I’m not sure what to say about the Fightin’ Phils. They finished fourth, but probably should have been higher. They hit well in spots and abysmally in others. Their pitching was a mixed bag. I guess that means I shouldn’t be surprised they ended up fourth in the National League. But somehow they just look better on paper.
Outfielder Sherry Magee was the star. He won the batting and slugging titles, ending Honus Wagner’s stranglehold on hitting in the NL, and led the league in both runs and RBIs. The Chalmers Award, the first MVP Award, began in 1911, but had it started in 1910, Magee might have won it. He had that good a year.
The rest of the hitting wasn’t nearly as good. Center fielder Johnny Bates hit .300 and three other starters hit above .250, but the other starters, including catcher/manager Red Dooin, hit below that mark. Philly finished fifth in average, fourth in slugging, and first in doubles. They scored 674 runs, third in the league.
As with most teams of the era, the bench wasn’t much. Of six players showing up in 20 or more games, one hit .250 and four were under the Mendoza Line. The one was 24-year-old Fred Luderus, who got into 21 games after a 24 game stint with the Cubs. He would anchor the right side of the infield for the Phils through 1920 and help lead them to a World Series appearance in 1915.
The pitching is as mixed a bag as the hitting. Thirty year old Ed Moore led the team with 22 wins against 15 losses. He led the NL in both strikeouts (185) and shutouts (6). George McQuillan led the league in ERA at 1.60, but had a record of only 9-6. The rest of the starters had mediocre years with winning percentages between .533 and .461.
So Philadelphia going into 1911 looked like a run-of-the-mill team with some potential. If Magee had another great year (he got hurt) and Bates continued playing well (he was traded to Cincinnati) then they might contend. The pitching had to improve. On 1 September 1910, the Phillies went a long way toward doing that. They drafted Grover Cleveland Alexander from minor league Syracuse, planning to bring him to Philadelphia in 1911. That worked.