Posts Tagged ‘Roy Thomas’

1908: The End of July

August 1, 2018

Here’s the next update in my continuing look at the 1908 season (110 years on).

Bobby Wallace

With approximately two-thirds’ of the 1908 season gone, the pennant race in the American League was taking shape seriously. Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, and Cleveland all had winning records and held down the first division. The Tigers were two games up on the Browns, with Chicago 5.5 back, and Cleveland at eight behind. For Detroit, Ty Cobb was hitting .346, but fellow Hall of Famer Sam Crawford was only at .287. Chicago was standing behind Ed Walsh on the mound and 37-year-old George Davis (in his next-to-last season). Davis was only hitting .212. For Cleveland Nap LaJoie was having a down season so far (.269 with four triples), but the pitching (read Addie Joss here) was holding up. For the Browns, Bobby Wallace, their most famous player, was also having a bad season (hitting .269), but pitcher Rube Waddell was doing well (By WAR, a stat unknown in 1908, Wallace was having a terrific season. He’d end at 6.3). Among the also rans, the Highlanders (Yankees) were in last place, 25 games out.

John Titus

In the National League, five teams winning records on 31 July: Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. The Pirates were a half game up on the Cubs, two up on the Giants, 6.5 ahead of the Phils, and eight up on the Reds. St, Louis was all the way at the bottom 23.5 games out of first. The Pirates leaders, Tommy Leach, manager Fred Clarke, and Roy Thomas were a mixed bag at the end of July, but the team revolved around shortstop Honus Wagner. By 31 July, he was hitting .328 with an OPS of .939. Chicago, relying on the Tinker to Evers to Chance infield and Three-Finger Brown, was also getting good years out of Harry Steinfeldt, the other infielder, and a 21-year-old backup named Heinie Zimmerman. For the Giants it was a standard John McGraw team with great pitching from Christy Mathewson and Hooks Wiltse (with an assist from part-time pitcher, part-time coach, Joe McGinnity), and 3.0 WAR from first baseman Fred Tenney. Philadelphia played Cincinnati on 31 July and the Phillies win put the Reds another game back. Philadelphia’s John Titus was having a good year and for the Reds Hans Lobert was leading the hitters.

The season still had two months to go, two terrific pennant races to conclude, one utter memorable game to play. But it also had one of the more interesting games coming up between two also-rans in just a few days.

The Guy with the Really Strange Stats

October 1, 2012

Roy Thomas, Phillies outfielder

You know, there are a lot of strange stat lines in baseball. Some are odd-looking lines for a particular game, others for a season. But there is nothing quite like the career stat line for Roy Thomas.

Thomas was a Deadball Era center fielder who spent most of his time with the Phillies. He made the Major Leagues in 1899, stayed through 1909, and played all but two years with Philadelphia (actually he played six games in Philly in 1908, but spent most of the season with Pittsburgh. He was a leadoff hitter and a very good, for the era, center fielder. You could, if you wanted, make a case for him as the second best center fielder in Phillies history after Richie Ashburn if you wanted (I’m not sure I would). In other words he’s a good solid player who deserves to be remembered, but Geez does his stat line look funny.

For his career Thomas hit .290, had an OBP of .413, and slugged .333 for an OPS of .747 (OPS+ 124). His WAR is 38.7 (about 3.0 per season). He has 100 doubles, 53 triples, seven home runs, and 1011 runs scored in 1537 hits. He walked 1042 times, struck out 518, had 1764 total bases, and 299 RBIs. He led the NL in walks seven times and in OBP twice. As a fielder he led the league in putouts, assists, range factor, and fielding percentage at various times. Like a said, a nice solid career.

But look at a couple of those numbers closely. He scored 1537 runs and had 299 RBIs. As such he’s the only significant player (more than 500 games) who managed to score three times as many runs as he knocked in. His ratio of doubles to total hits is a MLB record, as is his ratio of singles to hits. He’s also the only man with 1500 hits and less than 300 RBIs. This guy is an on base machine, but it’s always to first base. He also has only 244 stolen bases with a high of 42 in his rookie campaign. That means between 1537 hits, 1042 walks, he manages to get to second base on his own 404 times ( doubles + triples + home runs + stolen bases), also an MLB record. His OBP to slugging percentage is 1.24 to 1 (another record) and he manages 6.5 walks for every extra base hit (You guessed it, yet another record).

Now are those a strange set of stats or what? Roy Thomas is the ultimate singles hitter. Just thought you’d like to know.

Some Miscellaneous Stats

May 3, 2010

I just got my latest copy of the magazine Baseball Digest. In the back there are several pages dedicated to stats. These are done by decade and show the top ten players in a number of hitting and pitching categories per decade. Each decade is done from the zero through the nine, thus the first is 1900-1909, the last 2000-2009. There are some interesting stats available.
First, there’s nothing particularly magical about a decade. Most good players have careers that stretch across more than one, and thus a list like this skews the numbers. But it does provide a handy way to group the stats. I don’t propose to put the list here; you can go to the magazine website and probably find it (I didn’t check). But I’d like to comment on some that I find interesting, the hitters first.

1. You get a feel for just how much Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb dominated the first two decades of the 20th Century. The categories listed are runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, stolen bases, RBI, batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. Between 1900 and 1909, Wagner is first in all but triples, where he come in second, and in home runs where he comes in tied for fifth. Some of the numbers are fairly close, for instance he leads Nap Lajoie in batting by only .006, but in other areas he’s hugely ahead (almost 200 hits, over 200 runs). Cobb’s the same in the period 1910-1919. He leads all categories except doubles where he is second and home runs where he fails to make the top ten. Again he’s sometimes close (.030 in slugging %), but in other cases he’s way ahead (120 hits, 150 runs). No one else can compare with the two of them in the first twenty years of the century. No one else, even Babe Ruth in the 1920s, is as dominant as Wagner and Cobb.

2. The offensive explosion of the 1920’s is really noticable. In runs, Babe Ruth is first and he’s 300 ahead of Cobb and 350 ahead of Wagner. In the 1920’s Wagner’s 1014 runs scored would rank third as would Cobb’s 1051. Doubles, home runs, RBIs are very much the same.

3. You see how quickly integration of the Major Leagues affects baseball. By the 1950s black players are already getting into the top 10 lists although few of them played the entire decade. Minnie Minoso is on the list in hits, doubles, stolen bases, RBIs, triples, and on-base percentage. Hank Aaron is third in batting, Willie Mays fourth, and Minoso (again) is eighth. The decades of the 1960s and 1970s are full of black players who make the lists. You can see the gradual shift away from black players occur as they begin to be a lesser percentage of the lists in the 1990s and 2000s, the same time as Hispanics increasingly take center stage.

4. There are some really surprising people who are very high up on some of the lists. In the 1900-1909 period, Roy Thomas is second in OBP (.417 to .411). I kind of vaguely knew who he was, but this list made me take a look at him and begin a reevaluation of his abilities. Harry Davis’ career ends at about the same time the A’s become a dominant team, so he’s generally overlooked as a major player in Athletics history. Did you know in the period 1900-1909 he leads the majors in home runs, is in the top five in both RBIs and slugging percentage?  Want to know a secret? Neither did I. There are lots of these. Tris Speaker is second in doubles in the 1920s (to Rogers Hornsby) and I never think of him as a 1920s player. Vada Pinson, who is totally overlooked today is second in the 1960s in doubles, third in hits, eighth in stolen bases, and fifth in runs. Willie Stargell who isn’t exactly obscure, but isn’t the first name you’d think of, leads the 1970s in home runs (by four over Reggie Jackson). Who knew? I would have guessed Jackson.

5. Some players get shafted by the way the decades are compiled. Jackie Robinson, whose career is 1947-1956, ends up with numbers compiled almost equally in two half-decades. He makes the lists once (1940s stolen bases he’s 10th).  

There are other things, but I wanted to give you only a flavor of the lists. See if you can find them. My guess is they are on-line somewhere, not just on the magazine website. I’ll do pitchers later.

Opening Day, 1910: Boston (NL)

April 13, 2010

Peaches Graham

There’s no way to sugarcoat this, Boston in 1909 was a Truly Awful Team. That’s how I describe a team that finishes under a .300 winning percentage. Boston ended the season 45-108 (a .294 winning percentage), 65.5 games out of first and 9.5 out of seventh.

As you would expect, the Doves underwent wholesale change during the offseason. During the 1909 season manager Frank Bowerman had a winning percentage of .290 and was fired with 77 games remaining. New manager Harry Smith did better. His winning percentage was .299. So out he went too. In came Fred Lake. Lake was the former manager at the other Boston team (the Red Sox) and had finished third (I have no idea what possessed him to switch teams. As far as I can tell he wasn’t fired.).

The 1909 outfield had been Roy Thomas in left field and leading off, Beals Becker in right hitting second, and center fielder Ginger Beaumont hitting fourth. In 1910 they were all gone (to Philadelphia, the Giants, and the Cubs), replaced by Bill Collins in left and leading off, Fred Beck in center who hit seventh, and clean up hitter and right fielder Doc Miller (who would actually arrive in Boston about a month into the season).

Catching was holdover Peaches Graham, the eighth hitter. In trying to find a good picture to post with this comment, Graham’s was the best I could do. That alone should tell you the quality of what Boston was putting on the field in 1910.

The infield had two holdovers. Second baseman Dave Sheen remained but moved from the three hole in the lineup to fifth, and Bill Sweeney, the 1909 third baseman and five hitter, moved to shortstop and now hit sixth. The new third baseman was Buck Herzog who hit second. First base saw Bud Sharpe, the new three hitter, take over. (He was traded during the season.) 

The pitching was a mess. Al Mattern, Lew Richie, Kirby White, Cecil Ferguson, Buster Brown, and Tom Tuckey were the 1909 pitchers who started 10 or more games. Only Richie managed to pitch .500 (he went 7-7) and he came over in a trade from Philadelphia. Ferguson managed to go 5-23 and lead the NL in losses.  By 1910 Mattern, Ferguson, White, Richie, and Brown were all back. They were joined by Cliff Curtis (who started nine in 1909). Billy Burke became the major bullpen pitcher.  

I wish I could say something positive about this team. The only thing I can think of is that they will get above .300 in 1910 (.346) and end up only 50.5 games out of first. It’s a long road to redemption in the form of Gene Stallings and the 1914 Miracle Braves.

Next: the Tigers

Opening Day, 1910: Philadelphia (NL)

April 10, 2010

Sherry Magee

The Phillies led the second division of the National League at the end of 1909. They were going the wrong way. It was their lowest finish over the last four years. Had I been told that and nothing else, I would have expected major changes in their lineup. I would have been wrong.

The Phils made one significat change between 1909 and 1910, their manager. Out was Bill Murray, in came Red Dooin. Dooin was the team catcher. He wasn’t much of a hitter, although not really bad either (which defines mediocre). Although not at Johnny Kling’s level, he was considered a fine defensive backstop. As a manager he was untested. He would stay through 1914.

Although the people in the lineup didn’t change, the batting order changed a lot. John Titus, the right fielder, moved from third to leadoff. Second baseman Otto Knabe went from sixth to second. Johnny Bates stayed in center field, but went from second to third in the batting order. Left fielder Sherry Magee remained in the cleanup spot. Former leadoff hitter third baseman Eddie Grant dropped to fifth in the order, and former five hitter and first baseman Kitty Bransfield took over the six hole. The other two spots in the lineup remained the same with shortstop Mickey Doolan hitting seventh and catcher-manager Dooin batting eighth.

The bench did make some changes. Backup first baseman and pinch hitter Joe Ward remained, but Pat Moran came over from Chicago to hold down the backup catching duties, and rookie Jimmy Walsh became a jack-of-all-trades by becoming both the primary backup middle infielder and fourth outfielder. Roy Thomas spelled him in the outfield on a handful of occasions.

The pitching staff also underwent some change. The main starters in ’09 were Earl Moore, Lew Moren, George McQuillan, Frank Corriden, Harry Coveleski, and Tully Sparks. Moore was 18-12  and led the league in walks. Both Moren and Corriden had winning records, something McQuillan, Coveleski, and Sparks couldn’t say. In 1910 Moore, Moren, and McQuillen were back (Sparks was around too, but only got into three games). Replacing Coveleski and Corriden were Bob Ewing who came over from Cincinnati and rookie Eddie Stack.

So there wasn’t much improvement on the Phillies roster in 1910. If they were going to overcome a 36.5 game 1901 deficit and win, their old guys wre going to have to do it. Maybe a new manager and a couple of new pitchers would do the trick. Of course maybe someone already there would get hot (see Magee).

Next: Brooklyn