Albertson: Big Ed Delahanty’s Hall of Fame legacy etched in silver

From SABR member Matt Albertson at Philliedelphia on May 13, 2016:

Edward James “Big Ed” Delahanty was one of the most fearsome hitters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During his 16-year career (1888-1903), 13 of which he spent with the Phillies, ”Big Ed” amassed a .346 batting average – including three seasons where he batted over .400. He also collected 2,597 hits and hit 101 home runs. 

In 1893, the National League moved the pitching distance from 50 feet to its present 60 feet, six inches. Because of this, Delahanty became a formidable hitter practically over night. While he only slugged 15 homeruns between 1888 and 1892, he led the league with 19 home runs and 146 RBI in 1893 for a Phillies team that finished fourth (72-57). 

Delahanty was the star of Philadelphia teams that fielded future Hall of Famers “Big” Sam Thompson, “Sliding” Billy Hamilton and Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie, and led the Phillies in WAR for six seasons. 

The 1899 season was no different. Delahanty’s slash line was .410/.464/.582 and he led the Phillies in almost every offensive category, including home runs (nine). In fact, he led the National League in eight offensive categories: hits (238), doubles (55), RBI (137), batting average (.410), slugging (.582), OPS (1.046), OPS+ (191), and total bases (338). In short, Big Ed would have been a big favorite to win a league MVP award if one existed.

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Originally published: May 13, 2016. Last Updated: May 13, 2016.