Friday, April 19, 2019

1902 Major League Mid-season Review

July is upon us, and with it, we have reached the midway point of the 1902 baseball season.  While many of the preseason predictions seem to be holding water, there have been some surprises, as well as a piece of history being made.  The mid-season standings and news are below.

American League:

As expected, the Boston Americans are in control of the American League midway through the season.  They are tops in the American League in both runs scored and runs allowed, and have three pitchers with 10 wins on the season already.  They have received expected seasons from Cy Young and George Winter, but it's the performance of Highball Wilson that has caught most people by surprise.  Little was expected of the 23 year old starting pitcher heading into the season, and all he has done is pick up 10 wins compared to five losses and lead the Americans with an ERA of 2.05.  Wilson, who appeared in only two games last season before being named a starter this spring, has surprised even the most fevered of Boston fans, and his success has bolstered beliefs that the Americans will continue to succeed, even after Cy Young steps away from the game.

At the plate, Boston has received large contributions from the same men as last year, and it has worked well so far.  Buck Freeman leads the club in home runs, but is second in batting average and runs batted in to Jimmy Collins, who is somehow outpacing his batting performance from last year.  Collins leads Boston with a .359 batting average, good for second in the American League.  His 34 RBI also pace the Americans, and he is currently on track to surpass both his hit and RBI totals from his impressive 1901 campaign.  If he can continue at this pace, the Americans will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of this season at the very least.

Outside of the first place Americans, the biggest surprise in the American League has to be the play of the second place Detroit Tigers.  Picked to finish fifth in the spring polls, the Tigers came out of the gate strong, and have continued their torrid pace through the first half of the season.  Their strong offense has been the key to much of their success, as they have three batters hitting well above the .300 mark for the season and are trailing only Boston in most offensive categories.  It will be interesting to see if Detroit can continue to rake the ball as well as they have in the first half of the season.  If they can, they may even catch up to the powerful American squad.

Highball Wilson's surprising start to the season has Boston fans very happy.

Jimmy Collins, who's offensive skills are second to none on the Americans this season.

Lajoie hitting the ball at historic pace

It is common knowledge that Nap Lajoie of the Philadelphia Athletics is one of the premier players in all of baseball.  His ability to hit has driven pitchers mad since the day he stepped into the league.  This season, he has taken his skill to a new level.  Through the first half of the season, Lajoie is hitting an absurd .445, which leads all other hitters in the American League by almost 100 points.  If he continues at his current pace, Lajoie would set new single season records for batting average, hits and total bases.  While the rest of the Athletics have struggled somewhat this season, the eyes of the baseball world will be on Nap to see how many of those records he can topple by season's end.

Nap Lajoie's historic start to the 1902 season may see him rewrite the baseball record books.

National League:

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Pittsburgh Pirates have emerged as the top team in the National League once again.  The Pirates have dominated both at the plate and on the pitcher's mound, as they lead the National League in batting average, on base percentage and team ERA.  Much like the Boston Americans, the Pirates have their usual contributions from Honus Wagner, Ginger Beaumont and Rube Waddell, but it's two new additions that might be making Pittsburgh an even more dangerous team than last season.

When the Pirates made a trade with the Boston Beaneaters shortly after last season, it appeared to be a minor transaction that would minimally impact both teams.  Instead, Bob Wood, the 36 year old catcher acquired by the Pirates, has become one of the best offensive players on the team this year.  Wood is currently batting .366, which is second on the team to only the great Honus Wagner, and his 30 runs batted in are second to Wagner as well.  On top of his offensive skills, his prowess behind the plate appears to be one of the major reasons that the Pittsburgh pitching staff has improved beyond their impressive results in 1901.  He seemed to form a rapport with Rube Waddell and Deacon Phillippe almost immediately, and if Phillippe's minuscule 0.96 ERA this season is an indicator, Wood may have a future in coaching after he finishes his playing career. 

Pittsburgh also made two additions to their pitching staff during the offseason, signing both Addie Joss and Fred Glade.  While Joss hasn't found his expected success so far this year, Fred Glade has been a very welcome addition to the Pittsburgh starting staff.  The 26 year old is tied for the team lead with nine wins, and has an ERA of 1.95, which is good for third on the team.  For a player in his first big league season, Glade has performed quite well, and his on track for 24 wins, which would make Pittsburgh fans extremely happy that they were able to bring him on board this year.

Outside of Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Phillies and Brooklyn Superbas seem to be battling for the second place pennant this year.  Philadelphia's pitching staff has been supported by a newcomer of their own in Otto Hess.  His 11 wins lead the team so far this year.  In Brooklyn, pitcher Bill Donovan has 11 wins of his own, and Willie Keeler is showing no signs of slowing down, even at age 30.  His .314 batting average is showing that Keeler can still hit, and he has been a positive veteran presence for the Superbas this season.

The veteran Bob Wood came to Pittsburgh in an offseason trade, and has been nothing short of outstanding.

Fred Glade was signed by the Pirates in December, and is having a rookie season to remember so far.

Boston's Dinneen throws no-hitter

While the Boston Beaneaters have had a mediocre season so far, Bill Dinneen provided one of the highlights of the baseball season in early May.  While facing the Brooklyn Superbas, Dinneen recorded the first no-hitter in baseball since Noodles Hahn in 1900.  Dinneen faced just 28 batters, and was a Herman Long error away from a perfect game.  The win was Dinneen's first of the season, and it appears to have righted his season, as he has gone 6-3 on the mound since the no-hitter.

Bill Dinneen's no-hitter against Brooklyn was the first in almost two years.

Box score of Dinneen's no-hitter.

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