The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract is a reference-type book written by Bill James featuring an overview of professional baseball decade by decade, along with rankings of the top 100 players at each position. The original edition was published in 1985 by Villard Books, updated in paperback in 1988, then followed by The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract in 2001. In the 2001 edition, James introduced his win shares system, an attempt to quantify a player's overall contributions to his team, which he used as part of his player ranking system. A revised edition was published in paperback in 2003.
|The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract|
|Media type||Print (Book)|
|Preceded by||The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract|
William Ashley Freehan (born November 29, 1941) is an American former professional baseball player. He played his entire fifteen-year Major League Baseball career as a catcher for the Detroit Tigers. The premier catcher in the American League for several years from the 1960s into the early 1970s, he was named an All-Star in each of the eleven seasons in which he caught at least 75 games, and was the MVP runnerup with the 1968 champions for his handling of a pitching staff that included Mickey Lolich and Denny McLain, who became the first 30-game winner in the majors since 1934.
A five-time Gold Glove Award winner, Freehan held the major league record for highest career fielding percentage (.9933) until 2002, and also the records for career putouts (9,941) and total chances (10,734) from 1975 until the late 1980s; he ranked ninth in major league history in games caught (1,581) at the end of his career. His career totals of 200 home runs and 2,502 total bases placed him behind only Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey among AL catchers when he retired.Don Kessinger
Donald Eulon Kessinger (born July 17, 1942 in Forrest City, Arkansas) is an American former professional baseball player and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a shortstop from 1964 to 1979 for the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox. A six-time All-Star, he was a light-hitting, defensive specialist who spent the majority of his career as the Chicago Cubs starting shortstop. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was considered one of the best shortstops in baseball. Kessinger is also notable for being the last player-manager in American League history.Donald Young (baseball)
Donald Wayne Young (born October 18, 1945 in Houston, Texas) is a former professional baseball player. He played two seasons in Major League Baseball in 1965 and 1969, primarily as a center fielder.
Young was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1963. In his first major league at bat, he popped up to become the first out in Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game. He played only 11 games in 1965, and then spent three years in the minors before coming up to the Cubs again, playing 101 games in the tumultuous 1969 season.In the ninth inning of a game against the New York Mets on July 8, 1969 playing centerfield Young failed to catch balls hit by Ken Boswell and Donn Clendenon. Both were ruled doubles. Young had the Clendenon ball in his mitt before crashing into the wall; with Boswell stopping at third thinking the ball was caught. A Cleon Jones double followed that tied the game. After an intentional walk to Art Shamsky a single by Ed Kranepool plated Jones with the winning run. The line score in the 9th was 3 runs on 4 hits with two left on with no errors. Ferguson Jenkins went the distance in the loss. After the game manager Leo Durocher blamed Young for the loss. Among other things, Durocher said, ``My 3-year-old could have caught those balls.``Teammate Ron Santo loudly criticized Young in the clubhouse accusing him of letting his concern about hitting influence his fielding. The next day Santo apologized to Young and called a press conference to make a public apology. The Cubs, who had a nine-game lead as late as Aug. 16, went on to lose the pennant by eight games to the Mets. Don Young was blamed by many for the Cubs collapse. The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract and the book Baseball Hall of Shame 2 both state a greater factor was manager Leo Durocher not resting his regular players who played all their home games in Wrigley Field, before it installed lights, under the Chicago sun.
Young played two more partial seasons in the minor leagues before leaving organized baseball.Frank Snyder
Frank Elton Snyder (May 27, 1895 in San Antonio, Texas – January 5, 1962 in San Antonio, Texas), was an American professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher from 1912 to 1927 for the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. Nicknamed Pancho, Snyder was of Mexican descent on his mother's side.Gabby Hartnett
Charles Leo "Gabby" Hartnett (December 20, 1900 – December 20, 1972), nicknamed "Old Tomato Face", was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played almost his entire career in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Chicago Cubs, from 1922 to 1940. He spent the final season of his career as a player-coach for the New York Giants in 1941. After his playing career, he continued his involvement in baseball as a coach and as a minor league manager.
Hartnett was an all-around player, performing well both offensively and defensively. Known for his strong and accurate throwing arm, he routinely led the National League's catchers in caught stealing percentage and was the first major league catcher to hit more than 20 home runs in a season. During the course of his career, he took part of some of the most memorable events in Major League Baseball history including; Babe Ruth's Called Shot during the 1932 World Series, Carl Hubbell's strike-out performance in the 1934 All-Star Game and Dizzy Dean's career-altering injury during the 1937 All-Star Game. But the greatest moment of Hartnett's career came with one week left in the 1938 season, when he hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to put the Cubs in first place. The event, which occurred as darkness descended onto Wrigley Field, became immortalized as the Homer in the Gloamin'.Prior to Johnny Bench, Hartnett was considered the greatest catcher in the history of the National League. A six-time All-Star, he appeared in four World Series during his playing career. At the time of his retirement, Hartnett held the career records for catchers in home runs, runs batted in, hits, doubles and in most games played as a catcher. Hartnett was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.Gene Tenace
Fury Gene Tenace (; born Fiore Gino Tennaci; October 10, 1946), better known as Gene Tenace, is an American former professional baseball player and coach in Major League Baseball. He was a catcher and first baseman from 1969 through 1983. Tenace was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics from Valley High School in Lucasville, Ohio and played for the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He batted and threw right-handed. Tenace was one of the top catchers of his era and won the 1972 World Series Most Valuable Player Award. After his playing days ended, Tenace coached for several organizations, most notably for the Toronto Blue Jays.Gus Mancuso
August Rodney Mancuso (December 5, 1905 – October 26, 1984), nicknamed "Blackie", was an American professional baseball player, coach, scout and radio sports commentator. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals (1928, 1930–32, 1941–42), New York Giants (1933–38, 1942–44), Chicago Cubs (1939), Brooklyn Dodgers (1940) and Philadelphia Phillies (1945).Mancuso was known for his capable handling of pitching staffs and for his on-field leadership abilities. He was a member of five National League pennant-winning teams, and played as the catcher for five pitchers who were eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Mancuso was regarded as one of the top defensive catchers of the 1930s.Johnny Bassler
John Landis Bassler (June 3, 1895 – June 29, 1979) was an American professional baseball player and coach. He played as a catcher in professional baseball for 26 seasons between 1911 and 1937, including nine seasons in Major League Baseball with the Cleveland Naps in 1913 and 1914 and the Detroit Tigers from 1921 to 1927.
Bassler had a career batting average of .304 and an on-base percentage of .416 in his nine major league seasons. His on-base percentage ranks as the second highest in major league history for a catcher. His .346 batting average in 1924 was the highest by a catcher to that point in American League history and the highest by any major league catcher since 1912. He finished in the top seven in the voting for the American League Most Valuable Player award three straight years: sixth in 1922, seventh in 1923, and fifth in 1924. Baseball historian, Bill James, ranked Bassler 47th all-time among major league catchers in his book, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.Bassler also played 15 seasons in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) with the Los Angeles Angels (1915–1917, 1919), Seattle Rainiers (1920), Hollywood Stars (1928–1935), and Seattle Indians (1936–1937). He appeared in 1,525 games in the PCL, compiling a .321 batting average in those games. In 1943, he was one of the inaugural inductees into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame. After his playing career ended, Bassler lived in Southern California.Ken Williams (baseball)
Kenneth Roy Williams (June 28, 1890 – January 22, 1959) was an American professional baseball player. He played as an outfielder in Major League Baseball from 1915 to 1929. Williams began his major league career with the Cincinnati Reds before spending the majority of his playing days with the St. Louis Browns, and ended his career playing for the Boston Red Sox. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed. Williams was the first member of Major League Baseball's 30–30 club, for players who have reached the 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases plateaus in the same season.Luke Sewell
James Luther Sewell (January 5, 1901 – May 14, 1987) was an American professional baseball player, coach and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Cleveland Indians (1921–1932, 1939), Washington Senators (1933–1934), Chicago White Sox (1935–1938) and the St. Louis Browns (1942). Sewell batted and threw right-handed. He was regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of his era.Mickey Cochrane
Gordon Stanley "Mickey" Cochrane (April 6, 1903 – June 28, 1962), nicknamed "Black Mike", was an American professional baseball player, manager and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers. Cochrane was considered one of the best catchers in baseball history and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.Cochrane was born in Massachusetts and was a multi-sport athlete at Boston University. After college, he chose baseball over basketball and football. He made his major league debut in 1925, having spent only one season in the minor leagues. He was chosen as the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player in 1928 and he appeared in the World Series from 1929 to 1931. Philadelphia won the first two of those World Series, but Cochrane was criticized for giving up stolen bases when his team lost the series in 1931. Cochrane's career batting average (.320) stood as a record for MLB catchers until 2009.
Cochrane's career ended abruptly after a near-fatal head injury from a pitched ball in 1937. After his professional baseball career, he served in the United States Navy in World War II and ran an automobile business. Cochrane died of cancer in 1962. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him 65th on its list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players.Mickey Tettleton
Mickey Lee Tettleton (born September 16, 1960), is an American former professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball for the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, and Texas Rangers. Although Tettleton played mostly as a catcher, he also played as a first baseman, an outfielder, and as a designated hitter.Tettleton was named after Baseball Hall of Fame member and fellow Oklahoman, Mickey Mantle. Like the former Yankee star, Tettleton was a switch hitter. He was recognized for having an unusual batting stance: he stood almost straight up at the plate, holding his bat horizontal and bending only when the pitcher began his delivery. He was also distinguished by the huge wad of chewing tobacco he kept in his cheek during games, as well as his claim that Froot Loops were the source of his hitting power.Randy Hundley
Cecil Randolph Hundley Jr. (born June 1, 1942) is an American former professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the San Francisco Giants (1964-1965), Chicago Cubs (1966-1973, 1976-1977), Minnesota Twins (1974), and the San Diego Padres (1975). Hundley played the majority of his career with the Cubs and was considered their leader in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Despite being a light-hitter, Hundley was regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of his era, and the best Cubs catcher since Gabby Hartnett in 1940.Rick Ferrell
Richard Benjamin Ferrell (October 12, 1905 – July 27, 1995) was an American professional baseball player, coach, scout, and executive. He played for 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a catcher for the St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox, and Washington Senators, from 1929 through 1947. His brother, Wes Ferrell, was a major league pitcher for 15 seasons, and they were teammates from 1933 through part of 1938 on the Red Sox and Senators. Following his three seasons in minor league baseball, he appealed to the Commissioner of Baseball to become a free agent, claiming that he was being held in the minors though he deserved promotion. The Commissioner agreed, and he was granted free agency; he signed with the St. Louis Browns.
Ferrell was regarded as one of the best catchers in baseball during the 1930s and early 1940s. While playing for the Red Sox in 1933, he and his brother Wes were selected to play for the American League (AL) team in the inaugural 1933 Major League Baseball All-Star Game held on July 6, 1933. His 1,806 games played as a catcher set an AL longevity record which stood for more than 40 years. A seven-time All-Star, Ferrell was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984 by the Veterans Committee. After his playing career, he became a coach with the Senators, and later a scout and general manager with the Detroit Tigers. He died in July 1995.Runs created
Runs created (RC) is a baseball statistic invented by Bill James to estimate the number of runs a hitter contributes to his team.Secondary average
Secondary average, or SecA, is a baseball statistic that measures the sum of extra bases gained on hits, walks, and stolen bases (less times caught stealing) depicted per at bat. Created by Bill James, it is a sabermetric measurement of hitting performance that seeks to evaluate the number of bases a player gained independent of batting average. Unlike batting average, which is a simple ratio of base hits to at bats, secondary average accounts for power (extra base hits), plate discipline (walks), and speed (stolen bases minus times caught stealing). Secondary averages have a higher variance than batting averages.Ted Simmons
Ted Lyle Simmons (born August 9, 1949) is an American former professional baseball player and coach. A switch-hitter, Simmons was a catcher for most of his Major League Baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals (1968–80), the Milwaukee Brewers (1981–85) and the Atlanta Braves (1986–88). Although he was often overshadowed by his contemporary, Johnny Bench, Simmons is considered one of the best hitting catchers in Major League baseball history. While he didn't possess Bench's power hitting ability, he hit for a higher batting average. A volatile competitor with an intense desire to win, Simmons once fought with teammate John Denny during a game at Busch Memorial Stadium, in the runway between the club house and the dugout.At the time of his retirement, Simmons led all catchers in career hits and doubles and ranked second in RBIs behind Yogi Berra and second in total bases behind Carlton Fisk. He also retired with the National League record for home runs by a switch-hitter despite playing several years in the American League. Simmons hit .300 seven different times, hit 20 home runs six times, and caught 122 shutouts, eighth-most all-time. In 2017, he missed being elected to the Hall of Fame by one vote.Tom Haller
Thomas Frank Haller (June 23, 1937 – November 26, 2004), was an American professional baseball catcher, coach, and executive, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Detroit Tigers, from 1961 through 1972. In the late 1960s, Haller was considered one of the top catchers in the National League (NL).Villard (imprint)
Villard, also known as Villard Books, is a publishing imprint of Random House, one of the largest publishing companies in the world. It was founded in 1983. Villard began as an independent imprint of Random House and is currently a sub-imprint of Ballantine Books, itself an imprint of Random House. It was named after a Stanford White brownstone mansion on Madison Avenue that was the home of Random House for twenty years.