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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Most Meritorious Player: 1903 Discussion

Most Meritorious Player: 1903 Discussion

The leagues settle the labor dispute and Boston beats Pittsburgh in the first World Series. Rube Foster is tops in the Negro Leagues.

Player			SH WS		BBR WAR
Honus Wagner		35.2		7.6
Napoleon Lajoie		31.2		8.0
Jimmy Sheckard		32.8		7.1
Bill Bradley		29.1		7.1
Jimmy Collins		27.0		5.3
Sam Crawford		25.3		5.7
Patsy Dougherty		29.5		4.2
Jimmy Barrett		25.7		4.9
Frank Chance		28.4		5.7
Bill Dahlen		22.5		5.0
Freddy Parent		27.5		6.4
Fred Clarke		26.1		4.3
Roger Bresnahan		27.0		4.5
Billy Lush		18.7		4.2
Elmer Flick		24.1		4.4
Harry Steinfeldt	20.1		3.9
Johnny Kling		21.4		3.8
Danny Green		25.6		4.2
Kid Elberfeld		24.6		4.6
Roy Thomas		22.0		5.5		
Mike Donlin		23.7		4.5
Ginger Beaumont		29.3		4.1
Cy Seymour		24.1		3.9		
Claude Ritchey		21.0		4.4
Jack Doyle		20.0		3.2
Jimmy Williams		21.7		4.4
Joe Tinker		20.4		3.5		
Sam Mertes		25.0		3.7		
Buck Freeman		24.9		4.0
Fred Tenney		20.1		3.7
Bobby Wallace		19.5		4.3	
Pat Moran		17.6		2.5

Pitcher
Joe McGinnity		39.2		11.3
Christy Mathewson	35.3		10.2
Cy Young		35.2		8.6
Bill Donovan		22.1		7.4
Vic Willis		19.5		5.9
Rube Waddell		27.7		8.0
Noodles Hahn		24.0		7.4
Willie Sudhoff		24.7		6.6
Eddie Plank		27.6		7.2
George Mullin		23.5		6.0
Sam Leever		27.6		6.1
Bill Dinneen		25.2		6.5
Doc White		21.8		5.4
Jack Chesbro		22.3		4.7
Jake Weimer		23.7		5.7
Addie Joss		19.6		4.4
Deacon Phillipe		25.7		5.0
Jack Taylor		24.8		5.0
Rube Foster 		??		??

 

DL from MN Posted: March 04, 2015 at 04:36 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DL from MN Posted: March 04, 2015 at 05:05 PM (#4907596)
On Rube Foster

In 1903 he joined the Cuban X Giants and compiled a 54-1 record for the regular season, and won 4 games in the playoffs victory over the Philadelphia Giants.
   2. DL from MN Posted: March 04, 2015 at 05:09 PM (#4907597)
Grant Johnson's age 31 season with the Cuban X Giants

.296/.345/.333 .678 in 31 recorded plate appearances
   3. DL from MN Posted: March 04, 2015 at 05:15 PM (#4907601)
Rube Foster stats 1903

Batted .353/.389/.529 .918 in 18 plate appearances

W L G GS CG SHO IP R ER H 2B 3B HR BB K WP HBP BFP ERA ERA+ WHIP K% BB% K/BB    
4 0 4 04 04 1 36.0 6 3 19 02 01 00 07 19 0 00 134 0.75 228 0.722 14.2 5.2 2.71
   4. DL from MN Posted: March 04, 2015 at 05:23 PM (#4907606)
CF Dave Wyatt and SS Jimmy Smith of the Chicago Union Giants had decent years. Bert Jones and Billy Holland pitched pretty well for the Algona Brownies. The Philadelphia Giants were mostly over the hill. 1B Robert Jordan of the Cuban X Giants had a good 31 plate appearances.
   5. bjhanke Posted: March 05, 2015 at 01:45 AM (#4907796)
DL - Thanks for the Rube Foster info. He'll be on my ballot. I assume that comment number 3 is his stats for the playoffs; those are the most useful, because you have real reason to believe that the quality of the competition was not town team level, like, say, a 54-1 record would indicate. I'm hesitant to put any black position players on there, because, just within the white majors, my ballots in this period are very heavily weighted towards pitchers, for reasons that I'm not yet done explaining, despite the quantity of words I've already written.

And while I'm here and able to post, here's what I found out about making duplicate comments: Sometimes, when you hit "Submit your comment", the computer will hang, with the blue bar somewhere in the middle of the url, indicating that the computer froze over the submitting process. When that happens, sometimes the computer is completely frozen, but sometimes, you can jumpstart it by clicking "Submit your comment" again. However, whether or not the process jumpstarts, you have now created a fresh, new duplicate comment, each time you click Submit. In the 1902 ballot thread, I clicked Submit four times, and it was not frozen. When it did jumpstart, I had four identical long comments out there. I needed to edit three of them out. Well, it turns out that you cannot completely eliminate a comment. What you can do is edit it, but that requires a very strict process. Here's what you have to do:

1) Go to the duplicate comment and click edit.

2) Delete the duplicate, but make sure to leave at least one character in that comment. (This is why you see "Duplicate comment" so often; you cannot actually eliminate a comment, once submitted.)

3) Click Save to save your edit.

4) If you have more than one duplicate (I had to get rid of three), you can do steps 1 through 3 in the other duplicates as well at this time. That will help, as we will see.

5) YOU ARE NOT DONE! If you try to get out of the thread now, you will lose your edits. Really.

6) Go to the new comment box at the bottom. Place at least one character in that comment. You cannot avoid making this one last unwanted comment. If you try to click Submit without entering anything, you will get an error message.

7) When you have something in the new comment box, click "Submit your comment." At this point, your "current" comment will save, and so will ALL of your edited comments. If you try to do each edit separately, you will end up with a lot of extra comments, instead of just the one.

Boy, do I wish I had known this two days ago. - Brock Hanke
   6. bjhanke Posted: March 05, 2015 at 01:47 AM (#4907798)
Oh, and one other quick note. The point I made in the 1902 Ballot thread about Joe McGinnity was wrong. His 12 Win Shares for New York are not a typo. Joe played for another team that year, and put up 11 Win Shares there, as well as 12 in New York. I just missed that when I was commenting. Sorry. - Brock
   7. DL from MN Posted: March 05, 2015 at 11:38 AM (#4907980)
Pete Hill was playing at age 21, according to some sources with the Philadelphia Giants but no statistical record.
   8. Chris Fluit Posted: March 05, 2015 at 12:40 PM (#4908049)
1903 Prelim- NL Only

1. Joe McGinnity, P, New York Giants: beats out Wagner by a whisker; an astronomical 434 innings and an era+ that's good enough for 4th (139)
2. Honus Wagner, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates: finally playing the majority of his games at SS; 160 OPS+ to go along with league leading 108 Runs Created
3. Christy Mathewson, P, New York Giants: only the second-best pitcher on his own team; 149 ERA+ and 366 innings
4. Sam Leever, P, Pittsburgh Pirates: NL-leading 159 ERA+ and respectable 284 innings cracks the top ten
5. Jimmy Sheckard, LF, Brooklyn Superbas: the best defender (+10 fielding runs) among the top outfielders
6. Mike Donlin, LF/RF, Cincinnati Reds
7. Fred Clarke, LF, Pittsburgh Pirates
8. Roger Bresnahan, CF, New York Giants: not a lot separates Bresnahan, Clarke and Donlin
9. Noodles Hahn, P, Cincinnati Reds: 141 ERA+ in 296 innings
10. Deacon Philippe, P, Pittsburgh Pirates: 135 ERA+ in 289 innings
   9. Chris Fluit Posted: March 05, 2015 at 01:10 PM (#4908075)
1903 Prelim- AL Only

1. Nap Lajoie, 2B, Cleveland Naps: head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the AL; there's a reason the team was renamed after him; 1st in OPS+ (169) and 2nd in Runs Created (94) with outstanding defense (+17)
2. Cy Young, P, Boston Americans: 145 ERA+ in 341 innings
3. Bill Bradley, 3B, Cleveland Naps: a forgotten great; 153 OPS+, 92 RC and +11 fielding
4. Eddie Plank, P, Philadelphia Athletics: top ten ERA+ (128) to go with 336 IP
5. Earl Moore, P, Cleveland Naps: led the AL with 163 ERA+; though mediocre IP total of 247 holds him back
6. Sam Crawford, RF/LF, Detroit Tigers: a mirror image for Pittsburgh's Fred Clarke
7. Freddy Parent, SS, Boston Americans: 124 OPS+ and +14 fielding runs
8. George Mullin, P, Detroit Tigers
9. Bill Dinneen, P, Boston Americans
10. Doc White, P, Chicago White Sox: a trio of pitchers to round off the list
   10. Chris Fluit Posted: March 05, 2015 at 01:20 PM (#4908080)
1903 Prelim

1. Joe McGinnity, P, New York Giants: beats out Wagner by a whisker; an astronomical 434 innings and an era+ that's good enough for 4th (139)
2. Honus Wagner, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates: finally playing the majority of his games at SS; 160 OPS+ to go along with NL leading 108 Runs Created
3. Nap Lajoie, 2B, Cleveland Naps: head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the AL; there's a reason the team was renamed after him; 1st in OPS+ (169) and 2nd in Runs Created (94) with outstanding defense (+17)
4. Christy Mathewson, P, New York Giants: only the second-best pitcher on his own team; 149 ERA+ and 366 innings
5. Cy Young, P, Boston Americans: 145 ERA+ in 341 innings
6. Bill Bradley, 3B, Cleveland Naps: a forgotten great; 153 OPS+, 92 RC and +11 fielding
7. Rube Foster, P, Cuban X Giants: 228 ERA+ in recorded games; twice the WAR of any other Negro League player
8. Sam Leever, P, Pittsburgh Pirates: NL-leading 159 ERA+ and respectable 284 innings cracks the top ten
9. Jimmy Sheckard, LF, Brooklyn Superbas: the best defender (+10 fielding runs) among the top outfielders
10. Eddie Plank, P, Philadelphia Athletics: top ten ERA+ (128) to go with 336 IP

11. Mike Donlin, LF/RF
12. Earl Moore, P
13. Fred Clarke, LF
14. Sam Crawford, RF/LF
15. Roger Bresnahan, CF
16. Noodles Hahn, P
17. Freddy Parent, SS
18. George Mullin, P
19. Bill Dinneen, P
20. Doc White, P
   11. DL from MN Posted: March 06, 2015 at 02:23 PM (#4908624)
1903 Prelim

1) Honus Wagner - finally a full-time SS
2) Napoleon Lajoie - best bat in the American League
3) Jimmy Sheckard
4) Bill Bradley - not too far behind his teammate Lajoie
5) Joe McGinnity - best pitcher, 434 innings pitched
6) Jimmy Collins
7) Christy Mathewson
8) Rube Foster - an estimate but I am betting the 24 year old Foster is better than the 36 year old Cy Young
9) Sam Crawford
10) Patsy Dougherty

11-15) Jimmy Barrett, Frank Chance, Bill Dahlen, Freddy Parent, Cy Young
16-21) Bill Donovan, Vic Willis, Roger Bresnahan, Billy Lush, Elmer Flick, Rube Waddell
   12. EricC Posted: March 07, 2015 at 11:46 AM (#4908937)
1903 prelim

1. McGinnity
2. Mathewson. OK with WAR's assessment of these two pitchers as the top players.
3. Lajoie
4. Wagner
5. Young. Good World Series.
6. Kling. Catcher bounus, 1900s style. From a quick check on BBRef,
appears to be the one who broke McGuire's record (for innings caught
in a season).
7. Foster. My best estimate of his value.
8. Bradley
9. Leever. A little love for pitching quality
10. Sheckard. It's ard for me to remember that there's no "h" in his name.

And, if I had room for an 11th:

11. Chance
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 09, 2015 at 04:54 PM (#4909559)
Leagues are fairly balanced quality-wise at this point...

1) Rube Foster - when I have data, I will most certainly add a NeLer to my ballot. :-)
2) Cy Young
3) Christy Mathewson
4) Joe McGinnity
5) Honus Wagner
6) Sam Leever
7) Nap Lajoie
8) Eddie Plank
9) Bill Dinneen
10) Jimmy Sheckard
   14. DL from MN Posted: March 16, 2015 at 01:34 PM (#4912663)
Still waiting for Brock's essay
   15. bjhanke Posted: March 19, 2015 at 10:46 PM (#4914872)
DL - I'd have posted this yesterday, but BTF was blocked for posting again. My essay is done except for the final draft and fact checking. It will be here tomorrow (Friday) or Saturday, depending mostly on when I can post up. It did expand a little from my original description - it now has a VERY brief history of the concept of a pitching "rotation." This turned out to be VERY relevant; in fact, it provides the background for the point I am trying to make about the early 1900s. It was also a big surprise; I had no idea that I would be able to track the development of the concept of a rotation, even just in outline. - Brock Hanke
   16. bjhanke Posted: March 20, 2015 at 01:41 AM (#4914908)
OK, I have the first part copy edited and fact checked (although if I have something wrong, I won't be insulted if someone points that out), and I can post up now. I'm going to do that, with the promise of getting the second part done in a day or two. Whew! Thanks for patience. - Brock Hanke

This is the essay I promised over a week ago. Sorry about the delay. I knew I was going to Planet Comic Con in Kansas City, but I didn’t know that, while researching this stuff, I would find out that I could do at least a superficial track of the development of the concept of a pitchig rotation. Since doing that provides the essay with context, I’m starting there.

As most of you know (all of you, as far as I know, but I have to assume that at least one person hasn’t heard of all this), when MLB first got started in 1871 (I consider the National Association to be a major league because the 1975 NA and the 1976 NL have about the same player turnover as the 1974/75 NA or the 1976/77 NL. The financial structure changed completely, but I’m analyzing players here, not magnates), teams had only one pitcher. If he got hurt or shelled in a game, someone else came in from a field position to pitch, and the pitcher went, usually, to right field.

As the 1870s progressed, this resulted in teams having a pitcher, but also a “change pitcher.” Generally, the change pitcher was the starting right fielder. The issue was that the rules of the day did not allow a team to bring in a substitute player off the bench without the consent of the other team. Well, if your pitcher was getting shelled, the other team was not going to give you that permission, so you had to have someone who could pitch somewhere on the field. At the time, right field was the least valuable defensive position, so the change pitcher played there. But these change pitchers got very few IP, unless the starter got hurt for multiple games; the change pitcher was someone you needed, but that you didn’t need to be actually any good, although you wouldn’t complain if he was.

This system lasted until the league schedules, which started out in the 20s, grew to 60 games. If you have only one starting pitcher, and he completes all his games, and your schedule is 60 games, your starter has to pitch 540 innings. This proved to be more than most pitchers could handle, so the change pitchers acquired a bigger role, actually starting some games to give the starter a rest. I call this the “Ace +” approach to pitching. You have your ace, “plus” you have someone who isn’t your ace. You pitch the ace as often as you can, and use the other guy when the ace’s arm starts to complain. When the schedule reached 70 games, well, that’s 630 innings. There are only seven pitcher seasons ever of more than 630, all between 1879 and 1884. Pud Galvin and Hoss Radbourne pitched two each, and they were consecutive, but they did wear down those two arms seriously. The other three guys (Will White, Guy Hecker and Big Jim McCormick) did it only once. This changed the nature of the change pitcher position. Now you had to have a guy who could make at least several, and possibly many, starts. You are still using the Ace + approach, but you care more about whether the “plus” guy is any good.

This system continued into the 1880s, with weird results. Teams, at the time, were trying to figure out how many innings a starter could reasonably be asked to pitch. They knew that the schedules, now at 80 games and heading upwards, required more than one pitcher. What they did not know was that, due to ever-increasing sophistication of pitching, the number of innings that one ace pitcher could handle was steadily going down. That is, they knew what target they wanted to hit; they just didn’t know that the target was moving. This produced the oddity of the completely inconsistent star pitcher. Take John Clarkson, generally considered to be the best pitcher of the 1880s. John pitched over 500 innings in three years over a 5-year period, at his peak. Here are those five years, with IP and W/L:

Year IP W/L
1885 623.0 53/16
1886 466.2 36/17
1887 523.0 38/21
1888 483.1 33/20
1889 620.0 49/19

You will notice that he never pitched 500 innings in two consecutive seasons. Also, he led the league in wins in the years where he did pitch 500 innings, but not when he didn’t. What is this? Well, it’s what happens when your manager pitches you every time you’re in condition to throw. He throws your arm to the max one year, and the next year, you can’t pitch anything like that much because your arm is still recovering. Clarkson himself was very durable; his IP in the two recovery seasons are very high for recovery seasons. Other pitchers have much greater swings; but those other pitchers aren’t considered to be the best pitcher of the 1880s.

As you might imagine, many teams had seasons where they look like they have two equal starters. Those are the recovery years for their aces. Their change pitcher has to pick up a lot of IP, and sometimes, it will look like the team has an actual two-man rotation. But it never lasts. Never. The next year, the ace is back to full form, and the change pitcher’s workload drops. The first time that the Ace + system was abandoned for an actual two-man “rotation” was in 1886 with the St. Louis team in the American Association.

1884 was Charlie Comiskey’s first full year as manager of the St. Louis Browns in the AA. He, like many other managers, was trying to cope with ever-increasing schedules and ever-decreasing IP that aces could handle. His response, that year, was to have an “Ace + Many” system. Jumbo McGinnis was his ace, at 354.1 IP. The team actually used four other pitchers instead of just one change pitcher; those four guys had IP of 206.2, 198.1, 141.0, and 82.2. That last man, the 82.2, was a 20-year-old rookie named Bob Caruthers, who is almost certainly the best player in the AA who is not in the Hall of Fame (he is in the Hall of Merit; so far, the HoF has only eleccted Bid McPhee from the AA).

Anyway, in 1885, as you might expect, Jumbo McGinnis could not pitch no 354 innings. He ended up with 112.0. Caruthers exploded onto the MLB scene with 482.1 innings of exceptional work (40/13, ERA+ of 160). But Dave Foutz, who had pitched the 206.2 season in 1884, moved up to 407.2, going 33/14 with an ERA+ of 126. This is normal, so far, for 1885. The ace has a worn out arm, and so a couple of change pitchers have to fill in, with reasonably similar workloads to each other. The big change, however, happened in 1886. That year, Foutz pitched 504.0 innings, while Caruthers threw 387.1. Nat Hudson threw 234.1, and Jumbo McGinnis was down to 87.2. This is, essentially, the same two guys, Foutz and Caruthers, handling the bulk of the pitching with reasonably similar numbers of IP, two years in a row.

This had never happened before. Until this team, having your two top starters actually sharing the job was a one-year thing driven by the need for the ace’s arm to recover. The 1886 season is the first season where the same two guys as the previous year handled the load, more or less equally.

Comiskey wasn’t done, nor were Caruthers and Foutz. In 1888, Silver King was added to the mix, producing an actual three-man rotation. In 1889, both Caruthers and Foutz were gone, but they moved, as a unit, to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (what a great name for a ballclub, especially if it always finishes second). Foutz had a down year, and the Brooklyn rotation was, essentially, Caruthers and Mickey Hughes, but the important point is that Caruthers and Foutz were moved as a unit, and therefore, must have been perceived as a unit. Five years’ earlier, the entire concept of a two-man “unit” staying together over time would have just confused people in baseball. In 1889, Foutz’ arm gave up, and he only pitched a little, actually being Brooklyn’s starting first baseman. In 1890, Foutz didn’t pitch at all, morphing into a full-time first baseman (they were both now playing for Brooklyn in the NL, instead of the AA, but I think that has to do with franchise movements from the AA to the NL). By 1891, Caruthers was dropping down from deserving a top starter spot, and his career would be over soon. But the point remains. The Browns, under Comiskey, were the first team to try having two aces and working them evenly in a rotation, resulting in their being able to do this for more than one year.

The concept of having multiple aces developed in the 1890s to having even more than two, but, as late as 1902, there were still teams trying to win with a two-man rotation plus other guys in lesser roles (Philadelphia: Eddie Plank and Rube Waddell, plus Bert Husting, Snake Wiltse, Fred Mitchell and Highball Wilson; it worked, more or less, like a two-and-two-halves rotation, with Husting being worth a half and the other three worth another half). I’ll call this a 3 man rotation. Philly won the AL pennant that year. But the NL winners, Pittsburgh, did not have a 3 man rotation, like Boston did. They had a 4 ½ man rotation (Jack Chesbro, Jesse Tannehill, Deacon Phillippe, Sam Leever, and Ed Doheny, all but Ed over 200 IP). They also went 103-36, which is a better winning percentage than modern teams that win 116, because the schedule was only 140 games long in 1902. Philly won 83 games and the AL pennant.

The essence of the problem that this essay is trying to address is that the large disparity in rotation sizes led to some pitchers – those on the short-rotation teams - getting many many more IP than the guys on the long rotations. Those guys show up high on Win Shares or WAR lists, because they accumulate a lot of value over all those IP. But I want to dispute whether they were actually better pitchers, not just over whole careers, but within these individual seasons, than the guys in the long rotations, who are pitching much better per IP, but with many fewer IP. I want to claim that just using WS or WAR to rank pitchers in this era is a bad decision. The rest of this essay is basically explaining why I think that.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 23, 2015 at 07:49 AM (#4915958)
But I want to dispute whether they were actually better pitchers, not just over whole careers, but within these individual seasons, than the guys in the long rotations, who are pitching much better per IP, but with many fewer IP.


You make good points, Brock, and ones I have wrestled with for years. Having said that, however, how would the non-counting stats for the pitchers with the lesser workloads have looked if they had been saddled the greater workloads instead? Once you start asking that question, then, IMO, you just have to go with what the numbers as they were and forget about the way pitchers were handled differently on different teams (at least when it comes to this project, at any rate).
   18. DL from MN Posted: March 23, 2015 at 10:29 AM (#4916040)
World Series stats
Player Name  G  AB  R  H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  SB  
Jimmy Collins  8  36  5  9  1  2  0  1  1  1  .250  .270  .389  .659  3  
Bill Dinneen  4  11  1  2  0  0  0  0  2  2  .182  .308  .182  .490  0  
Pat Dougherty  8  34  3  8  0  2  2  5  2  6  .235  .297  .529  .827  0  
Buck Freeman  8  32  6  9  0  3  0  4  2  2  .281  .324  .469  .792  0  
Cy Young  4  15  1  1  0  1  0  3  0  3  .067  .067  .200  .267  0  

Ging Beaumont  8  34  6  9  0  1  0  1  2  4  .265  .306  .324  .629  2  
Fred Clarke  8  34  3  9  2  1  0  2  1  5  .265  .286  .382  .668  1  
Sam Leever  2  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .000  .000  .000  .000  0
Deac Phillippe  5  18  1  4  0  0  0  1  0  3  .222  .222  .222  .444  0
Claude Ritchey  8  27  2  4  1  0  0  2  4  7  .148  .258  .185  .443  1   
Honus Wagner  8  27  2  6  1  0  0  3  3  4  .222  .323  .259  .582  3

Pitcher Name  G  GS  ERA  W  L  SV  CG  IP  H  R  ER  BB  SO  WHIP
Bill Dinneen  4  4  2.06  3  1  0  4  35.0  29  8  8  8  28  1.057  
Cy Young  4  3  1.85  2  1  0  3  34.0  31  13  7  4  17  1.029

Sam Leever  2  2  5.40  0  2  0  1  10.0  13  8  6  3  2  1.600  
Deac Phillippe  5  5  3.07  3  2  0  5  44.0  38  19  15  3  22  0.932
   19. OCF Posted: March 23, 2015 at 09:04 PM (#4916531)
So when did the first team try spreading the pitching innings even wider? I associate that trend with the Cubs and the Pirates, and the Cubs, at least, were already doing it by 1906. And the Cubs had a succession of pitchers who had an outstanding season or two, without having had anything like that success elsewhere. (Of course, Mordecai Brown was still an ace.) But am I right in thinking that 1903 is still to early to be talking about this?
   20. bjhanke Posted: March 25, 2015 at 07:04 AM (#4917469)
This is the essay I promised over a week ago. Sorry about the delay. I knew I was going to Planet Comic Con in Kansas City, but I didn’t know that, while researching this stuff, I would find out that I could do at least a superficial track of the development of the concept of a pitchig rotation. Since doing that provides the essay with context, I’m starting there.

As most of you know (all of you, as far as I know, but I have to assume that at least one person hasn’t heard of all this), when MLB first got started in 1871 (I consider the National Association to be a major league because the 1975 NA and the 1976 NL have about the same player turnover as the 1974/75 NA or the 1976/77 NL. The financial structure changed completely, but I’m analyzing players here, not magnates), teams had only one pitcher. If he got hurt or shelled in a game, someone else came in from a field position to pitch, and the pitcher went, usually, to right field.

As the 1870s progressed, this resulted in teams having a pitcher, but also a “change pitcher.” Generally, the change pitcher was the starting right fielder. The issue was that the rules of the day did not allow a team to bring in a substitute player off the bench without the consent of the other team. Well, if your pitcher was getting shelled, the other team was not going to give you that permission, so you had to have someone who could pitch somewhere on the field. At the time, right field was the least valuable defensive position (don’t ask me to defend this now; I can, but it’s a long digression), so the change pitcher played there. But these change pitchers got very few IP, unless the starter got hurt for multiple games; the change pitcher was someone you needed, but that you didn’t need to be actually any good, although you wouldn’t complain if he was.

This system lasted until the league schedules, which started out in the 20s, grew to 60 games. If you have only one starting pitcher, and he completes all his games, and your schedule is 60 games, your starter has to pitch 540 innings. This proved to be more than most pitchers could handle, so the change pitchers acquired a bigger role, actually starting some games to give the starter a rest. I call this the “Ace +” approach to pitching. You have your ace, “plus” you have someone who isn’t your ace. You pitch the ace as often as you can, and use the other guy when the ace’s arm starts to complain. When the schedule reached 70 games, well, that’s 630 innings. There are only seven pitcher seasons ever of more than 630, all between 1879 and 1884. Pud Galvin and Hoss Radbourne pitched two each, and they were consecutive, but they did wear down those two arms seriously. The other three guys (Will White, Guy Hecker and Big Jim McCormick) did it only once. This changed the nature of the change pitcher position. Now you had to have a guy who could make at least several, and possibly many, starts. You are still using the Ace + approach, but you care more about whether the “plus” guy is any good.

This system continued into the 1880s, with weird results. Teams, at the time, were trying to figure out how many innings a starter could reasonably be asked to pitch. They knew that the schedules, now at 80 games and heading upwards, required more than one pitcher. What they did not know was that, due to ever-increasing sophistication of pitching, the number of innings that one ace pitcher could handle was steadily going down. That is, they knew what target they wanted to hit; they just didn’t know that the target was moving. This produced the oddity of the completely inconsistent star pitcher. Take John Clarkson, generally considered to be the best pitcher of the 1880s. John pitched over 500 innings in three years over a 5-year period, at his peak. Here are those five years, with IP and W/L:

Year IP W/L
1885 623.0 53/16
1886 466.2 36/17
1887 523.0 38/21
1888 483.1 33/20
1889 620.0 49/19

You will notice that he never pitched 500 innings in two consecutive seasons. Also, he led the league in wins in the years where he did pitch 500 innings, but not when he didn’t. What is this? Well, it’s what happens when your manager pitches you every time you’re in condition to throw. He throws your arm to the max one year, and the next year, you can’t pitch anything like that much because your arm is still recovering. Clarkson himself was very durable; his IP in the two recovery seasons are very high for recovery seasons. Other pitchers have much greater swings; but those other pitchers aren’t considered to be the best pitcher of the 1880s.

As you might imagine, many teams had seasons where they look like they have two equal starters. Those are the recovery years for their aces. Their change pitcher has to pick up a lot of IP, and sometimes, it will look like the team has an actual two-man rotation. But it never lasts. Never. The next year, the ace is back to full form, and the change pitcher’s workload drops. The first time that the Ace + system was abandoned for an actual two-man “rotation” was in 1886 with the St. Louis team in the American Association.

1884 was Charlie Comiskey’s first full year as manager of the St. Louis Browns in the AA. He, like many other managers, was trying to cope with ever-increasing schedules and ever-decreasing IP that aces could handle. His response, that year, was to have an “Ace + Many” system. Jumbo McGinnis was his ace, at 354.1 IP, which isn’t a John Clarkson workload, but was still a lot more than anyone else on the team. The team actually used four other pitchers instead of just one change pitcher; those four guys had IP of 206.2, 198.1, 141.0, and 82.2. That last man, the 82.2, was a 20-year-old rookie named Bob Caruthers, who is almost certainly the best player in the AA who is not in the Hall of Fame (he is in the Hall of Merit; so far, the HoF has only elected Bid McPhee from the AA).

Anyway, in 1885, as you might expect, Jumbo McGinnis could not pitch no 354 innings. He ended up with 112.0. Caruthers exploded onto the MLB scene with 482.1 innings of exceptional work (40/13, ERA+ of 160). But Dave Foutz, who had pitched the 206.2 season in 1884, moved up to 407.2, going 33/14 with an ERA+ of 126. This is normal, so far, for 1885. The ace has a worn out arm, and so a couple of secondary pitchers have to fill in, with reasonably similar workloads to each other. The main oddity is that both Caruthers and Foutz pitched more innings than Jumbo McGinnis had the year before. The big change, however, happened in 1886. That year, Foutz pitched 504.0 innings, while Caruthers threw 387.1. Nat Hudson threw 234.1, and Jumbo McGinnis was down to 87.2. This is, essentially, the same two guys, Foutz and Caruthers, handling the bulk of the pitching with reasonably similar numbers of IP, two years in a row.

This had never happened before. Until this team, having your two top starters actually sharing the job was a one-year thing driven by the need for the ace’s arm to recover. The 1886 season is the first season where the same two guys as the previous year handled the load, more or less equally.

Comiskey wasn’t done, nor were Caruthers and Foutz. In 1888, Silver King was added to the mix, producing an actual three-man rotation. In 1889, both Caruthers and Foutz were gone, but they moved, as a unit, to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (what a great name for a ballclub, especially if it always finishes second). Foutz had a down year, and the Brooklyn rotation was, essentially, Caruthers and Mickey Hughes, but the important point is that Caruthers and Foutz were moved as a unit, and therefore, must have been perceived as a unit. Five years earlier, the entire concept of a two-man “unit” staying together over time would have just confused people in baseball. In 1889, Foutz’ arm gave up, and he only pitched a little, actually being Brooklyn’s starting first baseman. In 1890, Foutz didn’t pitch at all, morphing into a full-time first baseman (they were both now playing for Brooklyn in the NL, instead of the AA, but I think that has to do with franchise movements from the AA to the NL). By 1891, Caruthers was dropping down from deserving a top starter spot, and his career would be over soon. But the point remains. The Browns, under Comiskey, were the first team to try having two aces and working them evenly in a rotation, resulting in their being able to do this for more than one year.

The concept of having multiple aces developed in the 1890s to having even more than two, but that decade is so chaotic that I don’t want to spend time here trying to analyze it. As late as 1902, there were still teams trying to win with a two-man rotation plus other guys in lesser roles. Boston (NL) in 1902, for example, had two aces, Vic Willis and Togie Pittinger, and two other guys in much lesser roles. Here’s the list of Boston’s pitchers, with their IP for the year:

Vic Willis 410.0
Togie Pittinger 389.1
Mel Eason 213.1
John Malarkey 170.1

Pretty big drop there, form Pittinger to Eason. But the NL winners, Pittsburgh, did not have kind of staff at all. They had a 4 ½ man rotation (Jack Chesbro, Jesse Tannehill, Deacon Phillippe, Sam Leever, and Ed Doheny, all but Ed over 200 IP). They also went 103-36, which is a better winning percentage than modern teams that win 116, because the schedule was only 140 games long in 1902. Boston finished third.

The essence of the problem that this essay is trying to address is that the large disparity in rotation sizes led to some pitchers – those on the short-rotation teams - getting many many more IP than the guys on the long rotations. Those guys show up high on Win Shares or WAR lists, because they accumulate a lot of value over all those IP. But I want to dispute whether they were actually better pitchers, not just over whole careers, but within these individual seasons, than the guys in the long rotations, who are pitching much better per IP, but with many fewer IP. I want to claim that just using WS or WAR to rank pitchers in this era is a bad decision. The rest of this essay is basically explaining why I think that.
   21. bjhanke Posted: March 25, 2015 at 07:08 AM (#4917470)
And you thought I was done with digressions. I have a couple more things to say about the issue of differing rotation lengths before I start looking at the consequences of it. The phenomenon got especially bad here in the early 1900s because the historical drop in the number of innings a sturdy, full-time, uninjured starter can pitch (let’s just call that IPMax) isn’t linear. It’s a curve. The rate of drop in the 1870s was probably very high, but teams did not play enough league games for it to show. In the 1880s, the drop was very sharp, from essentially a single starter, who could pitch 500+ innings, to 2 ½ starters, throwing 300-400 IPMax, in a decade. By the time baseball had caught up to that, the rate of drop was slower than before. So now, baseball knew that it had a target and that the target was moving, but not that the rate of change was slowing down. That’s why this period, 1900-1909, has so much disparity. You have the target IPMax, the fact that this target is moving downward, and the fact that the rate of downward movement is itself slowing down, and not everyone knows about all three of these, and those who do know have no real good way of measuring the effect.

If you’re having trouble visualizing the curve, well, I have no idea how to post a graphic here on BTF, but I can refer you to the charts on page 108-109 of Bill James’ book Win Shares. Take that curve, which Bill is using for something completely different, and flip it horizontally, so that, instead of going low left to high right, it goes high left to low right. That type of curve represents what happpens to IPMax over time. If you look at the horizontal bar, you’ll see numbers. Look for “9.” The 1900s are, on the chart of IPMax, about at the position that “9” is on Bill’s chart. I call it “turning the corner.” It’s the point at which the fact that this is a curve and not a line becomes most obvious; just another reason why this period is so odd in terms of pitcher use.

There’s one other factor that makes this period unusual in terms of pitcher workloads: the development of multiple breaking pitches. The curve ball was already discovered before 1871, but by 1900, there were all sorts of variants, like the “fadeaway”, and assorted ways of using the beaten-up baseballs of the times to get weird breaks, even without spit, emery paper, slippery elm or whatever. There developed a difference between those pitchers who could get away with throwing almost all fastballs (Young, Waddell, Johnson), and the guys who lived by the breaking ball. The guys who threw mostly fastballs could handle more IP than the curve ball guys, because throwing curves is hard on arms. So, when you see a pitcher with a very high number of IP in a year, this almost always means that 1) he’s a fastball chucker, or 2) his arm isn’t going to hold up. Let’s call these two types the Cy Young type and the Sam Leever type (Leever was chosen to write the early 1900s book on how to throw a curve).

So, finally, the consequences. Let’s compare the 1902 Boston Nationals, who went 73/64, to the Pirates of the same year, who went 103-36, a comparison that I just got started earlier, but which is the crux of this whole essay. Obviously, the Pirates are by far the better team, but how about their pitching, isolated from the hitting and the glovework? Here is everyone who pitched 150 or more innings for the two teams in 1902, listed by IP:

Boston
Name IP W/L ERA+ Win Shares
Vic Willis 410.0 27/20 128 29
Togie Pittinger 389.1 27/16 112 24
Mel Eason 213.1 9/12 97 10
John Malarkey 170.1 8/10 109 9

Pittsburgh
Name IP W/L ERA+ Win Shares
Jack Chesbro 286.1 28/6 126 25
Deacon Phillippe 272.0 20/9 133 23
Jesse Tannehill 231.0 20/6 140 24
Sam Leever 222.0 15/7 114 17
Ed Doheny 188.1 16/4 108 14

Here are the same guys, ranked by IP and ERA+, but combining both teams:

Name IP ERA+
Vic Willis 410.0 128
Togie Pittinger 389.1 112
Jack Chesbro 286.1 126
Deacon Phillippe 272.0 133
Jesse Tannehill 231.0 140
Sam Leever 222.0 114
Mel Eason 213.1 97
Ed Doheny 188.1 108
John Malarkey 170.1 109

And here they are, ranked by ERA+:

Name IP ERA+
Jesse Tannehill 231.0 140
Deacon Phillippe 272.0 133
Vic Willis 410.0 128
Jack Chesbro 286.1 126
Sam Leever 222.0 114
Togie Pittinger 389.1 112
John Malarkey 170.1 109
Ed Doheny 188.1 108
Mel Eason 213.1 97

Notice Pittinger’s low ERA+ of 112. There are only three pitchers on the combined list who have a lower ERA+: Malarkey (109), Doheny (108) and Eason (97). These are the three who had the fewest IP, and two of the three are from Boston. Basically, the three are the swing starters, middle relief guys. Pittsburgh has 1 out of 5; Boston has 2 out of 4. That leaves Boston with only 2 quality starters, while it leaves Pittsburgh with 4.

But now let’s list them in the order of Win Shares and IP (I’m using WS because I trust their pitcher rankings more than I do BB-Ref’s, and it’s easier to see things if they are expressed in integers).

Name Win Shares IP
Vic Willis 29 410.0
Jack Chesbro 25 286.1
Togie Pittinger 24 389.1
Jesse Tannehill 24 231.0
Deacon Philippe 23 272.0
Sam Leever 17 222.0
Ed Doheny 14 188.1
Mel Eason 10 213.1
John Malarkey 9 170.1

Note that this is not the list you will get if you use DL’s header from the 1902 Discussion thread. The header has Vic Willis with even more WS than here. He has 31.2. Togie Pittinger takes a step forward, to 27.6, leapfrogging over Jack Chesbro, who stands even at 25.4. The header does not list any other pitchers from these teams, not even Phillippe and Tannehill, or I would have used the header’s numbers.

These lists expose my problem. Jack Chesbro, pitching 286.1 innings, ranks about even with Pittinger, who threw 389.1 (on the header, Togie has more WS than Jack). If you compare Jack to Togie using the book Win Shares, Togie pitched 103 more innings than Chesbro, and finished one win share behind Jack. But, if you use the header’s numbers, you get Togie ahead of Jack 27.6 WS to 25.4. In any case, it’s not a bad estimate to say that Togie pitched about 100 innings more than Jack, and gained, at most, a couple of Win Shares out of those 100 innings. So the “replacement player” in Togie’s case – the pitcher who pitched the 100 innings after Togie has thrown as many as Chesbro - is a hundred IP, worth 1-3 Win Shares. That is a dreadful pitcher, well below replacement rate. But Togie gets those 3 WS, because those replacement innings were pitched by Togie himself.

Jakc Chesbro’s “replacement players” are Sam Leever and Ed Doheny. Obviously, either of those two is going to get more than 3 Win Shares out of a hundred IP. The same thing is true of Deacon Phillippe. Compared to Deacon, Togie has 3-5 more Win Shares, but has to pitch 117 innings more than the Deacon did to get those 3-5 WS. Again, the Deacon’s replacement players are Leever and Doheny, who are much better pitchers than Togie’s “replacement.” The same thing is true of Jesse Tannehill. Togie pitched 158 more IP than Jesse, for a gain about about 1-3 WS.

Simply put, Togie Pittinger is not, even just in 1902, better than Chesbro, Phillippe or Tannehill. He has more Win Shares, but they involve a huge cost to his team, since they involve more than a hundred IP than the Pittsburgh Three. But if you just use accumulated WS or WAR, Pittinger ranks a bit higher.

This problem does exist in modern baseball, but the IP differences are not nearly as large. Last year, for example, there were, basically, three candidates for the NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright. They pitched 198.1, 243.2, and 227.0 innings, respectively. Kershaw won the award, and I agree with that. But let’s suppose that Cueto, instead of pitching 243.2 Innings, threw 293.2, fifty more. Unless he had a catastrophic drop in effectiveness, there is no serious way that he would not have won the Cy. The 95-inning edge over Kershaw would simply be too much to overcome. Well, that’s what’s happening here, in 1902. Togie Pittinger ranks higher than Jack Chesbro because he pitched 103 more innings, with 14 fewer points of ERA+.

Why doesn’t this happen in modern baseball? Because the IPMax is dropping so slowly that there is little confusion over how many innings a sturdy, healthy ace can pitch. Even if you’re talking about Roger Clemens, he’s not a hundred IP ahead over the #2 or #3 guys – Randy Johnson or Greg Maddux. He’s not just accumulating innings to death in order to win Cy Young awards. But in this decade, 1901-1909, you do have disparities of that size, so you get accumulators who pile up more Win Shares or WAR than others just because they are in much shorter “rotations.”


   22. bjhanke Posted: March 25, 2015 at 07:09 AM (#4917471)
So, what does this all mean for the Most Meritorious Player award? It means that you have to consider a lot of factors above just WAR and Win Shares. Is Jack Chesbro really a better pitcher in 1902 than Togie Pittinger simply because his replacement rate is Ed Doheny? Or is Pittinger better because he threw a hundred more innings at a lesser rate? Remember, it’s not the fault of the pitchers. Togie didn’t just decide to pitch a hundred more innings than Jack. He had to throw those innings because his team didn’t have enough pitching for him to be cut down some. That’s on the owner and manager. Fred Clarke, managing Pittsburgh, was actually way ahead of the curve on this, enabled by owner Barney Dreyfus. Here’s a list of the entire 1902 National League, ranked by the number of pitchers who threw 200 innings or more:

Pittsburgh 4 (and 1/2 , counting Doheny)
Philadelphia 4 (It’s a VERY clean 4-man rotation, but only one of the pitchers had an ERA+ over 100)
Brooklyn 4 (The same clean-but-not-good rotation as Philly)
Boston 3 (Mel Eason wasn’t very good, but the alternative would have been even more IP for Vic and Togie)
Cincinnati 3
St. Louis 2
Chicago 2
New York 2 (It’s two whether or not you include Joe McGinnity’s whole season. The Giants traded for him in mid-season, but their second 200-IP guy, Dummy Taylor, would not have pitched 200 if Joe had been there all year. He only did pitch 200.2)

This is an enormous spread over a whole league. And it’s worse when you realize that only one of the 4-man rotations had good pitchers in all four spots. When I said that Fred Clarke was way ahead of the curve, I meant WAY ahead. He was the only manager who decided that he needed to acquire four GOOD pitchers and another decent one.

As I indicated a couple of paragraphs ago, you, as voters, have a lot of decisions to make beyond just Win Shares and/or WAR. Here are some other effects, all due to rotaton length:

Sometimes, especially in short rotations, you have an ace pitcher who is hurt by being the ace. At this time, teams would work around their rotations to see that their best pitchers would face the best pitchers on the opposition. There are many posters like that - Chicago at New York: Brown vs. Mathewson. That means that, often, the ace pitcher looks worse than he is, because his opponents are better. This shows up in 1902 with Willis and Pittinger. Willis is obviously the better pitcher, and pitched a few more innings, but here are their W/L records:

Willis 27/20
Pittinger 27/16

How does Togie have a better W/L than Vic? Because Vic got to pitch against the other teams’ aces, while Togie got the #2 guys. There may be a secondary effect that Vic might have pitched against better teams overall, which means better offenses than Togie saw. But that’s not the big one.

This will show up in 1903, where this essay actually appears. Pittsburgh’s pitching staff is different, and lesser, in 1903 than in 1902. What happened is the first instance I know of where the Yankees tried to buy a pennant. Pittsburgh lost both Chesbro and Tannehill to the Yankees, and these were neither trades nor sales. The Pirates got nothing in return. The two simply jumped leagues. It didn’t work for the Yanks because they were bad, and both Jack and Jesse had off years, but the Pirates dropped to 91 wins, although that still won the pennant. More important for MMP voters, Phillippe and Leever become the two aces, and both may very well show up in top ten lists for this year. They have 28 and 27 Win Shares, much more than in 1902, although there is no real reason to believe that they were better pitchers in 1903.

At this point, the “ace” effect happens. Sam Leever shows just a little bit better than Phillippe in 1903, although Deacon started Game 1 of the World Series. I speculated, some time ago, that Deacon started Game 1 because it was he, and not Sam, who was perceived as the team’s ace. That Sam had slightly better numbers was due, I contended, to the difference in opposition. Chris Jaffe, working on his book on managers, actually went through the game logs for Pittsburgh in 1903 and confirmed that this was true: Deacon Phillippe did, indeed, face stronger oppostion in that year than Sam Leever did. So I will be ranking Deacon ahead of Sam, despite the numbers. But remember, in 1902, neither Deacon nor Sam got listed, simply because they didn’t pitch enough innings. In 1903, there were more innings available to them, because Jack and Jesse were gone to the Yankees.

So you have to wade through questions:

Did this guy pitch a lot of innings because he threw high heat, or because his team didn’t have anyone else? (If you have a source for Loss Shares, and can get the Win Shares / Loss Shares record, that may be a LOT of help. I wonder what Willis’ and Pittinger’s numbers are there.)

Did this other guy pitch fewer innings because he had more help, or because he threw a lot of curves, which wore down his arm? (Try the Neyer / James Guide to Pitchers)

Does this guy have lesser numbers than this other guy because the first guy was a staff ace, and faced tougher competition? (I can’t actually suggest going through everyone’s game logs, because I sure don’t, but you can usually identify the ace.)

And then, does this guy show well because he pitched well, or because his defense was a lot of help? The Pittsburgh defense of 1902 had an outfield of Fred Clarke, Ginger Beaumont and Honus Wagner. Tommy Leach was at third (To give you an idea of how far ahead of the pitching curve Manager Clarke was, all four of these guys have more Win Shares than ANY of the pitchers). This will also come into play later in the decade, with the Chicago Cubs.

Now, I know as well as anyone else that the various systems – Win Shares, the various WAR systems, Linear Weights, others – try to boil all this down into a single number. And they probably do a good job in general. But the pitching situation in the early 1900s involved so many large discrepanncies, because no one could figure out where the IPMax number really was, that the side issues are more important than in any other period. The one thing that you cannot do with any security is to just look at WAR or Win Shares. There are too many side issues that have serious value for that. And it’s all the result of the IPMax curve “turning the corner”, which is why this decade is unique.

Boy, just looking at the word count, I hope that everybody here doesn’t already know all of this. But, then, I often submit ballots that aren’t similar to everyone else’s, so maybe there was something worth reading here. I do hope so. – Brock Hanke
   23. Chris Fluit Posted: March 25, 2015 at 11:11 AM (#4917574)
Thanks for that, Brock. I definitely learned a few new things.

A few points in response:

Caruthers and Foutz didn't simply share pitching duties as the first two-ace tandem. They also platooned at first base on their non-pitching days. St. Louis didn't have to bury their spare pitcher in right field. Caruthers and Foutz were good enough hitters and fielders to play an everyday position when they weren't pitching, which created a huge advantage for St. Louis and then Brooklyn.

By the 1890s, most teams employed the two-ace strategy- especially after the mound was moved back in 1894. The Giants had Rusie and Meekin. The Spiders had Cy Young and Nig Cuppy. The Beaneaters had Nichols and Stivetts (who was a pretty good hitter as well). The big exception was Baltimore. I don't know why it was- and I've studied the '90s extensively- but Ned Hanlon burned through his pitchers quickly and ended almost every season with a different rotation that he started with.

We're still left with Grandma's observation in post #17. The Pittsburgh manager wisely traded quantity for quality, getting better results over fewer innings from his pitchers. But we can't assume that those pitchers would have produced at the same quality if they were asked to pitch more innings. It's possible that WAR overstates the workhorse compared to the ERA ace in this era. But it's also possible that the individual workhorse was more meritorious, even if Pittsburgh's approach was smarter overall. Enough of us use FIP or ERA+ that I think it probably balances out.
   24. bjhanke Posted: March 25, 2015 at 09:27 PM (#4917950)
Chris - Thanks for the very good comments. I had noticed that, when Foutz' arm started to give in Brooklyn, he converted to a 1B instead of a RF. I didn't know about Caruthers; I just assumed he was a RF, that's where he's listed in his last tiny fraction of season, when his pitching arm was gone. I had wondered about Foutz, and now I wonder about Caruthers, whether this was related to Comiskey's documented innovation of playing off the bag and having the pitcher cover 1B on grounders to the 1B side. If Foutz and maybe Caruthers had been doing that on their off days as pitchers, it would explain why Dave got turned into a 1B at the end of his career. He already had experience at the position, which was, at the time, considered much more valuable on defense than RF was.

Your last point - that we can't assume that Pittsburgh's short-IP guys could have produced similar results if given more IP, is checkable. The 1903 Pirates, having lost Chesbro and Tannehill to the Yankees, were forced to shorten their rotation, giving Phillippe and Leever more innings than in 1902 (many more for Leever; Deacon had been the #2 starter in 1902). Here are the results:

Phillippe went from 272 IP with a 133 ERA+ to 289 IP with a 135 ERA+, despite taking over the ace rotation spot, which meant that he saw stronger competition than he had in 1902.

Leever went from 222 IP with a 114 ERA+ to 285 IP (Leever had been the #4 starter in '02, in '03, he was the #2) to 285 IP with a 159 ERA+, which led the league.

I think we can pretty much infer that at least this small sample indicates that Phillippe and Leever were, if anything, underused in 1902. This is part of my thesis in the whole article - Fred Clarke in 1902 was, really, TOO far ahead of the curve. He had more pitching than he really needed. But, then, he didn't need to win 103 games to win the pennant. In 1903, 91 would work just as well. - Brock
   25. Chris Fluit Posted: March 25, 2015 at 10:13 PM (#4917963)
Chris - Thanks for the very good comments. I had noticed that, when Foutz' arm started to give in Brooklyn, he converted to a 1B instead of a RF. I didn't know about Caruthers; I just assumed he was a RF, that's where he's listed in his last tiny fraction of season, when his pitching arm was gone. I had wondered about Foutz, and now I wonder about Caruthers, whether this was related to Comiskey's documented innovation of playing off the bag and having the pitcher cover 1B on grounders to the 1B side. If Foutz and maybe Caruthers had been doing that on their off days as pitchers, it would explain why Dave got turned into a 1B at the end of his career. He already had experience at the position, which was, at the time, considered much more valuable on defense than RF was.


I was wrong about that. I knew that Foutz spent a lot of time at 1B and misremembered Caruthers as a part-time first baseman as well. However, Caruthers only played 13 games at 1B over the course of his career. He was a pretty good hitter and even spent some time in CF for Brooklyn in 1888 but he was primarily used as a right fielder when he wasn't pitching. Foutz alternated between outfield and first base with St. Louis but didn't play first regularly until later. Sorry. The memory is a funny creature.

   26. bjhanke Posted: March 27, 2015 at 01:05 PM (#4918827)
The first base play while in St. Louis is a big surprise, given that the incumbent was Comiskey himself. I wonder if Foutz was simply too slow to play outfield. - Brock

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