1906: The Greatest Upset Ever

When the regular season ended in 1906, the Chicago Cubs had the most wins in Major League history, they had the highest winning percentage in Major League history,  and led the National League in most pitching categories. Then came the World Series. They managed 2 more wins, unfortunately, they needed four.

Their opponents were the crosstown Chicago White Sox. The Sox had the worst hitting team in World Series history.  They were dead last in batting average, hits,  and home runs  (In all of Major League baseball only the Braves had a lower average or less hits and no one at all had less power.). They could pitch, leading the league in shutouts and saves (with all of 9) So how did they win?

To begin with they were in the middle of the pack in runs scored and led the league in walks. So they were able to maximize their baserunners and produce runs when they needed. Also, don’t forget those 32 shutouts. That’s a third of their win total.

Looking at the numbers, the series should have been a blowout in the Cubs’ favor. It wasn’t. They lost game one 2-1, won the only blowout (7-1) in game two, then split the next two before dropping games 5 and 6 by scores of 8-6 and 8-3. The Sox figured out how to hit the Cubs pitchers and the Cubs failed to hit at all. Actually neither team hit above .200 for the series (there were no home runs), and only the White Sox hit triples.

The series was something of a fluke, the White Sox went back to 3rd place in 1907 and 1908, while the Cubs won the next 2 World Series, but for one year the weakest team in Series history won it all.

A good book on the subject is When Chicago Ruled Baseball by Bernard A. Weisberger.


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