Thursday, June 23, 2005


By Stockton

This is Part II of an article on the 1906 Chicago Cubs. Part I can be found here.

Who were the players that made the 1906 Chicago Cubs one of the greatest teams ever? We'll start with their infield and their leader.


Frank Chance, the Peerless Leader, was the player- manager of the Cubs. He was, by all accounts, an excellent defensive player, a fast, smart baserunner, a good hitter and a fiery competitor. In 1906, Chance played in 136 games, the most ever in his career. He was in the top ten in every major offensive category (ranking for the year in parenthesis).

H - 151 (10)
R - 103 (1)
2B- 24 (6)
3B- 10 (7)
HR- 3 (8)
RBI - 71 (5)
BB - 70 (7)
SB - 57 (1)
AVG - .319 (5)
OB% - .419 (3)

On top of an outstanding performance, Chance managed a sometimes volatile team to the best winning percentage ever in Major League Baseball.

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"Chance was born to battle on the baseball field"
- Johnny Evers


Nicknamed The Human Crab, Evers is almost always described as "a bundle of nerves" and "smart". The Cubs second baseman was a scrappy, volatile player who enjoyed fighting on the field with opposing players and his own teammates. Evers even stopped talking to shortstop Joe Tinker for years in a dispute over cab fare.

Chance thought Evers was a great player but wished he played the outfield so he wouldn't have to listen to him. Aside from that, Evers was a very good player for a very long time. He was an excellent defensive player, fast and as smart a player as you were likely to find.

H - 136
R - 65
2B - 17
3B - 6
HR - 1
RBI - 51
BB - 36
SB - 49 (5)
AVG - .255
OB% - .305

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"A bundle of nerves and the smartest
brain in baseball" - Hugh Fullerton


Tinker was a very good defensive shortstop. His offensive numbers are not eye-popping but he did contribute, being ninth in Runs Batted In. His best offensive years were still ahead of him.

Tinker's later years were not kind to him. His wife committed suicide on Christmas Day, 1923. Tinker later became rich in the Florida land-boom but lost most of that money in 1929. Later, he suffered from diabetes which resulted in a leg amputation.

H - 122
R - 75
2B - 18
3B - 4
HR - 1
RBI - 64 (9)
SB - 30
BB- 43
AVG - .233
OB% - .293

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Joe Tinker


Steinfeldt was not fast, but he did have a good glove and a strong arm. While in Cincinnati, he gained a reputation as a difficult player. Chance convinced management to grab Steinfeldt in order to complete an already good infield. Chance had played with Steinfeldt in winter ball and believed his reputation was not deserved.

Chance proved right. Steinfeldt had a better offensive year than the famous Hall-of-Fame trio, Tinkers, Evers, Chance. Before starting his baseball career, Steinfeld worked for a traveling minstrel show.

H - 176 (1)
R - 81 (tied for 4th)
2B - 27 (tied for 4th)
3B - 10 (tied for 4th)
HR - 3 (8th)
RBI - 83 (tied for 1st)
SB - 29
BB - 47
AVG - .327 (2)
OB% - .395 (6)

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Kling was a fine defensive catcher with a very good arm. In the 1907 World Series Ty Cobb failed to get a stolen base against Kling and was thrown out twice. Kling's Runs, RBI's and Hits numbers look weak, but he compiled those numbers while playing in only 107 games.

H - 107
R - 45
2B - 15
3B - 8
HR - 2
RBI - 46
SB - 14
BB - 23
AVG - .312 (6)
OB% - .357

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Catcher Johnny Kling

This wraps up Part II. Next time we'll look at the outfield.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


How many times have you heard your fellow fan say that "so-and-so was underrated." Since there is only one informal rating system (The Hall of Fame), the comment is inaccurate. We still know what they're saying. They're saying, "So-and-so doesn't get the recognition he deserves. The Simmons-Fisk article below is one example.

Here's a player I feel is "underrated." He may belong in the Hall, he may not. The point is, he was a fine player for a long time and his contribution to the game should not fade into obscurity. We'll compare him with two contemporaries. It is not meant to be an exhaustive, Jamesian-like study, merely an overview of their careers and rankings.


The first candidate has impressive credentials at any level. Whether the talk has turned to those who should be enshrined or just very good players that should be remembered. See if you know who I'm talking about before hitting the Baseball Encyclopedia.

His career credentials;

In the top 50 (more than 2,700)for hits;
Top 50 for doubles;
Top 30 for Homeruns;
Top 30 for Runs Batted In.

Add to that, 300+ Stolen Bases, Gold Gloves, an MVP and a Rookie of the Year Award. His weaknesses? He didn't walk much. He didn't strike out too much for a power hitter, but he didn't draw many base on balls. Also, he routinely missed 20+ games a year for injuries. He played 17 full seasons.


Player A is an impressive player. As a comparison, lets look at a contemporary. We'll call him Player B. Player B played in 19 full seasons. Player B was an excellent player for many years. His career rankings are:

Top 20 for hits (over 3,000):
Top 25 for doubles;
Top 25 for Homeruns;
Top 15 for RBI's;

Add to that, Gold Gloves and more than 200 Stolen Bases. Player B also struckout more than he walked, but Player B walked a bit more than Player A. Obviously, Player B's career rankings are better than Player A. Still, out of anyone who has ever played the game, Player A is in the top 50 or better in some important categories.

Player A and B played the same position and their careers overlapped. Player B is talked about as a great player (deservedly so). Player A is not discussed much at all.

I should add all of these players conducted themselves on and off the field like true gentlemen.


Finally, we come to Player C. Player C is also a contemporary of A and B, although he played a different position. Player C surpasses A and B in one offense category, stolen bases. Player C has:

300+ fewer hits than Player A;
100 fewer doubles;
Half as many RBI's;
400 fewer Homeruns;
A lower batting average.

Player C set the defensive gold standard for his position. Player A was an excellent fielder and no matter how good C was defensively, he was no offensive threat.

Player B and Player C are in the Hall of Fame.

Player A is.....

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Andre Dawson

Player B is....

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Dave Winfield

Player C is....

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Ozzie Smith

I'm not arguing that Dawson was as good as Winfield. I am arguing that if you can stand toe-to-toe with a contemporary (righthanded hitter, five category player, rightfielder...) who is in the Hall of Fame, and still look good, you're one hell of a ball player. Dawson deserves mention when great players of the 70's and 80's are discussed.

I am also not running down Smith. Smith was unparalleled with the glove and, when older, he contributed offensively. His job, unlike Dawson and Winfield, was not to drive in runs as such and I am not penalizing him for his lack of power. It's just that taken as a whole, Dawson was a five category player who did everything quite well. Outside of defense, Ozzie's main contribution was speed and Dawson was no slouch on the basepaths.

Dawson's name rarely comes up when talking about players of his era. That's a shame. He was an excellent ballplayer for many years.

I think Dawson suffers from what many five-category players suffer from: he did everything well, but did not excel at one particular thing. He was never a 40+ homerun threat (only one year, and then he played in Chicago) but he consistently hit 20 to 30 homeruns. He never stole 50 bases, but was a consistent threat on the basepaths. He never hit .335, but hit over .290 on many occasions.

Sports writers can go into ecstasies about Mo Vaughn in his prime because of Vaughn's power. I'd take Dawson without a thought. I don't think I'd regret the decision.


Stockton & Tweed took a short break from Church of Baseball due to an over-extended schedule. We'll be back soon to write about the greatest game ever invented and the men who've played that game. Come back in a few weeks.