Philadelphia Phillies – Year 5: Finishing in 2nd place for the first time.
In 1887, in the fourth year of Harry Wright’s tenure as the Phillies/Quakers’ managers, the team would finish in second place for the first time in the team’s long existance.
The 1887 season would see some more changes within the National League. First, the Kansas City Cowboys, after finishing in seventh place in 1886, would not be offered another chance by the league. Their place would be taken up by the American Association Pittsburgh Alleghenys (now the Pirates) who had finished the 1886 AA season in second place. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Maroons would transfer their assets to Indianapolis, becoming the Indianapolis Hoosiers, leaving St. Louis once again without an entry in the NL (the city’s previous representative, the St. Louis Brown Stockings, were dropped after being in the league for the 1876-1877 seasons.). The rest of the Phillies’ opponents for 1887 would be the Beaneaters, the Giants, the Nationals, the Wolverines and the White Stockings. The Phillies would play their games in their new home, the Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds, later known as Baker Bowl, which was located between North Broad Street, West Huntingdon Street, North 15th Street and West Lehigh Street in North Philadelphia.
The Phillies would begin the season in late April, facing their eastern rival, the New York Giants, for three games, the first two to be played in New York, and the third in the Phillies’ new home, the Philadelphia Base Ball Ground. The Phils would lose both games played in New York, by close scores of 4-3 and 7-4, before winning the first game to be played in their new park, by the score of 15-9, giving them a record of 1-2 for the month of April. They would then start May at home, facing the Beaneaters for three games. They would lose the first two games, then win the away game by the score of 12-0, ending their short home stand with a 2-2 record. The Phillies would next go on the road for three games against the Nationals, and then three more in Boston. The Phils would start the road trip with a 5-5 tie with the Nationals, before winning the next two games against them, and then winning the first game in their three-games series with the Beaneaters. They would then split the next two games with Boston, winning the series, 2-1, and ending the road trip with a 4-1-1 record. The Phillies would then start a second three-games series with the Giants, this time playing the first two games in Philadelphia and then the final one in New York. The Phils would split the series at home, before winning the final game in New York by the lopsided score of 17-2 for a 2-1 record in the series. The Phillies would then come home for a long home stand with three of the western teams, playing first four games against Detroit, then four against Chicago and finally three against Indianapolis. They would be swept by the Wolverines, then lose their first game with their western rival, the White Stockings. After ending their five-games slide by defeating Chicago, they would split the next two games with them, for a 2-2 record in their series, before winning all three games against the Hoosiers, ending the home stand with a respectable record of 5-6. The Phillies would then end the month of June by playing the Alleghenys in Pittsburgh for the first time for three games, including a doubleheader on June 30. The Phillies would split the doubleheader with their cross-state rival, winning the first game by 2-1 and then losing the ‘nightcap’ by a score of 6-4. They would then win the final game of their short road trip, giving them a record of 2-1, a 14-11-1 record for the month of May and an overall record of 15-13-1.
The Phillies would begin June with a short home stand against their eastern rivals, with three games against the Beaneaters, and then three more with the Giants. The Phils would lose their series with the Beaneaters, going 1-2, before tying the first game against the Giants, 6-6. They would then split the last two games with the Giants to end the series with an 1-1-1 record, and to end the short home stand with an overall record of 2-3-1. They would then go on the road to face these two teams again for two more three-games series. The road trip would end up being an 1-5 fiasco, with their only victory coming in their first game in New York, 5-4, with their worst defeat being a 29-1 shalacking by the Giants in the last game of their three-games series. The Phils would then come home for a short three-games home stand against the Nationals, which the Phillies would win 2-1. The Phillies would then go west for an eleven-games road trip against the White Stockings (3), the Hoosiers (4) and the Wolverines (4), to end June and start July. The Phillies would lose the first two games of their series with Chicago, before tying the final game at 7-7. They would then go to Indianapolos, losing the first game, and then winning the next three with the Hoosiers, including a 24-0 thumping on June 28, before going on to Detroit, where they would split the final two games of the month of June, ending the month with a record of 9-13-2 and an overall record of 24-26-3.
They would begin the month of July by losing their final two games with the Wolverines, ending the series with a record of 1-3, and the road trip with a record of 4-6-1. They would then go home for a fifteen-games home stand, to face the Alleghenys for three games, including the second doubleheader between the two teams, this one to be played on July 4, followed by three games with Chicago, three with the Hoosiers, three with Detroit and then the final three games with the Alleghenys. The Phillies would split the doubleheader with Pittsburgh, winning the first game, 9-5, then losing the ‘nightcap’ by 8-5. They would then win the last game of the series, to give them a series win at 2-1. Then would then get swept by the White Stockings, before going on an eight-games winning streak, sweeping first the Hoosiers and then the Wolverines and then winning the first two games of their second home series against the Alleghenys, before losing the last games in the series, by 4-3, winning the home stand as they went 10-5. The Phils would then go on a long road trip for the rest of July and the beginning of August to face the Nationals (3), the Alleghenys (3), the Wolverines (3), the White Stockings (1), the Hoosiers (2) and the White Stockings (3) again for 15 games. The Phillies would begin their long trip by losing their series with the Nationals, 1-2, before going on to Pittsburgh to win their series with the Alleghenys, 2-1, ending July with a record of 13-10 and with an overall record of 37-36-3, and poised to make a pennant run, as Harry Wright prepares to turn his best starter, Charlie Ferguson, into an everyday player, as well as his pitching ace, because of Ferguson’s .300 batting average.
The Phillies would start August in Detroit, winning the first game of the series, before ending it with an 1-2 record, as they would lose the next two games. They would then win the next four games, winning their one-game series in Chicago, then sweeping the Hoosiers, before going back to Chicago and winning the first game of their three-games series with their western rival. They would then split the next two games to win the series, 2-1, and go back home with a winning record of 9-6. They would go home for a long seventeen-games home stand for the rest of August and the start of September, facing the Nationals for three, the Giants for four, the Hoosiers for three, the Wolverines for two, the Alleghenys for three and the White Stockings for two. The Phils would start their long home stand by sweeping the Nationals, and then winning the first two games of their series with the Giants before having their winning streak snapped at six games with a 10-8 lost. The next game with the Giants would end up in a 5-5 tie, ending the series with a 2-1-1 series win. The Phils would then sweep the Hoosiers, before spliting their two-games series with Detroit. They would then lost their three-games series with Pittsburgh, ending August with a 16-7-1 record and an overall record of 53-43-4.
The Phillies would start off the month of September by splitting their two-games series with the White Stockings, ending the home stand with a record of 11-5-1. They would then go on an equally long road trip for most of September, facing the Beaneaters for three games, the Nationals for three, the White Stockings for three, the Hoosiers for three, the Wolverines for two and the Alleghenys for three. On the eastern half of the trip, after losing the first game with the Beaneaters, they would win the next five games, including a three-games sweep of the Nationals. They are then swept in Chicago by the White Stockings, before beginning what would become a seventeen-games no-lost streak, as they would first sweep the Hoosiers in three straight, then the Wolverines for three and finally end the trip by sweeping the Alleghenys, ending their long road trip with a record of 13-4. They would then end the month of September with two games at home against the Nationals, which they would also sweep, giving them a record for the month of 16-5, and an overall record of 69-48-4.
They would continue the home stand in October with three games against Boston, sweeping the Beaneaters with ease. They would then end their season the same way they had started it, with a series against the Giants, this time facing them for two games in New York, a one-game series in Philadelphia and then one final game in New York. The Phillies would sweep the short two-games series in New York, tied their final home game in Philadelphia, going 5-5, and then winning their final game of the year, 6-3, ending October with a 6-0-1 record and the season with a record of 75-48-5, with a winning percentage of .610, their best record to date in their short existance. This would put them in second place, three games ahead of the third place White Stockings and six and a half games behind the 1887 National League Champions, the Detroit Wolverines (This would be the Wolverines only title.).
In 128 games played, the Phillies would have a home/road record of 38-23-3 at home and 37-25-2 on the road. The Phillies would have good records against all but three teams, with their best record being against the Hoosiers (17-1), followed by the Nationals (13-3-1), with their worst record being against their nemesis the White Stockings (6-12-1). They were 7-2 in shut outs, 17-11 in 1-run games and 37-13 in blowouts. The Phillies would play before 253,671 fans in their brand new park.
The Phillies’ offense and pitching would be among the league leaders in 1887. In batting, they would end up being first in doubles (213), second in at-bats (4630), runs scored (901), hits (1269) and walks (385), fourth in batting average (.274), on-base percentage (.330), slugging percentage (.389) and stolen bases (355) and fifth in triples (89), home runs (47) and strikeouts (346), while also knocking in 702 RBIs, while being hit by the pitch 52 times. The pitchers, meanwhile, would lead the league in innings pitched (1132), shut outs (7) and runs allowed (702), be second in ERA (3.47), saves (1) and strikeouts (435), third in walks (305), fourth in hits allowed (1173) and home runs allowed (48) and sixth in complete games (119), while also finishing nine games, giving up 436 earned runs, throwing 56 wild pitches, no balks and hitting 34 batters.
Individual offensive leaders for the Phillies in 1887 would be Ed Andrews in batting (.325), hits (151) and singles (121), Jim Forgarty in on-base percentage (.376), games (126), at-bats (495), total plate appearances (587), doubles (26), walks (82) and stolen bases (102), while being tied with Sid Farrar in the number of times HBP (10), George Wood in slugging percentage (.497), runs scored (118), total bases (244), triples (19), home runs (14), strikeouts (51), and extra-base hits (55), and Charlie Ferguson in RBIs (85). Ferguson would also lead the pitching staff in winning percentage (.688), saves (1) and games finished (4), while going 22-10. Dan Casey would lead the staff in ERA (2.86), wins (28), games pitched (45), games started (also 45), complete games (43), shut outs (4), hits allowed (377), walks allowed (115), hit batters (14) and batters faced (1660), while Charlie Buffinton would lead in strikeouts (160), home runs allowed (16), losses (17), earned runs allowed (135) and wild pitches (25). On the staff, there would be three twenty games winners, as Buffinton would win 21 games, to go along with Ferguson’s 22 and Casey’s 28. Fogarty would also be the league leader in total plate appearances and walks among the batters, while Casey would be the league’s ERA and shut outs leader, while Ferguson would be tied for the league’s lead in saves among pitchers.
As the Phillies would spent the off-season preparing to hopefully win their first pennant, the Detroit Wolverines would face the American Association’s pennant winner, the St. Louis Browns, in a fifteen games World Series, which would be won by the Wolverines, 10 games to 5.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com and Baseball-Reference.com