December 2, 2020

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1926 NNL Fielding & Pitching, 32 Home Runs for Suttles

November 9, 2020 by · 2 Comments 

We’ve added newly audited and expanded statistics for the 1926 Negro National League, including fielding statistics, complete pitching statistics, batters’ hit by pitch, and a handful of new games and corrections to the record.

While I don’t think that counting stats are, by themselves, a particularly good measure of the quality of Negro league ballplayers, it’s worth noting that this audit has produced a new single-season record for home runs by a player in games against Negro league opponents: 32 by Mule Suttles of the St. Louis Stars.

The Stars played in Stars Park, which was built up against a trolley car barn that cut into left field, making it a great park for right-handed power hitters. Here’s a photo of Stars catcher Henry “Flick” Williams, with a good view of the park:

Henry Williams in Stars Park, St. Louis.

And in fact, Suttles hit 26 home runs in Stars Park (one of them inside the park) and only 6 on the road. Those numbers are a bit deceiving, though, as the Stars’ schedule was extremely lopsided, with most of their NNL games played at home. Of Suttles’s 89 games, 65 were in Stars Park:At these rates a balanced home/road schedule would give Suttles 18 homers at home, 11 on the road.

A few other statistical highlights from this update, all from the St. Louis Stars:

–Suttles also sets single-season Negro league records for triples (19) and extra base hits (79), as well as for slugging percentage with 200 plate appearances or more (.877).
–The NNL leader in HBP was Stars catcher Mitchell Murray with 15, which also sets a single-season Negro league record.
Cool Papa Bell stole 36 bases, which is the second-highest single-season Negro league total we’ve recorded (the highest is Bell’s 49 in 1929).
–St. Louis pitcher Slap Hensley set a less enviable record by allowing 20 home runs, the most allowed by a Negro league pitcher in a single season (so far). To be fair, he was a workhorse in an extreme hitters’ park who led the league in most counting stats for pitchers, including wins, games pitched, games started, innings pitched, hits allowed, runs & earned runs allowed, walks, and strikeouts.

Turning to fielding, here are the NNL fielders with the most Runs Saved Above Average for each position (excluding pitchers):

C: Mitchell Murray, St. Louis
1B: Lemuel Hawkins, Kansas City
2B: Bingo DeMoss, Indianapolis
SS: Newt Allen, Kansas City
3B: Dave Malarcher, Chicago
LF: Johnny Jones, Indianapolis/Detroit
CF: Cando López, Cuban Stars
RF: Jelly Gardner, Chicago

The best defensive team, by Runs Saved Per 1000 Innings, was the Kansas City Monarchs; the worst was (surprisingly) the St. Louis Stars, though the last-place Dayton Marcos were close. The Stars did give up a ton of hits (their opponents batted .309 for the season) but I’m actually wondering if the metric is not fully accounting for park effects here.

Next up: the 1945 Mexican League, 1924 ECL with fielding stats, 1939 NNL & NAL with fielding stats, further Cuban League seasons, and more.

The 1926 St. Louis Stars didn’t win the pennant, but they did put up some big numbers.


2 Responses to “Negro Leagues DB Update: 1926 NNL Fielding & Pitching, 32 Home Runs for Suttles”
  1. GMLBFan says:

    I still have a folder of microfiche copies from the Pittsburgh Courier. In the December 22, 1923 issue Dizzy Dismukes has this to say about Lem Hawkins in his “Winter’s Blast and Summer Echoes” column:

    “With the slowing up McAdoo of St.Louis and Grant of Chicago there was a great falling off in the play around first base, a position usually held down in faultless style. At present Hawkins of Kansas City is about the class of the league, with no promising youngsters showing their right to challenge.”

    Always nice when the numbers and anecdotal info coincide!

  2. ED RANDALL says:

    Please have Gary contact me at the above email address for an interview.

    Thank you.

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