Jake Stenzel was a 5’10” right-handed centerfielder from Cincinnati, OH. Born on June 24, 1867, he made his first professional appearance in the Ohio State League, with Wheeling. He hit .387 through 41 games with the club. He would stay with the club the following season through their move to the Tri-State League, as they renamed themselves the Wheelers. He made a jump to the Springfield ballclub in the same league the following season.
In 1890, Stenzel appeared in 46 contests for the Galveston Sand Crabs in the Texas League. He hit .307 and was signed to play major league ball with the Chicago Colts. In 11 games, he hit .268, scoring three runs and knocking three in. Later that season, he made an appearance with the Western Association’s Omaha Omahogs.
In 1891, Stenzel joined the Spokane Bunch Grassers in the Pacific Northwestern League. In 101 games he hit .351, stole 68 bases, and scored 135 runs. In 1892, the PNWL was designated a “B” league, and Stenzel moved to the Portland Webfeet, where he hit .339 in 73 contests with 55 stolen bases. He also signed another major league contract, making his first appearance with the Pirates. He went hitless in 10 plate appearances, drawing a walk and stealing a base.
1893 would mark Stenzel’s first full season in the majors. In 60 contests, he hit .362 with 16 stolen bags. He also drew 24 walks to only 17 strikeouts, knocking in 37 runs. The Pirates finished 81-48, five games behind the pennant winning Boston Beaneaters.
In 1894, Stenzel increased his contribution to the cause, more than doubling his games played (to an NL eighth most 132 games). He hit .352 with 150 runs, 39 doubles (fourth), 20 triples, 13 home runs (fifth), 121 RBI, and 61 stolen bases (seventh). He also drew 76 walks and only struck out 13 times. He finished sixth in the NL with a .577 slugging percentage. The Bucs posted a 65-65 record, finishing 25 games out of first behind the Baltimore Orioles.
1895 would see more of the same from Stenzel. He hit a career high.371 with 38 doubles, 13 triples, seven home runs, 97 RBI, 57 walks, and 53 stolen bases. He only struck out 25 times out of 592 plate appearances in 130 games. Pittsburgh went 71-61 on the season, again mired in seventh in the NL 17 games behind the Orioles.
1896 would mark the end of Stenzel’s time with the Pirates. He hit .361 in 114 games, with 26 doubles, 14 triples, 104 runs scored, 82 RBI, 57 stolen bases, and only 13 strikeouts. Pittsburgh went 66-63 that season, 24 games behind the Orioles in sixth place.
Pittsburgh sent Stenzel along with Elmer Horton, Tom O’Brien, and Harry Truby to the Orioles for Steve Brodie and Jim Donnelly after the 1896 season. He led the NL with 43 doubles his first season in Baltimore, and ended up hitting .332 over 166 contests with 73 stolen bases with the club over the next season and a half. He later played with the St. Louis Browns for parts of two seasons (143 games, .280) and the Cincinnati Reds (nine games, .310).
All-Time Statline: Five seasons, 539 games, .360/.429/.528, 631-for-1755, 425 runs, 116 doubles, 51 triples, 26 home runs, 337 RBI, 188 stolen bases, 190 walks, 71 strikeouts, 14.4 wins above replacement.