I remember back when I got the cards and started setting up the lineups I thought three things immediately. “wow, the Pirates are going to dominate ALL”, “what happened to the Phillies good players” and “man the Cardinals sure do stink” (I actually said something worse, but Tom runs a family site).
Pittsburgh Pirates 97-43 .693
Brooklyn Dodgers 81-59 .579
Boston Braves 80-60 .571
Chicago Cubs 77-63 .550
Cincinnati Reds 70-70 .500
Philadelphia Phillies 56-84 .400
New York Giants 55-85 .393
St. Louis Cardinals 52-88 .371
Pittsburgh Pirates 97-43
Well my first though was right, the Pirates did dominate all, but when I looked online they were actually weaker than their actual finish. WOW. Armed with the best rotation in the game (4 A starters) lots of speed and a lot of hitting for high average this was a team clearly intent on scoring a lot of runs while allowing very few.
The Pirates team batting average was .255, and that was with the bottom of the order providing no help at all. The bench was VERY talented, but all J-4’s so I didn’t get to use them much. Tom Leach stayed healthy for the first time in 4 years and hit a career high 5 homers to go with his .282 average and 53 stolen bases while scoring 100 runs. (also a career highs).
The next three hitters all had three 31’s so despite the caught stealing risks I used hit and run almost constantly. Ginger Beaumont struggled early but still managed to hit .284, but that’s almost a hundred points below his actual average. The main issue for him was results that would have been better without the hit and run, so that’s on me. Ginger stole 48 bases.
Honus Wagner finally had a good season from opening day to close. The Dutchman hit .304, drove in 104 and mashed the ball with authority, totaling 39 doubles, 12 triples and 3 homers. Even singles were bad as he stole 40 bases. Captain Fred Clarke struggled similar to Beaumont, but did post a .294 average with 34 doubles and 6 triples, but had a significant drop in homers with just one. But because of the trio in front of him still had 88 RBI’s. Fred also stole 33 bases.
Bill Bransfield was the heart of the team in April and May and was the only help Wagner had, and was hitting almost .300 through the mid-way point, but with the trio behind him struggling badly pitchers stopped giving him hittable pitches and he stumbled to a .269 average with 23 doubles and 66 RBI’s. He did steal 26 bases though.
John O’Connor is the 4th in a string of catchers the bucco’s auditioned in an attempt to get someone to fill the black hole offensively from that spot. Once again they failed. John hit just .220 and runners ran wild on him. Alfonzo Davis and Claude Ritchey hit well below their actual numbers. Jimmy Sebring and Matt Hopkins were gems on the bench and made Clarke look like a fool for not giving them more time. Sebring hit .396 and Hopkins hit .333.
Pitching was king indeed on this team. They only had 7 men on the staff, but rarely used more than the three starters. The Pitcher of the Year award came down to two men. Staff leader Charles Phillippe and John Chesbro.
Phillippe went 33-15 with a 2.35 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and had 5 shutouts. Chesbro was 34-12 with a 2.74 ERA and a surprisingly lower .99 WHIP. The difference was Phillippe allowed fewer runs and went the distance more times than Chesbro, who would give up more home runs. Either way they both had terrific years.
And then there was Jesse Tannehill. A man that threw so hard they called him “Powder”. Because the media was so busy following the other two pitchers, he “quietly” won 29 games and actually had a lower ERA than his more visible teammates at 2.19 and finished 5th in POY voting.
Ed Doheny would have been the number one starter on almost every other team. On the Pirates he was relegated to bullpen duty. He made the most of his very limited action and went 1-1 and 3 for 3 in save opportunities. The rest of the staff was limited to the occasional mop up role on the rare occasion when one of the starters got roughed up.
Brooklyn Dodgers 81-59
The Dodgers were part of a very tight race in the middle of the division and finished second. They had solid pitching and just enough offense to squeeze past the Braves and Cubs.
Pat Dolan struggled at times during the season but still managed a .282 average and stole 55 bases. When he struggled that really hurt as Willie Keeler, arguably the best number two hitter in the league had less opportunities to utilize his 3 31’s.
Keeler thrived as usual in his spot. Hitting .306 with a league leading 44 doubles, combined with his 51 steals provided plenty of RBI opportunities for the middle of the lineup. Hughie Hearne got way more playing time than I wanted, but the roster had limited choices. He actually was acceptable. He hit just .252, but hit 40 doubles and drove in 92.
Jimmy Sheckard was moved down to the number 4 spot to provide protection for Hearne and get more RBI opportunities and he responded better than I expected. Jimmy was among the leaders in most categories and got a fair amount of MVP votes. Jimmy had 55 walks and only 45 strikeouts too, and his batting eye allowed him to get better pitch selection and he hit .270 with 5 homers and stole 31 bases while playing excellent defense in right field.
Charlie Irwin and Bill Dahlen struggled badly at times but both ended up with averages at .250. The bottom of the lineup was truly terrible and that probably cost them some games. Ed Diesel (.285) and John Ward (.333) were solid in pinch hit/reserve roles.
Pitching was what got this team back on track. While the staff struggled at times they were a good group. Several players had very good hitting cards too. Virgil Garvin came over when the Brewers moved to St. Louis and boy what a pick up for Brooklyn. He almost won Pitcher of the Year by going 33-11 with 6 shutouts and a 2.47 ERA. He threw 7 3 hitters, 4 two hitters and two 1 hitters.
Eustace Newton went 23-11, despite going 0 for May. He had moments of brilliance, but would get roughed up bad when he couldn’t locate his fastball and allowed 309 hits. “Wild” Bill Donovan was originally in the three man rotation, but struggled enough to warrant a change and finished with a 5-9 record and a 3.68 ERA.
Donovan’s move to the bullpen paved the way for one of the best seasons I have ever seen for a B starter. Although his won loss record won’t reflect it Frank Kitson had a heck of a year. Despite going 18-15 he went the distance 31 times in 33 starts, had a pair of shutouts, and his ERA was 2.44 and his WHIP was .91. He did have control issues though, as he walked more batters than he struck out, and he had a fairly high 8.25 base runners per 9 innings ratio. The remainder of the staff performed poorly though.
Boston Braves 80-60
Boston had a good year, but finished below their actual 3rd place finish. The biggest issues were the bottom of their lineup. Granted this was a problem league wide, but the Braves lineup just underperformed to state it plainly. Duff Cooley was the table setter, and yet again did a great job. He hit a career high .314 and stole 50 bases. Duff’s only weakness was his power. He had no nomers and while he did hit 9 triples and finished in the top 10 there he only had one zero so pitchers could afford to be around the plate more when he was at bat.
First baseman/Manager Fred Tenney had another solid season. The father of the 3-6-3 DP played superbly at his position again and had a great year at bat. Fred hit .312 with a pair of homers and stole 33 bases and scored 95 times. Gene DeMontreville cooled off somewhat down the stretch, but did hit .278 with 6 of his 44 extra base hits going for three bases. Gene drove in 88 runs despite the lack of runners in scoring position ahead of him (Cooley and Tenney usually had singles)
Lorenzo Gremminger was the bopper in this lineup. Although his batting average was not all that great at .261 he did hit a league leading 8 homers and just missed the century mark at RBI with 98. Pat Carney struggled a lot and hit .244. The rest of the roster was ineffective with the 8-9 hitters barely clearing the Mendoza line and none of the reserves cleared .150.
Vic Willis was the ace of the staff again, going 30-16 and getting several votes for POY. Sporting a 2.55 ERA and tossing 5 shutouts were important as the pitching staff was talented, but not very deep. Charlie Pittinger had a solid year, going 29-16, and would have won 30, but got cold down the stretch losing his final 3 starts. “Togie” kind of underperformed his card, as he was pretty hittable for an A starter, posting a 3.47 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, which allowed teams to stay close and go for the late inning win. Malcolm Eason came over from the Cubs and got his first chance to be in a rotation. He had mixed results. He won 19 games, but was consistently hittable and wild. He had a 3.99 ERA and hit 13 batters. The only reason he was not moved to the bullpen was that the staff was pretty small and he was winning just enough to stay in the rotation.
John Malarkey was solid in relief role and very nearly got into the rotation. He did make two spot starts, going 1-0, and picked up 2 saves as a relief pitcher. He had a 2.99 ERA and a .79 WHIP and was very effective. He was pretty good in my 03 season, but not even carded in 05, so not sure if he got hurt in 04 or not. Fred Klobdanz was very effective for a D, posting a 2.57 ERA, although his manager used him sparingly and in situations where he was not in any real stress. The rest of the staff was horrible with ERA’s over 5.00.
Chicago Cubs 77-63
The Cubs really surprised me. I was not expecting a lot initially. They were brutal in 01, and while I could see the changes in personnel and the building blocks of what would become their dynasty still in the learning stages, so when I finished the season and see they actually finished better than their actual performance I was thrilled and shocked. Especially since the bottom of the lineup was almost nonexistent.
The top of the lineup is where all the action took place, because once you got past the 4 spot it was pretty easy pickings for the pitchers, especially the A’s. Jimmy Slagle set the tone in the leadoff spot. Jimmy didn’t possess any power, but speed and working pitchers was his game and he did it well. Having to battle through injuries, he hit .298 and stole 31 bases. He drew 61 walks while only striking out only 31 times. John Dobbs was solid in the second spot, hitting .276 and also had nagging injuries during the season.
Frank Chance and an awesome year and outperformed his card. The “peerless leader” hit .335 with a pair of homers and stole a league high 65 bases and also led the league with 80 walks while striking out only 30 times. He was in the top 10 in almost every category and won his first MVP by only 2 votes.
Johnny Kling was Mr. hot and cold. There were times I considered benching him, and in fact actually gave him a few days off, but the two reserve catchers were so horrible they made Bill Bergen look like Roger Bresnahan. Johnny did recover fairly well and was almost as hot as Chance down the final stretch when the Cubs were actually threatening the Dodgers for second place. He finished with numbers that were somewhat close to his actual mark with a .268 average, and 26 doubles, but only 1 triple. Because the top three were so good at getting on base he drove in 108 RBI (further proof the RBI is more of a team stat than an individual achievement). Despite not being the swiftest player in the league he stole 43 bases. That’s pretty impressive, because while I don’t keep stats he threw out a significant number of runners trying to steal and I would estimate his caught stealing ratio was about 38%.
Dave Jones came over from Milwaukee and was supposed to be a player similar to Slagle and Dobbs; a player with great speed good batting average and solid defense. He provided two of those, but the adjustment to the new league must have thrown him off, because even after a torrid September he only hit .215, compared to his actual .299 season. Joe Tinker struggled mightily as well, hitting just .215, but did finish 10th in the NL with 3 homers. His final dinger of the year was a grand slam off of Reds ace hurler Frank Hahn.
The bench was deep and featured some solid players and some real bums. Few saw any action early, but injuries forced players to be ready and Bill Congalton took the most of his opportunities by hitting .350 while subbing for Dobbs. Rookie Johnny Evers broke into the lineup about the end of July and had some real ups and downs. He struggled with recognizing the strike zone, and was one of the few who had more strikeouts than walks. He hit only .204, but I have a feeling he will be ok.
The rotation was solid, anchored by the highest rated starter in the game John Taylor. John was an A&C starter (the other was Gus Dorner of the Indians, but as a J-4 saw little action) who was also rated at several other positions and had an 11 on his card. For a while I thought he could win POY but because he was not a big power pitcher and chose to work location and set players up for easy outs he finished 5th in the voting. John’s final numbers are solid. A 30-15 record with a 1.86 ERA and .88 WHIP. He also tossed 5 shutouts and 2 1 hitters. Unfortunately as a soft tosser he got around the plate a bit and allowed 253 hits despite his good rating. Let’s face it readers, an 11 or a 1 does not care who is on the mound. Because he had to force hitters off the plate to keep from being hit too hard he ended up beaning 10 batters, and ignited a brutal bean ball war with the Pirates that stretched through all three games and resulted in several players getting ejected and a couple hurt bad enough to be pulled from the game. Thankfully nobody missed any real time, but it’s clear the Pirates see the Cubs as a threat moving forward and wanted to send a message “this is our time”.
John Menefee and Walter Williams were two B starters who had decent years, with Menefee getting 21 victories, but were both inconsistent down the stretch. Carl Lundgren was an A starter, but a J-4 so he was relegated to “closer” status. He picked up a couple of saves, and went 2-1 as a starter in the final month once the Cubs were eliminated from the race, but was surprisingly hittable at times and finished with a very high 4.74 ERA. Jimmy St. Vrain had a 1.73 ERA in limited use.
Cincinnati Reds 70-70
Coming off of one of the worst seasons in my replay history, the Reds made tremendous strides. While they finished below their expected slot they still managed to finish at .500, a huge improvement over their 102 losses the previous year. Cincy really improved the offense, with 5 of the starting 8 hitting .300 or better. Joe Kelley was very versatile, playing 3 positions and hitting .301 and stole 34 bases at the top of the order. Jake Beckley had a great season, hitting .323 with 4 homers and 42 stolen bases. He got a fair amount of MVP votes too. Sam Crawford finished second to Chance in the MVP voting and was the heart of the lineup. He hit .327 and had an .833 OPS and stole 22 bases and drove in 108 runs.
Jimmy Seymour had another great year, hitting .300 and finished second in the league with 7 homers and drove in 87 runs. Seymour also stole 22 bases. Henry Pietz struggled early but had a great second half and finished with a .305 average. Harry Steinfeldt struggled and hit just .245. The bench scuffled all year and that really hurt as the 8-9 hitters were pretty weak.
The pitching was pretty good, but they gave up a fair amount of runs. The team ERA was 3.77 and gave up a fair amount of homers, while hitting a lot of batters. Frank Hahn, perhaps in his last great season went 22-15, “Silver Bill” Phillips picked up 17 wins, but lost several games late in the year while trying to hold off the Cubs and somewhat disappointed. The remainder of the pitching was really poor.
Philadelphia Phillies 56-84
Unlike the Reds, who saw a massive improvement, the Phillies lost most of their best players in the off season and took a major nose dive. Very few players from the second place 1901 team remain. Roy Thomas is perhaps the softest hitter in the league power wise, but he still hit .284 and was second in the league with 85 walks, and stole 37 bases. Pretty much all you want from a leadoff hitter. Additionally he is one of the best defensive center fielders around. Shad Barry showed great strides from his 1901 season, improving to .296 and led the team with a career high 3 homers. Harry Wolverton stayed healthy all year for once and stole 24 bases, but only hit .255. Hughie Jennings was hurt a lot, but hit .251 in a limited role. Nobody else could be counted on offensively.
In what would be Doc White’s final year with the team he was the ace of the staff again, and despite the lack of help, he went 21-15 with 190 strikeouts and a 3.08 ERA. The rest of the team was pretty bad, and the bullpen had an atrocious ERA nearing 6.00. Jake Fox struggled at times, but compared to his teammates he looked like Bruce Sutter and had the best ERA of the non-starting pitchers at 3.79 and struck out 31 hitters in 68.1 innings.
New York Giants 55-85
Well the good news is that the dynasty is rapidly approaching in New York. The bad news is they still stink. The Giants actually had been in 5th place for a good portion of the year. I couldn’t believe they actually finished in last during the actual season, because you look at the cards they got and think “decent, but not competitive” Only a late season collapse found them in the spot they finished at. Roger Bresnahan struggled through May, but in June he finally began to hit, and ended up with a .272 average and stole 51 bases. Imagine that, a catcher with over 100 stolen bases in two seasons. First baseman Dan McGann came over from the Cardinals and immediately became a star, displacing Terrible Tuesday John Ganzel. Dan hit .296 with 30 stolen bases. He only hit 1 homer, but it was a 3 run game winning shot off of Walter Williams of the Cubs. George Browne was the team’s MVP. “Brownie” hit .327 and got some league MVP consideration as he also stole 34 bases and drove in 73 runners. He also dramatically reduced his walk to strikeouts from over 100 in his previous replay to just 46 in 1902.
The pitching was where the Giants somewhat surprising rise came from. Christy Mathewson was an A again, and went 22-15 with a league high 207 strikeouts. He had 5 shutouts (all of them 2 run wins or less) and an ERA of 2.15. It was odd to not have him be the most dominant pitcher in the game, but it’s coming to be sure. Joe McGinnity escaped from Baltimore with John McGraw and Bresnahan and was immediately loved in the big apple. He went 20-16 and had a 2.97 ERA. The beginning of one of the best 1-2 pitcher combos in the NL is off to a good start.
Unfortunately Luther Taylor disappointed greatly. Off to a flying start early in the year he suddenly lost his ability to stop hitters and turned the number three pitcher’s spot into BP for the other team. John Cronin and Bill Kennedy were C starters who fared even worse with ERA’s well over 5.00, and Bob Blewett’s last name was pretty appropriate as he went 0-7 for the year with a 5.93 ERA. John Burke win’s the worst ERA in the league title at 7.19 with a ghastly 1.68 WHIP. Congratulations Johnny!
St. Louis Cardinals 52-88 .371
This was another truly awful redbird club. While the Giants got better cards than their actual finish would have expected, the Cardinals got worse cards then their finish would have expected. George Barclay hit .291 and stole 26 bases. Pat Donovan started slow but got hotter as the season wore on. Fueled largely by a 11 game hitting streak he wound up hitting .323 with 23 bases. Homer Smoot hit .282 with 3 homers, and Roy Brashear got out of the gates like a ball of fire, but struggled badly down the stretch and had to settle for a .274 average. The bottom of the lineup was weak, especially catcher John O’Neill who hit .186, and he was actually better than his backup. Otto Williams hit .333 in a pinch hitting role.
Pitcher Ed Murphy actually led the team in wins with 15, but he was actually the third best rated pitcher at a C. #2 starter Clarence Currie led the staff with a 3.48 mark, and it was all downhill at light speed from here. Chappie McFarland saw a little work in a swing man role and did manage a 2.41 ERA, but was saddled with an 0-5 record. The rest of the team was brutal. Pitcher Mike O’Neill underperformed pretty badly as a starter at a 12-23 mark with a 4.02 ERA, but as a hitter he got a great card. He hit .259 with a pair of homers. I looked him up online and was shocked to discover this was the season he set baseball history. Sent in as a pinch hitter late in a game he was not pitching in he hit was was the first pinch hit grand slam in baseball history. Congratulations indeed Mike O’Neill.