Posts Tagged ‘George Suggs’

Mathewson’s Walks

May 26, 2011

It’s amazing how quickly we forget. Now I know it’s been a hundred years since Christy Mathewson pitched (well, 95) but it seems like he’s fallen off the edge of the world reputation-wise. I guess that’s true of most Deadball players not named Cobb, but it’s still a shame. If people know anything at all about him it’s that he won a whole bunch of games (373) a long time ago. But as impressive as that number is, I have another Mathewson number that is even greater, at least to me.

The number is 848. That’s the total number of men Mathewson walked in a 17 year career. That works out to 49.8 per season. If you leave out his rookie and final years (the only seasons he doesn’t pitch 100 innings), it’s 54. In his rookie season Mathewson walked 20 and struck out 15, the only season he’d walk more men than he struck out (Hey, anybody can have a bad rookie campaign). Between 1907 and 1914 inclusive he pitched 2597 innings and walked a total of 307, or 38.4 a season. In each season he led the NL in fewest walks per games, except in 1910 when he came in second to George Suggs  (Cincinnati) 1.62 to 1.70. In 1913 he walked .62 men per game. Bert Humphries of Chicago was second all the way back at 1.19. Greg Maddux, known for never walking a batter, has numbers similar, but not better.

One hundred years ago in 1911 Mathewson threw 307 innings and walked 38 men. That’s great, but it’s not even his best. In 1912 he pitched 310 innings, walking 34. His 1913 line reads 306 innings and 21 (count ’em, 21) walks, while 1914 shows 312 innings and 23 walks (guess those extra six innings must have gotten to him). In 102 World Series innings he gave up 10 walks (half of them in the 1912 Series). In the 1905 Series when he had three complete game shutouts, Mathewson walked one batter (Socks Seybold in game three).

These are great numbers to me because they go right to the heart of what a pitcher does. He keeps the other team off base. There’s frequently nothing you can do about a “seeing-eye single”, but a walk is the pitcher’s fault (unless it is intentional, and intentional walks aren’t well documented in Mathewson’s era). Mathewson, by walking almost no one, is doing one of the things most necessary to keep his team from losing a game, he’s minimizing the number of men on base by not making bad pitches.

I’m aware that knowing this isn’t going to suddenly return Christy Mathewson to the limelight. It’s been too many years for all but the most diehard fan to care, but it’s still worth noting. Heck of a pitcher, wasn’t he?


1910:Reds Postmortem

September 8, 2010

This marks the final post on teams that finished in the second division in 1910. As with the rest of them, Cincinnati had a poor year. They finished 75-79, 28 games out of first. That was two gamesworse than in 1909.

Manager Clark Griffith’s Red hit pretty well. They were fourth in average, slugging, and hits; third in runs; and led the National League in stolen bases with 310. Mid-season pickup Tommy McMillan at shortstop hit .185 and fellow middle infielder Dick Egan hit .245, but the rest of the starters hit .250 or above. Outfielder Mike Mitchell led the Nl in triples, while left fielder Bob Bescher led in stolen bases with 70.

As with the other second division teams, the bench was a distinct weakness. The Reds used 17 men on the bench during the course of the season, but only six played in  20 or more games. None of them hit particularly well, with backup catcher Ward Miller being the best of the lot with a .278 average and a .404 slugging percentage.

The Reds major problem was the pitching. George Suggs was the ace, going 19-11 with an ERA of 2.40 and 91 strikeouts. The other starters were a mixed bag, two of the four having more walks than strikeouts and one, “Sleepy” Bill Burns of 1919 Black Sox fame, having both more walks than strikeouts and more hits than innings pitched. His ERA was a Deadball Era busting 3.48. Overall the team ERA was sixth in the NL and the Reds were sixth in hits allowed and second in most walks awarded.

All in all the Reds played roughly as they had played in 1909. One thing the Reds had going for them was their age. They were one of the youngest teams in the NL. Unfortunately, the talent level wasn’t all that great. There were some good players available, just not many of them. Besher and Mitchell were both potential stars, but the rest of the team was mediocre at best. The outlook for 1911 wasn’t significantly better than in 1910.

Opening Day, 1910: Cincinnati

April 9, 2010

Clark Griffith

Cincinnati finished fourth in 1909, but was in the midst of a slow rise. Under manager Clark Griffith they had come from sixth in 1906, to fourth. The problem was they were still 33.5 games out of first and 17 out of third. Apparently they were content with the steady rise, because there were very few changes to the roster in 1910. Having said that, Cincy had used 29 position players in 1909, but only the starting eight and five others played more than 20 games.

Left fielder Bob Besher, who led the NL in stolen bases in 1909, led off. Dick Egan, the second baseman, held down the two hole and first baseman Dick Hoblitzel took the third spot in the lineup. Cleanup hitter Mike Mitchell remained in right field. The only change in the starting lineup occured in the five hole where new center fielder Dode Paskert replaced Rebel Oakes (who was now at St. Louis). Paskert had been the primary backup outfielder the year before. The sixth and seventh spots remained in the hands of third baseman Hans Lobert (who, despite the movie, didn’t look like Edward G. Robinson) and catcher Larry McLean. Shortstop Tommy McMillan remained in the eight hole.

Beside Paskert on the bench in 1909 were Miller Huggins, Frank Roth, Ward Miller, and Mike Mowrey (who was traded during the season).  The new bench saw Tom Downey as the backup infielder, Tommy Clark as the new backup catcher, and holdovers Miller (the fourth outfielder) and Roth (a catcher and pinch hitter). Huggins was at St. Louis.

The pitching in 1909 had Art Fromme, Harry Gaspar, Jack Rowan, Bob Ewing, and Bill Campbell start more than 20 games and Jean Debuc did the most out of the bullpen. None had been overly great. Fromme won 19 but lost 13, Gaspar was 18-11, and the others had losing records. Fromme, Gaspar, and Rowan were back. George Suggs (over from Detroit in the AL) and Fred Beebe (from St. Louis) replaced Ewing and Campbell. Debuc was also gone.

As a team, Cincinnati hadn’t done much to improve on a fourth place finish. They’d gotten rid of one position player and a couple of pitchers, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to rally from a 33 game deficit. They were still fast and had a couple of potential .300 hitters, but nothing much else.

Next: Philadelphia (NL)