My son recently asked me why the White Sox were overwhelming picks to win the 1919 World Series. I told him that among other things the National League had managed to win exactly one World Series in 10 years (1914) which could leave people to assume the American League was simply superior. I still think that’s true, but a look at the players reveals that man for man it also could be interpreted as favoring the Sox.
Taking a look at only the hitters (maybe I’ll do the pitchers later) I decided to concentrate on 3 numbers: batting average, slugging percentage, and RBIs. I wanted to go with the traditional triple crown stats, but in the deadball era of 1919 the home run was not a significant weapon, so substituted slugging percentage as a way to cover extra base hits. Below are direct comparisons (RBI’s first, then average, then slugging) between the position players. I’ve lumped the corner outfielders together because the Sox platooned in right field and the Reds left fielders were about evenly split in games because Sherry Magee got hurt and batted only twice in the World Series.
1st Base: Daubert (44/276/350), Gandil (60/290/393) Advantage Sox.
2nd Base: Rath (29/264/298), E. Collins (80/319/450) Collins by a wide margin.
3rd Base: Groh (63/310/431), Weaver (75/296/401). Close either way. Weaver was considered a superior fielder.
Shortstop: Kopf (56/270/326), Risberg (38/256/345). Kopf over Risberg.
Center Field: Roush (71/321/431), Felsch (86/275/428) Closer than I originally thought. Roush won the NL batting title, but Felsch has more RBIs and the slugging percentage is a wash.
Catcher: Wingo (27/276/371), Schalk (34/282/320). Schalk by a little. Schalk was also considered much the superior catcher.
Corner Outfield: Duncan (17/244/411), Bressler (17/206/309), Magee (21/215/264), Neale (54/242/316); Jackson (96/351/506), S. Collins (16/279/363), Leibold (26/302/353). As a whole the Sox are better, but if I had to pick only 3, I’d take Jackson, Leibold, and Neale. For the Series, Neale and Duncan did all the outfield work .
So in most positions the White Sox seem to be superior. There are just enough places where the Reds are as good or better that it could have been an interesting Series, providing of course that it was on the up and up. It wasn’t.