National League 1870s Rickey Awards

I was reading the Old STATS Baseball Scorecards and they had a leadoff Triple Crown. It consisted of On Base Average, Runs and Stolen Bases. This is logical as On Base Average relates to batting average, Runs relates to RBIs and stolen bases is like, but not as helpful to winning as home runs.

I wondered who would be the leaders every year, as non-leadoff hitters try to get on base and score runs. Some even try to steal bases. I developed a formula like Bill James did for the regular triple crown. As Bill did his study, he came up with 1,000 total points which is impossible to hit. I did the same:

On Base Average: Maximum 400 points. I award two points for every point above .300 and up to .500.

Runs. Maximum 300 points. I awarded 2 points for every run up to 150 runs.

Stolen Bases. I award 3 points for each stolen base up to 100.

I debated the number of points for stolen bases, but decided I wanted an advantage for actual lead off men. Also, there haven’t been many years someone exceeded 100 stolen bases.

After reading a few of these listings, a Bill James online a reader came up with the name Rickey awards after Rickey Henderson, the man many of us consider the greatest leadoff man in baseball history. So, I will periodically call these the Rickey Awards.

The National League started in 1876 basically replacing the National Association. Their goal was to be more stable by giving more power to the league and less to the teams. The main item was that teams were required to follow the schedule the league made. Something must have worked because the National League is still operating today. It will survive other major leagues in the 19th Century, combine with its strongest competition, the American League early in the 20th Century to become even stronger. Then have operated as an ongoing operation for the last 115 years.

1876 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1876 Rickey Awards:

1. Ross Barnes Chi 576
2. Cap Anson Chi 286
3. George Hall Phil 270
4. John Peters Chi 254
5. Deacon White Chi 248
6. Jim O’Rourke Bos 238
7. Cal McVey Chi 228
8. Lip Pike StL 192
9. Paul Hines Chi 190
10. Levi Meyerle Phil 186

What I Learned:

Stolen bases weren’t recorded for this and many years following so scores are lower.

Ross Barnes won both on base percentage and runs by wide margins.

Chicago scored more than 2.5 runs per game more than any other league team, won the pennant and had 6 of the top 10 for the Rickey Award.

1877 NL

Here is the 1877 Top 10 for the Rickey Award:

1. Jim O’Rourke Bos 486
2. Deacon White Bos 414
3. Cal McVey Chi 406
4. John Cassidy Har 344
5. Cap Anson Chi 328
6. Charley Jones Cinn-Chi 318
7. George Hall Lou 316
8. Joe Start Har 314
9. John Clapp StL 264
10. Jack Manning Cinn 250


What I Learned:

The formula isn’t as much fun when you don’t have stolen bases.

I doubled the worth of runs so on base percentage wouldn’t be as dominate and the runs looked about half of what they normally are because the teams only played 60 games. However, the top 9 for the Rickey Award and on base percentage are exactly the same.

League champion Boston had only 2 of the top 10 but they did finish first and second.

1878 NL

Here is the 1878 Top 10 for the Rickey Award:

1. Cap Anson Chi 364
2. Abner Dalrymple Mil 344
3. Joe Start Chi 342
4. Orator Shafer Ind 330
5. Bob Ferguson Chi 326
6. Dick Higham Pro 304
7. Paul Hines Pro 294
8. Tom York Pro 282
9. Deacon White Cinn 244
10. John Clapp Ind 242
10. Charley Jones Cinn 242

What I Learned.

I again doubled the worth of runs but this time is had more of an effect.

The National League was the most competitive major league I have seen so far. Of the six clubs only the Milwaukee Grays seem non-competitive. There was actually looks like there was a pennant race. Boston won the pennant but Cincinnati who came in second played better against teams at .500 or better. However, Boston went 21-3 against the two below .500 teams while for some reason Cincinnati only played .500 against the two teams. Everyone played 60 games.

1879 NL

Here is the 1879 top 10 for the Rickey Award:

1. Charley Jones Bos 346.5
2. Paul Hines Pro 340.5
3. King Kelly Cinn 321
4. Jim O’Rourke Pro 314.5
5. John O’Rourke Bos 286.5
6. Tom York Pro 264.5
7. Ned Williamson Chi 251
8. Joe Start Pro 241
9. Deacon White Cinn 221.5
10. Ed Cogswell Bos 215.5


What I Learned:

I multiplied runs by 2 and a half instead of 2 to get their worth.


There were 8 teams in the National League and 5 finished over .500.

Jim O’Rourke won the on base title in 1877 and 1879. in 1878 he had an on base average of only .292 compared to .407 and .371 the other two years. I have no idea why.

National League champions Providence had 4 of the top 10.

NL 1870’s Rickey Decade Leaders

My method for decade leaders (this time just 4 years) is 12 points for first place, 10 for second, 8 for third and down a point for every position until 1 for 10th. Here ae the National League decade leaders for the 1870s Rickey Awards:

  1. Cap Anson 28 points
  2. Jim O’Rourke 24
  3. Deacon White 20
  4. Charley Jones 17.5
  5. Paul Hines 16
  6. Joe Start 14
  7. Ross Barnes 12
  8. George Hall 12
  9. Cal McVey 12
  10. Abner Dalrymple 10

What I Learned:

The problem with doing only 4 years is sometimes no one can enough momentum to have a solid total. Only one made the top 10 all 4 years, Deacon White, and he came in third. We all no Cap Anson was a real good hitter and since stolen bases weren’t available it should be no surprise that he won. I know enough about 19th Century Baseball to recognize the names of all the players.

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