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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best
Thursday, February 13, 2003
1873 National Association
Thanks again to jimd for this summary, which is in the discussion portion.
First the standings:
Actual Standings W L PCT GB Adjusted Standings W L PCT GB Boston 43 16 .729 -- Boston 120 41 .744 -- Phil. White Stock. 36 17 .679 4.0 Phil. White Stock. 115 46 .715 5 Baltimore 34 22 .607 7.5 Baltimore 100 61 .623 20 Phil. Athletics 28 23 .549 11.0 Phil. Athletics 97 64 .604 23 New York 29 24 .547 11.0 New York 96 65 .594 24 Brooklyn 17 37 .315 23.5 Brooklyn 61 100 .379 59 Washington 8 31 .205 20.0 Washington 38 123 .233 82 Elizabeth 2 21 .088 23.0 Elizabeth 18 143 .109 102 Maryland 0 6 .000 16.5
Just like 1872, a few adjustments need to be made for the weak sisters again. I’ll give the standings how they would look at each possible spot where you could draw the ‘major league’ line.
The first would be to remove Elizabeth, as they were really just a club team that gave it a whirl, Washington had at least tried the year before, and wasn’t total dreck.
The second adjustment would be to remove Washington, who, while not total dreck was clearly not on the level of these teams:
No Elizabeth W L PCT GB No Eliz./Wash. W L PCT GB Boston 115 47 .707 -- Boston 106 54 .665 -- Phil. White Stock. 109 53 .674 6 Phil. White Stock. 101 59 .628 5 Baltimore 93 69 .571 22 Baltimore 82 78 .513 24 Phil. Athletics 89 73 .549 26 Phil. Athletics 78 82 .489 28 New York 87 75 .538 28 New York 76 84 .476 30 Brooklyn 49 113 .303 66 Brooklyn 37 123 .228 69 Washington 25 137 .156 90
The final adjustment would be removing Brooklyn, since they were clearly below the pack of the other 5.
Top 5 W L PCT GB Boston 100 60 .622 -- Phil. White Stock. 93 67 .581 7 Baltimore 73 87 .454 27 Phil. Athletics 69 91 .428 31 New York 66 94 .415 34
Feel free to draw the line wherever you’d like.
As far as the individual achievements go, Ross Barnes has solidified his place as the star of the league. George Wright and Levi Meyerle are also looking like superstars, Cap Anson is coming into his own, and Deacon White made his first Silver Slugger squad. Lip Pike and George Hall are also consistently among the best players in the league.
Five teams returned from 1872. They were joined by four newcomers: Washington organized for another try and were called “Blue Legs” after their hose, Baltimore added a second team the Marylands, and the Resolutes of Elizabeth, NJ, continued the tradition of very small market entries. However, the excitement was over the new Philadelphia team, the White Stockings (or Whites). The Association was now all East Coast teams.
After paying their fee and getting an agreement to share the Athletics park, the Whites then signed half the Athletics club: Meyerle, Treacey, Mack, Malone, and Cuthbert. George Zettlein was the pitcher and other NA veterans were signed to round out the team. The Athletics were forced to scramble, picking up some young veterans from the various defunct teams.
The White Stockings started the season on a tear. By mid-July, they were 27-3 and had an 8.5 game lead. Boston’s lowpoint was losing to the Resolutes in Boston in the opener of a July 4th doubleheader (they did redeem themselves with a 21-run 9th-inning in a 32-3 victory in the 2nd game). Confident after an 18-17 victory over Boston, the Whites then took a 3-week vacation.
However, there was a protest. Bob Addy, 28, member of the original Cincinnati Red Stockings, had been signed by the Whites to start the season. He was cut after a couple of weeks, replaced by Jimmy Wood, Zettlein’s teammate from Chicago, Troy, and Brooklyn (maybe they’re good friends?) Addy went home to Rockford to wait for a telegraph to arrive, and played in a game on July 4. Days later he was signed by Boston, and would post a 127 OPS+ for them in RF. Philly claimed the 60-day rule applied, which OPS+ would void much of Boston’s second half. It took until January for the Championship Committee to rule, but they declared the game a “pickup game” and not subject to the 60-day rule, leaving the championship decided on the field, where it belonged.
The other new teams were not successful. Washington lasted the season, but was not competitive and did not play many of its games; they did not come back in 1874. The Resolutes lasted until August. And the Marylands played only 6 games against just Baltimore and Washington, and were outscored 26-152, a pythagorean WPCT of .038 (6-156 over a 162 game schedule).
The Silver Sluggers for 1873:
1B - Cap Anson (PHI) .398/.409/.449 (age 21);
2B - Ross Barnes (BOS) .425/.456/.584 (age 23)
SS - George Wright (BOS) .388/.402/.523 (age 26)
3B - Levi Meyerle (PHW) .349/.354/.479 (age 27); Davy Force (BAL) .368/.390/.410 (age 23) is edged out again
LF - Charlie Pabor (BRO) .360/.376/.421 (age 26)
CF - George Hall (BAL) .345/.353/.417 (age 24); Dave Eggler (NY) .336/.348/.414 (age 22); uncanny…
RF - Lip Pike (BAL) .315/.331/.462 (age 28)
C - Deacon White (BOS) .390/.390/.477 (age 25); Cal McVey (BAL) .380/.390/.484 (age 22) also has a strong case though he missed 1/3rd of the season.
P - Al Spalding (BOS) .329/.335/.407 (age 22)
Bobby Mathews is again the strikeout king (75 K and 1.52 K/9IP) The leader in least walks issued depends on IP criteria: Spalding (.51 BB/9IP) is the leader amongst those with lots of innings, Washington’s Bill Stearns has a case at .48 as does Resolute Hugh Campbell at .38. Neither were backups, but neither played a full schedule either.
Boston reportedly lost money in 1872 and so didn’t make payroll for the last month. Cal McVey and Charlie Gould were mates of Harry Wright since the Cincinnati Red Stockings days; McVey signed with Baltimore (with a raise and the captain/manager’s post), Gould did not play in the NA in 1873 (I don’t where he went). Rookie Fraley Rogers also voiced his displeasure; he was not invited back. From the pool of available players out there, Wright signed Cleveland’s backup catcher, Deacon White, and Middletown’s shortstop, Jim O’Rourke. (Not a bad off-season.)
An interesting quote from The Great Encylopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball, “Gould’s spot went to Jack Manning, up from Boston’s junior team.” Is Harry Wright playing Leif Erikson to Branch Rickey’s role as Columbus when it comes to discovering the farm team? Unfortunately there’s no further elaboration. Can anybody shed any light on this?
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