FanPost

Pittsburgh Pirates All-Time Top 100: 37. Mike Smith

Elmer Ellsworth Smith (more commonly known as “Mike), was a 5’11” pitcher from Pittsburgh, PA. Born on March 23rd, 1968, the lefthander made his minor league debut in 1886 with the Nashville Americans, of the “B” level Southern Association, going 4-4 with a 0.89 ERA and hitting .351 over 10 games. Later in the season, he joined the American Association’s Cincinnati Red Stockings for his first shot at the majors, again going 4-4 with a more reasonable 3.72 ERA, hitting .286 in nine contests. He spent a total of four seasons with the Sox, hitting .251 in 130 games while compiling a 69-50 record with a 3.31 ERA as a pitcher. The unaffiliated Western Association’s Kansas City Blues would be Smith’s home for the next two seasons, which would see him accrue a .314 average as an outfielder in 1891 (1890 stats were unkept).

1892 would see Smith compose a 6-7 record with a 3.63 ERA, starting 13 of his total 17 pitching appearances. His future, however lay in hitting, as he was featured in the outfield for 121 contests, with a .274 batting average, 86 runs, 14 triples (NL 10th), 63 RBI, 22 stolen bases, and a team leading 82 walks, helping him to a Pirates best .375 on-base percentage. Pittsburgh finished sixth in the 12 team National League, going 80-73.

In 1893, Smith improved his average to .346 (NL third) with 26 doubles, 23 triples (NL fourth), a team leading seven home runs, 103 RBI, 26 stolen bases, and 77 walks, helping him to a .435 OBP (NL fifth) and a .525 slugging percentage (NL fourth). The Pirates went 81-48 on the season, finishing second in the National League just five games behind the pennant winning Boston Beaneaters.

Smith improved his average to a team leading .357 in 1894, playing 126 games and scoring 128 runs, hitting 33 doubles, 19 triples (NL 10th), six home runs, and 74 RBI. He also stole 34 bases and walked 68 times. He also had a .440 OBP and a Pirates best .539 SLG. The team was the definition of win some, lose some, going 75-75 and finishing seventh in the NL.

1895 would see Smith Hit .302 in 125 contests, scoring 89 runs, hitting 15 doubles, 12 triples and 81 RBI, steal 34 bases and walk 55 times. During this season he ranked fourth on the team in most offensive categories, behind Jake Beckley (coming soon), Jake Stenzel (number 73), and Patsy Donovan (not in the top 100, but had eight good seasons in Pittsburgh). The Bucs finished in the seventh position with a 71-61 record.

In 1896, Smith hit a career best .362 (NL eighth) in 122 games. He scored a team best 121 runs, hit 21 doubles, 14 triples, and Bucs highs with six home runs and 94 RBI. He also stole 33 bases and walked 74 times (NL seventh), giving him a .454 OBP (NL eighth) and a .500 SLG (NL eighth). The team posted a 66-63 record.

1897 would be Smith’s last season in Pittsburgh. He hit .310 with a team high 99 runs scored, 19 doubles, 17 triples (NL fifth), and six home runs (NL seventh) with 54 RBI. He stole 25 bases and walked 70 times (NL eighth). He also led the team with a .408 OBP and was a close second with a .463 SLG. Pittsburgh finished the season in eighth place in the NL with a 60-71 record. After the season, the Bucs sent him along with pitcher Pink Hawley (47th on this list, 41-28 for the Reds) and $1500 to the Cincinnati Reds for third baseman Bill Gray (.229 in 137 games), leftfielder Jack McCarthy (.298, 147 RBI over 276 games), pitcher Billy Rhines (16-20, 3.95), catcher/first baseman Pop Schriver (.260 over 224 games), and second baseman Ace Stewart (never played for the Bucs).

Smith hit .317 over 240 games for Cincinnati. He later made an appearance with the New York Giants (85 games, .260, 34 RBI) before getting released and signing a free agent contract to return to the Pirates. He appeared in four games, walking twice and going hitless in six plate appearances. After getting released early in the season, he later signed on with the Boston Beaneaters, hitting .175 over 16 games to close out his baseball career.

A disclaimer: Smith should have been 40th, and the preceding three entries should have been one higher. When I made the initial calculations, I failed to include Smith’s pitching performance (amounting to -0.5 WAR, bringing his total WAR from 22.0 to 21.5).

All-Time Statline: Seven seasons, 766 games, .325/.415/.466, 960-for-2958, 644 runs, 130 doubles, 99 triples, 30 home runs, 469 RBI, 174 stolen bases, 428 walks, 153 strikeouts, 21.5 wins above replacement.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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