Schechter: This year in baseball, 1911

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on February 10, 2016:

An oasis of offense in an era of great pitching, the 1911 season stands out as one of the most dramatic of the Deadball Era. Great players performed at their peak, and two powerhouse teams, stuck in second place at the end of July, pushed forward to claim league pennants. A classic World Series matching the two premier managers of the era capped a year in which only five of the sixteen Major League teams finished under .500.

This was a time before runs batted in counted as an official statistic, when the Sunday newspaper listing of Major Leaguers’ stats included not home runs but sacrifice bunts and stolen bases. The bold experiment with a cork-center baseball in 1911 provided a major boost to hitters that lasted two seasons, after which pitchers’ unfettered doctoring of the ball stymied offense until the Ruthian slugging of the 1920s transformed the game.

The explosion of offense was greater in the American League, where scoring went from 7.3 runs per game in 1910 to 9.2 in 1911, and the league batting average soared from .243 to .273. Scoring rose a less startling 10 percent in the National League, where Frank “Wildfire” Schulte of the Cubs became the league’s first 20-home-run slugger of the century and home runs league-wide rose by 50 percent.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: February 12, 2016. Last Updated: February 12, 2016.