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OOTP Dynasty Reports Tell us about the OOTP dynasties you have built!

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Old 06-07-2019, 10:40 AM   #1
gstatman
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At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL

I have been playing in online leagues since OOTP6.5 in the IOSBL as the Springfield Isotopes, and after the IOSBL disbanded, Over The Mound (OTM), as the Omaha Evil. Both were completely fictional universes and while I thoroughly enjoyed running both franchises and I finally got my championship (2038 Omaha Evil), I wanted to get into historical simulations. Enter Joe Cronin (legendsport) and his Sim Sport Leagues, which were in multiple sports (football, pro basketball, college basketball, hockey). I have been a devotee to Joe’s leagues ever since.

But, as much as I have enjoyed the historical leagues and prefer them, I could not pass up the opportunity to participate in this fictional league. The backstory of the 50-year “pre-play era” is so rich, you could spend 24 hours a day reading up on the league and not see everything there is to see.

One day, our fearless Commish proposed the idea of a stats-only fictional universe fitted with teams and logos that reached back into the 1800s. The idea was always to have a significant amount of pre-play to build a history and have us mere mortals pick up the action in the early 1900s. Our Commish started posting logos of teams we have never seen before. I signed on immediately to run the Philadelphia Keystones franchise. It was more than just liking the logo.

For historical baseball leagues, there are certain franchises on my bucket list: the iconic franchises that do not play in the Bronx, basically. But, for fictional universes, I can put my rivalry hat on the shelf and go with cities. Although I would probably never sign up to run the Phillies, the Philadelphia area is where I have a lot of personal ties. So, for this child of New York/New Jersey, you can keep your Gothams and Stars, I’m a Keystone, through and through!

Also, this is my first participation in a no-ratings, stats-only league, so I will be flying blind just as all the other GMs are. No biases, no ratings. Do we trust our scouts or do we trust the numbers?

In other Sim Sport Leagues, I am running the Mets in the current Dugout Wizards Baseball league (currently in 1978), and I have run the 1980s Mets and the 1930s Cardinals in past incarnations of DW. I am also running the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Modern Oldies Baseball league (currently in 1934). I also ran the 19-aught Cubs in the DW-predecessor, The Baseball Chronicle, and the 1993-94 Seattle Mariners in a modern league, A Whole New Ballgame. Come to think of it, “also-ran” would explain most of the outcomes of my teams.

In other sports, there were the mid-’60s Los Angeles Chargers (The Football Chronicle) and the 1966-74 Boston Patriots (The Super Era) in football, the 1982-93 New Jersey Nets and St. John’s in the Hardwood Heroes Basketball League, and the mid-’40s Boston Bruins (AUHL), and 1972-73 New York Islanders (Behind The Bench) in hockey.

***

Now, on to this Dynasty Report.

I have tried a Dynasty Report, but I have wanted to do it right or not at all and I never had the time to really give to simulate as deliberately, report as detailed or weave a story as compelling as I wanted. However, this league is compelling, the GMs are competitive, and I will add the Philadelphia Keystones perspective with those already writing Dynasty Reports on this league. Our fearless Commish (legendsport) is writing about some of the history in the league. He does not have a dog in the fight, as he is Commissioner only and not running a franchise. A few GMs in our league in Brooklyn (Tiger Fan), Montreal (mjj55409), and the New York Gothams (tward13) are also contributing with reports of their own, so I am not going into this alone.

This report will start with some background for the Philadelphia Keystones franchise and a short recap of the “pre-play era” (1876-1925) to bring us to the current time in the game. Once we get to 1926, I plan to prepare an update per month of in-season time and cover major off-season news items as they happen. Of course, if there is a reason to detour into an aside or historical anecdote during the season, I plan to do that as well.
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Dugout Wizards Baseball:
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Modern Oldies Baseball:
Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-)

Figment League Baseball:
Philadelphia Keystones (1926-)

OOTP Dynasty Reports:
At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL
Greatest Team Tournament

Last edited by gstatman; 06-07-2019 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 06-08-2019, 11:43 PM   #2
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A Short, Short History

While the anticipation of running the Philadelphia Keystones during the 50-year “pre-play” built to a crescendo, the team in recent years has been a flagging franchise. Things started off well in the Century League, the first “major” league in this universe, starting in 1876, by fruit magnate William Whitney.

Philadelphia was a charter member and owner Jefferson Edgerton was a young owner then. The team was known as the Centennials, for obvious reasons, as Philadelphia was the birthplace of Independence. As the seasons unfolded and the CL gave way to the Federally Aligned Baseball Leagues in 1892, Philadelphia was the pre-eminent professional franchise in the nation. The Centennials/Keystones won four titles in the 17 seasons before the formation of the FABL, led by the patron saint of Philadelphia baseball, Zebulon Banks.

Banks clubbed 3,307 hits in a 22-year career with the Centennials/Keystones that spanned 2,397 games. He was a lifetime .330 hitter with his top season his 7-win 1888 campaign, as he hit .363/.424/.514 with 207 hits, which one of his two 200-hit seasons.

In the years that followed the FABL merger, however, the Keystones have fallen on hard times. Since the World’s Championship Series was instituted in 1893, there was some success in the 1890s, but Philadelphia has only had three seasons above .500 since the turn of the 20th century. The good news for Keystones fans is that the prospect cupboard is full and the future is now, as the 1925 edition went 81-73 behind the unbelievable rookie season of first baseman Rankin Kellogg. The 81-73 record last season was the best showing from the Keystones in 18 years, since an 85-66 campaign in 1909.

After a 1924 season in A-ball where Kellogg hit 39 home runs in 119 runs batted in with a .996 OPS, Kellogg was called up to start the season with the big club in 1925 and turned in a rookie season for the ages: .328 average, .443 on-base percentage, .619 slugging percentage (1.062 OPS), 35 home runs, 133 runs batted in, a league-leading 118 walks and a WAR of 7.5 in the full 154-game slate.

There was no Rookie of the Year Award in 1925, but Kellogg finished second for the Whitney Award, given to the most valuable player in each league. Kellogg finished second to the perennial Whitney winner in the Federal Association, St. Louis Pioneer RF Max Morris. Morris has won five of the last six Whitneys in the FA.
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__________________
Dugout Wizards Baseball:
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Modern Oldies Baseball:
Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-)

Figment League Baseball:
Philadelphia Keystones (1926-)

OOTP Dynasty Reports:
At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL
Greatest Team Tournament

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Old 06-09-2019, 10:28 AM   #3
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The Early Years: Philadelphia Centennials (1876-1883)

In America’s Centennial year, the Century League was born, as was the Philadelphia franchise, known then as – what else? - the Centennials. The Cents won the title in the inaugural season, sporting a 43-17 record. But, it was not without controversy. The Brooklyn Unions played six more games and had three more wins, but three more losses. Philadelphia had a better winning percentage (.717 to .697) and was awarded the championship. A 20-year-old Zebulon Banks led the team in RBI with 59, but the star player was righthanded pitcher Paul Kennett, who went 25-8 with a 1.80 earned run average. Kennett was only 25 in 1876 and retired two years later to return to his native Saint Paul, Minnesota, and his father’s ministry.

While Philadelphia fell to a 23-37 record in 1877, they finished .500 or better for the next seven seasons, earning league championships in 1880 (59-26 record) and 1882 (61-24 record). Pitcher Martin Tucker was a key cog in both of those championship teams, turning in a 25-10 campaign in 1880 with a 1.64 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, a league-leading 250 strikeouts and a league-leading WAR of 12.1. In 1882, the league averaged 6.1 runs per game compared to 5.0 runs per game just two years earlier. Tucker was a 30-game winner in 1882 (30-13 record) for a squad that won 71.8% of its games, still in the top-three of all-time winning percentages in FABL history. Tucker stood seventh in the “pre-play era” in WAR by a Keystones pitcher (27.7).
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Dugout Wizards Baseball:
New York Mets (1964-)

Modern Oldies Baseball:
Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-)

Figment League Baseball:
Philadelphia Keystones (1926-)

OOTP Dynasty Reports:
At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL
Greatest Team Tournament
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Old 06-10-2019, 08:11 AM   #4
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The Pre-Series Era: Philadelphia Keystones (1884-1892)

The Centennials changed their name to the Keystones in 1884 and their success in the Century League initially carried over with their name change, but that quickly gave way to an uneven performance from year to year. The 1884 schedule topped 100 games for the first time in professional baseball history and the Keystones had plenty of power to spare, setting a team record that still stood at the end of the “pre-play” era. Philadelphia hit 101 home runs and five players reached double figures, led by Scott Wilkes’s 19 homers. But, the team finished in fourth place, 15 games back of league champion Boston.

In these nine seasons, Philadelphia had a .545 winning percentage (633-529), but the winds were changing, both in professional baseball writ large and in the City of Brotherly Love. A new team burst onto the scene in the fledgling Border Association in 1889 that also called Philadelphia home. The Sailors infringed on the Keystones territory and had more success in 1889-90, but the Keystones were the better team in 1891-92.

In fact, the Keystones lost a close battle for the Century pennant with the Washington Eagles in 1891 before running away with the newly-minted Federal Association of the Federally Aligned Baseball Leagues (FABL) in 1892 over the New York Gothams. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Sailors were slotted into the Continental Association of the FABL and finished 23 games off the pace.

The 1892 Keystones were dominant, allowing 308 fewer runs than they scored. Their 94-38 record (.712 winning percentage) is the best season in franchise history and it is not even close, as the second-best win total was 85 (1909). Fred Roby, nicknamed the “Rhode Island Ripper”, became a household name in 1892. Roby hit a hefty .360 with a wRC+ of 160, scored 110 runs, swiped 60 bases, and drove in 102 runs despite only three round-trippers. Philadelphia’s pitching was elite, with George Banks (26-10, 2.03 ERA), Wesley Stout (29-14, 2.52 ERA), Charlie Johnson (17-6, 1.96 ERA), and Alexander Elliott (16-4, 1.92 ERA) giving the Keystones an excellent chance to win every day.

During this upheaval between the early stages of professional “base ball” and the game we know today, the Keystones were in the middle of those changes, almost bringing home the last Century League pennant, winning the first Federal Association title in only season played with one “major league” without a championship series.
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Dugout Wizards Baseball:
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Modern Oldies Baseball:
Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-)

Figment League Baseball:
Philadelphia Keystones (1926-)

OOTP Dynasty Reports:
At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL
Greatest Team Tournament

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Old 06-11-2019, 12:09 PM   #5
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The Last Vestiges of Success in the 19th Century (1893-1899)

In the 1893 season, a playoff was staged to determine the true champion of the two “associations”. And, it was the cross-town Sailors who represented the rival association in its first two years. The Sailors lost in both Series, but they were the upstarts and would end up out-drawing the Keystones as early as 1896 before winning the only World’s Championship Series either team won in the “pre-play” era in 1897.

To start the Series Era, the Keystones were flat with a 66-74 season. But, for the rest of the decade, the Keystones were earning a reputation as the best team not to win a Fed pennant with three second-place finishes and a couple of third-place finishes over the next six years. Out of the years 1894-99 inclusive, four of them were 80-win campaigns where the team finished 20 or more games above .500. Even including the 1893 season, the Keystones had a record of 533-447 (.544 winning percentage) in the 19th century “Series” era.

The best hitter during this era was Claude Jones, one of the two best hitting catchers of his time along with the Gothams’ Marsh Perry. Jones had four 200-hit seasons, topping out at 251 hits as the everyday rightfielder in 1897, which stood fourth all-time in FABL history through the “pre-play” era. Jones also reached the hallowed .400 mark batting average in back-to-back years (1896-97), with his .425 average in 1897 standing as the third-best single-season batting average in league history through the 1925 season.

An honorable mention for the top Keystone around this time was Fred Roby, in part because of his early success. Roby led the league in hits in 1889 (212) and after a two-year sojourn with the Philadelphia Maroons in the Peerless League, came back to the Keystones in time for a championship in 1892, but his career year was in 1894. In his age-27 season, Roby paced the FABL in hits (249), home runs (19), runs batted in (142), average (.416), slugging percentage (.617), on-base-plus-slugging (1.097) and WAR (10.3). While the rest of Roby’s career, which lasted until 1910, was not as magical as his early-career heroics, he did manage over 3,000 “major league” hits. Out of his 3,026 hits, 2,280 came in a Keystones uniform, which places him second all-time behind the great Zebulon Banks (3,307).

However, as the new century approached, the Keystones to which Philadelphia fans had grown accustomed – Banks, Wilkes, Jones, Roby, and Tucker – were out the door or almost out the door. The next generation did not extend the winning tradition in Philadelphia and that was putting it mildly.
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Modern Oldies Baseball:
Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-)

Figment League Baseball:
Philadelphia Keystones (1926-)

OOTP Dynasty Reports:
At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL
Greatest Team Tournament

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Old 06-12-2019, 10:50 AM   #6
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The Road to Ruin (1900-1924)

The worm was turning. As baseball was calming down from the rival leagues that both grew and almost ravaged the game in the 1880s and 1890s, the Keystones fell into a general malaise that lasted about a quarter-century. Between 1900 and 1924, there were sparks of success, but the flint was worn and the fire was non-existent.

The best seasons during this quarter-century of futility were:
  • 1907 (74-74): Their first non-losing season in eight years was not exactly a winning season either. The Keystones received career years from second-sacker Charlie Ashtrup (.277/.316/.336, 70 R, 49 RBI, 7.4 WAR) and right-handed pitcher Tom “Topsy” McCarthy (27-19, 2.19 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 411 IP, 7.9 WAR – all career bests). Still, a .500 season in 1907 only garnered fifth place, as Philadelphia finished 15.5 games off the pace set by Pittsburgh.

  • 1909 (85-66): This campaign represented the closest the Keystones came to a pennant, as they finished in second place, three games behind the World’s Champion Detroit Dynamos. There were a total of 587,568 fans that came through the turnstiles, which remains a Keystone record. George McDermott, the slick-fielding shortstop, had a 8.7-win season and while his slap hitting and basestealing (.272/.335/.317, 75 R, 68 RBI, 58 SB) were as valuable as his play in the field (+33.6 ZR, 1.102 EFF). Philadelphia also had a quartet of 4-WAR pitchers, three of which won 20 games and led by Pete Williams’s career season (23-16, 2.74 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 5.8 WAR).

  • 1919 (65-61): In a flu-shortened season, the Keystones finished in the first division in ten years, 4.5 games in arrears of Detroit. Ed Cheetham moved across the state from the Miners to the Keystones, winning 16 games with a 2.73 ERA (4.3 WAR) in his age-25 season. The “Go-Go” 'Stones, as they were called, had four players with 25 or more stolen bases, displaying their game-breaking speed, led by Frank Wallace (38 SB), who also led the Keystones in most other offensive categories, including OPS (.766), runs (63), RBI (57).

As for the other 22 seasons, there were 13 last-place finishes and three next-to-last finishes. The won-lost record for the first 25 years of the 20th century was 1,562-2,103 (.426 winning percentage). It was, in a word, putrid. They were the baseball version of the Keystone Cops.

Players who played during the bulk of the “dark ages” of the franchise who are on all-time franchise top ten lists in WAR, games played, or innings pitched are:
  • RHP Tom McCarthy (1903-16)
  • C James Rice (1904-19)
  • RF Dave Floyd (1904-15)
  • SS George McDermott (1907-18)
  • RHP Warner Knigge (1911-18)
  • 1B Ed Fisher (1912-20)
  • RHP Ike Campbell (1912-17)
  • SS Rube Blair (1915-present)
  • 3B Jim Furr (1916-present)
  • RHP Pete Kerr (1916-24)
  • RHP Ben Lloyd (1918-present)
  • RHP Ed Cheetham (1919-present)

The bright side of all of that failure was the assignment of several high draft picks that have made or will make an impact on the Keystones going forward. The FABL Amateur Draft was established in December 1911 and the Keystones had several premium draft picks. The Keystones drafted first overall six times, including 1921-24, inclusive. They also had the #2 pick on two other occasions. Out of the first 14 years of the Draft, the Keystones had a top-five pick in 12 of those years. This allowed Philadelphia to stock their farm system, but they had to bide their time through the mid-'20s.
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__________________
Dugout Wizards Baseball:
New York Mets (1964-)

Modern Oldies Baseball:
Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-)

Figment League Baseball:
Philadelphia Keystones (1926-)

OOTP Dynasty Reports:
At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL
Greatest Team Tournament

Last edited by gstatman; 06-12-2019 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:24 AM   #7
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Stocking The Farm

With all of the opportunities the Keystones had, there were bound to be some “hits”. Of course, there were some misses, too, especially in some of the early drafts.

Here are the Keystones’s first draft picks during the “pre-play” era (first round picks in parentheses, players still with the franchise in bold):
  • 1911: 4th overall pick (2B Newell Winn: 16.5 WAR with the Keystones (1915-20), traded to the Philadelphia Sailors in 1920, 27.1 career WAR)

  • 1912: 1st overall pick (2B Eddie Andrews: 2.2 WAR with the Keystones (1916-18), traded to the Pittsburgh Miners in 1918, 27.5 career WAR)

  • 1913: 2nd overall pick (3B Blackie Mefford: never appeared with Keystones, traded to the Washington Eagles in 1919, 7.4 career WAR)

  • 1914: 5th overall pick (SS Rube Blair: 13.2 WAR with the Keystones (1915-present), currently the backup shortstop)

  • 1915: 6th overall pick (CF Phil Brothers: -1.1 WAR with the Keystones (1921-23), split time last year between AA Richmond and AAA Louisville)

  • 1916: 3rd overall pick (RHP Ernie Henderson: 1.5 WAR with the Keystones (1921-23), traded to the Boston Minutemen in 1923, 5.3 career WAR)

  • 1917: 1st overall pick (3B Elmer Lambert: 0.6 WAR with the Keystones (1919-present), currently the starting third baseman for AA Richmond)

  • 1918: 5th overall pick (RHP Bob Paxton: 6.4 WAR with the Keystones (1919-24), traded to the Detroit Dynamos in 1924, 7.5 career WAR)

  • 1919: 12th overall pick (CF Roy Myers: never appeared with Keystones, traded to the Boston Minutemen in 1923, 0.6 career WAR)

  • 1920: 2nd overall pick (SS Cliff Herman: 1.3 WAR with the Keystones (1925-present), #4 ranked prospect ahead of hitting .280/.326/.434 in rookie season of 1925, currently the starting shortstop)

  • 1921: 1st overall pick (2B Howie Shifflett: #14 rated prospect entering 1926 Spring Training, hit .300/.375/.449 with 2.7 WAR with AA Richmond in 1925)

  • 1922: 1st overall pick (1B Rankin Kellogg: 7.2 WAR with the Keystones (1925-present), #1 ranked prospect ahead of finishing 2nd in the FA Whitney Award voting, hitting .328/.443/.619 with 35 HR, 133 RBI, and a WAR of 7.2, currently the starting first baseman)

  • 1923: 1st overall pick (CF Lee Smith: 3.6 WAR with the Keystones (1925-present), #8 ranked prospect ahead of solid rookie season in 1925, hitting .313/.372/.447 with 89 runs scored and 80 RBI, currently the starting centerfielder)

  • 1924: 1st overall pick (LHP Walker Moore: #6 rated prospect entering 1926 Spring Training, 4-16 with a 4.85 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in his first professional season with Class-A Allentown in 1925)

The Keystones had the #1 overall pick for four straight drafts (1921-24), as well as two top selections 1912 and 1917 and two #2 overall draft slots (1913, 1920). Early draft picks Newell Winn and Eddie Andrews were traded away and, in Andrews’s case, traded before he became a star, as he took home the Whitney Award in 1919 for Pittsburgh.

Starting in 1920, the draft picks have been solid and will form the foundation of the team heading into the second half of the 1920s. Of course, Rankin Kellogg was the big prize of the last few drafts and he was the top pick of 1922, with his impressive rookie year this past season heralding good things to come. But, what should not be overlooked was the solid rookie campaign of CF Lee Smith, as well as other useful pieces, specifically the anticipated 1926 debut of second-sacker Howie Shifflett, starting shortstop Cliff Herman.

In the last couple of drafts, the goal was to improve the pitching. Walker Moore, despite a tough season that ended in a shoulder injury last September, is still ranked as the #6 ranked prospect. In this past offseason’s draft, high school lefthander Art Myers was the #11 overall pick.
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Dugout Wizards Baseball:
New York Mets (1964-)

Modern Oldies Baseball:
Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-)

Figment League Baseball:
Philadelphia Keystones (1926-)

OOTP Dynasty Reports:
At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL
Greatest Team Tournament
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Old 06-14-2019, 04:05 PM   #8
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The Light at the End of the Tunnel (1925)

Tommy Jackson was relieved of his duties just after the 1924 season concluded, ending a 3-year run of .400 baseball (er, .408 baseball – 187 wins, 271 losses). The Keystones moved on to welcomed in John Murray, despite a lack of a winning reputation, or any kind of resume. But, Murray was not a welcoming kind of fellow.

Known as a temperamental type, he would kick over a bucket of balls at the slightest provocation. One time, during the 1925 season, after a called third strike to Hal Eason, Murray stormed out of the dugout to confront the home plate umpire and let him have it. However, Murray, no small man at 210 pounds, caught a spike in the uneven batter box and fell down in a heap. Both teams, as well as the homestanding fans, and of course, the home plate umpire, found the humor in the situation. Murray, on the other hand, did not.

However, Murray was entrusted to handle the fragile youth of the organization, especially first baseman Rankin Kellogg, who was turning heads not only in Philadelphia, but everywhere around the league. Kellogg spent two years honing his hitting craft in Allentown (Class A) and after a .227 season that produced 85 strikeouts in 128 games in 1923, he completely transformed his game in 1924. Kellogg hit .302, still struck out 91 times, but more than doubled his power output, from 15 home runs to 39 round-trippers.

That was enough to convince the braintrust to ship out three first basemen and hand the job over to Kellogg for the foreseeable future while boosting the on-field product in other areas. In late March, Sal Ingalls, underused in his two years in Philadelphia was the first to go, dealt to Montreal for leftfielder Dwight Becker, who went on to hit .317 with 111 runs scored and 39 stolen bases in 1925.

Two weeks later, on the eve of the season, starting first baseman Dan Brady was shipped to Chicago and big, strong Doc Woods was sent to Baltimore for sorely-needed pitching. Red Adwell joined the Keystones from Chicago and Rube Frazier was brought in from Baltimore. Adwell and Frazier occupied the middle rotation spots for the entire season, combining for 59 starts, but the results were less than stellar, as they went 12-13 and 10-18, respectively. But, the pressure was taken off the ace of the rotation, Ed Cheetham (21-13, 4.17) and Ben Lloyd (22-11, 4.18) enjoyed their best seasons to date.

The best decision the Keystones made in 1925 was to promote Kellogg. Kellogg was the Federal Association Rookie of the Month in May (.351-9-26), June (.284-5-26), and July (.421-7-28), before taking home Player of the Month honors in the FA in September (.310-8-22). Overall, Kellogg hit .328, got on base at a .443 clip, and slugged .619 for an OPS of 1.062. His power output ranked second to Max Morris of St. Louis in home runs (35), runs batted in (133), WAR (7.5), and a host of other categories.

HTML Code:
                       G  GS  PA  AB   H 2B 3B HR RBI   R  BB SO  AVG  OBP  SLG  ISO   OPS OPS+ BABIP  WAR SB CS  TB    RC RC/27 wOBA  WPA
Max Morris (STL)     146 145 674 569 238 30 11 57 166 149  95 74 .418 .496 .810 .392 1.306 228   .406 11.0  1  0 461 232.2  17.7 .545 8.62
Rankin Kellogg (PHI) 154 154 687 548 180 32 11 35 133 124 118 58 .328 .443 .619 .290 1.062 166   .312  7.2  5  2 339 157.1  10.5 .450 8.07
In the hitting department, Kellogg had company. Hal Eason, Kellogg’s fellow slugger in the middle of the order, smacked 23 home runs and drove in 92 runs. Second baseman Eddie Hogan paced the team in batting average (.355), scored 98 runs, and drove in 87 more. Lee Smith stood firmly in Kellogg’s shadow, but had a solid rookie campaign, hitting .313 with an .819 OPS and joining Kellogg, Eason, and Hogan in the 80-80 club with more than 80 runs scored (89) and 80 RBI (80).

By all measures, 1925 was the start of something big. In 1924, the Keystones placed sixth in runs scored per game and seventh in runs allowed per game. Just a year later, the offense rose to third and the pitching inched up to sixth. As a result, Philadelphia improved 21 games in the standings, from a last-place 60-92 finish in 1924 to an 81-73 campaign in 1925, 12 games behind Washington. Philadelphia did allow 860 runs and scored 836, so they were a bit lucky to finish above the break-even mark, but this team may not be far away to contend in the near future.

Believe it or not, at first glance, one would think the managerial change had something to do with the sudden success and the young talent that blossomed in Philadelphia over the past season. In truth, it was the players themselves and a belief they were embarking on something special. They succeeded in spite of their manager, John Murray.
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Old 06-16-2019, 10:48 PM   #9
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Pre-Play Era: Key ’Stones

The “godfather” of Philadelphia baseball, on the field anyway, was Zebulon “Hawkeye” Banks (1876-97). He is the all-time Philadelphia Centennials/Keystones leader in several counting statistical categories: games played (2,397), at-bats (10,032), runs (1,837), hits (3,307), total bases (4,300), singles (2,626), doubles (464), runs batted in (1,531), walks (852), times hit by pitch (119), and WAR (66.7). Banks had a career year in 1888, where he led the league in each “slash line” metric: batting average (.363), on-base percentage (.424), slugging percentage (.514), which also meant a league-leading OPS (.938). It was one of his two 200-hit seasons (207), and he established career marks in triples (18), stolen bases (46), total bases (293), and WAR (7.1).

If the Keystones franchise had a Mount Rushmore, the four faces carved in granite would belong to Banks, George McDermott, Fred Roby, and Claude Jones.

McDermott (1907-18) was known not necessarily for his bat, as he only hit .255 in 1,555 games for the Keystones. It was his wizardry with the glove and his fleet feet that made him one of the names synonymous with Keystones baseball. McDermott played over 100 games at shortstop in all but one of his 12 seasons in Philadelphia and set the standard with a composite Ultimate Zone Rating of +276.3, topping out at +40.7 in 1912. His 1913 fielding season, by any measure, was an all-time season: 151 games, 840 total chances, 14 errors, .983 fielding percentage, 5.58 range factor, +36.6 UZR, and an efficiency score of 1.147. McDermott also stole 588 bases in his Keystones career, which is still a record by a large margin (124 over Roby).

Roby (1888-89, 1892-1903), nicknamed “The Rhode Island Ripper”, had a first five seasons in a Keystones uniform unlike any other hitter in team history. Between 1888-1894, excluding the two seasons he crossed over into the Peerless League to play for the Philadelphia Maroons, Roby hit .348 and led the league in hitting twice, including a .416 average in 1894 that still stands as the tenth-highest single-season batting average in FABL history. In the season he hit .416, he posted league-leading totals in hits (249), home runs (19), runs batted in (142), slugging percentage (.617), OPS (1.097), WAR (10.3). Roby does not hold any career Keystones batting records, but holds several single-season records: OPS, WAR, RBI, runs scored (148), and total bases (369), which were all set in his career year in 1894. Roby also had the Keystones career home run record during the dead-ball era and was just surpassed in 1925 by Hal Eason. Roby had 101 home runs and Eason passed him late last season and stands at 104 heading into 1926.

Jones (1890-1901) gets the honorable mention for best hitter in franchise history behind Banks. Jones played his entire career for the Keystones, the only player out of the top hitters in team history to do so. He set a team record in 1897 for hits in a season with 251 and a .425 batting average. Jones predominantly played both at catcher (549) and centerfield (278 games) in his eight full seasons and parts of four other seasons with Philadelphia. Jones owns most of the rate statistics in team history, including batting average (.349), on-base percentage (.418), and OPS (.896). His 1897 season was his best, setting career highs in hits and batting average, but also doubles (42), triples (21), stolen bases (77), and WAR (8.1). Jones has four of the top-six all-time highest Keystones batting averages in a single season, which are all .370 or above, and his OPS numbers in a four-year stretch, 1894-97, were at .973 or higher every year.

The franchise has had more accomplished hitters than pitchers over its first 50 seasons, as only two of the top ten pitchers in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) had earned run averages below 3.00, Tom “Topsy” McCarthy (1903-10) and Eddie Jordan (1884-87, ‘96). Half of those pitchers had losing records and only two, Eddie Jordan and Charlie Johnson (1889-93) had winning percentages above .600.

John Burrell (1898-1906) is on neither of those lists, but he holds most of the career pitching records for the first 50 years of the Keystones franchise. “Big John” was a 30-game winner in 1899 against only 15 losses with a 3.39 ERA, but his Keystones career mark was 20 games below .500. The 168 wins and 188 losses lead all Keystone hurlers. His longevity is recognized in the record books, as Burrell owns franchise records in games pitched (402), games started (379), complete games (281), shutouts (19, tied for record), innings pitched (3,270.1), strikeouts (1,062), and WAR (44.5).

McCarthy’s nickname was “Topsy”, but he ended up more turvy than topsy in his Keystone career. McCarthy won 134 against 178 losses with a 2.96 ERA. However, that low ERA could be attributed to the era in which McCarthy played. On some terrible teams that only hit over .250 once in his eight seasons in Philadelphia, he had low run support as he led the league in losses in 1905 (31) and 1906 (27), but when the Keystones played well and finished at or above .500, McCarthy turned in solid campaigns. McCarthy won 27 games and pitched to a 2.19 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 1907. Two years later, the Keystones won 85 games and he won 20 of his 38 decisions with a 2.76 ERA. In the franchise record book, McCarthy is second to Burrell in most counting statistical categories, including wins (134), losses (178), WAR (41.1), games started (327), complete games (248), and inning pitched (2,803.2), but tied Burrell for most shutouts with 19. McCarthy is one of two Keystones pitchers to reach the 1,000-strikeout mark (1,027).

Jordan was a shooting star in Keystones history. He did not stay with the Keystones for very long, pitching only three-and-a-half seasons in his age-22 to age-25 seasons and a five-game swan song in 1896 before hanging up the spikes at the age of 35. But, in those seasons, Jordan had a sub-3.00 ERA in three of those four years, including his career year in 1886, in which he went 28-13 with a 1.87 ERA and led the league with a 0.97 WHIP, 385 innings pitched, and a WAR of 13.1. Jordan had the best earned run average of any starting pitcher in team history at 2.41 and the best walks-plus-hits-per inning (WHIP) of any pitcher in team history at 1.13. He also stands fourth in Keystones history in winning percentage (.611) and WAR (30.1).

Will Bullock (1880-85) would complete the “pitching” Mount Rushmore for the Keystones. Bullock peaked in his first three years after a brilliant rookie year in 1880 at the age of 21 years old in which Bullock won 22 games and set career highs in ERA (2.12), WHIP (0.94), strikeouts (239), and WAR (8.0). His 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings led the league. In Bullock’s first three years, he was 81-33 (.711 winning percentage) and also led the league in strikeouts in 1882 with 187 punch-outs. In both of these seasons – 1880 and 1882 – Philadelphia won the Century League championship. Overall, Bullock stands third through the “pre-play” era in Keystones franchise history in wins (128), strikeouts (873), complete games (177), and WAR (32.4).
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__________________
Dugout Wizards Baseball:
New York Mets (1964-)

Modern Oldies Baseball:
Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-)

Figment League Baseball:
Philadelphia Keystones (1926-)

OOTP Dynasty Reports:
At the Keystone: The Philadelphia Keystones of the FABL
Greatest Team Tournament

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