Sean Casey and the History of the Reds 1st baseman.
I posted this on redlegnation last month, as Casey rumors circulate I thought it might be good to bring it back up over here.
Look at what's happened to me,
I can't believe it myself.
Suddenly I'm up on top of the world,
It should've been somebody else.
Sean Casey Reds first baseman is not a power hitter or a patient man willing to take a walk, but a man who can hit .305 with 45 doubles, while driving in and scoring 90 runs.
Or so the story goes, Casey has actually had 40 doubles three times and 100 RBI's and 90 runs scored twice. His highest home runs total was 25 in 1999 and his 24 last year was his second highest in 6 seasons.
If you're a Reds fan then all this sounds like a broken record to you most likely.
But really... how familiar is the batting average first sacker with no speed and little power in Cincinnati Reds history?
Below is a table that ranks Runs Created vs. The league numbers of the 1b position for the original 8 National League
The Avg, BB, SLG and BPA (Bases per Plate Appearance) are all vs. the league average as well.
Who are these first sackers that come to Cincinnati, refusing to take a walk, hitting for average and are they leaving a suit that only fit Ralph Hinckley?
Here are the top 12 Reds 1st basemen ranked by Plate Appearances
After Beckley faded into the sunset, a few years passed before the position was seized by Dick Hoblizell (Doc due to his Dental Degree) his 850 games as a Red left an offensive imprint of .283/.339/.388/.727, a typical deadball era line, Hoblitzell was well known for his fielding in an era that the bunt was prominent it was important for the corner men to be adapt at working the bunt and the ensuing plays it generally created. He was slick gloveman who lost his batting skills during the 1914 season.
For five more seasons the suit sat in the corner (most likely hiding from Hal Chase)
The next man to find the suit was Former Brooklyn great Jake Daubert.
A former batting champ and a lifetime .300 hitter Daubert was known for his superb bunting skills and once had 6 sacrifices in a doubleheader, he bunted so much that in the list of top ten sac bunts by a 1b is basically the property of Daubert.
Daubert manned the Reds 1st base position until he was 40, it was after he left that the Reds had their hardest time filling the position.
Between 1925-1936 three Reds 1st baseman managed to get at least 1300 at bats, however none played above average baseball and all were on the down slope of careers that knew much better days. They were (starting in 1925), Wally Pipp (sans headache), George Kelly and Jim Bottomley, all three OPS'd below league average and were out of the game shortly after leaving the Reds. The depression era Reds were a poor team and their recycled lineup of used to be's highlighted that daily and nightly.
In 1938 Frank McCormick arrived for good, perhaps the suit fit him the best so far.
If Sean Casey has a Reds doppelganger then McCormick is the man in that mirror. The 1940 MVP and NL hit leader from 1938-1940 McCormick was the most popular player as far as the fans in Cincinnati were concerned and was amongst the first inducted in the Reds Hall of Fame in 1958.
A batting average driven player McCormick rarely walked and struck even less. His first 3000 at bats as a Red compared with Casey’s (3488 ab's) are eerily similar
In the fifties Ted Klusewski showed up, a massive man with power <em>and</em> batting average skills came to town. Klu is the Reds greatest offensive 1st baseman. Listed behind Beckley (who played half his games in the 1890's) Klusewski was a masher in an era of mashers. No suit could fit that man and he sliced the sleeves off the ones he was issued by the club.
After Ted left town with his battered back, Gordy Coleman showed up to try on the suit and managed to play 1st in the manner that it has always been handled, low walks, low strikeouts and occasional grace in the field.
The only problem is was that Gordy Coleman wasn't a .300 hitter like his predecessors and by the age of 31 he was out of the game; he must have lost the instruction manual to the suit earlier than most
After Gordy left the most successful era in the Reds history began.
It was during this era that the Reds had 1st basemen that were nothing like the standard 1st baseman that had played on the West Side since Vine Street was flush with German Beer Halls and nickle steins.
Of course I'm talking about the Big Red Machine and Lee May and Tony Perez.
I won't bore you with the usual details but I will point out the following, both may and Perez are in the top ten of Reds 1st baseman in RC/27 vs. the league.
Driessen was like many prior Red 1st sackers, he hit for average and didn't strike more than most, but the man could take a walk like no other Reds 1st baseman and even today he leads all Reds 1st baseman in walks by a wide margin. (200)
The Reds acquired Hal Morris in 1990 and fitting into the suit (though somewhat baggy) he fulfilled his duty and he finished his career at .304/.361/.433/.794.
As sure the oroboros bites its tale this piece comes to an end with the swap of Dave Burba for Pittsburgh native Sean Casey in the spring of 1997. A bat on the ball player, Casey doesn't live by power or strike out (or walk much)
It's my guess that in the eyes of the owners that the suit fits still.
But it could get tight sooner than later.
Food for thought.
The Reds and Braves are the only teams of the orginal 8 National League teams to NOT have a 1st baseman who ever averaged 2 runs better than the league in his career.
Re: Sean Casey and the History of the Reds 1st baseman.
Excellent article! Have you written similar articles for each of the other positions?
Re: Sean Casey and the History of the Reds 1st baseman.
Thanks, so far just this one, and the above.
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