Wednesday, December 23, 2009

PTWSW #28: The 1931 St. Louis Cardinals

Manager: Gabby Street
Record: 101-53
Ballpark: Sportsman's Park
Owner: Sam Breadon
GM: Branch Rickey
Coaches: Ray Blades, Buzzy Wares

Future Hall of Famers: Jim Bottomley, Frankie Frisch, Burleigh Grimes, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines

Team Leaders, Batting

Chick Hafey, .349 (NL leader)
OBP: Chick Hafey, .404
SLG: Chick Hafey, .569
OPS: Chick Hafey, .973
2B: Sparky Adams, 46 (NL leader)
3B: George Watkins, 13
HR: Chick Hafey, 16
RBI: Chick Hafey, 95
BB: Charlie Gelbert, 54
SB: Frankie Frisch, 28 (NL leader)

Team Leaders, Pitching

Bill Hallahan, 19 (NL leader)
SO: Bill Hallahan, 159 (NL leader)
ERA: Syl Johnson, 3.00
IP: Bill Hallahan, 248.2
CG: Burleigh Grimes, 17
SHO: Paul Derringer, 4
K/BB: Syl Johnson, 2.83
SV: Jim Lindsey, 7


Oldest Player:
Technically it was manager Gabby Street (b. September 30, 1882), but his only playing time came when he inserted himself at catcher for the first three innings of a game against Brooklyn. Among regulars it was third-string catcher Mike Gonzalez (b. September 24, 1890).

Youngest Player: Paul Derringer (b. October 17, 1906)

First to Leave Us: Jimmie Wilson (d. May 31, 1947)

Last Survivor: Ray Cunningham (d. July 30, 2005). Centenarian Cunningham was the oldest living former Major Leaguer at the time of his death.

First in Majors: Once again it was manager Street on September 13, 1904, but among regulars it was Mike Gonzalez on September 28, 1912.

Last in Majors: Paul Derringer (final game September 27, 1945)

First to Play For the Franchise: Mike Gonzalez (1915)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Pepper Martin (October 1, 1944)

Pre-union Team: The 1925-27 Cubs had three: Sparky Adams, Mike Gonzalez and Tony Kaufmann.

Reunion Team: The 1933-34 Reds had eight each, and eleven overall between them: Sparky Adams, Jim Bottomley, Paul Derringer, Taylor Douthit (1933), Jake Flowers (1934), Chick Hafey, Andy High (1933), Syl Johnson (1934), Jim Lindsey (1934), Wally Roettger (1933) and Allyn Stout. You might assume it was because the Reds hired Larry MacPhail out of the Cards' minor league system to be their GM around this time, but in fact, MacPhail didn't join the Reds until December of 1933. Also, MacPhail's Columbus team wasn't part of the Cardinals' minor league system until 1931, by which point these players (obviously) had all reached the majors. As far as I can tell, Branch Rickey simply had a good relationship with the Cincinnati franchise.


Jim Bottomley, six-hit game on August 5
Frankie Frisch, NL MVP

Season Summary

The Cardinals' biggest strength was their pitching staff, which led the NL with a 114 ERA+, was second in strikeout-to-walk ratio and allowed the second-fewest runs. Their Defensive Efficiency Ratio was slightly below-average, which made those punchouts especially valuable. Their offense was built on speed; they led the league in doubles and stolen bases, and were second in triples. MVP Frankie Frisch led the circuit with 28 swipes, and four of the NL's top five in that category were Redbirds. Only George Watkins and Chick Hafey reached double digits in homers, with 13 and 16, respectively. It all worked, as St. Louis' offense was a close second to the Cubs' in runs scored. The pennant race wasn't especially eventful, as the Cardinals nearly led wire-to-wire, falling behind only briefly in April and May. Their final lead over the second-place Giants was 13 games.

The World Series gave the Cardinals a rematch with the Athletics, who'd beaten them in last year's Fall Classic. St. Louis would emerge victorious in seven games this time. The talk of the Series was center fielder Pepper Martin, who batted .500 (12-for-24), hit four doubles and a home run, drew two walks and stole five bases in the septet. On the pitching side the star was "Wild Bill" Hallahan, who allowed only one earned run in 18.1 innings. When the Athletics threatened in the final inning of Game 7, manager Street called on Hallahan, who retired Max Bishop for the final out.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
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