No. 266 Jimmy Sheckard (Number 26 Left Field)

Jimmy Sheckard is famous for taking so many walks late in his career. After never having 100 walks in 14 years in 1911 he had 147 walks, a new National League record. He kept the record for a while until Eddie Stankey broke it. This also allowed Sheckard to lead the league in runs with 121 at age 32. The next year he walked 122 times to prove it was no fluke.

This was good as he lost a lot of his power. In 1901 Sheckard led the National League in slugging with a 534-slugging percentage. In 1911 he slugged only .388 and was now a leadoff hitter.

I looked him up on Bill James to see if I rated Sheckard too high. James had him 24th in Left Field. He also said Sheckard was great in certain areas as a player at certain times in his career.

Sheckard played for the Chicago Cubs from 1906 to 1912 one of the greatest dynasties of all time. However, he doesn’t get a lot of credit for that. One reason is there are already four hall of famers on this team, Tinkers, Evers, Chance and Three Fingers Brown. I have Sheckard ahead of all but Brown.

Another reason is that Sheckard had his best seasons before he became a Cub. According to Baseball Reference WAR, Sheckard had 5 of his 6 best seasons before he became a Cub. Sheckard’s best season as a Cub was in 1911 when the dynasty was starting to cool down.

I have a hunch about Sheckard’s walks. Most of his career before 1910 Shackard’s walk percentage was between 10 and 13 percent. Now this is a fairly solid percentage and helped his on-base percentage. In 1910 he broke his career high in walks as players are apt to do in their 30s with a total of 83. He also cleared the career high mark with 13.3 percent.

In the World Series that year Sheckard (who didn’t hit well in his three previous World Series), walked 7 times in 5 games along with 5 hits. He was on base enough to score 5 runs, which was a third of the teams runs. Only one of he games was close, game 4. In that game Shckard walked in the first and scored the first Cubs run. He then drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the tenth.

I wonder if in that series he thought to himself if I work on drawing walks it will give me more good pitches to hit and I will help the team by being on base all the time. Shackard must have known he no longer hit for much power and didn’t steal as many bases as just after the turn of the century. In 1911 combining his hits, walks and being hit by a pitch Shackard was on base 299 times in 156 games, almost twice a game. He led the National League in on base percentage of .434 and as mentioned before 121 runs. Sheckard was quite a player, but he was also a smart player who did what he had to so he could stick around.

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