Pittsburgh Pirates Seasons: Kiki Cuyler, 1925

We have been rolling out some history articles recently in advance of our upcoming Pittsburgh Baseball Network site. We will have a specific site for Pittsburgh baseball history soon and during this down time in baseball, it felt like a good time to try some of our ideas out.

One of the features will be our Card of the Day article, with a brief story on a baseball card, ranging from 1887 until current day cards. Our third installment of that series was posted on Wednesday. That will be a regular feature, going up 5-7 times a week. Three other features have been posted recently to gauge interest so we can decide how often to post them.

The first was a Game Rewind, which highlighted the debut of Willie Stargell. The second one was posted yesterday and it’s called Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates. That one featured 1920s infielder George Grantham. Today is our third feature and it’s called Pittsburgh Pirates Seasons.

The idea is simple here. We find a noteworthy season from the past and give a brief description to explain why it is significant enough to write about. I started will an easy one today, the great 1925 season by Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler.

Coming into the 1925 season, Cuyler had just one full season in the majors, but there were high expectations. He saw brief action in 1921-23, playing a total of 13 games. In 1924, he was a starter for most of the year and put up big numbers in 117 games. Cuyler hit .354 with 52 extra-base hits, 94 runs scored, 85 RBIs and 32 stolen bases. There would be no sophomore jinx for him in 1925.

In our first featured season, Cuyler batted .357/.423/.598, while leading the National League in games played (153) and plate appearances (701). Cuyler scored 144 runs, which also led the league. He had 220 hits, 43 doubles, 26 triples (led league) and 18 homers. He drove in 102 runs and stole 41 bases. He also led the league in hit-by-pitches with 13, though I don’t think he particularly enjoyed that feat.

His lowest monthly average was in May when he hit .324 in 25 games. His best monthly average was June when he hit .382 in 26 games. Cuyler was remarkably consistent throughout the season. Here are his OPS numbers by each month:

April – .978

May – .998

June – 1.161

July – 1.009

August – 1.010

Sept/Oct – .955

His slash line was over .300/.400/.500 each month. He had 63 multi-hit games and just 33 games without a hit all season. In those 33 games, he still reached base safely in 14 of those games via a walk or hit-by-pitch.

He had a 1.001 OPS against right-handed pitchers and a 1.082 against lefties. Cuyler put up a 1.048 OPS at home and .995 on the road. He had a .980 OPS with runners in scoring position and a 1.055 mark with the bases empty. Only one opponent had any success against him. The St Louis Cardinals held him to a .772 OPS in 22 games.

The Pirates won their fifth National League title in 1925, then went on to defeat the Washington Senators in seven games in the World Series. Cuyler drove in six runs during the series. In the eighth inning with a 7-7 score, Cuyler hit a two-run double off of Walter Johnson to give the Pirates the lead. They would win 9-7.

As far as personal stats go Cuyler set career bests in triples, homers, slugging and OPS, but he topped all of those other stats later in his career after the Pirates traded him away.

In team history, his 1925 season saw him put up the tenth highest single-season slugging mark, though at the time it was a team record that wasn’t topped until 1935 by Arky Vaughan. His 144 runs scored are the third most in team history and the most since 1894. Cuyler tied a team record with his 220 hits, which now ranks seventh all-time. He ranks fourth all-time in triples, and his total is the highest since Chief Wilson set a still-standing Major League record in 1912.

Cuyler set a team record in extra-base hits (87), which has only been topped once, by Willie Stargell with 90 in 1973. Cuyler tied a team record with 291 times on base, set three years earlier by Max Carey. They are now tied for ninth best all-time.

Finally, his 369 total bases in 1925 is still a team record. Ralph Kiner made two approaches in 1947 and 1949, but he fell eight short each time.