Thursday, February 2, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Humiliation And Retaliation (And Joe Quinn Really Couldn't Hit)

Quinn, the promising young first-baseman of the St. Louis Unions, was approached yesterday with an offer to jump his contract and join the Washingtons, of the American Association.  It was reported that Ted Sullivan, the former manager of the Unions, had exerted his influence to induce Quinn to break his contract, but Sullivan denies the story most emphatically.  He says, on the contrary, he advised Quinn to stick to the Unions, and claims that Quinn will corroborate his statement.  Mr. Lucas is very indignant over the matter, and declares that, having stood the dishonorable attacks of the League and American Association without retaliating until he feels almost humiliated, he will, on the 1st of July, propose to the Union Association to go into the contract-breaking business.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 23, 1884

Given that he was going to get another job in the UA in the not to distant future, I actually believe Sullivan.  I don't think Lucas would have let him have the KC job if he was trying to poach Quinn for the AA.

And speaking of Quinn, he has rather odd career numbers.  It looks like he was a pretty good defensive second baseman and was better defensively at second than he was at first, which is kind of weird.  Also, for a guy who was a regular in the major leagues until he was thirty, the guy really didn't hit much.  He lead the NL in games played in 1893 and had an OPS of 50.  Fifty.  He had -2.1 WAR that season and played every game (which, I assume, is one of the reasons the Browns finished 57-75 that year).  For his career, over 1769 games and 7352 at bats, Quinn had 1.6 WAR and -1.1 oWAR.

I've been sitting here thinking about putting up a negative oWAR over seven thousand at bats and I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it.  Guys who hit like Quinn shouldn't get 1700 games in the big leagues.  If  I had to guess, I'd say that Joe Quinn was one of the twenty worst hitters in the history of baseball (minimum 5000 AB).  The numbers suggest that he was a very good, but not a great, fielder but he had to have better than that.  Right?  He had to have been just an outstanding defensive second baseman or his career doesn't make any sense.          

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