National League 1880s Rickey Awards

I was reading the Old STATS Baseball Scorecards and they had a leadoff Triple Crown. It consisted of On Base Average, Runs and Stolen Bases. This is logical as On Base Average relates to batting average, Runs relates to RBIs and stolen bases is like, but not as helpful to winning as home runs.

I wondered who would be the leaders every year, as non-leadoff hitters try to get on base and score runs. Some even try to steal bases. I developed a formula like Bill James did for the regular triple crown. As Bill did his study, he came up with 1,000 total points which is impossible to hit. I did the same:

On Base Average: Maximum 400 points. I award two points for every point above .300 and up to .500.

Runs. Maximum 300 points. I awarded 2 points for every run up to 150 runs.

Stolen Bases. I award 3 points for each stolen base up to 100.

I debated the number of points for stolen bases, but decided I wanted an advantage for actual lead off men. Also, there haven’t been many years someone exceeded 100 stolen bases.

After reading a few of these listings, a Bill James online a reader came up with the name Rickey awards after Rickey Henderson, the man many of us consider the greatest leadoff man in baseball history. So, I will periodically call these the Rickey Awards.

In the 1880s baseball was still in a growth spurt. There were four leagues that played in the decade, two for only one year. There were problems with players contracts as players jumped from team to team. It became so bad the players formed their own league late in the decade. There were still really good and bad teams. Baseball is basically growing up.

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1880 National League:

1. George Gore Chi 373
2. Abner Dalrymple Chi 297.5
3. Cap Anson Chi 259
4. Roger Connor Tro 246.5
5. Paul Hines Pro 222
6. King Kelly Chi 210
7. Jim O’Rourke Bos 207.5
8. Harry Stovey Wor 190
9. Tom Burns Chi 183.5
10. Ned Williamson Chi 162.5

What I Learned:

To make up for lack of games and to get the runs to as about as important as on base average I multiplied runs times 2.5 instead of 2.0. Stolen bases weren’t tracked for the 1880 National League.

There were 8 teams in the league. Chicago was dominate winning 67 of 84 games, close to 80 percent. Their offense was super, scoring about one and half runs above average per game. They have 5 of the top 10 players in the Rickey listing. Buffalo and Cincinnati had winning percentages below .300. The other 5 teams were competitive.

Chicago were only the second-best team in runs given up per game. They also exceeded their Pythagorean Record by 6 games. I wonder if both had something about having big leads and coasting at the end.

Hitting was not to great. It only took an on base average of .315 to finish in the top 10. Harry Stovey and Ned Williamson finished in the 10 had on base average below .300 so earned 0 points in that category.

1881 NL

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1881 National League:

1. Cap Anson Chi 451.5
2. George Gore Chi 323
3. King Kelly Chi 314
4. Jim O’Rourke Buff 281.5
5. Abner Dalrymple Chi 280
6. Martin Powell Det 277.5
7. Dan Brouthers Buff 272
8. Fred Dunlap Clev 266
9. Tom York Pro 244
10. Pete Hotaling Wor 219.5

What I Learned:

To make up for lack of games and to get the runs to as about as important as on base average I again multiplied runs times 2.5 instead of 2.0. Stolen bases weren’t tracked for the 1880 National League.

Chicago easily won the pennant again, but only won two thirds of their games. They did lead the league in runs scored and runs allowed. They won the pennant by 9 games but the other 7 teams in the league were competitive as there were only 14 games between 2nd and 8th.

On base percentage went up a lot this year.

Chicago had only 4 in the top 10, but it was 4 of the top 5 including the top three.

1882 AA

The American Association formed as a league that gave more power to the clubs and loosened some of the National League restrictive rules such as serving alcohol at ball games. The league lasted for 10 years and played a kind of a World Series for 7 years with the National League. I said kind of as two of the World Series were tied and one is still being argued about today. Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1882 American Association:

1. Pete Browning Lou 427.5
2. Ed Swartwood Pitt 359.5
3. Hick Carpenter Cinn 315
4. Joe Sommer Cinn 271
5. Jack O’Brien Phil 188
6. Jud Birchall Phil 162.5
7. Bill Gleason StL 157.5
8. Guy Hecker Lou 155
9. Jack Gleason StL 152.5
10. Chicken Wolf Lou 151


What I Learned:

There were 6 teams in the league. The Cincinnati Red Leggings were very good, dominating the league and winning over two-thirds of their games. Baltimore was very bad and the other four teams were at about .500. The Red Leggings became the Cincinnati Reds of today. The St. Louis team became the St. Louis Cardinals of today.

Again, I counted runs as 2 and a half points.

Hitting wasn’t that great, except for Pete Browning. It took only an on base average of .302 to make the top 10. Consequently, we have three players in the top 10 who didn’t have any points for on base average.

I just wonder how Chicken Wolf got his nickname.

1882 NL

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1882 National League:

1. George Gore Chi 385.5
2. Dan Brouthers Buff 383.5
3. Cap Anson Chi 366.5
4. Jim Whitney Bost 286.5
5. Harry Stovey Wor 285
6. Abner Dalrymple Chi 278
7. Roger Conner Tro 270.5
8. King Kelly Chi 248.5
9. Joe Start Pro 243
10. Paul Hines Pro 234.5


What I Learned:

To make up for lack of games and to get the runs to as about as important as on base average I again multiplied runs times 2.5 instead of 2.0. Stolen bases weren’t tracked for the 1882 National League. This helped George Gore as he finished fourth and on base average but led the league in runs scored. He edge on base average leader Dan Brouthers.

Chicago won the League and had 4 players in the top 10. They edged Providence by 3 games. There was an actual pennant race. All the teams were strong except for Worcester who had a winning percentage of .214. They were so bad 6 of the 8 teams finished over .500.

1883 AA

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1883 American Association:

1. Ed Swartwood Pitt 403
2. Pete Browining Lou 393.5
3. Harry Stovey Phil 367
4. Mike Moynahan Phil 345
5. John Reilly Cinn 307.5
6. Hick Carpenter Cinn 303.5
7. Candy Nelson NY 293.5
8. Jim Clinton Bal 286.5
9. Charley Jones Cinn 266
10. Jack Gleason StL-Lou 256.5

What I Learned:

To make up for lack of games and to get the runs to as about as important as on base average I again multiplied runs times 2.5 instead of 2.0. Stolen bases weren’t tracked for the 1883 American Association.

There were 8 teams in the league in 1883. It was a close race as Philadelphia beat St. Louis one game. According to the Pythagorean Theorem third place Cincinnati was the best team. They finished 8 games below their Pythagorean total. Going 9-16 in one run games didn’t help. Looking closely at the race the 3 teams had almost the same record against above .500 teams. Cincinnati didn’t do as well against the 3 teams that finished below .500. In the Association that year there were 5 teams over .500 and basically 3 teams at replacement level. They should have taken the bottom teams a little more seriously.


Ed Swartwood and Pete Browning were the top 2 the first two years of the American Association, they just switched places. It will be interesting to see who does the best over the decade.

1883 NL

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1883 National League:

1. George Gore Chi 416.5
2. Dan Brouthers Buff 406.5
3. Roger Conner NY 388
4. Jim O’Rourke Buff 355
5. Ezra Sutton Bost 352.5
6. Fred Dunlap Clv 324.5
7. Jack Burdock Bost 306
8. John Morrill Bost 295.5
9. Jack Farrell Pro 288
10. Paul Hines Pro 287


What I Learned:

To make up for lack of games and to get the runs to as about as important as on base average I again multiplied runs times 2.5 instead of 2.0. Stolen bases weren’t tracked for the 1883 National League.

George Gore now has 3 firsts and a second in the last four years. I had heard of him but didn’t know much about him. I need to do some reading on him.

There was a fairly close race in the National League. Boston beat Chicago and Providence in a close race. The only really bad team of the eight was Philadelphia who had a winning percentage of 173.

1884 AA

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1884 American Association:

1. Charley Jones Cinn 386
2. Harry Stovey Phil 384
3. Candy Nelson NY 378
4. John Reilly Cinn 360
5. Frank Fennelly Wash-Cinn 322
6. Pete Browining Lou 316
7. Dude Esterbrook NY 310
8. Dave Orr NY 288
9. Ed Swartwood Pitt 278
10. Chief Roseman NY 272

What I Learned:

I made each run scored this year worth 2 points again since the number of games increased and the number of runs increased. This helped Charley Jones as Harry Stovey would have won if runs were worth 2.5 points. I know the new Union League had a lot of runs scored, at least by the leaders, so I decided to do the 2 points for all of MLB for the year.

Speaking of leagues, not only is there a new league, but there are 13 teams listed for the American Association in 1994. I think one team replace another and the league started with 12 teams. New York won the league easily as they played the best against above .500 teams. Seven of the teams finished over .500 but there were also some real bad teams.

The League Champion New York team had 4 players in the top 10.

1884 NL

Here are the Rickey leaders for the 1884 National League:

1. King Kelly Chi 468
2. Jim O’Rourke Buff 422
3. George Gore Chi 416
4. Ezra Sutton Bost 372
5. Cap Anson Chi 362
6. Roger Conner NY 330
7. Dan Brouthers Buff 320
8. Deacon White Buff 304
9. Abner Dalrymple Chi 276
10. Jack Rowe Buff 274

What I Learned:

I made each run scored this year worth 2 points again since the number of games increased and the number of runs increased.

Providence won the league with a .750 winning percentage but didn’t place anyone in the top 10 of the Rickey Award. They were 5th in the league in runs scored. Chicago who had a great offense and played in a hitter’s park had 4 of the top 10.

Despite Providence paying at a .750 winning clip, 5 of the 8 league teams played over .500. The other 3 teams weren’t very completive winning less than 1/4 their games against the other 5 teams.

1884 UA

The Union Association only lasted one year. It started with 12 teams but ended the season with 8 teams. St. Louis won the league easily winning over 83 percent of their games. Milwaukee went 8-4 with all home games according to Baseball Reference. According to Wikipedia they went 8-5 losing their only game on the road. I don’t know why. St. Paul went 2-6 on a road trip and never got home. Tough luck for a season ticket holder. Bill questioned whether this was a major league. That is a darn good question.

Now for the leaders for the 1884 Rickey Awards for the Union Association (Also the all time leaders for the Union Association):

1. Fred Dunlap StL 596
2. Orator Shafer StL 456
3. Emmit Seery Balt-KC 314
4. Jack Gleason StL 302
5. Henry Moore Wash 280
6. Yank Robinson Balt 256
7. Dave Rowe StL 204
8. Dick Burns Cinn 198
9. Ed Crane Bos 182
10. Bill Harbridge Cinn 174

What I Learned:

I’m glad I made runs only 2 points. Even at two points runs were more important than on base average in the Union Association. It didn’t totally mater as Fred Dunlap won both on base average and runs scored. He exceeded the maximum amount for runs 300 points. He scored 300 runs. However, Dunlap dominated in every category not only for the Rickey Award, but every other hitting area.

Henry Moore who came in 5th never played again. He was also 8th in WAR for regular players. He apparently was below average defensively, but he hit well and was only 22 years old. The next year he played in the Eastern League and didn’t hit nearly as well. After a couple of years in the minors who back to California and played there a few years.

1885 AA

Now for the leaders for the 1885 Rickey Awards for the American Association:

1. Harry Stovey Phil 402
2. Pete Browining Lou 382
3. Henry Larkin Phil 374
4. Charley Jones Cinn 340
5. Candy Nelson NY 302
6. Tom Brown Pitt 294
7. Dave Orr NY 268
8. Bill Phillips Bro 258
9. Pete Hotaling Bro 246
10. John Coleman Phil 232

What I Learned:

Runs seemed normal so I stayed with multiplying runs by 2.

St. Louis dominated the league, but the rest of the league seemed competitive.

1885 NL

Now for the leaders for the 1885 Rickey Awards for the National League:

1. Roger Conner NY 474
2. George Gore Chi 440
3. Dan Brouthers Buff 390
4. King Kelly Chi 358
5. Jim O’Rourke NY 346
6. Ned Hanlon Det 330
7. Cap Anson Chi 314
8. Abner Dalrymple Chi 290
9. Ned Williamson Chi 288
10. Hardy Richardson Buff 280

What I Learned:

Chicago and New York were on a completely different level than the other 6 teams in the league. Third place Philadelphia was a lot closer than last place St. Louis than 2nd place New York. Chicago beat New York by two games. However, Chicago won four more games than they were supposed to compared to none of New York. the funny thing was that Chicago was 10-9 in one run games and New York was 22-8. Chicago was 6 games better on the road but gained 6 games by beating up the 5 teams below .500 more than New York. They were basically equal, but I wouldn’t begrudge Chicago the pennant by say it was luck.

Chicago scored the most runs which shows in that they had 5 of the top 10 for the Rickey Award.

1886 AA

Now for the leaders for the 1886 Rickey Awards for the American Association:

1. Arlie Latham StL 616
2. Harry Stovey Phil 588
3. Bob Caruthers StL 556
4. Henry Larkin Phil 542
5. Yank Robinson StL 485
6. Bid McPhee Cinn 484
7. Curt Welch StL 469
8. Ed Swartwood Brook 455
9. Bill McClellan Brook 435
10. Tom Brown Pitt 432

What I Learned:

St. Louis easily won the league, but overall, the league was fairly competitive. No one stunk l badly.

Stolen bases came back. I used my normal formula as stolen bases and runs matched up fairly well to 20th century baseball totals. Stolen bases were a bit higher. Arlie Latham exceeded the maximum for runs not that it mattered.

Bob Caruthers was also a start pitcher and led the league in on base percentage. In second in on base percentage was Guy Hecker another pitcher who just missed the list.

Pennant winning St. Louis had four of the top seven for the Rickey Award.

1886 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1886 NL Rickey Awards:

1. King Kelly Chi 825
2. George Gore Chi 637
3. Dan Brouthers Det 631
4. Cap Anson Chi 587
5. Hardy Richardson Det 580
6. Roger Conner NY 471
7. Jack Glasscock StL 454
8. Ned Hanlon Det 388
9. Jim O’Rourke NY 384
10. Jim Fogatry Phil 368


What I Learned:

Wow, offense sure went up. King Kelly exceeded the maximum runs for which I give points. It didn’t matter though. He was close to the triple crown losing the stolen base crown by 3 stolen bases.

The National League was almost a bell curve. Chicago won the league by 2.5 games over Detroit. They each had 3 players in the top 8 for the Rickey Award. They both won over 70% of their games. So they would get As. New York and Philadelphia won over 60 percent of their games they would get Bs. Boston was close, but under .500 they would give a C. St. Louis won more than a third of their games they would get a D. Kansas City and Washington couldn’t win a quarter of their games despite playing each other. This is below replacement level F for each of them.

1887 AA

Here are the leaders for the 1887 AA Rickey Awards:

1. Pete Browining Lou 902
2. Tip O’Neil StL 770
3. Arlie Latham StL 732
4. Charlie Comiskey StL 726
5. Yank Robinson StL 719
6. Denny Lyons Phil 717
7. Mike Griffin Bal 716
8. Paul Radford NY 679
8. Bid McPhee Cinn 679
10. Bob Caruthers StL 677

What I Learned:

Offence flew. We had 2 players Tip O’Neil and Arlie Latham exceed the maximum amount of points for runs. They still would have finished behind Pete Browning. Browning and three other players exceeded the maximum points for stolen bases. The three players were Hugh Nicol, Arlie Latham and Charlie Comiskey. Latham would have moved to second with the stolen bases, but I think there was something funny going on with stolen bases, so I don’t mind limiting them. Hugh Nicol would have finished fifth instead of being out of the top 10. I still feel the same way but could see an argument for including him.

St. Louis easily won the league had players ranked 2 thru 5 in the top 10, plus pitcher Bob Caruthers as number 10. They dominated the Rickey Award also.

1887 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1887 NL Rickey Awards:

1. John Ward NY 678
1. Jim Fogarty Phil 678
1. King Kelly Bos 678
4. Dan Brouthers Det 654
5. Cap Anson Chi 539
5. Roger Conner NY 539
7. Sam Thompson Det 534
8. Sam Wise Bos 515
9. Ed Andrews Phil 509
10. Jimmy Ryan Chi 504


What I Learned:

A lot of ties in part of two top players exceeding the maximum points for stolen bases. John Ward and Jim Fogarty each exceeded the maximum points for stolen bases. if I gave them the points it would be Ward first and Fogarty second. If that is what you want to do it is fine by me. Just come running to me if King Kelly takes it out on you. Dan Brothers exceeded the maximum amount for runs, but it had no effect on the standings.

Detroit beat Philadelphia by 3.5 games and Chicago by 6.5. The only real weak team was Indianapolis.

1888 AA

Here are the leaders for the 1888 AA Rickey Awards:

1. Harry Stovey Phil 645
2. Curt Welch Phi 645
3. Hub Collins Lou-Brook 625
4. John Reilly Cinn 596
5. Yank Robinson StL 590
6. Arlie Latham StL 588
7. Hugh Nicol Cinn 584
8. Tommy McCarthy StL 549
9. George Pinkney Bro 537
10. Tip O’Neil StL 450

What I Learned:

Another tie, but this time players exceeding the max didn’t help cause the tie as Stovey and Welch didn’t exceed the max in any of the categories. They were just real good in all three categories.

Two players exceeded the max in stolen bases Arlie Latham and Hugh Nicol. Latham would have finished fourth if we counted all his stolen bases. The rule didn’t affect Nicol’s place in the standings at all.

League champs St. Louis had 3 of the top 10 as they won their last American Association pennant. The rest of the league is catching up to them as Brooklyn finished only 6.5 games behind.

1888 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1888 NL Rickey Awards:

1. Jimmy Ryan Chi 564
2. Dummy Hoy Wash 548
3. Dan Brouthers Det 536
4. Cap Anson Chi 486
5. King Kelly Bos 474

6. Roger Conner NY 455

7. Emmett Seery Ind 446
8. Mike Tiernan NY 434
9. Buck Ewing NY 421
10. Fred Pfeffer Chi 372

What I Learned:

New York won the league by 9 games. The 8-team league was competitive. By the way, New York had three players in the top 10 of the Rickey Award.

The big three (or ABC) first basemen of the 19th Century, Anson, Brouthers and Conner finished first second and third in that order for the on-base title. While each stole a fair number of bases, they weren’t amount the league leaders in that area. Consequently, they finished third thru fifth in the Rickey Award.

1889 AA

Here are the leaders for the 1889 AA Rickey Awards:

1. Billy Hamilton KC 814
2. Darby O’Brien Bro 733
3. Tommy Tucker Bal 695
4. Harry Stovey Phil 675
5. Herman Long KC 657
6. Curt Welch Phil 616
7. Hub Collins Bro 603
8. Mike Griffen Bal 591
9. Tip O’Neil StL 568
10. Jim McTamany Colum 560

What I Learned:

Billy Hamilton, greatest leadoff of the 19th Century starts with dominating his first full season.

Brooklyn won the league by 2 games over St. Louis. For some reason Louisville fell apart.

1889 NL

Here are the leaders for the 1889 NL Rickey Awards:

1. Mike Tiernan NY 687
2. Jimmy Ryan Chi 621
3. Jim Fogarty Phil 615
4. Jack Glasscock Ind 607
5. Dan Brouthers Bos 600
6. King Kelly Bos 596
7. Fred Carroll Pitt 589
8. George Gore NY 580
9. Hugh Duffy Chi 572
10. George Van Haltren Chi 568

What I Learned:

New York beat Boston by one game. Must have been an interesting race. The league was competitive.

Winner Mike Tiernan led the league in runs, 3rd base Jim Fogarty in stolen bases, with second place Jimmy Ryan in the top 10 in all three categories.

AA 1880’s Rickey Decade Leaders

My method for decade leaders (this time just 8 years) is 12 points for first place, 10 for second, 8 for third and down a point for every position until 1 for 10th. Here ae the American Association decade leaders for the 1880s Rickey Awards:

  1. Harry Stovey 58 Points
  2. Pete Browning 49
  3. Ed Swartwood 27
  4. Arlie Latham 25
  5. Charley Jones 21
  6. John Reilly 20
  7. Curt Welch 20
  8. Yank Robinson 18
  9. Candy Nelson 18
  10. Henry Larkin 15

What I Learned:

After their fast starts Pete Browning beat Ed Swartwood at the end. However, Harry Stovey passed him towards the end to win the Rickey player of the decade for the American Association.         

NL 1880’s Rickey Decade Leaders

Here ae the National League decade leaders for the 1880s Rickey Awards:

  1. George Gore 77 points
  2. King Kelly 68
  3. Dan Brouthers 65
  4. Cap Anson 57.5
  5. Roger Conner 51.5
  6. Jim O’ Rourke 36
  7. Abner Dalrymple 26
  8. Jimmy Ryan 23
  9. Jim Fogatry 19
  10. Mike Tiernan 15

What I Learned:

The big three first basemen finished 3rd thru 5th. They had a lot of power, especially for that era and got on base a lot to do well through out the decade. The top 7 players started the decade strong and continued through out the decade. The final 3 players had some great years at the end of the decade to finish in the top 10, which was quite an accomplishment.

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