Monday, December 23, 2013

The Best Pitching Duos in History (Part I--1900-1909)

Joe McGinnity and Christy Mathewson/ New York Giants (1903-'06)

McGinnity, a right-hander, used a submarine delivery that was relatively easy on his arm. His nickname "Iron Man" did not arise from his durability. It was a reference to his job as an iron worker.The moniker could easily have been applied to his baseball career as he led the National League in innings pitched four times while averaging 344 innings per year during his ten years in the majors. He won more than 20 games eight times and was a league-leader in that category on five occasions. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.

Mathewson, also a right-hander, was known to fans and teammates as "Matty" or "Big Six." Commissioner Landis once remarked that: "[Mathewson's] sense of justice, his integrity and sportsmanship made him far greater than Christy Mathewson the pitcher." (It should be noted that Landis could be a particularly harsh judge of character.) In seventeen seasons, Mathewson collected 373 wins--third on the all time list. He captured two pitching triple crowns (in '05 and '08) and retired with a 2.13 ERA, which is among the top ten marks in history. Exposed to poison gas during WWI military training, he sustained serious damage to his lungs that eventually killed him at the age of 45. He was among the original Cooperstown class of '36.

The Giants won two pennants and one World Series while Mathewson and McGinnity were in their prime.
  (Won/Loss)                  1903          1904          1905          1906
Joe McGinnity                   31-20          35-8         22-16         27-12
Christy Mathewson           30-13         33-12         32-8          22-12

Rube Waddell and Eddie Plank/ Philadelphia A's (1902-'05)

I wrote about Waddell at length a few weeks ago (feel free to review the post). Though he was obviously suffering from some mental deficiency, he was a top shelf hurler for nearly a decade. The eccentric left-hander claimed a triple crown in 1905 with 27 wins, 287 strikeouts and a 1.48 ERA. Among the game's premier strikeout artists, he led the American League in K's from 1902 through 1907. His lifetime earned run average of 2.16 places him at #11 on the all time list. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.

Eddie Plank, another southpaw, was Connie Mack's most dependable hurler from 1901-1914. He won no fewer than 14 games in that span, posting at least 20 victories seven times. He led the AL in shutouts twice and retired with 326 lifetime wins. He pitched until he was 41 years-old and still managed an economical ERA of 1.79 in his last season.  His call to Cooperstown came in 1946.

The A's made one World Series appearance with Plank and Waddell in the rotation.
  (Won/Loss)                 1902          1903          1904          1905
  Rube Waddell                  24-7         23-16         26-17         26-11
  Eddie Plank                     20-15       22-16         26-17         25-12

Cy Young and Bill Dinneen/ Boston Americans (1902-1904)

Young's career straddled two centuries and was so successful, he ended up with a prestigious award being named after him. He holds one of the most impregnable records with 511 career wins. His name is synonymous with durability as he is baseball's all time leader in starts, complete games, inning pitched and batters faced. Additionally, he won a triple crown in 1902 with 33 victories, 158 K's and a 1.62 ERA. He was elected to Cooperstown in 1937.

A right-hander, Dinneen's career accomplishments pale in comparison to Young, but he was an extremely reliable pitcher for several seasons. Dinneen is the only moundsman to pitch a no-hitter and serve as an umpire for another. From 1899 through 1904, he won no fewer than 14 games and reached the 20-win threshold four times. He kept his ERA below 3.00 in seven of his twelve seasons. As an arbiter, he was a member of eight World Series crews. He appeared in one Fall Classic as a player and was the star of the show, collecting 3 wins over Pittsburgh in '03--including the first shutout in Series history.

Boston made just one postseason appearance while Young and Dinneen were staff mates.
   (Won/Loss)               1902          1903          1904   
    Cy Young                      32-11          28-9          26-16
    Bill Dinneen                  21-12          21-11        23-14

Three-Finger Brown and Ed Reulbach/ Chicago Cubs (1906-1909)

Mordecai Brown lost most of his right index finger in a piece of farm equipment as a boy. Shortly afterward, he fell while chasing a rabbit and broke the remaining fingers. He was left with a deformed hand that gave his pitches dramatic movement. From 1906-1911, there were few hurlers in the majors who equaled him as he won at least 20 games every year. Extremely versatile, he led the league in saves during four straight campaigns. Averaging 17 victories per season, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1949.

Ruelbach was solidly built at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds. He led the National League in winning percentage for three straight years. His ERA never exceeded 2.03 from 1905-'09. Traded to Brooklyn in 1913, he ended up jumping to the Federal League two years later. It was his last great season as he posted 21 victories. After the Federal League folded, he finished his career with the Braves, retiring with 182 wins.

The Cubs made three straight World Series appearances with Brown and Ruelbach in the rotation. The '06 squad was among the greatest ever with a record of 116-36.
   (Won/Loss)                    1906          1907          1908          1909  
   Three Finger Brown          26-6          20-6           29-9          27-9
   Ed Ruelbach                        19-4          17-4            24-7         19-10 

Deacon Phillippe and Jesse Tannehil/ Pittsburgh Pirates (1900-'02)

Phillipe started out with the Louisville Colonels in 1899. He was transferred to the Pirates in a blockbuster deal that involved a total of sixteen players, among them Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke. Born Charles Phillippe, the right-hander was given the nickname "Deacon" on account of his reserved, humble demeanor and quiet lifestyle. He averaged less than two walks per nine frames during his career and once commented that: "It's a cold day when I get three balls on a man." From 1899-1903, he won 20 games every year. Arm trouble shortened his career to thirteen seasons. He averaged 14 victories per year.

Tannehill came up with the Reds organization, but his breakthrough season came with the Pirates in 1898, when he posted a 25-13 record with a 2.95 ERA. It was the beginning of an eight-year run of excellence. The southpaw won 20 games six times between 1898 and 1906, leading the NL with an ERA of 2.18 in 1901. Tannehill hit well enough to be used in the outfield 87 times during his career. He accrued a lifetime batting average of .255 with 80 extra-base hits and 142 RBIs in 507 games. 

The Pirates won two pennants while Phillippe and Tannehill shared pitching responsibilities. There was no World Series then. It should be noted that the Pirates had a third dependable starter during the period in question: Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro, who won 28 games in '02 before signing with the New York Highlanders. 
   (Won/Loss)                 1900          1901          1902
Deacon Phillippe              22-12         20-9          20-13
Jesse Tannehill                18-10         20-6           20-6     

Doc White and Ed Walsh/ Chicago White Sox (1906-'08)

Razor-thin at 6-foot-1, 150 pounds, Guy White studied at Georgetown University, receiving a dentistry degree in 1902 (hence the nickname "Doc"). Originally signed by the Phillies, he jumped to the White Sox in 1903. He would spend eleven seasons in Chicago, winning no fewer than 15 games on seven occasions. In 1907, he led the American League with 27 victories after pacing the loop with an ERA of 1.52 the previous year. He retired with 189 career wins.

Walsh holds the record for lowest lifetime ERA at 1.82. A spit-baller, he reportedly used the quirky pitch up to ninety percent of the time. Walsh carried an unimaginably heavy workload, reaching the 400-inning threshold twice. His total of 464 innings in 1908 is a twentieth century record that will almost certainly never be broken.The big right-hander tossed 300-plus innings in three other campaigns. A 40-game winner in '08, he retired with 195 career victories and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.

With Walsh and White leading the way, the White Sox pulled off an improbable Series win over the Cubs in 1906. The heavily favored Cubs had won 116 games while the Sox had batted just .230 as a team. Dubbed "The Hitless Wonders," the White Sox eliminated their crosstown rivals in six games. 
   (Won/Loss)               1906          1907          1908
   Ed Walsh                       17-13         24-18         40-15
   Doc White                      18-6           27-13          18-13


No comments:

Post a Comment