Pomrenke: This year in baseball, 1912

From SABR member Jacob Pomrenke at The National Pastime Museum on February 16, 2016:

Few fans today remember his name, but by the end of the 1912 season, Heinie Zimmerman of the Chicago Cubs was arguably the biggest star in baseball. He was being mentioned by writers and analysts with the likes of Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Napoleon Lajoie, and Honus Wagner. And why not? The 25-year-old third baseman had just won the Triple Crown in the National League, topping the senior circuit with a .372 batting average, 14 home runs, and 104 RBIs. It was an extraordinary performance by a hitter in the Deadball Era, and he deserved to be in that pantheon of superstars.

Baseball Magazine editor F. C. Lane wrote, “There is no possible doubt that [Zimmerman] is one of the greatest natural ball players who ever wore a uniform.” The brash, eccentric New Yorker—who took to calling himself “The Great Zim” after newspaper headlines popularized the nickname—was seen as a symbol of the new wave of young talent that would dominate the big leagues for years to come.

Five future Hall of Famers—Stan Coveleski, Ray Schalk, Rabbit Maranville, Eppa Rixey, and Herb Pennock—made their Major League debuts in 1912, more than any other season in history except two. Shoeless Joe Jackson and Grover Cleveland Alexander were also on the verge of stardom after their breakout rookie seasons the year before, while Eddie Collins had helped lead the Philadelphia A’s to the last two World Series championships. All three players were 24 years old. Even by modern metrics, this generation of young talent was unparalleled. Nine players under the age of 25 recorded at least five WAR in 1912—a feat that would not be seen again for more than a half-century. Every team seemed to have at least one up-and-coming star.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/1912

Originally published: February 16, 2016. Last Updated: February 16, 2016.