11 June 2007

1904 American League

Boston defeated New York in a tremendous pennant race, the best of the century so far. Jack Chesbro had his career year with 41 wins, and lost the pennant for the Highlanders on a wild pitch. Of course, they wouldn't have gotten that far if not for him. Chicago and Cleveland were in it too, and Philadelphia was not far behind. Washington was horrible, losing 113 games with one of the worst teams of all time. The NL, specifically pennant-winning manager John McGraw, refused to play the AL champs. This led to the setting up of a more official playoff at the end of the season, to be christened the "World Series," (originally "World's Series") and sports history was made.

Statistical leaders: Nap Lajoie ran away with the batting title, at .376 to Willie Keeler's .343. Third was Harry Davis at .309. Lajoie also led in hits (208), doubles (49), on-base, slugging, and RBI (102). Joe Cassidy, Buck Freeman, and Chick Stahl tied with 19 triples. Patsy Dougherty had 113 runs, Harry Davis 10 HR, and Clevelanders Harry Bay and Elmer Flick 38 steals each.

Chesbro had 41 wins (Eddie Plank and Cy Young followed with 26 each), Addie Joss posted a 1.59 ERA, and Rube Waddell had 349 strikeouts to go with his second-best ERA (1.62). The strikeout mark had been reached repeatedly in the 19th century, but a 20th century pitcher would not exceed it until Sandy Koufax in 1965, although Bob Feller was one short in 1946. Also, while 40 wins was regularly exceeded in the 19th century, no one has posted more victories in a season since Chesbro. Ed Walsh in 1908 is the only 40-game winner since.

Win Shares Leaderboard:
Players, Nap Lajoie (Cleveland) 41, Chick Stahl (Boston) and Elmer Flick (Cleveland) 31, Freddy Parent (Boston) 29, Jimmy Collins (Boston), George Davis (Chicago) and Bill Bradley (Cleveland) 28 each, Danny Green (Chicago) 27, Jimmy Barrett (Detroit) 26, Buck Freeman (Boston), Willie Keeler (New York) and Jesse Burkett (St. Louis) 25.

Pitchers, Jack Chesbro (New York) 53, Cy Young (Boston) 35, Rube Waddell (Philadelphia) 32, Jack Powell (New York) and Eddie Plank (Philadelphia) 29, Bill Dinneen (Boston) and Frank Owen (Chicago) 26, Jesse Tannehill (Boston) and George Mullin (Detroit) 25.

WARP3 scores: players, Lajoie 11.6, Bradley 9.1, Flick 8.4, Murphy 7.3, Collins 7.2, Davis and Bobby Wallace (St. Louis) 6.5, Patsy Dougherty (Boston) 6.3, Green 5.9, Keeler 5.7, Lou Criger (Boston) 5.4.

WARP3 scores, pitchers: Chesbro 11.3, Young 9.6, Plank 8.2, Waddell 7.9, Dinneen 7.7, Harry Howell (St. Louis) 6.2, Mullin 5.7, Owen 5.6, Tom Hughes (Boston) 5.3.

WAR leaders, position players: Lajoie 9.3. Flick 7.1, Davis 6.9, Bradley 6.7, Parent 6.4, Wallace 5.4, Collins 5.3, Keeler and Danny Murphy (Philadelphia) 5.2, Stahl and Kid Elberfeld (New York) 5.0.

WAR leaders, pitchers: Chesbro 8.8, Waddell 8.4, Young 8.1, Plank 6.8, Tannehill 4.6, Bill Bernhard (Cleveland) and Dinneen 4.4, Addie Joss (Cleveland) 4.3, Howell 4.2.

Top player: Nap Lajoie continued to dominate the young AL, leading in batting average, on-base, slugging, OPS, hits, total bases, extra-base hits, doubles, RBI, and OPS+. The question is, how did Cleveland, which led in offense and was 2nd in team ERA, finish 4th? By Pythagorean numbers, they should have won the pennant.
After Lajoie at #1, I'd give the #2 spot to Elmer Flick, with Bill Bradley #3, Jimmy Collins #4 and George Davis #5.

Top pitcher: Jack Chesbro. He led in wins, WHIP, innings, games, starts, CG, 2nd in strikeouts, 4th in ERA. Had 15 more wins than the second-place guys in that category, Plank and Young. This season got Chesbro in the Hall of Fame, with but 198 career victories. #2 on my ballot would be strikeout leader Rube Waddell, #3 Cy Young, #4 Eddie Plank, then Bill Dinneen #5.

Frank Smith's 16-9, with a 2.09 ERA for Chicago is deserving of Rookie of the Year.

Manager of the Year to New York's Clark Griffith, for a great run with a shaky team.

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