Saturday, September 6, 2014

The First in a 144+ part series, the 1871 season.

The 1871 baseball season is the first season of the “National Association” and the first season where we have reliable statistics.  It is also the start of the Ross Barnes era in my humble opinion. 

Barnes had a season that was arguably the best of the year, especially according to modern sensibilities and, also according to my sensibilities on defense.  He did not win a batting title, but he did finish 3rd in times on base and first in runs scored for his 3rd place 22-10 Boston Red Stocking’s baseball team.  While he was doing this at the plate, able to prevent more runs than most other players in the league, making less errors (.854 fielding percentage vs a league average .833) and exhibiting more range at both 2nd base and shortstop giving him, by my calculations 23.5 offensive runs – the most in the league and 20.5 defensive runs – the 2nd most in the league.  The combined total of 44.1 runs created also led the league.  He wins his first 1871 MVP award, voted on by me.

In 1871 Jimmy Woods was equally adept in the field, with 19.0 runs in his 2nd place 19-8 Chicago White Stockings team.  That is more defensive runs per game than Barnes and a slightly lower offensive runs per game.  He batted .378 and had 11 walks on the season.  Barnes played 2nd Base most of the season, but I will move him to SS to make room on my all star team for Woods.

To make my all star team, my next player will have to be the DH?  He did lead the league in offensive runs created and played above average defense for the Boston Red Stockings, but was only able to play in ½ the teams games.  George Wright is the third and final position player to make my 1871 all star team, but I think he will have to play 3rd base.  Levi Meyerle had more total runs created, but Meyerle was a poor fielder, while Wright was above average.  Also, Wright contributed about 20 innings pitched

In 1871, a teams’ pitcher was expected to pitch just about every inning for his team (and had to, by rule, throw underhanded), but a pitcher is still active in every play, and in days past, as in the present, a pitcher’s most important job is to pitch.  In the American League today, his only jobs are to pitch and to field his position.  In the National League 9/10s of his job is to pitch and field his position, but 1/10 now as in the past, a player’s job was and is to also hit the baseball.  In 1871 Rynie Walters was not one of the best pitchers in the League for his 16-17 New York Mutuals.  At pitching he was mediocre.  He was, however, the 2nd best hitter in the league that season with a .370 batting average and leading the league with 44 RBIs.  This fact raised him from a run of the mill 8th best pitcher in a league with 9 teams to the best total player at the position for his team.  Walthers was a pre National Association star, but it would be the last season where he was a star player.

These are my all-stars                               
Best By Position
Silver Slugger
Fantastic Fielders

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