The Yearly Reader
Leaders and Honors, 1904
Our list of baseball’s top 10 hitters and pitchers in both the American League and National League for the 1904 baseball season, as well as the awards and honors given to the game’s top achievers of the year.
The National League’s Top 10 Hitters, 1904
Bold type in brick red indicates league leader.
1. Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh
Key Numbers: .349 average, 97 runs, 44 doubles, 14 triples, 75 RBIs, 53 stolen bases.
That Deadball Era pitchers intensified their stranglehold over the hitters had no effect on Wagner, who remained head and shoulders above all other NL batters.
2. Sam Mertes, New York
Key Numbers: .276 average, 28 doubles, 11 triples, 4 home runs, 78 RBIs, 47 stolen bases.
Though pitching won much of the day for the NL champion Giants, Mertes continued to be the team’s most reliable (and effective) hitter.
3. Frank Chance, Chicago
Key Numbers: .310 average, 89 runs, 6 home runs, 42 stolen bases.
With his superior batting average, Chance easily stood out within a Cubs lineup that featured no other player hitting higher than the .260s.
4. Harry Lumley, Brooklyn
Key Numbers: .279 average, 23 doubles, 18 triples, 9 home runs, 78 RBIs, 30 stolen bases.
Lumley outhomered his Brooklyn teammates, 9-6, after being carted over from the Pacific Coast League for his major league debut.
5. Dan McGann, New York
Key Numbers: .286 average, 6 home runs, 71 RBIs, 18 hit-by-pitches, 42 stolen bases.
Being hit 18 times was nothing for McGann, who five years earlier was struck 37 times by pitches (errant or otherwise).
6. Jake Beckley, St. Louis
Key Numbers: .325 average, 179 hits, 9 triples.
Age and a switch to the Cardinals led to no issues for the 37-year-old Beckley, whose batting average was second in the NL to Wagner.
7. Art Devlin, New York
Key Numbers: .281 average, 81 runs, 66 RBIs, 62 walks.
A dropout from Georgetown University three years earlier, Devlin lived the dream to become a major leaguer and put forth a fine rookie debut for the Giants.
8. Ginger Beaumont, Pittsburgh
Key Numbers: .301 average, 97 runs, 185 hits.
Beaumont remained the tablesetter for the Pirates’ offense, leading the NL in hits for the third straight season.
9. Joe Kelley, Cincinnati
Key Numbers: 123 games, .281 average, 21 doubles, 13 triples.
Reduced to a part-timer (albeit an effective one) in recent years, Kelley got more everyday work and proved he had plenty of baseball life left in him as he approached his mid-30s.
10. Cozy Dolan, Cincinnati
Key Numbers: .284 average, 88 runs, 6 home runs.
Like teammate Kelley, veteran outfielder Dolan scratched for a chance to play every day and made the most of it.
The American League’s Top 10 Hitters, 1904
1. Nap Lajoie, Cleveland
Key Numbers: .376 average, 92 runs, 208 hits, 49 doubles, 15 triples, 5 home runs, 102 RBIs.
While almost everyone else in the AL struggled to hit .300, Lajoie remained in a league of his own, leaning closer to .400.
2. Elmer Flick, Cleveland
Key Numbers: .306 average, 97 runs, 177 hits, 31 doubles, 17 triples, 6 home runs, 38 stolen bases.
Flick might have been the star on any other team, but he was content to feed off of Lajoie’s presence to help pad his own numbers.
3. Bill Bradley, Cleveland
Key Numbers: .300 average, 94 runs, 183 hits, 32 doubles, 6 home runs, 83 RBIs.
Bradley made it a trio of .300 hitters for the Naps; only one other AL player (Willie Keeler) managed to surpass .300 outside of Cleveland.
4. Chick Stahl, Boston
Key Numbers: .290 average, 83 runs, 27 doubles, 19 triples, 64 walks.
The troubled outfielder, who would commit suicide three years later, remained a stable presence on the field for the Americans.
5. Danny Murphy, Philadelphia
Key Numbers: .287 average, 30 doubles, 17 triples, 7 home runs, 77 RBIs.
In his second full season for the A’s—where he would spend a total of 12 seasons—Murphy set career highs in home runs, runs and RBIs.
6. Freddy Parent, Boston
Key Numbers: .291 average, 85 runs, 6 home runs, 77 RBIs.
Though he again put up strong numbers for Boston, Parent’s best move was to do nothing when Jack Chesbro threw his infamous wild pitch past him and helped the Americans secure their second AL flag.
7. Willie Keeler, New York
Key Numbers: .343 average, 78 runs, 186 hits.
Wee Willie continued to be a veteran pest, bunting and hitting them “where they ain’t” with success that rivaled some of his peak efforts from the 1890s.
8. Harry Davis, Philadelphia
Key Numbers: 102 games, .309 average, 21 doubles, 11 triples, 10 home runs, 62 RBIs.
Despite missing nearly 50 games, Davis still manage to win his first of four straight home run titles.
9. Charlie Hickman, Cleveland-Detroit
Key Numbers: .274 average, 28 doubles, 16 triples, 6 home runs, 67 RBIs.
The nomadic Hickman was on the move again, starting the season with the Naps and ending it with the Tigers—where his play suffered to the point that he wanted another trade. (He got it a year later, to Washington.)
10. Patsy Dougherty, Boston-New York
Key Numbers: .280 average, 647 at-bats, 113 runs, 181 hits, 14 triples, 6 home runs, 21 stolen bases.
Like Hickman, Dougherty changed addresses during the season—but unlike Hickman, his game seemed to improve upon his time with New York.
The National League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 1904
1. Joe McGinnity, New York
Key Numbers: 1.61 ERA, 35 wins, 8 losses, .814 win percentage, 5 saves, 51 games, 44 starts, 408 innings.
Pitching over 400 innings for the second straight year, McGinnity didn’t need a bullpen; in fact, he became one for other Giants pitchers, leading the NL in saves.
2. Kid Nichols, St. Louis
Key Numbers: 2.02 ERA, 21 wins, 13 losses, 317 innings.
The 1890s ace, returning after a two-year absence from the majors to be pitcher-manager-part owner for a minor league team in Kansas City, provided one last hurrah for his outstanding career.
3. Christy Mathewson, New York
Key Numbers: 2.03 ERA, 33 wins, 12 losses, 46 starts, 367.2 innings.
For the moment, Mathewson remained the second-best pitcher on his team—if that was ever possible for a guy with 33 victories.
4. Jake Weimer, Chicago
Key Numbers: 1.91 ERA, 20 wins, 14 losses, 307 innings.
The sophomore southpaw won exactly 20 games again, keeping the ace’s seat warm in Chicago for Three Finger Brown.
5. Noodles Hahn, Cincinnati
Key Numbers: 2.06 ERA, 16 wins, 18 losses, 297.2 innings.
Hahn’s six-year run as the Reds’ ace came to an end with a bitter campaign in which he pitched well but received almost no offensive support from his teammates; his arm went dead the next year at age 26 and he never recovered.
6. Three Finger Brown, Chicago
Key Numbers: 1.86 ERA, 15 wins, 10 losses.
Brown’s debut for the Cubs was hardly the workhorse effort that he would give in later years, but the efficiency was clearly present.
7. Jack Taylor, St. Louis
Key Numbers: 2.22 ERA, 20 wins, 19 losses, 352 innings.
The guy traded from the Cubs for Brown proved that it wasn’t such a lousy deal for the Cardinals—in the short run, that is.
8. Dummy Taylor, New York
Key Numbers: 2.34, 21 wins, 15 losses, 296.1 innings.
With teammates McGinnity and Mathewson each winning over 30 games, Taylor’s 21 looked all but blasé in comparison—but it was an impressive achievement considering he was a deaf mute.
9. Jack Harper, Cincinnati
Key Numbers: 2.30 ERA, 23 wins, 9 losses, 293.2 innings.
So how does Harper rank four spaces lower on this list than teammate Hahn, despite a decidedly better record? Try this: Harper was given an average of 5.54 runs of support per start, while Hahn only got 2.97.
10. Sam Leever, Pittsburgh
Key Numbers: 2.17 ERA, 18 wins, 11 losses.
The veteran hurler, second on the all-time franchise list for winning percentage, remained outstanding despite suffering 10-plus losses for the only time between 1901-10.
The American League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 1904
1. Jack Chesbro, New York
Key Numbers: 1.82 ERA, 41 wins, 12 losses, .774 win percentage, 55 games, 51 starts, 48 complete games, 454.2 innings.
Happy Jack was never happier than 1904 (save for one ill-timed wild pitch), and although Ed Walsh would eventually topple his AL record for innings thrown, Chesbro’s 41 wins remain untouched as the most in AL history.
2. Cy Young, Boston
Key Numbers: 1.97 ERA, 26 wins, 16 losses, 10 shutouts, 380 innings, 29 walks.
Lacking the generous offensive support that helped him pace the AL in victories over each of his first three years in Boston, Young had to fight for every win in 1904—reflected by the fact that a career-high 10 of his 26 wins were by shutout. (He also walked a remarkable 0.69 batters per nine innings.)
3. Rube Waddell, Philadelphia
Key Numbers: 1.62 ERA, 25 wins, 19 losses, 46 starts, 383 innings, 349 strikeouts.
Waddell’s 349 strikeouts were the most by any pitcher since the mound was moved back to 60’6”—and the most until Sandy Koufax reigned supreme six decades later.
4. Frank Owen, Chicago
Key Numbers: 1.94 ERA, 21 wins, 15 losses, 315 innings.
Owen began the first of three straight years shining in 20-win territory, sandwiched in between dormant campaigns where he failed to win even 10.
5. Addie Joss, Cleveland
Key Numbers: 1.59 ERA, 14 wins, 10 losses.
Despite being derailed for part of the season by illness—unrelated, we assume, to the meningitis that would take his life seven years later—Joss produced his first of two ERA crowns.
6. Eddie Plank, Philadelphia
Key Numbers: 2.17 ERA, 26 wins, 17 losses, 37 complete games, 357.1 innings.
It could easily be argued that the 1904 season was the most prodigious of Plank’s productive career, setting career highs in wins, innings and complete games.
7. Bill Dinneen, Boston
Key Numbers: 2.20 ERA, 23 wins, 14 losses, 335.2 innings.
Part of Boston’s five-man starting rotation—and its five-man pitching staff—Dinneen was a 20-game winner for the last time, five years before starting a second career as an umpire.
8. Jack Powell, New York
Key Numbers: 2.44 ERA, 23 wins, 19 losses, 45 starts, 390.1 innings.
Lost amid Jack Chesbro’s phenomenal season was that teammate Powell ate up quite a few innings of his own, finishing second in the AL with 390.1 frames. (He’d never throw over 300 again.)
9. Jesse Tannehill, Boston
Key Numbers: 2.04 ERA, 21 wins, 11 losses, 281.2 innings.
After a one-year, so-so experience with the New York Highlanders, Tannehill relocated to Boston and returned to the prime form he enjoyed back in his days with Pittsburgh.
10. Harry Howell, St. Louis
Key Numbers: 2.19 ERA, 13 wins, 21 losses, 299.2 innings.
The spitball artist was the winner of the AL’s hard-luck pitcher award, sporting a lousy record and terrific ERA—a state of affairs that unfortunately would continue for the next five years.