Sunday, May 31, 2009

PTWSW #3: The 1906 Chicago White Sox

Manager: Fielder Jones
Record: 93-58
Ballpark: South Side Park
Owner: Charles Comiskey

Future Hall of Famers: George Davis, Ed Walsh

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Frank Isbell, .279
OBP: Fielder Jones, .346
SLG: George Davis, .355
OPS: George Davis, .694
2B: George Davis, 26
3B: Frank Isbell, 13
HR: Fielder Jones, Billy Sullivan, 2
RBI: George Davis, 80
BB: Fielder Jones, 83
SB: Frank Isbell, 37

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Frank Owen, 22
SO: Ed Walsh, 171
ERA: Doc White, 1.52 (AL leader)
IP: Frank Owen, 293
CG: Frank Owen, 27
SHO: Ed Walsh, 10 (AL leader)
K/BB: Ed Walsh, 2.95
SV: Roy Patterson, Frank Smith, Ed Walsh, 1

Tidbits

Oldest Player: George Davis (b. August 23, 1870)

Youngest Player: Lou Fiene (b. December 29, 1884)

First to Leave Us: Jiggs Donahue (d. July 19, 1913)

Last Survivor: Doc White (d. February 19, 1969)

First in Majors: George Davis (debut April 19, 1890)

Last in Majors: Nick Altrock, as mentioned in the 1903 Boston Americans' entry, was later a Washington Senators coach who made a pinch-hitting appearance on October 1, 1933. The last to play as a regular was Ed Walsh on September 11, 1917.

First to Play For the Franchise: Frank Isbell, Fielder Jones, Roy Patterson and Billy Sullivan were all members of the White Sox during their inaugural 1901 season.

Last to Play For the Franchise: Ed Walsh (July 11, 1916)

Pre-union Team: There doesn't seem to be a true pre-union team for these Sox. Several teams had two future members: the 1901 Philadelphia Phillies, the 1902-04 Boston Americans and the 1905 New York Highlanders.

Reunion Team: The 1909 Washington Senators (Nick Altrock, Jiggs Donahue, Frank Hemphill)

Other: Incredibly, five men named Frank played for this team: Hemphill, Isbell, Owen, Roth and Smith.

Season Summary

They had one of the greatest team nicknames ever: "The Hitless Wonders." It was for good reason too: their team .230 batting average and seven homers were both last in the AL. We know in this day and age that batting average by itself is an overrated statistic, and this famous team has been available as proof for over 100 years. We can see that the Sox also drew the most walks in the AL, were hit by the most pitches and were third in stolen bases. They may have been last in team batting average, but their run production was about league average.

Pitching and defense were strengths as well. Aided by their pitcher-friendly ballpark, they had three starters with WHIPs below 1 and two others who managed 20 wins. They also had several stars with the glove, among them Billy Sullivan, Jiggs Donahue, Lee Tannehill and Fielder Jones. Put it all together and you have the team that allowed the fewest runs in the league.

The White Sox got off to a slow start, staying around .500 most of the first half. On July 25 they were 46-42, in fourth place and nine games out of first, before going on a 23-1 stretch that included a 19-game winning streak. It carried them to the top of the standings. While they had to battle it out with the New York Highlanders down the stretch, they eventually prevailed.

The Sox' crosstown rivals, the Cubs, set a record with 116 wins that year and were the obvious favorites going into the World Series. In possibly the greatest upset of all time, the "Hitless Wonders" defeated the team that could do it all in six games.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives
Retrosheet

Saturday, May 30, 2009

PTWSW #2: The 1905 New York Giants

Manager: John McGraw
Record: 105-48
Ballpark: Polo Grounds
Owner: John T. Brush

Future Hall of Famers: Roger Bresnahan, Christy Mathewson, Joe McGinnity, John McGraw

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Mike Donlin, .356
OBP: Mike Donlin, .413
SLG: Mike Donlin, .495
OPS: Mike Donlin, .908
2B: Mike Donlin, 31
3B: Sam Mertes, 17
HR: Bill Dahlen, Mike Donlin, 7
RBI: Sam Mertes, 108
BB: Art Devlin, 66
SB: Art Devlin, 59

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Christy Mathewson, 31 (NL leader)
SO: Christy Mathewson, 206 (NL leader)
ERA: Christy Mathewson, 1.28 (NL leader)
IP: Christy Mathewson, 338.2
CG: Christy Mathewson, 32
SHO: Christy Mathewson, 8 (NL leader)
K/BB: Christy Mathewson, 3.22 (NL leader)
SV: Claude Elliott, 6 (NL leader)

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Boileryard Clarke (b. October 18, 1868)

Youngest Player: Red Ames (b. August 2, 1882)

First to Leave Us: Dan McGann (d. December 13, 1910). McGann, with a family history of suicide, shot himself during the offseason of a declining career.

Last Survivor: Moonlight Graham (d. August 25, 1965). Not only was his one-game cup of coffee immortalized by W.P. Kinsella, he was the last living member of a World Series champion. Truly this man holds a unique place in baseball history.

First in Majors: Bill Dahlen (debut April 22, 1891)

Last in Majors: Red Ames (final game September 25, 1919)

First to Play For the Franchise: Frank Bowerman (May 1900)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Christy Mathewson (July 4, 1916)

Pre-union Team: The 1902 Baltimore Orioles (Roger Bresnahan, Billy Gilbert, Dan McGann, Joe McGinnity, John McGraw). When McGraw jumped back to the National League in July 1902 he brought several players with him.

Reunion Team: The 1908 Boston Doves (Frank Bowerman, George Browne, Bill Dahlen, Dan McGann). These four didn't end up together by coincidence; they were all part of a blockbuster trade the previous offseason.

Accomplishments

Christy Mathewson, Pitching Triple Crown
Christy Mathewson, no-hitter on June 13

Season Summary

They'd won the pennant the year before with a 106-47 record, but McGraw refused to let the Giants participate in the World Series. The fans were unhappy with the decision, and the men running the Giants knew they'd alienate their supporters if they passed on the World Series again.

In 1905 they were almost as dominant as they were the previous year, holding sole possession of first place from the sixth game of the season until the end and finishing with a 105-48 record. As you might expect with a fiery fellow like McGraw at the helm, the season wasn't without incident. McGraw was fined $150 and suspended 15 games in May for using offensive language toward Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss. The penalty was later overturned when McGraw and owner Brush argued that McGraw's side of the story hadn't been heard. The Giants made their share of enemies on the way to the National League championship, as arguments with umpires, fans and opposing players were frequent.

The Giants agreed to play in the World Series this time, but only after owner Brush's conditions (mainly changing the series from best-of-nine to best-of-seven and setting rules for how money would be split) were met. The series with the Philadelphia Athletics went five games, each one a shutout. If there'd been a World Series MVP at the time, Christy Mathewson surely would've won it, as three of the four Giant shutouts were pitched by him.

McGraw didn't let his rivals forget who the top dogs were next season, as the Giants' 1906 uniforms read "World's Champions."

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives
Retrosheet

Friday, May 29, 2009

PTWSW #1: The 1903 Boston Americans

Manager: Jimmy Collins
Record: 91-47
Ballpark: Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds
Owner: Henry Killilea

Future Hall of Famers: Jimmy Collins, Cy Young

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Patsy Dougherty, .331
OBP: Patsy Dougherty, .372
SLG: Buck Freeman, .496
OPS: Buck Freeman, .823
2B: Buck Freeman, 39
3B: Buck Freeman, 20
HR: Buck Freeman, 13 (AL leader)
RBI: Buck Freeman, 104 (AL leader)
BB: Patsy Dougherty, 33
SB: Patsy Dougherty, 35

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Cy Young, 28 (AL leader)
SO: Cy Young, 176
ERA: Cy Young, 2.08
IP: Cy Young, 341.2 (AL leader)
CG: Cy Young, 34 (AL leader)
SHO: Cy Young, 7 (AL leader)
K/BB: Cy Young, 4.76 (AL leader)
SV: Bill Dinneen, Cy Young, 2 (AL leaders)

(Man, this Young guy should've had an award named after him.)

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Duke Farrell (b. August 31, 1866)

Youngest Player: Jake Stahl (b. April 13, 1879)

First to Leave Us: Chick Stahl (d. March 28, 1907). Just days after stepping down as player-manager, Stahl committed suicide for reasons that have never been completely clear.

Last Survivor: Freddy Parent (d. November 2, 1972)

First in Majors: Duke Farrell (debut April 21, 1888)

Last in Majors: Nick Altrock, who served as a longtime coach with the Washington Senators, made a pinch-hitting appearance for them on October 1, 1933. If that doesn't count in your opinion, the last one in the Majors as a regular player was Tom Hughes on October 3, 1913.

First to Play For the Franchise: Jimmy Collins, Lou Criger, Hobe Ferris, Buck Freeman, Freddy Parent, Chick Stahl, George Winter and Cy Young were all full-time players for Boston in the upstart American League's first season of 1901.

Last to Play For the Franchise: Jake Stahl (final game June 13, 1913)

Pre-union Team: The 1899 Washington Senators (Bill Dinneen, Duke Farrell, Buck Freeman, Jack O'Brien) and 1900 Boston Beaneaters (Jimmy Collins, Bill Dinneen, Buck Freeman, Chick Stahl) with four each. As you can see, the Americans didn't have to look much farther than their own city to find talent to populate their roster.

Reunion Team: The 1909 St. Louis Browns (Lou Criger, Bill Dinneen, Hobe Ferris, George Stone)

Accomplishments

Buck Freeman, cycle on June 21
Patsy Dougherty, cycle on July 29
Cy Young, new all-time wins leader

Season Summary

The Americans struggled out the gate for the first month, but they reached first place at the end of June and never looked back. They ended up winning the pennant by 14 games, and their 106 OPS+ and 118 ERA+ both led the league. Despite playing at the hitter-friendly Huntington Avenue Grounds, their pitching staff allowed the fewest runs in the AL.

While some people didn't respect the American League as much as the more established National in those early years, the Americans proved their legitimacy by beating the Pittsburg Pirates (it was officially spelled without the "H" back then) in the first Fall Classic. Playing a best-of-nine series, the Pirates took an early 3 games to 1 lead only to be defeated by Boston in the next four matches.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Profiling the World Series Winners

No event in sports is greater than the World Series, so it follows that any team that wins it is pretty doggone special. Therefore, I'd like to introduce Profiling the World Series Winners, a series that'll look at these champions in depth, giving you basic information about each one as well as some obscure findings you might be interested in.

What will these profiles include?

Basic Information

Team record, manager, coaches and other vital information like that.

Roster Basics

Future Hall of Famers, All Stars and team statistical leaders.

Tidbits

This is the fun part, and the main reason I'm creating these profiles. You want to know who the the oldest and youngest players were? How about the last surviving member of the team or the first one to play for the franchise? It's all here. I even created a new concept: the reunion and pre-union teams.

What are those, you ask? Reunion and pre-union teams are a way of learning which other organizations had the strongest ties to the team in question. They can be figured by compiling every single-season team outside the franchise each member of the roster played for. The reunion team is the one where the most of them converged after the year in question. The pre-union team is the one for years before. Want an example? The reunion team for the 1958 New York Yankees was the 1961 Kansas City Athletics, with eight former members of those Yankees suiting up for them (probably no surprise if you know that the A's in those days were basically a Yankee farm club). In the same vein, the pre-union team was the 1955-56 Athletics, who provided four players on the '58 Yankee roster. Make sense?

Notable Achievements

No-hitters, milestone stats, award winners, record-setting performances, etc.

Season Recap

A brief summary of the team's road to glory and a look at their strengths and weaknesses.

Here are the links to all the completed profiles so far:

#1: 1903 Boston Americans
#2: 1905 New York Giants
#3: 1906 Chicago White Sox
#4: 1907 Chicago Cubs
#5: 1908 Chicago Cubs
#6: 1909 Pittsburg Pirates
#7: 1910 Philadelphia Athletics
#8: 1911 Philadelphia Athletics
#9: 1912 Boston Red Sox
#10: 1913 Philadelphia Athletics
#11: 1914 Boston Braves
#12: 1915 Boston Red Sox
#13: 1916 Boston Red Sox
#14: 1917 Chicago White Sox
#15: 1918 Boston Red Sox
#16: 1919 Cincinnati Reds
#17: 1920 Cleveland Indians
#18: 1921 New York Giants
#19: 1922 New York Giants
#20: 1923 New York Yankees
#21: 1924 Washington Senators
#22: 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates
#23: 1926 St. Louis Cardinals
#24: 1927 New York Yankees
#25: 1928 New York Yankees
#26: 1929 Philadelphia Athletics
#27: 1930 Philadelphia Athletics
#28: 1931 St. Louis Cardinals
#29: 1932 New York Yankees
#30: 1933 New York Giants
#31: 1934 St. Louis Cardinals
#32: 1935 Detroit Tigers
#33: 1936 New York Yankees
#34: 1937 New York Yankees
#35: 1938 New York Yankees
#36: 1939 New York Yankees
#37: 1940 Cincinnati Reds
#38: 1941 New York Yankees
#39: 1942 St. Louis Cardinals
#40: 1943 New York Yankees
#41: 1944 St. Louis Cardinals
#42: 1945 Detroit Tigers
#43: 1946 St. Louis Cardinals
#44: 1947 New York Yankees
#45: 1948 Cleveland Indians
#46: 1949 New York Yankees
#47: 1950 New York Yankees
#48: 1951 New York Yankees
#49: 1952 New York Yankees
#50: 1953 New York Yankees
#51: 1954 New York Giants
#52: 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers
#53: 1956 New York Yankees
#54: 1957 Milwaukee Braves
#55: 1958 New York Yankees
#56: 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers
#57: 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates
#58: 1961 New York Yankees
#59: 1962 New York Yankees
#60: 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers
#61: 1964 St. Louis Cardinals
#62: 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers
#63: 1966 Baltimore Orioles
#64: 1967 St. Louis Cardinals
#65: 1968 Detroit Tigers
#66: 1969 New York Mets
#67: 1970 Baltimore Orioles
#68: 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates
#69: 1972 Oakland A's
#70: 1973 Oakland A's
#71: 1974 Oakland A's
#72: 1975 Cincinnati Reds
#73: 1976 Cincinnati Reds
#74: 1977 New York Yankees
#75: 1978 New York Yankees
#76: 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates
#77: 1980 Philadelphia Phillies
#78: 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers
#79: 1982 St. Louis Cardinals
#80: 1983 Baltimore Orioles
#81: 1984 Detroit Tigers
#82: 1985 Kansas City Royals
#83: 1986 New York Mets
#84: 1987 Minnesota Twins
#85: 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers
#86: 1989 Oakland Athletics
#87: 1990 Cincinnati Reds
#88: 1991 Minnesota Twins
#89: 1992 Toronto Blue Jays
#90: 1993 Toronto Blue Jays
#91: 1995 Atlanta Braves
#92: 1996 New York Yankees
#93: 1997 Florida Marlins
#94: 1998 New York Yankees
#95: 1999 New York Yankees
#96: 2000 New York Yankees
#97: 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks
#98: 2002 Anaheim Angels
#99: 2003 Florida Marlins
#100: 2004 Boston Red Sox
#101: 2005 Chicago White Sox
#102: 2006 St. Louis Cardinals
#103: 2007 Boston Red Sox
#104: 2008 Philadelphia Phillies
#105: 2009 New York Yankees
#106: 2010 San Francisco Giants
#107: 2011 St. Louis Cardinals

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Finally Did It

Like most baseball geeks, I'm a longtime user of Baseball-Reference.com. I've always thought it would be cool to sponsor a page, but being the conservative spender I am, I never felt like I had a good reason to do it. Now that I have a baseball blog which I'm hoping grows into something popular, I finally have that reason.

A link to Baseball Junk Drawer now appears on four pages:

Tarrik Brock. As a Cub fan, I remember Brock's brief tenure with the team. He got sent back to the minors early in the 2000 season and was never heard from again, but I still have a memory of him making a great catch against the left field wall. I recall it being on the road, which would make sense, since making a catch against the Wrigley Field wall is a lot more dangerous than against one of the padded walls of baseball's newer stadiums.

Just to see if my memory could possibly be correct, I checked the play-by-play accounts of all the games in which Brock played the outfield on the road. As best I can tell, it must've been from the Cubs' April 9 game in Cincinnati. You can see that in the bottom of the 10th Eddie Taubensee led off the inning with a flyball to deep left field. I remember the catch seeming dramatic at the time. Perhaps the fact that the game was in extra innings made it so.

In a related note, my nickname for the Cubs' 2000 season is "The Year of the Blown Save." I looked up the stats to confirm my memory, and the Cubs did in fact lead the Majors in blown saves that year. It was unreal. It seemed like every game the bullpen would lose it for us. I even remember watching one game where the Cubs had a late-inning lead. Rather than allow myself to get fooled again, I sat back and waited for them to blow it. Sure enough, they did. It was satisfying in a way, knowing that I'd handled my emotional investment prudently. There was a brief glimmer of hope that season when the Cubs started the second half on a tear, but after about three weeks it was back to their usual business of losing. Ah, memories.

The 1906 Cleveland Naps. One day I was looking through some stats and I discovered that this was one of the unluckiest teams of all time.

Their pitching staff, led by three 20-game winners, had an ERA+ of 125, best in the AL. Their hitters, led by Nap Lajoie and Elmer Flick, had an OPS+ of 114, best in the AL. Their team fielding percentage was .967 and their defensive efficiency rating was .727, both (again) best in the AL. Where did the Naps finish? Third place.

If Pythagorean W-L had existed back in those days, people would've seen that the Naps were incredibly unlucky while the Highlanders and White Sox had benefitted from a few breaks. Lucky though they may have been, as a White Sox fan (yes, I'm a fan of both the Cubs and the White Sox), those "Hitless Wonders" are one of my favorite historical champions.

Jimmy Moore. It always used to fascinate me when I'd look through the old Baseball Encyclopedia and see a guy who'd played in the World Series his only year in the Majors (that's another list that's coming, by the way). Jimmy Moore was the only one I ever saw who played in two World Series in only two Major League seasons (1930 and 1931 with the Philadelphia Athletics). It seemed fitting for a blog like this one to be sponsoring a guy who held that distinction.

Rimp Lanier. Back when I was a wee baseball geeklet (OK, I was actually in my teens), I tried to compile a list of every player with a World Series ring. It involved looking at the complete rosters of every World Series winner and determining who'd contributed enough to have certainly gotten a ring. One name I came across when I reached the 1971 Pirates was Rimp Lanier. Rimp? What kind of name was that? How do you get "Rimp" out of Lorenzo? I see he was only only 5'8" and 150 lbs. Perhaps "Rimp" evolved from "Shrimp"?

The thing about these guys with short stints in the Majors is that we often don't know much about them. Now that his minor league stats are available, we can see that he was apparently a speedster with good plate discipline but a poor fielder. After a slow start in 1972 he ended up being demoted to double-A, where he played one more year before disappearing from baseball. I wish I knew what his story was.

There's a new spring in my step. No longer a freeloader, I'm now a financial supporter of one of the greatest sites on the internet. It's fun to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Last Active Players From Pre-Shift Franchises

I have to give Baseball Almanac credit for this one, but I thought I'd reprint this list since it's completely in the spirit of Baseball Junk Drawer.

Have you ever wondered who was the last active Brooklyn Dodger or the last active St. Louis Brown? It's right here, but I thought I'd go a step farther than B-A's list and add the defunct Milwaukee Brewers (precursors of the Browns) and Baltimore Orioles (precursors of the Yankees). Someday I'll probably be adding the last Montreal Expo as well.



What a list! Five Hall of Famers show up, as does another who some people think belongs but I personally don't (Jim Kaat). Kaat holds the record for outlasting his pre-shift franchise by the most seasons, 23. Vic Power outlasted his franchise by the fewest seasons, with only 11. It should also be noted that Mathews and Mays both played in the World Series during their final seasons, so those dates for their final games only reflect the regular season.