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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best
Saturday, February 22, 2003
1874 National Association
Thanks again to jimd for the summary in the discussion portion.
1874 Standings W L PCT GB Adj. Standings W L PCT GB Boston 52 18 .743 -- Boston 120 41 .743 -- New York 42 23 .646 7.5 New York 104 57 .648 16 Phil. Athletics 33 22 .600 11.5 Phil. Athletics 102 59 .636 18 Phil. Pearls 29 29 .500 17.0 Phil. Pearls 84 77 .521 36 Chicago 28 31 .475 18.5 Chicago 78 83 .485 42 Brooklyn 22 33 .400 22.5 Brooklyn 70 91 .433 50 Hartford 16 37 .302 27.5 Hartford 53 108 .329 67 Baltimore 9 38 .191 31.5 Baltimore 33 128 .206 87
Here are the standings removing Hartford and Baltimore, who only had a few true major leaguers amongst them.
Adj.II Standings W L PCT GB Boston 110 50 .690 -- New York 93 67 .578 17 Phil. Athletics 90 70 .564 20 Phil. Pearls 69 91 .434 41 Chicago 63 97 .395 47 Brooklyn 54 106 .339 56
Boston continues their dominance, winning their 3rd consecutive pennant.
Six teams returned from 1873, and they were joined by two more. The return of the Association to Chicago was the big news, and Hartford continued the tradition of very small market teams.
Chicago made the big splash, signing most of the Philadelphia Whites, or Pearls as they were renamed, in deference to the return of the White Stockings. I don’t know how many signed in August during the pennant race, or whether the signings contributed to the collapse, or whether the collapse contributed to more signings. Zettlein, Wood, and Treacey were major parts of the 1871 team; going back to Chicago was not a
The other story was the exodus from the financially troubled Baltimore Canaries. Davy Force went to Chicago. Cal McVey went back to Boston, bringing George Hall with him as a replacement for Harry Wright in CF. Lip Pike was hired to manage the new Hartford entry, and brought with him Scott Hastings and Everett Mills. Candy Cummings, Bill Craver, and others went to the Pearls to help replace the Chicago group. Only the backup pitcher remained from the previous season. The replacements were mostly local players from the defunct Washington and Maryland clubs of 1873. The team was bad, though it did manage to beat everybody else at least once; it almost survived the season, expiring in mid-October. (All games had to be played by October 31.)
The season itself was odd. Chicago was expected to challenge for the pennant, but only played around .500 all season. Boston and the Athletics played more games than usual early on, and then the two top teams boarded ship for England in mid-July, Boston with a 4.5 game lead over the A’s. This tour had been prearranged the previous winter, and the two clubs played a number of exhibition games in England and Ireland, baseball and cricket against the local cricket clubs. Crowds stayed away in droves and the tour was a financial disaster.
When they arrived back home in September after eight weeks away, New York had taken over first place in wins. (Under the rules of this era, wins were all that counted for the pennant; this was used as an incentive for teams to get together and play the required games.) Boston still managed to play every game (10 games against each team; the only team that did so) and went sprinting past NY in October to finish well ahead of the Mutuals by 7.5 games.
The Silver Sluggers for 1874:
1B - Jim O’Rourke (BOS) .314/.322/.453 (age 23).
2B - Levi Meyerle (CHI) .394/.401/.488 (age 28); Bill Craver (PHW) .343/.353/.498 (age 30) is 3rd in the league in OPS+, but Meyerle is 1st. Barnes (BOS) is 7th despite a broken hand, OPS+but no award this year; 2B is stacked.
SS - George Wright (BOS) .329/.340/.476 (age 27).
3B - Jim Holdsworth (PHW) .340/.343/.423 (age 23) has a career year away from NY.
LF - Andy Leonard (BOS) .319/.323/.395 (age 28); not a strong year for LF offensively.
CF - Lip Pike (HAR) .355/.368/.504 (age 29), split his time between CF and SS. John McMullin (PHI) .346/.366/.423 has a career year and gets the award if you’re looking for a full-time CF.
RF - Cal McVey (BOS) .359/.360/.481 (age 23)
C - John Clapp (PHI) .291/.295/.436 (age 22) or Scott Hastings (HAR) .325/.339/.386 (age 26); OBP vs SLG, both played a lot of OF (as did Deacon White, also).
P - Al Spalding (BOS) .329/.334/.370 (age 23); he leads the association in at-bats; maybe he’s batting leadoff? It’s his 3rd consecutive year in the top 5 in RBI’s.
New York edged Boston at preventing runs but couldn’t compete with Boston’s overpowering offense.
Late in October, Tommy Bond came within one out of recording the first no-hitter in the Association. It was against rival New York, and Joe Start broke it up with a double.
Levi Meyerle leads the league in OPS+ again; shifted away from 3B by Chicago due to the signing of Davy Force, he unseated Ross Barnes at 2B (Barnes was having an off year, for him, due to the hand injury).
Dave Eggler (PHW) beat George Hall (BOS) .318/.329/.415 vs .288/.291/.419 but neither are in the running this year for the batting award in CF due to Lip Pike’s outstanding season and shift to CF.
Hartford, under Lip Pike, has people shifting all over the place defensively. I don’t know whether this is injury adjustments or a manager’s search for optimal defensive positioning. The same applies to the Athletics.
Brooklyn’s Dickey Pearce, at 38 the 2nd-oldest player in the NA behind Harry Wright, 39, led the association’s shortstops in fielding percentage. He probably was quite a defensive player during the 1860’s (maybe Win Shares will have something interesting to say about his NA fielding.)
Boston defeated the Athletics in their season series for the first time this year (8-2). The previous three years had gone 1-3, 4-4, 4-5 for the A’s.
John Radcliff was expelled by the Philadelphia Pearls. The Baseball Library has it for attempting to bribe an umpire. The The Great Encylopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball has it for betting $350 on his own team to lose. Quite possibly it was both. Whatever the details, it was a scandal, but Radcliff was back in the NA the following season (though not for very long).
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