A Case for Cupid Childs

In the year 2000, the Veteran’s Committee elected slick-fielding Bid McPhee, who played during the late 1800s, into the Hall of Fame.  McPhee’s election to the Hall of Fame marked the first time a player from the 1800s was elected into the Hall of Fame during the 2000s.  Deacon White, in like fashion, was inducted into Cooperstown, as voters have finally decided to cast another analytical look at players of the game’s early years.  Another player worthy of a glance is former Cleveland Spiders second baseman Cupid Childs.

Childs, a stocky middle infielder, came about his nickname due to his cherubic appearance.  He may have looked like the Valentine’s Day mascot, but Cupid Childs was a remarkable ballplayer.  A solid if not sound defender, Childs was one of the premier middle infielders during the high-powered 1890s.  Modern day general managers, who obsess over on-base percentage, would go gaga for Cupid, whose keen batting eye made him a difficult out.  A perfect table-setter, Childs’ career on-base percentage is well over the .400 mark, which allowed for many runs scored.

With a career slash line of .306 BA/.416 OBP/.389 SA, Cupid’s value was slapping out base hits and drawing a large amount of walks.  Childs has a few Hall of Fame peers, such as the aforementioned McPhee, George Davis and player/manager Hughie Jennings.  Of these four ballplayers, Childs was handily the best on-base machine.  Cupid’s career mark of .416 was separated nicely from Jennings (.391), Davis (.362) and McPhee’s (.355) averages.  The Cleveland second baseman posted six seasons with an OBP of .400 or higher (nine consecutive years with an OBP of .390 or higher) while Jennings had six consecutive years of an OBP of .390 or higher.  George Davis, who enjoyed four .400 OBP+ seasons, and Bid McPhee, who only had three such campaigns, weren’t on-base nearly as much as Cupid.

With a hawk’s eye, Childs was an expert batsman who never seemed to giveaway at-bats.  It wasn’t an unusual feat for Cupid to walk 100 times in a season—well before the modern day 162 game schedule.  Unlike modern day drawers-of-walks, Cupid rarely struck out.  In four different seasons, Childs drew 100 walks yet failed to register over twenty whiffs.  None of Cupid’s peers ever had a 100-walk season: Jennings never drew more than 80 in a single season and Davis never reached 70 bases on balls.  In eleven straight seasons, Cupid finished in the league’s Top Ten in walks drawn, which enabled him to enjoy five Top Five finishes in on-base percentage.  George Davis never had a Top Five finish in on-base percentage, while McPhee never even saw his name reach a Top Ten list in that important category.  Hughie Jennings was the closest to Childs in on-base percentage, and he, too, failed to mirror Cupid’s excellence in that department.  Hughie had three Top Five finishes in on-base percentage and just one Top Ten finish in walks drawn.

Drawing walks was hardly the extent of Cupid’s game.  A well-rounded ballplayer, Childs also led the league, back when there was just one Major League in existence, in doubles and runs scored.  George Davis, who was championed for Hall of Fame enshrinement several years ago by historians, never led his league in an extra base hit department, nor did he ever pace his circuit in runs scored.  Hughie Jennings, as well, never saw his name atop a leader board in either runs scored or an extra base hit department.

Ask anyone who knows the basics of baseball, and they will tell you that the most important aspect of the game is the scoring of runs.  By scoring more runs than your opponent, your team is victorious.  Profound logic, huh?  When it came to scoring runs, Childs was head and shoulders above his Hall of Fame peers.  In two separate seasons, Cupid averaged over one run scored per game—McPhee and Davis accomplished this feat in one lone season.  The feet of Mr. Childs trampled home plate at a greater clip than the fellows enshrined.  For his career, Cupid averaged 0.833 runs scored per game; far superior to Hall of Fame peers McPhee (0.788), Jennings (0.773) and Davis (0.651).

As a star of a now defunct team, the Cleveland Spiders, Cupid Childs’ memory is lost but to the few historians that embrace disbanded franchises.  The left-handed hitting second baseman enjoyed a solid career, yet given that his team is one no longer in existence, his name has gone unrecognized.  Not regarded in a club’s Hall of Fame, Cupid Childs has only the Veteran’s Committee to offer him the immortality that comes with enshrinement.

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