Stovey combined slugging power with great running speed and a strong arm. He was the first to wear sliding pads and among the first to slide feet first. A home run hitter in the dead-ball era, he led his league in homers six times, with a personal high of 19 in 1889. He led in hits twice, doubles once, triples three times, runs four times, batting (.404 in 1884) and stolen bases (97 in 1890) once each. Gentlemanly and articulate in an age when few ballplayers were, he played as Stovey rather than Stowe (his real name) so that his mother would not see his name in box scores.