Yankees: An Alternate History, an OOTP Experiment

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A game in progress is shown in Hilltop Park in New York where the New York Highlanders are playing around 1910. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /

The virtual Yankees made quite a run at the 1905 AL Pennant.


1903:  56-84

1904: 76-78

Preseason prediction

The prediction report has high expectations for the Highlanders. The team is expected to go 83-81, landing above .500 for the first time in franchise history.

The Highlanders farm system, if we can even describe it as such, seems to have two players ready to produce at the Major League level. In OOTP’s Top Prospects Report, Highlanders right-hander Bill Hogg as the best prospect in the sport. He played just four seasons in real life.

OOTP also noted first baseman Hal Chase as a top 10 prospect in baseball. In reality, Chase played nine seasons for New York. He would later win a batting title with Cincinnati in 1916. We will keep an eye on both prospects’ long-term development as we continue.

Regular season

The Highlanders were contenders all season long. New York started off hot and managed to sit atop the American League on multiple occasions. However, the Highlanders fell apart down the stretch.

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With the Detroit Tigers in the first place by only 1.5 games, and with six games left on the schedule, the Highlanders were swept in a three-game series, thanks in part to 18-year-old Ty Cobb. New York would fall painfully short of its first pennant.

New York featured the best lineup in the league. Patsy Dougherty took home the batting title with a .349 average, which was one of the biggest accomplishments back in the early 20th century. Rookie Hal Chase (.317/.322./.396) also had a strong year, taking home multiple Rookie of the Month Awards.

The Highlanders’ pitching was another story. In nearly every statistical category they were again in the bottom half of the league. Chesbro and Hogg had fine seasons, but the duo didn’t get much support.

Final record: 89-65 4GB of the AL Pennant

Performances of note

Although the Rookie of the Year Award wasn’t introduced until 1947 in reality, Hogg took home the honors. Hogg posted a team-best 2.20 ERA, and a 14-10 record in 24 starts.

OOTP had a good reason to name Hogg and Chase as top prospects because they were key to the Highlanders’ impressive season.


1903:  56-84

1904: 76-78

1905: 89-65 (4 GB of AL Pennant)

Preseason prediction

OOTP sees the Highlanders’ strong 1905 campaign as a fluke. The preseason prediction report has New York falling back to Earth with an 82-72 record, 15 games out of first place.

The Highlanders did have a few featured hitters, including reigning batting champion Patsy Dougherty, reliable second baseman Jimmy Williams (led the team in WAR multiple times so far) and prospect Frank LaPorte.

Oh, and the Highlanders finished in first place in spring training, for what it’s worth.

Regular season

It looks like the preseason predictions were onto something. The Highlanders didn’t sniff the pennant in 1906, finishing 18 games out of first place. Although the New York offense continued to produce, the pitching staff yet again let the team down.

Final record: 80-74

Performances of note

The Highlanders seem to find some of the best young talent in baseball, as third baseman Frank LaPorte took home the Rookie of the Year Award, the second year in a row a Highlander won the Award.

Chesbro was his usual self with an impressive 1.99 ERA, leading the league with 38 (!) complete games in 361.1 innings.

Willie Keeler also made history notching his 2,500 career hit in April.