Charles Benjamin Adams, known to everyone as "Babe," was a pitcher from Tipton, IN, and the highest ranking pitcher on this countdown. The 5'11" right-hander, born on May 18th, 1882, liked to bat from the left side of the plate. He first appeared in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals, starting one game in 1906 and allowing eight runs (six earned) in four innings. He allowed two walks and nine hits. Aside from that one start, he spent the balance of 1906 and 1907 with the Denver Grizzlies in the "A" level Western League, posting a 33-23 record with an ERA around 2.30. The Pirates signed him away from Denver in September, 1907. In four games near the end of the season, three starts, he went 0-2 with a 6.95 ERA and a 1.955 WHIP. He racked up a 22-12 record and a 2.08 ERA with the American Association's Louisville Colonels in 1908.
Even though he was already 27 years old, 1909 would be Adam's official rookie season. He posted a 12-3 record (team fifth in wins) with a 1.11 ERA, a 0.854 WHIP, and 6.1 H/9. He completed seven of his 12 starts, appearing 25 times overall. He registered three shutouts and two saves. His ERA would have led the NL if he had met the minimum requirement for rate based statistics, his WHIP would have ranked second. He only allowed 88 hits in 130 innings. Pittsburgh won the NL Pennant at 110-42, finishing 6.5 games ahead of the second place Chicago Cubs. Adams earned three of the Pirates four World Series victories with three comple games. He allowed four earned runs in total, striking out 11.
In 1910, Adams went 18-9 (NL sixth in wins, fifth with a 66.7% win percentage) with a 2.24 ERA (NL fifth). He completed 16 of his 30 starts, appearing four times in relief. He posted a 1.131 WHIP (NL fifth), a 7.971 H/9 (NL 10th), and a 2.204
BB/9 (NL seventh). Pittsburgh went 86-67, placing third in the National League a full 22 games behind the Cubs.
Adams achieved a career high and NL fifth in wins in 1911, going 22-12 with a 2.33 ERA (NL third). He completed 24 (NL fifth) of his 37 starts (NL second), with six shutouts (NL second). He led the NL with a 1.006 WHIP and finished 27th in the NL MVP race. His 6.4 pWAR ranked fourth in the NL, His 1.289 BB/9 placed him second. He struck out 133 batters (NL eighth in 293.1 innings (NL seventh). His 3.167 strikeouts per walk was the second best rate in the league. Pittsburgh finished 14.5 games behind the pennant winning New York Giants, with an 85-69 record.
1912 would see Adams play in 28 games, going 11-8 with a 2.91 ERA. He completed 11 of his 20 starts, registering a 1.198 WHIP (NL fifth), a 1.849 (NL fifth) BB/9, and a 1.8 K/BB rate (NL ninth). The Pirates went 93-58 to take second in the NL.
In 1913, Adams eclipsed 20 wins for the second (and final) time in his career, going 21-10 (NL sixth in wins) over 43 games (NL eighth), including 37 starts (NL second), 24 completed (NL fourth), and four shutouts (NL third). He pitched a career high 313.2 innings (NL second), with a 2.15 ERA (NL second) a 1.020 WHIP (NL second), 7.776 H/9 (NL seventh), 1.406 BB/9 (NL NL third), 4.132 K/9 (NL 10th), and 2.939 K/BB (NL third). He also had his best season as a hitter, going 33-for-114 (.289) with eight extra base hits and 13 RBI. He finished 22nd in the race for NL MVP, and led the NL with a 8.8 WAR. Pittsburgh finished 78-71, good for a fourth place finish.
Adams was held to a 13-16 record in 1914, with a 2.51 ERA (team second). He played in 40 games, starting 35 of them (NL eighth) with 19 complete and three shutouts. He led the NL with a 1.032 WHIP, giving up 8 H/9, 1.240 walks/9 (NL second), and 2.333 K/BB (NL third) in a team leading 283 innings pitched. His 4.0 pWAR rating ranked him ninth in the NL. On July 17th, he pitched 21 innings, walking one batter and earning a 3-1 loss. Pittsburgh finished below .500 for the first time in the century, finishing seventh in the NL with a 69-85 record.
1915 would see Adams go 14-14 with a 2.87 ERA. He completed 30 of his 40 starts, completing 17 and racking up two shutouts. He registered a 1.073 WHIP (NL fifth), an 8.4 H/9, and a 1.249 BB/9 (NL third). The Pirates finished at 73-81, placing fifth in the National League.
Adams started out the 1916 season with a 2-9 record and a 5.72 ERA. It was revealed the source of his poor showing was a sore throwing shoulder. He spent 1917 with the "A" level Western League, between the St. Joseph Drummers and the Hutchinson Wheatshockers, going 20-13 with a 1.75 ERA. He continued his rehabilitation in 1918 with the American Association's "AA" level Kansas City Blues, going 14-3 with a 1.67 ERA. He rejoined the Pirates for three starts near the end of July, going 1-1 with a 1.19 ERA and a 0.838 WHIP.
In 1919, Adams opened the season back in the Pirates regular starting rotation. He went 17-10 (NL seventh in wins) with a 1.98 ERA (NL fifth) and NL leading figures of 0.896 WHIP and 4.00 K/BB. He completed 23 (NL fifth) of 29 starts (NL
eighth), appearing 34 times overall with six shutouts (NL third). He pitched 263.1 innings (NL seventh) allowing 7.280 H/9
(NL sixth) and walking an NL leading 0.786 walks per nine innings. He ranked third in the NL with a 7.3 WAR rating. On May 5th, he allowed five hits and struck out five Phillies in a 5-0 win over Philadelphia. He pitched an 11-inning, 1-0 shutout win over the Cincinnati Reds on August 30th, striking out five. September 18th would see him pitch a three hitter, striking out a season high six batters in a 7-0 win over the New York Giants. Pittsburgh finished 71-68, in fourth place.
1920 would see Adams go 17-13 with a 2.16 ERA (NL second). He led the NL with eight shutouts, a 0.981 WHIP, 0.6 BB/9, and 4.67 K/BB. He pitched 263 innings, striking out 84 and walking 18 batters. He ranked fourth in the NL with a 5.8 pWAR. He started 33 games (NL 10th), completing 18. On April 25th, he faced 55 batters and defeated the Chicago Cubs, 4-1 in 15 innings. He allowed 11 hits. On May 5th, in a 2-0 win over the Cubs, he pitched a complete game four hitter, striking out three. He earned a 1-0 win over the Phillies on July 8th, striking out six and allowing five hits. The Pirates finished fourth at 79-75.
Adams went 14-5 (an NL leading 73.7% win percentage) with a 2.64 ERA (NL second) in 1921. He started 20 games, completing 11 and finishing with two shutouts. He also had five relief appearances. He led the NL with a 1.081 WHIP, 1.013 BB/9, and 3.06 K/BB. He ranked 10th in the NL with a 3.6 pWAR and second with a H/9 of 8.719. On May 1st, in a 2-0 road win over the Cubs, he allowed three hits, striking out three in nine complete innings. He equalled the feat on July 2nd, in a 9-0 decision against the Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh posted a 90-63 record, finishing four games behind the pennant winning Giants.
Adams was already the oldest player in the National League to start the 1922 season, at 39 years of age. He accrued a 32-27 record over the next five seasons, starting 54 games out of 114 appearances and posting a 4.20 ERA. In 1925, he helped the Pirates to another World Championship (his second), allowing two hits in one inning as the Pirates won a seven game series over the American League Champion Washington Senators.
Adams retired after one more season in the minor leagues. He went into farming and newspaper reporting, He retired to Silver Springs, MD, where he lived with his wife until his passing in 1968.
All-Time Statline: 18 seasons, 194-139, 2.74 ERA, 481 games, 353 starts, 206 CG, 44 shutouts, 15 saves, 2991.1 innings pitched, 2832 hits allowed, 428 walks, 1036 strikeouts, 1.090 WHIP, 50.9 WAR (48.7 as a pitcher, 2.2 at the plate).