We’ve added newly audited and expanded statistics for the 1926 Negro National League, including fielding statistics, complete pitching statistics, batters’ hit by pitch, and a handful of new games and corrections to the record.
While I don’t think that counting stats are, by themselves, a particularly good measure of the quality of Negro league ballplayers, it’s worth noting that this audit has produced a new single-season record for home runs by a player in games against Negro league opponents: 32 by Mule Suttles of the St. Louis Stars.
The Stars played in Stars Park, which was built up against a trolley car barn that cut into left field, making it a great park for right-handed power hitters. Here’s a photo of Stars catcher Henry “Flick” Williams, with a good view of the park:
And in fact, Suttles hit 26 home runs in Stars Park (one of them inside the park) and only 6 on the road. Those numbers are a bit deceiving, though, as the Stars’ schedule was extremely lopsided, with most of their NNL games played at home. Of Suttles’s 89 games, 65 were in Stars Park:At these rates a balanced home/road schedule would give Suttles 18 homers at home, 11 on the road.
A few other statistical highlights from this update, all from the St. Louis Stars:
–Suttles also sets single-season Negro league records for triples (19) and extra base hits (79), as well as for slugging percentage with 200 plate appearances or more (.877).
–The NNL leader in HBP was Stars catcher Mitchell Murray with 15, which also sets a single-season Negro league record.
—Cool Papa Bell stole 36 bases, which is the second-highest single-season Negro league total we’ve recorded (the highest is Bell’s 49 in 1929).
–St. Louis pitcher Slap Hensley set a less enviable record by allowing 20 home runs, the most allowed by a Negro league pitcher in a single season (so far). To be fair, he was a workhorse in an extreme hitters’ park who led the league in most counting stats for pitchers, including wins, games pitched, games started, innings pitched, hits allowed, runs & earned runs allowed, walks, and strikeouts.
Turning to fielding, here are the NNL fielders with the most Runs Saved Above Average for each position (excluding pitchers):
C: Mitchell Murray, St. Louis
1B: Lemuel Hawkins, Kansas City
2B: Bingo DeMoss, Indianapolis
SS: Newt Allen, Kansas City
3B: Dave Malarcher, Chicago
LF: Johnny Jones, Indianapolis/Detroit
CF: Cando López, Cuban Stars
RF: Jelly Gardner, Chicago
The best defensive team, by Runs Saved Per 1000 Innings, was the Kansas City Monarchs; the worst was (surprisingly) the St. Louis Stars, though the last-place Dayton Marcos were close. The Stars did give up a ton of hits (their opponents batted .309 for the season) but I’m actually wondering if the metric is not fully accounting for park effects here.
Next up: the 1945 Mexican League, 1924 ECL with fielding stats, 1939 NNL & NAL with fielding stats, further Cuban League seasons, and more.
First and foremost, special thanks to John Russell and Steve Peissig, who provided rare Mexican League guides that enabled us to have FIELDING stats for the 1944 Mexican League and, for the first time, split out playing records for players who played for more than one team.
For the 1944 Mexican League season, the league again featured only 6 teams. The Union Laguna team based in Torreon, which had finished only ½ game out of first place in 1943, was replaced by a new La Junta club in Nuevo Laredo. This was a different “franchise” from the 1940 La Junta de Nuevo Laredo. Out of the 138 league players, 34 were “Negro Leaguers” in at least one other season. The World War seems to have impacted the number of Negro League imports. Martin Dihigo, Willie Wells, Chet Brewer, Quincy Trouppe, Wild Bill Wright and Silvio Garcia were some of the biggest names who went south of the border.
But the biggest news may have been who Azules de Veracruz hired as their manager – Rogers Hornsby. The 48-year-old Hornsby only lasted a couple of weeks before he quit, but during that time he put himself at bat in two games, resulting in a double, a walk, and 3 RBI’s. This is the last known professional hit for the Hall of Famer.
The pennant race was close in 1944, with Azules de Veracruz, even without Hornsby, able to finish on top, 2 games ahead of Industriales de Monterrey, and 2 ½ ahead of Pericos de Puebla. Veracruz was led by Cuban Baseball Hall of Famer Ramon Bragana, who in addition to taking over managerial duties from Hornsby, went 30-8 on the mound, pitching an incredible 325 innings in a 90-game schedule. Cuban Baseball Hall of Famer Lazaro Salazar of Monterrey had a great two-way season, going 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA and hitting .379/.495/.498 as a 1st baseman. And like Bragana, he also managed the team. Cuban outfielder Alberto Hernandez of Pueblo lead the league with a .395 batting average. Cuban born catcher Salvador ‘Chico’ Hernandez, fresh off 2 years as a backup for the Chicago Cubs, caught all 91 games for Veracruz while hitting .305/.398/.501. Also of note, 20 year old Roberto ‘Bobby’ Avila, after struggling as a 19 year old rookie in 1943, had a breakout year, finishing 6th in batting average and leading the league in triples.
Database Notes: Additional games have also been added to the database for the 1947 Negro Leagues season. Coming up will be the 1945 Mexican League season, 1924 ECL fielding & complete pitching stats, 1939 NNL & NAL fielding & complete pitching stats, more games between Negro league teams and white majors & minors, and more Cuban League seasons.
A brief note on an update we made a few weeks ago. We have added:
2) 1921 games between Black teams and a very good white semiprofessional team, Jeff Tesreau’s New York Bears. Playing their home games in Harlem’s Dyckman Oval, the Bears featured a number of former or future major leaguers (Tesreau himself, Larry Doyle, Manuel Cueto, Herb Kelly, Curtis Fullerton, Paddy Smith), minor leaguers (Bobby Crowell, Tommy Taguer, Paul Dietz) and well-known New York-area semipros (the brothers Willie & Frank Kelleher, George “Shorty” Page, Cy Curran). The Bears, probably the equivalent of a good minor league team, went 20-17-4 against Black teams in 1921.
Coming up: 1924 ECL fielding & complete pitching stats, 1939 NNL & NAL fielding & complete pitching stats, more games between Negro league teams and white majors & minors, more Mexican League & Cuban League seasons.