In 1897, Ritchey (also known as “Little All Right”) made his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds. He hit .282 over 101 contests with 41 RBI playing shortstop, outfield, and second base. He then played for two seasons with the Louisville Colonels, hitting .277 over 299 contests with 124 RBI. The Colonels traded him after the close of the 1899 season along with Fred Clarke, Bert Cunningham, Mike Kelley, Tacks Latimer, Tommy Leach, Tom Messitt, Deacon Phillipe, Rube Waddell, Jack Wadsworth, Honus Wagner, and Chief Zimmer to the Pirates for Jack Chesbro, George Fox, Art Madison, John O’Brien, and $25,000. The mega-trade was really much ado about nothing, as the Colonels folded before NL play started in 1900.
Ritchey hit .292 during his first season (1900) with the Pirates, appearing in 123 games at second base (NL third). He hit 17 doubles, knocked in 67 runs, stole 18 bases, and drew 29 walks versus only eight strikeouts (for an NL third best 59.5 at bats per strikeout). Not exactly known as a “five-tool player,” what he lacked in offense he arguably made up for in his defensive prowess. Ranking fourth in the NL with a 1.3 defensive WAR rating. He ranked fourth in the NL with 303 putouts, second with 357 assists, and third with 51 double plays turned from the second base position, ranking second with a .952 fielding percentage. Pittsburgh finished second in the NL with a 79-60 record, 4.5 games behind the pennant winning Brooklyn Superbas.
In 1901, Ritchey hit .296 over 611 plate appearances (NL 10th) in 140 games (NL third) for Pittsburgh at second base and shortstop. He hit 135 singles (NL tenth), 20 doubles with 74 RBI, 19 sacrifice hits (NL seventh), 15 stolen bases, and 47 walks. Defensively, he led the NL with 139 games at second, 392 assists and 53 double plays turned, ranking second with 340 putouts. Pittsburgh won the National League Pennant with a 90-49 record, 7.5 games ahead of the second place Philadelphia Phillies.
1902 would see Ritchey hit .277 over 115 games for the Pirates, mostly at second base (with a few appearances in the outfield). He scored 54 runs, hitting 13 doubles with 55 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 18 sacrifice hits (NL eighth), and 53 walks (NL fifth), striking out only 15 times and ranking fourth with an AB/K ratio of 27.0. His .370 OBP ranked ninth in the league. He ranked eighth in the NL with a 1.0 dWAR rating. Despite missing roughly a quarter of the Pirates games, he ranked fifth in the league with 275 putouts and fourth with 48 double plays turned from second base. He also led the NL with a .966 fielding percentage from the position. For the second season in a row, the Pirates won the pennant, this time by 27.5 games over the Superbas, with a 103-36 record.
In 1903, Ritchey played 138 games (seventh) at second base, hitting .287 with 66 runs, 28 doubles, 10 triples, 59 RBI, 15 stolen bases, and 55 walks. His overall WAR rating of 4.2 ranked eighth in the league, his dWAR of 2.0 ranked second. He had 460 assists (NL first), 281 putouts (NL third), and 45 double plays turned (NL second), leading the league in games at the position (137) and with a .961 fielding percentage. The Pirates won their third pennant in a row, going 91-49 and finishing 6.5 games ahead of the New York baseball Giants. In the eight game World Series loss against the Boston Americans, Ritchey hit .148, going 4-for-27 with two runs, one double, two RBI and four walks.
1904 would see Ritchey lead the NL with 156 games played. He hit .263 over 623 plate appearances (NL eighth) with 79 runs scored with 22 doubles, 12 triples (NL sixth), 51 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 59 walks (NL fourth). Defensively, he had 482 assists (NL second), 330 putouts (NL fourth), 48 double plays turned (NL third), and a .958 fielding percentage (NL second). The Pirates missed their fourth pennant in a row by 19 games, finishing in fourth place behind the Giants, the Chicago Cubs, and the Reds at 87-66.
Ritchey hit .255 in 153 games (NL sixth) in 1905, scoring 54 runs and hitting 29 doubles (NL fifth), and six triples with 52 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 51 bases on balls, striking out once every 17.8 at bats (NL sixth). He ranked sixth in the league with a 1.4 dWAR rating, with 279 putouts (NL third), 478 assists (NL second), leading the league with a .961 fielding percentage and 59 double plays turned. The Bucs missed the pennant by nine games, finishing with a 96-57 record behind only the Giants.
1906 would be Ritchey’s last season with the Pirates. He hit .269 over 152 contests (NL seventh) with 21 doubles, 62 RBI (NL 10th), and a career high 68 walks (NL ninth) with only 25 strikeouts (19.4 AB/K, NL fourth best). His 25 sacrifice hits were good for eighth in the NL. He ranked eighth in the NL with a 4.3 WAR and sixth in the league with a 1.0 dWAR. He had 326 putouts (NL third), 439 assists (NL fourth), 59 double plays turned (NL second), leading the league with a .966 fielding percentage. The Pirates finished in third place, with a 93-60 record. After the season, the Bucs sent him along with pitcher Patsy Flaherty (24-35, 3.11 with the Beaneaters) and centerfielder Ginger Beaumont (.288 over three Boston seasons) to the Boston Beaneaters for middle infielder Ed Abbaticchio (322 games, .253 with the Pirates).
Ritchey played with Boston for three seasons, hitting .255 with 90 RBI over 295 contests. He made his last appearance with the club in 1909. For more on Ritchey, check out his SABR Bio, by Angelo Louisa.
All-Time Statline: Seven seasons, 977 games, .277/.351/.350, 965-for-3488, 427 runs, 150 doubles, 46 triples, five home runs, 420 RBI, 88 stolen bases, 362 walks, 172 strikeouts, 23.3 wins above replacement.
Next up: a three time NL OBP leader.