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Rookie of the Year
(Jackie Robinson Award)
Hypothetical Winners, 1900-19

The Rookie of the Year Award was established on a nationwide basis by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1947. One Rookie was honored annually in 1947-48, thereafter in each league. In 1987, Commissioner Peter Ueberroth renamed the award after its first winner, Jackie Robinson, but that name is rarely used.

Perhaps 250 members of SABR selected "retroactive" winners, for missing years and leagues beginning in 1900. The elections were conducted by Lyle Spatz, who reported in The Baseball Research Journal 1986. Spatz prepared the ballot for each award, listing every eligible rookie whom "someone might possibly select as a third choice. There were years with numbers in the teens and several with fewer than ten." Otherwise, SABR mimicked the process used by the BBWAA since 1980: each voter ranked three candidates 1st, 2d, and 3d; those votes were counted as 5, 3, and 1 points. (See the detail vote (1901-1910 only).)

Bill Deane selected "hypothetical" winners beginning in 1900, for Total Baseball (1989). He "felt a certain responsibility to make my selections consistent with the perceptions and voting trends of a particular era. . . . [T]hey are the ones which can be best justified with the available evidence." Those listed here appear identically in TB3 and TB6.

STATS, Inc., selected "retroactive" annual award winners beginning in 1876 for The All-Time Major League Baseball Sourcebook (1998). "We didn't try to guess what the voting trends might have been in a particular era. We concentrated on individual statistics (offensive and defensive) and team performance."

Notes continue below the tables.

Hypothetical Rookie of the Year, 1900-19

- two different rookies named * three different rookies named Elector SABR members Bill Deane STATS, Inc. BRJ 1988 TB 1989 1988 Federal League 1914F Benny Kauff RF-Ind Kauff 1915F Ernie Johnson SS-SL Johnson American League 1901A Socks Seybold RF-Phi Seybold Seybold 1902A - Addie Joss P-Cle Joss Patsy Dougherty LF-Bos 1903A - Chief Bender P-Phi Bender Charlie Carr 1B-Det 1904A Fred Glade P-SL Glade Glade 1905A George Stone LF-SL Stone Stone 1906A Claude Rossman 1B-Cle Rossman Rossman 1907A - Glenn Liebhardt P-Cle Simon Nicholls SS-Phi Nicholls 1908A Ed Summers P-Det Summers Summers 1909A - Harry Krause P-Phi Home Run Baker 3B-Phi Baker 1910A Russ Ford P-NY Ford Ford 1911A - Vean Gregg P-Cle Gregg Joe Jackson RF-Cle 1912A - Hugh Bedient P-Bos Del Pratt 2B-SL Pratt 1913A Reb Russell P-Chi Russell Russell 1914A - George Burns 1B-Det Rube Bressler P-Phi Burns 1915A Babe Ruth P-Bos Ruth Ruth 1916A - Lefty Williams P-Chi Jim Bagby P-Cle Bagby 1917A - Joe Harris 1B-Cle Allan Sothoron P-SL Harris 1918A Scott Perry P-Phi Perry Perry 1919A - Dickie Kerr P-Chi Kerr Ira Flagstead RF-Det National League 1900N * Billy Sullivan C-Bos Ed Scott P-Cin Jimmy Barrett CF-Cin 1901N Christy Mathewson P-NY Mathewson Mathewson 1902N Homer Smoot CF-SL Smoot Smoot 1903N Jake Weimer P-Chi Weimer Weimer 1904N Harry Lumley RF-Bkn Lumley Lumley 1905N Ed Reulbach P-Chi Reulbach Reulbach 1906N Jack Pfiester P-Chi Pfiester Pfiester 1907N - Nap Rucker P-Bkn Rucker Mike Mitchell RF-Cin 1908N Geo. McQuillan P-Phi McQuillan McQuillan 1909N * Babe Adams P-Pit Dots Miller 2B-Pit Dick Hoblitzel 1B-Cin 1910N King Cole P-Chi Cole Cole 1911N G.C. Alexander P-Phi Alexander Alexander 1912N Larry Cheney P-Chi Cheney Cheney 1913N Jim Viox 2B-Pit Viox Viox 1914N Jeff Pfeffer P-Bkn Pfeffer Pfeffer 1915N - Tom Long RF-SL Long Dave Bancroft SS-Phi 1916N Rogers Hornsby 3B-SL Hornsby Hornsby 1917N - Leon Cadore P-Bkn Cadore Walter Holke 1B-NY 1918N Cha. Hollocher SS-Chi Hollocher Hollocher 1919N - Oscar Tuero P-SL Tuero Verne Clemons C-SL Elector SABR members Bill Deane STATS, Inc. BRJ 1988 TB 1989- 1998 Notes 1900N The NL contracted from 12 to 8 teams. How many rookies won jobs? 1907N SABR named Rucker over Mitchell in a close vote. 1916A SABR named Williams over Bagby in a close vote. See the detail vote by SABR, 1901-10.
Scope. The selections by SABR and Bill Deane begin with the National League in 1900, one year before the founding of the American League and the advent of the "Deadball Era" as it defines the Deadball ERA Research Committee, SABR. Deane includes the 1914-15 Federal League. I have included those 1900 and FL selections here.
The STATS selections begin in 1876, the first National League season. Visit "Rookie" winners, 1876-1900 for a similar presentation of the 19th century winners.

Position. Every rookie selected was his team's regular player at one of the nine positions, according to "The Annual Record" [TB6]. Perhaps Rogers Hornsby, NL1916, was the most versatile; he played 45 games at shortstop, where he became the regular next year.

             P  C : 1B 2B SS 3B : LF CF RF  += sum
SABR        27  1    3  1  1  1    1  1  3  += 39
Deane/TB    26       1  3  3  2    1  1  4  += 41
STATS       16  1    6  2  3  2    2  2  5  += 41
Deadball pitchers carried heavy workloads and achieved statistical wonders by modern standards. The hypothetical/retroactive awards for pitchers reflect both genuinely high value of a single pitcher, by modern standards, and statistical illusion. (More the latter, I think.)

First-Place Rookies. SABR named players on pennant-winning teams for 8 of 39 Rookie of the Year awards; Bill Deane 9 of 41; STATS 8 of 41.

Acknowledgments. Lyle Spatz conducted the SABR poll and provided the SABR and Bill Deane series in electronic format. (I revised the fielding position for Rogers Hornsby, 1916N, and for every outfielder.) STATS, Inc., The All-Time Major League Baseball Sourcebook (1998). See Bill Deane, "Awards and Honors", Total Baseball (any edition), for his entire series of hypothetical Rookies of the Year or for more history of the official award.

Last modified: 2005-06-06 (link to, consis with 19c page)
Paul Wendt
© Society for American Baseball Research, 2001, 2002, 2005