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Sox Century: Sept. 29, 1917

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Eddie Cicotte caps off a career year by pitching the White Sox to their 100th win

Eddie Cicotte
Ernie Harwell Collection / Detroit Public Library

With a Friday game against the Yankees rescheduled for a Saturday doubleheader in New York, the White Sox had two chances to get their 100th win. They were also at full strength, with Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver rejoining the team after their exhibition foray in Boston.

Sure enough, the White Sox offense piled up the runs in the first game. Jackson and Eddie Collins both went 4-for-5. Collins piled up the runs (two) and RBIs (three), while Jackson’s big day helped hoist his average over .300 for the first time all season.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t pitch, and neither could Lefty Williams. He gave up four hits and two walks before he could record a third out. With another game looming and the individual game’s results inconsequential, Pants Rowland used Dave Danforth to cover the remainder of the game. He wasn’t much more effective than Williams, allowing runs in five of the seven whole innings he covered, but he had to wear it regardless. The result was a unique 1917 line: 7 13 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.

Since the White Sox were in New York, members of the Giants were in attendance to do some advance scouting on their World Series opponent. They might not have been terribly impressed with the front half of this twin bill, which the Sox ultimately lost, 12-8.

Rowland still wanted that 100th win, so he sent his regulars back out for the second game. This time, he had Eddie Cicotte take the mound.

The Sox ace absorbed a run in the first inning, but he kept the Yankees in check afterward while waiting for the offense to arrive. They finally came through against Hank Thormahlen, with Chick Gandil delivering an RBI single, then scoring from first on a Buck Weaver single and an error.

The White Sox used another error to add an insurance marker in the seventh, but Cicotte didn’t need it. He went the distance in a 3-1 victory, giving the Sox their first (and only) 100-win season. He allowed the one run on eight hits and a walk while striking out seven, which was a fitting way to cap a remarkable season. Had the Cy Young Award existed, Cicotte would have won it going away. He led the league in:

  • Wins: 28
  • ERA: 1.53
  • ERA+: 174
  • Innings: 346 23
  • WHIP: 0.91
  • WAR: 11.4

According to Baseball-Reference.com, he was worth more than 3 WAR over the next-closest American League pitcher, Cleveland’s Stan Coveleski.

That’s not all. Along with the Cy Young, Cicotte would’ve had a case for the Most Valuable Player. B-Ref’s WAR gives him a fraction of a win over Ty Cobb, 11.5 to 11.3. It’s hard to fathom double-digit WAR seasons, so here’s what voters would have seen:

  • Cicotte: 28-12, 1.53 ERA, 49 G, 346 23 IP, 29 CG, 7 SO, 4 SV
  • Cobb: .383/.444/.570, 44 2B, 24 3B, 6 HR, 107 R, 106 RBIs, 55 SB

Record: 100-53 | Game 1 box | Game 2 box