Our next installment of the Red’s All Decade teams involves a name change, a league change, and as Red’s fans are now beginning to get to used to, a lack of championships. In 1890, the Reds moved back to the National League (the American Association would be gone by 1891), shortened their name from the Red Stockings to just the Reds, and had winning records in eight of the ten seasons during the decade. Unfortunately they played in a league dominated by two teams (The Boston Beaneaters won five championships, and the Baltimore Orioles won three during the ten years), and never finished better then third place.
So let’s take a look at the best of the 1890s…..
Catcher – Heinie Peitz came over from the St. Louis Browns in 1896, and was the Reds starting catcher for the final four seasons of the decade. His best season was his first with the franchise, when he .299 and got on base at a .386 clip.
First Base – Hall of Famer Jake Beckley came over to the Reds early in the 1897 season from the New York Giants, and finished off the decade with three solid seasons. He hit .330, .294, and .333 in those seasons, and had no less then twelve triples in any of those seasons. His 243 career triples are good for fourth all time.
Second Base – Bid McPhee is the only Red so far to repeat as an All Decade player. He started at second base in all ten seasons for the Reds, and his best season was 1894, where he hit .304 and had a .420 OBP. He led the team in RBIs with 619 during the 1890s.
Third Base – Arlie Latham manned the hot corner for six seasons for the Reds. His 1894 and 1895 seasons were probably his best, when he hit .313 and .311. His 739 career stolen bases are good for eighth all time.
Shortstop – Germany Smith played six seasons for the Reds, and although he wasn’t the best hitter on the team (.243 career batting average), he did have some pop. In 1892, his eight homers put him at sixth in the league.
Leftfield – This spot was a revolving door, and in several seasons, the Reds didn’t have a consistent starter. I’m going to give Eddie Burke the nod. He played three seasons for the Reds, and in 1896, he hit .340 and scored 120 runs.
Centerfield – Bug Holliday was one of the most potent offensive forces for the team. He played every season during the decade with the exception of 1899. Bug was a career .311 hitter, and his best season was 1894, when he hit .372 and had thirteen homeruns. He led the Reds in hitting (.309) and homeruns (46) during the 1890s, and had two homerun crowns throughout his career.
Rightfield – Dusty Miller was the starting rightfielder from 1895-1899. In his first season with the Reds, he hit .335, and garnered 103 runs and 112 RBIs. His ten homers that season was good for fifth in the league.
Starting Pitcher – Frank Dwyer led all Reds’ pitchers in Wins during the 1890s with 132 over eight seasons. Probably his most interesting season was 1894, when he had an ERA of 5.07. What was interesting about it was the adjusted league ERA was actually 5.53, so he ended up with an ERA+ of 109. His career ERA+ was 115.
Starting Pitcher – Billy Rhines pitched for the Reds from 1890 through 1892, moved on to the Louisville Colonels for a season, and came back to the Reds for three more seasons. His best season by far was his rookie campaign in 1890. He went 28-17 in 46 starts, racked up 401 1/3 innings, and had an ERA of 1.95 (ERA+ of 183). He led the league in WHIP, ERA, ERA+, and was fifth in wins. He was the team leader in strikeouts (499) and ERA (3.28) during the 1890s.
Relief pitchers were still used sporadically, and most of them had ERAs closer to double figures compared to the numbers we’re used to seeing from relievers today.
Baseball America released their list of Top 10 Reds Prospects. I’m not a premium subscriber, but both the Red Reporter and Reds and Blues touch on the story nicely. Last year’s first round pick, Homer Bailey, was chosen as the top prospect.
Jayson Stark wrote a column on the 10 most improved teams, and the Reds came in at number nine. I think the Reds made some signings that look good, but once we get down to business, I think it’s going to be more of the same. Having Austin Kearns and Ken Griffey, Jr. around for an entire season is worth more then anything they’ve picked up, but their pitching is still going to be near rock bottom. In fact, there’s a chance that for the first time ever, two starters on the same team could give up 40 taters.
JD Arney, the fantastic owner of Reds Daily, is moving on to his next project. He’s now at Red Reporter. Looks like there’s some great enhancements to his site, so make sure to add this to your daily reads.
Jack Billingham was one of Sparky’s workhorses. Despite having an ERA+ of only 94, he won 19 games in two different seasons, and 15 in 1975. His best season by far was 1973, when he went 19-10, pitched 293 1/3 innings, and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. He led the league in innings pitched, games started (40), and shutouts (7).
In 1975, he was good but not great. He did win fifteen, but his ERA+ of 87 was hardly spectacular. He walked almost as many batters as he struck out, and his WHIP was a fairly high 1.447. Nothing to write home about, but he was second on the team in innings pitched (coming in less then three innings behind Gary Nolan), so he gave Sparky quite a few quality innings. Let’s take a look at the rest of his stat line:
The Stuff rating of -5 and the high WHIP are the biggest concern. Regardless, Milt Wilcox has him beat in every category except innings pitched. so chalk this one up for the Tigers.
Scorecard 1975 Reds 6, 1984 Tigers 5
You can read Brian’s analysis of Milt Wilcox over at Tigerblog.
I like this signing. Nice and safe, especially considering the murky situation surrounding Anderson Machado. If Aurilia makes the team, he makes a modest $600,000. His career season in 2001 is four season behind him, and I’m not expecting a return to the 11.2 Wins Above Replacement Value he garnered that year. But if he could match his 2003 season, where he went .277/.325/.440, I’d be pretty happy.
It’s always funny (weird funny, not funny ha-ha) how things work out. Last year here in Detroit, the Tigers were all over Aurilia. He ended up signing with the Mariners instead, so the Tigers settled for a trade with the M’s that brought Carlos Guillen and his MVP caliber season here to Detroit. It doesn’t happen too often, but chalk one up for the Tigers.
My personal feel is the Reds just signed their opening day shortstop. Machado might not even make back to the U.S. by then, and even if he does, he could have a bum knee. Felipe Lopez has more strikeouts (269) in his career then hits (216), and I could live without his career OPS+ of 79.
First off, thank you to Doc Scott for his kind words. He’s the author at Reds and Blues. Doc Scott was nice enough to mention my site in a post on Redszone, so welcome to everyone who’s coming to the site for the first time. And Doc, I have a handful of links I need to throw up, and yours has been one of them.
JD over at Reds Daily has a nice piece on an All Baseball roundtable about the Reds. In the comments, he gets taken to task for calling Adam Dunn a future Hall of Famer, which in my book, makes JD look even more like a genius. It’s a question of what year he’ll be inducted, not if he’ll be inducted.
And Baseball Prospectus has their latest installment of the Triple Play up, and the Reds are part of the discussion. They blast the Milton signing, and go on to blast the Reds pitching staff further. Although making fun of the Reds pitching staff is like the school bully picking a fight with the skinny nerd two grades below him. The nerd, nor the Reds, can really put up much of a fight.
I’m travelling this weekend, so this will be the last you hear from until probably Sunday night. I know, you’re sad. But I’ll be back. Have a nice weekend.
First off, I want to thank JD over at Reds Daily for the kind words about my first All Decade team. Thanks to him, more people came to the website then on any other day in the short existance of the blog. Hopefully you’ll keep coming back.
Don Gullett was a man on fire in 1975. He was held to only 22 starts because he caught a line drive on his thumb in mid-June. He had nineteen decisions in those 22 starts, going 15-4 on the season. He finished fifth in the Cy Young that year, his best finish ever. Over his career, he amassed a .686 winning percentage (109-50), which is good for eighth all time.
So where does Gullett fall out numbers wise? Let’s take a look….
Brian tried to hedge himself by hesitantly deferring to Gullett, but in my opinion, it’s not even close. He had a better WHIP, ERA, and ERA+ then Petry did. If Gullett had a full season, he very well might have won 20 games, and won the Cy Young.
Scorecard 1975 Reds 6, 1984 Tiger 4
I know the Reds go as far back as 1866, but Baseball-Reference only has numbers going back to when they joined the American Association (affectionately called the Beer and Whiskey League).
The Reds first eight seasons in the American Association were pretty successful. In their inaugural season, they won the championship with a 55-25 record (no playoffs back then). In total, they had winning records in seven of the eight seasons during the decade, but could only nail down the crown in 1882. Let’s take a quick look at the best of the decade:
C – Pop Snyder played five seasons for the Reds, starting in four of those. He had his best year in 1882 when he not only managed the team to a championship, but he had a .291 batting average and an OPS+ of 117. After the 1882 season he regressed, never hitting above .260, but he gets the nod not only for his good season, but for his longevity.
1b – John Reilly was probably the easiest on this list, despite the fact he didn’t play on the 1882 team. His best season was 1884, when he led the league in homeruns (11), slugging (.551) and OPS (.918), and he topped out with a 189 OPS+. He was the starting first baseman for the Reds from 1883 through the end of the decade.
2b – Bid McPhee was another easy choice, because he was the starting second basemen for all eight seasons. In fact, you’ll see his name again because he followed the Reds into the National League and played his entire eighteen year career with them. 1886 was probably his best year, when he led the league in homers (8) and was second in runs scored with 139.
3b – Another eight year starter, Hick Carpenter started out with a bang with the Reds in 1882. He led the league in hits (120), RBIs (67) and was second in hitting with a .342 average. He also posted an 155 OPS+, but he regressed considerably, dropping to 121 the next year, and then never getting above 101 for the rest of the decade. But that one year in 1882 probably made the Worchester Ruby Legs regret getting rid of him.
SS – Frank Fennelly was the Reds’ starting shortstop from 1885 through 1888. Those first three years he posted OPS+ of 142, 127, and 112, beforing struggling in 1888 and being moved to the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1885 he led the league in RBIs with 89.
LF – Charley Jones played for the Reds from 1883 through 1887, and started two years in leftfield, and two years in center. Since there were no good leftfielders other then him, he gets the nod here despite playing as much time in centerfield. In his five years with the Reds, he never dipped below a 132 OPS+, and he led the league in OBP in 1884 (.376).
CF – Another unusual one, Pop Corkhill spent his first four seasons in rightfield before moving to center field in 1887. But because nobody else played more then a season in center other then Charley Jones, and there is a decent candidate in rightfield, I figured I’d drop Pop here. Corkhill was never a great hitter, with his best season being 1887 when he hit .311, but he gave the team a ton of flexibility because he seconded as a closer. In 1884, he earned the only save the Reds would see through 1888.
RF – Hugh Nicol wasn’t known for his bat. His career SLG% was .282. But he did draw a walk or two, and was best known for his speed. In 1887, he led the league with 138 stolen bases in only 135 games.
SP – Will White was probably the single biggest reason the Reds won the American Association pennant in 1882. He led the league in Wins (40), IP (480), Complete Games (52, all that he pitched), and shutouts (8). His miniscule ERA of 1.54 was good for fourth in the league. Not to be outdone, he won 43 games and threw 577 innings in 1883. It wasn’t until 1884 when the team played more then a 100 games that the semblance of a rotation was put in place. Even then he started (and finished) 64 games, going 43-22 with a 2.09 ERA.
SP – Tony Mullane came on the Cincinnati scene in 1886 and won 33, 31, and 26 games in his first three seasons with the team.
So that’s the best of the 1880s. It looks like Brian is going to finish up his analysis of Dan Petry here soon, so I’ll be back soon with a look at Don Gullett.
Not only is one of the guys who was going to compete for the starting shortstop postion hurt, but he also can’t get back to the country. Anderson Machado is stranded in Venezuela. He hurt his knee playing winter ball, and now he’s having problems getting back before the training camp starts, assuming he doesn’t have a serious problem. Sounds like a problem even Repairman Jack couldn’t fix.
With news about the Reds being sparse, I’m forced to come up with my own ideas. Since I go together with creativity as well as Oreo cookies and milk do, I’m going to introduce to you my first all decade team. The first one isn’t a full decade, but I’ll be letting you know who I think was the best players the Cincinnati Red Stockings had from 1882-1889. I’m hoping to have it done by Monday, so be sure to check back then. Unless the Reds make a trade for Johan Santana, in event I’ll report back sooner.
The Hot Stove league is winding down, and it looks like the Reds will walk away with two new starting pitchers (Ortiz and Milton), and a new third baseman (Joe Randa). They also a signed a couple of relievers, but I felt those were marginal moves.
If I were to give the Reds a grade with a C being about what I thought they’d do, an A if the vastly exceeded my expectatiosn, or an F if they were like the Tigers and threw money at everybody and got walked over, then I’d give the Reds that C. They made some very marginal improvements to the rotation, and picked up much needed, experienced third basemen. Now Austin Kearns is free to roam the outfield once again.
Nobody expected the Reds to be a major player, so I can’t be that disappointed. If a lot of the right things happen, the Reds could be better then .500. But for ALL of those things to happen, it would take a minor miracle.