The regular shortstop for John McGraw’s powerhouse New York Giants of The Deadball Era, Fletcher was a fine defender and solid offensive threat. A fine run producing shortstop, Artie was also an adept bull’s eye; he often led the league in getting hit by pitched balls.
McGraw first beckoned Fletch in 1909 but he didn’t become a regular until 1911. That year, Art finished second to the great Honus Wagner in batting average among NL infielders with a robust .319 mark. Given that he played in the same era as Wagner, Fletcher spent a good deal looking at The Flying Dutchman’s feet in the standings–Honus was usually standing above him. In 1912, Artie finished second to Honus in triples among NL shortstops but Fletch was able to guide his team to the World Series. In the 1912 Fall Classic, Artie drove home three runs.
In arguably his finest year, Fletcher led the Giants to another pennant in 1913 (their third in a row) by leading NL shortstops in hits and RBI. The Fall Classic was another loss (Artie was a member of four pennant winning teams but never won a World Series) but Art drove in a trio of runs on a .278 batting average. The the advent of the Federal League, 1914, was a wild season with rosters changing due to the raiding tactics of the upstart league. Artie remained loyal to McGraw and led NL shortstops in batting average and RBI.
The Deadball Era was characterized by lower scoring affairs but Artie was the top run-producing shortstop in the years surrounding The First World War. He topped all Major League shortstops in RBI during the 1916 season with 66: he was the only shortstop to drive in more than 40 runs. With Honus Wagner reaching the end of his rope, Fletch got new blood to fight with at short in a young Rogers Hornsby. In 1917, Artie tied the Hall of Famer for most doubles by an NL shortstop with 24.
Baseball 1918 style was characterized by diminished rosters courtesy of WWI. During the campaign, Artie finished second to Hornsby in RBI among NL shortstops. In 1920, Fletch was the only NL shortstop to slug over .400, which he did after an early season deal that sent him to the Phillies. Artie joined the Phillies in a deal for future Hall of Famer Dave Bancroft, as John McGraw was noted for trading his aging stars to teams in an effort to get them a managing gig in the future.
Artie’s last action as a player came in 1922. In 1923, the Phillies named him their manager and he had little talent to work with outside the great outfielder Cy Williams. He was the Phillies skipper for four years and after his days piloting the Phillies he embarked on a lengthy coaching career with the New York Yankees–seeing more World Series action on the sidelines.
G 1,529/R 684/H 1,534/2B 238/3B 77/HR 32/RBI 675/SB 159/BA .277/SA .365