Starting with Honus

February 1, 2018
  

99.   19th Century Shortstops

              Before I moved on to the shortstops, I made a couple of more changes to the method.   One is, I’m going to start "counting" the 19th century points in the totals.  The 19th century is kind of a mess; there will be 6 major league teams one year and then five years later there will be 30.   Teams fold in mid-season, and there are players who play all over the field so that a guy may play 80 games at shortstop and pitch 25 games on the mound—all of them complete games, so it will be 225 innings or something—so he may have may have 75% of his games at shortstop but 80% of his value as a pitcher.   It’s just a mess, structurally, so that including 19th century rankings with 20th century rankings is kind of like mixing sewage water with your drinking water.  

              But the alternative approach—ignoring 19th century players, or putting 19th century players in a separate compartment, has issues, too, since many players played both in the 19th and the 20th centuries.   I found that I started mixing 19th century information in with 20th sort of despite myself, and so I finally decided to abandon the separation entirely, except that I’m not going to go year-by-year through the 19th century.  Also, in order to make this work, I had to make some other compromises and special rules, but I’m not going to get into it because nobody cares. 

              The other change, relevant a little later, is that I began discounting the scores of the Federal League players in 1914-1915, for obvious reasons.   I didn’t think they would pop up near the top of the lists, but they do, so. . .pretty obviously needed to be done.

              Although most of the leading shortstops of the 19th century were still active in 1900, Pebbly Jack Glasscock was the best shortstop purely of the 19th century.   

Rank

First

Last

From

To

1

2

3

4

5

YOPDI

1

Jack

Glasscock

1879

1895

6

2

4

1

1

93

2

Bill

Dahlen

1891

1911

0

6

2

1

0

52

3

Hughie

Jennings

1891

1918

5

0

0

0

0

50

4

Sam

Wise

1881

1893

1

4

1

2

2

48

5

Herman

Long

1889

1904

3

0

2

2

2

44

 

     

 

 

     

 

 

6

George

Wright

1876

1882

3

1

0

0

0

37

7

Frank

Fennelly

1884

1890

2

0

2

0

1

29

8

Monte

Ward

1878

1894

0

3

0

3

1

28

9

George

Davis

1890

1909

1

1

1

0

0

21

10

Ed

McKean

1887

1899

0

1

1

5

0

21

 

     

 

 

     

 

 

11

Ross

Barnes

1876

1881

1

1

0

1

1

20

12

John

Peters

1876

1884

0

2

0

2

1

19

13

Arthur

Irwin

1880

1894

1

0

2

0

0

18

14

Sadie

Houck

1879

1887

0

1

2

0

1

16

15

Bill

Gleason

1882

1889

0

1

1

1

1

14

 

              The four Hall of Fame shortstops of the 19th century all had something to sell other than what is reflected in this chart.    Hughie Jennings was a famous manager as well as a dominant shortstop in the 1890s.  George Wright was a great player before the National League became the National League in 1876.   Monte Ward was a great pitcher as well as a shortstop; he was also a manager, second baseman, third baseman, outfielder, owner, and working baseball executive at various times.  George Davis has dominant years at other positions, not counted in this chart, and had outstanding seasons post-1900. 

              I once had an exchange-of-letters conversation (or debate, or argument) with the late Robert Creamer about Pebbly Jack Glasscock, the greatest shortstop of 1880s.  This was before e-mail. Bob had written an article for Sports Illustrated naming the greatest shortstops of all time, and had included Glasscock on the list.   I wasn’t persuaded at the time, and we exchanged a couple of letters about it.  I wish he was still around so I could tell him he was probably right.   I believe Glasscock was called "Pebbly Jack" because he had the habit, between pitches, of picking up pebbles around his area at shortstop and tossing them off the field. 

              These are the top shortstops of the 19th century by Peak Value:

Rank

First

Last

YEAR

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

OBA

SPct

OPS

Peak

1

Hughie

Jennings

1896

0

121

70

.401

.472

.488

.960

35.48

2

George

Davis

1897

10

136

65

.353

.406

.509

.915

28.86

3

Bill

Dahlen

1896

9

74

51

.352

.438

.553

.990

28.09

4

Herman

Long

1891

9

75

60

.282

.377

.407

.785

27.46

5

Jack

Glasscock

1889

7

85

57

.352

.390

.467

.857

26.09

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

6

Monte

Ward

1890

4

60

63

.337

.394

.428

.822

24.77

7

Frank

Fennelly

1886

6

NA

32

.249

.351

.380

.732

24.54

8

Sam

Wise

1887

9

92

43

.334

.390

.522

.913

24.43

9

Bobby

Wallace

1899

12

108

17

.295

.357

.454

.811

23.53

10

Ollie

Beard

1889

1

77

36

.285

.328

.364

.692

23.53

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

11

Mike

Moynahan

1883

1

NA

NA

.307

.356

.410

.766

23.05

12

Ed

McKean

1888

6

68

52

.299

.340

.425

.765

23.00

13

Ross

Barnes

1876

1

59

NA

.429

.462

.590

1.052

21.06

14

Jack

Rowe

1886

6

87

12

.303

.340

.425

.765

20.81

15

Candy

Nelson

1884

1

NA

NA

.255

.375

.310

.685

20.68

 

 

 

100.  The Honus Wagner Era and a Half

              Honus Wagner’s primary position is listed as Center Field in 1897, First Base in 1898, Third Base in 1899 and Right Field in 1900.  This enabled Bill Dahlen to be listed as the #1 shortstop in baseball in 1900.   In 1901 Wagner moved to short, sort of; he was still playing all over the field, but a few more games at short than anywhere else, so he began his long run as the greatest shortstop in baseball, if not the greatest of all time.

 

First

Last

YEAR

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

OPS

Value

Bill

Dahlen

1900

1

69

.259

.364

.344

.708

23.40

George

Davis

1900

3

61

.319

.376

.406

.782

23.27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1901

6

126

.353

.416

.494

.910

37.09

George

Davis

1901

7

65

.301

.356

.426

.782

24.52

Bobby

Wallace

1901

2

91

.324

.351

.451

.802

24.27

Bill

Dahlen

1901

4

82

.266

.313

.358

.671

22.59

Freddy

Parent

1901

4

59

.306

.367

.408

.775

20.85

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1902

3

91

.330

.394

.463

.857

38.43

George

Davis

1902

3

93

.299

.386

.402

.788

24.60

Freddy

Parent

1902

3

62

.275

.309

.374

.683

24.12

Bill

Dahlen

1902

2

74

.264

.329

.353

.682

23.73

Bobby

Wallace

1902

1

63

.285

.350

.393

.743

23.34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1903

5

101

.355

.414

.518

.931

40.36

Freddy

Parent

1903

4

80

.304

.326

.441

.767

26.31

Bill

Dahlen

1903

1

64

.262

.373

.342

.715

23.91

Kid

Elberfeld

1903

0

64

.301

.365

.383

.747

23.35

Bobby

Wallace

1903

1

54

.266

.309

.341

.650

22.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First

Last

YEAR

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

OPS

Value

Honus

Wagner

1904

4

75

.349

.423

.520

.944

44.66

George

Davis

1904

1

69

.252

.311

.359

.670

26.07

Freddy

Parent

1904

6

77

.291

.330

.389

.719

24.71

Bill

Dahlen

1904

2

80

.268

.326

.337

.662

24.51

Bobby

Wallace

1904

2

69

.275

.330

.355

.685

23.13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1905

6

101

.363

.427

.505

.932

46.34

George

Davis

1905

1

55

.278

.353

.340

.693

26.74

Bill

Dahlen

1905

7

81

.242

.337

.337

.673

22.42

Bobby

Wallace

1905

1

59

.271

.324

.349

.673

21.95

Kid

Elberfeld

1905

0

53

.262

.329

.318

.647

20.56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1906

2

71

.339

.416

.459

.875

48.33

George

Davis

1906

0

80

.277

.338

.355

.694

27.08

Bobby

Wallace

1906

2

67

.258

.344

.345

.688

22.85

Terry

Turner

1906

2

62

.291

.338

.372

.709

22.21

Kid

Elberfeld

1906

2

31

.306

.378

.384

.763

19.70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1907

6

82

.350

.408

.513

.921

48.55

Bobby

Wallace

1907

0

70

.257

.328

.320

.647

21.01

George

Davis

1907

1

52

.238

.313

.288

.601

20.14

Kid

Elberfeld

1907

0

51

.271

.343

.336

.678

18.59

Joe

Tinker

1907

1

36

.221

.269

.271

.540

18.47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1908

10

109

.354

.415

.542

.957

51.48

Joe

Tinker

1908

6

68

.266

.307

.392

.699

25.84

Bobby

Wallace

1908

1

60

.253

.327

.324

.652

20.93

Al

Bridwell

1908

0

46

.285

.364

.319

.683

20.03

Heinie

Wagner

1908

1

46

.247

.288

.293

.581

17.41

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First

Last

YEAR

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

OPS

Value

Honus

Wagner

1909

5

100

.339

.420

.489

.909

43.88

Joe

Tinker

1909

4

57

.256

.280

.372

.652

24.70

Donie

Bush

1909

0

33

.273

.380

.314

.694

24.44

Al

Bridwell

1909

0

55

.294

.386

.338

.724

22.38

Heinie

Wagner

1909

1

49

.256

.316

.333

.649

19.53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1910

4

81

.320

.390

.432

.822

36.02

Joe

Tinker

1910

3

69

.288

.322

.397

.719

23.95

Donie

Bush

1910

3

34

.262

.365

.323

.687

23.33

Heinie

Wagner

1910

1

52

.273

.335

.360

.696

21.21

Al

Bridwell

1910

0

48

.276

.374

.335

.710

21.06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1911

9

89

.334

.423

.507

.930

32.99

Donie

Bush

1911

1

36

.232

.349

.287

.636

22.72

Joe

Tinker

1911

4

69

.278

.327

.390

.717

21.88

Jack

Barry

1911

1

63

.265

.333

.344

.677

20.89

Art

Fletcher

1911

1

37

.319

.400

.429

.829

18.65

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1912

7

102

.324

.395

.496

.891

31.28

Donie

Bush

1912

2

38

.231

.377

.301

.679

21.77

Art

Fletcher

1912

1

57

.282

.330

.372

.702

21.37

Jack

Barry

1912

0

55

.261

.335

.337

.673

20.61

Joe

Tinker

1912

0

75

.282

.331

.351

.681

20.34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honus

Wagner

1913

3

56

.300

.349

.385

.734

24.49

Art

Fletcher

1913

4

71

.297

.345

.390

.735

23.96

Donie

Bush

1913

1

40

.251

.344

.322

.665

21.46

Jack

Barry

1913

3

85

.275

.349

.365

.714

20.57

Joe

Tinker

1913

1

57

.317

.352

.445

.797

19.17

 

              Not wanting to turn this into a Hall of Fame piece, but there are multiple Hall of Fame shortstops of the Honus Wagner era and a half—Joe Tinker, George Davis, Bobby Wallace.   From now (1913) forward for almost 50 years there are usually two or three or more active Hall of Fame shortstops.

 

101.  The Era of the Buts

              For six years after Honus Wagner finally faded there was a series of one- and two-year leaders.   In this era there were a bunch of shortstops who would have been great, but.   Charlie Hollocher would have been the king of the position, but he was kind of a nut.   Not to be unkind; he just couldn’t handle the pressures associated with being a major league star.   Ray Chapman would have been great, but he got killed by a pitch.  Buck Weaver would have been great, but he moved to third base and got kicked out of baseball.  Rogers Hornsby was great, but he didn’t stay at shortstop.   The best were Art Fletcher, Maranville-Maranville, Hornsby-Hornsby, and Roger Peckinpaugh. 

 

First

Last

YEAR

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

OPS

Value

Art

Fletcher

1914

2

79

.286

.332

.379

.711

23.06

Honus

Wagner

1914

1

50

.252

.317

.317

.634

21.51

Rabbit

Maranville

1914

4

78

.246

.306

.326

.632

21.39

George

Perring

1914

2

69

.278

.355

.387

.742

21.15

Jimmy

Esmond

1914

2

49

.295

.344

.404

.748

18.21

Donie

Bush

1914

0

32

.252

.373

.295

.668

16.09

Jack

Barry

1914

0

42

.242

.324

.268

.592

15.73

Mickey

Doolan

1914

1

53

.245

.311

.323

.634

15.65

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit

Maranville

1915

2

43

.244

.308

.324

.632

22.03

Honus

Wagner

1915

6

78

.274

.325

.422

.747

20.45

Art

Fletcher

1915

3

74

.254

.280

.326

.606

20.07

George

Perring

1915

7

67

.259

.327

.363

.690

19.71

Donie

Bush

1915

1

44

.228

.364

.283

.648

18.49

Dave

Bancroft

1915

7

30

.254

.346

.330

.676

18.44

Buck

Weaver

1915

3

49

.268

.316

.355

.671

18.07

Jimmy

Esmond

1915

5

62

.258

.329

.355

.684

17.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit

Maranville

1916

4

38

.235

.296

.325

.620

23.81

Art

Fletcher

1916

3

66

.286

.323

.382

.705

21.49

Dave

Bancroft

1916

3

33

.212

.323

.252

.574

19.73

Roger

Peckinpaugh

1916

4

58

.255

.332

.346

.678

19.27

Donie

Bush

1916

0

34

.225

.319

.267

.587

17.96

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First

Last

YEAR

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

OPS

Value

Rogers

Hornsby

1917

8

66

.327

.385

.484

.868

31.78

Ray

Chapman

1917

2

36

.302

.370

.409

.779

24.25

Rabbit

Maranville

1917

3

43

.260

.312

.357

.668

21.49

Donie

Bush

1917

0

24

.281

.370

.322

.691

20.83

Art

Fletcher

1917

4

56

.260

.312

.343

.655

20.45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rogers

Hornsby

1918

5

60

.281

.349

.416

.764

27.64

Ray

Chapman

1918

1

32

.267

.390

.352

.742

23.18

Charlie

Hollocher

1918

2

38

.316

.379

.397

.775

21.66

Buck

Weaver

1918

0

29

.300

.323

.352

.675

20.40

Roger

Peckinpaugh

1918

0

43

.231

.303

.278

.581

19.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roger

Peckinpaugh

1919

7

33

.305

.390

.404

.794

23.19

Ray

Chapman

1919

3

53

.300

.351

.420

.772

21.66

Dave

Bancroft

1919

0

25

.272

.333

.352

.686

19.57

Rabbit

Maranville

1919

5

43

.267

.319

.377

.696

18.10

Art

Fletcher

1919

3

54

.277

.300

.357

.656

17.78

 

 

102.  Dave Bancroft

              From 1920 to 1932 there were a series of #1 shortstops, all of whom

              a) lasted three or four years on top, and

              b) made it to the Hall of Fame. 

              Dave Bancroft was the first of those.    Bancroft was a likeable guy from the Midwest, friendly with reporters and very comfortable in New York.   He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971, by a committee including several of his old buddies.   He should not be in the Hall of Fame, but he was a good player.   He was the best shortstop in baseball from 1920 to 1922, and remained on the list of the best shortstops in baseball until 1926.

First

Last

YEAR

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

OPS

Value

Dave

Bancroft

1920

0

36

.299

.346

.387

.732

24.92

Roger

Peckinpaugh

1920

8

54

.270

.356

.386

.742

21.41

Ray

Chapman

1920

3

49

.303

.380

.423

.803

18.52

Rabbit

Maranville

1920

1

43

.266

.305

.371

.676

17.43

Charlie

Hollocher

1920

0

22

.319

.406

.389

.795

16.85

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave

Bancroft

1921

6

67

.318

.389

.441

.830

27.84

Joe

Sewell

1921

4

91

.318

.412

.444

.856

22.47

Rabbit

Maranville

1921

1

70

.294

.347

.379

.727

20.79

Roger

Peckinpaugh

1921

8

71

.288

.380

.397

.777

19.84

Charlie

Hollocher

1921

3

37

.289

.342

.384

.725

16.18

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave

Bancroft

1922

4

60

.321

.397

.418

.815

26.21

Joe

Sewell

1922

2

83

.299

.386

.385

.771

22.74

Rabbit

Maranville

1922

0

63

.295

.355

.378

.733

20.16

Charlie

Hollocher

1922

3

69

.340

.403

.444

.847

18.02

Chick

Galloway

1922

6

69

.324

.368

.433

.801

17.52

 

103.   The Guy Who Never Struck Out

              When Ray Chapman was killed by a pitch in August, 1920, the Cleveland Indians purchased the contract of Joe Sewell to take his place.   Sewell made 15 errors in 22 games in 1920, but hit .329, and the Indians surged to the pennant.   Called to the majors after September 1, Chapman would not ordinarily have been eligible to play in the World Series, but Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson waived the rule, and allowed Chapman to play for the Indians. 

              Sewell was a small man (5-6, 155 pounds) using a 40-ounce bat, which in modern terms is sort of like a construction beam; reportedly he used only one bat during his entire major league career.   The thinking of the time wasn’t "bat speed"; it was "contact".   Sewell was the greatest contact guy of all time, striking out only about once every two weeks for his entire career, and much less than that over the second half of his career.   He probably wasn’t a GREAT defensive shortstop, but he was a lifetime .312 hitter with an on base percentage close to .400:

First

Last

YEAR

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

OPS

Value

Joe

Sewell

1923

3

109

.353

.456

.479

.935

25.90

Dave

Bancroft

1923

1

31

.304

.391

.399

.789

23.94

Topper

Rigney

1923

1

74

.315

.389

.419

.808

18.75

Roger

Peckinpaugh

1923

2

62

.264

.340

.320

.660

17.63

Rabbit

Maranville

1923

1

41

.277

.327

.346

.673

17.19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe

Sewell

1924

4

104

.316

.388

.429

.817

24.05

Glenn

Wright

1924

7

111

.287

.318

.425

.744

19.88

Topper

Rigney

1924

4

93

.289

.410

.407

.817

19.36

Dave

Bancroft

1924

2

21

.279

.356

.339

.694

19.03

Roger

Peckinpaugh

1924

2

73

.272

.360

.340

.700

18.64

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe

Sewell

1925

1

98

.336

.402

.424

.827

24.65

Glenn

Wright

1925

18

121

.308

.341

.480

.822

22.34

Dave

Bancroft

1925

2

49

.319

.400

.426

.826

21.38

Travis

Jackson

1925

9

59

.285

.327

.397

.724

17.46

Heinie

Sand

1925

3

55

.278

.364

.385

.749

16.60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe

Sewell

1926

4

85

.324

.399

.433

.832

25.75

Glenn

Wright

1926

8

77

.308

.335

.459

.794

22.15

Travis

Jackson

1926

8

51

.327

.362

.494

.856

21.08

Dave

Bancroft

1926

1

44

.311

.399

.384

.783

19.11