1882 Cincinnati Red Stockings

Team Notes:

Team Record: 55-25, .688 winning percentage, 11 ½ games ahead of Philadelphia Athletics

World Series: Tied National League champion Chicago White Stockings with 1 win, 1 loss

Manager: Pop Snyder; Pythagorean expected record, 60-20 (-5 luck)
Average Age of Hitters: 25.4; 15 position players
Average Age of Pitchers: 26.6; 3 pitchers
Team Batting: 621 OPS, 103 OPS+; OPS+ rating was third in league; leads league with 6.1 runs per game
Team Pitching: 1.65 ERA, 161 ERA+; league leading 11 shutouts; allowed 3.35 runs per game, nearly two runs less than second place team
Team Fielding: .907 Fielding percentage lead league; Defensive efficiency rating of .698

c-Pop Snyder, .291 BA/.311 OBP/.353 SLP, 1 HR, 50 RBI, 664 OPS, 117 OPS+
1b-Ecky Stearns, .257 BA/.277 OBP/.322 SLP, 0 HR, 35 RBI, 600 OPS, 96 OPS+
2b—Bid McPhee, .228/.255/.309, 1 HR, 31 RBI, 563 OPS, 84 OPS+
3b—Hick Carpenter, .342/.360/.422, 1 HR, 67 RBI, 782 OPS, 155 OPS+
ss–Chick Fulmer, .281/.302/.346, 0 HR, 27 RBI, 648 OPS, 112 OPS+
OF—Joe Sommer, .288/.333/.364, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 698 OPS, 129 OPS+
OF—Harry Wheeler, .250/.265/.355, 1 HR, 29 RBI, .620 OPS, 101 OPS+
OF—Jimmy Macullar.234/.268/.294, 0 HR, 22 RBI, 563 OPS, 84 OPS+
SUB—Henry Luff, .233/.246/.283, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 529 OPS, 73 OPS+

SP—Will White, 40-12, 1.54 ERA, 173 ERA+, 122 K’s, Batting: .266/.283/.285, 568 OPS, 0 HR, 25 RBI
SP—Harry McCormick, 14-11, 1.52 ERA, 175 ERA+, 33 K’s, Batting: .129/.158/.151, 289 OPS, 0 HR, 3 RBI

The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the class of the American Association inaugural year of 1882. The team finished 55-25, the best winning percentage in Cincinnati Major League baseball history, .688. They finished 11 ½ games ahead of the second place Philadelphia Athletics and 13 games ahead of the third place Louisville Eclipse. The team uniforms were extremely colorful, as each player wore silk shirts color coded by position. This became a problem since the players and fans would get confused as to who played for which team, and the experiment came to an end.

The 1882 team won on pitching. Bespectacled Will White led the league with 40 wins, 52 complete games, eight shutouts, and 480 innings pitched. White was fourth with a 1.54 ERA, finishing with a 40-12 record. Teammate Harry McCormick finished third with a 1.52 ERA earning a 14-11 record.

Third baseman Hick Carpenter was the offensive star, leading the team with a 782 OPS. He finished second in the league in batting average with a .342 mark and led the league with 67 RBI (in 80 games). This was future Hall of Famer Bid McPhee’s rookie year as a barehanded second baseman.

This Red Stocking team was led by manager-catcher Pop Snyder who was an established player in the National League who left to play and manage the American Association team. Snyder had four regulars (Carpenter, Joe Sommer, Harry Wheeler and pitcher Will White) who had played for the Red Stockings 1880 team in the National League as recently as 1880. Eight of the Red Stocking players had played in the National League at one time or another, making them one of the more experienced AA teams.

Despite the Cincinnati Red Stockings being recognized as the first professional (that is, everyone was paid to play) team in 1869, Cincinnati was left without a team for the “original major league”, the National Association which operated from 1871-1875. In 1876, the National League was formed, and Cincinnati had a franchise. That team finished last with a 9-56 record, and last again in 1877 before jumping to second in 1878. With no “reserve clause” in place, players were free to sign with whichever team they chose, and the Reds went out and signed two of the greatest players of the time as free agents, third baseman Cal McVey and catcher Deacon White. They also signed youngsters Will White (pitcher) and future Hall of Famer in right fielder King Kelly to join superstar hitter Charley Jones in the outfield. The Red Stockings fell back the next two years then lost is National League franchise for selling beer on Sunday and leasing their stadium to other ventures. Cincinnati had finished last in 1880, ticket sales were down and they needed the revenue. The team was expelled in 1881, and joined the American Association in 1882.

The Red Stockings had a slow start due to injuries, but soon over took the Philadelphia Athletics and finished the season playing at a .700 clip over their last 50 games. They finished first by 11 ½ games.

The National League title was in dispute over a schedule change and the Chicago White Stockings agreed to play the Providence Grays in a best of nine series to determine the NL champion with the White Stockings winning, five games to four. The White Stockings were so much stronger than the Grays they played many of their players out of position for the first three games, falling behind 3 games to none before coming back to win.

On their way to this championship series, the White Stockings stopped off to play the Red Stockings in Cincinnati to play against the AA champion. The series ended in a 1-1 split. White Sox manager Cap Anson left behind former Red Stocking and star shortstop Mike “King” Kelly and Will White shut out the White Stockings 4-0. White Stocking pitcher Larry Corcoran returned the favor the next day, shutting out the Red Stockings, 2-0. Public opinion at the time was that AA president Denny McKnight stopped the series by threatening to expel Cincinnati from the AA, but it’s believed the teams never had any intention of playing more than two games due to other commitments.

The Red Stockings played well for several more years in the AA. The “Reserve Clause” had been instituted by organized baseball, so it wasn’t as hard for teams to keep their players together. Despite adding big time sluggers “Long John” Reilly to play 1b, and making outfielder Charley Jones eligible (both former Red Stockings stars from the 1870’s), the Red Stockings dropped to third in 1883 with a 61-37 mark. Will White had another outstanding year with 43 wins, but did not get as much help from the rest of the pitching staff. The Red Stockings had only one losing season during their eight-year American Association run, finishing first once, second twice, third once, fourth twice, and fifth twice. They rejoined the National League in 1890.

Will White remained with the team through 1886 before his arm was finished. Hick Carpenter remained with the team through 1889, though never duplicating his excellent 1882 season. Catcher Pop Snyder relinquished managerial duties to White mid-way through the 1884 season, but played for the Red Stockings through 1886. Future Hall of Famer Bid McPhee became a Red Stocking mainstay through 1899, setting many fielding records.

Information for this story was taken from “The Great Encyclopedia of 19th-Century Major League Baseball” by David Nemec, and “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” by Bill James as well as sources from baseball-reference.com.