Tuesday, December 8, 2009

PTWSW #22: The 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates

Manager: Bill McKechnie
Record: 95-58
Ballpark: Forbes Field
Owner: Barney Dreyfuss
Coaches: Fred Clarke, Jack Onslow

Future Hall of Famers: Max Carey, Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor

Team Leaders, Batting

Kiki Cuyler, .357
OBP: Kiki Cuyler, .423
SLG: Kiki Cuyler, .598
OPS: Kiki Cuyler, 1.021
2B: Kiki Cuyler, 43
3B: Kiki Cuyler, 26 (NL leader)
HR: Kiki Cuyler, Glenn Wright, 18
RBI: Glenn Wright, 121
BB: Eddie Moore, 73
SB: Max Carey, 46 (NL leader)

Team Leaders, Pitching

Lee Meadows, 19
SO: Vic Aldridge, 88
ERA: Vic Aldridge, 3.63
IP: Lee Meadows, 255.1
CG: Lee Meadows, 20
SHO: Vic Aldridge, Lee Meadows, 1
K/BB: Ray Kremer, 1.32
SV: Johnny Morrison, 4 (NL leader)


Oldest Player: Babe Adams (b. May 18, 1882). Adams was the oldest player in the National League at the time, as well as the only man remaining from the 1909 champions.

Youngest Player: Mule Haas (b. October 15, 1903)

First to Leave Us: Al Niehaus (d. October 14, 1931). Pneumonia claimed Niehaus' life at the age of 32.

Last Survivor: Glenn Wright (d. April 6, 1984)

First in Majors: Babe Adams (April 18, 1906)

Last in Majors: Kiki Cuyler (September 14, 1938)

First to Play For the Franchise: Babe Adams (1907)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Pie Traynor (August 14, 1937)

Pre-union Team: Several teams had two of these guys, but none more.

Reunion Team: The 1929 Brooklyn Robins had six: Max Carey, Johnny Gooch, Lou Koupal, Eddie Moore, Johnny Morrison and Glenn Wright. I'm not sure what the connection is between these two franchises. Perhaps Max Carey, a respected veteran, recommended these guys to Wilbert Robinson?


Glenn Wright, unassisted triple play on May 7
Kiki Cuyler, cycle on June 4
Max Carey, cycle on June 20

Season Summary

Just a few weeks after the 1924 World Series ended the Pirates made a blockbuster trade: all-time franchise pitching wins leader Wilbur Cooper, future Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville (serving as second baseman) and first baseman Charlie Grimm went to the Cubs for Vic Aldridge, George Grantham and Al Niehaus. It worked out well for Pittsburgh; Aldridge provided a strong arm in the rotation while Cooper was never the same, Grantham was an upgrade at first over Grimm, and Niehaus was used as capital to land ace reliever Tom Sheehan in a May trade.

The Pirates in 1924 had been strong on pitching and defense but lacking on offense. In 1925 they were strong in all three areas. They had a higher OPS+ from their regulars at each position and led the NL in that category overall as well. They also had the circuit's best baserunning by far. Their 159 steals dwarfed the second-best Reds' 108, and they were caught only 59 times for an overall percentage of 71.6, also league-best. They averaged better than half a run more per game than their closest competitor. Their second-best 115 team ERA+ and third-best .680 DER combined to make them a force on run prevention as well.

The season wasn't looking especially rosy through the first two months. The Pirates got off to a slow start while the New York Giants raced to first, apparently on their way to a fifth straight pennant. Pittsburgh didn't pull above .500 for good until May 27, and it wasn't until they swept a four-game June series with the Giants that they looked like a true contender. On June 29 they finally tasted first place, though they remained tied with New York.

Making headlines midseason was former Pirates manager Fred Clarke. Clarke hadn't managed since 1915, but he'd found himself unable to stay away from the game in retirement. In June he returned as a member of the Pittsburgh front office and it wasn't long before he had a spot on the Pirates' bench as an assistant manager.

August 20 was when the Pirates really began to pull away in the pennant race. They won the first game of an eventual 17-3 run, and by the time it ended they had an 8.5-game lead. About a month later they'd finish the season with that same lead and find themselves in a World Series matchup with Washington. It didn't look good for Pittsburgh after the Senators went up 3 games to 1, as no team had ever come back from such a deficit in a best-of-seven World Series. The Pirates became the first team to do it, and they won Game 7 on Kiki Cuyler's tie-breaking two-run double in the eighth.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

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