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Thread: All Era Team: Dead Ball Era (1900-1920)

  1. #1
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    Default All Era Team: Dead Ball Era (1900-1920)

    The series continues today with a look at the best individual seasons in Pirates history during the dead ball era which I am defining as being from 1900 through 1920.

    Catcher: The two names I put in for consideration here are George Gibson and William Fischer. There is little doubt Fischer’s 1917 season was better than any of Gibson’s but Fischer played rather sparingly that season meaning I wound up giving the crown to Gibson. Now within Gibson’s career I encountered a similar issue. His 1914 season was his best rate wise but his 1909 season wasn’t far behind and featured much more playing time giving that season the edge. In 1909 Gibson posted a triple slash of .265/.326/.361 good for a 111 wRC+ or a performance 11% better than league average.

    First Base: During the dead ball era the first base position was a bit of a wasteland for the Pirates. Jim Nealon, Kitty Bransfield, Doc Johnson and Dots Miller all posted one or more season that I considered for the list with none of them being all that great. I ended up going with Kitty Bransfield’s 1901 campaign. Oddly enough Bransfield ended up hitting no home runs that season but stole 23 bases while scoring 91 runs and driving in 92. His slash line for the year was .295/.335/.398 good for only 9% above league average.

    Second Base: Here we end up with a few very good choices. Claude Ritchey posted a few fine seasons and Dots Miller ended up having the best strictly by fWAR. I opted to go with Jim Viox and his 1913 season though as to me it was clearly just a bit offensively superior to the rest. Defensively his season grades out worse than the rest but considering the era I chose to ignore that as defensive metrics for the era are very poor. On the season Viox batted .317/.399/.427 good for a wRC+ of 139. He also chipped in 14 stolen bases and 2 home runs tying him with Gibson for most on the team thus far.

    Third Base: This ended up being a two man race between Tommy Leach and Bobby Byrne. Leach was clearly a better player for their careers than Byrne but Byrne’s 1910 campaign was just about as good as any Leach had. Still I felt Leach still had a slight edge. The only question was which Leach season. Statistically his 1903 season was his best but his 1902 season was his best relative to the league. The difference between the two on both accounts was small though so I opted to go with his 1903 season. That year Leach hit .298/.352/.438 good for a wRC+ of 119. On the year Leach hit a career high 7 home runs and stole 22 bases.

    Shortstop: Another name for this is pick your favorite Honus Wagner season. Wagner was just simply an amazing ball player probably the greatest in Pirates history and there is a good argument that he owns each of the top 16 seasons at this position in this era. So really just pick your favorite. Personally I went with 1908. His OBP was a little bit low compared to other seasons but it was still great and this season marked his peak power year. He hit a mind boggling .354/.415/.542 good for a wRC+ of 194 meaning he was almost twice as good as the average player. He hit a career high 10 home runs and swiped 53 bases all while playing what nearly all accounts say was outstanding defense at the shortstop position. Simply put Wagner was absurdly good.

    Left Field: Once again the name ended being fairly easy as Fred Clarke posted arguably 9 of the best 10 seasons of the era. Clarke had a few fine seasons but to me one clearly stood out above the rest with the lone caveat being that he only compiled 486 plate appearances that year. Still that was enough playing time for me to choose Clarke’s 1903 season. That year Clarke hit an impressive .351/.414/.532 posting an overall offensive performance 57% above league average. It was his best power season by SLG% and ISO but he came one short of his career high in home runs with five. He also stole 21 bases which was a fairly typical amount for him during his Pirates tenure. None of Clarke’s other seasons quite measure up to this in flat performance but I considered 1901, 1902 and 1909 because they were great seasons in which he received more playing time.

    Center Field: Being honest with everyone I expected Max Carey to win this one going away but alas he found himself in a tight race and actually ended up losing out to Ginger Beaumont. Aside from those two Tommy Leach had he been eligible (he is already the team’s third baseman) would have made for a fascinating three way race but it came down to Beaumont and Carey and despite some strong seasons from Carey, Beaumont’s best year was simply a little bit better. In 1902 Beaumont hit .357/.404/.418 good enough to be 51% above league average. The power wasn’t there but Beaumont did an excellent job of getting on base and stole 33 bases on the season.

    Right Field: Before he moved to his shortstop position Wagner spent a few seasons out in the outfield and if he would be eligible here it would once again be no contest. Wagner’s 1900 and 1901 campaigns are easily better than what anyone else put up in the era while patrolling right field but again he isn’t eligible. Looking down the list it comes down to Bill Hinchman and Chief Wilson. Wilson has the power where as Hinchman has the on base skills. I probably could have gone either way but I opted to go with the power and choose Wilson’s 1912 season when he posted a line of .300/.342/.513. He belted 11 home runs on the season (a team high) and swiped 16 bags. His performance by wRC+ was 26% above league average.

    Bench: This position ended up having a whole bunch of candidates all of whom I have previously wrote about. Max Carey, Bobby Byrne, Bill Hinchman, Dots Miller and Claude Ritchey ended up the leading candidates. I tried not to let my preconceived notion about Carey cloud my judgment but after debating a while he edged about Bill Hinchman for the final spot. His best season came in 1917 when he hit .296/.369/.378 adding in 46 stolen bases for a performance 28% above league average.

    Starting Rotation: The pitching lines in this era start to somewhat more closely resemble ones I am used to. The innings counts are still high as our the number of decisions but games started fall down into the 30s and for the most pitchers are now striking out more hitters than they walk. We definitely aren’t to the modern era yet but this is a huge step forward.

    1919 Babe Adams: Adams has a strong case as the best pitcher in Pirates history and this season in my view was his best. He struck out only 3.14 per nine but he limited his walks to 0.79 per nine an excellent mark even for this era. He went 17-10 on the year starting only 29 games (appearing in 34) while positing a dazzling 1.98 ERA.

    1902 Deacon Phillippe: Phillippe’s best seasons were arguably as good as any Adams produced and in 1902 he went 20-9 with a 2.05 ERA. He struck out 4.04 batters per nine while limiting his walks to only 0.86 per nine. He compiled 272 innings pitched over 30 starts and 1 relief appearance.

    1918 Wilbur Cooper: There is a case to be made that Adams, Phillippe and Cooper posted each of the best ten pitching seasons in the era. Cooper’s best in my mind came in 1918 when he went 19-14 over 29 starts (38 games) posting a 2.11 ERA. He also recorded three saves which made him a candidate for the relief job. His K and BB rates weren’t the best at 3.85 and 2.14 per nine but he got the job done nonetheless.

    1909 Howie Camnitz: If the above three don’t posses each of the 10 best seasons of the era than the 1909 season by Camnitz is the one that prevents it. On the year he went 25-6 while also recording 3 saves. He started 30 games while pitching relief in 11 and kept a sparkling ERA of 1.62 over 283 innings. His strike out and walk rates were 4.23 and 2.16 per nine innings.

    1902 Jack Chesbro: Chesbro won an era high 28 games in the 1902 season while posting a good 2.17 ERA. On the season he pitched 286.1 innings, starting 33 games and pitching in relief twice. His strike out rate of 4.27 was very solid for the era even if he BB/9 of 1.95 was a little on the high side.

    The others two I strongly consider include were Sam Leever and Vic Willis. They both had a few seasons that could have cracked the back part of the rotation.

    Reliever: Once again I’m not going to find a true reliever but we are getting closer to one. The guy I choose recorded three saves while pitching in relief 17 times and posting a strike out rate of 5.15 K/9. My selection was 1913 Claude Hendrix. His 2.84 ERA and 3.13 BB/9 are a little high for the era but the simple fact he recorded over 5 strike outs per nine and actually pitched in relief 17 times makes him the best candidate for this spot.
    Last edited by battlingbucs; Feb-07-2014 at 09:52 AM.

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    Default Re: All Era Team: Dead Ball Era (1900-1920)

    Here for fun is my attempt at an opening day lineup.

    1. 1902 Ginger Beaumont, CF (L)
    2. 1903 Fred Clarke, LF (L)
    3. 1908 Honus Wagner, SS (R)
    4. 1912 Chief Wilson, RF (L)
    5. 1903 Tommy Leach, 3B (R)
    6. 1913 Jim Viox, 2B (R)
    7. 1901 Kitty Bransfield, 1B (R)
    8. 1909 George Gibson, C (R)
    9. 1919 Babe Adams, P (L)

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    Default Re: All Era Team: Dead Ball Era (1900-1920)

    Now the team without the one season qualification.

    C: George Gibson
    1B: Dots Miller
    2B: Claude Ritchey
    3B: Tommy Leach
    SS: Honus Wagner
    LF: Fred Clarke
    CF: Max Carey
    RF: Chief Wilson
    BN: Ginger Beaumont

    SP: Babe Adams
    SP: Deacon Phillippe
    SP: Wilbur Cooper
    SP: Sam Leever
    SP: Vic Willis
    RP: Howie Camnitz

    Not many changes. Carey and Beaumont swap places. Miller edges out Bransfield which the reverse was true on the individual season level and Ritchey's longevity earns him the 2B job. In the starting rotation Leever and Willis take over Chesbro and Camnitz with Camnitz moving to the bullpen with his era high 13 saves.

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    Default Re: All Era Team: Dead Ball Era (1900-1920)

    The deadball era... Such a romantic age of the game.

    Gonna have to tip me cap to ya for having such a close look at this timeframe.

    BB you are on a mission to make yourself into an expert of Pirate History.

    I have poured over the words of Honus Wagner for decades and can't help but believe he would have agreed with most of your selections.

    Some things I'd like to add about the dead ball era...

    It was in 1910 that the same ball that is used today became the official baseball of MLB.

    But the era was still considered the dead ball era not because of how it wasmade but because of other factors.

    X Consider:

    Ball parks are still humongous

    The hitters approach is to hit for the gaps not the fence

    They areusing the same ball throughout the entire game

    Pitchers are still legally throwing spitters and such

    Babe Ruth changed all that...
    Last edited by magoo; Feb-10-2014 at 06:48 PM.

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