The World Series as we know it began in 1903, when the Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 in a best-of-nine series. There were some postseason series before that, though.
From 1884-1890, the champions of the National League and American Association met for series of various lengths. Baseball-reference now has the stats from those series.
The earliest was the 1884 series between the Providence Grays and the New York Metropolitans, which was swept by Providence 3-0. Old Hoss Radbourn, fresh off a 59-12 regular season, pitched all three games for the Grays and didn’t allow a run in 22 innings. Fellow Hall of Famer Tim Keefe was on the losing side of two of those games. Jerry Denny of the Grays was the star hitter of the series, collecting the only homer.
There was also one more “Championship Series” in 1892, one year after the American Association folded. That featured the National League’s first- and second-half champions, with the Boston Beaneaters defeating the Cleveland Spiders 5-0-1. Three Hall of Famers pitched in that one, with Kid Nichols going 2-0 for Boston and Cy Young and John Clarkson both losing twice for Cleveland. Hugh Duffy, the Hall of Fame outfielder, hit .462 and drove in nine runs for the Beaneaters.
It’s worth looking at the rest if you have some time to kill.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.