Cy Seymour (CF) – 1905 Cincinnati Reds. Cy Seymour played Major League Baseball for 16 years from 1896 – 1910 and 1913. He was a good ball player (lifetime Major League batting average of .303; 117% of League Average) including fifty-two career home runs. He started out as a pitcher. He was converted to an outfielder in 1902. His pitching record was 61-56 (W-L), .521 (Win Pct), 3.76 Earned Run Average (ERA) over five years. He pitched for the New York Giants. In 1902, he did pitch in one game for the Reds (three innings pitched, three earned runs, 9.00 ERA).
In 1905, Seymour had an outstanding season (his Best Season) as the center fielder for the Cincinnati Reds. I selected Cy Seymour to be my first Best Season Biography (BSB) because I did not know much about him. The focus of the BSB will be the Black Ball Stars’ opponents who had that one great season but did not have an exceptional career and were not in the Hall of Fame.
Many baseball historians, including Bill James, considered Seymour’s 1905 season a “fluke”. As I said before, Seymour was a solid all-around ball player but 1905 ranks with the Best Seasons of Hall of Fame Center Fielders, Cobb, Speaker, Mays and Mantle.
In 2002, Bill James ranked Seymour 30th among Major League center fielders for his career. Before I go any further, I use Bill James rankings (Top 100 baseball players and Top 100 Major League players by position) and Win Shares (individual player’s contribution to team’s wins during season/career) to evaluate all 400+ ball players in my two book series (The Best Season-The First Ninety Games, published July 2012 and The Best Season-The Challenging Finish, planned to be published in late 2017).
In Bill James Top 100 Ranking of Baseball Players, he does rank Negro League Ball Players. By the way, Seymour is not on his Top 100 list. Using % of Team’s Win Shares as the measurement, Cy Seymour’s 1905 season edges out Ty Cobb for the greatest season for a center fielder in baseball history (based on the 23 Major League center fielders in this two book series). The two Black Ball Stars listed as center fielders in this series are “Cool Papa” Bell (ranked 76th in Top 100 baseball players) and “Turkey” Stearnes (ranked 25th). There is no Win Share information on the Negro League ball players. Note: Oscar Charleston (Negro Leagues), we have in with left-fielders, though he probably played most of his games in center field.
Before going into the % of Teams Win Share top five rankings in the Best Season Series for center fielders, let us go back to the 1905 National League Baseball Season. The New York Giants won the National League pennant by nine games over the second place, Pittsburgh Pirates. The Giants won 105 games. Led by Christy Mathewson’s three shutouts, the Giants swept the American League pennant winner, the Philadelphia Athletics, four games to none, outscoring them 15 to 3. The Giants pitching staff ERA was 0.00!
Honus Wagner led the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1905 (his Best Season). For non-pitchers, Wagner and Seymour were the best players in the National League in 1905. Christy Mathewson (31 wins, 1.28 ERA, his Best Season) was the best pitcher.
The Cincinnati Reds 1905 season was nothing special (79-74, .518, 26 games behind Giants), good for fifth place. Miller Huggins was the only other Reds’ position player who was in the Top Five in at least two key offensive categories. He led the league in walks with 103. He was third in runs scored with 117. These were two categories, Cy Seymour was not in the Top Five.
Fred Odwell (Reds) led the National League in 1905 with 9 home runs, one more home run than Cy Seymour, which cost Seymour the Triple Crown. Note: Odwell played four years in the Major Leagues (all with the Reds). He hit only one other home run in his Major League career.
In thirteen offensive categories, Cy Seymour ranked first, 8 times; ranked second, 3 times! Wagner was in the top four, 11 times. He was first in Runs Produced, edging Seymour 209 to 208. Wagner was second to Seymour in Batting Average and Slugging Percentage.
Win Shares – Bill James created this wonderful method to evaluate every Major League baseball player’s contribution to his team’s wins (season and career). It includes every season beginning with 1871.
It breaks down each season like this – for every team win in a season there are three win shares. In 1905, the Cincinnati Reds won 79 games which equates to 237 win shares (79 x 3).
In 1905, there were only two players in the National League with more than 40 win shares. They were Honus Wagner with 46 and Cy Seymour with 42. The top pitcher, Christy Mathewson had 39 win shares.
Now let us look at the five Best Season’s out of the 23 Major League Center Fielders in this two book series. Note: This two book series included Major League players for the period 1881 through 1987. It did not include any Major League players that were still active as of 1993. All players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as of 1992 are included.
On the list of the Top 100 baseball players Seymour is not listed, Mays is ranked third, Cobb is fifth, Mantle is sixth and Speaker is eleventh. Mays, Cobb, Mantle and Speaker are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cy Seymour’s Best Season ranks as one of the greatest season’s by any player! Note: Cy Seymour recently was enshrined in to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Also of players that converted from pitcher to position player, Seymour had the second best pitching record behind Babe Ruth.
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Bob, The Baseball Man