Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy McAleer’

1910: Senators Postmortem

August 31, 2010

By the first of September, the Washington Senators were hanging on to sixth place and were on the verge of elimination from the pennant chase. Under manager Jimmy McAleer they would ultimately finish seventh, 36.5 games out of first. Their record was 66-85.

The team averages of .236 and .289 slugging weren’t absolute bottom of the barrel in the American League, but they were close. But the team finished fourth in walks, so their on base percentage wasn’t as bad as you might expect from a seventh place team. Center fielder Clyde Milan finished fifth in stolen bases, led the team with 71 walks (good for second in the AL), and was fourth in the league in runs scored. Another positive for Washington was that Milan was the youngest of the starting position players (24). The rest of the starters provided three men with .250 plus batting averages, no one with more than 19 doubles, and only two men other than Milan with more than 50 runs scored. 

One of the running themes of the teams that finish in the bottom half of each league is that they have awful benches. The Senators were no exception. Of the seven bench players with 20 or more games played, three hit above .250, but three were under the Mendoza line (one hitting .149). They mustered one home run and Wid Conroy, who played the most games (105) of any bench player, led in RBIs with all of 27. He also got the home run.

The pitching was a mixed bag. Walter Johnson was Walter Johnson. He led the league in starts, games, complete games, strikeouts, and was second in shutouts. His record was 25-17 with an ERA of 1.35. For the first time he put up more than 300 strikeouts, 313, more than 50 ahead of Ed Walsh in second place. In doing so he became only the second man (Rube Waddell) to lead the AL with 300 or more strikeouts. Unfortunately the rest of the staff wasn’t Walter Johnson. Combined the non-Johnson staff went 41-68 with 362 strikeouts (only 49 more than Johnson alone).  Dixie Walker (obviously not the 1940s outfielder) went 11-11 for the second best record among the starters. All the rest had losing records. Again on the positive side, each had more innings pitched than hits allowed and more strikeouts than walks.

So Washington looks like a team that isn’t very good, but could improve. Milan is doing well and should have several years left (He would play until 1922 and steal 495 bases). Johnson is beginning the run that will make him arguably the greatest of all pitchers. The rest of the staff has potential, but isn’t any great shakes. As for the rest of the hitting, well maybe. Or maybe not.

Opening Day, 1910: Washington

April 22, 2010

Walter Johnson

When George Washington died in 1799, former Revolutionary War leader Lighthorse Harry Lee (who became most famous for being the father of Robert E. Lee) gave this eulogy, “Washington, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” In baseball this was frequently paraphrased, “Washington, first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.” The 1909 season ended with the Senators in last place, 56 games out and 20 games out of seventh. There was little prospect for 1910 to be significantly better. 

At the end of the 1909 season, the Senators canned manager Joe Cantillon, replacing him with Jimmy McAleer. Now there was an upgrade. McAleer was the just fired manager of the Browns who managed to finish exactly one spot ahead of Washington in the standings, seventh (OK, they were 20 games closer to first, but still ya gotta wonder). 

The infield underwent change at the corners and up the middle (except at shortstop). Former backup Bob Unglaub replaced Jiggs Donahue at first and Kid Elberfeld came over from New York to play third. Former starter Wid Conroy now became the man off the bench. George McBride stayed at short and Red Killefer (Bill’s brother) became the new second baseman. Killefer came over from Detroit late in 1909 and moved into the starting job when the new season began. Germany Schaefer, who had done a lot of the 1909 work at second, went to the bench. 

The outfield saw one new man and one change of position. Jack Lelivelt moved from right field to left and Doc Gessler, another player who came over in mid-1909 (this time from New York) took the right field slot. Lead off hitter Clyde Milan remained in center. Conroy, the backup infielder, doubled as the fourth outfielder. 

The catcher was Gabby Street. He was a standard no hit, great field catcher of the era. Much later he went on to win a World Series as a manager with the Cardinals in 1931. Rookie Eddie Ainsmith was his backup. 

The pitching staff was uneven. Walter Johnson was the ace. His 1909 was forgettable, but when you’re Walter Johnson there’s always the possibility that the next year will be great. Bob Groom, Dolly Gray, Tom Hughes, and Charlie Smith were the other 1909 starters. Groom led the American League in walks (105) and Smith was traded during the season. Johnson was back, as were Groom and Gray. Dixie Walker (not the 1940s outfielder), who had pitched four games the previous season, took over one starting slot. Doc Reisling, who pitched 10 games in 1909, took the other. Besides Johnson, it wasn’t a particularly distinguished staff. 

The Senators, like most lower division teams, did a lot of tinkering with their roster between 1909 and 1910. They managed to find a couple of players who were pretty good (Milan and Street) and then there was Johnson. Every fourth day they were guaranteed of being competitive. It was the other three days that were the problem.This concludes a team by team look at the Major Leagues in 1910.

I intend to continue looking at 1910 for the balance of the season, but will concentrate on major events (there’s another no hitter, Cy Young wins his 500th game, etc) and a once monthly review of the standings and such. That will give all of us a break from the events of 100 years ago.

Opening Day, 1910: St. Louis (AL)

April 21, 2010

Bobby Wallace

It’s uncharitable to say that the St. Louis Browns were hopeless, but sometimes the truth hurts. The Browns were hopeless. In their entire existence, 1902-1953, they finished first once. 1910 wasn’t it.  

 The Browns finished seventh in 1909, 36 games out of first. It led to a general housecleaning, something the Browns did frequently. Manager Jimmy McAleer was canned and replaced by Jack O’Connor a former catcher whose rookie season was 1887 with the American Association Cincinnati Reds. It was his first managerial job (and his last). He would survive in the job exactly one year. 

He didn’t have a lot to work with in St. Louis. Three of the infielders were different. Future Hall of Famer Bobby Wallace remained at short, but he was 36 in 1910 and on is last legs as a player. Former right fielder Roy Hartzell moved to third base with fairly predictable results. Pat Newman and Frank Truesdale took the jobs at first and second. Both were rookies. Art Griggs and Dode Criss remained the men off the bench. Criss sometimes moonlighted as a pitcher for St. Louis. He wasn’t an upgrade. 

The outfield had two stable members, Hartzell moving to third as mentioned above. Al Schweitzer replaced Hartzell in right and Danny Hoffman and George Stone remained in the other two spots. Schweitzer had been, with John McAleese, one of the backup outfielders in 1909. 

The 1909 catcher, Lou Criger, was gone, replaced by ’09 backup Jim Stephens. The new backup was Bill Killefer who would go on to fame as Grover Cleveland Alexander’s catcher with the Phillies. Killefer played 11 games in 1909. 

The pitching in 1909 was weak, but at least none of the major starters had given up more hits than innings pitched, and only one had walked more than he struck out. In 1910 four of the big starters, Jack Powell, Barney Pelty, Bill Bailey, and Hall of Famer Rube Waddell were back. Joe Lake was new, coming over from New York. So was rookie Robert “Farmer” Ray. 

And that was it. There were new guys, but they weren’t much of an upgrade, if at all. There was a new manager, four rookies (including Killefer), and a bunch of guys nobody ever heard of. The genuinely good players like Wallace and Waddell were at the end of their careers. The 1910 season was Waddell’s final year. It was the same story for most of the Browns’ history. 

Next: the Senators