May 22, 2009

The 1912 New York Giants - Three Straight NL Pennants

The 1912 NY Giants dominated the National League and are considered one of the best teams of all time. John McGraw's Giants were in the middle of winning three straight pennants although they didn't win any of the those World Series. 

On May 22, 1912 Christy Mathewson scattered three hits in the 1st three innings of a road game in Cincinnati. He retired the next 18 batters in a row, rolling along to a 6-1 Giants victory. The Giants came home to the Polo Grounds and went on a nine game wining streak. They would have a 10 game lead by the start of June and never looked back.They finished with 103 wins and a .682 winning percentage, 10 games ahead of the 2nd place Pirates.

Christy Mathewson now 31, was 23-12 with a 2.12 ERA in 310 innings pitched. Believe it or not he wasn't the best of the staff. Rube Marquard set a record by winning 17 straight games, he ended up 26-11 with a 2.57 ERA, he pitched 294 innings. 

The #3 man was Jeff Tesreau 17-7 with a league leading 1.96 ERA. Red Ames (11-5) & Hooks Wiltse (9-6) rounded out the staff. In those days the bull pen had just one regular guy, Doc Crandle had two saves and won 13 games. Quite a staff indeed.

The offense was led by the 1912 NL MVP Larry Doyle. Doyle had just missed winning the award the previous year, he was in the top five in hitting four times from 1908 thru 1915, finally winning the title in 1915. In 1912 he hit .330 (5th best) drove in 90 runs (6th best) 10 HRs (6th best) scored 98 runs, had 184 hits & stole 34 bases.

Catcher Chief Meyers (of American Indian dissent) led the league in on base percentage and was second in the league in hitting at .358. The Chief caught 122 games behind the plate and handled the All Star pitching staff perfectly.

Fred Merkle, now a five year veteran and four years beyond his famous "1908 boner play", was also amongst the leagues best, his 12 HRs were 3rd in the NL, his 84 RBIs ninth best & his 37 steals fifth. 

Fred Snodgrass & Red Murray were 3rd & 4th in the league in stolen bases too. It is important to remember that home runs were a very small & rare part of the game in 1912, stolen bases played a more important role.

The bench was strong as well; Moose McCormick hit .333 and three players (Tillie Schafer, Art Wilson & George Burns) all hit around .290 or better. Even Christy Mathewson had 10 RBIs & batted .264.

Unfortunatley the Giants lost a classic World Series to the Boston Red Sox in 8 games. (The 2nd game ended in a tie.) The Series is forever remembered for an error made by Fred Snodgrass on a fly ball in the deciding game.

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