10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1920s—Grover Cleveland Alexander

Alexander

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the best Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the second installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, the 1920s saw one of the game’s greatest arms spend most of the decade on Chicago’s North Side.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn

1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander, 28.8 WAR

Seasons: 1920-26
Win-Loss: 110-71
Games-Games Started: 209-193
IP: 1623.1
K: 478
K/9: 2.65
ERA: 3.02

Grover Cleveland Alexander’s best days were already behind him by the 1920s. From his debut in 1911 through 1919, he averaged more than 300 innings per season and went 208-100 with a 2.09 ERA. Still, the Cubs got a pretty solid arm when they acquired Alexander from the Phillies in 1918. He won 27 games, put up a 1.91 ERA, made 40 starts, threw 33 complete games, logged 363.1 innings and fanned 173 batters in 1920. All of those numbers led the league for the year. In his seven 1920s seasons with the team, Old Pete’s ERA was never higher than 3.63, and he won 15 games or more five times. In 1938, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, receiving more than 80 percent of the vote on his third attempt.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 6/30/14

Iowa brought the big bats and came away with a walk-off win, but Tennessee lost in walk-off fashion while Boise’s opponents scored some big runs late on Monday. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (44-38)
1st Place (+0.5)

Josh Vitters hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to lift Iowa over Omaha, 7-6.

  • 3B Kris Bryant (.333) went 2-for-4 with an eighth inning grand slam.
  • DH Manny Ramirez (.375) went 3-for-4 with a seventh-inning, two-run homer.
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara went 1-for-4 with a run scored to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He’s batting .474 (18-for-38) with four doubles, a triple, two homers, eight RBI, and 10 runs scored during his streak. He was named the PCL Player of the Week for June 23-29, batting a league-best .517 last week with six multi-hit games.
  • RHP Marcus Hatley (2-1, 2.27) earned the win after tossing a scoreless top of the 10th inning.

Tennessee Smokies (8-4)
1st Place (+1.0)

Montgomery tallied a run in the top of the 10th inning to beat Tennessee, 3-2.

  • SS Elliot Soto (.185) recorded Tennessee’s lone multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double (4) and one RBI (6).
  • LHP Jeff Lorick (5.21) and RHP Lendy Castillo (2.74) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.
  • RHP Matt Loosen was dealt a no-decision despite tossing his fifth quality start of the campaign.
  • Right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee has been named the league’s Pitcher of the Week for the time period between June 23-29. Rhee posted a 2-0 record and 1.42 ERA (2 ER in 12.2 IP), adding 13 strikeouts while only walking three.

Boise Hawks (7-11)
4th Place (-4.0)

Host Tri-City scored nine runs over the final two innings to beat Boise, 11-5.

  • CF Rashad Crawford (.259) went 2-for-5 with a run scored and a team-high three RBI (8).
  • LF Mark Zagunis (.333) and 3B Jesse Hodges (.183) each recorded two hits apiece.
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.188) went 1-for-4 with two runs scored and his eighth stolen base of the year.

10 Decades, 10 Cubs Legends: 1910s—Hippo Vaughn

HippoVaughn

The following appears in the July issue of Vine Line.

The 100 Years of Wrigley Field celebration is in full swing on the North Side. Every time fans venture into the Friendly Confines this season, they’re not only treated to Cubs baseball, but they also come away with a bit of a history lesson.

In 2014, Wrigley-goers have gotten to see throwback uniforms, retro toys and a guest list that has included people with ties to the baseball cathedral’s storied past. All of this is part of the Cubs’ 10 Decades, 10 Homestands promotion, which celebrates a different decade at each of 10 home series.

For Vine Line‘s annual All-Star issue, we decided to piggyback on the decade-by-decade concept to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. Our goal was to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in the stadium’s history. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the best Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and quantifies them into a single number designed to summarize that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). According to Fangraphs, WAR basically asks the question, “If a player got injured and his team had to replace him with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would they be losing?” The final number is expressed as a win total, so if Ryne Sandberg earned a 7.4 WAR in 1992, that means he was worth 7.4 wins to the Cubs.

For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

Some players who made the cut didn’t receive a ton of recognition for their efforts in Cubbie blue, while a few Hall of Famers are noticeably absent. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out the decade leaders one by one.

We start off the 10-part series with a right-hander who dominated for the North Side squad in the 1910s.

1910s – Hippo Vaughn, 32.0 WAR

Seasons: 1913-19
Win-Loss: 129-78
Games-Games Started: 248-218
IP: 1806.0
K: 977
K/9: 4.90
ERA: 2.08

It takes just a glance at Hippo Vaughn’s numbers to see how thoroughly he dominated his era. From 1914-19, he won 21, 20, 17, 23, 22 and 21 games. Of course, wins aren’t the end-all, be-all of pitching stats, but 124 victories over six seasons is still rather impressive. The 1918 season was probably his best, as he led the league in wins, ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP. Vaughn’s most famous start was actually a game he lost in 1917, when he and Reds pitcher Fred Toney both had no-hitters going through nine innings. Over the course of the decade, the southpaw’s overall WAR total is second among all NL pitchers. Never one to surrender the long ball, Vaughn’s .09 home runs per nine innings is the decade’s lowest total for a pitcher who threw more than 700 innings.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 6/29/14

The Cubs farm system managed a clean sweep of its opponents Sunday, going a perfect 6-0. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (43-38)
2nd Place (-0.5)

Iowa posted its seventh shutout of the season with a 2-0 victory at Colorado Springs.

  • LHP Tsuyoshi Wada continued his strong season, going 6.2 scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking just one to improve his record to 9-4.
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara went 2-for-4 with a double (22) to extend his hitting streak to eight games. He’s batting .500 (17-for-34) with four doubles, a triple, two homers, eight RBI and nine runs scored during his streak.
  • SS Javier Baez (.239) went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double (14) and one RBI (46).
  • RHP Blake Parker (1.17) tossed 1.1 scoreless innings of relief to earn his 17th save of the season.

Tennessee Smokies (8-3)
1st Place (+1.0)

Tennessee scored four runs in the eighth inning to beat visiting Montgomery, 6-1.

  • RHP Dae-Eun Rhee struck out a season-high 10 hitters over seven innings, giving up one earned run and walking none.
  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.209) went 1-for-5 with a game-high three RBI (20).
  • DH Charlie Cutler (.329) and C Luis Flores (.333) each recorded three hits apiece.

Daytona Cubs (8-3)
T-1st Place (–)

After giving up three runs in the top of the 11th, Daytona came back and scored four in the bottom of the frame for a comeback, 9-8 win over Lakeland.

  • DH Dan Vogelbach (.279) went 2-for-5 with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning.
  • LF Bijan Rademacher (.288) went 1-for-5 with a team-high three RBI (27).
  • SS Marco Hernandez (.285) and CF Albert Almora (.259) each had two hits and two RBI.
  • RHP Yao-Lin Wang (1-5, 6.26) earned the win despite allowing three runs on two hits in the 11th.

Kane County Cougars (8-2)
1st Place (+1.0)

Kane County won its fourth-straight game, beating host Beloit, 9-7.

  • C Cael Brockmeyer (.311) hit a two-run triple in the ninth to complete a cycle and break a 7-7 tie. He finished 4-for-5 with three runs scored, a two run homer and four RBI (18).
  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.262) went 2-for-5 with three RBI (34) and a fourth-inning, solo home run.
  • RF Yasiel Balaguert (.245) and LF Trey Martin (.237) each recorded two hits apiece.
  • RHP Corbin Hoffner (2-1, 4.05) picked up the win, while RHP Tyler Bremer (2.57) earned his 10th save.

Boise Hawks (7-10)
4th Place (-4.0)

Boise used a five-run second inning to roll past host Tri-City, 6-2.

  • RHP Trevor Graham picked up the win, giving up no earned runs over six innings and striking out four.
  • Jeffrey Baez (.185) went 1-for-5 with a second-inning two-run homer.
  • 1B Dan Canela (.304) recorded a game-high four hits, going 4-for-5 with a run scored and two doubles (4).
  • LHP Sam Wilson (0.00) tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first save of the year.

Mesa Cubs (5-3)
1st Place (+1.0)

Mesa scored a run in the bottom of the ninth inning on a Bryant Flete sacrifice fly for a 5-4 walk-off win over the AZL Giants.

  • RF Jorge Soler (.583) went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
  • DH Kevonte Mitchell (.750) went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
  • RHP Jeferson Mejia (2-0, 0.00) allowed two unearned runs in four innings of relief to earn the win.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 6/26/14

In a full slate of minor league games Thursday, Tennessee and Kane County both pitched shutouts, Mesa secured a victory, and Iowa split a doubleheader. On the down side, Daytona gave up a late lead, and Boise’s bats were quiet. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (41-37)
2nd Place (-1.5)

Game 1: Iowa won the first game of the road doubleheader, topping the Sky Sox, 7-3.

  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.294) led off the ninth with his ninth homer, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs, a double (20) and two RBI (35).
  • CF Ryan Kalish (.233) had his first three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with a run, his fourth double, two RBI (10) and two stolen bases (6).
  • 1B Chris Valaika (.306) added two singles, a run and his 37th RBI.
  • RHP Kyle Hendricks tossed his fourth-consecutive quality start, and 10th in 15 starts this season. He pitched six innings of two-run ball, striking out four, to pick up the victory.

Game 2: Player/coach Manny Ramirez made his season debut with Iowa, going 0-for-4 and reaching on an error as the I-Cubs fell in the nightcap at Colorado Springs, 7-6.

  • SS Javier Baez (.237) went 3-for-4 with two runs, two doubles (13) and his team-leading 44th RBI.
  • Iowa totaled six doubles on the night—two from Baez and one each from 3B Kris Bryant (1-for-4, RBI), PH Ryan Kalish (1-for-3, R), C Eli Whiteside (1-for-3) and Alcantara (1-for-4, R).

Tennessee Smokies (6-2)
1st Place (+1.5)

Tennessee blanked host Jackson for a 4-0 victory.

  • RHP Corey Black pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, striking out three and picking up his third win of the season.
  • Five Smokies recorded two hits apiece—2B Stephen Bruno (.300), 3B Christian Villanueva (.364), RF Rubi Silva (.255), LF Jonathan Mota (.192) and SS Elliot Soto (.152). Villanueva has three-straight multihit games (7-for-13).
  • DH Charles Cutler (.322) hit a double (9) and knocked in a run (27) in four tries. He had the Smokies’ only extra-base hit.
  • Following Black’s 5.1 scoreless frames, LHP Hunter Cervenka (2.87) and RHP P.J. Francescon (3.12) completed the shutout, throwing two and 1.2 innings, respectively.

Daytona Cubs (5-3)
T-1st Place (–)

RHP Michael Jensen (L, 4-3) allowed visiting Dunedin to take the lead with two earned runs in the ninth, and Daytona lost, 5-3.

  • SS Marco Hernandez (.276) was the only Cub to record multiple hits, including his eighth double.
  • Team RBI leaders 1B Dan Vogelbach (.271, 35 RBI) and CF Albert Almora (.254, 34 RBI) each added one to their season totals.

Kane County Cougars (5-2)
T-2nd Place (-0.5)

RHP Daury Torrez tossed eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory over Wisconsin.

  • Torrez struck out seven and gave up five hits over eight innings in the win.
  • C Kyle Schwarber (.455), C Ben Carhart (.293) and 1B Jacob Rogers (.263) each went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Schwarber and Carhart hit their third and 15th doubles, respectively.
  • CF Trey Martin (.231) doubled in four tries and knocked in two (22).
  • RHP James Pugliese (1.24) polished off the win with a perfect ninth inning.

Boise Hawks (5-9)
4th Place (-4.0)

Boise managed just five hits in a 10-0 loss to visiting Hillsboro.

  • CF Rashad Crawford (.243) hit his second double and his third triple of the season.
  • DH Justin Marra (.325) went 2-for-3 with his fifth double. He leads the team with eight extra-base hits.
  • RHPs Greyfer Eregua (6.00) and David Garner (1.50) finished the game with four scoreless frames, allowing just one hit and fanning six.

Mesa Cubs (4-1)
1st Place (+0.5)

Mesa improved to a league-best 4-1, topping the visiting Athletics, 7-4.

  • DH Jorge Soler hit his first homer, a two-run shot, and finished 1-for-2 with two runs and two RBI. In three games this season, he is 5-for-10 (.500) with three runs, two doubles, a homer and four RBI.
  • CF Charcer Burks (.524) added a solo shot in the eighth. In five games, he is 11-for-21 (.524) with nine runs, four doubles, a triple, a homer, seven RBI and four stolen bases.
  • LHP Andin Diaz (1-0, 0.00) earned the win in his first appearance, spinning three scoreless innings and striking out two.

Now Playing: In the Dugout with Rick Renteria, July 2014

Cubs manager Rick Renteria is all about forward momentum. He doesn’t waste time worrying about trade rumors or other distractions. Instead, he’s focused on creating a positive learning environment and developing the team’s young major league talent. When we sat down with the skipper during a three-game sweep of the Mets in mid-June, things seemed to be heading in the right direction. We talked to Renteria about the team’s learning curve, Anthony Rizzo’s development as a hitter and the bullpen’s burgeoning youth movement.

To read the full interview, pick up the July issue at the ballpark or at Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.

1000 Words: A dense fog shrouds the Friendly Confines

Fog

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The last few nights at Wrigley Field have felt more like April than June, with temperatures in the low 60s. Thursday night’s game versus the Nationals was played under a heavy fog, captured here by team photographer Stephen Green.

 

Hot Off the Press: July VL featuring the best player from every decade at Wrigley Field

VL1407_Cover_newstand

I’m a sucker for nostalgia, which is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed this season at Wrigley Field so much. I have been looking forward to Wrigley’s 100th birthday for a few years now because I knew it would give Vine Line a chance to really delve into the organization’s history.

We not only produce the magazine, but we also create the scorecards sold at the Friendly Confines during every home series. To tie in with the Cubs’ 10 Decades, 10 Homestands promotion, we’ve been populating the covers with photos specific to the years being celebrated—which means we’ve spent countless hours searching the team’s photo archives for just the right shots.

When the Yankees were in town during the 1930s homestand, we found a picture from the 1932 World Series between the North Siders and the Bronx Bombers. When the Cubs were honoring the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the 1940s series, we found a photo of the league’s tryouts, which were held at Wrigley Field in 1943.

In the interest of full disclosure, my home is littered with black-and-white photographs of everything from the Chicago Theater to my relatives during WWII to the Cubs at Spring Training on Catalina Island. I love this stuff, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t spent a few evenings looking through the photo archives just for fun.

In other words, this is probably something I shouldn’t get paid to do (though I probably don’t need to spread that news around).

Some of the things that caught my eye when we were planning our 2014 content for the magazine last year were the memorable program and scorecard covers the team used from the 1930s through the 1960s. We liked them so much, we decided to dedicate the valuable back page of the magazine (The Score) to featuring some of the best of the best this season.

When we wanted to learn more about the scorecards, we went to that amazing wellspring of arcane Cubs information from every era, team historian Ed Hartig, who has been an invaluable resource for all the historical content we’ve published this year. It turns out, for decades, most of the scorecard designs were the brainchild of one man, Otis Shepard, former art director for the William Wrigley Jr. Co. and longtime member of the Cubs board of directors. For our monthly Wrigley 100 feature, we look into the life and career of Shepard and how he came to design some of the Cubs’ most iconic images.

It’s also the July issue, which means it’s almost time for the Midsummer Classic. For our annual All-Star issue, we set out to find the most valuable Cubs player in each of Wrigley Field’s 10 decades. To do this, we used the stats website Fangraphs to compile the highest Wins Above Replacement totals for each decade. WAR essentially takes all of a player’s offensive and defensive efforts and outputs them into a single number designed to measure how many wins he provides over an average replacement player. There are definitely some names you would expect (I don’t think we could have a list like this without Mr. Cub), but there are also a few surprises (Rick Reuschel, anyone?).

Finally, Vine Line had a dream opportunity in May when the Yankees came to town. We worked with Yankees Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alfred Santasiere III to bring together two of the greatest shortstops the game has ever seen: Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. The legendary players sat down for a tête-à-tête that is every baseball fan’s dream come true.

Of course, we’re good for more than just history lessons. Follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline for the best of the Cubs past, present and future.

And let’s keep that whole “shouldn’t get paid” thing between us.

—Gary Cohen

Cubs Minor League Recap: 6/25/14

Tennessee had a big inning, Daytona posted a shutout, and Boise snapped its lengthy losing streak Wednesday. On the other side of the ledger, Kane County surrendered a lead late, while Iowa and Mesa had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Tennessee Smokies (5-2)
1st Place (+1.0)

Tennessee scored three in the sixth inning to jump ahead of host Jackson, winning by a final score of 4-2.

  • RHP Matt Loosen picked up the win, giving up an earned run over six innings and striking out five.
  • Tennessee’s nine hits were spread out over eight hitters, with DH Christian Villanueva (.357) recording the lone multihit effort. He went 2-for-4 and has five hits in the last two nights.
  • LF Anthony Giansanti (.248) blasted his second homer of the season to add an insurance run with two outs in the ninth.
  • LHP Jeff Lorick (5.40) allowed one earned run in two innings to earn his eighth hold.
  • RHP Frank Batista (1.23) completed the ninth, recording all three outs for his first save.

Daytona Cubs (5-2)
T-1st Place (+1.0)

Daytona blanked the visiting Blue Jays, 7-0, backing a solid outing from RHP Jose Rosario with three home runs.

  • Rosario pitched six strong innings, giving up no earned runs and fanning four to earn the win.
  • DH Dan Vogelbach (.271) finished 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, a homer and two RBI. He is hitting .353 with six doubles and four homers in 68 at-bats at DH (compared to .242 with 12 doubles and three homers in 194 at-bats at first base).
  • 1B Rock Shoulders (.215) and C Chadd Krist (.212) hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth.
  • 2B Gioskar Amaya (.289) recorded his 12th multihit game of the season, going 2-for-4 with two runs.

Kane County Cougars (4-2)
3rd Place (-1.0)

Kane County surrendered a one-run lead in the sixth to fall 3-2 to visiting Wisconsin.

  • RHP Tyler Skulina gave up one earned run, striking out five over five innings.
  • C Kyle Schwarber (.421) went 2-for-4 with his second home run in a Cougars uniform and his first stolen base at the professional level.
  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.251) finished 1-for-3 with a run and two stolen bases (23). He has posted back-to-back games with multiple stolen bases for the first time in his career.
  • RHP Zak Hermans (2-2, 5.17) recorded just one out, allowing two runs (one earned) and recording both his first hold and  second loss of the season.
  • RHP Corbin Hoffner relieved Hermans and suffered his third blown save, allowing two inherited runners to score in the sixth but giving up no more runs in 2.2 innings.

Boise Hawks (5-8)
4th Place (-3.0)

Boise snapped a seven-game skid with an 8-4 victory over Spokane, their first road victory of the season.

  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.176) led off the game with his second homer, finishing the day 1-for-5 with a run and two RBI (8).
  • DH Kevin Brown (.320) added a two-run shot and a single in five tries.
  • 1B Mark Malave (.333) has hit in five straight games, singling twice on the day and knocking in one (2).
  • LHP Tyler Ihrig’s quality start was Boise’s first in 13 games this season. He leads the team with 18.0 innings pitched.

Home Series 13 Preview: Cubs vs. Nationals

Nationals

Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rondon (left to right) have all been big contributors this season for the Nationals. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Nearly everyone picked the Nationals to run away with the NL East in 2014, but it has been a tightly bunched division in the early going, with the Nats just a game up on Atlanta as Thursday’s play began. Washington’s offense has been solid, and their pitching is about as good as it gets in the National League. Unfortunately, one of the bigger stories for the team thus far has been new manager Matt Williams calling out Bryce Harper for his apparent lack of hustle on an early-season ground out. Harper, who is known for his all-out, but often reckless effort, took the criticism in stride. Shortly thereafter, he hurt his thumb stretching a double into a triple, and he has missed a large portion of the season. He is due to return soon, though he’ll still miss the Cubs series.

PITCHING
(2nd in NL, 3.5 RA/G)

The Nats have the makings of a dominating rotation, but the arms didn’t quite perform to expectations in the early going. Former No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg is getting plenty of strikeouts and isn’t walking many, but he’s been very unlucky, with a ridiculous .356 BABIP resulting in a 3.70 ERA. University of Illinois product and Friday’s starter Tanner Roark is having a solid season (7-4, 2.79 ERA), while Saturday’s Game 1 starter Gio Gonzalez hasn’t yet lived up to his career numbers. Offseason acquisition and Thursday’s starter Doug Fister has been the addition everyone expected after coming back from injury in early May. Since his return, he has posted a 6-2 record with a 2.65 ERA. The bullpen is led by closer Rafael Soriano, who has converted 18 of 20 saves this season. Blake Treinen will start Game 2 of the doubleheader Saturday night.

HITTING
(8th IN NL, 4.0 RS/G)

Harper’s loss was costly, especially considering no one has really stepped up in his absence. Veterans Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth have been strong, while Denard Span is bouncing back nicely after a rough 2013 season. His return has allowed the Nats to keep the offense clicking, even after losing Ryan Zimmerman for several weeks to a thumb injury. Danny Espinosa has stepped into a full-time role at second base, and the hot-hitting Anthony Rendon has moved back to his college position at third. The now healthy Zimmerman has looked solid since his move to the outfield, but it will be interesting to see what the Nats do with him once Harper comes off the DL.

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