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 1921 Detroit Tigers
OWAR: 49.3 OWS: 289 OPW%: .553 (85-69)
AWAR: 40.4 AWS: 212 APW%: .464 (71-82)
WARdiff: 8.9 WSdiff: 77
The “Original” 1921 Tigers paced the Junior Circuit in OWAR and OWS. Detroit finished third in the American League, ten games in arrears to the Red Sox. Harry “Slug” Heilmann (.394/19/139) collected his first batting title, smashed 43 two-baggers and topped the leader boards with 237 safeties. Ty Cobb (.389/12/101) continued to mash opposition offerings. “The Georgia Peach” tallied 197 base knocks, 124 runs, 37 doubles and 16 triples while recording an OBP of .452 and a .596 SLG. Baby Doll Jacobson (.352/5/90) contributed 211 base hits, 38 doubles and 14 triples to Detroit’s powerful lineup. Ray “Rabbit” Powell (.306/12/74) legged out 18 three-base hits to lead the League and scored 114 runs. Powell and outfield mate Bobby Veach (.338/16/128) established personal-bests in almost every major offensive category. Lu Blue supplied a .308 BA with 103 runs scored and 33 two-baggers in his inaugural campaign while fellow first-sacker Wally Pipp (.296/8/103) drilled 35 doubles.
Ty Cobb placed runner-up to Willie Mays among center fielders in the “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” top 100 player rankings. “Original” Tigers teammates registered in the “NBJHBA” top 100 ratings include Harry Heilmann (16th-RF), Bobby Veach (33rd-LF), Carl Mays (38th-P), Donie Bush (51st-SS), Lu Blue (77th-1B), George H. Burns (79th-1B), Wally Pipp (83rd-1B) and Baby Doll Jacobson (85th-CF).
“Actuals” backstop Johnny Bassler rated forty-seventh.
Original 1921 Tigers Actual 1921 Tigers
|STARTING LINEUP||POS||OWAR||OWS||STARTING LINEUP||POS||OWAR||OWS|
|Bobby Veach||LF||5.23||22.64||Bobby Veach||LF||5.23||22.64|
|Ty Cobb||CF||5.74||25.77||Ty Cobb||CF||5.74||25.77|
|Harry Heilmann||RF||4.1||28.09||Harry Heilmann||RF||4.1||28.09|
|Lu Blue||1B||1.61||16.87||Lu Blue||1B||1.61||16.87|
|Joe Sargent||2B||0.04||3.37||Ralph Young||2B||-0.3||8.76|
|Donie Bush||SS||-2.03||6.82||Ira Flagstead||SS||0.4||5.92|
|Eddie Foster||3B||1.78||13.05||Bob Jones||3B||1.22||12|
|Frank Gibson||C||0.34||4.11||Johnny Bassler||C||2.38||12.73|
|Baby Doll Jacobson||CF||3.64||25.11||Donie Bush||SS||-1.41||5.77|
|Ray Powell||CF||3.17||24.19||Joe Sargent||2B||0.04||3.37|
|Wally Pipp||1B||1.49||14.75||Chick Shorten||CF||-0.39||3.06|
|Bob Jones||3B||1.22||12||Larry Woodall||C||0.38||2.48|
|Charlie Deal||3B||0.66||11.21||Eddie Ainsmith||C||0.22||2.38|
|Fred Nicholson||LF||1.52||10.17||Herm Merritt||SS||0.32||1.45|
|George H. Burns||1B||1.5||8.58||Sam Barnes||2B||-0.02||0.17|
|Ira Flagstead||SS||0.4||5.92||Clyde Manion||C||-0.01||0.13|
|Ossie Vitt||3B||-0.37||3.6||Jackie Tavener||SS||-0.05||0.04|
|John Peters||C||-0.21||2.59||George Cunningham||RF||-0.01||0.01|
|Larry Woodall||C||0.38||2.48||Clarence Huber||3B||0||0.01|
|Herm Merritt||SS||0.32||1.45||Sammy Hale||–||-0.04||0|
Carl “Sub” Mays (27-9, 3.05) topped the American League in victories, games (49), saves (7) and innings pitched (336.2). Clarence Mitchell fashioned a 2.89 ERA and notched 11 wins while splitting time among the bullpen and starting rotation. Dutch H. Leonard contributed a 3.75 ERA with an 11-13 record for the “Actuals”.
Original 1921 Tigers Actual 1921 Tigers
|Carl Mays||SP||7.27||34.42||Dutch H. Leonard||SP||3.02||13.14|
|Clarence Mitchell||SP||2.59||16.23||Red Oldham||SP||2.13||10.76|
|Red Oldham||SP||2.13||10.76||Hooks Dauss||SP||1.3||9.82|
|Hooks Dauss||SP||1.3||9.82||Howard Ehmke||SP||0.65||8.14|
|Lou North||RP||0.41||6.23||Jim Middleton||SW||-0.73||4.25|
|Slicker Parks||RP||-0.18||0.85||Slicker Parks||RP||-0.18||0.85|
|Jim Walsh||RP||0.04||0.25||Jim Walsh||RP||0.04||0.25|
|George Boehler||RP||0.06||0.15||Dan Boone||RP||0.01||0.16|
|Bert Cole||SP||0.75||5.71||Bert Cole||SP||0.75||5.71|
|Carl Holling||SP||-0.65||4.81||Carl Holling||SP||-0.65||4.81|
|Suds Sutherland||SP||-0.17||2.87||Suds Sutherland||SP||-0.17||2.87|
|Bernie Boland||SP||-1.58||0||Pol Perritt||SP||-0.02||0.59|
Before 1914 Season: Returned to Providence (International) by the Detroit Tigers after expiration of minor league working agreement.
Before 1914 Season: Obtained by the Boston Red Sox from Providence (International) as part of a minor league working agreement.
July 30, 1919: the Boston Red Sox sent Carl Mays to the New York Yankees to complete an earlier deal made on July 29, 1919. July 29, 1919: The Boston Red Sox sent a player to be named later to the New York Yankees for Bob McGraw, Allen Russell and $40,000.
Baby Doll Jacobson
Before 1915 Season: Purchased by the Detroit Tigers from Chattanooga (Southern Association).
August 18, 1915: Traded by the Detroit Tigers with $15,000 to the St. Louis Browns for Bill James.
July 10, 1917: Purchased with Wally Rehg by the Boston Braves from Providence (International).
October 16, 1917: Selected off waivers by the Brooklyn Robins from the Cincinnati Reds.
August, 1912: Purchased by the Detroit Tigers from Kalamazoo (Southern Michigan). (Date given is approximate. Exact date is uncertain.)
February 4, 1915: Purchased with Hugh High by the New York Yankees from the Detroit Tigers.
The 2003 Detroit Tigers
OWAR: 14.8 OWS: 195 OPW%: .400 (65-97)
AWAR: 7.1 AWS: 129 APW%: .265 (43-119)
WARdiff: 7.7 WSdiff: 66
The “Original” 2003 Tigers finished last in the AL Central, 17 games behind the White Sox. However the “Actuals” finished 47 games off the pace with a ghastly 43-119 record.
Juan Encarnacion (.270/19/94) established career-highs in RBI and doubles (37). Frank Catalanotto contributed a .299 BA with 34 two-base knocks. Robert Fick registered a personal-best with 80 ribbies and Dave R. Roberts pilfered 40 bags. The bullpen featured John Smoltz (1.12, 45 SV) and Francisco Cordero (2.94, 15 SV).
What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1979 Mets
References and Resources
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.
The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “www.retrosheet.org”.
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.