable. The others that coached the Browns to an 11th place finish were Harry Diddlebock (7-10), Arlie Latham (0-3), Chris Von Der Ahe (0-2), and Tommy Dowd (25-38). Altogether the team went 40-90.

Connor was now the Major League’s leading home run hitter of all-time, finishing with 137 after this season and adding one more next year. Babe Ruth wouldn’t pass him until 1921. The big man slashed .284/.356/.433 with 10 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 111. That would have been decent for that day, but it was his lowest batting average ever up to this point, his lowest on-base percentage since 1882, his lowest slugging average since 1884, and his lowest Adjusted OPS+ ever up to this point. And Connor still made the All-Star team. Farewell from the list, you gentle Giant.

childs6

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 28 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894

.355, 1 HR, 106 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Assists-487

Def. Games as 2B-132 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 2B-375

Assists as 2B-487

Errors Committed as 2B-53 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-73

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.53

6th Time All-Star-Okay, here’s the deal. Childs is going to have decent seasons in 1897 and 1898 and, if no other second baseman can play better than him, he’s going to make my Hall of Fame. I’m good with that. He couldn’t hit for power, but he could do everything else and at a high level. There was no SABR or Bill James in his day, yet he did those things which pleased the statheads like get on base and play a solid defensive second base. How much did he help the great Cy Young with his play behind him?

Childs finished fifth in WAR Position Players (6.2), ninth in Offensive WAR (5.1), and, for the only time in his career, in the top 10 in Defensive WAR, finishing fifth (1.4). He slashed .355/.467/.446 with 25 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 117. It was Childs’ highest batting average ever.

SABR wraps up his season, “Childs bounced back in 1896 with a monster year. He had 177 hits, 100 walks, 24 doubles, 106 RBI, and scored 106 runs in 132 games. Childs struck out just 18 times during the season. He finished the 1896 National League season with a .467 on-base percentage a .355 batting average and 25 stolen bases.

“Childs did not hit well in either of the Temple Cup Series. Even though the Spiders and Orioles were bitter rivals on the ball field, Childs always remained popular in his hometown. ‘Cleveland second baseman Paca Childs is a Baltimorean and has many friends in this city,’ wrote the Baltimore Sun after an Orioles home stand against the Spiders during the 1894 season.”

joyce3

3B-Bill Joyce, Washington Senators/New York Giants, 28 Years Old

1891 1894

.333, 13 HR, 94 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-13

Power-Speed #-20.2

AB per HR-36.5 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Joyce was busy this year, playing and managing (see Jouett Meekin’s blurb for his managing details). As a hitter, he had his last great season, finishing sixth in WAR Position Players (6.2) and third in Offensive WAR (6.6), behind Baltimore’s Hughie Jennings (7.2) and Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty (6.9). That was despite being traded on August 1 by the Senators for the Giants’ Duke Farrell, Carney Flynn, and $2,500. For the Senators, Joyce slashed .313/.452/.506 for an OPS+ of 152, but really turned in on for New York, slashing .370/.502/.539 for an OPS+ of 178. Joyce led the league in homers and it was the third consecutive season for him with double digit dingers.

SABR shows how tough Joyce was, stating, “On April 22, 1896, Joyce suffered a broken nose when he was struck in the face by a pitch. Six days later, he contributed four hits in a 9-5 Washington victory, including one of the longest home runs ever hit at the Baltimore ballpark. On May 30, he hit for the cycle in the first game of a doubleheader at Pittsburgh. And on June 26, he homered twice in a 9-3 triumph over the Baltimore Orioles; the victory improved the Senators’ won-lost record to 27-23, and the team, in fifth place, was called ‘the surprise of the season.’ But the Senators dropped 22 of their next 29 games and plummeted to ninth place. Captain Joyce and Manager Schmelz were at odds over how to handle the team. To restore harmony, the Senators traded Joyce to the New York Giants on July 31, much to the dismay of the Washington faithful.”

jennings3SS-Hughie Jennings, Baltimore Orioles, 27 Years Old

1894 1895

.401, 0 HR, 121 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-8.3 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-7.2

Defensive WAR-1.8 (3rd Time)

Hit By Pitch-51 (3rd Time)

Putouts as SS-377 (4th Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-70 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-6.56 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.928 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Ee-Yah had his best season ever in helping lead Baltimore to another National League crown. He finished third in WAR, behind only Cleveland pitchers Cy Young and Nig Cuppy; first in WAR Position Players (8.3); first in Offensive WAR (7.2); and first in Defensive WAR (1.8). Wow! Jennings hit .401, second to Cleveland’s Jesse Burkett (.410); had a .472 on-base percentage, second to Boston’s Billy Hamilton (.478); and slugged .488. He also stole 70 bases and ended up with an Adjusted OPS+ of 151. You can see above the defensive stats in which he led. With Ee-Yah anchoring the defensive at shortstop, it was another successful season for the Orioles.

                Jennings is the all-time leader in getting plunked. Wikipedia says, “The fiery Jennings was also known as one of the most fearless players of his time, allowing himself to be hit by pitches more than any other player. In one game, he was hit by a pitch three times. In 1896, he was hit by pitches 51 times—a Major League record that still stands. In just five seasons with the Orioles from 1894 to 1898, Jennings was hit by pitches an unprecedented 202 times. During one game, Jennings was hit in the head by a pitch from Amos Rusie in the 3rd inning, but managed to finish the game. As soon as the game ended, Jennings collapsed and was unconscious for three days.” Man, these were some tough birds playing in the 1800s. Nowadays, because of concussion protocols and club timidity because of the amount of salary doled out, players are handled with kids gloves.

dahlen2

SS-Bill Dahlen, Chicago Colts, 26 Years Old

1892

.352, 9 HR, 74 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No??

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Bad Bill Dahlen, the fiery Colts shortstop, hadn’t made the All-Star team since 1892. His defense hadn’t come around at that time, but now he’s one of the best defensive players in the league, according to Defensive WAR. He finished third in that category this season with a 1.5 mark, behind only Baltimore shortstop Hughie Jennings (1.8) and Brooklyn shortstop Tommy Corcoran (1.6). One thing the election of Jennings to the Hall of Fame with a 42.3 WAR and the lack of induction of Dahlen with a 75.2 WAR tells us is how blinded we are to offensive stats. But Dahlen had the 10th highest Defensive WAR of all time and played in the deadball era. To me, it’s not even close, but in the 1800s, they didn’t have these fancy com-put-ors or Baseball Reference, so Jennings in and Dahlen’s out and no one’s going to listen to me.

The Colts still had Cap Anson as their manager, now in his 18th season as a Chicago coach. Cap led his team to a 71-57 fifth place finish.

Because I focused on Bad Bill’s glove, I feel like I’m giving short shrift to his bat. He finished ninth in WAR (7.1); third in WAR Position Players (7.1), behind Jennings and Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty (7.3); and fifth in Offensive WAR (6.3). He slashed .352/.438/.553 with 51 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 156. That slugging was only behind Delahanty (.631). Dahlen’s going to end up being in the top 10 in Offensive WAR six times, but because of the era in which he played, the stats won’t look as impressive.

demontreville

SS-Gene DeMontreville, Washington Senators, 23 Years Old

.343, 8 HR, 77 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-133

Errors Committed-97

Def. Games as SS-133

Assists as SS-479

Errors Committed as SS-97

1st Time All-Star-Eugene Napoleon “Gene” DeMontreville was born on March 10, 1873 in St. Paul, MN and might have the longest name of any All-Star thus far. Standing five-foot-eight and weighing in at 165 pounds, he was Washington’s best player and the third shortstop to make the team. He started by playing two games for Pittsburgh in 1894 and then played 12 games for the Senators in 1895. This season, DeMontreville became a fulltime shortstop and did well, slashing .343/.381/.452 for an OPS+ of 119. He’s not going to have a dazzling career but might make two or three All-Star teams. According to Wikipedia, “DeMontreville had a 36-game hitting streak from 1896 to 1897. The streak was over the last 17 games of 1896 and the first 19 games of 1897. This streak was not discovered until 2007; it ranks as the tenth-longest hitting streak in Major League Baseball history.”

Baseball Reference says of him, “’The stars of the season of 1896 were few, but among them were Gene DeMontreville and pitcher Payne, both of whom were rated (not good enough) for Syracuse. Well, we can’t always guess correct.’ – Sporting Life’s Syracuse correspondent, pointing out that both Gene DeMontreville and Harley Payne made good in the majors in 1896.”

Did DeMontreville really hit .343? Look at this from SABR: “He became a cause célèbre in 1899 when the July 8 issue of The Sporting News revealed that Washington owner J. Earle Wagner had gloated to Cincinnati writer Harry Weldon that in 1897 Washington scorekeepers had inflated Demontreville’s average from .285 to .345 (since reduced to .341) to make him seem a more valuable commodity to Baltimore manager Ned Hanlon and admitted the club had done similar padding with Bill Joyce, which was why Joyce’s average had dropped so precipitously after he was traded to New York in 1896.” Before making a judgment, read the whole thing.

delahanty4

LF-Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

1893 1894 1895

.397, 13 HR, 126 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star team. Definitely)

 

Led in:

 

Slugging %-.631 (3rd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.103 (2nd Time)

Doubles-44 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-13 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-126 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-190 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-146 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-67 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-6.2 (3rd Time)

Extra Base Hits-74 (2nd Time)

Offensive Win %-.849 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Delahanty continued to dominate his time. With the loss of Billy Hamilton and the decline of Sam Thompson, Big Ed took it upon himself to generate offense for Philadelphia and was fantastic. He finished eighth in WAR (7.3); second in WAR Position Players (7.3), to Baltimore shortstop Hughie Jennings (8.3); and second in Offensive WAR (6.9), again behind Jennings (7.2). He hit .397, third in the league behind Cleveland’s Jesse Burkett (.410) and Jennings (.401); had a .472 on-base percentage, third behind former teammate Hamilton (.478) and Jennings (.472); and a league-leading .631 slugging average, his highest ever. Delahanty also stole 37 bases and had a league-leading Adjusted OPS+ of 190. He was the epitome of power in his day.

There is an article by SABR on Delahanty’s greatest day, his four-homer performance on July 13. Here are the details of his last one, but I’d suggest reading the whole thing: “With Chicago fans behind him, many standing on their seats, Delahanty fooled everyone and bunted the first pitch foul. His action brought shouts from the grandstands: ‘Line it out, Del!’ Ed enjoyed this stunt and waited on Terry’s next pitch, a slow, outside curve. The bat, it was reported, impacted with the sound of a ‘rifle shot.’ The hit carried over 450 feet, beyond Lange, and bounded onto the roofs of the center-field clubhouses. Delahanty easily scored his fourth home run without a throw. As he crossed the plate, Terry was waiting to shake his hand. Outfielder Lange hid the ball under the clubhouse for a souvenir, and the fans remained standing on their seats cheering wildly for about 10 minutes. After the game, spectators followed Del to the omnibus and offered him congratulatory claps on his back. A local gum factory recognized Ed’s achievement by giving him a box of gum for each home run. One Chicago paper wrote that if it were not for Delahanty’s hitting the overheated fans would have ‘cursed the day baseball was invented.’”

kelley3

LF-Joe Kelley, Baltimore Orioles, 24 Years Old

1894 1895

.364, 8 HR, 100 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Stolen Bases-87

3rd Time All-Star-If any player is overrated in history because of the time in which he played, it’s Kelley. He piled up some monster numbers, but in the 1890s, those numbers were scattered all over the place like feed in a chicken coop. Those 87 stolen bases with which Kelley led the league this season are the only category in which he led in his 17-year career. My guess is he has one or two more All-Star seasons, but that’s about it. It’s not like making four or five All-Star teams is insignificant, but it makes for a difficult Hall of Fame case. I imagine the Veteran’s Committee which inducted him in 1971 looked at the dismal offensive numbers of the 1960s, then looked at the shining batting averages of the 1890s, and said, wow, Kelley must have been fantastic! And he was very good and he might even still make my Hall of Fame, but it’s going to be close.

Kelley finished 10th in WAR (7.0), fourth in WAR Position Players (7.0), and fourth in Offensive WAR (6.5). He hit .364, with a .469 on-base percentage, and a .543 slugging average, which led to a second-place 164 Adjusted OPS+, behind only Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty (190).

The baseball people of his time did love Kelley. John McGraw, his teammate said, “Joe had no prominent weakness. He was fast on the bases, could hit the ball hard and was as graceful an outfielder as one would care to see.” That Baltimore team would have been something to watch.

smith4

LF-Mike Smith, Pittsburgh Pirates, 28 Years Old

1887 1888 1893

.362, 6 HR, 94 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

4th Time All-Star-Smith didn’t make the All-Star teams in 1894 and 1895, but his hitting shined this season, putting him back on the team. He was eighth in the league in WAR Position Players (5.7) and 10th in Offensive WAR (4.9). In a league full of good outfielders, it’s no small feat to make this team. Smith certainly wasn’t in the Billy Hamilton or Ed Delahanty class of players, but not too many were. Yet Smith held his own.

After this season, Smith played for Pittsburgh one more year, before going to Cincinnati from 1898-1900 and then the Giants, also in 1900. In 1901, he finished his 14-year career with Pittsburgh and Boston. He had an interesting career, garnering 30.3 WAR as a position player and 12.6 as a pitcher. In his short time on the mound, he had a couple of great seasons and it’s interesting to imagine what kind of career Smith would have had if he could have remained a pitcher.

Union Dale Cemetery has an obituary on Smith, which says, “Elmer Ellsworth Smith, better known as ‘Mike Smith,’ was a left handed pitcher and outfielder in the early days of baseball.  Although born in Allegheny (now Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood), Smith’s career started in 1886 when, at age 18, he pitched for a team in Tennessee.  Smith’s prowess was noticed by the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who signed him after only ten games down South.  Smith spent the next thirteen years in the major leagues playing for The New York Giants, The Boston Beaneaters, and eventually coming back home to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1892. By the time he became a Pirate, his signature fastball had ruined his pitching arm and he was brought on as an outfielder.” He certainly was known in his old neighborhood.

Burkett 5667.85 PDLF-Jesse Burkett, Cleveland Spiders, 27 Years Old

1893 1895

.410, 6 HR, 72 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

1896 NL Batting Title (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.410 (2nd Time)

Games Played-133

At Bats-586

Plate Appearances-647 (2nd Time)

Runs Scored-160

Hits-240 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-317

Singles-191 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as OF-133

3rd Time All-Star-Burkett hit .400 for the second consecutive season and also led the league in hitting both of those years. This year, Crab finished 10th in WAR Position Players (5.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (5.5). Along with leading the league in hitting, he finished seventh in on-base percentage (.461) and fifth in slugging (.541). Burkett’s batting average and slugging average were his highest ever. He also stole 34 bases and ended up with a 157 OPS+ (5th in the National League). It was an all-around great season. Burkett’s most significant feat in 1896 was setting the all-time record for hits, at that time, with 240. It wouldn’t be bested until Ty Cobb did so in 1911.

Crab’s specialty was bunting and fouling off pitches, according to SABR, which says, “Additionally, in the era before fouls counted as strikes, Burkett became a master at fouling off pitch after pitch until he found an offering to his liking, or worked a walk (he ranked among the league’s top ten in free passes 12 times during his career). Indeed, as one commentator later observed, Burkett seemed to take special pleasure in fouling off tough pitches: ‘He would do a snappy little jig after tipping off a good pitch, or snapping one on a low line into the left field section of the grandstand or the left field bleachers, very well pleased with himself.’” Those who were around in his era judged Burkett the greatest bunter of all-time, which accounted for his high average.

hamilton7CF-Billy Hamilton, Boston Beaneaters, 30 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895

.366, 3 HR, 55 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

On-Base %-.478 (4th Time)

Bases on Balls-110 (4th Time)

Times on Base-304 (3rd Time)

7th Time All-Star-Why would the great Billy Hamilton be traded from Philadelphia to Boston? Why would Jerry Seinfeld return the jacket? The same reason-spite!

SABR says, “But Billy quarreled with manager Arthur Irwin, with Irwin complaining to the papers that Billy was a ‘disorganizer.’ The Phillies finished nine and a half games behind Baltimore and seven in back of the Cleveland Spiders. Irwin was dismissed, and on November 14, 1895, in one of the worst trades in Philadelphia baseball history, the Phillies sent Hamilton to the Boston Beaneaters for third baseman Billy Nash, who replaced Irwin as manager of the ballclub.

                “Boston manager Frank Selee, seeking to replace the aggression of Tommy McCarthy (recently traded to Brooklyn), put Billy in the leadoff spot and gave him free rein on the base paths. Billy’s speed and enthusiasm energized the Boston lineup, and his .366 average and 153 runs scored led the Beaneaters to a fourth place finish in 1896.”

It’s always shocking when players of Hamilton’s quality get traded. I’m a Los Angeles Kings fan and was shocked by Wayne Gretzky coming to the City of Angels. I’m sure Bostonians weren’t happy at the Bambino going to New York. I hear LeBron James taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach caused a little bit of a stir.

Anyway, here are the 1896 stats for Hamilton. He finished seventh in WAR Position Players (5.8) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.8). He slashed .366/.478/.468 with 83 stolen bases and a 145 Adjusted OPS+. Those stolen bases were behind only Baltimore’s Joe Kelley (87) and Chicago’s Bill Lange (84).

Tiernan5

RF-Mike Tiernan, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1888 1889 1890 1891

.369, 7 HR, 89 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star teams. Virtually no chance)

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-133

Def. Games as OF-133

5th Time All-Star-From 1892 to 1895, Silent Mike slashed .307/.391/.459 for an OPS+ of 126 and yet didn’t make one All-Star team. That’s how tough the competition was in the outfield in the mid-1890s. In an era when .400s were frequent, .289s and .309s didn’t cut it. He had his best season in 1895, slashing .347/.427/.527 and still couldn’t make the team, partially because of lack of defense. If he could have just stepped it up just a bit a couple of those seasons, we might be referring to Hall of Famer Mike Tiernan.

As for this season, Tiernan played every game for the Giants and slashed .369/.452/.516 with 35 stolen bases and a 158 Adjusted OPS+. His batting average and on-base percentage were career highs. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (5.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (5.4).

After this season, Silent Mike would finish his career with the Giants from 1897-99. It’s rare to have a player who sticks with one team for the whole time in which he plays, but Tiernan spent all 13 years with New York. He is 16th in WAR all-time with the Giants, behind 1910s shortstop Art Fletcher. Check with your friends who are Giants’ fans and see if they could name either of those two.  As Wikipedia says, “He is the Giants’ all-time franchise leader in triples and stolen bases. One of the great home run hitters of the 19th century, he hit 106 of them, which ties him with Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers for fourth most among 19th century ball players.”

mccreery

RF-Tom McCreery, Louisville Colonels, 21 Years Old

.351, 7 HR, 65 RBI, 0-1, 36.00 ERA, 0 K

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Triples-21

Strikeouts-58

1st Time All-Star-Thomas Livingston “Tom” McCreery was born on October 19, 1874 in Beaver, PA. He played 31 games for Louisville in 1895, before moving to rightfield fulltime this season. He was one of the bigger players of his day at five-foot-11 inches, 180 pounds, but he had decent speed. McCreery had his best season ever, slashing .351/.409/.546, all career highs, with 26 stolen bases and a, yes, career-high 155 Adjusted OPS+. After this season, he’d play for Louisville in 1897, New York in 1897-98, Pittsburgh in 1898-1900, Brooklyn in 1901-1903, and Boston in 1903. He’d never leave the National League.

If Tom McCreery is your best player, then you’re probably not a very good team, and Louisville as dreadful. John McCloskey (2-17) and Bill McGunnigle (36-76) led the Colonels to a last place 38-93 record. Can you lead a team to last place? Well, if you can, they did. They couldn’t score runs and they allowed a lot of them to score, so that pretty much guarantees a bad record.

He accomplished an all-time feat in 1897, according to Wikipedia, which states, “In 1897, McCreery posted career-highs in runs (91), stolen bases (28), RBI (67), games played (138), and hit .289. On July 12, he hit three inside-the-park home runs, becoming the only player in major league history to hit three inside-homers in a single game.” I told you, for a bigger guy, he had pretty good speed, which led to a lot of triples and inside-the-park home runs for him.

1895 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Old Hoss Radbourn

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Pink Hawley, PIT

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Clark Griffith, CHC

P-Nig Cuppy, CLV

P-Bill Hoffer, BLN

P-Ted Breitenstein, STL

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Al Maul, WHS

P-Frank Dwyer, CIN

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Deacon McGuire, WHS

1B-Ed Cartwright, WHS

2B-Bid McPhee, CIN

3B-John McGraw, BLN

SS-Hughie Jennings, BLN

LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI

LF-Joe Kelley, BLN

LF-Jesse Burkett, CLV

LF-Fred Clarke, LOU

CF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Mike Griffin, BRO

CF-Bill Lange, CHC

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

RF-Willie Keeler, BLN

 

radbourn91895 ONEHOF Inductee-Old Hoss Radbourn

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1889 1890

309-194, 2.68 ERA, 1830 K, 76.0 WAR

 

For any new readers, every year I pick a player who I believe to be the best player not currently in the ONEHOF, the One-a-Year Hall of Fame. I also have a second Hall of Fame, which is creatively called Ron’s Hall of Fame, in which any player whose career WAR multiplied by the number of All-Star teams made is 300 or greater is in. You’ll see those in the individual player write-ups.

The following list is the prestigious ONEHOF and the Yes or No indicates whether that player is in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. The picks thus far are:

1871-George Zettlein, P (No)

1872-Al Spalding, P (Yes)

1873-Bobby Mathews, P (No)

1874-Dick McBride, P (No)

1875-Ross Barnes, 2B (No)

1876-George Wright, SS (Yes)

1877-Cal McVey, 1B (No)

1878-Deacon White, 3B (Yes)

1879-Tommy Bond, P (No)

1880-Cap Anson, 1B (Yes)

1881-Jim O’Rourke, LF (Yes)

1882-Joe Start, 1B (No)

1883-Paul Hines, CF (No)

1884-Jim McCormick, P (No)

1885-Will White, P (No)

1886-Tim Keefe, P (Yes)

1887-Pud Galvin, P (Yes)

1888-Mickey Welch, P (Yes)

1889-Dan Brouthers, 1B (Yes)

1890-Jack Glasscock, SS (No)

1891-Roger Connor, 1B (Yes)

1892-Harry Stovey, 1B (No)

1893-Charlie Bennett, C (No)

1894-John Clarkson, P (Yes)

1895-Old Hoss Radbourn, P (Yes)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1895: King Kelly, Monte Ward, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson, Bid McPhee, Sam Thompson

Old Hoss Radbourn is most famous for his record 59 wins in 1884 or he might be most famous for flipping the bird in a group picture from the same time. Actually, neither of those is true. Nowadays, Radbourn is famous for a Twitter account in his name which analyzes modern problems in old-timey language. See it @OldHossRadbourn.

young5

P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 28 Years Old

1891 1892 1893 1894

35-10, 3.26 ERA, 121 K, .214, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-11.6 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-12.1 (2nd Time)

Wins-35 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.185 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.826 (4th Time)

Shutouts-4 (2nd Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.95 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-73 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.2 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-120

5th Time All-Star-As the league adjusted to having its mound moved farther back in 1893, pitchers had to adjust to the proliferation of hitting going on in the National League. Cy Young, who pitched in the 50 foot pitcher’s mound era and in the 60 feet-six inch era, pitched great whatever the circumstances. This is his fifth straight All-Star team and the fourth consecutive year he is in the top four in WAR. It is the fifth of 15 consecutive years he’ll be in the top six in that overarching category. He’ll be in the top six in WAR 17 out of 18 years. This season, Young pitched 369 2/3 innings, the first year since 1890 he was under 400, with a 3.26 ERA and a 152 ERA+. His Adjusted ERA+ was second to Washington’s Al Maul (197). Of course, Maul pitched just 135 2/3 innings, 234 less than Cyclone.

It was a good season for Young’s Spiders. Patsy Tebeau led them to an 84-46 record, three games behind Baltimore. The two top team then played a Temple Cup Series at the end of the season which Cleveland won, 4-1. As for Young, according to Wikipedia, “[I]n 1895. Young won three games in the series and Cleveland won the Cup, four games to one. It was around this time that Young added what he called a ‘slow ball’ to his pitching repertoire to reduce stress on his arm. The pitch today is called a changeup.” That’s all he needed, another weapon.

hawley2

P-Pink Hawley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 22 Years Old

1894

31-22, 3.18 ERA, 142 K, .308, 5 HR, 42 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Games Pitched-56

Innings Pitched-444 1/3

Shutouts-4

Hit By Pitch-33 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-56

2nd Time All-Star-Hawley, who made the All-Star team in 1894, was traded before this season. SABR writes, “Following the 1894 season Hawley pitched for the Browns in an exhibition game against the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League. The Browns, led by Hawley’s 14 strikeouts, won the game 14-0. Pittsburg player-manager Connie Mack witnessed the performance and told Pirate officials he just had to have Hawley. As a result of Mack’s interest a deal was worked out which sent Hawley to the Pirates for pitcher Red Ehret and $3,000. The trade seemed like quite a gamble at the time as Ehret had enjoyed six straight seasons of double-digit wins while Hawley had gone 30-58 with a 4.45 ERA in three seasons with the Browns.

“Frank ‘Lefty’ Killen, who had anchored the Pirate staff in 1893-94, missed the majority of the 1895 season with an arm injury. Hawley stepped into the breach. In 1895, the best year of his career, the 22 year-old Pink appeared in a league-high 56 games, including 50 starts for the Pirates. He wound up leading the league in innings pitched with more than 440. He also led the league with four shutouts, while his 31 wins were good for second in the league behind the 35 recorded by Cleveland’s Cy Young. No Pirate has won more games in a season since then.”

Despite all of this, Pittsburgh finished in seventh place with a 71-61 record, 17 games out of first. As mentioned, the Pirates were coached by Connie Mack.<

nichols6

P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 25 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894

26-16, 3.41 ERA, 148 K, .230, 0 HR, 18 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Saves-3 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.644 (3rd Time)

6th Time All-Star-When you look at Kid’s career so far, you are amazed at how good he is and you haven’t seen the next three years, all of which he’ll lead the National League in wins. He has now made six consecutive All-Star teams and is probably two or three years from making the ONEHOF to complete the trifecta of making all three Hall of Fames. This season, Nichols was third in WAR (9.7), behind Cy Young (11.6) and Pink Hawley (10.9), and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.1), behind only Young (12.1). He pitched 390 2/3 innings with a 3.41 ERA and a 146 ERA+. Just a typical Nichols season.

It still didn’t help the Beaneaters get close to winning the pennant. Frank Selee, in his seventh season of managing Boston, led the team to 71-60 sixth place finish.

The effects of the mound moving back 10 feet in 1893 were starting to lesson. In 1892, the year before the mound moved back, the teams in the league averaged 5.1 runs per game. The next year, after the mound moved back to 60 feet, six inches, the scoring average rocketed to 6.6 a game. Last year was insane for the batters as teams averaged 7.4 a game. It was a year featuring four .400 hitters, three from the same team. This season, that total dropped a bit to 6.6 a game, as the pitchers were catching up with the hitters. That’s why Nichols’ 4.75 ERA in 1894 looks so out of place for a man who had a lifetime 2.96 ERA.

griffith2

P-Clark Griffith, Chicago Colts, 25 Years Old

1894

26-14, 3.93 ERA, 79 K, .319, 1 HR, 27 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (as Pioneer/Executive)

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-It seems to me that pitchers are going to be underrated during this hitting era, while hitters will be overrated. Griffith is going to wind up his career with a 237-146 record and a 3.31 ERA, but he’s not going to make the Hall of Fame as a player. He probably should have. This season, The Old Fox finished fourth in WAR (8.8) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (8.1). You can see by that .319 average, he helped himself with the bat. He pitched 353 innings with a 3.93 ERA and a 130 ERA+. The innings would start to come down for Griffith and, indeed, were dropping for the whole league. The last year that featured any pitcher pitching 500 or more innings was in 1892, the year before the mounds were moved back. By 1909, no one would ever throw 400 or more innings again.

One of prime abusers of arms was Colts manager Cap Anson. His team made a comeback from their three year skid of playing under .500 ball and finished fourth with a 72-58 record. Anson was still the team’s regular first baseman at 43 years old and has two years left.

                Here’s Wikipedia on Anson’s use of his rotation: “Cap Anson was the player-manager of the Colts during Griffith’s tenure and he utilized a rotation of only three starting pitchers. Just before Griffith’s arrival on the team, pitcher Bill Hutchinson had thrown more than 600 innings in a single season for Anson, which may have contributed to a decline in Hutchinson’s career. Griffith tried a new pitch to increase his longevity. By modifying the grip of a curveball, he threw a pitch similar to the screwball that Christy Mathewson had developed. He also often scuffed balls with his spikes or rubbed them in the grass.”

cuppy

P-Nig Cuppy, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old

26-14, 3.54 ERA, 91 K, .286, 0 HR, 25 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-George Joseph “Nig” Cuppy born George Koppe was born on July 3, 1869 in Logansport, IN. As you could guess, according to Wikipedia, “His nickname, ‘Nig’, is often adjudged to be a racist reference to his dark complexion. In the first half of the 20th century, before the game was integrated, ballplayers with a dark complexion were sometimes nicknamed ‘Nig’.” There is a tendency to complain about political correctness nowadays and some of it can be overblown, but I’m glad we don’t live in an era where a derogatory epithet like this can be a commonly used nickname. However, because this is a history page, I’m not going to shy away from use of his name when needed.

You can see why the Spiders finished second with two dominant pitchers like Cy Young and Cuppy. Cuppy finished fifth in WAR (8.6) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (7.9). He pitched 353 innings with a 3.54 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He was also a good hitter, as Wikipedia points out, “On August 9, 1895, Cuppy scored five runs against the Chicago Colts in an 18–6 victory, the most runs ever scored by a pitcher in a major league baseball game.”

SABR tells us Cuppy needed a pitch clock. “Cuppy was known as a slow pitcher, not only for the number of off-speed pitches he threw, but also because of the time he took between deliveries, which many hitters found frustrating. Newspapers of the day took delight in describing Cuppy’s actions in the pitcher’s box. One reporter wrote, ‘It is really amusing to those in the stands to witness the maneuvers of this little twirler with the swarthy complexion and pearly teeth. He fondles the ball, rubs it on the back of his neck, grins at the batsman, and then stops to adjust his cap and hitch up his trousers. He does all this several more times before he delivers the ball to the batsman.’”

hoffer

P-Bill Hoffer, Baltimore Orioles, 24 Years Old

31-6, 3.21 ERA, 80 K, .214, 0 HR, 9 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.838

Shutouts-4

1st Time All-Star-William Leopold “Bill” or “Chick” or “Wizard” Hoffer was born on November 8, 1870 in Cedar Rapids, IA. He was small at five-foot-nine, 155 pounds, but he had an incredible rookie year, his best season ever. Wizard finished sixth in WAR (8.4) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.7) for the first place Orioles. He pitched 314 innings with a 3.21 ERA, third behind Washington’s Al Maul (2.45) and Pittsburgh’s Pink Hawley (3.18), and a 149 ERA+, third behind Maul (197) and Cy Young (152). Hoffer was a big part of the reason the Orioles allowed the least runs in the league. Wikipedia says his 31 wins are a record for a rookie, but it doesn’t say which seasons it’s counting. Al Spalding was technically a rookie in 1876 when the National League formed and he won 47 games. However, he had pitched five seasons for the National Association, the professional league which formed before the NL. George Bradley won 33 as a rookie in the National Association in 1875. Silver King won 32 as a rookie in 1887 in the American Association. There may be others, but research is hard. My point is, um, you can’t always trust Wikipedia!

That’s part of the reason why Baltimore won its second straight National League pennant. Coached by Ned Hanlon, it finished 87-43, three games ahead of Cleveland.  The Orioles languished six-and-a-half games back early in the season, but soon after a streak in which they won 19 out of 20 games in August, they were back on top to stay. They did, however, lose their second straight Temple Cup – a championship series played between the National League’s top two teams – to Cleveland.

breitenstein3

P-Ted Breitenstein, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

1893 1894

19-30, 4.37 ERA, 131 K, .190, 0 HR, 18 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Games Started-51 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-47 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-182

Hits Allowed-468 (2nd Time)

Losses-30

Earned Runs Allowed-213 (2nd Time)

Batters Faced-1,936 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-46 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as P-14

3rd Time All-Star-St. Louis had four coaches this season – Al Buckenberger (16-34), Chris Von Der Ahe (1-0), Joe Quinn (11-28), and Lou Phelan (11-30) – but they all had the same strategy, which was pitch Breitenstein till he drops. In an era where teams were using more pitchers and innings pitched were falling, Breitenstein still managed to pitch 438 2/3 innings, second only to Pittsburgh’s Pink Hawley. In those innings, he finished eighth in WAR (7.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (8.4). His ERA (4.37) was high and that worked out to a 110 Adjusted OPS+. Still, considering he was pitching for the 11th place Browns, it was a good season. Will Breitenstein get the three additional All-Star teams which will propel him to my Hall of Fame? Probably not, he most likely will make one more.

The great Baseball Reference says, “Although primarily a pitcher, Breitenstein typically appeared in a few games in the outfield each season, with a peak of 16 appearances in 1895. He generally wasn’t a strong hitter, except in 1899, when he hit .352 in 105 at-bats. He also umpired a couple of games as a fill-in in 1900.”

Three of the six top spots for most innings pitched by a lefthander since 1893, when the mound was moved back to its current distance of 60 feet, six inches, are held by Breitenstein, including the top two. He pitched 447 1/3 innings in 1894 and 438 2/3 innings this year. He also holds the sixth spot with 382 2/3 innings in 1893.

rusie6P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 24 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894

23-23, 3.73 ERA, 201 K, .246, 1 HR, 19 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

Strikeouts per 9 IP-4.599 (5th Time)

Strikeouts-201 (5th Time)

Shutouts-4 (4th Time)

6th Time All-Star-Rusie made his sixth consecutive All-Star team, but of those six seasons, this is his worst. He finished 10th  in WAR (6.2) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). The Hoosier Thunderbolt finished third in innings pitched (393 1/3), behind Pittsburgh’s Pink Hawley (444 1/3) and St. Louis’ Ted Breitenstein (438 2/3). He had a 3.73 ERA with a 124 ERA+. It was a good season, just not a Rusie season.        From 1883-through-1892, the Major League leader in strikeouts has 300 or more. We are now in a stretch of 10 seasons in which the highest amount of pitcher Ks will be 239. It isn’t until Rube Waddell takes over this category that the 300 strikeout seasons will return.

After making the Temple Cup the year before, the Giants fell to ninth place with a 66-65 record. George Davis (16-17), Jack Doyle (32-31), and Harvey Watkins (18-17) all took turns at the helm.

Rusie won’t make the All-Star team next season, because as Wikipedia explains, “Amos Rusie won his last strikeout crown in the 1895 campaign with 201. However, he finished with a mediocre (by Rusie’s standards) 23 wins and 23 losses. After a bitter contract dispute with Giants’ owner Andrew Freedman, Rusie responded by publicly thumbing his nose at Freedman — the 19th century variant of the middle finger. He was fined $200 (he made only $2,500 a year). Rusie refused to play until Freedman returned his money and ended up holding out for the entire 1896 season. It was a fiasco for baseball; fans boycotted and the press railed against the owners. Owners implored Rusie and Freedman to compromise; neither would budge. The holdout was finally settled just before the 1897 season, as the owners collaborated for recoupment of the garnished wages, as well as a $5,000 settlement ($143,940 in today’s dollars). This was partially out of respect for Rusie. However, the primary motivator was the threat of legal action against the reserve clause had his case gone to court.”

maul

P-Al Maul, Washington Senators, 29 Years Old

10-5, 2.45 ERA, 34 K, .250, 0 HR, 16 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

1895 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.45

Adjusted ERA+-197

1st Time All-Star-Albert Joseph “Smiling Al” Maul was born on October 9, 1865 in Philadelphia, PA. He was tall and lanky at six-foot, 175 pounds and had been playing for a while now. He started one game with the Union Association Philadelphia Keystones in 1884 and then didn’t play again in the Major Leagues until 1887, when he joined the National League Philadelphia Quakers. He then moved to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1888 and 1889. In 1890, he finally became a fulltime pitcher with the Players League Pittsburgh Burghers and then moved to the NL Pirates in 1891, where he again went back to limited duty. Now we come to his Washington days as he started with it in 1893 and really figured it out this season, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.9). He didn’t pitch a ton of innings, only 135 2/3, but led the league in ERA and Adjusted ERA+. Maul’s probably got one more All-Star season left.

His team, the Senators, moved from 11th to 10th in the league with a 43-85 record. Gus Schmelz coached the team for his second season.

Many of the players during this era died young, but not Maul. Baseball Reference says, “Al Maul was believed to be the last surviving player from the Union Association. In addition to his one game in the 1884 Union Association, he won 16 games in the 1890 Players League and played for years in the National League as a pitcher and outfielder, also playing a lot of first base in 1888. He led the 1895 National League in ERA and was second in 1898.” He died at the age of 92.

dwyer3

P-Frank Dwyer, Cincinnati Reds, 27 Years Old

1892 1894

18-15, 4.24 ERA, 46 K, .265, 1 HR, 16 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

3rd Time All-Star-Dwyer keeps sneaking onto All-Star teams, now being here as the best player on the Reds. He pitched 280 1/3 innings with a 4.24 ERA and a 117 ERA+. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but Dwyer was consistent and that’s why the Reds kept putting him out there day-after-day. As a Reds fan, I can’t imagine I’d be too excited to see this team if Dwyer was the best pitcher, but c’mon, it’s the 1890s, how much was there to do in Cincinnati?

And the team wasn’t terrible. Buck Ewing, a Cooperstown Hall of Famer, Ron’s Hall of Famer, and ONEHOF nominee, joined the Reds this year and coached the team to an eighth place 66-64 record. In League Park, which was a hitters ballpark, it was the Reds’ pitching, led by Dwyer, which most helped the squad.

Dwyer isn’t going to make my Hall of Fame because he needs five more All-Star seasons to do so and only have four more seasons left. Probably two of those will be of All-Star caliber. However, it does seem to me he’s the kind of pitcher someone would take up a cause for when it comes to the Hall. They’d throw out stats like he won 20 games three times and his ERA was 3.84, pretty good for his time. Dwyer just consistently pitched well and pitched often for a lot of years. That’s not enough for the Hall of Fame, of course, but teams need pitchers like Dwyer if they’re going to succeed.

clements6C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 30 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894

.394, 13 HR, 75 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

AB per HR-24.8 (2nd Time)

6th Time All-Star-Back in Clements’ 1892 blurb, I wrote he probably made his last All-Star team. Since then, he’s made three. All-Star catchers are hard to predict because of the lack of games they play. This season, a 132-game season, only one catcher caught more than 100 games and I’ll write about him next. Clements only caught 88 games, but impressed in those, hitting .394, the highest average ever for a catcher, with a .446 on-base percentage, and a .612 slugging average, his highest ever. Clements’ Adjusted OPS+ was 171 which was, you guessed it, also his highest ever. It makes you wonder how well Clements could have done if the Phillies moved him to first instead of using him exclusively behind the plate. He might have hit 20 home runs in 1893 and 1895.

And if Philadelphia could have worked Clements’ bat into the lineup more often, it might have won the crown, as the Phillies finished in third place with a 78-53 record. This team smacked the ol’ horsehide, leading the league in runs scored, but it’s pitching was abysmal. It finished nine-and-a-half games behind Baltimore. Arthur Irwin, who won a pennant with the 1891 American Association Boston Reds, coached his second season with the Phillies. He wouldn’t manage a third.

This season was a pain, literally, for Clements. SABR says, “In 1894 Clements was off to his best start ever until a broken ankle shelved him after just 46 games. He then hit .394 the following year, still the record for the highest average by a catcher with enough appearances to be a batting title qualifier, despite suffering all season from hemorrhoids.”

mcguire3

C-Deacon McGuire, Washington Senators, 31 Years Old

1890 1891

.336, 10 HR, 97 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-133

Putouts as C-412

Assists as C-180 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as C-40 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as C-12

Passed Balls-28

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-293 (4th Time)

Caught Stealing as C-189 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Back in 1891, when McGuire made his last All-Star team, I said it would be his final one. Wrong again! I never took into account this man’s amazing durability. In Clements’ blurb, I mentioned how brutal it was for catchers in these days before masks, good gloves, and chest protectors, yet McGuire planted himself behind the plate every game for Washington. Second place in that category was Brooklyn’s John Grim, who caught 92 games. It’s truly incredible what McGuire did. And not only was he out there every day, he also was a good player, slashing .336/.388/.478 for an OPS+ of 123.

Wikipedia calls this season his best ever, stating, “McGuire had the best season of his career in 1895 as he hit .336 with 48 extra bases hits (including 10 home runs), 97 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. His WAR rating of 4.0 was, by far, the highest of his career. Defensively, he set a new major league record by catching all 133 games. The Sporting News in October 1895 called McGuire’s 133 games the ‘record of records’:

“’Catcher Jim McGuire’s correct record of League games caught in this season is 133, 128 of which appear in the standing of the club, four were tie games and one the postponed Boston game. He is to-day in excellent condition. This is the record of records in the league, and many a year will roll by before it is equaled.’” It would be interesting to see month-by-month stats for McGuire to see if he was affected in the latter half of the season by catching every game.

cartwright

1B-Ed Cartwright, Washington Senators, 35 Years Old

.331, 3 HR, 90 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 38 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Assists-95

 

1st Time All-Star-Edward Charles “Ed” or “Jumbo” Cartwright was born on October 6, 1859 (70 years before my mom) in Johnstown, PA. He lived up to his nickname, being five-foot-10 inches, but a hearty 220 pounds. His Major League career started with the 1891 American Association St. Louis Browns and then he didn’t play in the Majors again until 1894 with the Senators. This was easily his best season ever, but it was also a bit of good fortune on Cartwright’s part that he played in a time when Cap Anson, Dan Brouthers, and Roger Connor were on their way down. Jumbo slashed .331/.400/.494 with 50 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 130. All of this happened for him at the age of 35. He would play two more years for Washington to finish his career.

There’s an unusual trend going on in baseball at this time – the uprising of great outfielders and the dearth of good infielders. Back in the 1880s, it was the opposite as it was difficult to find three good outfielders to put on the All-Star teams, but now there are only four infielders, one at each position, on this team, while there are nine outfielders. I think it’s just coincidence, but it could also be that managers are starting to see the importance of putting their good athletes in the outfield, especially in this era of inflated runs scored. In the past, Cartwright would have never made this All-Star team, because there was too much competition as a first sacker.

mcphee72B-Bid McPhee, Cincinnati Reds, 35 Years Old

1886 1887 1889 1890 1891 1892

.299, 1 HR, 75 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.27

7th Time All-Star-It’s been a while since McPhee made the All-Star team, but, due to a lack of good candidates, he’s back. He’s not bad, he’s never bad, but the only reason he’s on the team is because there needs to be a representative at second base. He slashed .299/.409/.417 for an OPS+ of 110. It’s possible he’s got one All-Star team left.

Last year, in Sam Thompson’s blurb, I mentioned he headed the list as the rightfielder that made the most All-Star teams. McPhee holds that same honor. Here is the list of the players who’ve made the most All-Star teams at every position:

P-Tim Keefe, 11

C-Charlie Bennett, 9

1B-Cap Anson, 13

2B-Fred Dunlap, Bid McPhee, 7

3B-Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton, Denny Lyons, 6

SS-Jack Glasscock, 11

LF-Charley Jones, 5

CF-Paul Hines, 8

RF-Sam Thompson, 7

I would definitely pick McPhee over Dunlap for second base. Maybe it’s because I’m a Reds fan.

From an article by John Erardi in The Cincinnati Enquirer, he talks about McPhee finally giving into wearing a glove in 1896: “McPhee had a sore on one of the fingers of his left hand. The sore was created in early spring practice, only this time it wasn’t hardening over with a callous like his sores usually did.

“He began experimenting with a glove.

“’McPhee, for the first time in his long career on the ballfield, is using a glove,’ read The Enquirer of Thursday, April 23. ‘He was forced to use it because (of) a little sore … The ball coming in contact with it kept it irritated and it would not heal. The use of the glove protects the sore spot and it is now pretty nearly well.’”

mcgraw2

3B-John McGraw, Baltimore Orioles, 22 Years Old

1893

.369, 2 HR, 48 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No (Yes as manager)

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-As you know, McGraw would eventually be one of the great all-time managers. He played for the great Ned Hanlon and learned much. But he was also a heck of a player, with an incredible ability to get on base. He could also wield a glove, at least early in his career, finishing eighth in Defensive WAR (1.2). At bat, McGraw slashed .369/.459/.448 and stole 61 bases (third behind Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton and Chicago’s Bill Lange) for an OPS+ of 132. Mugsy was one of the catalysts behind another Baltimore title. It should be mentioned he played only 96 games.

McGraw was the main culprit behind the Orioles’ reputation as ruffians, according to Wikipedia, which states, “McGraw figures prominently in an Orioles-spiked-umpires recollection in Fred Lieb’s 1950 The Baseball Story, which quotes 1890s umpire John Heydler, later a National League president, as saying: ‘We hear much of the glories and durability of the old Orioles, but the truth about this team seldom has been told. They were mean, vicious, ready at any time to maim a rival player or an umpire, if it helped their cause. The things they would say to an umpire were unbelievably vile, and they broke the spirits of some fine men. I’ve seen umpires bathe their feet by the hour after McGraw and others spiked them through their shoes. The club never was a constructive force in the game. The worst of it was they got by with much of their browbeating and hooliganism. Other clubs patterned after them, and I feel the lot of the umpire never was worse than in the years when the Orioles were flying high.’”

jennings2

SS-Hughie Jennings, Baltimore Orioles, 26 Years Old

1894

.386, 4 HR, 125 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-7.5

Defensive WAR-2.1 (2nd Time)

Hit By Pitch-32 (2nd Time)

Sacrifice Hits-28

Putouts as SS-425 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-71

Range Factor/Game as SS-6.73 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.940 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Ee-Yah continued to shine for the Orioles, having a phenomenal season. He finished seventh in WAR (7.5); first in WAR Position Players (7.5); third in Offensive WAR (6.1), behind only Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty (7.0) and Billy Hamilton (6.4); and first in Defensive WAR (2.1). Jennings slashed .386/.444/.512 with 53 stolen bases and an Adjusted OPS+ of 143. That’s a good season for anyone, but spectacular for a shortstop.

As for Ee-yah’s proficiency with the mitt, Wikipedia says, “Jennings was also one of the best fielding shortstops of the era. He led the National League in fielding percentage and putouts three times each. He had as many as 537 assists and 425 putouts in single seasons during his prime. His 425 putouts ties him with Donie Bush for the single season record for a shortstop. In 1895, he had a career-high range factor of 6.73–1.19 points higher than the league average (5.54) for shortstops that year. He once handled 20 chances in a game, and on another occasion had 10 assists in a game.”

Nowadays, defense is rated by watching plays and rating them and, well, all kinds of complicated things. We don’t have that for Jennings’ time, but the stats we do have for him to show him to a great glove man. People in the more recent past won Gold Gloves due to the eyeball test, but that has changed. It’d be great to have film of Jennings and the rest of the motley Baltimore crew.

delahanty3

LF-Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia Phillies, 27 Years Old

1893 1894

.404, 11 HR, 106 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Offensive WAR-7.0

On-Base %-.500

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.117

Doubles-49

Adjusted OPS+-187

Adj. Batting Runs-69 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-6.2 (2nd Time)

Offensive Win %-.844

3rd Time All-Star-It was a great time in baseball for outfielders. Only four infielders made the All-Star team, but there are going to be write-ups for nine outfielders, starting with this one for Big Ed Delahanty. Nowadays, we forlornly look back at the steroid era, upset at the damage it did to our esteemed home run records and “unfairly” lifting people like Barry Bonds on a pedestal.  We like our 61 and 714, but don’t care about 73 and 756.

Well, the 1890s shattered that same record book. Instead of the rarity of a .400 season, they appeared yearly. Delahanty hit over .400 for the second straight year, something done only by Jesse Burkett in this same era, Ty Cobb, and Rogers Hornsby. From 1894-99, there were 11 .400 seasons. In the other 125 years of baseball history, there have been only 17 others. The main change to the game during this time was moving back the pitcher’s mound by 10 feet.

Now the numbers portion of our blurb. Delahanty finished ninth in WAR (6.9); second in WAR Position Players (6.9) to Baltimore’s Hughie Jennings (7.5); and first in Offensive WAR (7.0). He hit .404, second behind Cleveland’s Jesse Burkett (.405); led the league with a .500 on-base percentage; slugged .617, behind only his teammate Sam Thompson (.654); stole 46 bases; and had a league-leading Adjusted OPS+ of 187.  Big Ed may not ever have bigger numbers, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have better seasons ahead. It’s all about the context.

kelley2

LF-Joe Kelley, Baltimore Orioles, 23 Years Old

1894

.365, 10 HR, 134 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Baltimore was chock full of Hall of Famers, including Kelley, who has now made two All-Star teams by the age of 23. He is going to have some outstanding lifetime stats, but in this age of inflated numbers, many players did. This season, Kelley finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.9) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.4). He slashed .365/.456/.546 with 54 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 154. All of those are outstanding numbers, but only stolen bases and slugging are even in the top five and that whopping .365 batting average isn’t even in the top 10 in the National League.

Wikipedia wraps up his season, “These Orioles teams, led by John McGraw, were known to break the rules in order to win, including tampering with their bats and the playing field. Kelley hid baseballs in the outfield, using the closest hidden ball instead of finding the ball batted into the outfield. Kelley hit ten home runs in 1895, a then-franchise record, tying him for fifth in the NL with five other players. He also tied Brodie for second with 134 RBI, finished fourth with 54 stolen bases, fifth with a .546 SLG, and sixth with a .456 OBP.” If there was a way to cheat, the Orioles would do it, but at least for the time in which they played, it seemed to work. Their story relates to the modern steroid debacle. They won because they had talent, but also because they cheated. They cheated because the rules of that time allowed it and there were no repercussions for their actions. It was the same with steroid users.

burkett2

LF-Jesse Burkett, Cleveland Spiders, 26 Years Old

1893

.405, 5 HR, 83 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

1895 NL Batting Title

Batting Average-.405

Plate Appearances-644

Hits-225

Singles-185

Times on Base-307 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Burkett was the Tony Gwynn of his time, hitting for a high average, but not hitting for much power. Crab was a little guy, but a definite offensive force who will most likely make my Hall of Fame. This season, Burkett finished ninth in WAR Position Players (5.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (5.4). His batting average of .405 led the league, while Burkett’s on-base percentage of .482 ranked third behind only Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty (.500) and Billy Hamilton (.490). His .410 average in 1896 (spoiler alert!) would be the only time he’d hit higher than this season and he’d never have a higher OBP. He’d also never slug higher than the .541 of this season. Crab stole 34 bases with a 157 OPS+. It was a great season and not his last one.

I talked about Burkett’s attitude in his 1893 blurb. Look at what the Hall of Fame page says about the fiery player, “Burkett’s contract was purchased by the National League’s Cleveland Spiders before the 1891 season, and he honed his skills for most of that year in the minors in Lincoln, Neb. By 1893, he was hitting .348 as an everyday outfielder for the Spiders. In 1895 and 1896, Burkett batted .405 and .410, respectively, becoming just the second player to reach the .400 mark twice.

“Burkett was nicknamed ‘The Crab’ by his Cleveland teammates – a reflection of his disposition between the lines.

“’You’ve got to be a battler,’ Burkett said. ‘If you don’t, they’ll walk all over you.

“’Once the bell rang, I had no friends on the other team.’”

clarke

LF-Fred Clarke, Louisville Colonels, 22 Years Old

.347, 4 HR, 82 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as OF-49

1st Time All-Star-Fred Clifford “Cap” Clarke was born on October 3, 1872 in Winterset, IA. He was born in the same state as his nickname’s namesake, Cap Anson, who was born in Marshalltown, IA.  Clarke started with Louisville in 1894 and would remain with the team through 1899. He made the team because the Colonels needed a representative and Cap Clarke is the man. He slashed .347/.396/.425 with 40 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 117. Those would be dynamite numbers nowadays, but in his day they were merely middle of the road.

Louisville would have loved to be in the middle of the road, but they were at the end of the line, finishing 35-96 under the guidance of John McCloskey. McCloskey would never have a season above a .347 winning percentage and yet get five opportunities at managing. Puzzling.

Clarke started out hot, according to Wikipedia, which reports, “Clarke was discovered in the minor leagues by Louisville part-owner, Barney Dreyfuss, and joined the Colonels in 1894. In his first game, he collected five hits in five at bats which is still a Major League record. In his second season, he asserted himself with a batting average of .347, 191 hits and 96 runs which were all best on the team by far.”

How about this story from his biography written by Ronald T. Waldo, about a run-in with Cap Anson. Read the whole thing, but this is a snippet: “…I deliberately hit an infield out and as I got to first I landed on his shoes with my spikes and ripped the shoe open.” Ouch!

hamilton6

CF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 29 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894

.389, 7 HR, 74 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Runs Scored-166 (3rd Time)

Bases on Balls-96 (3rd Time)

Stolen Bases-97 (5th Time)

6th Time All-Star-Hamilton is more famous as a Broadway play nowadays or maybe you think of Billy Hamilton, the inconsistent speedster for the modern Cincinnati Reds. But this Hamilton should be the Hamilton that comes to mind when that name is uttered. In a previous write-up on Sliding Billy, Bill James mentioned he didn’t have much written about him despite his gaudy numbers. Yes, he made the Hall of Fame, but it took until 1961 and the Veterans Committee voting him in. Admittedly, in the first Veterans Committee vote in 1936, there were many great players to wade through, but he still received only 2.6 percent of the votes needed. Fortunately wrongs were righted and he’s in Cooperstown nowadays.

Oh, 1895. Well, he set career highs for homers with seven. He finished third in WAR Position Players (6.2), behind only Baltimore’s Hughie Jennings (7.5) and teammate Ed Delahanty (6.2). Delahanty also beat him out in Offensive WAR, 7.0-6.4. He finished sixth in batting average (.389); second in on-base percentage (.490), behind only Delahanty (.500), first in steals (97); and seventh in Adjusted OPS+ (154). In other words, typical Hamilton.

As he turns 30, Hamilton’s numbers are going to start to fall. Not plummet, just fall a little. He’s going to still make All-Star teams, but others will be taking his place at the top of the charts. It’s too bad for Sliding Billy that the Phillies couldn’t put together any pitching at this time, because he and his fellow Hall-of-Fame outfielders, Delahanty and Sam Thompson might have won many crowns.

griffin3

CF-Mike Griffin, Brooklyn Grooms, 30 Years Old

1891 1894

.332, 4 HR, 65 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as OF-357 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as OF-12 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.88 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as OF-.969 (4th Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Griffin was the only Grooms player to make the All-Star team, but he’d be on this team regardless, as he had his best season ever. Griffin finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.6) and 10th in Offensive WAR (4.7). At the dish, he slashed .332/.442/.454 with 27 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 139, his highest ever. It was a tradition almost from the very beginnings of baseball to put the speedy centerfielder at the top of the lineup.

As for the Grooms, their lack of star power didn’t hinder their play. Brooklyn, coached by Dave Foutz, went 71-60 and finished fifth in the National League. They didn’t have any All-Star pitchers and only one All-Star position player, but it didn’t stop them from succeeding.

SABR tells about the end of Griffin’s career, saying, ”Griffin was often called the finest center fielder of his era. Five times he led the National League in fielding percentage for outfielders. He also led in putouts two times.

“Brooklyn was struggling in 1898, and manager Bill Barnie was released. Team captain Mike Griffin took over the reigns of the club as player-manager for four games-posting a 1-3 record-before quitting as manager and turning the reigns of the club to new team president, Charles Ebbets. Griffin continued playing for Brooklyn under Ebbets.

“After the season ended, Griffin signed a contract with Brooklyn to be player-manager for the 1899 season with a salary of $3,500. Little did he know, he would never set foot on a major league diamond again.” Read the whole SABR story about the salary dispute that ended the centerfielder’s career.

lange

CF-Bill Lange, Chicago Colts, 24 years old

.389, 10 HR, 98 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Never

 

1st Time All-Star-William Alexander “Bill” or “Little Eva” Lange was born on June 6, 1871 in San Francisco, CA and this is his best year ever. It’s really his only standout year. Why do I bring this up? Because in the 1936 Veteran’s voting, Little Eva had a higher percentage of votes than Sliding Billy Hamilton. This was a man who played only seven seasons, all with Chicago, and more people voted for him in the Veterans Committee than Hamilton! You could write a whole book of the quirkiness of the Hall of Fame, but let’s talk about Lange’s season. He finished seventh in WAR Position Players (5.3) and eighth in Offensive WAR (5.2). He slashed .389/.456/.575 with 67 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 157. Good season, but I’m still baffled by the Hall of Fame votes.

Why did Lange play only seven seasons? Love, according to Wikipedia, which states, “Lange was noted for having a combination of great speed and power, especially for his size. His 6-foot-1-inch (1.85 m), 190-pound (86 kg) frame was considered large for his era. He is best known for retiring from baseball during the prime of his career to get married, as his future father-in-law forbade his daughter to marry a baseball player. Despite the short-lived marriage, he refused all offers to return as a player.

“He became a successful businessman after his retirement from baseball. In addition to his success in real estate and insurance, he became a leading figure in Major League Baseball’s efforts to generate interest in the game worldwide. He was enlisted by the leading baseball figures of the day to assist in establishing leagues in several European countries, that could eventually compete against American teams, while also scouting for undiscovered talent.”

thompson7

RF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 35 Years Old

1886 1887 1891 1892 1893 1894

.392, 18 HR, 165 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Slugging-.654 (3rd Time)

Total Bases-352 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-18 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-165 (3rd Time)

Runs Created-150 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-84

Power-Speed #-21.6

7th Time All-Star-Big Sam kept bashing. His seventh All-Star team puts him in my Hall of Fame, but it ended up closer than I thought. I’m dazzled by his counting stats, but for the era in which he played, his numbers aren’t all that unusual. Thompson had a final kick after he turned 30 to propel him into Ron’s Hall of Fame, a time that was incredible even for the era in which he played. He also has made the All-Star team more than any rightfielder up to this time. You can read the full list in the Bid McPhee write-up.

This season was same ole, same ole for the big man. He finished fourth in WAR Position Players (6.0) and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.8). He batted .392, with a .430 on-base percentage, and slugged a National League-leading .654. He also stole 27 bases and finished with a 177 OPS+, second behind teammate Ed Delahanty (187).

Thompson would play just one more full season after this one and his hitting would fall off dramatically. He then played part-time for the 1897-98 Phillies and the 1906 American League Detroit Tigers, the latter at the age of 46. He would end up with a final slash line of .331/.384/.505 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 147. His final bWAR was 44.3.

Wikipedia has a snippet of a story which wraps up his career, “In a 1913 story on Thompson, Detroit sports writer Maclean Kennedy noted that Thompson’s drives “were the direct cause of more hats being smashed, more backs that were thumped til they were black and blue by some wild-eyed fan sitting in the seat behind, more outbursts of frenzied shrieks and howls of glee, than those of any other player who ever wore a Detroit uniform”, barring only the two great stars of the day, Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford.”

keeler

RF-Willie Keeler, Baltimore Orioles, 23 Years Old

.377, 4 HR, 78 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

1st Time All-Star-William Henry “Wee Willie” Keeler was born on March 3, 1872 in Brooklyn, NY. As if the champion Orioles didn’t have enough good players, they also had this future diminutive Hall of Famer. Keeler stood just five-foot-four and weighed in at 140 pounds, but put a lot of baseball talent in that little body. He started as a part-time third baseman for the Giants in 1892-93, before playing one season as a backup for Brooklyn in 1893. He joined Baltimore in 1894, just in time for its reign of terror.

This season, Keeler finished seventh in WAR Position Players (5.3), slashing .377/.429/.494 with 47 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 134. His batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS+ were all career highs up to this point, but Wee Willie’s got some dazzling years ahead.

                Wikipedia says of Keeler, “Keeler’s advice to hitters was ‘Keep your eye clear, and hit ’em where they ain’t’—‘they’ being the opposing fielders…

“Keeler had the ability to bunt most balls pitched to him, enabling him to avoid striking out; his skill at prolonging at bats by fouling pitches off with this method was the impetus for the rule change that made a foul bunt with two strikes a strike out…

“In forming the powerful original Baltimore Orioles of the late 19th century, manager Ned Hanlon was given an ownership stake in the team and a free rein to form his team. In one of the most one-sided trades in baseball history, Hanlon obtained Dan Brouthers and Keeler from Brooklyn in exchange for Billy Shindle and George Treadway. Keeler and six of his teammates from the Orioles eventually were inducted into the Hall of Fame.”


1894 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-John Clarkson

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Jouett Meekin, NYG

P-Ted Breitenstein, STL

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-George Hemming, LOU/BLN

P-Pink Hawley, STL

P-Sadie McMahon, BLN

P-Clark Griffith, CHC

P-Frank Dwyer, CIN

C-Wilbert Robinson, BLN

C-Jack Clements, PHI

1B-Jake Beckley, PIT

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

3B-George Davis, NYG

3B-Lave Cross, PHI

3B-Bill Joyce, WHS

SS-Hughie Jennings, BLN

LF-Joe Kelley, BLN

LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI

CF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Hugh Duffy, BSN

CF-Jake Stenzel, PIT

CF-Mike Griffin, BRO

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

 

clarkson91894 ONEHOF Inductee-John Clarkson

1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891

328-178, 2.81 ERA, 1978 K, 84.0 WAR

 

For any new readers, every year I pick a player who I believe to be the best player not currently in the ONEHOF, the One-a-Year Hall of Fame. I also have a second Hall of Fame, which is creatively called Ron’s Hall of Fame (Hi, I’m Ron), in which any player whose career WAR multiplied by the number of All-Star teams made is 300 or greater is in. You’ll see those in the individual player write-ups.

The following list is the prestigious ONEHOF and the Yes or No indicates whether that player is in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. The picks thus far are:

1871-George Zettlein, P (No)

1872-Al Spalding, P (Yes)

1873-Bobby Mathews, P (No)

1874-Dick McBride, P (No)

1875-Ross Barnes, 2B (No)

1876-George Wright, SS (Yes)

1877-Cal McVey, 1B (No)

1878-Deacon White, 3B (Yes)

1879-Tommy Bond, P (No)

1880-Cap Anson, 1B (Yes)

1881-Jim O’Rourke, LF (Yes)

1882-Joe Start, 1B (No)

1883-Paul Hines, CF (No)

1884-Jim McCormick, P (No)

1885-Will White, P (No)

1886-Tim Keefe, P (Yes)

1887-Pud Galvin, P (Yes)

1888-Mickey Welch, P (Yes)

1889-Dan Brouthers, 1B (Yes)

1890-Jack Glasscock, SS (No)

1891-Roger Connor, 1B (Yes)

1892-Harry Stovey, 1B (No)

1893-Charlie Bennett, C (No)

1894-John Clarkson, P (Yes)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1895: King Kelly, Monte Ward, Old Hoss Radbourn, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson

Clarkson started with Worcester in 1882, but then established his fame as the main pitcher for Cap Anson’s White Stockings from 1884-1887, winning 53 games in 1885. He then pitched for Boston from 1888-92, winning 30 games three times, including 49 in 1889. He finished his career with Cleveland from 1892-94.

rusie5P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 23 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

36-13, 2.78 ERA, 195 K, .280, 3 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1894 NL Pitching Title

1894 NL Pitching Triple Crown

Wins Above Replacement-14.3 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-14.3

Earned Run Average-2.78

Wins-36

Walks & Hits per IP-1.410

Hits per 9 IP-8.635 (4th Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-3.953 (4th Time)

Strikeouts-195 (4th Time)

Games Started-50 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-3 (3rd Time)

Bases on Balls-200 (5th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-188

Adj. Pitching Runs-112 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-9.3 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-113 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as P-14 (4th Time)

5th Time All-Star-For the second straight year, the Hoosier Thunderbolt led the league in WAR and, in a league with Cy Young and Kid Nichols, was the dominant pitcher of his time. It was mainly because of Rusie the mounds were moved back in 1893 by 10 feet and yet it seems to be Rusie reaping the rewards. Baseball Reference lists him as winning the pitching Triple Crown, but no one cared about this back then and, compared to the batting Triple Crown, it draws little interest nowadays. I don’t really have to list everything Rusie accomplished because you can see above, he dominated the league. It was his best season ever.

The New York Giants had the two best pitchers in the league and, by WAR, the two best players in the league. They should have won it all, but ended up falling three games short to the Baltimore Orioles. Those pitchers did allow the Giants to lead the league in fewest runs allowed, but their hitting lacked, as they placed ninth in the league in runs scored. John “Monte” Ward guided the team to an 88-44 record, but they weren’t in first place at any time during the season. Ward would never manage again.

There was an unofficial championship series going on at this time. Wikipedia reports, “After the conclusion of the 1894 regular season, a Pittsburgh sportsman named William C. Temple sponsored a trophy for the winner between the regular season 1st and 2nd place teams in the National League. The runner-up Giants swept the Baltimore Orioles, who featured Hall of Famers John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson, 4-0. Amos Rusie was virtually untouchable in the Temple Cup, giving up only one earned run while winning two complete games and compiling a 0.50 ERA; if that was not enough, he even batted .429. Amos Rusie’s win total that year was fourth best since the establishment of the modern pitching distance of 60’-6″.”

meekin

P-Jouett Meekin, New York Giants, 27 Years Old

33-9, 3.70 ERA, 137 K, .276, 5 HR, 29 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.786

Wild Pitches-22

1st Time All-Star-George Jouett Meekin was born on February 21, 1867 in New Albany, IN. He was tall for his day at six-foot-one and weighed in at 180 pounds. This season is the epitome of a fluke season as it was great, but he’ll most likely never make another All-Star team. Meekin played with the 1891-92 Louisville Colonels, 1891 in the American Association and 1892 in the National League. He then moved to the 1892-93 Washington Senators. At this point in his career, Meekin was 29-51 with a 4.33 ERA and an 87 ERA+. For whatever reason, the 27-year-old figured it out with the Giants this season. He finished second in WAR (11.6), behind only teammate Amos Rusie (14.3) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.3), again behind only Rusie (14.3). In 418 innings (third in the league behind St. Louis’ Ted Breitenstein’s 447 1/3 and Rusie’s 444), he had a 3.70 ERA (behind, you guessed it, Rusie’s 2.78) for an Adjusted ERA+ of 141 (you know the drill, behind Rusie’s 188). This was already a phenomenal season and if it wasn’t for his Hall of Fame teammate, it would have been more recognized.

Meekin could also hit, smashing five homers and, on the Fourth of July, provided the fireworks with three triples, a record for pitchers even to this day. He would remain with the Giants through 1899 and then finish off his career with the Beaneaters and Pirates. Meekin had other decent years, but 1894 stands is easily the year for which he’ll be remembered.

breitenstein2

P-Ted Breitenstein, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

1893

27-23, 4.79 ERA, 140 K, .220, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Games Pitched-56

Innings Pitched-447 1/3

Games Started-50

Complete Games-46

Hits Allowed-497

Earned Runs Allowed-238

Batters Faced-1,987

Def. Games as P-56

Putouts as P-42 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Breitenstein pitched his way to his second straight All-Star season and he made it this year due to endurance. In 1893, he led the National League in ERA, this season his earned run average ballooned. Still, the amount of innings he garnered still made this a good season. Theo finished third in WAR (9.6), behind New York’s Amos Rusie (14.3) and Jouett Meekin (11.6), and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (9.7). He led the league with 447 1/3 innings pitched with a 4.79 ERA and a 112 ERA+. It certainly wasn’t as great as the previous season, but in an era in which runs were being scored in bunches, it wasn’t as bad as it looks. No left-hander since 1893 ever had more innings pitched.

As for the Browns, Doggie Miller managed his only season and finished with a 56-76 record, in ninth place, 35 games out of first. Led by Breitenstein and Pink Hawley, St. Louis had decent pitching, but putrid hitting.

The moving back of the mound in 1893 continued to have profound effects on the league. In 1892, when the mound was a 50 feet, there were 5.1 runs scored per game. The next season, the mound moved back to 60 feet, six inches and there were 6.6 runs per game. In 1894, that increased to 7.4 runs per game. In 2016, the Major Leagues averaged 4.48 runs per game, so you can see it was a whole different ball game than we’re seeing nowadays.

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P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 27 Years Old

1891 1892 1893

26-21, 3.94 ERA, 108 K, .215, 2 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.334 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.019 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Baseball is cyclical, moving back and forth between whether hitters dominate or pitchers do. This tide can be affected by rule changes or just player adjustments or steroids. Young, the greatest control pitcher of all-time, walked over 100 batters for the fourth straight season, but you can see he still led the league in fewest bases on balls per nine innings. He’s adjusting and will never walk over 75 batters in a year for the rest of his career. For the season, Young finished fourth in WAR (9.2) and third in WAR for Pitchers (10.1), behind only New York’s Amos Rusie (14.3) and Jouett Meekin (11.3). Young’s hitting was his worst ever, coming in at a -1.0 WAR, which allowed Ted Breitenstein to have a better WAR despite having a worse year pitching. Young pitched 408 2/3 innings with a 3.94 ERA and a 138 Adjusted ERA+, which was third behind Rusie (188) and Meekin (141). Ho-hum, another great Cy Young season.

Except for 1892, Young’s pitching wasn’t helping the Spiders much in the standings. Manager Patsy Tebeau guided the team to a 68-61 record, which was only good enough for sixth in the standings and 21-and-a-half games out of first. Their pitching was pretty good, their hitting, not so much.

John Clarkson, this year’s ONEHOF inductee, and Cy Young were teammates from 1892-94 and Clarkson would retire from Major League duties after this season. It was the passing of the torch, but it wasn’t completely amicable, as Young, the great one, made less money than Clarkson, the former great one, $2,500-$2,300. Can you imagine how much money Young would make nowadays?

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P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 24 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

32-13, 4.75 ERA, 113 K, .294, 0 HR, 34 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Shutouts-3

5th Time All-Star-If someone asked you which Braves franchise player won the most games in their career, you might rightly guess Warren Spahn, who won 356 for the Braves. For second place, you’d probably throw out names like Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine. You would then be laughed at and scorned and told, no, it’s Kid Nichols, of course! He won 329 games for the club when it was the Beaneaters and before it was the Braves. He had another great season, finishing fifth in WAR (8.2) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (8.0). He pitched his usual 407 innings with a decent 1894 ERA of 4.75 and 124 ERA+. When I start writing up the hitters, you’re going to see some monster numbers, but it’s important to remember numbers are only helpful if calculated in fair comparisons.

With the help of Nichols and coached by the great Frank Selee, Boston finished in third place with a 83-49 record, eight games behind Baltimore. It scored more runs than any other team, but its pitching, especially in games Nichols wasn’t on the mound, was average.

In Nichols’ own words, he tells how he got his nickname: “When I first joined the Kansas City Club, at 17 years of age, being of light build, I looked even younger.

“The public and the newspapers called me ‘Kid.’ This name has remained with me throughout the years. I’m best known as Charles ‘Kid’ Nichols.” I suggest you read the whole thing and I’m guessing I’ll be quoting from it before Kid’s career is over.

hemming2

P-George Hemming, Louisville Colonels/Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

1893

17-19, 4.27 ERA, 70 K, .257, 2 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Hemming made the All-Star team for the second straight season and had his best year ever, finishing seventh in WAR (6.9) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). Between Louisville and Baltimore, he pitched 339 2/3 innings with a 4.27 ERA and a 120 ERA+. After this season, he’d pitch for Baltimore (1895-96) and go back to Louisville (1897). It’s wasn’t a great career or even a good one, but, for the time in which he pitched, it was a decent one.

The 1890s Baltimore Orioles were known as one of the greatest teams of all-time. They also had the reputation of one of the dirtiest teams of all-time. Led by Ned Hanlon, they won the first of three straight league titles with an 89-39 record. They were second in runs scored and runs allowed and first in run differential. They certainly had a lot of superstars on the team, but they also had a win at all cost attitude.

On the opposite side of the spectrum was Hemming’s other team, the Colonels, who finished in last place with a 36-94 record, 54 games behind Baltimore. The Orioles’ former coach, Billy Barnie, held the reins, but would leave the team after this disappointing season.

You need ballplayers to win games, though occasionally a team that doesn’t have many All-Stars will win. But for the most part, the team with the best players wins. Baltimore had five All-Stars, while Hemming was the only one for the Colonels. He finished 13-19 for Louisville and 4-0 for the Orioles.

hawley

P-Pink Hawley, St. Louis Browns, 21 Years Old

19-27, 4.90 ERA, 120 K, .264, 2 HR, 23 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Losses-27

Hit By Pitch-21

Games Finished-10

1st Time All-Star-Emerson Pink Hawley was born on December 5, 1872 in Beaver Dam, WI. I love that ballplayers come from places like Beaver Dam. He was average height at five-foot-10 and weighed 185 pounds. He was now pitching his third year for the Cardinals and, while he has yet to have a winning season, was improving every season. This season, he finished ninth in WAR (6.7) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (6.6), pitching 392 2/3 innings with a 4.90 ERA and a 110 ERA+. It’s incredible to see all of these high ERAs on this prestigious All-Star team, but it was a huge hitters’ year.

SABR writes, “He was born Emerson Pink Hawley on December 5, 1872, in Beaver Dam to Francis and Cornelia (Davis) Hawley. Beaver Dam is a small town which lies about 65 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Emerson was born one of two twins, the other being named Elmer. People had trouble telling the twins apart so the nurse who assisted in their birth pinned a blue ribbon to one and a pink one to the other. This resulted in Emerson being given the middle name Pink, and the brothers were known thereafter as Pink and Blue.

“The Hawley boys grew up in Beaver Dam where Pink attended the Wayland Academy. The Wayland Academy is a private school located in Beaver Dam. The Hawley twins had an older brother, Fred, and the three of them became legends in Beaver Dam baseball. Pink was the pitcher, Blue the catcher and Fred the first baseman. The twins were known as the Pink and Blue battery and both appeared to have bright futures as Blue was every bit as talented as his twin. But Blue’s life was cut short by pneumonia in 1891.”

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P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 26 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

25-8, 4.21 ERA, 60 K, .286, 0 HR, 25 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

5th Time All-Star-You don’t hear the name Sadie McMahon much, but he has now made five straight All-Star teams, two in the American Association and three in the National League. And in Baltimore’s first great year on its eventual great run, Sadie was the team’s best pitcher. He finished eighth in the league in WAR for Pitchers (6.0), tossing 275 2/3 innings with a 4.21 ERA and a 129 ERA+. He’d pitch well over his final three years, but his innings would continue to be reduced and he’s most likely made his last All-Star team.

SABR has much to say about McMahon’s part in the Orioles’ amazing run: “He continued to pitch well, winning over 20 games each year from 1892 through 1894. In 1894 he was having one of his best seasons, with a 25-8 record, when he was sidelined by a shoulder injury at the end of August. The Orioles won the pennant anyway, but lost the postseason Temple Cup matches to the runner-up New York Giants.

“As the shoulder was slow to heal, Sadie decided to sit out the next season. Meanwhile, the Orioles and the Cleveland Spiders were fighting for the 1895 pennant. During the summer the two teams alternated in first place. Led by first baseman-manager Patsy Tebeau, who was reputed to be a brawler and a bully, the Spiders were giving the Orioles a run for their money, not only in the pennant chase but also in the rowdiness department. At one point Baltimore had fallen to third place and the team’s championship hopes looked dim.

“About this time Baltimore manager Ned Hanlon ran into Sadie on a downtown street corner. Burt Solomon reconstructed the ensuing conversation as going something like this:

“’What’s the matter, Ed. You look downhearted.’

“’I am, Mac. I’m afraid they’ve got us licked.’

“’Don’t worry. I’m ready to go now and I’ll win you that championship.’

“The pitcher was true to his word.”

griffith

P-Clark Griffith, Chicago Colts, 24 Years Old

21-14, 4.92 ERA, 71 K, .232, 0 HR, 15 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No (as player, made it as pioneer/executive)

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

 

1st Time All-Star-Clark Calvin “The Old Fox” Griffith was born on November 20, 1869 in Clear Creek, MO. He was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Old Timers Committee as a Pioneer/Executive in 1946, but the truth is he’s going to have a great playing career and has a good chance of making my Hall of Fame. He started pitching for the American Association St. Louis Browns and Boston Reds in 1891, then took a year off from the Majors, before going to the Colts in 1893. Cap Anson, the Chicago skipper, always had a way of finding talent and he picked up another good one here in Griffith.

Griffith finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (5.9), pitching 261 1/3 innings with a 4.92 ERA and a 114 ERA+. It didn’t help Anson’s Colts, who finished eighth with a 57-75 record, 34 games out of first. It was the third straight season Chicago finished under .500.

The Old Fox had a tough childhood, according to Wikipedia, which says, “When Griffith was a small child, his father was killed in a hunting accident when fellow hunters mistook him for a deer. Sarah Griffith struggled to raise her children as a widow, but Clark Griffith later said that his neighbors in Missouri had been very helpful to his mother, planting crops for her and the children. Fearing a malaria epidemic that was sweeping through the area, the Griffith family moved to Bloomington, Illinois.” By the age of 17, Griffith was making money for pitching.

dwyer2

P-Frank Dwyer, Cincinnati Reds, 26 Years Old

1892

19-21, 5.07 ERA, 49 K, .267, 2 HR, 28 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Dwyer’s season wasn’t great, but he was the best player on the Reds, so he’s back on the All-Star team. It would have been grueling to be a pitcher in 1894, with it being an extreme hitters’ year. I’ve played slo-pitch softball for years and have pitched much during that time and one of the most helpless feelings is when the opposition starts unloading on you and the inning drags on forever. If you’re trying to understand the scoring phenomenon that went on this season, Dwyer made the All-Star team with a 5.07 ERA. He pitched 348 innings and that ERA ended up being a 108 Adjusted ERA+. He still has some All-Star teams left, but my guess is he doesn’t have six of them, which he’ll need to have to make my Hall of Fame.

I would have been one depressed baseball fan in 1894 as my Reds finished 10th with a 55-75 record, despite being managed by the great Charlie Comiskey.

In Major League baseball at this time, there were 12 teams with one team winning the league and an exhibition playoff between the two top teams, the Temple Cup. Nowadays, as of 2017, we have 30 Major League baseball teams and 10 teams make the playoffs. I sometimes think too many teams make the playoffs, considering the teams have already played 162 games and, after that many games, we should know who’s worthy and who’s not, but it would be boring watching the 1890s National League if your team wasn’t one of the ones competing for the title. The good thing about more playoff teams is that it keeps eyeballs on the teams for a longer time.

robinsonw2

C-Wilbert Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 30 Years Old

1893

.353, 1 HR, 98 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No as player, Yes as manager

Ron: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-109 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-I said in last year’s blurb Robinson wouldn’t make another All-Star team, but I also gave myself the caveat that it’s tough to predict catchers. Anyhow, here he is and he had what looks like a great season, but it’s going to turn out to be average in 1894. As I start writing up the hitters, you’re going to start noticing big numbers, but realize that because everyone had great offensive production that great years lose their value. As a league, batters slashed .309/.379/.435. That’s everyone combined! So when you see Robinson hit .353, you can definitely cheer, but understand all three regular outfielders on Baltimore topped that. Uncle Robbie slashed .353/.421/.430 with 12 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 102. His batting average and on-base percentage would be career highs.

                Here are some career highlights from Wikipedia: “The star catcher of the Orioles dynasty which won three straight titles from 1894 to 1896, he compiled a career batting average of .273, with a peak of .353 in the heavy-hitting season of 1894. Durable behind the plate, he caught a triple-header in 1896, followed by a double-header the following day. He also was the first catcher to play directly behind the batter at all times, as the previous practice had been to play farther back when there were fewer than two strikes. A highlight of his career was a seven-hit game June 10, 1892. He also batted in 11 runs in that game; on September 16, 1924, as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, he saw that record eclipsed as Jim Bottomley of the St. Louis Cardinals batted in 12 runs.”

clements5

C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 29 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

.351, 3 HR, 36 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

5th Time All-Star-It’s worth noting these All-Star teams are not the top 25 players in the league. Every team has to be represented and every position has to be filled. Clements did have a good season, but he played only 48 games. But in a league with a lack of good backstops, that’s good enough to make his fifth straight All-Star team. He had an all-time high up to this point in batting average (.351), his career high in on-base percentage (.459), and his highest slugging average to this point of .497. Clements stole six bases and had a 135 OPS+. If catcher wasn’t such a brutal position and Clements could have played more games, there’s definitely a possibility he’d be in the Hall of Fame. He still has some great seasons left and most likely an All-Star team or two still to go.

Arthur Irwin, who had managed the American Association Boston Reds to the pennant in 1891, took over from Hall of Famer Harry Wright. He led the team to a 71-57 fourth place finish, 18 games out of first. The Phillies could really hit, averaging 8.9 runs per game, just 0.3 behind the leader, Boston.

SABR writes of this season, “In 1894 Clements was off to his best start ever until a broken ankle shelved him after just 46 games.”

From the same article, here’s a bit on Clements’ inventiveness: “Clements likewise developed a unique chest protector, one that required him to blow it up before every game, and was also known for his trademark ‘indispensable sweater’ that he wore everywhere, even on the bench during hot summer games, ostensibly to protect his throwing arm, although by the late 1890s fellow players thought it was really donned to help him sweat off poundage after he developed a serious weight problem. By the end of his career it is almost certain that he tipped the scales at a significantly higher figure than his listed avoirdupois of 204.”

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1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26 Years Old

1889 1890 1891 1893

.345, 7 HR, 122 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Putouts-1,230 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-132

Putouts as 1B-1,230 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-85 (4th Time)

5th Time All-Star-When I first started writing about Beckley in 1889, I questioned his Hall of Fame creds, but I don’t anymore. In this year of inflated hitting stats, he was the only one to make the All-Star team at the position which usually provides the best bats, first base. Admittedly, it was a down year for first sackers, as Dan Brouthers and Roger Connor had off years. (Here’s what off years look like in an inflated offensive year. Brouthers slashed .347/.425/.560 and Connor .316/.402/.552. By the way, Cap Anson played only 84 games, but he slashed .388/.457/.539. It would be fun to have APBA cards from 1894.) As for Beckley, Eagle Eye slashed .345/.412/.521 with 21 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 126. It was his highest batting average and on-base percentages ever.

The Pirates were a middle of a road team, finishing 65-65 under the guidance of Al Buckenberger (53-55) and one Cornelius Alexander Mack (12-10). It was the first of 53 seasons in which Mack would manage in the Major Leagues.

Here’s what SABR says of Beckley’s Hall of Fame induction: “When Jake Beckley gained election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, 53 years after his death, most baseball fans had no idea who he was or why he should be honored with a plaque in Cooperstown. Beckley’s reputation suffered because he never played on a pennant winner, and only one team he played for (the 1893 Pirates) finished as high as second place. Still, the colorful ‘Eagle Eye’ compiled a .308 lifetime average, hit .300 or better in 13 of his 20 seasons (including the first four seasons of the Deadball Era), and retired in 1907 as baseball’s all-time leader in triples.”

childs5

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 26 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

.353, 2 HR, 52 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

5th Time All-Star-At this point in his career, Childs has played five full seasons and has now made the All-Star team every time. His chance’s for making my Hall of Fame continue to increase. This season, Childs hit .353, his highest average so far; had his highest ever on-base percentage of .475; slugged .459; and stole 17 bases for an OPS+ of 123. He was the dominant second sacker in the land and I’m pretty sure he’s got one All-Star season left. If he can sneak in another one, he’ll be in my Hall of Fame and there will be celebrations throughout his home state of Maryland.

SABR writes of his 1894 season, “Childs had another good year in 1894, hitting .353. He had 169 hits, 107 walks, 21 doubles and 12 triples for the year. He also scored 143 runs and stole 17 bases. Throughout his career Childs missed his share of games due to injuries and sickness but he also was capable of playing hurt. On August 8, 1894, Childs fell and broke his collarbone after he was tripped by Pittsburgh first baseman Jake Beckley while he was running down the first base line. Cupid must have had great recuperative powers because he was back in the Cleveland lineup at second base just 13 days later. In September of that year, Childs handled 16 chances without an error in the first game of a double header against Brooklyn. Remarkably, Childs finished the 1894 National League season with just 11 strikeouts.”

davisg2

3B-George Davis, New York Giants, 23 Years Old

1893

.352, 9 HR, 93 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-Davis is back for his second consecutive season and he had very similar stats to his All-Star 1893 year. Of course, that means he did worse, relatively speaking, because it was a lot easier to hit in 1894. Here’s what I mean. In 1893, he slashed .355/.410/.554 and in 1894, he slashed .352/.434/.541. Pretty close. However, in the former year, his Adjusted OPS+ was 155, while this season it was 135. He’s still a great player, but it shows the difficulties that come with just making judgments on straight stats. Still, Davis finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.4), ninth in Offensive WAR (4.6); and sixth in Defensive WAR (1.1). By the way, in case you’re wondering how bloated offensive stats were in 1894, Davis’ .434 on-base percentage didn’t even rank in the top 10.

I didn’t mention this last year, but SABR has a good write-up on Davis’ 1893 season, saying, “Prior to the 1893 season, New York Giants manager John Montgomery Ward traded heralded veteran Buck Ewing for the young 22-year old Davis, just off a subpar year in which he had batted .241. Ward installed Davis at third base and the switch-hitter, aided by the new 60’6″ pitching distance, hit an impressive .355 with 119 RBI and a career-high 27 triples. He also set a major league record with a 33-game hitting streak, though the mark would be broken by Bill Dahlen the next year. The New York fans embraced their new player and Ward became a mentor to Davis, who grew a handlebar mustache that mirrored Ward’s, making it difficult to tell the two apart.”

cross

3B-Lave Cross, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

.387, 7 HR, 132 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Double Plays Turned as 3B-24

Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.12

1st Time All-Star-Lafayette Napoleon “Lave” Cross was born on May 12, 1866 in Milwaukee, WI. The five-foot-eight, 155 pound third baseman has garnered some Hall of Fame consideration and because of his dazzling fielding, it’s not impossible he makes my Hall of Fame. He started his career as a catcher, first for the American Association Louisville Colonels (1887-88), then for the AA Philadelphia Athletics (1889). Then like so many, Cross jumped to the Players League in 1890, catching for the Athletics and then went back to the AA in 1891, playing again for Philadelphia. Since then, he’s been with the Phillies, where he was switched to third base in 1892 and then went back to catcher in 1893. This season, Cross made third base his primary position for the rest of his long career. He’d play 21 seasons in four different leagues.

Third base seemed to fit Cross, who finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.3), 10th in Offensive WAR (4.6), and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.1). This was his best season ever. He slashed .387/.424/.528 and stole 23 bases for an OPS+ of 133. All of those numbers, sans stolen bases, are all-time highs for him.

A page called Hall of Fame Debate seems to think Cross belongs in the Hall. It also says of his 1894 season, “Lave was a solid offensive performer but in 1894, he had his breakout season.  Cross elevated his game by hitting a robust .386 in ’94 while driving in an astonishing 125 runs.  That year, Lave played in 119 games, scored 123 runs and drove in 125 runs, making him one of but a few players who have averaged both a run scored and a run driven in per game.  He eclipsed the 100 RBI mark the following year as well while only fanning eight times all season.”

joyce2

3B-Bill Joyce, Washington Senators, 26 Years Old

1891

.355, 17 HR, 89 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

AB per HR-20.9

2nd Time All-Star-Joyce is not a Hall of Fame player because he played only eight seasons, but he ran into some incredible bad luck. Well, maybe that’s not the word for it, because much of it was brought on by Joyce himself. For instance, after an All-Star season in the American Association in 1891, he moved to the National League in 1892, playing for Brooklyn. Then, in 1893, according to SABR, “The Brooklyn Grooms traded Joyce to the Washington Senators in the offseason, but he refused to play for the Senators at the salary offered and held out for the entire 1893 season. Reportedly, he spent much of that summer betting on horse races in St. Louis and hanging out with Alderman Jim Cronin, a lieutenant of Edward Butler, the city’s Irish political boss.” In the prime of his career, he sat out a whole Major League season.

He came back strong, finishing eighth in WAR Position Players (5.2) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.5). This could have been one of the all-time great seasons, but he played only 99 of the team’s 132 games. Still he slashed .355/.496/.648 with 21 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 178. He ranked behind only Philadelphia’s Sam Thompson (.696) and Boston’s Hugh Duffy (.694) in slugging and behind only Thompson (182) in Adjusted OPS+.

As for Washington, Gus Schmelz coached them to an 11th place 45-87 record. He’d be its manager for three more seasons, but the team would never do well under his guidance.

jennings

SS-Hughie Jennings, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

.335, 4 HR, 109 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-2.0

Hit By Pitch-27

Putouts as SS-307 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.928

1st Time All-Star-Hugh Ambrose “Hughie” or “Ee-Yah” Jennings was born on April 2, 1869 in Pittstown, PA, having the same birthday as my sister-in-law, Terri. He started his career with the American Association Louisville Colonels in 1891, then moved to the National League for them in 1892 and 1893. He was traded with Harry Taylor to the Orioles on June 7, 1893 for Tim O’Rourke and would then become a legend for one of the all-time great teams. As for this season, Ee-Yah finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.8) and first in Defensive WAR (2.0). He’s one of the great defensive shortstops of all time. He slashed .335/.411/.479 with 37 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 110. He has some great seasons ahead.

Wikipedia says of this great team, “Jennings played with the Orioles for parts of seven seasons and became a star during his years in Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles teams of 1894, 1895, and 1896 are regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time. The teams featured Hall of Fame manager Ned Hanlon and a lineup with six future Hall of Famers: first baseman Dan Brouthers, second baseman John McGraw, shortstop Jennings, catcher Wilbert Robinson, right fielder “Wee Willie” Keeler, and left fielder Joe Kelley. Amidst all those great players, Jennings was appointed captain in 1894, his first full season with the team.

“During the Orioles’ championship years, Jennings had some of the best seasons ever by a major league shortstop.” That’s true, to a point, but it’s also important to remember everyone was a great hitter during this era.

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LF-Joe Kelley, Baltimore Orioles, 22 Years Old

.393, 6 HR, 111 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

1st Time All-Star-Joseph James “Joe” Kelley was born on December 9, 1871 in Cambridge, MA and, like so many Baltimore players, was off to a Hall of Fame career. And like so many of those, it’s a toss-up in my mind. If he played in the 1960s, he’d be an unbelievable hitter, but in the time in which he played, there were many hitters like him. I’m not saying he wasn’t a good hitter or a good player, but does he deserve Cooperstown? That’s a tough call.

Kelley started with Boston in 1891, then played for Pittsburgh and Baltimore in 1892. He’d be on the Orioles through 1898. He finished 10th in WAR (6.5); third in WAR Position Players (6.5), behind only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton and Boston’s Hugh Duffy; and third in Offensive WAR (6.1), behind those same two (7.8 and 6.7 respectively). He slashed .393/.502/.602 with 46 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 161. All of those slash numbers would be the highest in his career. He was second in OBP to Hamilton (.521). According to SABR, “On September 3, 1894, Kelley, batting leadoff, stroked nine straight hits in a doubleheader sweep of the Cleveland Spiders in front of a Labor Day crowd of over 20,000 fans at Baltimore’s Union Park. The hard-hitting Irishman put the finishing touches on his great day by slamming four consecutive doubles off Cy Young in the nightcap.” This season was his second year of 11 consecutive seasons in which he’d above .300.

delahanty2

LF-Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia Phillies, 26 Years Old

1893

.404, 4 HR, 133 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-As of this writing in 2017, it has been 76 years since anybody hit .400. It is an incredibly difficult feat to hit .400 in a whole Major League season. I play slo-pitch softball and I doubt I hit that high and the ball is being lobbed to me! Yet five people in 1894 hit .400 and four of them were on the same team. I’m going to be writing about three of those four as all of the regular Philadelphia outfielders hit .400. But the Phillies backup outfielder also hit over .400 as Tuck Turner hit .418. He didn’t have enough at-bats to make the All-Star team. The only non-Philadelphia .400 hitter was Hugh Duffy, who hit .440. More on him later.

This season, Delahanty finished fourth in WAR Position Players (6.0) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.4). He hit .404, with a .475 on-base percentage and .584 slugging average. He stole 21 bases and ended up with a 159 OPS+. But he has much better seasons ahead.

Wikipedia wraps up everything I just said, saying, “In 1894, despite his high average of .407, the batting title went to Hugh Duffy with a major league record-setting .440. The 1894 Phillies outfield had a big season, with all four players averaging over .400. That season, Delahanty hit .407, Sam Thompson batted .407, Billy Hamilton .404 and spare outfielder Tuck Turner finished second to Hugh Duffy in hitting at .416… Delahanty was surrounded by talent in the Philadelphia outfield. Author Bill James wrote, ‘Any way you cut it, the Phillies had the greatest outfield of the 19th century.’”

hamilton5CF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

1890 1891 1892 1893

.403, 4 HR, 90 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-8.2 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-7.8 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.521 (3rd Time)

Plate Appearances-702

Runs Scored-198 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-128 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases-100 (4th Time)

Singles-181 (4th Time)

Times on Base-362 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-370

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.92

5th Time All-Star-In a career loaded with great seasons, this was Hamilton’s best season ever. He finished sixth in WAR (8.2), first in WAR Position Players (8.2), and first in Offensive WAR (7.8). He led the league with a .521 on-base percentage and 100 stolen bases. Sliding Billy also hit .403 with a .523 slugging average and a 157 OPS+. It was his highest batting average and on-base percentage ever and, oh, yeah, Hamilton also set an all-time record for runs scored with 198. In 132 games.

Most importantly, his fifth straight All-Star season puts the great Hamilton into my Hall of Fame. He’ll most likely be in the ONEHOF someday.

So I’m writing about all of these incredible Philadelphia seasons and you must be thinking that Philadelphia Baseball Grounds must have been a bandbox, a real hitter’s paradise. (It’s amazing how you and I so often are thinking about the same thing.) Well, you’d be wrong, it was actually a pitcher’s park. Which makes these mind-blowing stats that much more amazing.

Wikipedia shines a lens on his incredible season, saying, “That year Hamilton set the all-time standard for most runs scored in a season (198); since then, Babe Ruth has come closest to Hamilton in runs scored, with 177 in 1921, setting the American League and modern MLB record. Hamilton also set the record for most stolen bases in one game, with seven on August 31, 1894. He set the record for most consecutive games scoring one or more runs, with 35 runs in 24 games in July–August 1894.”

duffy3

CF-Hugh Duffy, Boston Beaneaters, 27 Years Old

1890 1891

.440, 18 HR, 145 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

1894 NL Batting Average (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.440

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.196

Hits-237 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-374

Doubles-51

Home Runs-18

Runs Created-187

Adj. Batting Runs-68

Adj. Batting Wins-5.6

Extra Base Hits-85

Offensive Win %-.852

Power-Speed #-26.2 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Batting average is baseball’s most famous stat. Yes, it’s true, we’re smarter nowadays and understand BA doesn’t do a good job of telling a player’s value, but it’s an easy way to make a judgment of a player and how good they are at hitting. On scoreboards around the league, when the lineup is shown, the batting average of the player is also displayed. Here, in these three numbers, we’re letting you know how good the player is, the scoreboards seem to be telling us.

Yet, I know you know the career home run leader is Barry Bonds and he broke the record of Mark McGwire, who beat Roger Maris, who beat the Babe. But do you know the person with the highest batting average of all time? Well, since I’m writing about him, you’ve probably guessed it’s Hugh Duffy in this 1894 season. Unless you include the National Association, because Levi Meyerle hit .492 in 1871. But he only played 26 games that season, so we’ll throw that out.

Of course, some people don’t give Duffy credit either, because for some, baseball didn’t really start until 1901 when the American League formed. Then the record belongs to Nap Lajoie, who hit .426 in 1901. I’ve also heard the highest batting average of all-time belongs to Rogers Hornsby, who hit .424 in 1924, because, um, reasons!

I don’t have to go through all of Duffy’s stats because he led in so many and you can see those above. I will say this is his best season ever, but it’s possibly his last All-Star season.

stenzel

CF-Jake Stenzel, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

.352, 13 HR, 121 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-Jacob Charles “Jake” Stenzel born Jacob Charles Stelzle was born on June 24, 1867 in Cincinnati, OH. He started as a part-time catcher for Chicago in 1890, then went oh-for-nine with the Pirates in 1892. From that beginning, we seem him in 1894 finishing seventh in Offensive WAR (5.0) while slashing .352/.440/.577 with 61 stolen bases and a 145 OPS+. Because of some of the gaudy numbers we’ve seen in the last few write-ups, you might overlook Stenzel, but this was a good season.

Here’s some info on Stenzel from SABR: “The son of German immigrants, he was born Jacob Charles Stelzle in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 24, 1867. He changed his name to Stenzel when he left Cincinnati to play professional baseball in Wheeling, West Virginia, while still a teenager. A right-handed hitter and thrower, he began as a catcher despite possessing excellent speed and being on the light size for a catcher, weighing 165 pounds on a 5′-10″ frame.

“In 1894 he posted his career- best numbers, leading Pittsburgh in average, hits, doubles, home runs, stolen bases, walks, and runs. He achieved career bests in triples (20), home runs (13), runs (149), RBI (121), and walks (75). On June 6, 1894, against Boston he slammed two home runs in the third inning to tie the major league record. The Pirates, however, slipped to the second division.

“Charles Faber has rated the mid-nineties Pirate outfield of Patsy Donovan, Stenzel, and Elmer Smith as one of the top three outfields of the nineteenth century.”

griffin2

CF-Mike Griffin, Brooklyn Grooms, 29 Years Old

1891

.357, 5 HR, 76 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

2nd Time All-Star-There was no lack of good centerfielders in the National League this season. Griffin is the fourth one to make the All-Star team. He also had the highest WAR on Brooklyn and is the only one of the Grooms to be an All-Star. He slashed .357/.466/.485 with 39 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 137. He’s not going to make any of the Hall of Fames, but Griffin had a decent career. Because of the proliferation of runs this year and the era in which he played, his on-base percentage of .467 is the highest of all-time in what would eventually become the Dodgers’ franchise. For a team with its long history and tremendous success, that’s quite a feat.

Despite having only one All-Star, Brooklyn didn’t do badly. Dave Foutz managed the team to a fifth-place 70-61 finish. Judging by their runs scored and runs allowed, the Grooms should have finished .500, but played over their heads. When you see a team playing above its Pythagorean record, how much of that credit should go to the manager and how much is just luck?

Here’s some random details on his career from Wikipedia, which states, “Scouted and signed by Billy Barnie of the Baltimore Orioles, while playing for the local Utica professional team, he was one of the premiere ball players at the time, leading his league in runs scored in 1889 and doubles in 1891. On April 16, 1887, he became the first major league player to hit a home run in his first plate appearance.”

thompson6

RF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 34 Years Old

1886 1887 1891 1892 1893

.415, 13 HR, 147 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Slugging %-.696 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-147 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-182

Fielding %-.972

6th Time All-Star-Since I started this webpage, I keep running into things I want to count. I’ve developed two Halls of Fame and then I started counting who makes the most All-Star teams at every position. Here’s where they stand so far:

P-Tim Keefe, 11

C-Charlie Bennett, 9

1B-Cap Anson, 13

2B-Fred Dunlap, 7

3B-Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton, Denny Lyons, 6

SS-Jack Glasscock, 11

LF-Charley Jones, 5

CF-Paul Hines, 8

RF-Sam Thompson, 6

So at least by that measure, Big Sam Thompson is the game’s best rightfielder so far. This season, he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (5.2) and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.5). He missed 30 games or he would have rated higher. Thompson hit .415, third in the league behind Hugh Duffy (.440) and Tuck Turner (.418); had an on-base percentage of .465; led the league in slugging; stole 27 bases; and had a league-leading Adjusted OPS+ of 182. All of his slash numbers along with his OPS+ were all career highs.

According to Wikipedia, “Thompson missed a month from the 1894 season with an injury to the little finger on his left hand. Doctors determined that the smaller bones in the finger were dead, and portions of the finger were surgically removed in mid-May 1894. Despite the injury and partial amputation, and being limited to only 102 games, Thompson compiled a .407 batting average with a career-high 28 triples and a league-leading 147 RBIs. His 1894 ratio of 1.44 RBIs per game remains the all-time major league record. Also, his 28 triples was the second highest total in major league history up to that time and remains the fifth highest of all time. Thompson also led the National League with a career-high .696 slugging percentage, and he hit for the cycle on August 17, 1894.”

1893 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Charlie Bennett

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Ted Breitenstein, STL

P-Frank Killen, WHS

P-Brickyard Kennedy, BRO

P-Sadie McMahon, BLN

P-Willie McGill, CHC

P-Ice Box Chamberlain, CIN

P-Duke Esper, WHS

P-George Hemming, LOU

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Wilbert Robinson, BLN

1B-Jake Beckley, PIT

1B-Roger Connor, PHI

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

3B-George Davis, NYG

3B-Denny Lyons, PIT

SS-John McGraw, BLN

SS-Jack Glasscock, STL/PIT

LF-Ed Delahanty, PHI

LF-Mike Smith, PIT

LF-Jesse Burkett, CLV

CF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

 

1893 ONEHOF Inductee-Charlie Bennett

 

For the fourth time, a player was inducted into the ONEHOF without making the All-Star team that season. The ONEHOF is the one player a year Hall of Fame, in which every year since 1871, I’ve chosen the best player who isn’t already in the ONEHOF to enter the Hall. Here’s a recap of the ONEHOF inductees thus far. The yes or no following their name will be whether or not they are part of the real Hall of Fame. The position given to them will be their most played position in their whole career:

1871-George Zettlein, P (No)

1872-Al Spalding, P (Yes)

1873-Bobby Mathews, P (No)

1874-Dick McBride, P (No)

1875-Ross Barnes, 2B (No)

1876-George Wright, SS (Yes)

1877-Cal McVey, 1B (No)

1878-Deacon White, 3B (Yes)

1879-Tommy Bond, P (No)

1880-Cap Anson, 1B (Yes)

1881-Jim O’Rourke, LF (Yes)

1882-Joe Start, 1B (No)

1883-Paul Hines, CF (No)

1884-Jim McCormick, P (No)

1885-Will White, P (No)

1886-Tim Keefe, P (Yes)

1887-Pud Galvin, P (Yes)

1888-Mickey Welch, P (Yes)

1889-Dan Brouthers, 1B (Yes)

1890-Jack Glasscock, SS (No)

1891-Roger Connor, 1B (Yes)

1892-Harry Stovey, 1B (No)

1893-Charlie Bennett, C (No)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1894: King Kelly, Monte Ward, Old Hoss Radbourn, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, John Clarkson, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Ned Williamson

It is surprising to me Charlie Bennett is not part of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. He defined the role of catching in the early days of the game. His hands were gnarled and must have looked just awful, but he made an All-Star team in 1890 at the age of 35. This would be his last season and he finished it behind the plate. So many catchers of this era, because of the brutality of the position, tended to play less than half of their games at catcher and either sit the rest of the time or play an easier position. Not Bennett. In his 15 seasons, he played 954 games at catcher, only 130 at other positions. I can see him not being in the Hall if all of that catching affected his play, but he was a great hitter and good fielder for a good stretch of time.

Baseball blogger, verdun2, adds, “In 1896 the Detroit team built a new ballpark. They named it after Bennett. The team played there until a new park was built after the 1911 season. With the forming of the American League it became a Major League park and Ty Cobb played his first several seasons there. So at least, Detroit remembered Bennett.”

Rusie Amos 141-46_FL_PDP-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 22 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

33-21, 3.23 ERA, 208 K, .269, 3 HR, 27 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-11.8

Hits per 9 IP-8.421 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-3.884 (3rd Time)

Games Pitched-56

Innings Pitched-482.0

Strikeouts-208 (3rd Time)

Games Started-52

Complete Games-50

Shutouts-4 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-218 (4th Time)

Hits Allowed-451

Batters Faced-2,111

Adj. Pitching Runs-71

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.1

Def. Games as P-56

Assists as P-114 (2nd Time)

 

4th Time All-Star-It’s probably this 1893 season in which baseball becomes most recognizable to the modern fan as the mound is moved back to 60 feet, six inches. Usually most people regard modern day baseball from this season on. There were still some differences, however. Rusie led the league with 482 innings pitched and no one is coming close to that in 2016. If you go back and read my 1892 blurb on Rusie, you’ll see he’s the one primarily responsible for the mound being moved back 10 feet due to his wildness. Whether the mound as 50 feet away from the plate or 60, Rusie still had a great season, finishing first in WAR (11.8) and third in WAR for Pitchers (11.6), behind Boston’s Kid Nichols (11.8) and Cleveland’s Cy Young (11.7). The Hoosier Thunderbolt had a 3.23 ERA, 2nd behind St. Louis’ Ted Breitenstein, and a 143 Adjusted ERA+, third behind Breitenstein (148) and Young (144).

All of those innings and all of that great pitching didn’t help the Giants in the standings. John “Monte” Ward took the reins and guided New York to a fifth place 68-64 record. It’d do much better next season.

How much did moving the mound back affect runs scored in the league? Tremendously. In 1892, the teams in the National League scored an average of 5.1 runs per game. This season, that total rocketed up to 6.6. The league ERA in 1892 was 3.28, while in 1893, it was 4.66. You’re going to notice higher ERAs and batting averages starting this year.

nicholsk4

P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 23 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

34-14, 3.52 ERA, 94 K, .220, 2 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

War for Pitchers-11.8 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.280

4th Time All-Star-I wonder how many of these All-Star teams Nichols is going to make. I have no doubt along with making Cooperstown and Ron’s HOFs, he’s going to make the ONEHOF. His season was outstanding as he was second in WAR (11.5), behind New York’s Amos Rusie (11.8) and first in WAR for Pitchers (11.8). Rusie had a bit of an advantage in hitting. On the mound, Nichols pitched 425 innings, second behind Rusie’s 482; with a 3.52 ERA and a 139 ERA+. Because of the mound moving back 10 feet, all ERAs are higher this season.

All of this helped lead the Beaneaters to their third consecutive National League crown. Coached by Frank Selee to an 86-43 record, Boston beat Pittsburgh by five games. It was in second place as late as July 26, but won nine consecutive games at that point and 18 of 19 and never looked back.

There is an argument on Baseball Fever on how good Nichols is. One of the commenters writes, “Nichols beats everybody but Cy Young on the career level, and gives serious ground to [Old Hoss] Radbourn and [John] Clarkson on the peak measures (he does get edged by Rusie, but his career advantage is so huge it overcomes that) that you can at least argue for those two over him. That still puts him ahead of HOFers like [Vic] Willis, [Christy] Mathewson (!), [Joe] McGinnity, [Clark} Griffith (though he has other credits), [Eddie] Plank, [Rube] Waddell and [Jack] Chesbro.”

young3

P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 26 Years Old

1891 1892

34-16, 3.36 ERA, 102 K, .235, 1 HR, 27 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.193 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-0.990

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.87

3rd Time All-Star-In my whole baseball-loving life, my favorite players have always been hitters, from Johnny Bench to Mike Trout. I have nothing against great pitchers, I just happen to like offense. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I had a time machine to go back and watch the all-time greats. Cy Young is one of those. He seemed to have a quirky motion and for years-and-years was brilliant. This season, he finished third in WAR (11.1), behind only New York’s Amos Rusie (11.8) and Boston’s Kid Nichols (11.5); and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.7), behind only Nichols (11.8). He pitched 422 2/3 innings, third behind Rusie (482) and Nichols (425), with a 3.36 ERA, behind only St. Louis’ Ted Breitenstein (3.18) and Rusie (3.23), and a 144 Adjusted ERA+, behind only Breitenstein’s 148. If I put 10 of Young’s seasons up on this page without the years, you’d have a hard time picking one out from the other. Like I said, he was consistently brilliant.

As for Young’s Spiders, Patsy Tebeau led them to a 73-55 third place finish, 12-and-a-half games out of first. The problem is when Young wasn’t pitching, they were only a .500 team.

Young is in the third year of a four-year stretch in which he walked 100 or more batters. Those would be the only four seasons he would have that many. He was known for his control, having 21 straight seasons in the top eight in Bases On Balls Per 9 IP.

breitenstein

P-Ted Breitenstein, St. Louis Browns, 24 Years Old

19-24, 3.18 ERA, 102 K, .181, 1 HR, 14 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

1893 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-3.18

Adjusted ERA+-148

Putouts as P-42

1st Time All-Star-Theodore J. “Ted” or “Theo” Breitenstein was born on June 1, 1869 in St. Louis, MO. It was in the Gateway City he started his Major League career with the American Association Browns in 1891. The team and Breitenstein then moved to the National League in 1892. He started a good stretch this season, finishing fourth in WAR (10.8) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (11.3). Breitenstein pitched 382 2/3 innings with league-leading marks at ERA (3.18) and Adjusted ERA+ (148).

Breitenstein would have had a better record on a better team, but the Bill Watkins-led Browns finished 10th in the NL with a 57-75 record. Pitching definitely wasn’t the Browns’ issue, as they finished second in Runs Allowed, but they couldn’t score, finishing last in runs scored per game. This despite having ONEHOFer Jack Glasscock for part of the season.

According to Wikipedia, Theo shined from the beginning. It says, “During his first season in the Majors, he was able to pitch occasionally in relief, but on the final day of the 1891 season, October 4, Breitenstein was allowed to start and he pitched a no-hitter against the Louisville Colonels, an 8–0 victory. He faced the minimum number of batters of 27, allowed just one base on balls, which was erased by a double play or by a pickoff play. It was also the last no-hitter thrown in the American Association, as the league folded following the season.” His 51.5 lifetime WAR makes him an outside candidate for the Hall of Fame despite his 160-170 lifetime record.

killen3

P-Frank Killen, Pittsburgh Pirates, 22 Years Old

1891 1892

36-14, 3.64 ERA, 99 K, .275, 4 HR, 30 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins-36

3rd Time All-Star-Lefty moved to his third team in three seasons, but one thing didn’t change – he made the All-Star team. Killen finished fifth in WAR (8.5) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.4), tossing 415 innings with a 3.64 ERA and a 124 ERA+. If there would have been a Cy Young Award instead of a Cy Young pitching, he would have been considered for it many seasons because of his outstanding win-loss record.

Pittsburgh, coached by Al Buckenberger, battled for the National League pennant, falling just five games short of Boston. The Pirates were in first as late as June 9, but didn’t win two consecutive games again until July 4. By that time, they’d fallen to eight-and-a-half games out. A majority of their good season came long after they were out of contention.

According to SABR, Killen’s delivery may have been illegal. It writes, “Killen’s pitching evoked strong protests from opponents. ‘Players generally denounce Frank Killen’s delivery as illegal because he will inch up on the batsman,’ reported Sporting Life. ‘He did the same thing in the pitcher’s box under the old rule.’ Games at this time were refereed by a sole umpire who had a paramount task of determining if a pitcher’s foot was on the slab as required. Killen, perhaps more than any other pitcher of his generation, was regularly charged with ‘stealing a foot of ground,’ an accusation he never escaped.” Yes, the grand old game of baseball has always been filled with cheaters. It didn’t start in the steroid era.

kennedy

P-Brickyard Kennedy, Brooklyn Grooms, 25 Years Old

25-20, 3.72 ERA, 107 K, .248, 0 HR, 16 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-William Park “Brickyard” Kennedy was born on October 7, 1867 in Bellaire, OH. He started in 1892 with Brooklyn, leading the league in strikeouts per 9 innings. He never showed that kind of prowess at K-ing batters once the mound moved back in 1893. He would have a decent career, but this was his best season. He finished seventh in WAR (5.9) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.7). Brickyard pitched 382 2/3 innings with a 3.72 ERA and a 118 ERA+. On a team with a long history of good pitching, Kennedy held his own.

That team, the Grooms, led by Dave Foutz, finished in seventh place with a 65-63 record, 20-and-a-half games out of first.

As for his nickname, Baseball Reference says, “Brickyard Kennedy was mostly known as ‘Roaring Bill’, after his booming voice, not Brickyard. That nickname came from his off-season line of employment.”

You know how Jon Lester has that mental block that hinders him throwing the ball to first? Kennedy had his own tic, according to SABR, which says, “What is known for certain is that his 174 wins during the decade of the 1890s put him fourth, behind only Kid Nichols, Cy Young, and Amos Rusie, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame. That Kennedy never quite achieved enough to join them may be largely attributable to his greatest failing as a pitcher: an utter inability to cover first base. He simply could never master the task and kept vainly trying to persuade his managers that it wasn’t part of a pitcher’s job description.”

mcmahon4

P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

23-18, 4.37 ERA, 79 K, .243, 0 HR, 22 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as P-18

4th Time All-Star-McMahon was only 25 years old and has made four All-Star teams and most likely has another one left. All pitching stats look a little shaky this season, now that the mound was moved back to 60 feet, six inches. It shows the importance of gauging players by the time in which they play. So many mistakes the Hall of Fame has made have been because they didn’t take a player’s era into account. So hitters in the 1930s always look good and pitchers in the 1960s always look good. By the stats anyway.

Anyway, McMahon had a good season, finishing ninth in WAR (5.6) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.8). He pitched 346 1/3 innings with a 4.37 ERA and a 108 ERA+. It wasn’t great, but he was Baltimore’s best player.

Ned Hanlon continued to lead the Orioles, guiding them to a 60-70 record and an eighth place finish. Next year, they’re going to have quite a turnaround. (Spoiler alert!)

Baltimore had a reputation as a vicious club. SABR writes, “The Orioles gained their fame not only because their three straight pennants made them one of the best teams of the era (some say one of the best of all time), but because of their reputation as the dirtiest team ever. Tripping, shoving, and blocking baserunners occurred frequently, and infielder John McGraw introduced the art of impeding a runner’s progress around the bases by grabbing his belt and holding on.” If you read my 1892 blurb on McMahon, you’ll see he wasn’t immune from this.

mcgill

P-Willie McGill, Chicago Colts, 19 Years Old

17-18, 4.61 ERA, 91 K, .234, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-William Vaness “Willie” or “Kid” McGill was born on November 10, 1873, two years after the first Major League season of 1871. The young man stood five-foot-six, 170 pounds and had his best season ever. He finished 10th in WAR (5.5) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (5.3), pitching 302 2/3 innings with a 4.61 ERA and a 105 ERA+. Incredibly, Kid McGill was 16 when he started in the Majors for the Players League Cleveland Infants in 1890. In 1891, he pitched for the American Association Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers and St. Louis Browns. The next season, the 18-year-old pitched for the Reds. His journey continued to Chicago this season and the next. He’d finish his career at the age of 22, pitching for the Phillies in 1895 and 1896.

Oh, how the mighty hath fallen, as the Cap Anson-led Colts dropped to ninth place with a 56-71 record. Anson would continue coaching another four seasons.

Did you know six of the top 35 pitcher walk totals of all-time came from 1893? It was going to take the pitchers a little bit of adjustment to pitch from the longer distance of 60 feet, six inches. Those six were Amos Rusie (218), with the all-time high, Tony Mullane (189), Kid Gleason (187), Willie McGill (181), George Hemming (175), and Brickyard Kennedy (168). It’s this adjustment period which has led to so many pitchers with a 4.00 ERA or higher making the All-Star team. But don’t worry, pitching fans, they’d eventually figure it out.

chamberlain3

P-Ice Box Chamberlain, Cincinnati Reds, 25 Years Old

1888 1889

16-12, 3.73 ERA, 59 K, .250, 0 HR, 10 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

3rd Time All-Star-After Chamberlain won 32 games in 1889, it looked like he was off to a fantastic career. He was only 21 at the time. But he never did have that success again. In 1890, he pitched for both the American Association St. Louis Browns and Columbus Solons. In 1891, he moved to the Athletics, before coming to the Reds in 1892. Despite pitching “only” 241 innings this season, Ice Box was Cincinnati’s best pitcher, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.4) while having a 3.73 ERA and a 127 ERA+.

My Reds finished in sixth in 1893, with a 65-63 record. They were led by the great coach Charlie Comiskey, who couldn’t duplicate the success he had with the Browns in the 1880s.

Surprisingly, a man named Ice Box complained about the weather, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Before the 1893 season, Chamberlain indicated his displeasure with the climate in Cincinnati and said that he hoped to pitch for New York or Philadelphia in the coming year. He also said that he would be happy to pitch in Buffalo if the city received a major league expansion team. Chamberlain stayed in Cincinnati for that season and the next one, earning 16–12 and 10–9 records. On May 30, 1894, Chamberlain was the pitcher when Bobby Lowe became the first major league player to hit four home runs in one game. Two of Lowe’s home runs came in the same inning. Lowe hit only 70 career home runs in an 18-year career.”

esper

P-Duke Esper, Washington Senators, 25 Years Old

12-28, 4.71 ERA, 78 K, .287, 0 HR, 24 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Losses-28

1st Time All-Star-Charles H. “Duke” Esper born Charles Esbacher was born on July 28, 1867 in Salem, NJ. He started his career in 1890 with three different teams, the American Association Philadelphia Athletics, the National League Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and the NL Philadelphia Phillies. He went back to Pittsburgh in 1892, before coming to the Senators this season. While it’s true Esper led the league in losses, he still had a decent season and was the best player on Washington. He pitched 334 1/3 innings with a 4.71 ERA and a 98 ERA+. After this season, Esper played with the Baltimore Orioles from 1894-96 and with the St. Louis Browns in 1897 and 1898.

It wasn’t a great year for Washington. Coached by Hall of Famer, Ron’s Hall of Famer, and ONEHOFer Jim O’Rourke, the Senators finished in last place with a 40-89 record. Except for a fluke game played at the age of 53 in 1904, it was the end of Orator’s career, both as a player and a manager.

Frank Killen’s SABR article mentions that southpaws like Esper were a rarity, saying, “The Pirates had ‘dreamed of Killen for two seasons,’ reported the paper, which also cautioned that all left-handers are inherently erratic, hinting at the possibility that Killen might not be as good as advertised. Southpaws were a rarity in the majors at the time. Of the 26 pitchers who won at least 16 games in 1892, Killen was the only left-hander; a year earlier lefties accounted for only 24 wins all season in the NL, 20 of them by Duke Esper.”

hemming

P-George Hemming, Louisville Colonels, 24 Years Old

18-17, 5.10 ERA, 79 K, .203, 0 HR, 19 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-George Earl (wait for it) “Old Wax Figger” (yes!) Hemming was born on December 15, 1868 (the same birthday as my beautiful bride) in Carrollton, OH. There’s very little information on Hemming to be found, including why he’s called Old Wax Figger. He started his Major League career in the Players League in 1890 with Cleveland and Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders. Hemming stayed in Brooklyn with the Grooms in 1891, then went to Cincinnati and Louisville in 1892. This season, he was the Colonels best player, though admittedly that’s not saying much. Old Wax Figger pitched 332 innings with a 5.10 ERA and an 86 ERA+. He’ll be better next season and there’s a good chance he’s back on this list.

Billy Barnie took over the team, but he probably wished he hadn’t. The Colonels finished in 11th place with a 50-75 record. It was their third consecutive season at .414 percentage or worse, and it’s not going to get much better. Surprisingly, Louisville would continue to be in the National League all the way through 1899.

I mentioned in Willie McGill’s write-up Hemming was one of six pitchers whose 1893 walk total still places them in the top 35 of all time. He walked 175 batters, while striking out only 79. As a matter of fact, there was almost double the amount of walks in the whole National League than there were strikeouts, 6,143-to-3,341. I’ve mentioned many times it was quite an adjustment for the pitchers once the mound was moved back to its modern-day iteration of 60 feet, six inches.

clements4

C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 28 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

.285, 17 HR, 80 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

AB per HR-22.1

4th Time All-Star-Well, I recapped the rest of Clements’ career in his 1892 blurb and then what does he do? He makes another All-Star team. Now what am I going to do? I could mention his power, as he hit double-digit homers for the first time. Altogether, he slashed .285/.360/.489 (his highest slugging percentage thus far) for an OPS+ of 123. He’s got some great seasons ahead, but will he play enough games to make the All-Star team? Already, the wear-and-tear of catching has him down to 94 games played and it won’t be that high again until 1898.

As for the Phillies, the ageless Harry Wright, who has been a manager ever since the dawn of the Major Leagues in 1871, coached them to a 72-57 fourth place finish. It was a great finish for the Hall of Famer, who finished his 23-year managerial career with six league titles and a 1,225-885 record, which works out to a .581 winning percentage.

Wright never matched his early success, when he won four of the five National Association pennants from 1872-75 or two of the first three National League pennants in 1877 and 1878. After that, his teams finished second three times and third four times, but he couldn’t get back over the hump. But if you’re a true baseball fan, his is a name which should never be forgotten as he was the first superstar manager. He managed in an era with no gloves all the way to when there were gloves. He managed in a time when pitchers pitched underhanded from 45 feet to a time where pitchers threw overhanded from 60 feet, six inches.

As it turned out, Wright didn’t last much longer, dying of a lung ailment on October 3, 1895.

robinsonw

C-Wilbert Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 29 Years Old

.334, 3 HR, 57 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (as a manager)

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

 

Led in:

 

Def. Games as C-93

Putouts as C-349

1st Time All-Star-Wilbert “Uncle Robbie” Robinson was born on June 29, 1865 in Bolton, MA. He garnered most of his fame as a manager for Brooklyn, but he was a decent enough player. Catcher was always his main position and he started with the American Association Philadelphia Athletics from 1886-90, before moving to Baltimore mid-season of 1890. His hitting, even adjusted for the league-wide offensive burst this season, improved and paired with his usual good defense, welcome to the All-Star team, Uncle Robbie! He slashed .334/.382/.435 (all three highs in his career to this point) for an Adjusted OPS+ of 116. It’s always hard to gauge whether catchers will make All-Star teams because of their limited playing time, but if I had to predict, I’d say no.

SABR says the following of Robinson, “Though he was an outstanding catcher for the Baltimore Orioles during the 1890s, Wilbert Robinson is remembered today primarily as the jovial, rotund ‘Uncle Robbie’ who managed the Brooklyn Robins to two National League pennants and a 1,399-1,398 record from 1914 to 1931. His congenial nature and happy-go-lucky attitude made him one of the most beloved characters in baseball, but on the diamond he was a never-say-die competitor who specialized in getting the most out of his pitchers. ‘It is doubtful that baseball ever produced a more colorful figure than the esteemed Wilbert Robinson,’ wrote John Kieran in the New York Times. ‘Like Falstaff, he was not only witty himself but the cause of wit in others.’”

beckley4

1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old

1889 1890 1891

.303, 5 HR, 106 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 1B-95 (3rd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Well, Beckley keeps making All-Star teams, so he’s won me over to his side. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Good job, baseball writers and historians! He was the best first baseman in the league, finishing seventh in WAR Position Players (4.6) and 10th in Defensive WAR (0.9). That would be the only time he was in the top 10 in dWAR. If you’ll read Beckley’s 1891 blurb, you’ll see that the death of his wife caused him to have a bad season in 1892, but he’s back. Eagle Eye slashed .303/.386/.459 (it was his highest OBP to this time), along with 15 stolen bases, for an OPS+ of 127. That, along with stellar defense, put him on the All-Star team this season and he’s got many more ahead.

Of course, Beckley’s good play came with some shenanigans, according to SABR, which says, “
Jake Beckley wasn’t afraid to bend the rules. Despite his stocky build (he stood 5’10” and weighed 200 lbs.), he ran well enough to reach double figures in stolen bases and triples almost every year, but he also didn’t mind cutting across the infield if the umpire’s back was turned.

“Jake also loved pulling the hidden-ball trick and tried it on every new player who came into the league. Sometimes he hid the ball in his clothing or under his arm, and other times he hid it under the base sack and waited for the unsuspecting player to wander off first. One day, with Louisville’s Honus Wagner on first, Jake smuggled an extra ball onto the field and put it under his armpit, partially exposed so Wagner could see it. When the umpire’s back was turned, Wagner grabbed the ball and heaved it into the outfield. Wagner lit out for second, but the pitcher still held the game ball and threw Wagner out.”

connor121B-Roger Connor, New York Giants, 35 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892

.305, 11 HR, 105 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1891)

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-135 (4th Time)

Putouts-1,423 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-135 (4th Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,423 (3rd Time)

12th Time All-Star-After a one-year excursion in Philadelphia, the giant who gave New York its nickname was back and, for the ninth consecutive year, made the All-Star team. It’s probably his last one, but you can’t take away from Connor’s great career. This season, he finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.4), his lowest finish in this category since 1884, and 10th in in Offensive WAR (3.9), also his lowest since nine years previous. In a year in which batting numbers increased, Connor’s remained about the same as always. He slashed .305/.413/.450 and stole 24 bases for an OPS+ of 129. Most people would be happy with those numbers, but they’re mediocre when compared to the rest of the big man’s career.

At this point, Connor trailed Harry Stovey, 122-110 in home runs. He would pass him in 1895 and finish his career with 138 dingers, which would be the all-time high until Babe Ruth broke it in 1921. If Connor would have played in a different era, he would be one of the all-time home run hitters. Homers just weren’t a big part of the game when he played.

I mentioned in a previous write-up Connor tried switching to hitting right-handed for some at-bats. You would think a lifetime lefty would not be successful in this, but, according to SABR, “Despite reaching the age of 36 by midseason, the durable Connor played the entire 135-game Giants schedule. And like most National League batsmen, he was a beneficiary of 1893 rule changes that moved the pitching distance back to 60 feet 6 inches and eliminated the pitcher’s box. But numbers that once might have placed Connor in the top echelon – 105 RBIs, 11 home runs, and .863 OPS – were not particularly noteworthy given the offensive explosion of that season. Connor did, however, manage one extraordinary feat. As uncovered by biographer Roy Kerr, he hit four of his 11 1893 home runs batting right-handed.”

childs4

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

.326, 3 HR, 65 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

4th Time All-Star-In a year in which walks are doled out so commonly, due to the mound moving back 10 feet, you would have thought it would be a great opportunity for the patient Childs, and you would be right! He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.7) and sixth in Offensive WAR (4.7). At the plate, the cherubic Childs slashed .326/.463/.425 with 23 stolen bases for an Adjusted OPS+ of 132. His on-base percentage was his highest so far in his career, but next year, it will be even higher. In 1893, only Billy Hamilton (.490) got on base at a higher rate.

At this time in baseball’s history, there wasn’t a better second sacker. He was one of the first players to bring value to a team due to his patience at the plate and rarely struck out, fanning only 12 times in 1893. Wikipedia sums up this era of his career as thus: “Childs was among the top ten players in the league in walks every season between 1890 and 1900; he finished second in walks every season between 1891 and 1894. He led the league in doubles and extra base hits in 1890. In May 1900, Childs was attempting a double play against the Pittsburgh Pirates when the Pirates player-manager Fred Clarke slid into him. There was a brief confrontation on the field, and then Childs spotted Clarke at a train station after the game. Childs charged Clarke and badly beat the manager in the ensuing fistfight. The next day, fans in Pittsburgh showed up in large numbers (triple the average Monday attendance) hoping to see a continuation of the scuffle, but the game was played without incident.”

davisg

3B-George Davis, New York Giants, 22 Years Old

.355, 11 HR, 119 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Offensive WAR-5.6

Def. Games as 3B-133

Errors Committed as 3B-64

Double Plays Turned as 3B-27

1st Time All-Star-George Stacey Davis was born on August 23, 1870 in Cohoes, NY. He might have had a shot as the greatest third baseman of all time, if he stayed there, but he’s going to move to shortstop starting in 1897. He started in the outfield as a 19 year old for Cleveland, before being traded to New York for Buck Ewing by Cleveland. That the Spiders were willing to trade Davis for the 33-year-old Ewing shows what they thought of his prospects, but the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple must have ignited Davis, because his career took off this season.

Davis finished eighth in WAR (5.7), second in WAR Position Players (5.7), behind only Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty, and first in Offensive WAR (5.6). He slashed .355/.410/.554 with 37 stolen bases and an Adjusted OPS+ of 155. His batting average, slugging average, and OPS+ were both career highs and his on-base percentage was his highest so far. It’s not his best season ever because his defense didn’t match his offense yet, but it soon would.

While it’s not shocking Davis made the Hall of Fame, it is bewildering it took all the way to 1998. It also doesn’t look like he got any votes before the Veteran’s Committee inducted him that year. My guess is he’ll be in my Hall of Fame before the 1890s end. Did you know if WAR is the measuring tool then only 52 players in all of baseball history are better than Davis?

lyons6

3B-Denny Lyons, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1887 1888 1889 1890 1891

.306, 3 HR, 105 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as 3B-214 (2nd Time)

6th Time All-Star-At this point in his career, Lyons has made six All-Star teams, all at third base. That’s ties him for most All-Star teams on the hot corner with Ned Williamson and Ezra Sutton. He had made five straight teams until missing out in 1892, when he played for the Giants. This season, Lyons moved on to Pittsburgh and was back on the list. It’s probably his last, as alcohol and injuries caught up with him, but Lyons has nothing to be ashamed of. Well, except the drinking.

This season, he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.6). He slashed .306/.430/.429 with 19 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 131. He didn’t make Cooperstown and he won’t make ONEHOF or Ron’s HOF, but in his time, there wasn’t a better third sacker.

Baseball Reference doesn’t have a lot of information on Lyons’ personal life. It does say, “Sporting Life of September 30, 1911 indicated that Lyons had fallen on hard times and that a benefit had been held for him.” However, it doesn’t give a reason why. He died in West Covington, KY at 62 years old.

Lyons never got a sniff at the Hall of Fame and I can live with that. I don’t think he deserves it, but because he played most of his good years in the American Association, he wasn’t going to get the votes.

But for a stretch of time from 1887-93, he slashed .320/.416/.459 averaging 26 stolen bases and there wasn’t a better third baseman in any of the leagues.

mcgraw

SS-John McGraw, Baltimore Orioles, 20 Years Old

.321, 5 HR, 64 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (As a manager)

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

 

1st Time All-Star-John Joseph “Mugsy” or “Little Napoleon” McGraw was born on April 7, 1873 in Truxton, NY and now one of the most colorful characters in the history of the game has made the list. He will eventually make the Hall of Fame as a manager, but he wasn’t a bad player. He was, however, a bad man. McGraw would be the motor behind the dirty play of the Orioles, but his play was also a reason for their success. He started with Baltimore when it was in the American Association in 1891, before he and it moved to the National League in 1892. This season, Mugsy finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.2) and third in Offensive WAR (5.1), behind New York’s George Davis (5.6) and Phillies outfielder Ed Delahanty (5.6). This means his defense was terrible, but it would improve.

At the plate, McGraw slashed .321/.454/.413 with 38 stolen bases for a 130 OPS+. All of those totals were career highs up to this point in his play. He wouldn’t hit below .300 until the 20th Century. He’d never have an OBP below .400 in a full season ever again. He was a singles hitter but he could definitely get on base.

Of the beginning of his career, Baseball Reference says, “John McGraw was a Hall of Fame manager who also had a tremendous playing career.

“He broke in with the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association (which was a major league at the time) in 1891. As an 18-year-old rookie, he hit .270, in a league where the league average was .255. During his career, he appeared in 782 games as a third baseman, 183 as a shortstop, and smaller numbers as an outfielder and second baseman. Players of the time were often small and wiry, and McGraw was no exception – he was only 5 ft. 7 in.”

glasscock11

SS-Jack Glasscock, St. Louis Cardinals/Pittsburgh Pirates, 35 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.320, 2 HR, 100 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1890)

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes

 

11th Time All-Star-Welcome back to the All-Star team, Pebbly Jack! He didn’t make in 1891 when he played for the Giants or in 1892 when he played for the Cardinals, but he’s back this season. It’s been three seasons since I could complain about him not being in the Hall of Fame (C’mon, man!). He got 2.6 percent of the vote from the Veteran’s in 1936 and never came back on the ballot. If Glasscock was alive today, he’d be 159 years old and very happy to be part of the ONEHOF and my Hall of Fame. This season, he started with the Cardinals, playing 48 games and slashing .287/.382/.354 with 20 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 96 and then was traded to the Pirates for Frank Shugart and slashed .341/.385/.451 with 16 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 124. Glasscock almost guided the Pirates to the pennant. If you crunch all of these numbers together, he finished sixth in Defensive WAR and ended up slashing .320/.384/.412 with 36 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 113.

After this season, he would remain with Pittsburgh for one year and then finish his career in 1895 with Louisville and Washington. Others may disagree, but he was the greatest shortstop of his era and it wasn’t even close.

Wikipedia says after his Major League career ended, “Glasscock returned to Wheeling and played on a minor league team run by Ed Barrow, winning the first pennant of his career; he remained in the minor leagues as a first baseman until 1901, winning an 1896 batting title with a .431 average. After his baseball career ended, he returned to carpentry. He died in Wheeling from a stroke at age 89.”

delahanty

LF-Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old

.368, 19 HR, 146 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

War Position Players-6.9

Slugging %-.583 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-347

Home Runs-19

Runs Batted In-146

Runs Created-144

Adj. Batting Runs-51

Adj. Batting Wins-4.8

Extra Base Hits-72

Power-Speed #-25.1

1st Time All-Star-Edward James “Big Ed” Delahanty was born on October 30, 1867 in Cleveland, OH. Because of his power, I always imagined him bigger and he was tall for his day at six-foot-one, but he weighed in at only 170 pounds. The lanky one would go on to have a great career and a tragic end, but there’s plenty of time for that story. Delahanty started as a 20-year-old for Philadelphia in 1888 and 1889, and then went to the Players League, playing for the Infants. After that one-year experiment failed, he was back on the Phillies for most of the rest of his career.

Big Ed was a decent hitter up to this point, but really started lighting it up in 1892 and finally made the All-Star team this year, finishing sixth in WAR (6.9), first in WAR Position Players (6.9), and second in Offensive WAR (5.6), behind only New York’s George Davis (5.6). At the plate, he hit .368, his highest batting average so far; had his highest OBP so far at .423; and slugged .583, yes, his highest so far. No one benefited from the mounds moving back 10 feet more than Delahanty. By the way, that .368 average was third behind two teammates, Billy Hamilton (.380) and Sam Thompson (.370).

According to Wikipedia, Delahanty’s biographer, Jerrold Casway, wrote of him, “Baseball for Irish kids was a shortcut to the American dream and to self-indulgent glory and fortune. By the mid-1880s these young Irish men dominated the sport and popularized a style of play that was termed heady, daring, and spontaneous…. [Delahanty] personified the flamboyant, exciting spectator-favorite, the Casey-at-the-bat, Irish slugger. The handsome masculine athlete who is expected to live as large as he played.”

smithm3

LF-Mike Smith, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old

1887 1888

.346, 7 HR, 103 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

3rd Time All-Star-After taking a five-year sabbatical from this list, Smith is back on the All-Star team, this time as a leftfielder instead of a pitcher as before. This was actually the first season Smith did no pitching whatsoever. Smith was a decent hitter back in his American Association days with Cincinnati, but he became a pretty good batsman in the National League. He finished third in WAR Position Players (5.3), behind Big Ed Delahanty of the Phillies (6.9) and George Davis of the Giants (5.7). Smith also finished fourth in Offensive WAR (4.9), slashing .346/.435/.525 with 26 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 158. All of those numbers were career highs thus far and his Adjusted OPS+ would be his highest ever. Speaking of that OPS+, it ranked behind only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton (167) and Delahanty (164).

Smith didn’t play in Majors in 1890 and 1891, instead playing with the Kansas City Blues of the Western Association. He most likely was in the outfield for them in 1891 and it was there Major League teams understood how good of a hitter he could be. Smith was the poor man’s Babe Ruth, pitching well enough to make two All-Star teams and then being a good enough outfielder to make a few teams also.     You might be saying, “Well, everybody was hitting in those days” and you’re  right, but the fact he was fourth in Offensive WAR and third in OPS+ shows that he was still among the elite batters of his day.

burkett

LF-Jesse Burkett, Cleveland Spiders, 24 Years Old

.348, 6 HR, 82 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Times on Base-283

Errors Committed as OF-46

1st Time All-Star-Jesse Cail “Crab” Burkett was born on December 4, 1868 in Wheeling, WV and will have an outstanding well-deserved Hall of Fame career. The five-foot-eight, 155 pounder started with the Giants in 1890, hitting .309, but since he failed as a pitcher, he was allowed to be purchased by the Spiders in 1891, where he will remain for a while. In this, his first All-Star season, he finished seventh in Offensive WAR (4.6), while slashing .348/.459/.491 with 39 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 147. As I’ve written so many times this season, all of those numbers were career highs so far. That .459 OBP was third being only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton (.490) and Crab’s teammate Cupid Childs (.463).

As for his nickname, I would have guessed it was because of Burkett’s small stature and the way he scooted around the field. I would have been wrong. Baseball Reference says, “His surly disposition also made him unpopular with his teammates, earning him the nickname ‘The Crab’, but he was not that way off the field, earning a reputation for working well with young players and with children in the off-season and leading to his continuous involvement in the game after his retirement as a player.”

I mentioned he failed as a pitcher, but before entering the Majors, Burkett did well, again according to BR, which states, “Growing up in Wheeling, WV, a baseball hotbed at the time, he had begun his professional career with Scranton of the Central League in 1888, winning 14 games. He then had a tremendous season for Worcester of the Atlantic Association in 1889, going 30-6. He married a local woman that year, and settled down in Worcester, MA for the remainder of his life.”

Hamilton Billy 141-46_FL_PDCF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 27 Years Old

1890 1891 1892

.380, 5 HR, 44 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Batting Average-.380 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.490 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.014

Adjusted OPS+-167

Offensive Win %-.804 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Has there ever been a better outfield than Ed Delahanty, Hamilton, and Sam Thompson? Even now you’re thinking about that question and making lists, aren’t you? Well, I suppose it’s possible, but this trio places somewhere near the top. And leading the way was the great Sliding Billy. You’re going to be overwhelmed by the stats to follow, so relax, take a deep breath, and now…..read! He finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and ninth in Offensive WAR (4.5). He slashed .380/.490/.524 with 43 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 167. All of those numbers were career highs thus far and he’d never slug higher or have an Adjusted OPS+ that was higher for the rest of his playing days. As you can see above, his batting average, on-base percentage and OPS+ all led the league.

You might have noticed Hamilton is now playing in centerfield. According to SABR, “In 1893, after the pitching distance increased ten feet to the current 60’ 6” standard, their batting averages soared. Billy’s outfield defense improved as well, and in 1893 Harry Wright, in his final season as manager, moved Billy to center field, and sent Ed Delahanty to left. Billy remained in center for the remainder of his major league career.”

Oh, I forgot to mention Hamilton played only 82 of the team’s 132 games this season. This is why he wasn’t in the top 10 in steals for the only time in a 10-year stretch. SABR again has the details: “If anyone still needed confirmation of Billy’s value to the team, they received it in 1893. Billy was on his way to another outstanding season in early August, and the Phillies stood in second place after three double-digit drubbings of the Senators. Hamilton had complained of not feeling well, and his health grew worse as he tried to play despite fever and fatigue. On August 10, a doctor diagnosed Hamilton with a case of typhoid fever and ordered him out of the lineup. Billy played no more that season, and the Phillies fell out of the race, going 19-26 the rest of the way, and settling into fourth place.”

thompson5

RF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 33 Years Old

1886 1887 1891 1892

.370, 11 HR, 126 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

At-Bats-600 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-656

Hits-222

Doubles-37

5th Time All-Star-Big Sam Thompson’s consistency over the last few years bring in him into the conversation as the greatest rightfielder of the game so far or GOATSF. (I’m the king of incomprehensible acronyms or INCACRs.) Thompson was the veteran in the outfield, alongside two others, who along with Big Sam, would make the Hall of Fame. If Philadelphia had any pitching in these days, who knows how far it could have gone. As for 1893, Thompson finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.2) and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.8). He slashed .370/.424/.530 with 18 stolen bases for an OPS+ of 151. The on-base percentage was his highest up to this point in his career, but all of these numbers are going to be shattered in 1894. As it is, his batting average (.370) was second behind teammate Billy Hamilton (.380) and his slugging (.530) was third behind only teammate Ed Delahanty (.583) and New York’s George Davis (.554).

Baseball Reference writes of Thompson, “’On a frequency (per at-bat) basis, Sam Thompson led all nineteenth-century hitters in home runs. . . After 1893, when the pitching distance was increased . . . (Thompson} capitalized on the new pitching distance more than any other batter . . .” – from the book The King of Swat

“He also holds the obscure single-season record for the most RBI driving in a teammate (i.e. excluding self). Playing for Detroit in 1887, he drove in 156 teammates. (He hit just 10 home runs, for a total of 166 RBI.) Further, he holds second place in this category, as he drove in 147 teammates for Philadelphia in 1895. (Third place belongs to Hank Greenberg: 143 for the modern Detroit team in 1937.)”

1892 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Harry Stovey

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Bill Hutchinson, CHC

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Gus Weyhing, PHI

P-Kid Gleason, STL

P-Frank Dwyer, STL/CIN

P-Scott Stratton, LOU

P-Adonis Terry, BLN/PIT

P-Frank Killen, WHS

P-Sadie McMahon, BLN

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Chief Zimmer, CLV

1B-Dan Brouthers, BRO

1B-Roger Connor, PHI

1B-Jake Virtue, CLV

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

2B-Bid McPhee, CIN

3B-Billy Nash, BSN

SS-Bill Dahlen, CHC

SS-Herman Long, BSN

LF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Bug Holliday, CIN

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

RF-Oyster Burns, BRO

 

stovey11

1892 ONEHOF Inductee-Harry Stovey

 

For the third time, and the first time since 1883, a player was inducted into the ONEHOF without making the All-Star team that season. The ONEHOF is the one player a year Hall of Fame, in which every year since 1871, I’ve chosen the best player who isn’t already in the ONEHOF to enter the Hall. Here’s a recap of the ONEHOF inductees thus far. The yes or no following their name will be whether or not they are part of the real Hall of Fame. The position given to them will be their most played position in their whole career:

1871-George Zettlein, P (No)

1872-Al Spalding, P (Yes)

1873-Bobby Mathews, P (No)

1874-Dick McBride, P (No)

1875-Ross Barnes, 2B (No)

1876-George Wright, SS (Yes)

1877-Cal McVey, 1B (No)

1878-Deacon White, 3B (Yes)

1879-Tommy Bond, P (No)

1880-Cap Anson, 1B (Yes)

1881-Jim O’Rourke, LF (Yes)

1882-Joe Start, 1B (No)

1883-Paul Hines, CF (No)

1884-Jim McCormick, P (No)

1885-Will White, P (No)

1886-Tim Keefe, P (Yes)

1887-Pud Galvin, P (Yes)

1888-Mickey Welch, P (Yes)

1889-Dan Brouthers, 1B (Yes)

1890-Jack Glasscock, SS (No)

1891-Roger Connor, 1B (Yes)

1892-Harry Stovey, 1B (No)

ONEHOF Nominees for 1893: Charlie Bennett, King Kelly, Monte Ward, Old Hoss Radbourn, Hardy Richardson, Buck Ewing, John Clarkson

So far, out of the 22 players that are part of the ONEHOF, 10 of them also made the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. However, spending so much time in the 1800s convinces me that if the Hall of Fame is a building to tell the history of the sport of baseball, many of these ONEHOF inductees should also be real Hall of Famers. So I’ve come up with a simplistic formula to see who I would put in the Hall of Fame or not. It involves making my All-Star team and WAR. If times making the All-Star team times WAR is 300 or greater, you’re in. If it’s under that, you’re out. This will keep out compilers who are not among their league’s best players and keep out fringe All-Stars who make it on a fluke. Out of all of those above, these are the ones who wouldn’t make the my cheap and easy Hall of Fame: George Zettlein, Dick McBride, Ross Barnes, George Wright, Cal McVey, Joe Start, and Will White.

To wrap up, here are the ONEHOF players on which Cooperstown and Ron’s Hall of Fame agree: Al Spalding, Deacon White, Cap Anson, Jim O’Rourke, Tim Keefe, Pud Galvin, Mickey Welch, Dan Brouthers, Roger Connor.

Here are ONEHOF players in Cooperstown and not in Ron’s: George Wright.

Here are ONEHOF players in Ron’s HOF and not Cooperstown: Bobby Mathews, Tommy Bond, Paul Hines, Jim McCormick, Jack Glasscock, and this year’s ONEHOF inductee, Harry Stovey.

young2

P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old

1891

36-12, 1.93 ERA, 168 K, .158, 1 HR, 15 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Not Yet

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1892 NL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-13.1

WAR for Pitchers-14.1

Earned Run Average-1.93

Wins-36

Win-Loss %-.750

Walks & Hits per IP-1.062

Shutouts-9

Adjusted ERA+-176

Adj. Pitching Runs-70

Adj. Pitching Wins-7.0

 

2nd Time All-Star-What did Willy Wonka say? “So much time and so little to do. Strike that. Reverse it.” A lot has happened since the 1891 season in baseball. For one thing, there is only one league left. The king took the challenges and finished on top. The National League has existed since 1876. During the next few years, it faced the Union Association in 1884, the Players League in 1890, and the American Association from 1882-1891. Yet through all of this, the National League remained the strongest league and the last Major League standing. The NL picked four of the AA teams and then decided to have a split-season, with the winner of the first half playing the winner of the second half.

Cleveland, coached by Patsy Tebeau and led by the arm of Young, prevailed in the latter half of the season, finishing 93-56 overall and 53-23 in the second half. It then lost the Championship Series (5-0-1) to the Boston Beaneaters. Young pitched three games in the series, finishing 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA. He wouldn’t be in another postseason until 1903.

For the season, well, look above, you can see what Young did. I would say it’s his best season ever and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s the last season the mound was a 50 feet. In 1893, it will be moved to 60 feet, six inches, as it is to this day. Read the Harry Stovey entry above for information on the new Ron’s Hall of Fame. I will say this, Cy Young had such dominating stats over his career, he was only required to make two All-Star teams to make my Hall of Fame. Of course, he’s going to make many more.

nicholsk3

P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 22 Years Old

1890 1891

35-16, 2.84 ERA, 192 K, .203, 2 HR, 21 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Not Yet

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

3rd Time All-Star-In 1892, it wouldn’t have been surprising to think Nichols would have a better career than Cy Young. At the age of 22, Nichols has had three dominant seasons because he started so young. Young didn’t start in the Major Leagues until he was 23 years old. However, the longevity of Young is going to be amazing over the years, though Nichols’ 15 years of pitching isn’t to be discounted. For the season, Kid finished second in WAR (9.2) to only Young (13.1) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.3) to guess who (14.1). He pitched 453 innings with a 2.84 ERA and a 124 ERA+. Nichols’ 35 wins this season was his career high. His innings, as for all pitchers, will start declining when the mound is moved back to the modern-era distance in 1893.

Nichols’ team, the Beaneaters, won it all this season, giving Kid his second championship. Boston won the first half of the season, going 53-23 and 102-48 overall. Frank Selee, the manager, won his second National Pennant and isn’t done. He’s going to be around a while.

On a site called Our Game, Major League historian John Thorn has an article titled Kid Nichols, In His Own Words, in which Nichols himself recaps his career. Though it can be a little dry, I urge you read the whole thing. I’ll just print his bit about his 1892 season here: “In 1892, Boston Nationals won 102 lost 48.

“The same year Nichols pitched 51 games or 1/3rd of the games played. Winning 35 and lost 16.

“By the way. Remember these were 9 inning games as a rule. Not 1 innings as so often is quoted today.”

hutchinson3

P-Bill Hutchinson, Chicago Colts, 32 Years Old

1890 1891

36-36, 2.76 ERA, 314 K, .217, 1 HR, 22 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Not Yet

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins-36 (3rd Time)

Games Pitched-75 (3rd Time)

Innings Pitched-622.0 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts-314

Games Started-70 (3rd Time)

Complete Games-67 (3rd Time)

Hits Allowed-571 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.653

Batters Faced-2,639 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as P-75 (3rd Time)

Assists as P-156

 

3rd Time All-Star-Wild Bill the Workhorse [TM] again pitched and pitched and pitched some more for the third straight year. This resulted in great results for his 1892 season, but having to move his tired arm back to 60 feet, six inches starting in 1893 was too much for him and he’s most likely made his last All-Star team. For the season, he finished third in WAR (9.0) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.6), pitching 622 innings, 81 more than second place Amos Rusie, with a 2.76 ERA and a 113 ERA+.

People talk about Dusty Baker ruining Chicago arms, but he was nothing compared to Colts’ manager Cap Anson. It was starting to affect the team, too, as Chicago dropped to 70-76, seventh in the National League.

According to Wikipedia, Hutch is still one of the great all-time Chicago pitchers. It says, “During his seven seasons with the Chicago franchise (now the Chicago Cubs) he ranks 4th all-time in franchise history in wins (181), 6th in games pitched (367), 2nd in innings pitched (3021), 6th in strikeouts (1224), 3rd in games started (339), 1st in complete games (317), 10th in shutouts (21), 1st in base on balls allowed (1109), 1st in losses (158), and 1st in wild pitches (120).

“He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, attended Yale University, and later died in Kansas City, Missouri at the age of 66.” Who knows the career Hutchinson could have had if Anson would have let off the reins a bit.

rusie3

P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 21 Years Old

1890 1891

32-31, 2.84 ERA, 304 K, .215, 1 HR, 26 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: No (Will require two more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls-270 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as P-22 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Rusie, the Nolan Ryan of his day, had another fantastic season, but his best seasons are yet to come. His overuse would shorten his career, but his results in those 10 years (one of which was only 22 innings pitched) were incredible. No doubt he’ll make Ron’s Hall of Fame. For the season, the Hoosier Thunderbolt finished fifth in WAR (7.8) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.8). Rusie pitched 541 innings with a 2.84 ERA and a 113 ERA+. It’s his worst season in the five-year stretch from 1890-1894, yet any pitcher would have loved to have his 1892 year.

As for Rusie’s Giants, Pat Powers took over for longtime manager Jim Mutrie and didn’t do well. The team finished in eighth place with a 71-80 record. Powers would never manage again.

You might wonder why the mound would be moved back the next season. Wikipedia says, “Rusie’s wildness had been a catalyst for officials to change the distance from the pitching rubber to home plate from 50 feet (15 m) to the current 60 feet (18 m), 6 inches. This ruling was made effective for the 1893 season, at the peak of Amos Rusie’s pitching prowess. The distance change did not reduce Rusie’s effectiveness.”

Bleacher Report tells of trouble in the Giants-Rusie relationship: “An 1892 season brought mediocrity for Rusie. He won 31 and lost the same amount. He posted a 2.88 ERA, very decent for the time, and struck out just 19 more then he walked.

“After the season, the Giants actually released him – only to pick him back up later in the off season. But just because they got him back, it didn’t mean that the Giants had a stable relationship with Rusie.

“It was just the start of problems between Rusie and management.”

weyhing3

P-Gus Weyhing, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old

1890 1891

32-21, 2.66 ERA, 202 K, .136, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Will require six more All-Star seasons)

 

Led in:

 

Saves-3

Games Finished-10

3rd Time All-Star-Weyhing made his third All-Star team, all in different leagues. He won 25 games or more for the sixth consecutive time and 30 wins or more for the fourth straight time. Rubber-Winged Gus finished fifth in WAR (7.5) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.7), behind only Cy Young (14.1) and Kid Nichols (9.3). Weyhing tossed 469 2/3 innings, third behind Bill Hutchinson (622) and Amos Rusie (541), for a 2.66 ERA and a 122 ERA+. What really affects Cannonball’s WAR every year is his putrid hitting, which would be a -9.8 for his career.

The mound moving back 10 feet will take its toll on Weyhing and he’s most likely made his last All-Star team. He’d stay with Philadelphia through 1895, a year in which he also played for Pittsburgh and Louisville. Weyhing pitched for Louisville in 1896 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1897. He then finished his career pitching for Washington (1898-99), St. Louis (1900), Brooklyn (1900), the American League Cleveland Blues (1901), and Cincinnati (1901). If you looked just at his 264 career wins, you might think he should have some Hall of Fame consideration, but he never did and probably doesn’t deserve it. That doesn’t take away from how good a pitcher he was for a nice stretch from 1887-92, in which Weyhing was top 10 in WAR for Pitchers five times in those six years.

As for Weyhing’s team, the Phillies, Hall of Fame manager Harry Wright coached them to a fourth-place 87-66 record.

gleason3P-Kid Gleason, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

1890 1891

20-24, 3.33 ERA, 133 K, .215, 3 HR, 25 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as P-42

3rd Time All-Star-Whenever I picture Kid Gleason, I think of John Mahoney, who played him in the movie “Eight Men Out.” It’s now I want to apologize to Ed Stein, Nig Cuppy, John Clarkson, and Tim Keefe, four pitchers who would have made this All-Star team in just about any other season. However, because the top player from every team has to make this team and the leading player on 11 of the 12 teams was a pitcher, it knocked out those four, despite extending this prestigious All-Star honor to 11 pitchers instead of 10. Sorry, guys! Oh, they’re all dead, I’m not too worried about revenge.

It’s not like Gleason’s year was terrible, as he pitched 400 innings with a 3.33 ERA and 104 ERA+. His pitching would decline sharply as the mound moved back in 1893 and he’ll start spending more time at second base.

The Browns finished in 11th place with a 56-94 record and were coached by Jack Glasscock (1-3), Cub Stricker (6-17), Jack Crooks (27-33), George Gore (6-9), and Bob Caruthers (16-32). At some point, they should have realized the manager wasn’t the problem.

After this season, Gleason would stay with Browns in 1893-94, then go on to Baltimore (1894-95), New York (1896-1900), the American League Detroit Tigers (1901-02), Philadelphia (1903-08), and the AL Chicago White Sox (1912). He’d then manage the White Sox from 1919-23.

Wikipedia says of the Kid: “Gleason has been referenced in pop culture in several books, and is a prominent supporting character in Ring Lardner‘s 1916 novel You Know Me Al. He is portrayed by actor John Mahoney in the 1988 film Eight Men Out, based on Eliot Asinof‘s book of the same name.”

dwyer

P-Frank Dwyer, St. Louis Browns/Cincinnati Reds, 24 Years Old

22-18, 2.95 ERA, 63 K, .146, 0 HR, 6 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-John Francis “Frank” Dwyer was born on March 25, 1868 in Lee, MA. He started as a pitcher for Chicago (1888-89), then moved to the Players League Chicago Pirates (1890), the American Association Cincinnati’s Kelly’s Killers (1891), and the AA Milwaukee Brewers (1891). As if that wasn’t enough bouncing around, he also pitched for the two clubs this season. For some reason, the move from St. Louis to Cincinnati woke Dwyer up and he pitched phenomenally for the Reds. Altogether, he finished eighth in WAR (6.2), pitching 332 1/3 innings with a 2.95 ERA and a 113 ERA+. As for his splits, for the Browns, he pitched 64 innings with a 5.63 ERA and a 62 ERA+, while for the Reds, Dwyer pitched 268 1/3 innings with a 2.31 ERA and a 142 ERA+.

Coached by Charlie Comiskey and led by Dwyer, the Reds finished in fifth place with an 82-68 record. They did better in the first half (45-32) than in the second (37-36).  Yes, if you don’t see the irony, Comiskey managed a team which would beat the team he owned in the 1919 World Series, a Series I read somewhere was tainted.

On the page, Baseball Fever, there is an argument for Dwyer as a Hall of Famer. I think he falls considerably short, but he one of the few pitchers who was able to take the mound moving back 10 feet in 1893 and still have some success. Beady, on that page, writes, “In the context of his times, Dwyer is not a brilliant shooting star, but a capable, reliable and durable pitcher with a fairly long career. He started early and pitched regularly for about ten years. You could name some of his contemporaries who lasted to a greater age, and not only those of the caliber of Cy Young, but there aren’t that many of them. While Killen, Breitenstein, Hawley, Meekin and probably Stivetts all had bigger reputations when they were on top of their game, Killen and Hawley didn’t last as long as Dwyer, Meekin never followed up his brilliant season in 1894 and Stivetts was a part-time pitcher by the time he reached 29.”

stratton2

P-Scott Stratton, Louisville Colonels, 22 Years Old

1890

21-19, 2.92 ERA, 93 K, .256, 0 HR, 23 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.792 (3rd Time)

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.026

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.62 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Back in his 1890 blurb, I wrote of Stratton, “That’s why 18 of the 25 players on the AA All-Star team are first-timers, including the hard throwing Kentuckian, who had his best season ever, but also most likely his only All-Star appearance. Hey, if you’re going to only make one All-Star team, do it with gusto as Stratton did.” (How lazy have I become that I’m now quoting myself.) Anyway, the point is I was wrong. Stratton did make another All-Star team, pitching 351 2/3 innings with a 2.92 ERA and a 105 ERA+. THIS will be his last time making the All-Star team, I guarantee it.

Stratton’s Colonels finished in ninth place with a 63-89 record. Jack Chapman (21-33) and Fred Pfeffer (42-56) were at the helm. It was Chapman’s last season managing after 11 seasons of doing so. He finished with a career 351-502 record and one pennant for the 1890 American Association Louisville Colonels. It was also Pfeffer’s last season managing.

How big of effect did moving the mound back from 50 feet to 60 feet, six inches have on pitchers? In 1892, pitcher’s ERA was 3.28, in 1893, it rose to 4.66. Teams averaged 5.1 runs per game in 1892 and 6.6 in 1893. If you stick around, you’ll see batter’s stats really start to jump next season.

Stratton was a typical case, as he went from going 21-19 with a 2.92 ERA and a 2.62 FIP to going 12-23, with a 5.43 ERA and a 4.33 FIP.

terry6

P-Adonis Terry, Baltimore Orioles/Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1884 1886 1887 1888 1890

18-8, 2.57 ERA, 98 K, .154, 2 HR, 11 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

6th Time All-Star-When I thinking of my Hall of Fame qualifications mentioned above, I was thinking of players like Terry, who has to be the flukiest six-time All-Star there is. He’s been in the top 10 in WAR for pitchers just two times and in the top 10 in WAR once, but has made six All-Star teams. He’s probably going to make it one more time. Of course, it’s my own weird rules for this team that have allowed that, but it’s almost like Adonis knew I would start writing this page in the 21st century and catered his career around that. One more thing about finishing in the top 10 in WAR for Pitchers is that Terry finished in the top 10 three times and all three times ranked 10th. He was never a top echelon pitcher.

This season, he pitched 249 innings with a 2.57 ERA and a 129 ERA+. Those aren’t bad stats, but the reason he’s on the team this season is because he was the best player on the Pirates.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, it didn’t do too bad, finishing in sixth place with an 80-73 record. Al Buckenberger (53-41) and Tom Burns (27-32) managed the Pirates.

Here’s Wikipedia on his time in Pittsburgh: “On June 10, 1892, Brooklyn released Terry, and was quickly signed by the Baltimore Orioles on June 14. He played just one game for Baltimore, a complete games loss, and was then traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 17 in exchange for Cub Stricker. He pitched well in his 2-plus seasons for Pittsburgh, winning 18 games in 1892 and 12 more in 1893.”

killen2

P-Frank Killen, Washington Senators, 21 Years Old

1891

29-26, 3.31 ERA, 147 K, .199, 4 HR, 23 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed as P-22

2nd Time All-Star-Lefty Killen is starting out his career very Adonis-esque as he made two All-Star teams by being the best player on his squad. It’s not like he’s a bad pitcher. Killen pitched 459 2/3 innings with a 3.31 ERA and a 98 ERA+. He’s got some awesome seasons ahead, but he’s no Hall of Famer. Next year, he’s off to his third team in three years, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While he wasn’t a bad pitcher, Killen pitched on a bad team, as the Senators, coached by Billie Barnie (0-2), Arthur Irwin (46-60), and Danny Richardson (12-31), finished in 10th place with a 58-93 record.

SABR writes of Lefty, “Killen and 11 other AA players were assigned to Washington, which changed its name from the Statesmen to Senators to inaugurate a new chapter in its history. Almost immediately Killen began trading jabs in the press with manager Billy Barnie, claiming that Washington’s contract offer was lower than the one he had signed with Milwaukee and which was supposedly valid under the rules of the peace settlement. Killen, like all major-league players, quickly learned that the merger depressed salaries. Praised as ‘one of the most promising pitchers in the country’ and the ‘only reliable twirler on the team,’ Killen (29-26) was the lone bright spot on the 10th-place Senators (58-93), winning half of their games.

“The hard-throwing Killen was hailed as ‘a great general while officiating in the box [whose] deceptive curves have time and again proved very puzzling.’” Read the whole thing.

mcmahon3

P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 24 Years Old

1890 1891

19-25, 3.24 ERA, 118 K, .141, 0 HR, 18 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

3rd Time All-Star-McMahon moved with the Orioles from the American Association to the National League and still pitched well, though certainly not at the level of his last two seasons. He pitched 397 innings with a 3.24 ERA and 107 ERA+. He’s probably got a couple of All-Star teams left and will be on the Orioles for a while.

Baltimore finished last in the league with a 46-101 record. George Van Haltren (1-10), John Waltz (2-6), and Ned Hanlon (43-85) managed the team. Hanlon at this point had a 160-218 record as a manager, yet he was kept around, which ended up being a good thing, because he would have a great career and lead Baltimore and eventually Brooklyn to many league titles.

McMahon didn’t finish the season, according to SABR. Talking about the unsportsmanlike play of the Orioles, SABR says, “McMahon fit right in with this crew, perhaps not in viciousness but certainly in rowdiness. He was reputed to be a heavy drinker and a carouser. Robert L. Tiemann wrote that Sadie was something of a hell-raiser, especially on the road. In 1892 he was suspended for the final month of the season for missing a game and then cussing out his manager and owner in an argument over his fine for being AWOL. He continued to pitch well, winning over 20 games each year from 1892 through 1894.” For quite a stretch, McMahon and his temper formed a lethal combo and he was one of the best pitchers in the league.

clements3

C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 27 Years Old

1890 1891

.264, 8 HR, 76 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as C-557 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-With all of the leagues now merged into the National League and the wheat separated from the chaff, Clements, a lefty, ended up as the top catcher in baseball. His hitting, as always, was good, but he also played defense this season, finishing 10th in Defensive WAR (1.3). From the plate, Clements slashed .264/.339/.415 for an OPS+ of 128. Those weren’t his usual numbers, but in the time he played, they were very good for a catcher.

I’m not sure he’s got another All-Star season left in him, but I wouldn’t bet my house on that. He could always hit for average. Wikipedia says, “During the 1890s, he established himself as one of the National League’s top hitters, finishing among the top 4 in batting average on 3 occasions. Clements also hit for power, finishing second in the NL with 17 home runs in 1893 and finishing third in the NL with 13 in 1895. Also in 1895, he finished with a .394 batting average, the highest single-season average by a catcher in major league history.

“After the 1897 season, Clements was traded to the St. Louis Browns. He played one season for the Browns, during which he became the first player (of either handedness) to catch 1,000 games in his career.

“At the time of his retirement, he held the single-season and career records for home runs by a catcher. Both of his records were broken by Gabby Hartnett in the 1920s; the single-season record fell in 1925, while the career record fell in 1928. Clements is also the only 19th-century baseball player of prominence to retire with more home runs than triples.”a name=”Zimmer”>

zimmer

C-Chief Zimmer, Cleveland Spiders, 31 Years Old

.264, 1 HR, 64 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star Season-Charles Louis “Chief” Zimmer was born on November 23, 1860 in Marietta, OH and made his first All-Star team at the age of 31. He started with Detroit in 1884 and moved to the American Association New York Metropolitans (1886), the AA Cleveland Blues (1887-1888), which became the Spiders in 1889. Zimmer was never much of an offensive threat, but according to dWAR, was good defensively. He finished ninth in Defensive WAR (1.3) and also had his best year at the plate, slashing .264/.327/.404 for an OPS+ of 117. His batting average, slugging average, and Adjusted OPS+ were all career highs up to this point.

Wikipedia has the details on his nickname: “Zimmer acquired the nickname ‘Chief’ during the 1886 season while playing as the captain of the Poughkeepsie team. Zimmer was not of American Indian descent and explained the genesis for the nickname as follows: ‘Since we were fleet of foot, we were called the Indians. As I was the head man of the Indians, somebody began to call me “Chief.” It stuck.’”

Even though he’s never made the All-Star team, Zimmer already had a reputation in the league. Again from Wikipedia, which says, “In 1892, when asked how he kept his hands healthy so as to be able to catch in so many games, Zimmer also claimed he received regular hand massages: ‘He replied that he made it a practice to visit a massage establishment whenever his hands gave him the slightest cause for trouble. He argues that by the systematic rubbing of the joints all swellings and soreness can be remedied instantly.’”

Brouthers Dan 185-57_Bat_PD1B-Dan Brouthers, Brooklyn Grooms, 34 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891

.335, 5 HR, 124 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted 1889)

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

1892 NL Batting Title (5th Time)

WAR Position Players-8.8 (5th Time)

Offensive WAR-7.8 (8th Time)

Batting Average-.335 (5th Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.911 (8th Time)

Hits-197 (3rd Time)

Total Bases-282 (4th Time)

Runs Batted In-124 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-179 (8th Time)

Runs Created-118 (5th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-60 (8th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-6.4 (8th Time)

Offensive Win %-.805 (6th Time)

 

12th Time All-Star-Big Dan is on his fifth team in the last five years and, at the age of 34, had his best season ever. It’s possible it’s also his last All-Star team. For one thing, he only has one more fulltime season left in his career, with Baltimore in 1894. I don’t have to give you his stats, because you just spent an hour above reading all of the categories in which he led.

As for the Grooms, due to Brouthers incredible season, they were the only team in which a pitcher didn’t lead in WAR. Still with Ed Stein on the mound and Big Dan at the plate, Brooklyn did well, finishing third in the National League with a 95-59 record. John “Monte” Ward managed the squad. Surprisingly, Ward didn’t manage more, because though he didn’t win any titles, his career winning percentage as the team leader was .563. Yet he managed only seven years and was gone after 1894.

All of us are results of our circumstances and Brouthers is no different. He was a great slugger while baseball was still in its relative infancy. He played the majority of his career before 1893, when the pitcher’s mound would be moved back and the batting statistics are going to go through the roof. He played before Babe Ruth and others made the home run popular. None of this takes away from his career, but it can’t help but stir the emotions of what could have been. Brouthers would get to see Ruth as he lived until August 2, 1932, dying at the age of 74.

connor11

1B-Roger Connor, Philadelphia Phillies, 34 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891

.294, 12 HR, 73 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted 1891)

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-155 (3rd Time)

Doubles-37

Extra Base Hits-60 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-155 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.985 (3rd Time)

11th Time All-Star-Connor jumped teams, going to the Phillies, but it didn’t hurt his production one bit. Age might have affected it a little, but not his team. Wikipedia explains, “In the offseason before 1892, Connor signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. The team broke up shortly after Connor signed, and his contract was awarded to the Philadelphia Phillies for that year.” For the first time in eight years, he wasn’t in the top 10 in WAR, but he still finished third in WAR Position Players (6.3), behind only Dan Brouthers (8.8) and Cupid Childs (7.1) and second in Offensive WAR (6.9), behind only Brouthers (7.8). Connor slashed .294/.420/.463 for an OPS+ of 166, the latter figure ranking second behind only, you guessed it, Brouthers (179). I wonder if Connor had a Brouthers voodoo doll at home. As for the home run chase, he still trailed 1892 ONEHOF Inductee Harry Stovey, 121-99.

The big man wouldn’t be part of the Phillies in 1893 as, according to SABR, “He led National League first basemen in fielding percentage (.985) and stole 22 bases. With a Hall of Fame outfield in Ed Delahanty, Billy Hamilton, and Sam Thompson, the future looked promising in Philadelphia. But Connor refused to sign the $1,800 contract tendered for the 1893 season by the club’s cash-strapped management. Consequently, the Phillies traded him back to New York in exchange for journeymen Jack Boyle and Jack Sharrot, plus cash.” It’s amazing how much great players like Brouthers and Connor jumped around at the tail end of their careers.

virtue

1B-Jake Virtue, Cleveland Spiders, 27 Years Old

.282, 2 HR, 89 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 31 more All-Star seasons)

 

1st Time All-Star-Jacob Kitchline “Jake” or “Guesses” Virtue was born on March 2, 1865 in Philadelphia, PA. His middle name might be the closest any name of any player in baseball history comes to matching my last name of Kitchell. Guesses started with Cleveland in 1890 and had his best season ever, slashing .282/.380/.391 for an OPS+ of 129, all of those numbers being career highs for a full season for Virtue. In the championship series against Boston, he slumped, going three-for-24 with no extra base hits.

For a man with just a five-year mediocre career, Wikipedia has a pretty extensive article on Virtue. It says, “Born in Philadelphia on March 2, 1865, Virtue debuted in the major leagues with Cleveland in 1890. In The Great Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Major League Baseball, Virtue is described as a 5’9″ player with excellent defensive skills. However, he also ‘had a huge failing. He was so short of self-confidence (some in Cleveland were unkind enough to say courage) that an error in the first inning or a strikeout in his first at bat would ruin him for the rest of the game.’

“In early 1893, The New York Times reported that Virtue might play in Philadelphia that year to replace first baseman Roger Connor; Connor was to be traded to the New York Giants. Connor was sent to New York, but Virtue remained in Cleveland. Though the pitching distance was increased from 55 feet and 6 inches to 60 feet and 6 inches for 1893, Virtue struggled offensively and defensively. A late-season on-field collision in 1892 seemed to have rendered Virtue ‘gunshy’.”

childs3

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 24 Years Old

1890 1891

.317, 3 HR, 53 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

On-Base %-.443

Runs Scored-136

Times on Base-303

3rd Time All-Star-I don’t think Childs is going to make four more All-Star teams, but…it’s going to be close. Childs is one of those amazing players from baseball’s early days of which many of you have never heard. I know I hadn’t before doing this page. Yet, during this time in which he’s playing, Childs is the game’s best second baseman. This season, he finished ninth in WAR (7.1); second in WAR Position Players (7.1), behind only Dan Brouthers (8.8); and third in Offensive WAR (6.4), behind only Brouthers (7.8) and Roger Connor (6.9), both of whom played a much easier defensive position. His .317 batting average was third in the league behind Brouthers (.335) and Billy Hamilton (.330), while his on-base percentage of .443 led the league. If that wasn’t enough, Childs also had a fantastic championship series against Boston, hitting .409 with two triples, along with walking five times.

                SABR summarizes his career as follows, “Cupid Childs was one of the best hitting major league second basemen during the late nineteenth century, not to mention a better-than-average fielder who possessed great range on the diamond. Only four other second basemen in the history of major league baseball have averaged more total chances per game than Childs. His all-around outstanding play made him an integral part of the great Cleveland Spiders teams of the 1890s.

“[F]or some reason the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee continually overlooks this talented multi-tooled player when it comes time to vote in new inductees. It seems that for now, Cupid’s arrow has missed its mark in Cooperstown.” He probably doesn’t deserve the Hall of Fame, but he certainly deserves a look.

mcphee6

2B-Bid McPhee, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1886 1887 1889 1890 1891

.274, 4 HR, 60 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

Ron’s: Yes

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as 2B-451 (6th Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-86 (10th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.49 (6th Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.40 (6th Time)

6th Time All-Star-I will finally concede McPhee should be in the Hall of Fame, but I think it was a bold choice. He was selected by the 2000 Veteran’s Committee and it must have been his fielding which caught its attention. He slashed .279/.379/.384 for an OPS+ of 107 for his career which isn’t spectacular, but did end his career with a 16.3 Defensive WAR which is 84th of all-time. He also played most of his good seasons in the American Association, which will usually disqualify a man from making Cooperstown. Still, due to longevity and being the best at his position at the time he played, I believe they got it right with McPhee.

This was McPhee’s best season ever as he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.2) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.5). It’s the first and only time he finished in the top 10 in Offensive WAR and the first time he’s made the All-Star team without finishing in the top 10 in Defensive WAR. McPhee slashed .274/.373/.370 for an OPS+ of 126. It was his highest OBP up to this point.

McPhee making the Hall of Fame makes me want to look at the candidacy for Cupid Childs again. McPhee played almost 700 more games and had about 1700 more at bats. He was also a much better fielder, beating Childs in dWAR 16.2 to 4.0. However, I already posted McPhee’s career slash line above. Here’s Childs’: .306/.416/.389 for an OPS+ of 119. I believe the Hall got them both right, but if Childs would have had a little longer career, he would be in Cooperstown also.

nash5

3B-Billy Nash, Boston Beaneaters, 27 Years Old

1887 1888 1889 1890

.260, 4 HR, 95 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as 3B-.898 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-I asked in Nash’s 1890 blurb whether his bat could carry him to another All-Star team in 1891 and it didn’t. However, lack of good players at third base did put him back on the team this season. He did well defensively, finishing third in Defensive WAR (2.1), to only shortstop Germany Smith and second baseman Lou Bierbauer. At the plate, Nash slashed .260/.338/.350 for an OPS+ of 100. Despite the dearth of good third basemen in the league, I’m predicting this is Nash’s last All-Star team.

But at least he went out on top as Boston won the league and won the championship series against Cleveland. In the series, Nash struggled, going four-for-24 with no extra base hits. It was Nash’s third title and he would be part of another one in 1893. After this season, he would remain with Boston until 1895 and then move to Philadelphia from 1896-98. In his long career, he only played on four teams and two of those were only for one season.

Here’s a quote from fellow baseball blogger verdun2 about the 1892 split-season with a mention of Nash: “The team in Boston, the Beaneaters–which gets my vote for the absolutely worst team nickname ever–went 52-22 and won the first half by 2.5 games over Brooklyn. The team consisted of Hall of Famers Hugh Duffy and Tommy McCarthy in the outfield, King Kelly behind the plate, with Billy Nash, Tommy Tucker, Joe Quinn, Bobby Lowe, and Herman Long holding down the rest of the positions. Hall of Fame pitcher John Clarkson started the season at Boston, but was traded to Cleveland during the season. That left Kid Nichols as the undisputed ace. Nichols had a great year going 35-26 with 187 strikouts, a 2.84 ERA, and five shutouts.” He has much more to say on the split-season, I suggest reading it all.

dahlen

SS-Bill Dahlen, Chicago Colts, 22 Years Old

.293, 5 HR, 58 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

1st Time All-Star-William Frederick “Bad Bill” Dahlen was born on January 5, 1870 in Nelliston, NY and was one of the early game’s best shortstops. I can see myself complaining about his lack of induction to Cooperstown many times in the future and asking questions like, “How can Bid McPhee be in the Hall of Fame and not Dahlen?” Well, I have plenty of time for that, so let’s get on with this season.

Dahlen started in 1891 as a third baseman for the Colts, before moving to shortstop permanently this season. While later in his career it would be his defense that carried him, he did well offensively this year, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (6.1) and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.6). He slashed .293/.349/.423 for an OPS+ of 139, along with stealing 60 bases. He still has some great seasons ahead.

One difference between McPhee and Dahlen was temperament. From Jock Bio Legends, it says, “Baseball in the 1890s could be an ugly, violent affair. The game had become a win-at-all-costs profession that sometimes seemed to put aggression, intimidation and trickery on an equal footing with fundamental batting and fielding skills. It took a special kind of player to survive in this environment. A player like Bill Dahlen. A hard-hitting shortstop with a great glove, he was among the top players in the game for almost 20 seasons. ‘Bad Bill’ didn’t stick around because he was a nice guy. He went to war—and took no prisoners—every time he stepped onto the field.”

long2

SS-Herman Long, Boston Beaneaters, 26 Years Old

1891

.280, 6 HR, 78 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Errors Committed-102 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as SS-99 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Long’s off to a good start, making his second All-Star team and winning his second league title in four years of ball. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.7) and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.7). At the dish, he slashed .280/.334/.378 for an OPS+ of 106 with 57 stolen bases. In the championship series against Cleveland, Long batted .222, going six-for 27 with no extra base hits. Still, Boston won and Long was a big part of that.

We talked about Long holding the career record for errors made in last year’s blurb, but we can’t help but beat this to death, so here’s more from Wikipedia, which says, “The seeming contradiction between a high error rate and exceptional fielding skill is attributable to the fact that Long had a greater fielding range than most shortstops. He could get to balls batted to his left and right that other fielders would not have reached; a certain percentage of these difficult plays were mishandled, resulting in Long being charged with errors on grounders and flies that lesser shortstops would not have touched (and on which they would not be charged with errors).

“Of the three other players charged with over 1,000 lifetime errors, Deacon White is in Baseball’s Hall of Fame, and Bill Dahlen is perennially considered for enshrinement by MLB’s Veteran’s Committee.” There are certainly some good shortstops in this era, with Jack Glasscock, Dahlen, and Long among them. Hughie Jennings career is just starting and no doubt he’ll be making some All-Star teams in the future.

hamilton3

LF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 26 Years Old

1890 1891

.330, 3 HR, 53 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

Singles-152 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Sliding Bill made his third straight All-Star team and will no doubt make my Hall of Fame. I also think he has a good shot at the ONEHOF. Hamilton finished fourth in WAR Position Players (6.1) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.4). At the plate, he hit .330 (second behind Dan Brouthers’ .335); had an on-base percentage of .423 (third behind Cupid Childs’ .443 and Brouthers’ .432); slugged .410 and stole 57 bases. His Adjusted OPS+ was 152. All of the numbers look dazzling, but if you look at his career, the season looked very similar to what he always did.

Hamilton wasn’t known for his power, never hitting more than seven homers in a season. However, Wikipedia tells us, “In 1892, Hamilton hit both a leadoff and game-ending home run in the same game. Only Vic Power (1957), Darin Erstad (2000), Reed Johnson (2003) and Ian Kinsler (2009) have accomplished the same feat.”

                Meanwhile, SABR says, “Billy was a disruptive force, particularly with his ability to frustrate opposing pitchers by fouling off their deliveries until he found one to hit or drew a walk. He was the ideal leadoff man, getting on base in more than 45 percent of his plate appearances that season, and putting himself in position to be knocked in by sluggers [Ed] Delahanty and [Sam] Thompson.

“Though the Philadelphia pitching was too weak for the team to mount a serious challenge for the pennant, the offensive fireworks drew fans. The flashy Billy Hamilton was one of the most popular players on the team. In 1892, all three outfielders batted over .300, with Billy leading the way at .330.”

holliday

CF-Bug Holliday, Cincinnati Reds, 25 Years Old

.294, 13 HR, 91 RBI, 0-0, 11.25 ERA, 0 K

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-13 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-20.0

AB per HR-46.3

1st Time All-Star-James Wear “Bug” Holliday was born on February 8, 1867 in St. Louis, MO. Just because he made his first All-Star team, don’t think he hasn’t been around awhile. He started with the American Association Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1889, leading the league with 19 home runs and then followed the team to the National League the next season, where he finished his career, playing on the Reds through 1898. This season was Bug’s best ever, as he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.9) and ninth in Offensive WAR (4.5). He slashed .294/.356/.450 and stole 43 bases for an OPS+ of 144. This is most likely his first and last All-Star team.

Holliday’s first ever at-bat came in the World Series, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Holliday was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and became the first player in major league history to make his debut in the post-season when he was called up, at the age of 18, by the Chicago White Stockings when they needed another outfielder after Game 4 of the 1885 World Series. He played in one game, and had no hits in four at bats. The distinction has since been matched by Mark Kiger, who played in the 2006 American League Championship Series for the Oakland Athletics as a defensive replacement, and Raúl Mondesí, pinch-hitting for Luke Hochevar in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series for the Kansas City Royals.”

By leading the National League in homers this season, Holliday is one of the rare players to lead two leagues in long balls.

thompson4RF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 32 Years Old

1886 1887 1891

.305, 9 HR, 104 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes

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

 

Led in:

 

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

4th Time All-Star-What an outfield Philadelphia had in 1890s. Ed Delahanty hasn’t made an All-Star team yet, but that day is no doubt coming. He teamed with Thompson and Billy Hamilton to make an all-Hall of Fame outfield. The stats are going to really stand out starting next season when the mound is moved back 10 feet to 60 feet, six inches. As it is, Thompson was still impressive, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (4.7) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.6). Big Sam slashed .305/.377/.432 and stole 28 bases for an OPS+ of 144.

A book entitled Big Sam Thompson: Baseball’s Greatest Clutch Hitter by Roy Kerr talks much about the 1892 Phillies’ season. It says, “On the days that Tim Keefe pitched for the Phillies in 1892, one of baseball’s rarest events took place. With Keefe in the pitcher’s box, and Roger Connor at first base, Billy Hamilton, Ed Delehanty (sic) and Sam Thompson in the outfield, and with Harry Wright directing the team on bench, six future Hall of Famers represented the Phillies at the ballpark.

“The 1892 Phillies should have been serious pennant contenders. They led the league in hitting and tied for the lead in fielding…

“Late in the season, Sporting Life blamed the team’s poor finish on the unsettling effect of multiple injuries that plagued the club down the stretch. ‘Clements was knocked out for an entire month, and after that, Cross, Reilly, Hallman, Delehanty and Hamilton were successively injured, so there has been more or less shifting for nearly two months.’”

burns4

RF-Oyster Burns, Brooklyn Grooms, 27 Years Old

1887 1888 1889

.315, 4 HR, 96 RBI

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

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

 

4th Time All-Star-After not making the All-Star team for two seasons, Burns is back. He had made the World Series in 1890, where he hit .222 with two doubles and a homer. The only change since then is that his Brooklyn team is now part of the National League rather than the American Association. It’s most likely his last All-Star team, as his hitting would decline over the next few years. This season, Burns finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.7) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.1). His fielding, at least according to dWAR, was always terrible. At the plate, though, Burns shined, slashing .315/.395/.454 and stole 33 bases for an OPS+ of 159. That Adjusted OPS+ was third behind only teammate Dan Brouthers (179) and Philadelphia’s Roger Connor (166).

Following this season, Burns would remain with Brooklyn until 1895, a year in which he’d move to the Giants to finish the year and finish his career. He was done with his Major League career by the age of 30.

Starting in 1893, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, the mound is going to be moved back from 50 feet to 60 feet, six inches, the distance at which it remains to this day. Most people seem to regard modern baseball as starting in 1900 or even 1901, the year in which the American League formed, but it would seem in 1893, when gloves were now the norm and not an aberration and the mound was at its regular distance, that we would recognize the game as the same one we see today.

1891 American Association All-Star Team

P-Jack Stivetts, STL

P-Sadie McMahon, BAL

P-Charlie Buffinton, BOS

P-George Haddock, BOS

P-Gus Weyhing, PHA

P-Phil Knell, COL

P-Frank Foreman, WAS

P-Ed Crane, CKK

P-Warren Fitzgerald, LOU

P-Frank Killen, MIL

C-Jocko Milligan, PHA

C-Deacon McGuire, WAS

1B-Dan Brouthers, BOS

1B-Perry Werden, BAL

2B-Jack Crooks, COL

3B-Denny Lyons, STL

3B-Duke Farrell, BOS

3B-Bill Joyce, BOS

SS-Paul Radford, BOS

LF-Charlie Duffee, COL

LF-George Van Haltren, BAL

CF-Curt Welch, BAL

CF-Tom Brown, BOS

CF-Dummy Hoy, STL

RF-Hugh Duffy, BOS

 

stivetts3

P-Jack Stivetts, St. Louis Browns, 23 Years Old

1889 1890

33-22, 2.86 ERA, 259 K, .305, 7 HR, 54 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-9.4

Games Pitched-64

Strikeouts-259

Bases On Balls-232

Def. Games as P-64

Errors Committed as P-15

3rd Time All-Star-In 1882, the American Association took on the big kids on the block and started a Major League. They had to contend with the Union Association starting up in 1884 and with the Players League in 1890, but they held on. They even played an exhibition World Series against the National League from 1884-90. However this season, due to many reasons, but mainly the raiding of Players League players by the National League, they would finally fold. There is a well-researched article on the last year of the AA here. One thing the 10-year run of the AA would prove, however, is that another league could succeed as a Major League and it would lead to the eventual American League in 1901. I hear that league’s doing okay.

Back to the ballplayers, where the hard-throwing Stivetts had his best season ever, leading the league in WAR (9.4) and finishing fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.6). He continued to be a great two-way player, pitching 440 innings with a 2.86 ERA and a 137 ERA+ and slashing .305/.331/.421 for an OPS+ of 108. For the second season in a row, he crushed seven home runs.

As for the Browns, they finished second in their last year, eight-and-a-half games behind Boston. Charlie Comiskey came back for St. Louis’ last season and coached them to an 86-52 record. He’d be off to the National League in 1892, but not coaching the Browns, who also went to the NL, but the Reds. Yes, ironically Comiskey spent some time coaching the team which would eventually be the beneficiaries of his cheapness in 1919.

mcmahon2

P-Sadie McMahon, Baltimore Orioles, 23 Years Old

1890

35-24, 2.81 ERA, 219 K, .205, 1 HR, 15 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Wins-35 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-503.0 (2nd Time)

Games Started-58 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-53 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-5

Batters Faced-2,155 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-141 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-McMahon again won the award for ironman pitcher as he pitched 503 innings. Next year, 1892, will be the last year any pitcher pitches 500 or more innings. In 1893, the mound would move back to its current iteration of 60 feet, six inches and slowly over the years, the innings pitched will drop. As for this season, McMahon finished second in WAR (9.1) to Jack Stivetts (9.4) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.4) to Philadelphia’s Gus Weyhing (9.5). He pitched a league-leading 503 innings with a 2.81 ERA and a 137 ERA+.

The Orioles, like the Browns, would move on to the National League in 1892. In their last American Association season, Billy Barnie coached them to a 71-64 fourth place finish, 22 games out of first. Barnie had a few years of coaching left in the NL. They switched parks in the middle of the season, according to Wikipedia, which says, “The Orioles played briefly at the old Oriole Park, in Harwood, south of the Waverly neighborhood at 29th and Barclay Streets, (just a block west from Greenmount Avenue) from 1890 to 1891. (The 1901 AL Orioles-turned-Highlanders would play at the site a decade later.) During the 1891 season, the Orioles moved a few blocks away to Union Park on Huntington Avenue (later renamed 25th Street) and Greenmount Avenue, where they would play and win their famous three straight championships for the old ‘Temple Cup’ in 1894–1895-1896.” As you can see, Baltimore has some successful years ahead.

buffinton6

P-Charlie Buffinton, Boston Reds, 30 Years Old

1883 1884 1885 1888 1889

29-9, 2.55 ERA, 158 K, .188, 1 HR, 16 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Win-Loss %-.763

Walks & Hits per IP-1.163

Adj. Pitching Runs-49

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.4

6th Time All-Star-Buffinton had an off-season in the Players League while pitching for Philadelphia, but he’s back this season, having a great season. It will be his last All-Star team, but he went out in style, finishing third in WAR (7.9), behind Jack Stivetts (9.4) and Sadie McMahon (9.1), and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.1), behind Gus Weyhing (9.5) and McMahon (9.4). He pitched “only” 363 2/3 innings, but had a great 2.55 ERA (third behind Cincinnati’s Ed Crane (2.45) and teammate George Haddock (2.49)) which worked out to a 141 Adjusted ERA+, third behind Crane (164) and Haddock (145). Led by Buffinton’s arm, Boston won the last American Association crown. It was Buffinton’s second championship.

It was manager Arthur Irwin at the helm as the Reds finished 93-42, eight-and-a-half games over the Browns. The league didn’t play in the World Series this season, because there was already talk about the two leagues merging. Boston did not move over to the National League.

Buffinton concluded his career with the 1892 NL Baltimore Orioles, but his 31-year-old arm, that ended up pitching a total of 3404 innings, finally wore out and he only managed 97 innings before calling it quits for his Major League career. I think anyone that’s made six All-Star teams gets a consideration for the Hall of Fame, but I think there’s already a glut of borderline candidates, not to mention terrible candidates, in the Hall already, so I can live with Buffinton not making it, but he was a great pitcher.

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P-George Haddock, Boston Reds, 24 Years Old

34-11, 2.49 ERA, 169 K, .243, 3 HR, 23 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Shutouts-5

1st Time All-Star-“Gentleman George” Silas Haddock was born on Christmas Day, 1866 in Portsmouth, NH. He didn’t start out being a savior, as he was a mediocre pitcher for the 1888-89 National League Washington Nationals and then led the Players League in losses (26) while pitching for the Buffalo Bisons. At this point of his career, Haddock was 20-47 with a 4.92 ERA and an 80 ERA+, so you wouldn’t think he has a great season ahead, but you’d be wrong. In 1891, he helped Boston to a championship by finishing fourth in WAR (7.8) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.2). He pitched 379 2/3 innings with a 2.49 ERA, second behind Cincinnati’s Ed Crane, and a 145 Adjusted ERA+, second to Crane’s 164. It would be Haddock’s only All-Star season, but, hey, do you have an All-Star season? I didn’t think so!

After this season, he pitched for the 1892-93 NL Brooklyn Grooms and then finished off his Major League career with the 1894 NL Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Senators. Haddock finished with a 95-87 record and a 4.07 ERA, but if you take away his 1891-92 seasons, he would end up 32-63. No worries, he’s not the only player in ML history to have aberrant good seasons.

We have the advantage of being able to look back at history and gauge overall numbers, but in his day, Haddock was well-regarded, according to Baseball Reference, which says, “’Pitcher George Haddock . . . ranks among the great pitching stars of (the) country. He is not only a great pitcher but at times a handy man with the bat. . . He received his first points in pitching from the late Jim Whitney, who was his brother-in-law, and in his young days George played with the Madison Parks, an amateur club of Boston.’ – part of a professional biography of George Haddock in Sporting Life, October 17, 1891.”

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P-Gus Weyhing, Philadelphia Athletics, 24 Years Old

1890

31-20, 3.18 ERA, 219 K, .111, 0 HR, 11 RBI

 

Led in:

 

WAR for Pitchers-9.5

2nd Time All-Star-If we judge pitchers by WAR for Pitchers, Weyhing was the best pitcher in the league. He finished fifth in WAR (7.5) and first in WAR for Pitchers (9.5). Do you see that difference there? That’s because Cannonball Weyhing couldn’t hit worth beans. He slashed .111/.146/.146 for an OPS+ of -17. You read that right. He was fifth in the league in strikeouts with 65, in only 198 at bats. That’s enough negativity. Let’s focus on his pitching in which Rubber Arm Gun pitched 450 innings, third in the league behind Baltimore’s Sadie McMahon (503) and Columbus’ Phil Knell (462), with a 3.18 ERA and a  118 ERA+.

This all helped lead the Athletics to a 73-66 fifth place finish. Bill Sharsig (6-11) and George Wood (67-55) managed the team, which finished 22 games out of first. Neither would ever manage again and Philadelphia would not go on to the National League.

Between the 1891 and 1892 seasons, Weyhing was involved in a strange incident, according to Wikipedia, which reports, “Louisville, Jan. 26 — Gus Weyhing, pitcher of the Philadelphia Base Ball Club, was before the police court this morning upon an alleged charge of grand larceny. During the past two days a number of pigeons have been stolen from the coops at the National Pigeon Show, and last night, when Weyhing started out of the building with his basket, a pair of blondinettes, valued at $100, were found in his possession. He could not explain how he got the birds, and was therefore arrested.” He was apparently cleared of all charges.

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P-Phil Knell, Columbus Solons, 26 Years Old

1890

28-27, 2.92 ERA, 228 K, .158, 0 HR, 19 RBI

Led in:

Hits per 9 IP-7.071

Shutouts-5

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.078

Hit by Pitch-54 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-40

2nd Time All-Star-It must have been scary to sit in the batter’s box against Knell. He set the all-time record for hitting batters with pitches with 54. Before this season, the record was 42 by Gus Weyhing in 1888 and after this season, no one would have more than Joe McGinnity’s 40 in 1900. It’s incredible how wild Knell was, but he was still successful. After playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in the Players League in 1890, he came to Columbus this season where he finished seventh in WAR (5.6) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.6). He was second in innings pitched with 462, behind only  Baltimore’s Sadie McMahon (503); with a 2.92 ERA and a 117 ERA+. Columbus’ Recreation Park tended to heavily favor the pitcher.

As for Columbus, Gus Schmelz led the team to a sixth place 61-76 record, 33 games out of first. Schmelz would coach for four years in the National League after this, but never have a season with a winning percentage above .443.

After this season, Knell would never have another great year. He pitched for the Washington Senators and Philadelphia Phillies in the National League in 1892, Pittsburgh and Louisville in 1894, and Louisville and Cleveland in 1895. He would finish his career with a 79-90 record and a 4.05 ERA. But at least he has that HBP record and no one’s going to take that away from him. Knell lived a long life, dying at the age of 79 in Santa Monica, California.

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P-Frank Foreman, Cincinnati Reds (NL)/Washington Statesmen (AA), 28 Years Old

1889

(AA Stats Only) 18-20, 3.73 ERA, 170 K, .222, 4 HR, 19 RBI

 

2nd Time All-Star-Monkey Foreman pitched for the National League Cincinnati Reds in 1890 and that’s the team he started with this year. However, after playing one game in the outfield for the Redlegs, he came to Washington and had a pretty successful year on the mound. Foreman finished 10th in WAR (4.5) and 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.5). He pitched 345 1/3 innings with a 3.73 ERA and a 99 ERA+. In a year of weak pitching in the American Association, that was good enough.

As for Monkey’s team, it was dreadful. Washington had four managers – Sam Trott (4-7), Pop Snyder (23-46), Dan Shannon (15-34), and Sandy Griffin (2-4). Altogether, they combined to coach the Statesmen to a last place 44-91 record. None of the four would ever manage in the Major Leagues again. However, Washington would be one of the teams to move over to the National League.

Wikipedia wraps up his well-travelled career: “He played later for the Cincinnati Reds of the National League (1890), Washington Statesmen (AA, 1891), Washington Senators (NL, 1892), Baltimore Orioles (NL, 1892), New York Giants (NL, 1893), Cincinnati Reds (NL, 1895–1896), Boston Americans (American League, 1901) and Baltimore Orioles (AL, 1901–1902).

“In an eleven-season career, he posted a 96–93 record with 586 strikeouts and a 3.97 ERA in 169 appearances, including 205 starts, 169 complete games, seven shutouts, 169 games finished, four saves, and 1721⅔ innings of work.

“Following his playing career, Foreman scouted for various teams. According baseball sources, he discovered future Hall of Famer Eddie Plank while pitching at Gettysburg College.”

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P-Ed Crane, Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers (AA)/Cincinnati Reds (NL), 29 Years Old

(AA Stats Only) 14-14, 2.45 ERA, 122 K, .155, 1 HR, 7 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 AA Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.45

Adjusted ERA+-164

1st Time All-Star-Edward Nicholas “Cannonball” or “Ed” Crane was born on May 27, 1862 in Boston, MA. Yes, he had the same nickname as Ed Morris and Gus Weyhing. He started his career as an outfielder for the Union Association Boston Reds. Crane then played very limited time for the National League Providence Grays and Buffalo Bisons in 1885. In 1886, he move to the NL Washington Nationals. He didn’t play in the Major Leagues in 1887 and when he came back for the NL New York Giants in 1888 and 1889, he was mainly a pitcher. Crane moved to the Players League in 1890, still with a team called the New York Giants and started out this season in his fourth league with the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers.

This was Crane’s best season ever as he finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.5), pitching 330 1/3 innings with a league-leading 2.45 ERA and 164 ERA+. He’s the answer to the trivia question “Who was the last ERA leader for the Major League American Association?” He then went to the National League Reds later in the season, after Kelly’s Killers folded.

In the time Cincinnati lasted, they finished 43-57, 32-and-a-half games out of first. King Kelly proved to be a lot better player than he was a coach.

After this season, Crane played for the NL Giants again in 1892 and 1893 and then finished his career with the NL Brooklyn Grooms at the end of 1893. He died young, at the age of 34 on September 20, 1896 in Rochester, NY.

fitzgerald

P-Warren Fitzgerald, Louisville Colonels, 23 Years Old

14-17, 3.34 ERA, 110 K, .176, 1 HR, 10 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-Warren Bartholomew Fitzgerald as born in April, 1868 in Pennsylvania. That sentence right there should tell you how little information there is on the little five-foot-nine, 162 pound pitcher. He finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (3.7), pitching 267 innings with a 3.34 ERA and a 106 ERA+. He only had season after this one, pitching four games for Louisville in the National League in 1892.

Yes, Louisville was yet another team which made the jump to the NL. Jack Chapman managed it in 1891 to a 55-84 record, eighth in the league. The Colonels finished 40 games out of first place.

Did you know the Haymarket was formed in Louisville in 1891? What is the Haymarket, you ask? Wikipedia says, “The Haymarket referred to an outdoor farmer’s market in Louisville, Kentucky. The market occupied the block between Jefferson, Liberty, Floyd and Brook streets. A small section extended south down Floyd Street. It was established in 1891 on the site of the city’s earliest rail station, belonging to the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad. The site had been cleared after the station relocated to First Street in 1881.

“Local truck farmers used the spot informally in the 1880s to sell goods directly to consumers. A municipal market house on Market Street closed in 1888, the last of such houses on the street. In 1891 some of the farmers formed a stock company to purchase the former rail station space permanently. Despite the name, the Haymarket did not actually sell hay in any meaningful quantities.”

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P-Frank Killen, Milwaukee Brewers, 20 Years Old

7-4, 1.68 ERA, 38 K, .229, 0 HR, 5 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-Frank Bissell “Lefty” Killen was born on November 30, 1870 in Pittsburgh, PA. He had a good rookie year with the Brewers, pitching 96 2/3 innings with a 1.68 ERA and a 258 ERA+. If he pitched more innings and could continue that pace, he would have rated a lot higher. He has some good seasons left in his career.

Milwaukee played on 36 games, going 21-15, which by percentage would have been third place in the American Association. Charlie Cushman held the reins, but would never coach again. Wikipedia has the information on the partial season: “The 1891 Milwaukee Brewers (sometimes called the Creams or the Cream Citys) were an American professional baseball team and a member of the minor league Western Association and Western League and the major league American Association. They were managed by Charlie Cushman and finished their major league stint with a record of 21-15. They played home games at Borchert Field, which was known as Athletic Field or Athletic Park in 1891.

“Seven of the eight AA clubs completed the 1891 season, but on August 17 the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers dropped out and the Brewers were recruited to finish the season. Afterward, four clubs joined the National League, and the others were left out as the AA folded. The Brewers moved on to the newly re-formed Western League, but lasted just one more season before folding itself.” How awesome would it be if the modern day Brewers were called the Creams? I’m sure no one would mock that name!

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C-Jocko Milligan, Philadelphia Athletics, 29 Years Old

1885 1888 1889

.303, 11 HR, 106 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-35

Extra Base Hits-58

Passed Balls-40

Range Factor/Game as C-6.56

4th Time All-Star-I’ve written about Milligan three other times, but I always forget how good of player he is until he makes another All-Star team. This season, Jocko had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (4.4) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.4). He continued to be great with the bat, especially for a catcher, slashing .303/.397/.505 for an OPS+ of 155. That slugging and Adjusted OPS+ were both second in the league to Boston’s Dan Brouthers (.512 and 179 respectively).

However, wearing the tools of ignorance eventually catches up with a man and it did for Milligan. After this season, his hitting would start fading and he’d be out of Major League baseball in two years. He finished by playing for the National League Washington Senators in 1892 and then for Baltimore and New York in 1893.

SABR wraps up Milligan’s career and life: “After his retirement from baseball, Milligan invested in real estate, buying land in South Philadelphia and was a Tipstaff (a sheriff’s deputy) in the city of Philadelphia.

“Jocko Milligan died in Philadelphia of a heart attack at his home at 2741 Sears Street on August 29, 1923, and was survived by his wife Isabella, whom he had married on May 12, 1884.

“Though a big man for those days (6’1″ and 190 pounds) and made strong by his days as a blacksmith’s apprentice, he was a gentle and loving husband and father to his wife and children and a doting grandfather.” If he would have played in a different era when catchers would last longer, who knows how great Milligan could have been.

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C-Deacon McGuire, Washington Statesmen, 27 Years Old

1890

.303, 3 HR, 66 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as C-130

Errors Committed as C-56

Stolen Bases Allowed-204

Caught Stealing as C-120

2nd Time All-Star-In 1890, baseball started keeping stats for stolen bases against catchers and that became McGuire’s specialty over the years. He leads all time in stolen bases allowed and would set the all-time record in 1894 by allowing 293 stolen bases. People loved to run on him, though he threw out 37 percent of those attempting to steal in his career and that’s not a bad mark. As for this season, McGuire finished ninth in Offensive WAR (3.3), slashing .303/.382/.426 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 137. That OPS+ would be his highest ever in his career.

Though McGuire has many years left, I doubt he’ll make another All-Star team, so here’s a wrap-up of his career from Wikipedia, which says, “McGuire was the most durable catcher of his era, setting major league catching records for most career games caught (1,612), putouts (6,856), assists (1,860), double plays turned (143), runners caught stealing (1,459), and stolen bases allowed (2,529). His assist, caught stealing, and stolen bases allowed totals remain current major league records. During his major league career, he also compiled a .278 batting average, .341 on-base percentage, 770 runs scored, 1,750 hits, 300 doubles, 79 triples, 45 home runs, 840 RBIs and 118 stolen bases. His best season was 1895 when he caught a major league record 133 games and compiled a .336 batting average with 10 home runs, 97 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

“McGuire was also the manager of the Washington Senators (1898), Boston Red Sox (1907–08) and Cleveland Indians (1909–11). He compiled a 210–287 (.423) as a major league manager.”

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1B-Dan Brouthers, Boston Reds, 33 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.350, 5 HR, 109 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 AA Batting Title (5th Time)

WAR Position Players-5.6 (4th Time)

Offensive WAR-6.3 (7th Time)

Batting Average-.350 (4th Time)

On-Base %-.471 (5th Time)

Slugging %-.512 (7th Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.983 (7th Time)

Adjusted OPS+-179 (7th Time)

Runs Created-112 (4th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-57 (7th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-5.8 (7th Time)

Offensive Win %-.820 (5th Time)

11th Time All-Star-As much as I’ve written about Brouthers, I’m surprised Baseball Reference doesn’t automatically take me to his page when I open it. He surprisingly didn’t go back to the National League, maybe he wanted another league to dominate. Led by Brouthers’ hitting, Boston won the last American Association crown. Oh yeah, his hitting. He finished sixth in WAR (5.6), first in WAR Position Players (5.6), and first in Offensive WAR (6.3). Big Dan batted .350 to lead the league, had an OBP of .471 to lead the league, slugged .512 to lead the league, all leading to an Adjusted OPS+ of 179 which, yes, led the league. He also won his third league title.

Here’s a recap of his season from Wikipedia: “The Players’ League lasted just the one season, and the Reds merged into the American Association, carrying many of the championship team’s previous players. Again, the team won the league’s championship, finishing  8 12 games ahead of the St. Louis Browns. Brouthers led the league in batting average (.350), on-base percentage and slugging, while finishing second in triples with 19, sixth in doubles with 26, and third in RBIs with 109.

“After the American Association folded following the 1891 season, Brouthers was sent to the Brooklyn Grooms of the NL, where he played two seasons.” It’s rare a player as good as Brouthers bounces around this much, but most of the time it’s because the team he was on or the league he was in went defunct.

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1B-Perry Werden, Baltimore Orioles, 29 Years Old

1890

.290, 6 HR, 104 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Putouts-1,422

Def. Games as 1B-139

Putouts as 1B-1,422

2nd Time All-Star-It’s the second consecutive All-Star team for Moose Werden, who came to Baltimore after Toledo went belly-up. Werden slashed .290/.363/.424 for an OPS+ of 124. It wasn’t as good as his previous year, but he was still one of the best first basemen in the American Association’s last season. Too bad homers weren’t as numerous in Major Leagues as they were in the minors, because Werden set the home run mark in the lesser leagues. (See last year’s blurb for details.)

You have to read this story from SABR about the hard-hitting Moose: “Perry Werden: One time I hit the ball so hard that it broke in two. Half of the ball struck a ‘Hit Me for a Free Pair of Shoes’ sign on the left-field fence; the other half was retrieved by the left fielder and thrown in to the catcher. As I steamed home, the catcher tagged me with half a ball. The umpire called me out, but I successfully argued that our team deserved half a run. It was a close game and we won by the score of 2½ to 2.

“Reporter: That’s an amazing story, Perry. Did you get a free pair of shoes?       

“Werden: No, the store owner said I was entitled to only one shoe.”

More on 1891 from SABR: “In St. Louis on June 2, 1891, with his wife and father attending, Werden demonstrated the ‘rowdy’ style of play common during this era. He tried to steal second base, but the ball reached second baseman Bill Eagan before he got there, so he ‘pushed’ Eagan ‘violently and attempted to knock the ball from his hands.’ The crowd hissed this behavior, but Werden, said the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ‘deserved worse than a hissing’ for his ‘disgraceful exhibition of temper.’ Two months later, after several more instances of dirty play, Werden received a stern warning from league president Louis C. Kramer.”

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2B-Jack Crooks, Columbus Solons, 25 Years Old

.245, 0 HR, 46 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as 2B-.957

1st Time All-Star-Charles John “Jack” Crooks was born on November 9, 1865 in St. Paul, MN. In a year bereft of good second sackers, Crooks made the All-Star team as its only keystone representative. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.1), 10th in Offensive WAR (3.2), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.1). He had a good all-around season, slashing                 .245/.379/.331 for an OPS+ of 109. His main talent on offense was taking pitches as he walked 103 times, the second of four straight times Crooks would wind up with 90 or more stolen bases.

Crooks started his career with the Solons and was now playing his third consecutive season with them. He’d move to the National League in 1892, playing for St. Louis for two years, then taking a year off from the Major Leagues, before moving to Washington. He played with it for two seasons, then went to Louisville in the middle of 1896. After another year off from the majors, he finished his career with St Louis in 1898. He couldn’t slug and he couldn’t hit, but he had a high on-base percentage because of his many walks.

Wikipedia says of his walking, “Crooks was well known in his era as an extremely patient hitter, often fouling off many pitches until he got one that he could hit. This approach led him to draw many walks…, in fact, he held the record for walks by rookie second basemen as well, when he walked 96 times for the Columbus Solons of the American Association in 1890. He held this record until Jim Gilliam of the Brooklyn Dodgers walked 100 times in 1953. Despite hitting just .213 in 1892, he walked a league-leading 136 times put his on-base percentage (OBP) at .400, good for fifth in National League. He also became the Major League single-season record holder in that category, a title he held until Jimmy Sheckard walked 147 times in 1911.”

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3B-Denny Lyons, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

1887 1888 1889 1890

.315, 11 HR, 84 RBI

 

5th Time All-Star-When a player has made five straight All-Star teams, it’s time to start looking seriously at his career. At this point in baseball history, only Ned Williamson and Ezra Sutton, with six, have made more All-Star teams than the great Lyons. It’s also worth noting that he has done this while having problems with the bottle, according to many reports. This season, he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.5); and third in Offensive WAR (4.4), behind only Boston’s Dan Brouthers (6.3) and Baltimore’s George Van Haltren (4.5). He slashed .315/.445 (2nd to only Brouthers’ .471)/.455 for an OPS+ of 150. Lyons is going to start declining after this season, but he’s not done making All-Star teams.

Baseball Reference has some interesting notes on Lyons, saying, “Denny Lyons was a top player in the 19th Century, playing almost exclusively at third base until the last year of his 13-year career. While he usually didn’t lead the league in batting categories, he was often among the leaders while he played in the American Association and sometimes when he was in the National League.

“The most similar player is his contemporary (through June 2007, using the similarity scores method), Oyster Burns, who also played early in his career in the American Association and then moved to the National League. Lyons has a slightly higher Adjusted OPS+, though, and is ranked at # 82 on the all-time list, tied with King Kelly and Darryl Strawberry.” It’s no little thing to be compared to Kelly and Strawberry.

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3B-Duke Farrell, Boston Reds, 24 Years Old

.302, 12 HR, 110 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs-12

Runs Batted In-110

AB per HR-39.4

Caught Stealing %-58.8

1st Time All-Star-Charles Andrew “Duke” Farrell was born on August 31, 1866 in Oakdale, MA. He started his Major League career playing part time with the 1888 National League White Stockings, then moved to the Players League Chicago Pirates in 1890. Here in 1891, he ended up with the American Association champion Reds, where he had his best season ever. Farrell finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.0) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.5). At the plate, he slashed .302/.384/.474 for an OPS+ of 144. Farrell’s slugging of .474 was third behind teammate Dan Brouthers (.512) and Philadelphia’s Jocko Milligan (.505).

After this season, Farrell would have a long career, but it’s possible he’s made his first and last All-Star team. He would move to the NL in 1892, playing for Pittsburgh and then move on again in 1893, to Washington. Farrell wasn’t done moving yet, going to the Giants from 1894-96. Then he was on the road again, moving in mid-season of 1896 back to Washington, where he would remain until 1899. Did he finish that 1899 season with the Senators. No, no he didn’t. He moved to Brooklyn, where he would play through 1902. From 1903-05, Farrell finished his career with the American League Boston Americans. It should be noted only in 1891 and 1892 did Farrell ever play more games at third base than he did at catcher. He was mainly a catcher, which limited the amount of games he played. If he remained at third base, he might have had a monster Hall of Fame career.

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3B-Bill Joyce, Boston Reds, 23 Years Old

.309, 3 HR, 51 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-William Michael “Scrappy Bill” Joyce was born on September 22, 1867 in St. Louis, MO. He played only 65 games for the Reds, but he still made the All-Star team as one of those rare times two players who were part of a platoon both made the team. Joyce made the most of his playing time, finishing 10th in WAR Position Players (3.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.4). He slashed .309/.460/.506 for an OPS+ of 175. Had he played more, he would have ranked in the top 10 in On-Base Percentage, Slugging, OPS, and Adjusted OPS+. And according to Wikipedia, “In 1891 he reached base in 64 consecutive games, a major league record not bettered until 1941.” He has a few good years left.

Joyce had started as a third baseman in the Players League for the Boston Ward’s Wonders in 1890. SABR says of him, “A son of Irish immigrants,William Michael Joyce was born September 22, 1867, in St. Louis and grew up in Carondelet, the southernmost neighborhood of the city, along the Mississippi River. The Carondelet riverfront was ‘crowded with mammoth iron and zinc furnaces.’ As a young man, Joyce worked in a rolling mill there and was dubbed ‘Scrappy.’ The nickname fit and stuck with him throughout his life.

“On May 18, 1891, he homered and tripled in a win over Louisville; his four-bagger was only the second ball ever hit over the right-field fence at the Boston ballpark. On July 2, he fractured his ankle while attempting to steal second base and was sidelined for three months.”

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SS-Paul Radford, Boston Reds, 29 Years Old

.259, 0 HR, 65 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-2.3

1st Time All-Star-Paul Revere “Shorty” Radford was born on October 14, 1861 in Roxbury, MA. He was mainly an outfielder for his career, though there were a few seasons he played mainly at short, including this one. He started his career with the 1883 National League Boston Beaneaters, then moved to Providence in 1884-85. In 1886, he was under league control and was purchased by the Kansas City Cowboys. The next year, he was under league control again and picked up by the New York Metropolitans of the American Association. He stayed in that league with Brooklyn in 1888, before coming back to the National League with Cleveland in 1889. Radford wasn’t done moving, travelling to the Players League Cleveland Infants in 1890, before finally ending up with Boston this season. He’d finish off his career playing for the NL Washington Senators from 1892-94.

In this season, Radford’s best ever, he was an important part of a pennant winning team, finishing ninth in WAR (4.7); third in WAR Position Players (4.6), behind only teammates Dan Brouthers and Hugh Duffy; and first in Defensive WAR (2.3). His hitting wasn’t great as he slashed .259/.393/.305 for an OPS+ of 99, but combined with his dazzling glove, Radford had a good season. This was his third time being on a league champion after playing on the NL 1883 Beaneaters and 1884 Grays.

Shorty, who stood only five-foot-six and 148 pounds, lived a long life, dying in Boston on February 21, 1945 at the age of 83.

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LF-Charlie Duffee, Columbus Solons, 25 Years Old

.301, 10 HR, 90 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as OF-33 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Charles Edward “Charlie” or “Home Run” Duffee was born on January 27, 1866 in Mobile, AL. There weren’t too many players from the south at this time, perhaps there was still bitterness over the Civil War. Duffee made his way to the Major Leagues in 1889-90 with the St. Louis Browns and hit 16 home runs in 1889 to earn the nickname “Home Run.” This season, his best ever, he slashed .301/.353/.420 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 128 for the Solons.  He’d finish his career in the National League, with the 1892 Washington Senators and the 1893 Cincinnati Reds.

AL.com has an article on Duffee, which says, “Charlie Duffee had a relatively short Major League career, but he’s had an awfully long legacy in baseball. A Mobile native, Duffee became the first Alabamian to play in the big leagues in the St. Louis Browns’ opening game of the American Association season on April 17, 1889 – 125 years ago today.

“Since then, more than 300 Alabama natives have followed Duffee to the top level of the National Pastime.

“ In his first season with St. Louis, Duffee struck out 81 times, more than any other batter in the American Association in 1889. But he also hit 16 home runs, the third-highest total in the league. Duffee carried the decidedly Deadball Era nickname of ‘Home Run’ on a team loaded with nicknames…

“Perhaps it’s fitting that Alabama’s first big leaguer was a power hitter, considering who came after him from the state – noted home run hitters such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Mule Suttles.”

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LF-George Van Haltren, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

1889

.318, 9 HR, 83 RBI

 

2nd Time All-Star-Rip Van Haltren joined the Orioles after playing for Brooklyn in the 1890 Players League and continued his good hitting, finishing second in Offensive WAR (4.5), behind only Boston’s Dan Brouthers (6.3). He slashed .318/.398/.443 for an OPS+ of 140. It would be his highest Adjusted OPS+ for his career, though he still has 12 seasons left to play. One thing that hurt Van Haltren over the years was his glove. This season his dWAR was -1.1. Over his career, it was -11.3. Fortunately for Rip, his hitting more than made up for his putrid fielding.

After this season, Van Haltren would play the rest of his career in the National League. He played 1892 in Brooklyn, 1892-93 in Pittsburgh, and finished off in New York from 1894-03. It’s easy to be seduced by his stats, but the truth is, after the pitcher’s mound was moved back to 60 feet, six inches in 1893, hitting numbers increased across the board, which is why Van Haltren won’t be finishing in the top 10 in WAR in any categories, despite a lifetime .316 average. According to Wikipedia, “As of the end of the 2014 MLB season, Van Haltren was the only player with a minimum of 5000 career MLB at bats and a career batting average of at least .314 who was retired at least the required six years of Hall of Fame entry to not be in enshrined in the Hall of Fame.” Just like in the 1930s, where offensive numbers were abnormally high, the 1890s National League numbers need to be taken in their context.

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CF-Curt Welch, Baltimore Orioles, 29 Years Old

1886 1888 1889

.268, 3 HR, 55 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Hit by Pitch-36 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-2.58 (5th Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.48 (4th Time)

4th Time All-Star-After not making the All-Star team in 1890, while splitting his time between Philadelphia and Baltimore, Welch was back this season, probably his last All-Star team. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.9), slashing .268/.400/.368 for an OPS+ of 119. It was his highest on-base percentage of his career. Welch would finish his Major League days in the National League for the 1892 Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds and the 1893 Louisville Colonels.

Wikipedia wraps us Welch’s career as follows, “Welch led the AA in hit by pitches in 1888, 1890, and 1891, and he ranked third in stolen bases in 1886 and 1888. He was regarded as one of the best defensive center fielders of the 19th century. In the 2010 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James ranked Welch as the 83rd greatest center fielder of all-time.

“Welch’s career was damaged by his drinking, and he died in 1896.”

A book, A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball, says of Welch, “[I]n 1891, a sportswriter observed, ‘No player in the country gets to first base by being hit with a pitched ball as often as “Curt” Welch…His position at the plate is such that it is difficult for the pitcher to work an inshoot without hitting him. He never jumps out of the way, no matter how swift the ball, and always trots to first as though he did not feel the blow. I have seen his side and arm black and blue from where he has been hit, but his bulldog pride and ignorant courage never permit him to give any sign of pain’ (Sporting Times, May 16, 1891).”

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CF-Tom Brown, Boston Reds, 30 Years Old

1885

.321, 5 HR, 72 RBI

 

Led in:

 

At Bats-589

Runs Scored-177

Hits-189

Total Bases-276

Triples-21

Strikeouts-96 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases-106

2nd Time All-Star-Brown was one of the first free swingers, striking out often for someone in his day. From 1895-to-1911, he would be the all-time leader in batter whiffs. If you look at his stats, he just seemed to do everything at full effort, due to his good speed. He’d steal a lot, get a lot of triples, and this season, set the record for runs scored with 177. Billy Hamilton would break that mark in three years. Altogether, he had a great season, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (3.8) and sixth in Offensive WAR (4.1). Brown slashed .321/.397/.469 for an OPS+ of 146. All three of his slash numbers were career highs. It was his best season ever and most likely, his last All-Star team. He was also part of his second league champion.

You might wonder where Brown has been since 1885, the last time he made an All-Star team. He remained with the Alleghenys in 1886, then followed them to the National League in 1887. He was released by Pittsburgh and then picked up by Indianapolis that season. At the beginning of 1888, Brown was in Boston, where, over the next four seasons, he would play for that city in three different leagues. He’ll conclude his career with Louisville (1892-94), St. Louis (1895), and Washington (1895-98), all in the National League.

Brown was a good player, but could have been even better if not for his terrible fielding. Wikipedia says, “Brown established the major league record with 490 errors committed as an outfielder. He racked up 222 errors in the American Association, 238 in the National League, and 30 in the Player’s League. By contrast, the National League record is held by nineteenth-century player George Gore with 346 errors and the American League record by Ty Cobb with 271.”

hoy3CF-Dummy Hoy, St. Louis Browns, 29 Years Old

1888 1890

.292, 5 HR, 64 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Plate Appearances-688

Bases on Balls-117

Times on Base-292

Def. Games as OF-139 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Hoy has made his third All-Star team with his third different league. Wherever he played, he was a great asset to the team. This season, Hoy slashed .292/.424/.360 for an OPS+ of 118. This was the fourth of six consecutive seasons in which his on-base percentage was higher than his slugging average. This happened with singles hitters like Hoy. His OBP was third in the league, behind only Boston’s Dan Brouthers and teammate Denny Lyons.

SABR talks about Hoy communicated with his teammates despite being deaf, saying, “When Hoy joined the Washington ballclub, he posted a statement on the clubhouse wall: ‘Being totally deaf as you know and some of my teammates being unacquainted with my play, I think it is timely to bring about an understanding between myself, the left fielder, the shortstop and the second baseman and the right fielder. The main point is to avoid possible collisions with any of these four who surround me when in the field going for a fly ball. Whenever I take a fly ball I always yell I’ll take it–the same as I have been doing for many seasons, and of course the other fielders let me take it. Whenever you don’t hear me yell, it is understood I am not after the ball, and they govern themselves accordingly.’ Hoy’s yell was actually a squeak.”

There is a push to put Hoy in the Hall of Fame, mainly due to his play as a deaf player, but it shouldn’t be forgotten, handicap or not, Hoy was one of the great players of his day and, by all accounts, a wonderful human being.

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RF-Hugh Duffy, Boston Reds, 24 Years Old

1890

.336, 9 HR, 110 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-110

Singles-143

Power-Speed #-16.3

2nd Time All-Star-Duffy is the eighth Reds player to make the All-Star team, which shows why they took the American Association’s last pennant. Sir Hugh is the last of the players to be written about by me in the AA and it was his only year in this league. He’d be onto the National League to finish up his career after this, except for a part-time gig for the American League Milwaukee Brewers in 1901. This season starts a run of 10 years Duffy would play in Boston. He started out sensationally, finishing eighth in WAR (4.8); second in WAR Position Players (4.8), behind only teammate Dan Brouthers (5.6); and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.2). Sir Hugh slashed .336/.408/.453 for and OPS+ of 145. That batting average, on-base percentage, and Adjusted OPS+ were all highs for him at the time, but he’d be shattering them all. As it was, he was second in batting average behind, you guessed it, Brouthers (.350).

Baseball Reference tells about the demise of the AA: “By 1890, the AA was not even the second-best major league, ranking behind the Players League and NL. When numerous AA stars began making promises to sign with NL clubs in 1892, the AA stopped its challenge and merged with its rival, officially closing its doors on December 18, 1891. Several AA rules were put into place in the new merged league, including cheaper tickets, permitting Sunday ball where allowed by local law (and if the clubs agreed to it) and the right to sell alcohol at games. The AA pioneered the practice of awarding first base to hit batters in 1884 – the NL would not follow suit till 1888. The AA also was the first league to have paid umpires.”