Arguably the finest pitcher in Pittsburgh Pirates history, Adams won all his career 194 games for the Buccos. The Missouri native is one the finest control pitchers in baseball history, issuing fewer bases on balls than miles walked by a handicapped tortoise during a single week. He ended his career in scandalous fashion, when the Pirates had a player revolt in 1926 Babe was one of the players involved. Pirates exec Fred Clarke wanted skipper Bill McKechnie to bench struggling Max Carey but when McKechnie failed to oblige Clarke became angry and split the team into factions. Babe cast his lot with McKechnie and was thus not asked back to Pittsburgh the following season.
Babe had a cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 1906 and then had his contract purchased by the Pirates in 1907. After two bitter cups of coffee it looked like Babe wouldn’t make good at the Major League level but he proved his naysayers wrong in 1909. Babe was magnificent, posting a 12-3 record on a microscopic 1.11 ERA. The Pirates won the pennant that year and skipper Fred Clarke called on Babe to start Game 1 of the World Series against the strong Tigers of Cobb and Crawford. But Babe had the Bengals number, and won three World Series games on a stingy 1.33 ERA, including a Game 7 shutout.
Babe led the Pirates in wins in 1910 and his 2.24 ERA also topped Pittsburgh moundsmen. He became a 20-game winner for the first time in 1911 when he fashioned a 22-12 worksheet. Adams finished second in the league in shutouts and showed off remarkable control by issuing just 0.143 walks per inning. Hall of Fame peers Rube Marquard (0.381), Three-Finger Brown (0.203) and Grover Cleveland Alexander (0.351) all had weaker accuracy than the farmer from Missouri.
Babe won 21 games in 1913 with an average of just 0.156 walks per inning. Adams’ 2.15 ERA was the second best mark in the senior circuit. Never a strikeout pitcher, Babe had his highwater mark for whiffs with 144 that season. Winning awards for marksmanship, Babe issued a stingy 0.139 walks per inning during the 1915 season and after a couple injury-shortened season he bounced back in 1919 by posting a 17-10 record with six shutouts, a 1.98 ERA and an amazing average of just 0.087 walks per inning.
When The Deadball Era came to a close, Adams excelled by placing the ball exactly where he wanted it. He led the National League with eight shutouts in 1920 while issuing just 18 walks in 263 innings pitched. he was the NL’s leader in winning percentage in 1921 with a .737 mark at the tender age of 39. The aging star marked his fortieth birthday by finishing second in the National League in the shutout department.
Into his 40s Babe still had his stuff, evident by his 13-7 record in 1923. Used sparingly in 1924, Adams nevertheless posted an amazing 1.13 ERA. When he entered his mid-40s in 1925 he finally began to show his age and slowed down. he appeared in 19 games for the Pirates in their 1926 Season of Mutiny. He currently ranks 16th all-time in career WHIP and 35th all-time in career shutouts.
W 194/L 140/PCT .581/G 482/CG 206/IP 2,995/H 2,841/BB 430/SO 1,036/SHO 44/ERA 2.76