10 March 2007

1872 National Association

The 1872 NA was a real mish-mash, with teams coming and going all season. Baltimore and New York played 54 league games each, Washington only 9, while a different (we think) Washington team played 11 and lost them all. But that winless Washington Nationals team included a young Paul Hines, who would become one of the great 19th century players. Boston won the league title with a 39-8 record. There were five good teams in the league, and several poor ones, who mostly lasted just a few weeks each.

The WARP3 scores: Ross Barnes (Boston) 9.2, Davy Force (Troy/Baltimore) 7.2, Dave Eggler (New York) and George Wright (Boston) 7.0, Wes Fisler (Philadelphia) 4.9, John Hatfield (New York) 4.8, Cap Anson (Philadelphia) 4.5, Nat Hicks (New York) 4.1, Mike McGeary (Philadelphia) and Tom York (Baltimore) 3.7, George Hall and John Radcliff (Baltimore) and Andy Leonard (Boston) 3.6, Cal McVey (Boston) 3.3.

Pitchers WARP3: George Zettlein (Troy/Brooklyn) 18.7, Albert Spalding (Boston) 12.8, Cherokee Fisher (Baltimore) 5.6, Candy Cummings (New York) 4.8, Dick McBride (Philadelphia) 4.4.

WAR for position players, from Fangraphs: Barnes 5.0, Wright 3.5, Force 2.8, Eggler 2.7, Fisler 2.4, Hatfield 1.9, Anson and Bob Ferguson (Brooklyn) 1.8.

Barnes won the batting title at .430, Force followed at .418, and Cap Anson hit .415. Meanwhile, Spalding won 38 games, Cummings 33, and McBride 30, while Fisher posted a 1.80 ERA, Spalding 1.85, Zettlein 2.55 and McBride 2.87.

Top player: Ross Barnes, the master of the fair/foul bunt. Barnes would bunt the ball into fair territory with spin so that it would roll foul, and under the rules of the time it was a fair ball. It was a few years before they got around to calling that a foul ball and shortening Barnes' career, but he led the NA in OPS and OPS+ that way, even in slugging. #2 Force, #3 Wright, #4 Eggler, #5 Fisler.

Top pitcher: Albert Spalding, the Boston ace. Between Spalding, Barnes, and Wright, Boston was almost impossible to beat. Spalding led the league in wins and ERA and posted a 38-8 record as Boston's sole pitcher. #2 Zettlein, #3 McBride, #4 Cummings, #5 Mathews.

Top rookie: Candy Cummings, the league's busiest pitcher, and reputedly the inventor of the curve ball.

Top manager: Harry Wright, architect of that Boston powerhouse.

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