Player-Seasonal Notation:  1893-1945

Last week we played around with a simple method of making team stat lines easier to interpret and compare, by rendering them into a form that mimics individual player seasons. Now we’ll apply that methodology to every major league season since 1893 (this time going through 1945 and continuing to the present day next week) and see what it reveals about the ever-changing interplay of conditions and approaches that impacts hitting and scoring.

Scoring rates and offensive styles have stayed anything but constant over the decades, of course. In this exercise, we identify 19 distinct periods of run production, each displaying its own unique profile. This week we’ll look at the first 10 such periods, taking us from the introduction of baseball’s current playing dimensions through the end of World War II.

Era 1, 1893-1897: The Big Bang

For the 1893 season, the pitching distance was increased to the 60-foot 6-inch dimension that has prevailed ever since. Placing the pitcher farther away from the batter would obviously benefit hitting and scoring, and the impact of this change was indeed emphatically in that direction. Scoring boomed to levels never seen before or since, as pitchers struggled to adapt to the new condition and through trial-and-error worked to develop what we now recognize as the standard windup motion.

Presented here in Player-Seasonal Notation are the three highest-scoring major league teams of the 1893-1897 period (as measured by runs per game). Also presented are the three lowest-scoring offenses. As a standard of comparison, the overall mean average of all 1893-1897 teams is also offered in Player-Seasonal Notation.

National League 1893-1897

     Team         AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1894 Beaneaters  557  136  184  30  10  11  116  59  29  27   ? .331 .395 .484 .879
1894 Orioles     533  130  183  30  17   4  108  57  22  36   ? .343 .407 .483 .890
1894 Phillies    552  127  192  28  15   4  109  55  27  30   ? .349 .408 .476 .884

1893-97 Average  524   95  154  22  10   4    ?  49  32  27   ? .293 .354 .397 .751

1897 Browns      516   65  142  17   7   3   54  39  35  19   ? .275 .326 .356 .682
1896 Browns      502   66  129  15   9   4   54  37  33  21   ? .257 .308 .346 .654
1896 Colonels    510   73  133  16   9   4   58  41  47  22   ? .261 .316 .351 .667

It was the purest Golden Age for hitters. Foul balls weren’t counted as strikes. Many fielders wore no glove, and when mitts were employed, they were quite rudimentary. Combine these factors with pitchers learning to deal with a more challenging throwing distance, and the result was that the best hitting teams batted in the .330s and even .340s, ran wild on the bases and scored more than nine runs per game. The overall National League batting average for the entire five-year period was .293, and the very lowest-scoring lineup of the era, the hapless 1897 St. Louis Browns, hit .275.

Era 2, 1898-1903: Turmoil and Transformation

As the decade and century turned, pitchers were exercising increasing mastery of the new pitching distance. Moreover, fielding gloves were improving and becoming commonplace. Scoring rates moderated.

In 1900, the National League was forced by economic necessity to contract from 12 franchises to eight. Sensing an opportunity, a rival enterprise (building on the foundation of the minor Western League) was formed, calling itself the American League. Beginning in 1901, the AL was generally recognized to have achieved major league status, as a ferocious player talent bidding war raged. Finally in 1903, a truce was forged, as both the NL and AL ownerships agreed to respect one another’s player contract rights and abide by the terms of the new universally applied Reserve Clause.

Here are the three best and worst offenses from both the National and American Leagues and the league averages for both:

National League 1898-1903

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1898 Orioles     582  104  176  17   9   1   84  58  35  28   ? .302 .365 .368 .733
1899 Superbas    549   99  160  20  11   3   80  53  29  30   ? .291 .353 .383 .736
1899 Phillies    595  102  179  27   9   3   87  49  38  24   ? .301 .355 .395 .750

1898-1903 Avg.   551   77  149  19   8   3    ?  42   ?  21   ? .271 .323 .349 .672

1902 Giants      508   45  121  16   4   1   37  28  59  21   ? .238 .278 .290 .568
1899 Spiders     587   59  148  16   6   1   50  32  31  14   ? .253 .291 .305 .596
1902 Phillies    513   54  127  12   5   1   43  40  53  12   ? .247 .301 .293 .594

American League 1901-1903

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1901 White Sox   525   91  145  19  10   4   73  53  37  31   ? .276 .342 .370 .712
1901 A's         542   89  157  27  10   4   74  33  38  19   ? .289 .330 .395 .725
1902 A's         529   86  152  26   7   4   75  38  33  22   ? .287 .335 .389 .724

1901-03 Average  526   73  141  22   9   3    ?  36  45  18   ? .252 .307 .324 .630

1903 Senators    513   49  118  19   8   2   41  29  51  15   ? .231 .272 .311 .583
1903 Browns      515   56  126  18   8   1   45  30  60  11   ? .244 .286 .317 .603
1903 White Sox   519   57  128  20   5   2   48  36  60  20   ? .247 .296 .314 .610

Batters got more bad news, as the foul-strike rule was implemented in the National League in 1901 and the American in 1903. Application of the new rule wasn’t entirely consistent, however, as precise definition of what constituted a bunt wasn’t codified in the rules until 1904.

Era 3, 1904-1910: The True Deadball Era

With the foul-strike rule firmly in place in both the leagues (including clarity that a foul bunt with two strikes counted as a strikeout), and with gloves (still primitive though they were) now standard equipment, beginning in 1904 baseball entered into the lowest-scoring period it has ever known. The new pitching-dominant style was all the more dramatic, occurring as it did on the heels of the raucously high-scoring 1890s.

National League 1904-1910 

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1905 Giants      566   87  155  21  10   4   71  57   ?  32   ? .273 .340 .368 .708
1904 Giants      572   83  150  22   7   3   63  48   ?  31   ? .262 .319 .344 .663
1905 Reds        578   82  156  18  11   3   68  48   ?  20   ? .269 .325 .354 .679

1904-10 Average  561   64  139  18   7   2   ?   47   ?  21   ? .247 .305 .319 .624
 
1908 Cardinals   551   41  123  15   6   2   33  31   ?  17   ? .223 .265 .283 .548
1908 Superbas    544   42  116  12   7   3   34  36   ?  13   ? .213 .262 .277 .539
1906 Beaneaters  547   45  124  15   5   2   37  40   ?  10   ? .226 .279 .281 .560

American League 1904-1910

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1907 Tigers      578   77  154  20   8   1   61  35   ?  21   ? .266 .308 .335 .643
1910 Tigers      560   75  146  21   8   3   61  51   ?  28   ? .261 .323 .344 .667
1910 A's         573   75  153  21  12   2   60  45   ?  23   ? .266 .320 .355 .675

1904-10 Average  565   62  138  19   7   2    ?  40   ?  20   ? .244 .294 .313 .607

1909 Senators    554   42  124  17   5   1   34  36   ?  15   ? .223 .270 .275 .545
1904 Senators    572   49  130  19   6   1   39  31  84  17   ? .227 .267 .288 .555
1909 Browns      552   49  128  13   5   1   39  37   ?  15   ? .232 .280 .279 .559

The very weakest offensive teams in this era barely registered a pulse, scoring fewer than 2.5 runs per game.

In this period, there wasn’t any significant difference in offensive style between the two leagues; a slightly higher walk rate in the NL is the only distinction between them.

Era 4, 1911-1913: Popping the Cork

With the 1911 season, the first cork-centered live ball was introduced. Its impact was dramatic, with revived hitting and scoring all across both leagues.

National League 1911-1913

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1912 Giants      563   91  161  26  10   5   78  57  55  35   ? .286 .352 .395 .747
1911 Cubs        570   84  148  24  11   6   70  65  69  24   ? .260 .336 .374 .710
1912 Cubs        561   84  155  27  10   5   71  62  68  18   ? .277 .349 .387 .736

1911-13 Average  572   75  151  23   9   4    ?  54  65  22   ? .265 .328 .360 .688

1913 Cardinals   552   59  137  17   8   2   47  50  64  19   ? .247 .310 .316 .626
1911 Superbas    562   60  133  17   8   3   52  47  76  20   ? .237 .296 .311 .607
1913 Superbas    574   66  155  21  10   4   56  40  62  21   ? .270 .318 .363 .681

American League 1911-1913

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1911 A's         578   96  171  26  10   4   77  47   ?  25   ? .296 .349 .398 .747
1911 Tigers      588   92  172  26  11   3   73  52   ?  31   ? .292 .350 .388 .738
1912 Red Sox     563   89  156  30   9   3   73  63   ?  21   ? .277 .349 .380 .729

1911-13 Average  565   74  149  22   9   2    ?  51   ?  24   ? .265 .326 .347 .673

1913 White Sox   536   54  127  17   7   3   46  44  61  17   ? .236 .294 .311 .605
1913 Browns      559   59  133  20   8   2   47  51  85  23   ? .237 .300 .312 .612
1913 Yankees     542   59  129  17   5   1   48  59  69  23   ? .237 .312 .292 .604

But pitchers didn’t accept the new rabbit-ball lying down. Spitballs and other ball-doctoring methods had been around for a long time (and were entirely legal), but now more and more pitchers began applying them with renewed vigor. In 1913, scoring was still higher than it had been in any season of the 1904-1910 period, but it declined noticeably from its 1911-1912 heights, as ball-doctoring, with ever-greater alacrity, became increasingly the norm.

Era 5, 1914-1919, The Spitball Era

Loading them up like never before, and taking full advantage of the custom that allowed scratched, stained and soiled baseballs to remain in play, pitchers reasserted their mastery (as we explored here and here). Hitting and scoring didn’t quite revert to their 1904-1910 depths, but they approached them.

National League 1914-1919

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1914 Giants      572   75  151  25   7   3   63  50  53  27   ? .265 .324 .348 .672
1914 Braves      578   73  145  24   7   4   64  56  69  15   ? .251 .317 .335 .652
1917 Giants      579   71  151  19   8   4   60  41  59  18   ? .261 .310 .343 .653

1914-19 Average  545   60  137  19   8   3   ?   42  58  17   ? .251 .305 .331 .636

1917 Pirates     574   52  137  18   7   1   44  44  64  17   ? .238 .293 .298 .591
1916 Cardinals   559   53  136  17   8   3   46  37  72  20   ? .243 .290 .318 .608
1916 Pirates     576   54  138  16  10   2   45  41  69  19   ? .240 .291 .316 .607

American League 1914-1919

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1915 Tigers      570   86  152  23  10   3   72  76  59  27  16 .268 .353 .358 .711
1914 A's         570   83  155  18   9   3   70  61  57  26  21 .272 .342 .352 .694
1919 White Sox   519   74  149  24   8   3   63  47  40  17   ? .287 .347 .380 .727

1914-19 Average  540   62  136  20   8   2    ?  52  59  18   ? .252 .318 .329 .647

1916 A's         557   50  135  19   7   2   42  45  70  17   ? .242 .299 .313 .612
1914 White Sox   560   54  134  18   8   2   43  45  68  19  17 .239 .296 .311 .607
1919 A's         526   51  128  19   8   4   44  39  63  11   ? .244 .296 .334 .630

We still see little meaningful difference in scoring levels or offensive styles between the two leagues, although the AL was now exhibiting the greater rate of bases on balls.

The most dramatic individual team story in this period was that of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. Glamorous champions in 1910 to 1914, flashing a fearsome offense as potent as any in the game, they suffered a stunning and somewhat suspicious World Series flattening at the hands of the 1914 Miracle Braves. Owner-manager Mack totally gutted the entire roster, and immediately the A’s lineup became one of the most feeble in baseball and would remain so for years.

Era 6, 1920-1928: Ka-Boom

In 1920, in the wake of the catastrophic influenza epidemic, for reasons of public health the spitball was disallowed. As a means of enforcing the new rule, all other forms of doctoring the baseball were now forbidden as well, and a fresh, clean, dry, white baseball would be employed at all times. Coincidentally, in the post-World War I period, improved yarn and modernized baseball manufacturing methods were also available, making for a cork-centered ball that was consistent in quality, tighter-sewn and livelier than ever before.

Whether intended or not, the combined impact of these developments was immense. Following the lead of Babe Ruth, hitters shattered home run records and entered a new Golden Age—though with ever-improving gloves in use, scoring rates didn’t quite match the heights of the 1890s.

National League 1920-1928

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1925 Prates      597  101  183  35  12   9   91  55  40  18   7 .307 .366 .449 .815
1922 Pirates     613   96  189  27  12   6   86  47  36  16   7 .308 .357 .419 .776
1922 Cardinals   603   96  182  31  10  12   87  50  47   8   7 .301 .354 .444 .798

1920-28 Average  591   79  168  26   8   7    ?  47  48  10   ? .284 .336 .392 .728

1924 Braves      587   58  151  22   6   3   51  39  50   8   8 .256 .303 .327 .630
1920 Braves      580   58  151  19  10   3   51  43  54  10  11 .260 .311 .339 .650
1920 Pirates     580   59  149  18  10   2   50  42  45  20  13 .257 .307 .332 .639

American League 1920-1928

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1927 Yankees     594  108  183  32  11  18  101  71  67  10   7 .307 .381 .489 .870
1921 Yankees     583  105  175  32  10  15   96  65  63  10   7 .300 .371 .464 .835
1921 Indians     598  103  184  39  10   5   94  69  42   6   5 .308 .379 .430 .809

1920-28 Average  586   84  168  30   8   6   ?   56  49  10   8 .286 .348 .397 .745
  
1920 A's         584   62  147  24   5   5   52  39  66   6   7 .252 .299 .338 .637
1926 Red Sox     576   62  147  28   6   4   58  52  50   5   6 .256 .317 .343 .660
1923 Red Sox     576   65  150  28   6   4   58  43  53   9  10 .261 .313 .351 .664

In both leagues, managers quickly adapted to the new conditions by dramatically decreasing stolen base attempts. While power hitting rates were roughly equal in both leagues, we see the American League tendency toward more walks persist and result in slightly higher scoring rates. The difference in walk rate between the leagues would remain and intensify in the decades to follow—an interesting indicator of differing cultures between the leagues, in umpiring as well as pitching and batting approaches.

Era 7, 1929-1930: Ka-Blammo

For reasons that aren’t obvious—it might well have just been randomness—a decade of high scoring spiked upward still in 1929, and then to stunning heights in both leagues in 1930.

National League 1929-1930

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1930 Cardinals   612  112  192  41  10  12  105  53  55   8   ? .314 .369 .471 .840
1930 Cubs        620  111  191  34   8  19  105  65  71   8   ? .309 .374 .481 .855
1929 Cubs        608  109  184  34   5  15  104  65  63  11   ? .303 .370 .452 .822

1929-30 Average  602   95  180  32   8  11    ?  53  51   8   ? .299 .356 .437 .793

1929 Braves      588   73  165  28   9   4   66  45  48   7   ? .280 .331 .375 .706
1930 Reds        583   74  164  29   7   8   69  49  54   5   ? .281 .337 .400 .737
1929 Reds        585   76  164  29   9   4   69  46  39  15   ? .281 .333 .379 .712

American League 1929-1930

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1930 Yankees     605  118  187  33  12  17  110  72  63  10   7 .309 .382 .488 .870
1930 A's         594  106  175  35   8  14   99  67  59   5   4 .294 .365 .452 .817
1929 Tigers      621  103  186  38  11  12   95  58  55  11   8 .299 .359 .453 .812

1929-30 Average  591   89  169  32   9   9    ?  56  53   9   6 .286 .348 .414 .762

1929 Red Sox     573   67  153  32   8   3   62  46  55   9   9 .267 .321 .365 .686
1930 Red Sox     587   68  155  29   8   5   59  40  61   5   4 .264 .310 .365 .675
1929 White Sox   583   70  156  27   8   4   63  47  48  12   7 .268 .323 .363 .686

Few traditionalists had been pleased with the heavy-hitting 1920s, but the barrage of 1930 was the last straw for many. Cries were frequently heard that the jackrabbit ball and the free-swinging style were running roughshod over the subtleties of the sport. Other voices pragmatically replied that, despite the nation’s severe economic distress, major league attendance had set an all-time record in 1930. The baseball world was of two minds regarding the new offensive reality.

Era 8, 1931-1936: Different Paths Forward

Perhaps it wasn’t surprising, then, that the two leagues reacted very differently to the hitting bonanza of 1930. The NL, though it didn’t officially announce it, obviously issued a slightly deadened baseball beginning in 1931. Meanwhile, the AL elected to continue with the same ball specifications as before. The result was a striking divergence in hitting and scoring levels between the leagues, to a degree unique in history (which we examined here and here).

National League 1931-1936

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1935 Cubs        610   94  176  34   7  10   87  52  52   7   ? .288 .344 .414 .758
1932 Phillies    612   94  179  37   7  14   87  50  61   8   ? .292 .345 .442 .787
1935 Cardinals   606   92  172  32   7  10   85  45  58   8   ? .284 .333 .405 .738

1931-36 Average  601   77  166  29   6   8    ?  46  55   6   ? .276 .327 .386 .713
 
1933 Reds        573   55  141  23   4   4   51  39  39   3   ? .246 .294 .320 .614
1931 Braves      588   59  152  25   7   4   54  41  48   5   ? .258 .306 .341 .647
1933 Braves      583   61  147  24   6   6   57  36  48   3   ? .252 .296 .345 .641

American League 1931-1936

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1931 Yankees     623  119  185  31   9  17  110  83  62  15   8 .297 .380 .457 .837
1936 Yankees     621  118  186  35   9  20  111  78  66   9   4 .300 .378 .483 .861
1932 Yankees     609  111  174  31   9  18  106  85  59   9   7 .286 .373 .454 .827
 
1931-36 Average  601   89  168  31   7   9    ?  62  56   7   5 .279 .347 .402 .749

1932 Red Sox     588   63  148  28   6   6   59  52  60   5   5 .251 .312 .351 .663
1931 Red Sox     598   69  157  32   4   4   64  45  63   5   5 .262 .314 .349 .663
1931 Tigers      603   72  162  32   8   5   67  53  52  13   8 .268 .328 .371 .699

In addition to the stark differences in power hitting, we also see the dramatic increase in bases on balls occurring in the AL. Interestingly, in both leagues, even the lower-scoring NL, the trend toward fewer stolen bases continued.

The New York Yankees’ offensive dominance in the entire between-the-wars era is staggering: they featured the highest-scoring lineup of the 20th century in 1931, and all three top-scoring spots in the AL in 1931-36, as well as 1937-1941, and two of the top three in 1920-1928.

Era 9, 1937-1941: Different Paths, With a Common Turn

While the leagues remained distinctly different, as the 1930s gave way to the 1940s a similar trend took shape in both: home runs and strikeouts were gradually increasing, and batting averages and scoring were gradually declining.

National League 1937-1941

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1937 Cubs        594   90  171  28   8  11   85  60  55   8   ? .287 .352 .416 .768
1940 Pirates     607   90  168  31   8   8   82  61  55   8   ? .276 .343 .394 .737
1941 Dodgers     609   89  166  32   8  11   83  67  59   4   ? .272 .344 .405 .749

1937-41 Average  592   75  158  27   6   9    ?  53  60   6   ? .267 .327 .376 .703
  
1940 Phillies    571   55  136  20   4   8   51  48  59   3   ? .238 .298 .331 .629
1941 Phillies    581   56  142  21   4   7   52  50  66   7   ? .244 .304 .331 .635
1938 Phillies    577   61  146  26   3   4   56  47  56   4   ? .254 .310 .333 .643

American League 1937-1941

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1937 Yankees     610  109  173  31   8  19  102  79  67   7   4 .283 .365 .456 .821
1939 Yankees     589  107  169  29   6  18  100  78  60   8   4 .287 .370 .451 .821
1938 Yankees     601  107  164  31   7  19  102  83  68  10   3 .274 .362 .446 .808

1937-41 Average  596   88  164  30   7  11    ?  66  62   7   5 .276 .347 .407 .754

1941 White Sox   600   71  153  27   5   5   63  57  53  10   6 .255 .319 .343 .662
1940 Senators    596   74  161  30   7   6   67  52  56  10   4 .271 .329 .374 .703
1941 Indians     587   75  150  28   9  11   69  57  67   7   5 .256 .321 .393 .714

The first major league night game had been staged in 1935, and in the years immediately following, many teams installed lights. Though night games were still a rarity, they were occurring, and visibility under the lighting systems of the era was poor, which undoubtedly contributed to the rise in strikeouts.

But more broadly, an entire generation of players was now active who had never played competitively under pre-1920 conditions. A batting ethos favoring the home run and exhibiting far less disgust with strikeouts than ever before was increasingly in vogue.

Era 10, 1942-1945: The Balata Ball

Beginning with the 1942 season, everything changed. With the U.S. now embroiled in World War II, raw material shortages imposed an inferior quality baseball on both leagues. Near-deadball conditions resumed (which we explored here), although except for a very few individuals, the stolen base remained a rarely-used option.

National League 1942-1945

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1945 Dodgers     602   88  163  29   8   6   80  70  48   8   ? .271 .347 .376 .723
1944 Cardinals   608   86  167  30   7  11   80  60  53   4   ? .275 .341 .402 .743
1945 Cardinals   610   84  166  28   5   7   78  57  54   6   ? .273 .335 .371 .706

1942-45 Average  590   71  152  25   5   7    ?  56  56   6   ? .258 .323 .354 .677

1942 Phillies    562   44  130  19   4   5   40  44  54   4   ? .232 .287 .306 .593
1943 Braves      577   52  135  22   4   4   48  52  68   6   ? .233 .297 .309 .606
1942 Braves      564   57  135  23   2   8   53  53  56   5   ? .240 .304 .329 .633

American League 1942-1945

Team              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1942 Yankees     589   89  159  25   6  12   83  66  62   8   4 .269 .343 .394 .737
1942 Red Sox     583   85  161  27   6  11   78  66  56   8   7 .276 .350 .403 .753
1944 Red Sox     600   82  162  31   6   8   77  58  56   7   4 .270 .334 .380 .714

1942-45 Average  585   69  149  24   5   7    ?  58  59   7   5 .255 .323 .349 .672

1945 A's         588   55  144  22   4   4   49  50  51   3   5 .245 .304 .316 .620
1943 A's         583   55  135  19   5   3   51  48  52   6   5 .232 .291 .297 .588
1944 A's         590   58  152  19   5   4   53  47  54   5   4 .257 .311 .327 .638

With a common baseball again in use, and with the dramatic turnover in rosters across both leagues, the distinctly different stylistic flavor between the leagues largely disappeared, though the AL did maintain slightly higher walk rates.

It was a war year and all, but we can’t allow the 1942 Philadelphia Phillies to get by without special mention. That Phillies team displayed far and away the worst offense of any team in the wartime seasons, scoring nearly 20% fewer runs than the next-lowest scoring team of the era. In fact, taking everything into account, it may indeed be the case that they were the very worst hitting team, well, ever.

The 1942 Phillies, all season long, scored 394 runs. The other seven teams in the NL averaged 627 runs apiece, or about 60% more runs scored than the Phillies. Think about that. Or, perhaps better advice, try not to.

1893-1945 At a Glance

In closing for this time, here are the mean averages in Player-Seasonal Notation of the top three highest-scoring teams, the average of all teams, and the top three lowest scoring teams in each league for each era. The trends and fashions in response to changing conditions are most evident when viewed this way.

Three Highest-Scoring Lineups, National League:

Period      AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1893-1897  547  131  187  29  14   7  111  57  26  31   ? .341 .403 .481 .884
1898-1903  575  102  172  21  10   3   84  53  34  27   ? .298 .358 .382 .740
1904-1910  572   84  153  20   9   4   67  51   ?  28   ? .268 .328 .355 .684
1911-1913  565   87  155  26  10   5   73  61  64  26   ? .274 .346 .385 .731
1914-1919  576   73  149  22   7   4   62  49  60  20   ? .259 .317 .342 .659
1920-1928  604   98  185  31  11   9   88  51  41  14   7 .305 .359 .437 .796
1929-1930  613  111  189  37   8  15  104  61  63   9   ? .308 .371 .468 .839
1931-1936  609   93  175  34   7  11   86  49  57   8   ? .288 .341 .421 .761
1937-1941  604   90  168  30   8  10   83  63  56   7   ? .279 .346 .405 .751
1942-1945  607   86  166  29   6   8   79  63  52   6   ? .273 .341 .383 .724

Three Highest-Scoring Lineups, American League:

Period      AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1901-1903  532   89  151  24   9   4   74  41  36  24   ? .284 .336 .385 .721
1904-1910  570   76  151  21   9   2   61  44   ?  24   ? .264 .317 .345 .662
1911-1913  576   92  166  27  10   3   74  54   ?  25   ? .288 .349 .389 .738
1914-1919  553   81  152  22   9   3   68  61  52  23   ? .275 .347 .363 .710
1920-1928  592  105  181  34  10  12   97  68  57   8   6 .305 .377 .461 .838
1929-1930  607  109  182  35  10  14  101  65  59   9   6 .301 .369 .464 .833
1931-1936  618  116  182  32   9  18  109  82  62  11   6 .294 .377 .465 .842
1937-1941  600  108  169  31   7  19  102  80  65   8   4 .281 .366 .451 .817
1942-1945  591   85  161  28   6  10   79  63  58   7   5 .272 .342 .392 .734

Average Lineup, National League:

Period      AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1893-1897  524   95  154  22  10   4    ?  49  32  27   ? .293 .354 .397 .751
1898-1903  551   77  149  19   8   3    ?  42   ?  21   ? .271 .323 .349 .672
1904-1910  561   64  139  18   7   2    ?  47   ?  21   ? .247 .305 .319 .624
1911-1913  572   75  151  23   9   4    ?  54  65  22   ? .265 .328 .360 .688
1914-1919  545   60  137  19   8   3    ?  42  58  17   ? .251 .305 .331 .636
1920-1928  591   79  168  26   8   7    ?  47  48  10   ? .284 .336 .392 .728
1929-1930  602   95  180  32   8  11    ?  53  51   8   ? .299 .356 .437 .793
1931-1936  601   77  166  29   6   8    ?  46  55   6   ? .276 .327 .386 .713
1937-1941  592   75  158  27   6   9    ?  53  60   6   ? .267 .327 .376 .703
1942-1945  590   71  152  25   5   7    ?  56  56   6   ? .258 .323 .354 .677

Average Lineup, American League:

Period      AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1901-1903  526   73  141  22   9   3    ?  36  45  18   ? .252 .307 .324 .630
1904-1910  565   62  138  19   7   2    ?  40   ?  20   ? .244 .294 .313 .607
1911-1913  565   74  149  22   9   2    ?  51   ?  24   ? .265 .326 .347 .673
1914-1919  540   62  136  20   8   2    ?  52  59  18   ? .252 .318 .329 .647
1920-1928  586   84  168  30   8   6    ?  56  49  10   8 .286 .348 .397 .745
1929-1930  591   89  169  32   9   9    ?  56  53   9   6 .286 .348 .414 .762
1931-1936  601   89  168  31   7   9    ?  62  56   7   5 .279 .347 .402 .749
1937-1941  596   88  164  30   7  11    ?  66  62   7   5 .276 .347 .407 .754
1942-1945  585   69  149  24   5   7    ?  58  59   7   5 .255 .323 .349 .672

Three Lowest-Scoring Lineups, National League:

Period      AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1893-1897  509   68  135  16   8   4   55  39  39  20   ? .264 .317 .351 .668
1898-1903  536   52  132  15   5   1   44  33  48  16   ? .246 .290 .296 .587
1904-1910  547   43  121  14   6   2   35  36   ?  13   ? .221 .268 .281 .549
1911-1913  563   62  142  18   8   3   52  46  67  20   ? .252 .308 .331 .638
1914-1919  570   53  137  17   8   2   45  41  68  19   ? .241 .291 .310 .602
1920-1928  582   58  150  19   8   2   51  41  50  13  10 .258 .307 .333 .640
1929-1930  585   74  164  29   8   5   68  47  47   9   ? .281 .334 .385 .718
1931-1936  581   59  146  24   6   5   54  39  45   4   ? .252 .299 .336 .634
1937-1941  576   57  141  22   4   7   53  48  60   5   ? .245 .304 .332 .636
1942-1945  568   51  133  21   3   6   47  49  59   5   ? .235 .296 .314 .611

Three Lowest-Scoring Lineups, American League:

Period      AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1901-1903  516   54  124  19   7   2   45  32  57  15   ? .241 .285 .314 .599
1904-1910  559   47  127  16   5   1   37  35   ?  16   ? .227 .272 .281 .553
1911-1913  546   57  129  18   7   2   47  51  72  21   ? .237 .302 .305 .608
1914-1919  547   52  132  19   8   3   43  43  67  16   ? .242 .297 .319 .616
1920-1928  579   63  148  27   6   4   56  45  56   6   8 .256 .310 .344 .653
1929-1930  581   68  155  29   8   4   62  44  55   9   7 .266 .318 .364 .682
1931-1936  596   68  155  31   6   5   63  50  58   8   6 .261 .318 .357 .675
1937-1941  595   73  155  28   7   7   66  55  59   9   5 .260 .323 .370 .693
1942-1945  587   56  144  20   5   4   51  48  53   5   4 .245 .302 .313 .615

The Postwar Era and Beyond

Next time we’ll see what happened as major league baseball regrouped following World War II, and its subtly-brewing trends intensified.

References & Resources
The source for all of this data is the stupendous Baseball Reference.com.

Caught stealing records were only intermittently compiled, particularly in the National League, until the 1950s. That’s particularly frustrating when assessing teams and players of the pre-1920 periods, when base stealing was such an important element of the game. It’s apparent that runners were caught stealing at a much higher rate than in the modern era, but we lack comprehensive data on the question.

I compiled the league average data from baseball-reference.com’s league pages, which don’t list Runs Batted In. Please forgive me for not taking the time to go back team-by-team to compile it!

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