Hot Stove: 2/18
World Series Champions: Boston Red Sox (105-47, .691 WPCT).
Baseball continued to develop in 1912. First off, the Boston Rustlers underwent yet another name change, but this one would stick. They became the Boston Braves, which followed the Red Caps (1876-1882), Beaneaters (1882-1906), Doves (1907-1910), and Rustlers (1911) to finally catch on. The New York Highlanders also added pinstripes to their uniforms for the first time. 102 years later, the pinstripes are the trademark for the franchise. The Red Sox opened up a new stadium in Boston's Fenway district, aptly naming it Fenway Park. 102 years later, the park is the oldest in baseball. The Cincinnati Reds also opened up their own new stadium, known as Redland Field, later renamed Crosley Field. It would stand until 1970. The Tigers opened up Navin Field, later known as Tiger Stadium, and that would stand until 1999. On June 28th, Christy Mathewson, pitching in just his thirteenth season, became the eighth pitcher to reach 300 victories. For the last time in history, the Tinker to Evers to Chance double play occurred. In 1913, Frank Chance would leave the Cubs for New York, while Joe Tinker left for Cincinnati. Johnny Evers would remain in Chicago through the 1913 season. The Phillies also brought up a 21 year old UVA alum and Charlottesville native named Eppa Rixey, who would go on to pitch a 22 year, Hall of Fame career.
The Washington Senators made the incredible jump from seventh to second place in 1912, finishing at 91-61. Despite their success, they finished a full 14 games behind the Red Sox, who made their own jump from fourth to first place and went 105-47. In the NL, the Cubs and Pirates battled it out, with both finishing over .600. Pittsburgh went 93-58, while Chicago went 91-59. The New York Giants blew them both away, finishing ten games ahead of the Pirates to go 103-48. New York and Boston met in what would be one of the closest World Series ever. Each game was a nail biter, with the games being decided 4-3 (Red Sox), 6-6 (tie), 2-1 (Giants), 3-1 (Red Sox), 2-1 (Red Sox), 5-2 (Giants), 11-4 (Giants), and 3-2 (Red Sox). The final game came down to extra innings. New York took a 2-1 lead in the tenth, and with Christy Mathewson on the mound, the Giants looked like they had it won. However, New York center fielder Fred Snodgrass dropped a fly ball to lead off the bottom of the tenth, allowing batter Clyde Engle to reach second base. Harry Hooper flew out, then Steve Yerkes walked to put runners on first and third. Tris Speaker drove in Engle with a single, then Duffy Lewis was intentionally walked to load the bases for Larry Gardner. Gardner drove in Yerkes with a sacrifice fly, marking the first time in World Series history that a Series was won by a walk off. For the Series, New York's Buck Herzog managed to bat .400 in a losing effort. Smokey Joe Wood earned three of Boston's four victories.
Tris Speaker took home the Chalmers Award in the AL, but he was in no way the clear choice. In 153 games, he batted .383 with ten home runs, 53 doubles, 12 triples, 52 stolen bases, and 136 runs scored for Boston. Larry Doyle of the Giants managed to take home the NL Chalmers Award, though I disagree with the decision. In 143 games, he hit ten home runs, drove in 90, and batted .330 with 36 stolen bases. Ty Cobb batted over .400 for a second straight year, earning a sixth straight AL batting title at .410. Heinie Zimmerman of the Cubs, whom I believe deserved the NL Chalmers Award, led the NL with a .372 average to go along with 14 home runs and 99 RBI. His 14 home runs led the majors. Frank "Home Run" Baker led the AL with his ten home runs while also setting a career high with a major league leading 130 RBI. Eddie Collins of the A's, despite not hitting a single home run, led all of baseball with 137 runs scored. Tris Speaker, who would eventually set a major league record with 792 doubles, led the AL in doubles for the first of eight times. On the mound, it was a story of two pitchers. Walter Johnson, who was instrumental to the Senators' rise in the standings, went 33-12 with a 1.39 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP, and 303 strikeouts for one of the finest seasons of his career. The ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP led the majors. The Red Sox' drive to the World Series would not have been possible without ace Smokey Joe Wood, who put together the finest season of his career by going 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP, striking out 258. Ed Walsh pitched magnificently for the fourth place White Sox, finishing 27-17 with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Sophomore Grover Cleveland Alexander proved that his rookie 1911 season was not a fluke, going 19-17 with a 2.81 ERA for the Phillies. Rookie Eppa Rixey put together a solid first season by going 10-10 with a 2.50 ERA for the Phillies.
Braves signed Julio Teheran to a six year, $32.4 million extension ($5.4 million per season).
Free Agent Signings
Orioles signed Ubaldo Jimenez (13-9, 3.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 2014 age: 30) to a four year, $48 million deal ($12 million per season).
Orioles signed Korean star Suk-Min Yoon (3-6, 4.00 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7 SV in Korea, 2014 age: 27-28) to a three year, $5.58 million deal ($1.86 million per season plus up to $7.5 million in incentives).
Rays agreed to terms with Erik Bedard (4-12, 4.59 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 1 SV, 2014 age: 35) on a minor league deal.
One of the final remaining top free agents has been taken off the market. The Orioles added Ubaldo Jimenez on a four year deal to solidify their rotation, leaving only Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew, and Kendrys Morales as unsigned top free agents. Jimenez is extremely inconsistent due to his high walk rates, but when he's on, there is no stopping him. The Orioles don't have a set ace, so the 30 year old Dominican could even start on Opening Day. That honor will be one he will have to earn over the likes of Bud Norris, Chris Tillman, and Wei-Yin Chen. Though he pitched well in 2008 and 2009, Jimenez really catapulted himself to fame in 2010, when he put up one of the greatest pitching seasons in Rockies history by going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 33 games. To show how difficult Coors Field is to pitch in, he went 10-6 with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 18 road starts, including a no-hitter in Atlanta. While 2011 and 2012 were rough, he did bounce back in 2013 for a 13-9 record and a 3.30 ERA over 32 starts for the Indians. High walk rates plague him, as he has not walked fewer than 78 batters in any season since 2007. In 2008, he was second in all of baseball with 103 walks. For his career, he is 82-75 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP over 212 games (211 starts). He's also 0-2 with a respectable 3.54 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP over five postseason starts in 2007 and 2009.
It took some digging around, but I finally found Suk-Min Yoon's full career stats. Despite being only 27, he's pitched eight seasons for the Kia Tigers in Gwangju, South Korea. Available as a starter or as a reliever, Yoon's role with the Orioles is currently unknown. Ubaldo Jimenez, Bud Norris, Chris Tillman, and Wei-Yin Chen already have the first four spots in the rotation, Yoon will battle with Steve Johnson, Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, Liam Hendriks, and Miguel Gonzalez for the last spot. Yoon's greatest success as a starter in Korea came in 2008, when at 21-22 years old he went 14-5 with a league leading 2.33 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. He was also excellent in 2011, when he was 17-5 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. His greatest success as a reliever came in 2006, where at 19-20 years old he was 5-6 with a 2.28 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, and 19 saves. Last year, he split time as a starter and as a reliever, going 3-6 with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in 30 games (11 starts). Over his eight year career, he went 73-59 with a 3.19 ERA and 44 saves in 1129 innings.
A's claimed Joe Savery (2-0, 3.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2014 age: 28) off waivers from the Phillies.
Royals claimed Jimmy Paredes (1 HR, 10 RBI, .192 AVG, 4 SB, 2014 age: 25) off waivers from the Orioles, who recently claimed him from the Marlins, who claimed him from the Astros, all this offseason.
Teams followed in this update: Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers
If your team is not included, please email me and I will add them.
HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage