by Harold Friend
For many years, Brooklyn's National League team was considered one the game's best power-hitting units. There was one season of interest in which they led the league in home runs and their first baseman was the home run champion by a wide margin.
Brooklyn's Power Dominated
Brooklyn was dominant. The team home run total was 12 percent greater than that of the runner-up. Their home run champion led the second place finisher by 20 percent. When Roger Maris set his single season home run record in 1961, his total was 13 percent better than second place finisher Mickey Mantle's 54.
An Outstanding Pitching Staff
Brooklyn's outstanding pitching staff had a 2.47 ERA, allowed a minuscule 3.34 runs a game, gave up only 7.7 hits per nine innings, pitched an almost unbelievable 20 shut outs, and had a 1.175 WHIP. The greatest pitcher of all time, according to many, was Roger Clemens, who has a 3.12 ERA, allows 7.7 hits per nine innings, averages two shut outs a season, and has a 1.173 WHIP.
A Pitching Staff of All Roger Clemens
Examine the statistics closely. Brooklyn's pitching staff was as effective as the greatest pitcher was during his career. Clemens' ERA was 0.65 points higher than Brooklyn's, he gave up as many hits a game, averaged 18 fewer shut outs a season, and had the same WHIP.
The 1927 Yankees, the 1975 Reds, and the 1998 Yankees are often ranked among the greatest teams. A major consideration was their outstanding defense. The 1927 Yankees had 2,009 assists, the 1975 Reds had 1,782 assists, and the 1998 Yankees had 1,643 assists. Brooklyn had 2,037 assists.
Aren't statistics wonderful? As Mark Twain, quoting Ben Disraeli said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
The 1908 Brooklyn Superbas were one of the worst teams of all time. They couldn't hit, they couldn't score, not one of their starting pitchers had a winning record, and they finished seventh. The Superbas lost 101 games, scored 2.44 runs a game, hit only 28 home runs, batted an anemic .213, and slugged a pathetic .277. Tim Jordan led the National League with 12 home runs.
In the eight-team league, only Boston and St. Louis had team ERAs higher than the Superbas' 2.47. Chicago (29), New York (25), Pittsburgh (24), and Philadelphia (22), had more shut outs than the Superbas.
Defensive Efficiency (DefEff) is defined as the percentage of ball in play converted into outs. The Superbas' finished fifth in Defensive Efficiency. The league averaged 2.044 assists, and five teams bettered the Superbas' total of 2,037.
Statistics are a valuable tool, but they must never be taken at face value because it is too easy to use them to prove things that are not. When one adds omitting information (oxymoron?), it is easy to see that critical analyses are needed when statistics are used.