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  • Writer's pictureKirk Jenkins

Previewing the Simulated 1902 National League Championship Series

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

According to the blog and baseball authority The Bleacher Report, the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates were the seventh best baseball team in major league history. They arrived one year too late to play in the World Series, which began in 1903, and 57 years too soon to play in the National League Championship Series. But what the heck – let’s do a Strat-o-Matic® simulation of the 1902 playoffs.

First up – the Pirates taking on the 1902 Brooklyn Superbas – yes, that was the name, not the Dodgers – in the 1902 National League Championship Series.

The Pirates completely dominated the National League, going 103-36 under the leadership of manager (and Hall of Famer) Fred Clarke - the second-highest full-season winning percentage ever. They had a five-man pitching rotation. Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro started 33 games and went 28-6 with an ERA of 2.17. Deacon Phillippe started 30 games and was 20-9 with an ERA of 2.05. Jesse Tannehill started 24 games, going 20-6 with an ERA of 1.95. Sam Leever started 26 games and went 15-7 with an ERA of 2.39. Finally, Ed Doheny started 21 games and went 16-4 with an ERA of 2.53. Consider that – the Pirates’ rotation had three 20 game winners and every starter had an ERA under 2.53.

The Pirates platooned the catcher position, with Jack O’Connor, Harry Smith and Chief Zimmer splitting the season. First baseman Kitty Bransfield hit .305. Second baseman Claude Ritchey hit .277. Shortstop Wid Conroy hit .244. Third baseman Tommy Leach hit .278. Manager Fred Clarke played left field and hit .316. Center fielder Ginger Beaumont hit .357. Right fielder and Hall of Famer Honus Wagner hit .330.

Brooklyn finished second in the National League race in 1902 with a record of 75-63 under the leadership of manager Ned Hanlon. Their starters were roughly comparable as far as their record – Wild Bill Donovan was 17-15 with an ERA of 2.78. Frank Kitson was 19-13 with an ERA of 2.78. Doc Newton was 15-14 with an ERA of 2.42 and Jay Hughes was 15-10 with an ERA of 2.94.

Brooklyn split the catcher position between Hughie Hearne and Duke Farrell. Tom McCreery was the regular first baseman, hitting .244. Second baseman Tim Flood hit .218. Shortstop Bill Dahlen hit .264. Third baseman Charlie Irwin hit .273. Left fielder Jimmy Sheckard hit .265. Center fielder Cozy Dolan hit .280. Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler played right field and hit .333.

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