October 27, 2011
(October 14th, 1911) NEW YORK–We’ve looked at pitchers and managers, not let’s take a look at infields.
ATHLETICS: There is a clear advantage here, as the Athletics $100,000 infield (above) is one of the finest of all time, and probably will be thought of that way 100 years hence! There are no weaknesses here except perhaps inexperience. At first base, you have Stuffy McInnis,only 20 years old, but whose enormous reach is matched only by his batting prowess. He hit .321 this year. At 2nd base, the A’s have a superstar in the making in Eddie Collins. At short, they feature the defensive wizard Jack Barry. If you hit a ground ball within his reach, you might as well start jogging for the dugout. Finally, at third base, you have the vaunted slugger Frank Baker. He hit an incredible 11 long balls this season, tops in the American League. Will the A’s employ that home run strategy, seen as dirty and ungentlemanly by the old timers, in this Series?At catcher, the Athletics employ Ira Thomas, who is vaunted for his excellent arm. One of the key matchups in this Series will be his arm versus the Giants fiery feet. The speedy Giants will be testing that arm early and often.
GIANTS: At first base, the Giants feature young star Fred “Bonehead” Merkle. His running error in the 1908 pennant chase has not yet been forgotten, but if he keeps playing like he did this season it will be a mere footnote on an illustrious career. Merkle hit .283 with 12 homers, 24 doubles, and 49 stolen bases. At 2nd base, the Giants feature Larry Doyle. He finished 3rd in the running for the Chalmers Award (the NL MVP award at the time), and is good at all facets of the game. He can hit for average (.310), power (12 Home Runs), and speed (25 triples and 38 stolen bases). At short, the Giants felt good enough about young Art Fletcher that they bid adieu to former shortstop Al Bridwell midway through the season. The gamble paid off handsomely, as Fletcher responded to his promotion with aplomb, batting .319. At third, the Giants feature a platoon of Art Devlin (.273) and Buck Herzog (.267). The one place in the infield where they certainly have an advantage would seem to be catcher, where the great Chief Meyers holds court. He hit .332 this season, and the Indian has acquired a reputation as calling quite a game.
ADVANTAGE: The teams are fairly even at first base, and both have superstars at second, and shortstop is a tossup. The one position where the A’s have a clear advantage is 3rd, where the champion Baker is quite an upgrade from the Giants platoon. But the Giants catcher is the great Chief Meyers, so they have the obvious advantage there. Overall, it would seem the Athletics would have the slightly better diamond minders, but the Giants are the only team in baseball who can compete with the $100,000 infield.