04 March 2008

1931 National League

The Cardinals won the pennant for a second straight year, this time by a comfortable margin, then won the World Series in 7 games. New York was 2nd, Chicago 3rd, and Brooklyn 4th. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Boston followed, while Cincinnati brought up the rear. Offense was down significantly after a robust 1930, a trend that would generally continue through 1968 with brief interruptions.

Chick Hafey edged Bill Terry for the batting title by a fraction of a point: both hit .349. Jim Bottomley was just behind at .348. Rogers Hornsby led in on-base and OPS, Chuck Klein in slugging. Klein and Bill Terry tied with 121 runs. Paul Waner's 214 hits edged Terry by one. Sparky Adams had 46 doubles and Terry had 20 triples. Klein led with 31 homers and 121 RBI, playing in a bandbox of a ballpark. Mel Ott was second in both categories, with 29 HR and 115 RBI. Frankie Frisch led with 28 steals.

No 20-game winners, but three guys tied at 19: Jumbo Elliott, Bill Hallahan, and Heinie Meine. Hallahan led in strikeouts, his 159 edging Carl Hubbell's 155. Bill Walker of New York had the best ERA at 2.26, with Hubbell at 2.65 and Ed Brandt at 2.92, and veteran Jack Quinn had 15 saves.

Win Shares leaders, players; Wally Berger (Boston) 31, Bill Terry (New York) 29, Babe Herman (Brooklyn), Kiki Cuyler (Chicago), Mel Ott (New York) and Paul Waner (Pittsburgh) 26 each, Chuck Klein (Philadelphia) and Chick Hafey (St. Louis) 25, Woody English (Chicago) and Lloyd Waner (Pittsburgh) 24. Frankie Frisch, voted MVP by the BBWAA, had 21.

WS leaders, pitchers; Ed Brandt (Boston) 27, Watty Clark (Brooklyn) and Heinie Meine (Pittsburgh) 22, Bill Walker (New York), Ray Benge (Philadelphia), and Wild Bill Hallahan (St. Louis) 21, Tom Zachary (Boston) and Carl Hubbell (New York) 20.

Odd that Boston had the top player and pitcher in Win Shares, but finished with 90 losses. Aside from one other pitcher among the top performers, they really didn't have anything else.

WARP3: Travis Jackson (New York) 7.0, Ott 6.7, Berger 6.5, English 5.9, Terry 5.8, Rogers Hornsby (Chicago) 5.2, P. Waner 5.0, Tony Cuccinello (Cincinnati) 4.9, Cuyler 4.8, Gabby Hartnett (Chicago) 4.5, Hafey 4.0, Joe Stripp (Cincinnati) 3.8, Klein 3.6, Frisch had 3.1.

Pitchers: Benge 7.2 (career year), Clark 6.7, Brandt 6.0 (breakthrough year), Phil Collins (Philadelphia) 4.7, Zachary 4.5, Hubbell 4.3, Hallahan 4.0 (best year), Red Lucas (Cincinnati) 3.8, Syl Johnson (St. Louis), Dazzy Vance (Brooklyn), and Clise Dudley (Philadelphia) 3.7, Meine (career year) and Bob Smith (Chicago) 3.6.

WAR leaders, players: Terry 6.7, Berger 6.6, Ott 6.2, English 6.0, Jackson 5.8, Cuyler 5.5, Waner 5.4, Klein 5.1, Cuccinello and Hafey 5.0, Frisch 4.4, Herman 4.2. Pitchers: Walker 5.3, Benge 5.2, Clark 5.1, Brandt and Hubbell 4.7, Zachary 4.2, Hallahan 4.1, Meine and Smith 3.8, Root 3.6.

Actual award voting: the BBWAA MVP vote that continues to this day started in 1931.
Place Name Team Points (top 16 listed)
1 Frankie Frisch STL 65
2 Chuck Klein PHI 55
3 Bill Terry NYG 53
4 Woody English CHC 30
5 Chick Hafey STL 29
6 Jimmie Wilson STL 28
7 Travis Jackson NYG 24
8 Charlie Grimm CHC 21
9 Sparky Adams STL 18
10 Ed Brandt BSN 15
10 Rabbit Maranville BSN 15
12 Kiki Cuyler CHC 14
13 Pie Traynor PIT 12
14 Red Lucas CIN 10
15 Jim Bottomley STL 8
15 Lloyd Waner PIT 8

Top player: Wally Berger. He had a terrific year offensively and defensively, in a pitchers' park, for a terrible team. Didn't draw a single MVP vote, although teammate and .260 hitter Rabbit Maranville did. Hornsby led the league in OPS plus, but batted only 357 times. (He would never reach 100 AB again.) Chuck Klein was a zero defensively, as was Chick Hafey. Frisch won the vote as the veteran on the pennant-winner, and the "inspirational leader." The best alternative to Berger is Bill Terry, on the 2nd place Giants. Berger's numbers, .323-19-84, were superficially less impressive than his rookie year numbers from 1930, but his OPS+ was actually higher due to the overall offensive depression. Terry's line was .349-9-112, and also looked a lot less impressive than the previous year. It was all a matter of context, though. #3 would be Mel Ott, .292-29-115, and #4 would be Paul Waner, .322-6-70. Kiki Cuyler, .330 with 110 runs, 5th.

Top pitcher: Ed Brandt, like Berger with the Braves. Brandt did get the attention of the MVP voters, finishing tied for 10th with teammate Maranville, and the highest-finishing pitcher. Brandt was 3rd in ERA, 4th in wins (1 behind the leaders, with 18), 3rd in WHIP. Brandt went 18-11, 2.92 ERA. Watty Clark was second best, he was 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA. Ray Benge was 14-18 for a lousy Phillies team with a 3.17 ERA for 3rd. Carl Hubbell would soon start to dominate the league, but was #4 this year, 14-12, 2.65. #5 is Bill Walker, ERA leader at 16-9, 2.26.

Top rookie: Paul Derringer was 18-8 for the Cardinals.

Top manager: Gabby Street again led the Cardinals to the pennant.

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