1887 Cincinnati Reds season

14 06 2011

The Cincinnati Red Stockings franchise were formed in 1882 as one of the founding members of the American Association.  Cincinnati had seen 2 professional baseball franchises up to this point.  The first was baseball’s initial professional team, the famous 1869 Red Stockings who posted a perfect first season, but was disbanded shortly after their consecutive win streak was snapped in 1870.  A Cincinnati franchise was formed for the start-up of the National League in 1876, but that had disbanded by the end of 1880.

The “Reds” won the league title during the Association’s inaugural season, and had been a fairly successful franchise up until 1886, when the team had its first losing season.  The team made some key changes before the 1887 season – they hired a new manager, Gus Schmelz, away from the National League.  They also traded with St. Louis for young speedster Hugh Nicol.

The Reds pitching and hitting both improved from the previous year.  The hitting wasn’t surprising – as I mentioned in my last post, the rules were modified to increase hitting prior to the 1887 season.  But the pitching numbers were better despite the increased hitting output.  Tony Mullane had been a decent starter in 1886, but Cincinnati had no luck finding a decent second pitcher.  The next year, Mullane had an even better year statistically (31 wins, 3.24 ERA), despite the rules changes, and Mike Smith (34 wins, 2.94 ERA) emerged as the team’s best starter.  Mullane did have a contract dispute with the team in early June, and missed out on a few games until the two sides settled the issue out of court.

Despite a low batting average, Nicol walked 86 times and set a record that still stands today with 138 stolen bases.  His record is appropriately not recognized – as the rules credited a stolen base when the runner went from first to third on a single.  But he managed to score 122 runs (off only 102 hits) and rejuvenated the offense.  Frank Fennelly, future Hall of Famer Bid McPhee, John Reilly, and Pop Corkhill all had good seasons with over 87 RBI and an average of over 120 runs between the four players.  McPhee hit for the cycle in August, following Reilly as the second player in Reds history to perform the feat.  The club finished in 2nd place, unable to compete with the St. Louis club that had won more games than any team in history.

Team MVP and Best Pitcher: Mike Smith (34-17/2.94/176)

{Note – Reilly was the team’s best hitter}

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3 responses

14 06 2011
Dan

Yes, a Tony Mullane mention….best nickname ever. Really enjoying your blog…the season breakdowns are great. These 1887 entries have been really informative.

14 06 2011
chuckneo

Had to look that up – Apollo of the Box!

Thanks for reading!

14 06 2011
1887 Cincinnati Reds season « Lifetime Topps project | cincinnatireds.sportsblogstoday.com

[…] is a new Post at 1887 Cincinnati Reds season « Lifetime Topps project. 1887 Cincinnati Reds season. 14 06 2011. The Cincinnati Red Stockings franchise were formed in […]

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