National League 1890s Rickey Awards

This is my last Rickey Awards article. With this article I have done a Rickey Award for every year of MLB.

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.

In the 1880s baseball was still in a growth spurt. There were four leagues that played in the decade, two for only one year. There were problems with players contracts as players jumped from team to team. It became so bad the players formed their own league late in the decade. There were still really good and bad teams. Baseball is basically growing up.

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1880 American Association:

1. Tommy McCarthy StL 783
2. Ed Swartwood Tol 659
3. Cupid Childs Syr 654
4. Jim McTamany Colum 619
5. Perry Werden Tol 611
6. Ted Scheffler Roch 601
7. Curt Welch Phil-Bal 592
8. Chicken Wolf Lou 580
9. Shorty Fuller StL 570
10. Spud Johnson Colum 559

What I Learned:

Louisville who were terrible in 1889 won the league in 1890. They were sold to Barney Dreyfuss who put together a good team. Two of the best teams left the league, putting the league down to 6 teams. There were 9 teams in the standings but two only played partial seasons, so one must have replaced the other. A lot of player played in the players league. This left the field open for Louisville to win the league.

When I saw the American Association lasted 10 years I wondered if I should just have an all-time list instead of dividing the 1880s and 1890s. I decided that since I gave the other awards by 10 year periods, the press and most everyone uses as decades I would do the same in the American Association. I’m glad I did. Everything in the association seemed to change in 1890. The league doesn’t seem as powerful. It lasted only one more year 1891 and died.


1890 NL

The National League had 8 teams in 1890. The league looked fairly balanced except Pittsburg was really bad. Quite frankly they were terrible. Brooklyn won the league beating Chicago by 6.5 games.

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1890 National League:

1. Billy Hamilton Phil 826
2. Hub Collins Bro 721
3. Mike Tiernan NY 602
4. George Pinkney Bro 593
5. Cap Anson Chi 563
6. Walt Wilmot Chi 562
7. Bid McPhee Cinn 539
8. Jack Glasscock NY 534
9. Tommy Tucker Bos 511
10. Billy Sunday Pitt-Phil 494

What I Learned:

Hamilton was over on stolen bases, not that it mattered. He does have an advantage that some talent left the league, but he did win the American Association Rickey the year before. He was only 24 in 1890.

The famous Billy Sunday was 10th for the Rickey Award. His biggest strength was his base running. He had been in the top 10 in stolen bases but didn’t get on base enough to make the top 10. This was his last year.

1890 Players League

The Players League had 8 teams in 1890. Of the three leagues it probably had the most quality players. Like the National League it was fairly balanced. Also, like the National League it had a weak sister, Buffalo. Boston beat the two New York teams in the pennant race, Brooklyn by 6.5 games and New York by 8 games. This is the only year of the Players League, so I will not have a summary of the League as you are looking at the final standings here.

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1890 Players League:

1. Harry Stovey Bos 787
2. Hugh Duffy Chi 702
3. Tom Brown Bos 698
4. Dan Brouthers Bos 665
5. Pete Browning Clev 647
6. John Ward Brook 643
7. Roger Conner NY 632
8. George Gore NY 612
9. Ned Hanlon Pitt 575
10. Dummy Hoy Buff 567

What I Learned:

The top 3 in runs and stolen bases finished in the top 3 for the Rickey Awards. The top 3 in on base average came in 4th thru 6th place for the Rickey Award.

1891 AA

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1891 American Association:

1. Tom Brown Bos 794
2. Hugh Duffy Bos 739
3. Dummy Hoy StL 693
3. George Van Haltren Bal 693
5. Dan Brouthers Bos 669
6. Curt Welch Bal 594
7. Denny Lyons StL 565
8. Paul Radford Bos 555
9. Jack Crooks Colum 528
10. Tommy McCarthy StL 507

What I Learned:

Boston won the league by 8.5 games over St. Louis. One team replace another, so there are three teams in the standings. The league was fairly competitive, but it didn’t matter. This was the last year for the league.

Stolen Bases: I have mentioned before about getting a stolen base for taking an extra base on a hit. I read different articles on the internet and I don’t know what years that occurred. I decided I would just go with the official count for stolen bases from Baseball Reference. I’m just glad I put a limit on points. That being said Tom Brown exceeded the limit for stolen bases, but not by as much as he exceeded the amount for runs. He scored 177 runs. Which I was going to say was the highest I have seen. I looked it up and it was as I haven’t got to 1894 yet. He is tied with some guy named Ruth in 1921. However, Hamilton breaks the record in 1894.



By a lot.

1891 NL

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1891 National League:

1. Billy Hamilton Phil 888
2. Arlie Latham Cinn 643
3. Herman Long Bos 592
4. Mike Tiernan NY 557
5. Harry Stovey Bos 553
6. Cupid Childs Clev 547
7. Roger Conner NY 503
8. Mike Griffin Brook 487
9. George Davis Clev 464
10. George Gore NY 421

What I Learned:

Billy Hamilton would have been over 900 but he maxed out in stolen bases. He won the Rickey triple crown.

Boston won by 3 games over Chicago. For some reason Boston played 6 more home games than Chicago with 3 less road games. However, Boston had less luck wins and played 2 more games against teams over .500. Boston deserved to win.

1892 NL

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1892 National League:

1. Billy Hamilton Phil 681
2. Cupid Childs Clev 636
3. Dan Brouthers Brook 599
4. John Ward Brook 592
5. Roger Conner Phil 552
6. Dummy Hoy Wash 548
7. George Van Heltren Balt-Pitt 541
8. Hugh Duffy Bos 531
9. Bill Dahlen Chi 506
10. Tommy McCarthy Bos 491


What I Learned:

Hamilton won not having a great season for him. Still won rather easily. I don’t know why he wasn’t as dominate this year.

National League had 12 teams this year. Boston easily won this year (by 8.5 games). However, 2nd place Cleveland had a better Pythagorean record. However, in the post season series between the first and second place teams, Boston won 5 of 6 and tied the other. I am going with Boston as the better team.


1893 NL

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1893 National League:

1. Billy Hamilton Phil 729
2. Jessie Burkett Clev 725
3. Cupid Childs Clev 685
4. John McGraw Balt 668
5. Hugh Duffy Bos 658
6. Ed Delahanty Phil 647
7. George Van Heltren Pitt 613
8. Tommy McCarthy Bos 610
9. Mike Smith Pitt 590
10. Herman Long Bos 564


What I Learned:

Billy Hamilton had a fluke victory. He played only 82 games which helped him have an on base average above everyone else. Still it was impressive he scored 110 runs in 82 games. However, if I would have an subjective Rickey Award I would vote for Jessie Burkett. But Billy gets the official crown.

John McGraw showed up on the list. Smart batter, walked a lot. He might make a good manager in the future.

Boston won the 12-team race by beating Pittsburg by 5 games. They had the same Pythagorean Record as Pittsburg was lucky and Boston was very lucky. However, Boston played 9 more road games and Pittsburg played 9 more home games, so Boston deserved their title.

1894 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1894 NL Rickey Awards:

1. Billy Hamilton Phil 1000
2. Hugh Duffy Bos 844
3. Joe Kelley Balt 838
4. John McGraw Balt 836
5. Jake Stenzel Pitt 763
6. Bill Dahlen Chi 719
7. Ed Delahanty Phil 716
8. Mike Griffin Bro 695
9. Tom Daly Brook 689
10. Cupid Childs Clev 687


What I Learned:

Offense might have peaked this year. Billy Hamilton won the Rickey Triple Score and score a perfect 1,000 points. He could have won by a lot more if I didn’t have maximums. Hamilton along with Duffy and Kelley exceeded the maximum amount for on base average and runs. Leaving them in a three-way tie coming into stolen bases. However, Hamilton with a total of actually 100 achieved a perfect score, won the Rickey Award and had a Rickey triple crown. Three other players exceeded the maximum for runs. One was McGraw who finished fourth. The other two didn’t even make the top 10. They were Willie Keeler and Bobby Lowe. If I gave Keeler his 15 runs (30 points) he lost for exceeding the maximum score, he still wouldn’t have made the top 10. Lowe wasn’t even close.

Baltimore beat New York by 3 games and their luck was 5 games. But that doesn’t matter as New York had a luck factor of 11 games, which is the highest I can remember. The league average for a team was 74 runs per games. Can you imagine going to MLB games and knowing you are going to see an average of 15 runs a game? It’s like going to Coors Field.

1895 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1895 NL Rickey Awards:

1. Billy Hamilton Phil 971
2. Ed Delahanty Phil 836
3. Jessie Burkett Clev 787
4. Joe Kelley Balt 770
5. Bill Lange Chi 753
6. Hughie Jennings Balt 747
7. John McGraw Balt 721
8. Willie Keeler Balt 699
9. Jake Stenzel Pitt 675
10. Mike Griffin Bro 645

What I Learned:

Philadelphia led the league in scoring of course it helped when you have two players get on base half the time. Ed Delahanty had a .500 on base average and poor Billy Hamilton had only a .490 on base average.

There were four players who went over the max for runs scored, Hamilton, McGraw, Keeler and Jennings.

Baltimore won the pennant and were second in runs scored. They had 4 of the top 8 players.

1896 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1896 NL Rickey Awards:

1. Billy Hamilton Phil 905
2. Joe Kelley Balt 895
3. Hughie Jennings Balt 804
4. Willie Keeler Balt 765
5. Jessie Burkett Clev 724
6. Ed Delahanty Phil 717
6. Bill Joyce Wash-NY 717
8. Bill Lange Chi 708
9. Bill Dahlen Chi 703
10. Mike Tiernan NY 673


What I Learned:

Baltimore won the league for the third year in row.

Billy Hamilton won, but Joe Kelley gave him a run. Kelley even led the league in stolen bases, but it was close enough for Hamilton to hold on to victory, despite going over the maximum number of runs. Jessie Burkett and Willie Keeler also exceeded the maximum points for runs, but none of these limitations affected their place in the standings.

1897 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1897 NL Rickey Awards:

1. Billy Hamilton Bos 820
2. Willie Keeler Balt 810
3. Hughie Jennings Balt 772
4. Fred Clarke Lou 743
5. Jessie Burkett Clev 678
6. Bill Lange Chi 669
7. John McGraw Balt 654
8. Joe Kelley Balt 652
9. Jake Stenzel Balt 641
10. George Davis NY 639


What I Learned:

Billy Hamilton and Willie Keeler were close in everything, but Hamilton had a slight edge. Hamilton also maxed out in runs and lost a few points, but again it didn’t matter.

Boston won the League by two games over Baltimore in an exciting race. I remember there was some controversy. Boston played two extra games, but also played two extra road games as the two teams played the same amount of home games. The Rickey Award shows Baltimore as the stronger team even the Boston scored about a half of run more per game than Baltimore. Boston only had one player in the top 10 of the Rickey Award (first place) but Baltimore had 5 players in the top 10. They must have driven teams crazy with all those players getting on base and stealing bases.

1898 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1898 NL Rickey Awards:

1. John McGraw Balt 765
2. Billy Hamilton Bos 742
3. Hughie Jennings Balt 662
4. Ed Delahanty Phil 656
5. Willie Keeler Balt 576
6. Jimmy Ryan Chi 541
7. Gene DeMontreville Balt 521
8. Jessie Burkett Clev 515
9. George Van Heltren NY 510
10. Dan McGann Balt 505

What I Learned:

Billy Hamilton played only 110 games out of 149, but he did score 110 runs. John McGraw stayed close to Hamilton in on base percentage and stolen bases, but scored a lot more runs than Billy.

Boston beat Baltimore more easily this year. They won by six games. Baltimore outscored Boston and the rest of the League this year. They also put 5 players in the top 10 again. That is a strong lineup for driving the pitcher and catcher crazy.

1899 NL

Last one Here are the leaders for the 1899 NL Rickey Awards:

1. John McGraw Balt 899
2. Roy Thomas Phil 714
3. Ed Delahanty Phil 688
4. Willie Keeler Brook 665
5. Jessie Burkett StL 633
6. Fred Clarke Lou 599
6. Jimmy Sheckard Balt 599
8. Chick Stahl Bos 595
9. Jimmy Williams Pitt 562
10. Tom Daly Brook 537

What I Learned:

John McGraw had a super year as a leadoff man. He was 4 stolen bases from winning the triple crown. He had an on base percentage of .547 to lead the league which was way ahead of the number two player in on base average Ed Delahanty with .464. McGraw hit the 400 max points easily.

Brooklyn led the league by 8 over Boston and 9 over Philadelphia. This was the year of the famous Cleveland Spiders who went 20-134. In an average game they were outscored by 4.7 runs.

AA 1890’s Rickey Decade Leaders

My method for decade leaders (this time just 8 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 American Association decade leaders for the 1890s Rickey Awards which is only two years:

  1. Tommy McCarthy 13 points
  2. Tom Brown 12
  3. Ed Swartworth 10
  4. Hugh Duffy 10
  5. Cupid Childs 8
  6. George Van Heltren 7.5
  7. Dummy Hoy 7.5
  8. Jim McTamany 7
  9. Perry Werden 6
  10. Dan Brouthers 6

With only two years it is hard to separate. Since so many change leagues the only repeat player was Tommy McCarthy who defended his 1890 Rickey title by coming in 10th. If you think one of the other guys deserve the Rickey Award for the last two years of the American Association I won’t argue.

NL1890’s Rickey Decade Leaders

Here ae the National League decade leaders for the 1890s Rickey Awards:

  1. Billy Hamilton 106 Points
  2. John McGraw 46
  3. Jessie Burkett 39
  4. Ed Delahanty 39
  5. Willie Keller 33
  6. Hughie Jennings 29
  7. Joe Kelley 28
  8. Cupid Childs 24
  9. Hugh Duffy 19
  10. Mike Tiernan 16

Billy Hamilton winning the first 8 years made it a no doubter who was going to win the decade. A lot of players started having good years the second half of the decade to battle for second. John McGraw with his victories in 1898 and 1899 pulled out second.

This is the last Rickey Award article I have planned since I covered every Major League Season. I hope you enjoyed the series.

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