Featured image courtesy of Masslive.com
Based on regular season success alone, this Boston Red Sox team is arguably the most successful unit in franchise history. Friday night, the Red Sox recorded their 105th win of the season, beating a postseason-bound Cleveland Indians team despite starting Sam Travis, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Blake Swihart in the outfield. The Sox weren’t necessarily trying to win, yet they still took down one of the best teams in baseball. The Red Sox have only won 105 games one time, during the magical 1912 season. As a fan of baseball history, this is a perfect time to take a look back on the 1912 Boston Red Sox, the last time the Red Sox won 105 games.
The 1912 Boston Red Sox: The Other 105-Game Winners
The year is 1912. Woodrow Wilson was just elected president, New Mexico and Arizona officially joined the United States, and the Boston Red Sox are the team to beat. As indicated by their record, the Red Sox have one of the best offenses and pitching staffs in all of baseball.
The offense was led by the superb bat of Tris Speaker. Speaker had a season to remember in 1912, posting an unreal .383/.464/.567 slash line. Despite playing in an era of limited power, Speaker still managed to record 10 home runs on the season. Just as impressively, the lefty finished his 1912 season with 53 doubles and 12 triples. Speaker was also a speedster on the bases, stealing 52 bases over the course of 1912.
Of course, Speaker didn’t do it alone. Third baseman Larry Gardner and first baseman Jake Stahl both finished with batting averages over .300 and OPS’s over .800. While neither had seasons as good as Speaker, they combined to form arguably the best offense in baseball.
The 1912 Red Sox finished 1st in runs, doubles, homers, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. They also finished second in hits and batting average. There really wasn’t an easy out in the lineup, and Boston’s offense played a large role in reaching that 105-win plateau. However, as prolific as that offense was, the pitching staff was just as good.
The 1912 Pitching Staff
The 1912 Boston Red Sox had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, led by the fantastic Smoky Joe Wood. Wood finished his 1912 season throwing 344 innings to the tune of a 1.91 ERA, 2.25 FIP, and a 34-5 record. Wood pitched all nine innings in 35 of his 38 games started, as the then-22-year old truly put the team on his back.
Joining Wood in the rotation were Buck O’Brien, Hugh Bedient, Ray Collins, and Charley Hall. While none could come close to matching Woods’ production, each was a solid starter in their own right. Of the quartet, Hall had the highest ERA with 3.02. This was a different ERA of baseball where scoring wasn’t as common, but this was still a fantastic rotation from top to bottom.
Much like the offense, the 1912 pitching staff ranked at or near the top in just about every major category. In all, the unit finished first in complete games, runs allowed, and walks while finishing second in ERA, hits, and strikeouts.
How The Season Ended
By all accounts, this team was one of the most complete units in the young history of baseball. Boston made it all the way to the World Series, winning the title in eight games. In an interesting turn, Game Two of the 1912 World Series ended in an 11-inning tie. Why ties were allowed in the postseason back then is anyone’s guess.
Unsurprisingly, the star of the series was Smoky Joe Wood. Wood started four games in the series and was absolutely dominant in three of them. While he finished the series with a 4.50 ERA, this number was inflated by a Game Seven start in which he allowed six runs in just one inning. When eliminating that outing, Wood went 21 innings while allowing just five runs.
Wood’s most impressive work likely came in Game Eight. Despite starting one day earlier, the Sox trusted Wood to take the mound on the final game of the series. Hugh Bedient could only go seven innings and Wood took over after that. The Sox won in ten innings, in large part due to Wood’s three innings of one-run ball.
Unsurprisingly, Tris Speaker led the offense during the eight-game affair. In 30 at-bats, Speaker posted a .300/.382/.467 slash line while hitting a double, two triples, and two RBI’s. Harry Hooper, who had a relatively quiet regular season, had a fantastic World Series. In 31 at-bats, Hooper recorded a .290/.371/.419 slash line while adding two doubles, one triple, and two RBI’s.
While Larry Gardner didn’t make consistent contact, he certainly made the most of it whenever he did hit the ball. Despite recording just five hits in the series, Gardner made four go for extra bases. In 28 at-bats, Gardner recorded two doubles, one triple, and one home run while driving in five runs.
The 1912 Boston Red Sox finished their season with a storybook ending. The 2018 Boston Red Sox, however, are still writing their story. Hopefully, Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, and company can channel the success of the old Red Sox to bring home a title. As the only two teams in history to reach 105 wins, capping off the seasons with matching World Series titles would only make this success all the sweeter.
Interested in Red Sox history? Take a look back on the last time the Red Sox won 100 games