15 January 2008

1926 National League

The Cardinals won the pennant and then the World Series, thanks to some heroics from veteran Grover Cleveland Alexander. The NL was tightly bunched, as second-place Cincinnati was 2 games back, Pittsburgh was 4.5 back, and Chicago was 7 back. New York was 5th, followed by Brooklyn, Boston, and Philadelphia. Brooklyn led the early going, then Cincinnati, then Pittsburgh, before the Cardinals surged to the front at the end.

The top two in the batting race were Reds Bubbles Hargrave and Cuckoo Christensen, neither of whom would be eligible for the title under today's rules. Neither reached today's mark of at-bats, though both had 100 games, which was the requirement at the time. The veteran catcher and 26-year old rookie outfielder made their biggest splashes in this season. The #3 and #4 men, Earl Smith of Pittsburgh and Cy Williams of Philadelphia, wouldn't have enough at bats under today's rules either. Under current rules, the batting titlist would be rookie Paul Waner of Pittsburgh, at .336. Waner also led in triples with 22 and runs created with 116. Christensen also led in on-base, and Williams in slugging. Under modern rules, Waner would lead those categories as well.

Kiki Cuyler led the league in runs with 113, Eddie Brown in hits with 201, Jim Bottomley in total bases, doubles with 40, and with 120 RBI. Hack Wilson led with 21 homers, Cuyler with 35 steals. Waner scored 101, Wilson drove in 109, Les Bell had 100 RBI.

For the pitchers, Ray Kremer led in ERA with 2.61, and also led in winning percentage and tied for the lead in wins with 20. Other 20-game winners were Pete Donohue, Lee Meadows, and Flint Rhem. Carl Mays won 19. Dazzy Vance led in strikeouts with 140. Charlie Root was second in ERA at 2.82, Jesse Petty was third at 2.84. Root was second in strikeouts with 127.

Win Shares leaders, players: Paul Waner (Pittsburgh) 28, Hack Wilson (Chicago) and Kiki Cuyler (Pittsburgh) 26, Les Bell (St. Louis) 25, Jim Bottomley and Bob O'Farrell (St. Louis) 23, Curt Walker (Cincinnati) and Pie Traynor (Pittsburgh) 22, Sparky Adams (Chicago), Edd Roush (Cincinnati) and Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis) 21 each. Hughie Critz, 2nd in the MVP vote, had 19 Win Shares for Cincinnati.

WS leaders, pitchers: Ray Kremer (Pittsburgh) 25, Jesse Petty (Brooklyn) 24, Hal Carlson (Philadelphia) 23, Charlie Root (Chicago) 22, Pete Donohue (Cincinnati) 21, Carl Mays (Cincinnati) 20, Flint Rhem (St. Louis) 18, Doug McWeeny (Brooklyn), Freddie Fitzsimmons (New York) and Bill Sherdel (St. Louis) 17.

WARP3: O'Farrell 5.5 (last big year), Waner 5.2 (rookie), Frankie Frisch (New York) 5.1, Traynor 4.9, Freddie Lindstrom (New York) 4.5, Bell and Hornsby 4.4, Walker 4.3 (best year), Travis Jackson (New York) 4.0, Wilson 3.9 (breakthrough year), Cuyler 3.8, Rube Bressler (Cincinnati) 3.7, Hughie Critz (Cincinnati) 3.6.

Pitchers, Carlson 8.6 (peak year), Petty 5.4 (best year), Kremer 5.3 (best year), Root 4.9 (best year), Mays 4.7 (last good year), Bob Smith (Boston) 4.4, Johnny Werts (Boston) 3.9, McWeeny 3.6, Burleigh Grimes (Brooklyn) 3.5.

WAR leaders, position players: Wilson 6.1, Waner 5.8, Cuyler 5.5, Adams and Frisch 5.3, Bell 5.2, Hornsby 4.9, Southworth and Walker 4.3, Blades 4.2, Bancroft 4.1, Critz 4.0. Pitchers: Carlson 6.0, Kremer 5.5, Root 4.9, Petty 4.7, Mays 4.0, McWeeny 3.3, Bush and Fitzsimmons 3.1, Alexander and Sherdel 3.0.

Actual MVP vote:
1 Bob O'Farrell STL 79
2 Hughie Critz CIN 60
3 Ray Kremer PIT 32
4 Tommy Thevenow STL 30
5 Hack Wilson CHC 25
6 Les Bell STL 24
6 Bubbles Hargrave CIN 24
8 Flint Rhem STL 20
9 Dave Bancroft BSN 17
9 Freddie Lindstrom NYG 17
11 Hal Carlson PHI 16
12 Paul Waner PIT 15
13 Pie Traynor PIT 14
14 Wally Pipp CIN 12
15 Eddie Brown BSN 10

Best player: Bob O'Farrell. It seems an odd choice, but there were no true standouts in this year with Hornsby hurt and below par. Hack Wilson was probably the best hitter, and Cy Williams succeeded in a reduced role at age 38, but O'Farrell was the driving force on the pennant winners. He only dented the leaderboard by tying Hornsby for 6th in walks, but he had a 112 OPS+ and excellent defense. He batted .293 and drove in 68 runs. I'll put Hack Wilson #2, he hit .321 with 21 HR and 109 RBI. Rookie Waner led the league in triples and hit .336 with 101 runs. Kiki Cuyler shifted to CF for Waner, he's #4, and Les Bell at #5.

Top pitcher: Ray Kremer, ERA leader and tied for the lead in victories. Again, no clear winner. Kremer was 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA. Hal Carlson #2, he was 17-12 with a 3.23 ERA for a last-place team. Veteran Carl Mays #3, he was 19-12 with a 3.14 ERA. Jesse Petty #4 and Charlie Root #5.

Top rookie: Paul Waner. Led league in Win Shares in his first try.

Top manager: Rogers Hornsby, an odd choice, but his team won a close pennant race even though their best player, himself, was hurt much of the time.

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