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Who Were the Chicago Cubs Who Won 116 Games?

Harold FriendChief Writer IDecember 2, 2009

It was 103 years ago. To some, it seems as if it were yesterday. The 1906 Chicago Cubs won 116 games while losing a mere 36 for a .763 winning percentage.

There aren't many individuals who could name the 1906 Cubs lineup or pitching staff. How fleeting is fame.

Manager and First Baseman Frank Chance, the Peerless Leader

Frank Chance played first base. He batted .319, tied for the National League in slugging average with teammate Harry Steinfeldt (.430), and led the league with 59 stolen bases.

Chance also managed the team. Yes, there used to be position called "playing manager."

The Last Playing Manager

Baseball's last playing manager had more career hits than Ty Cobb. Like Cobb, Pete Rose was involved with gamblers, but unlike Cobb, Rose is not allowed to become a member of a private institution that is thought of as housing the greatest of all baseball players.

Tinkers to Evers to Chance

Chance was part of what was once considered the greatest double play combination in baseball history.

Joe Tinker played shortstop and tossed the ball to Johnny Evers, who then would fire to Chance to complete the double play.

The most double plays the trio ever turned in a season was 100.

The 1951 Philadelphia Athletics with Eddie Joost at shortstop, Pete Suder at second, and Fearless Ferris Fain at first base led the American League with 204 double plays. Perspective is wonderful.

Chance, Tinker, and Evers are Hall of Famers.

Joe Tinker had a .262 lifetime batting average and a .938 lifetime fielding percentage.

Johnny Evers batted .270 with a .955 fielding percentage.

Don't allow Pete Rose or Shoeless Joe Jackson into the Hall of Fame. After all, standards must be maintained.

Bill Mazeroski and Gary Carter

Wait a minute. Bill Mazeroski was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001 and Gary Carter made it in 2003. Mazeroski has a lifetime .260 batting average, while Carter hit a robust .262. Yes, only the best get in.

Harry Steinfeldt at Third Base

Harry Steinfeldt played third base quite well in 1906. He batted .327 and stole 29 bases, but he was involved in only 13 double plays and was left out of Franklin P. Adams' poem.

Steinfeldt had played for the Reds as a utility player early in his career. In 1901 he became the Reds' regular third baseman and is the only third baseman to ever have worn shin guards while playing the position.

There is an interesting story about Steinfeldt. In 1905 he reportedly was dissatisfied and allegedly didn't put forth his best efforts, which led some to conclude that he was finished at the age of 27.

He appeared in only 114 games in 1905, batting .271. He was then traded to Chicago, where he had his best year in 1906.

The Outfield

The Cubs' outfield consisted of Jimmy Sheckard in left, Jimmy Slagle in center, and Wildfire Schulte in right.

Schulte's .281 was the highest batting average among the trio, who combined to steal a total of 80 bases. Sheckard batted .262 while Slagle hit .239. In 498 official at-bats, Slagle had eight doubles and six triples.

And Yankees fans used to complain about Bubba Crosby.

Johnny Kling Behind the Plate

Johnny Kling did the bulk of the catching. He, along with Chance and Steinfeldt, provided most of the team's offense.

Kling batted .312 with a .420 slugging average and 14 stolen bases. Kling was not only an outstanding defensive catcher. He was also a pool shark.

In the winter of 1908-09, Kling won the world pocket billiard championship and decided to retire from baseball since he was so good at pool. Unfortunately for Kling, he did not repeat as pool champion and was forced to unretire from baseball.

Adequate Offense

The 1906 Cubs were a decent offensive team with outstanding pitching. They averaged 4.55 runs a game, which easily led the National League.

They hit 20 home runs, but teams scored by moving runners along in the days when baseball was baseball. The Cubs stole 283 bases and sacrificed runners along 231 times.

Great Pitching

The name of the game is baseball, but it might as well be pitching. In 1906, the National League's ERA was 2.62. The Cubs' team ERA was 1.75, or almost one run a game lower than the league average.

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown led the staff with a 26-6 record and a 1.04 ERA.

Jack Pfiester was 20-8 with a 1.51 ERA, and Ed Ruelbach was 19-4 with a 1.65 ERA.

The Giants won 96 games and finished 20 games out of first place.

The "Hitless Wonder" White Sox

Statistics are interesting but can be misleading. Chicago faced Chicago in the World Series.

The following compares the teams:

Batting Average: Cubs .262; Sox .230

On-Base Average: Cubs .323; Sox .295

Slugging Average: Cubs .339; Sox .286

Stolen Bases: Cubs 283; Sox 214

ERA: Cubs 1.75; Sox 2.13

The White Sox won 93 games, or 23 fewer than the Cubs. The White Sox were dubbed the "hitless wonders" because they had virtually no hitting. The Sox won the World Series.

Ain't statistics great?



References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CHC/1906.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/PHA/1951.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/t/tinkejo01.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/mazerbi01.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/cartega01.shtml

http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=916&pid=13585

http://www.retrosheet.org/

http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/K/Kling_Johnny.stm

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL_1906.shtml

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