10 April 2007

1890 Players' League

It was a one-year league only, an attempt by labor to trump management. It could have worked, but management declared all-out war, and pursued a scorched-earth policy. The best players by and large were in the PL, but fans got so confused they tended to stay away. Everyone lost money, the PL's money men backed out, and the AA folded one year later leaving only the National as the "major league." They played some pretty good baseball in the PL, the best of 1890. The teams finished in this order: Boston, Brooklyn, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. Only Buffalo played poorly, and the pennant race was pretty good, but it got buried under the rhetoric at the time.

Pete Browning took the PL batting title with a .373 average, just ahead of Dave Orr's .371, vindication for the American Association veterans. Jim O'Rourke batted .360, Roger Connor .349, and Jimmy Ryan .340. Hugh Duffy led with 161 runs, Tom Brown 146, and Harry Stovey 142. Duffy had 191 hits, Billy Shindle 189, and John M. Ward 188. Browning led with 40 doubles, Jake Beckley had 38 and O'Rourke 37. Beckley and Joe Visner had 22 triples. Connor had 14 home runs and Hardy Richardson 13. Richardson drove in 146 runs while Orr had 124 and Beckley 120. Stovey had 97 steals.

Mark Baldwin led the league with 33 wins, Silver King and Gus Weyhing won 30, Charley Radbourn 27. King ran away with the ERA title by posting a 2.69 mark. Harry Staley was at 3.23 and Radbourn 3.31. Baldwin led with 206 strikeouts, King had 185, Weyhing 177.

Win Shares leaders, Player's League Pitchers; Silver King (Chicago) 44, Mark Baldwin (Chicago) 42, Charley Radbourn (Boston) 34, Gus Weyhing (Brooklyn) 32, Ben Sanders (Philadelphia) 28, Harry Staley (Pittsburgh) 27, Ad Gumbert (Boston) 25, Hank O'Day (New York) 23, John Sowders (Brooklyn) and Ed Crane (New York) 22, Charlie Buffinton and Phil Knell (Philadelphia) 21.

PL Position players; George Van Haltren (Brooklyn) 30 (about one-third pitching), John Ward (Brooklyn) 27, Hugh Duffy (Chicago) and Billy Shindle (Philadphia) 26, Roger Connor (New York) 25, Jimmy Ryan (Chicago) and Pete Browning (Cleveland) 23, Jake Beckley (Pittsburgh) 21, Billy Nash, Hardy Richardson, and Harry Stovey (Boston), Lou Bierbauer (Brooklyn), Buck Ewing and Jim O'Rourke (New York) 20 each, Dan Brouthers (Boston), Dave Orr (Brooklyn) and Tip O'Neill (Chicago) 19. The PL was pretty deep in stars and "name" players.

WARP3 scores: King 11.1, Radbourn 8.4, Baldwin and Staley 6.0, Weyhing 5.2, Sanders 4.0, Knell 3.9, Gumbert 3.4, Tim Keefe (New York) 3.3. Not among WARP leaders: O'Day 1.4, Sowders 2.4, Crane 1.4, Buffinton 2.7.

Players, Browning 7.1, Shindle 6.7, Connor 6.4, Ewing 6.3, Duffy 6.1, Duke Farrell (Chicago) 5.6, Ward and O'Rourke (at 39 years old) 5.5, Beckley 5.2, Nash 4.9, Stovey and Henry Larkin (Cleveland) 4.8, Richardson 4.7, Patsy Tebeau (Cleveland) 4.6, Bierbauer 4.4, Ryan and King Kelly (Boston) 4.3. Not among WARP leaders were Van Haltren 4.0, Brouthers 3.9, Orr 2.9 (last season), O'Neill 1.8.

WAR leaders, pitchers: King 13.7, Baldwin 9.8, Radbourn 9.7, Weyhing 8.6, Staley 6.2, Sanders 5.7, Keefe 5.5. Position players: Connor 7.5, Browning 6.2, Duffy 5.6, Stovey 4.7, Brouthers, Richardson, and Beckley 4.2, O'Rourke 4.1.

Top pitcher: Silver King. First in ERA and WHIP, second in wins and strikeouts. Teammate Baldwin won more but didn't pitch as well.
#1 Silver King, #2 Charley Radbourn, #3 Mark Baldwin, #4 Harry Staley, #5 Gus Weyhing.

Best player: Roger Connor, leader in slugging, OPS and homers. Second in OPS+ to Browning, but Browning's defense was, well, offensive as usual.
#1 Roger Connor, #2 Pete Browning, #3 Hugh Duffy, #4 Billy Shindle, #5 John M. Ward.

Most valuable: John Ward, who conceived and was the power behind the league, as well as one of its best players.

No rookies of note, this was a league by and for established players.

Best manager: King Kelly (?), directing Boston to the pennant. Why not?

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