Hardball Retrospective – What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1904 Superbas

In “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original team. I calculated revised standings for every season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Expanding on my research for the book, the following series of articles will reveal the teams with the biggest single-season difference in the WAR and Win Shares for the “Original” vs. “Actual” rosters for every Major League organization. “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The paperback edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com.

Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here.


OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OPW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “original” teams

AWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “actual” teams

AWS – Win Shares for players on “actual” teams

APW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “actual” teams


The 1904 Brooklyn Superbas 

OWAR: 36.2     OWS: 250     OPW%: .500     (77-77)

AWAR: 21.5      AWS: 167     APW%: .366     (56-97)

WARdiff: 14.7                        WSdiff: 83  

Brooklyn placed fifth in ’04 as the Giants battered the opposition en route to the National League pennant. The “Original” Superbas bettered the “Actuals” by 19 games. Fielder Jones registered 25 stolen bases and Jimmy Sheckard added 21 for Brooklyn. “Honest” John Anderson and Claude “Little All Right” Ritchey laced 12 three-base hits apiece. Rookie outfielder Harry “Judge” Lumley paced the League with 18 triples and 9 home runs.

Jimmy Sheckard placed twenty-fourth among left fielders in the “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” top 100 player rankings. “Original” Superbas teammates listed in the “NBJHBA” top 100 rankings include Jimmy Sheckard (24th-LF), Fielder Jones (41st-RF), Claude Ritchey (59th-2B) and John J. Anderson (86th-LF).

  Original 1904 Superbas                                Actual 1904 Superbas

Jimmy Sheckard LF 2.52 11.24 Jimmy Sheckard LF 2.52 11.24
Fielder Jones CF 4.16 22.7 Doc Gessler CF 0.93 11.12
Harry Lumley RF 2.37 19.43 Harry Lumley RF 2.37 19.43
John J. Anderson 1B/CF 0.64 18.84 Pop Dillon 1B 1.2 10.64
Claude Ritchey 2B 3.28 21.25 Sammy Strang 2B -0.27 3.56
Charlie Babb SS 1.61 18.36
Jack Dunn 3B 0.98 9.05 Mike McCormick 3B -0.9 5.68
Lew Ritter C 0.62 6.48 Lew Ritter C 0.62 6.48
Candy LaChance 1B -2.98 8.02 John Dobbs CF -0.06 6.46
Mike McCormick 3B -0.9 5.68 Bill Bergen C -1.42 5.04
Emil Batch 3B -0.25 2.43 Emil Batch 3B -0.25 2.43
Dutch Jordan 2B -3.03 0.83 Fred Jacklitsch 1B 0.11 1.77
Deacon Van Buren LF -0.09 0.8 Jack Doyle 1B 0.09 0.89
Aleck Smith CF -0.21 0.37 Dutch Jordan 2B -3.03 0.83
Charlie Loudenslager 2B -0.03 0 Deacon Van Buren LF 0.05 0.18
Charlie Loudenslager 2B -0.03 0

Harry Howell accrued 21 losses in spite of a 2.19 ERA and a WHIP of 1.048. Oscar “Flip Flap” Jones completed 38 of 41 starts and recorded a 17-25 mark with a 2.75 ERA. Jack Cronin contributed 12 wins in his final campaign along with an ERA of 2.70.

  Original 1904 Superbas                             Actual 1904 Superbas

Harry Howell SP 4.69 21.24 Oscar Jones SP 0.11 17.31
Oscar Jones SP 0.11 17.31 Jack Cronin SP 1.14 14.99
Jack Cronin SP 1.14 14.99 Ned Garvin SP 0.28 10.19
Doc Reisling SP 0.94 3.67 Doc Scanlan SP 1.02 6.89
Bull Durham SP 0.03 0.83 Ed Poole SP -0.48 6.52
Joe Koukalik SP 0.07 0.49 Doc Reisling SP 0.94 3.67
Grant Thatcher RP -0.19 0.26 Fred Mitchell SP -0.32 1.96
Gene Wright SP -0.38 0 Bull Durham SP 0.03 0.83
Jack Doscher RP 0.24 0.79
Joe Koukalik SP 0.07 0.49
Grant Thatcher RP -0.19 0.26
Bill Reidy SP -1.42 0

Notable Transactions

Fielder Jones 

Before 1901 Season: Jumped from the Brooklyn Superbas to the Chicago White Sox. 

Claude Ritchey 

Before 1897 Season: Purchased by the Cincinnati Reds from the Brooklyn Bridegrooms for $500.

February 3, 1898: Traded by the Cincinnati Reds with Red Ehret and Dummy Hoy to the Louisville Colonels for Bill Hill.

December 8, 1899: Traded by the Louisville Colonels with Fred Clarke, Bert Cunningham, Mike Kelley, Tacks Latimer, Tommy Leach, Tom Messitt, Deacon Phillippe, Rube Waddell, Jack Wadsworth, Honus Wagner and Chief Zimmer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jack Chesbro, George Fox, Art Madison, John O’Brien and $25,000. 

John J. Anderson 

May 19, 1898: Sent to the Washington Senators by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms as part of a conditional deal.

September 21, 1898: Returned by the Washington Senators to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms as part of a conditional deal.

March 24, 1900: Purchased by Milwaukee (American) from the Brooklyn Superbas.

September 26, 1900: Drafted by the Brooklyn Superbas from Milwaukee (American) in the 1900 rule 5 draft.

February, 1901: Jumped from the Brooklyn Superbas to the Milwaukee Brewers. (Date given is approximate. Exact date is uncertain.)

October 6, 1903: Traded by the St. Louis Browns to the New York Highlanders for Jack O’Connor. 

Harry Howell

September, 1898: Purchased by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms from Meridan (Connecticut State).

March 11, 1899: Assigned to the Baltimore Orioles by the Brooklyn Superbas.

March, 1900: Assigned to the Brooklyn Superbas by the Baltimore Orioles.

Before 1901 Season: Jumped from the Brooklyn Superbas to the Baltimore Orioles.

Honorable Mention

The 1967 Los Angeles Dodgers 

OWAR: 45.4     OWS: 274     OPW%: .515     (83-79)

AWAR: 32.5       AWS: 218      APW%: .451    (73-89)

WARdiff: 12.9                        WSdiff: 56

The “Original” 1967 Dodgers placed fifth in the National League, 13 games behind the front-running Giants. Nevertheless the “Originals” outpaced the “Actuals” by a 10 game margin. Roberto Clemente (.357/23/110) collected his fourth batting crown, led the circuit with 209 base hits and secured the seventh of twelve consecutive Gold Glove Awards. Frank “Hondo” Howard dialed long distance 36 times. Maury Wills nabbed 29 bags and Tommy H. Davis scorched 32 doubles while producing matching batting averages at .302. Jim Merritt tallied 13 victories and delivered a 2.53 ERA along with a WHIP of 0.993. Don Drysdale equaled Merritt’s win total while fashioning an ERA of 2.74 with 196 strikeouts.

On Deck

What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1978 Pirates

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database


James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York, NY.: The Free Press, 2001. Print.

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet – Transactions Database

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “www.retrosheet.org”.

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive

Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games. He has written a number of articles for Fangraphs and Seamheads, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.

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