Monday, September 8, 2014

Al Spaulding played with the 1871 Boston Red Stockings and would continue to play with them until 1875.  The play of Ross Barnes would put him in the Hall of Fame. 

In 1872, Ross Barnes would hit .430 and lead the league in offensive runs created for the 39-8 first place Boston Team, and only *Cap Anson would come anywhere close (45.3 for Barnes vs 40.1 for Anson) but Barnes would also lead the league in defensive runs prevented with 44.3.  His teammate as Shortstop (Barnes played 2nd base) would have 43.0.  This Pair of defenders helped Boston turn .643 of balls hit into play into outs.  While that number would make any team playing today blush, Boston did this without gloves of any kind, and, the next best team converted at .620  In 1872, any pitcher pitching behind the Boston Fielders would have looked spectacular. 

Not that Al Spaulding was terrible.  He was not the best pitcher in the league that season. 
That honor would have gone to Dick McBride of the 2th place 30-14 Philadelphia Athletics.  McBride had more strikeouts (44-26) less walks (27-26) and less Wild Pitches (10-39)  Spaulding was more valuable to his team however with a .354 batting average vs. McBride’s .287 and Spaulding had 14 errors on the mound vs. McBride’s 24.  Spaulding was the most valuable Pitcher.

Have I made is clear, that for the 2nd year in a row, Ross Barnes was the Most Valuable Player.  Good, just making sure.  Ranking just behind him was George Wright, who, by 1872 standards was a star hitter and by current standards was a bit of a weak hitter, but by 1872 standards, he was a wizard in the field.  We can’t know what he would have done if he had had a baseball glove, but I am sure he would have done well.  He just wasn’t quite as good as his teammate. 

The 4th all-star for 1872 is Davy Force, playing for both the Troy Haymakers and Baltimore Canaries.  He hit .418 with 2 walks for his teams, but was only a plus hitter in my estimation, but a very good defender.  Think Evan Longoria perhaps.  In 1872 he was 22 years old, so definitely a player to watch.

Catching is hard, and in 1872 as today, teams carry more catchers than any other position player.  Catchers will make my all-star teams in proportion to their contributions on the field, and in 1872 my all-star selection is Mike McGeary.  Although McGeary was a part time catcher (and part time shortstop) he played his position well and hit well enough to be included as an all-star.

Note: a player’s inclusion on the list below does not make him an all-star, even if he is the best for his position.

Note: Since the baseball glove has not yet been invented, I list players as Fantastic Fielders instead of Gold Glovers.

Best By Position
Silver Slugger
Fantastic Fielders

*Correction Cap Anson was referred to a rookie in 1872 because according to Major League Baseball's current rules, he was; he had less than 130 at bats the previous season of 1871, but since he played in all 25 of his team's games that season, it seems to me to be stretching the definition.  Certainly he was young though.

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