Posts Tagged ‘Joe Jackson’

Joe Jackson: The Wins

September 26, 2011

Continuing the theme from the last post, here’s a look at Jackson’s performance in the three games the White Sox won during the 1919 World Series:

Game 3

Jackson when 2-3 with a run scored. In the he singled to left, went to third on an error and scored on a single. In the second inning he was out at first on a bunt. In the sixth inning he led off with a single and was out on a caught stealing. In the eighth he was on deck when the final out was made.

Game 6

Jackson went 2-4 with a run, and RBI, and a walk. In the first inning he popped to third to end the inning. In the fourth inning he fouled out to the catcher for the second out. In the sixth inning he singled to drive in a  run, then scored on a double. In the eighth inning he led off with a walk and didn’t score. In the tenth inning he had a bunt single sending a runner to third. That runner scored the winning run later in the inning. Jackson was doubled up to end the inning.

Game 7

Jackson was 2-4 with two RBIs. In the first inning he singled to left knocking in a run. In the third inning his second single to left scored another run. In the fifth inning he got on by an error when the second baseman booted the ball. Jackson failed to score. In the seventh inning he grounded out.

Following the same format as the last post, here’s Jackson’s stat line for the three games the Sox won: ab-11, hits-6, runs-2, doubles-0, triples-0, home runs-0, RBIs-3, walks-1, strikeouts-0, average-.545, slugging-.545, OBP-583, OPS-1128. Again I make no comment on the stats at this point. I hope to try to make at least a little sense out of both sets in another post.

Joe Jackson: The Losses

September 23, 2011

Joe Jackson in White Sox uniform

Other than one post, I’ve stayed away from Joe Jackson on this blog. It’s time to go into some depth about him. One of the defenses of him is that he did well in the 1919 World Series and thus couldn’t have been “throwing” the Series. Let’s take a look at Jackson’s plate appearances in the five games the ChiSox lost and see what we find. Then we’ll take a  look at the three games they won and see what we find. The differences may be instructive.

Game 1

Jackson went 0-4 but scored a run. In the second inning he reached on an error by the shortstop then scored on a sacrifice fly and a single. In the fourth inning he grounded to shortstop. In the sixth inning he ground out to first unassisted with runners on first and second. Both runners advanced as Jackson made the second out. No sacrifice was given. In the ninth he led off the inning with a fly to right field for the first out.

Game 2

Jackson went 3-4 with a  strikeout and no runs or RBIs. In the second inning he led off with a double and went to third on a  bunt. He did not score. In the fourth inning he singled with a runner on first. He went to third on a fielder’s choice and did not score (the fielder’s choice cut down a run at the plate). In the sixth inning with a runner on second he struck out looking. In the eighth with two outs he singled.

Game 4

Jackson went 1-4 with a strikeout and no runs or RBIs. In the second inning he led off with a double and went to third on a bunt. He did not score. In the third inning he reached on an error by the second baseman and did not score. In the sixth he led off by grounding to short. In the eighth inning he struck out for the second out.

Game 5

Jackson went 0-4. In the first inning with two men on he popped out to third for the second out. In the fourth inning he grounded to the pitcher for the second out. In the seventh inning he grounded to the second baseman to lead off the inning. In the ninth inning he grounded to the shortstop to end the game.

Game 8

Jackson went 2-5 with 2 runs and 3 RBIs. In the first inning he popped to short for the second out. In the third inning with the score 5-0 he hit a bases empty home run. In the sixth inning with one on he made the first out of the inning with a fly to center. In the eight inning with the score 10-1 and one out, he doubled in two runs, then scored with two outs. In the ninth inning he grounded to second to end the Series.

So here’s the stat line for the five games the White Sox lose:  AB-21, Hits-6, runs-3, doubles-3, triples-0, home runs-0, RBIs-3, walks-0, strikeouts-2, Average-.286, slugging .619, OBP-.286, OPS-.905.  I’ll make no comment on the stat line until I’ve completed the look at the three games Chicago wins.

Opening Day 1911: AL

April 13, 2011

As backup first baseman Harry Davis

In continuing to celebrate Opening Day one hundred years ago yesterday, here’s a brief look at the American League.

Connie Mack’ Philadelphia Athletics were American League Champions and in 1911 successfully defended that championship. They started slow with a losing record in April (6-7), then took off, winning the pennant by 13/5 games over Detroit. Philly led the AL in runs, RBIs, home runs, slugging, and batting average. In pitching they were second in ERA, strikeouts, and shutouts.

Individually, Ty Cobb won another batting title, this time hitting .400 (.420) for the first time (and the first of two consecutive  seasons). Joe Jackson (“Shoeless” Joe) at Cleveland hit .408, the highest total in the  20th Century to not win a batting title. Cobb also picked up the RBI title with 127. It was his last. In home runs, A’s third baseman Frank Baker hit 11 to win the first of his four consecutive titles. Cobb picked up the initial Chalmers Award, the earliest 20th Century MVP award.

The pitching was good, if not as dominant as the National League. Jack Coombs of Philadelphia led the AL with 28 wins, but posted an ERA over 3, which was huge for the age. His teammate Eddie Plank tied Senators ace Walter Johnson for most shutouts with six while Vean Gregg of Cleveland went 23-7 and won the ERA title at 1.81. Beginning in 1910, Walter Johnson won every strikeout title through 1919 except one, 1911. He lost the title to Ed Walsh of Chicago.  Walsh had 255 whiffs to Johnson’s third-place total of  207. Joe Wood at Boston came in between them with 231.

On a totally different note, it was Cy Young’s final season. He was 44 and through. He went 3-4 with an ERA of 3.92 at Cleveland before being traded to Boston of the National League. Boston finished last, Young went 4-5 (7-9 overall), but managed two final shutouts in 11 starts. He finished with 511 wins and had an award named for him.

Postseason saw the A’s pick up their second straight championship (it would stretch to 3 in 4 years). They knocked off the Giants in six games with Coombs and Plank each winning a game while Chief Bender picked up the other two wins, including the final game. They out hit the Giants .244 to .175, outscored them 27 to 13, and had an ERA of 1.29 to 2.83. Baker hit two key home runs that either won or tied games and earned him the nickname “Home Run” Baker for the rest of his life. He also hit .375 and drove in five runs. In a strange twist, Mack rested his first baseman Stuffy McInnis (.321, 23 stolen bases, 77 RBIs in 126 games) and started backup Harry Davis (.197, 22 RBIs, and a single home run in 57 games) in every game, Mc Innis only showing up in a mop up role late in game six (a 13-2 blowout). I have been totally unable to find out why. It worked. Davis hit only .208, but drove in five runs and scored three.

So 1911 was a success for the American League. For the first time it won back-to-back World Series’. It would be the beginning of a trend that would see the AL win eight of the next 10 (1911-13, 1915-18, 1920).

Charlie the Hustler

October 13, 2010

Rose

In posts on Joe Jackson and Hal Chase I mentioned Pete Rose in passing. I was asked what I thought of Rose. Being dumb enough to walk into an ongoing fight, here goes.

Let me start with an important caveat. I never watched either Jackson or Chase play (Even I’m not that old!). I did see Rose play. I also saw his teams perform. That’s something, again, I can’t say about either Jackson’s White Sox or the various teams Chase graced (Graced? Did I actually type “graced”?). That means I can’t look at Rose as dispassionately as I do the other two. I have memories of him that are real and not simply still shots or grainy newsreels. For me Rose is in color and the other two in black and white. I have distinct opinions about the Big Red Machine (it’s been overrated because its pitching wasn’t very good) and Rose’s postion on it (he was at best the 3rd finest player on the team after Bench and Morgan and depending on the year behind Perez and/or Foster).  I’m saying this so you know that I come to Rose with a bias I don’t have toward the other two.

Having got that off my chest, Rose is a first rate slug. Baseball has a lot of rules, some in a thick book, others posted on the clubhouse wall. No gambling is one of those. It goes back to the 1920’s and the Black Sox scare. I’m not a huge fan of Judge Landis and his  views of race, but he got the gambling one right. Simply no gambling on baseball in any way, shape, or form. It may be brutal and arbitrary, but it cuts out nuiances that make lawyers necessary. As far as I know, Pete Rose can read, so I want no excuses from him to the effect that “Well, geez guys, I didn’t know that.” Rose got himself banned for gambling and he now admits it. To me that’s case closed and I don’t want to hear about “Poor ole Charlie Hustle.”

Dante told us there were various levels of hell. I think there are also various degrees of bending the rules in baseball. I’ve noticed a number of people arguing that cheating is so  common to the game that Rose breaking the gambling rules is no big deal. Well, yes it is. There’s a wide gulf between Derek Jeter’s phantom hit by pitch (“Oh,agony, Oh pain, Oh I”m dying.”) and Chick Gandil trying to lose the 1919 World Series on purpose. To compare them is just plain silly. And Rose fits somewhere in between them

In some ways that’s my great problem with Rose, the “somewhere in between” part. As far as I can tell (and as I’ve said before, the trials and tribulations of Pete Rose aren’t my specialty) Rose is supposed to have bet on his team to win while he was a manager. Nothing in that impunes his character as a player. If he was betting on games as a player, then there’s a different problem, but I don’t feel I need to address that unless it’s true. It’s his character as a manager that’s in question. And again I find myself somewhat ambivalent about Rose here. Betting on your team to win is still gambling, but in a sense isn’t that what he’s supposed to do? Doesn’t he want to have his team win and placing a bet on them to do so shows a certain confidence in the team (and, yes, I understand the dilemma caused by not betting on a particular game) (more…)

1910: Naps Postmortem

September 2, 2010

The 1910 Cleveland team is one of the more interesting failures in the American League. It has several first line players (four made it to the Hall of Fame), but not enough to make it into the first division. Ultimately the Naps finished 71-81, 32 games back in manager Deacon McGuire’s first full season. He didn’t get a second, being fired 17 games into 1911.

Cleveland’s hitting numbers reveal that they  probably finished where they should . They rank fifth in almost all major categories like hitting slugging, runs, and RBIs. The problem is that the stats are uneven across the starters. Second baseman Napoleon LaJoie hit .383, slugged .520, led the league in hits doubles, and in some sources the .383 won the batting title (Other sources give the title to Ty Cobb). Those are great numbers, but now look at the third baseman, Bill Bradley. Bradley hit .196, slugged all of .210, had 12 RBIs and 42 hits. It’s true he played only 61 games, but those kinds of numbers are typical of what’s wrong with Cleveland’s hitting. LaJoie is great, catcher Ted Easterly didn’t do bad, but the rest of the starters were nothing special. Other than LaJoie and Easterly, only first baseman George Stovall managed to hit .250.

The bench is equally bad. Of the 10 players appearing in 2o or more games, only Joe Jackson (who plays in exactly 20 games) managed to hit .300 (.387) and Hall of Famer Elmer Flick in his final season managed .265 in 24 games. The rest of the bench gives the team nothing.

The pitching is disappointing. A staff of Cy Young, Addie Joss, and Cy Falkenberg should have been pretty good. But Joss managed only 13 games (and never came back, dying the next season). Young was 43 and although winning his 500th game during the year, managed only a 7-10 record. That left Falkenberg as the ace. There’s a reason you’ve never heard of him. As an “ace” he left a lot to be desired. He was 14-13, had an ERA of 2.94, and managed 107 strikeouts to 75 walks. Respectable numbers, maybe, but not “ace”-like.

Cleveland looks like a team ready to make a few strides in 1911 (and it will rise to third), but it is a deeply flawed team. LaJoie is 35, Joss is ill (and, as stated above, will not return), Flick retired, and Young is old at 45 (and was traded after seven starts in 1911). On the other hand Joe Jackson is starting to embark on a great career, George Stovall is pretty good sometimes and Easterly is a decent catcher.

The year 1911 turned out to be interesting for Cleveland. The end of 1910 gave some indication of that.

1910: Shoeless Joe

July 30, 2010

Joe Jackson at Cleveland

On this date one hundred years ago, the Philadelphia Athletics sent Joe Jackson (“Shoeless Joe”) to Cleveland. Jackson was signed by Connie Mack in 1908. He played a handful of games in both 1908 and 1909, decided he hated Philadelphia, the big cities, and the travel, so he returned to South Carolina and did not report in 1910. By the end of July, Mack gave up on him and sent his contract to Cleveland. Jackson reported to Cleveland, got into 20 games and hit .387 with a home run, four stolen bases, and 29 hits. This time he stayed around and became a star. In fairness to Jackson, he was only 18 in 1908.

I’ve made a point of staying away from posts dealing specifically with Jackson for a reason. He is one of the most polarizing figures in baseball history. Only Pete Rose and Barry Bonds rival him as a controversial player. I feel my job here is to inform, not confront. You want confrontation, go visit a political blog. Lots to “confront” about. Having said that, it’s time to deal with Shoeless Joe.

Let me start by saying I’d have given everything I ever had, including my first-born, to have been Moonlight Graham and gotten into just one Major League game. Jackson got that chance and threw it away. I have, therefore, little sympathy for him. He was a star, the idol of millions (whether one of them ever said “Say it ain’t so, Joe” or not), a great ballplayer and he decided he wanted more money. Well, Joe, so do I, but I’m not willing to compromise certain principles for it. Now I know there are a lot of defenses of Jackson. Let’s take a look at some of them:

1. He was underpaid. So what? I’m underpaid. My wife is underpaid. My first-born (who I was willing to give up a paragraph or two ago) is underpaid. Most of you reading this are underpaid. Does that make it OK to, in Jackson’s case, throw the World Series? Surely not.

2. He was too stupid to know what he was doing. Oh, really? What did he think they were giving him the bribe money for, his looks? Besides unlettered and stupid are two different things. There’s ample evidence that Jackson was illiterate, but also evidence he wasn’t stupid. He had a meal routine that belies stupidity. He always ate with a teammate. If the waitress came to him first he’d tell her he hadn’t decided yet and to get everybody else’s order and come back. He’d then listen to what they ordered and get one of the same things. If he wasn’t first, his response was “I’ll have what he’s having.” That’s not a stupid man there. In fact that’s rather clever.

3. Comiskey was a jerk. Got me there; Comiskey was a jerk. But Comiskey isn’t the one throwing games. Comiskey’s human qualities are not in question here, Jackson’s are. And to my mind, Jackson is as big a jerk as Comiskey and two wrongs don’t make either man right, or less of a jerk.

4. Jackson played OK in the series. That’s sort of right. But if you break down his series by at bats you see he doesn’t come through in crucial situations. His home run, as a simple example, is after the final game is already lost. He drives in six runs, but all in games the Sox win or in meaningless situations (like the home run). I’ll give you that Gandil and Cicotte and Williams are greater villains in losing games, but that doesn’t make Jackson any kind of hero.

So there, I’ve said my piece. Obviously I don’t like Jackson and have no wish to see him in Cooperstown. I accept that some other people do. It’s a free country. They’re entitled to be wrong.

Spoke

June 11, 2010

Tris Speaker

Normally when I try to wax eloquent about a Deadball Era player, I attempt to find some reasonably obscure one to say things about. This time I want to change that up and talk about a really good player, Tris Speaker. He, with suitable apologies to Eddie Collins, was arguably the third finest Deadball Era player behind only Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner.

He wasn’t an instant success, hitting a buck 58 in a seven game stint with Boston in 1907. In 1908 he hit all of .220. He was to hit below .300 exactly two more times: 1919, and his final season in 1928. His breakout year was 1910. He hit .340 and scored 92 runs. By 1912 he was teaming with Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis to win the World Series and establish one of Stone Age baseball’s finest outfields. In the Series he did OK, without being spectacular, and provided a key hit in the final inning of the final game. That same year he won his only home run title (with 10) and led the American League in doubles. His .383 batting average was third behind both Cobb and Joe Jackson.

Speaker (nicknamed “Spoke” by this point) had good years in both 1913 and 1914 then got back to the World Series in 1915. The Sox won in five games and he hit .294 with no RBIs. Before the 1916 season Boston traded him to Cleveland for pitcher Sam Jones, infielder Fred Thomas, and $55,000 cash. Chalk it up to lack of money and terminal stupidity (And you thought Boston’s bad trades began with Babe Ruth, didn’t you?).

Speaker continued to play well in Cleveland. In 1916 he led the league in hits, doubles, slugging and finally won a batting title. In 1919, he became player-manager and, despite a drop in his own stats, guided the Indians to second place. In 1920 they won the AL pennant and the World Series. For Speaker 1920 was a career year and a challenge. He hit .388, at the time a career high (he later hit .389 in 1925), and developed a new platoon system (first base and both outfield corners). He dealt with the accidental beaning and death of shortstop Ray Chapman with class and brought up future Hall of Famer Joe Sewell to replace Chapman.

Speaker stayed as player-manager through 1926, playing well and adapting to the post-Stone Age world. In 1927 he went to Washington where he teamed with Walter Johnson in the latter’s final season. His batting was still good, but his fielding was beginning to suffer. Age was slowing him down. In 1928, he moved on to Philadelphia for one final season where he teamed with Ty Cobb (also in his last season). It wasn’t a good year, and Speaker gave up playing when the Athletics season ended. He has chosen for the Hall of Fame in 1937.

Speaker is still fifth in hits (and was second when he retired) and is the all-time leader in doubles. That stat has a special kicker to it. He’s 48 doubles ahead of the second man on the list, Pete Rose. That’s farther ahead of the second place guy than the other extra base hit leaders. Sam Crawford leads Cobb by 14 in triples and  Bonds in less than ten ahead of Aaron in home runs.

Speaker did some coaching and scouting after he retired. There were rumors he joined the Ku Klux Klan at one point. I can’t find a definitive source to verify (or refute) that. He was known for helping newly arriving black players, especially Larry Doby, when integration came to baseball. Maybe he was a Klansman or maybe he wasn’t, but it doesn’t seem to have carried over to his views on baseball talent.   

Speaker is one of those talents that transcends his era. There are a lot of players that I look at and feel they were great because of when they played. Move ’em twenty years forward or backward and they might be marginal players or even stars, but not all-time greats. Tris Speaker isn’t one of those. His numbers transcend his era. I rate him a top five center fielder ever (Cobb, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays alphabetically, are the other four).

Opening Day, 1910: Cleveland

April 19, 2010

Addie Joss

For the first time since 1905, Cleveland began the season with a new manager. Napoleon LaJoie took over in 1905 and remained in charge until late in 1909, when old-time catcher Deacon McGuire was handed the job. It changed the team dynamic, it changed the team name (they were called the Naps in LaJoie’s honor), and it changed Lajoie’s game.

For a team that had not done well in its ten-year history, including a sixth place finish 27.5 games back in 1909, Cleveland underwent very little change in the field for 1910. George Stovall stayed at first, LaJoie at second, and Bill Bradley at third. Terry Turner, the former backup middle infielder, took over at short. It wasn’t a particularly distinguished infield, except for LaJoie. Only LaJoie hit above .250 in 1909 and Bradley finished at .186. LaJoie had been on a downward spiral since taking over the managerial spot. There was some hope that released from those duties, he might return to the former player who won a triple crown in 1901, and batting titles on 1903 and ’04.  Neal Ball and George Perring were the infield backups. Ball was the starting shortstop in ’09 and Perring was a holdover.

The outfield saw two of three starters change. Joe Birmingham was a good fielding, decent hitting center fielder with little speed on the bases, a common trait in Cleveland,despite the prevailing strategy of the era. John Graney and Art Kruger were both new. Both had played a little for Cleveland in previous years (’08 for Graney and ’07 for Kruger), but were never regulars. Briscoe Lord remained the backup outfielder. It wasn’t a big hitting outfield and wasn’t a particular improvement over the 1909 version.

Ted Easterly remained the backstop. He hit .261 the year before and shared time with backups Nig Clark, and Harry Bemis. Both remained in 1910, but Clark ended up hurt and Grover Land became the third catcher.  Easterly would have a good year with the bat.

A real strength of the Cleveland team, if it had one, was its aging pitching staff. The problem was the “aging” part. Cy Young was 43 at the end of the 1909 season. Addie Joss, Bob Rhodes, and Cy Falkenberg were all 30. Among the starters, only Heinie Berger was under 30 (he was 27). For 1910 they kept all but Rhodes who disappears from major league rosters forever. They tried Willie Mitchell and Specs Harkness to fill in the gaps for age and loss. Mitchell pitched three games the year before and Harkness was a rookie.

Cleveland is a difficult team to figure. There are spots where they are pretty good (second, catcher, specific pitchers), but there are spots where they lack quality (third, the corner outfield, other pitchers). It’s a team that could rise, but if anybody gets hurt, or anything goes wrong, they could be in trouble. Late in the year they will bring up a 20-year-old rookie outfielder named Joe Jackson. He looks to have some talent.

Next: a break from the monotony of team-by-team to celebrate the accomplishments of Addie Joss.

Joseph Campbell and Baseball

April 3, 2010

The definitive book on mythology is written by Joseph Campbell. It looks at what myths are, how they develop, and how they grow. Many of his ideas are applicable to baseball. As you may have noticed if you’ve managed to hang around here for very long, I have a fascination with the mythology and legend of baseball. In the future I want to do a series of comments on baseball legend and mythology. To do that I need some help.

If you looked at the Dizzy Dean post you saw some comments at the bottom. In them I asked for other people’s opinion of just who has moved from ballplayer to mythological or legendary figure. I suggested Babe Ruth (who I refer to here as BABE RUTH!!!!! when dealing with the legendary aspect of the man), Sandy Koufax, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, and of course Dean himself. Bill Miller added Satchel Paige, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Nolan Ryan. SportsPhd suggested Yogi Berra.

All of those are certainly people to explore and I will. But I’d like other people’s opinion. Who am I missing that you think has gone beyond mere ballplayer to myth? To put it into another field, who’s gone from actor to John Wayne!!!!? I promise I’ll take a look at the people. I don’t promise I’ll buy off on all of them, but I’ll check ’em out. Give me your “able to leap tall buildings at a single bound” list and I’ll study it. At some point, and it will be at least a couple of weeks, I’ll start a post, or more likely a series of posts, on the idea of legend, mythology, and baseball. Deal?

When Their Sox were still White

January 31, 2010

The Chicago White Sox team of the last half of the second decade of the 20th Century is known primarily for one thing, the Black Sox scandal. But prior to 1919 they were a pretty good team and when they played well and with a will to win they could be superb. Two years before the 1919 World Series, the Sox kept their hose white.

The 1916 ChiSox had finished two games behind Boston in 1916. Over the off-season they changed first basemen and shortstops but kept the heart of the team intact. In 1917 they overcame the two games and finished first in the American League by 9 games. The starters were the same as the 1919 team with Chick Gandil at first, Hall of Famer Eddie Collins at second, Swede Risberg at short and Buck Weaver completing the infield at third. The outfield had Joe Jackson in left, Happy Felsch in center and the platoon system of Nemo Leibold (the lety) and Shano Collins (the righty) in right. Hall of Fame catcher Ray Schalk completed the position players. Jackson and Felsch hit 300 as did pinch hitter Eddie Murphy. In fact, Felsch had a great Deadball era year. He hit .308, slugged .403, was second in the league with 102 RBIs, third in the league with 177 hits and led the team in runs scored, tied with Collins at 91. That total was good for fourth in the AL.

The pitching consisted of Eddie Cicotte with 28 wins, Lefty Williams with 17, Hall of Famer Red Faber getting 16, and Reb Russell with 15. Dan Danforth started 9 of 51 games and led the AL with 11 saves (a stat that hadn’t been invented yet). Cicotte also led the league in innings pitched (347) and ERA (1.53) and his 150 strikeouts trailed only Walter Johnson’s 188.

They faced the New York Giants in the World Series. The Series went 6 games with the Giants taking 3 and 4 in New York. Eddie Collins was the hitting star batting .409 with 9 hits, and four runs scored. The most famous run occured in game 5’s eighth inning. With one out and Collins on first, Joe Jackson singled sending Collins to third. When the Giants left home uncovered, Collins raced home with an insurance run.

The pitching hero was Faber who won three games (2, 5, and 6) while losing one (4). He pitched 27 innings giving up 21 hits, 3 walks, and posting a 2.53 ERA. Cicotte had both the other win and the other loss.

The next season with Eddie Collis and Risberg in the military and Jackson, Felsch, and William all off doing war work, they slipped back to 6th.   Manager Pants Rowland was tossed and Kid Gleason took over as the new skipper. That set up the 1919 season when the regulars returned and the fix was in.