Baseball-reference adds stats for pre-1903 postseasons

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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.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

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The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.